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August 2017 EC minutes

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August 2017 EC minutes

MINUTES OF THE 8th MEETING OF THE 114th EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN HELD AT HEAD OFFICE on Saturday 5th August 2017 at 13.05

[Note 1: These are draft minutes only and are not official until adopted by the EC]

Present : M.Browne, D.Chesham, R.Cox, D.McLellan, M.Tenner, G.Thomas, S.Wicks.
Apologies: M.Foster.

Minutes: D.Chesham

1. Election of Chair

It was AGREED that cde Wicks chair the meeting.

2. Minutes of the previous meeting and business arising therefrom

a) Amendment and adoption of the previous (JULY) meeting’s minutes

i) The meeting’s attention was drawn to the fact the minutes were incorrect insofar as the reason given for Simon Wigley’s Form ‘F’ was ‘disagreement’ whereas it should have read ‘expelled’.

MOTION 1 (Chesham & Tenner)

“That the minutes as amended be adopted”

CARRIED 6-1
Division called: For: Chesham, Cox, McLellan, Tenner, Thomas, Wicks. Against: Browne

ii) Ratification of inquorate business – report of Audio/Visual Committee (28-6-17) (Motion 11)

MOTION 2 (Browne & Tenner)

“That the business conducted at the last meeting after 4.25pm when it was inquorate be ratified”

AGREED 7-0-0

3. Reports from the Ballot Committee

i) Executive Committee vacancies

An accepted nomination for cde Nick Mersch had been received from South London branch.

MOTION 3 (McLellan & Browne)

"That cde Nick Mersch be invited to take his seat on the Executive Committee"

AGREED 7-0-0

ii) Action required on Conference motions

a) Motions 1 & 2 (organisational structure)

MOTION 4 (Tenner & Wicks)

“That cde Buick be asked whether he is willing to co-opt members to consider the proposals in motions 1 & 2 and report in time for 2018 Conference”

ADDENDUM to MOTION 4 (Thomas & Browne)

“and that branches be asked for their views on these proposals”

CARRIED 3-1-3

Substantive motion:

CARRIED 5-1-1

b) Motions 4, 5 & 6 (nominal ‘leader’ and Rule 2)

It was AGREED to refer these items to the Standing Orders Committee.

Notice of Business (Cox & McLellan)

“Changes to new members’ welcome letter”

c) Motion 8 (1990 Conference resolution separating SS layout from editorial control)

It was AGREED the matter be referred to the SSPC and that the Terms of Reference for the committee be amended – cde Cox offered to attend to the latter item.

d) Motion 9 (climate change leaflet)

It was AGREED to refer this to the Publications Committee.

4. Matters arising from July minutes

i) Complaint from cde Schulenburg (9 June) re: posts on Twitter (Motion 8 - July)

Cde Max Hess replied via email on 20th July 2017

“There was no racism associated with the tweet. There was a criticism of Sikhism, and (in a follow-up reply) violence associated with this particular religion. As far as I am aware “soppy” is not a word socialists are banned from using in reference to religion. This is not a word I would normally use regarding those with a religious belief, but as this apparent Conservative supporter was not happy that I had promptly replied to a Theresa May tweet, and who described himself as a “Self Confessed Sikh Geek”, it seemed an appropriate response at the time.

I note that the complainant Alexander Schulenburg “often finds the language in the party’s tweets quite appalling”. I would dispute this. The vast majority of tweets from the @OfficalSPGB account are intended to be informative with language that is not insulting or offensive. This includes unseen Direct Messages that come into the account. Once in a while someone who is simply trolling or being abusive to get a reaction may not be replied to entirely politely, but frankly, life is too short to keep replying nicely to unpleasant people with no interest whatsoever in seeing capitalism being
eradicated.
Yours for Socialism
Max Hess”

MOTION 5 (Chesham & Wicks)

“That a copy of cde Hess’ response be sent to cde Schulenburg”

AGREED 7-0-0

ii) Resolution from Kent and Sussex (11 June, carried 4–0–0): “Kent and Sussex Regional Branch seeks EC authority to contest the constituencies of Brighton, Canterbury and Folkestone in the next General Election.” MOTION 9 (Browne and Chesham): ‘That the matter be referred to the Election Committee.’ Agreed (5-0-2).

No response had been received from the Election Committee.

Cde. Rob Cox left the table at this point and did not return for the remainder of the meeting.

iii) Resignation of cde. Davies

As the relevant documents to be appended to cde Davies’ Form ‘F’ were not yet available it was AGREED to defer this item until the next meeting.

iv) Comments by cde Paula Donnelly of Manchester Branch on Facebook in support of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party

A dossier had been prepared showing a selection of the offending comments together with highlighted sections for emphasis.

A claim by one EC member that the highlighted sections were confusing and needed clarification led to an extremely heated discussion. There was also a dispute as to which of Rules 29 & 31 were relevant under the circumstances.

MOTION 6 (Thomas & Chesham)

“That the complaint be dealt with now but in future different typefaces be used to highlight different passages”

CARRIED 5-1-0

The meeting was then suspended for 15 minutes

MOTION 7 (McLellan & Thomas)

"That a copy of the Facebook posts made by cde Paula Donnelly be sent to Manchester Branch for them to consider whether a charge is appropriate in accordance with Rule 29 and to ask her to explain her views"

AGREED 6-0-0

5) Notices of Motion: None

6) Notice of Business (Cox and Wicks): Moderation of the SPGB Facebook group.

