Thursday, 27 August 2015

Kez, not Jez

THE UK Labour leadership contest has been dogged by claims that the rules have allowed Tories and non-Labour supporting lefties an opportunity to skew the result.

Over 112,00 people have paid the £3 to get a vote as registered supporters, 148,182 have signed up through affiliated unions, and 105,973 have become full-blown members.

Most of these new recruits, it is claimed, are supporting left-winger Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership.

Scottish Labour has not been immune from this phenomenon.

In its own leadership contest, 6,000 registered and affiliated supporters took the franchise to around 21,000, which included a mini-surge in new members.

The question some party figures are asking is: what effect will these new folk have on the internal List ranking system for the Holyrood election.

As has already been reported, Labour expects to lose all its constituency seats next year, so any MSPs will be regional members.

Kez Dugdale, Scottish Labour’s moderate new leader, wants fresh talent (code for a cull) and a rejuvenated group. 

The prospect of thousands of Corbyn-loving left-wingers voting in the internal contest is deemed in some quarters to be a threat to these ambitions.

However, such fears look to be unfounded.

For one thing, the franchise will be restricted to members and exclude registered or affiliated supporters.

Labour’s governing Scottish Executive Committee (SEC) also decided in June that the freeze date for members voting in the List rankings process will be June 13th.

At this point, Corbyn was not on the ballot and the surge in members sympathetic to him had not taken hold.

In other words, Corbyn’s bedrock support – the new tiers of party supporters, plus newly recruited members – won’t get a say in who will be Scottish Labour's A-list candidates next year.

The SEC meets again on Saturday and, if the June 13th freeze date is revisited, I am told it will be pushed back even further.

The end result is that Corbyn-mania is unlikely to have an effect on the selection of Labour candidates for next year.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Save your sources

Since last month, I have written articles for the Sunday Herald/Herald on police using surveillance legislation to establish contact between journalists and their sources.

The sterling work of the Press Gazette last year led to the law being changed in this area.

From March 25th, police must seek judicial approval to access details of our phone records, texts and emails.

However, as the Sunday Herald revealed, Police Scotland is one of two forces to have breached these new rules.

The row over this individual violation will rumble on, but a wider question is whether Police Scotland used this tactic before March.

The IOCCO, which monitors the use of the RIPA, reported earlier this year that police forces had applied for communications data (in relation to journalists and their sources) on hundreds of occasions.

Any journalist who writes about the single force and is concerned their phone records/texts may have been accessed can respond in a constructive way.

A Subject Access Request (SAR) gives citizens a qualified right to all information held on them by ‘data controllers’, which includes public bodies.

I suggest journalists who have written public interest stories on Police Scotland click on the following link and print off the form:

In the ‘any other information box’ (second box from the bottom) it would be wise to ask for the following:

-          - All applications for communications data relating to [you] in relation to Police Scotland
-          - The results of all applications for communications data relating to [you] in relation to Police Scotland
-          - All information held on [you] by the single force's Counter Corruption Unit

A SAR will cost you £10. The National Union of Journalists in Scotland is encouraging reporters to go down this route. I agree.