In the absence of the mover of this notice of business it was AGREED to defer once again..

7) Matters arising from various previous minutes

i) Replacement of computer printer

Report from cde R Cox via email dated 28th July 2017:

"I have been investigating the specifications for replacement A3 ‘all in one’ printers to find models less likely to incur the (accidental) damage to the machine which the EC has written-off. I identified a few which may be suitable, but I have to do some more research on these (i.e. customer reviews) before I am ready to make a recommendation on a replacement model."

Cde. Thomas verbally reported on various options.

It was AGREED to defer this item pending further information becoming available.

Comrade Åke Spross (from Sweden) and his daughter arrived at this point.

ii) Party Wall

Cde. Chesham reported that there had been no further developments since last meeting; the agreed security deposit had not been lodged in the independent account and there was no evidence of any building work commencing at No.50.

iii) HO staffing

Cde. Chesham reported that for most weeks the premises were being staffed three days a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays) and this would continue for the remainder of August with the exception of two Thursdays (24th & 31st).

iv) O’Gorman bequest

John Briggs (our solicitor in this matter), has advised that vehicular indemnity insurance should be taken out on the property (‘Charwyl'), suggesting various amounts of cover. Having effected this policy he also suggests sending the property to auction with a reserve price of £300k.

MOTION 8 (Tenner & Browne)

“That a) John Briggs’ recommendations be approved, with insurance premium cover of £190 (£300k – vehicular access indemnity) and that a plan for annexation be forwarded to him as requested; and b) that Cde Thomas be asked to approach the three companies listed to arrange a sale at auction”

AGREED 6-0-0

A complaint is to be sent to the Solicitors Regulation Authority regarding the extreme tardiness of the solicitors administering this bequest, Hart Scales and Hodges.

v) Steven Colborn’s election in the name of the Seaham Community Party

As no reply had been received to the EC‘s email (Motion 3 – June) a letter was sent recorded delivery subsequently.

As no response has been received from cde S.Colborn the following motion was proposed:

MOTION 9 (Tenner & Chesham)

“That since North East Branch does not meet formally, cde Colborn be lapsed due to loss of contact, and documents relating to his election as a Seaham Community Party councillor be appended to his Form ‘F’”

AGREED 6-0-0

vi) Forum guidelines

A detailed response to Swansea Branch’s proposal has now been received from the Internet Committee.

MOTION 10 (Tenner & Browne)

“The EC accepts the arguments in the Internet Committee’s response and does not approve Swansea Branch’s SPGB Forum guidelines.”

AGREED 6-0-0

vii) Resignation of cde Darren Williams

Cde Williams had withdrawn his resignation from the Party and replied (email dated 19th July 2017) to the EC’s query whether he is still able to manage the Party e-mail account.

“I have carried on the not very onerous task of clearing the spam from the party inbox. I am happy to continue with this, so long as you want me to.”

Cde Williams’ reply was noted with thanks.

viii) Sample Party information packs (Motions 6 & 7 - July)

150 information packs have now been collated, ready for dispatch, each with a copy of the latest Socialist Standard, the pamphlet From Capitalism to Socialism, an introductory leaflet and a covering letter (re-typed by cde Cox).

No reply had been received from the Publications Committee regarding the EC’s request for information on how long it would take to have a recent pamphlet (for example, From Capitalism to Socialism) reprinted at short notice and without revisions.

Cde Tenner reported that he had spoken with cde Neil Windle of the Publications Committee who told him he has camera-ready artwork for all the Party’s leaflets and pamphlets.

In the meantime cde Chesham offered to undertake an inventory of all the Party’s leaflets and pamphlets.

ix) Magazine inserts

Insert dates for An End to Rationing were: New Statesman (19,000 copies to subscribers plus free e-newsletter advert to 35,000): 7 July; New Scientist (37,500 copies to subscribers): 22 July (plus 500 to Head Office). Production costs were as follows: 123RF: Reproduction rights for image use: £18.00; Oasis Printing: Brochure artwork: £216 (including VAT); Spot Print (Bradford): Printing, including additional perforation charge of £90.00: £1,740.00. Total expenditure to date: £1,974.00.
Insert charges to come: New Statesman: 19,000 @ £28.00 per K: £532.00 net; New Scientist: 37,500 @ £27.00 per K: £1,012.50 (including VAT). The total cost of the campaign was: £3,518.50 (plus additional VAT of £308.90).

A total of 70 enquiries from the inserts in the New Statesman and New Scientist have now been received. Nearly all have taken advantage of the free three month subscription to the Socialist Standard and over 40 also opted for the information pack containing a copy of the current Socialist Standard, the pamphlet From Capitalism to Socialism, an introductory leaflet and a covering letter.

It was AGREED that the next batch of inserts will be sent with the September edition of the William Morris Society magazine which goes to 1100 subscribers. Minor changes to the text of the insert may be made specifically for this publication. Cost of the insert charge be will £390 including VAT. Printing cost not yet known.

There was still an issue with the FREEPOST facility which cde Tenner was addressing.

8) Forms ‘A’ & ‘F’

(a) Form A for Stephen Harper (via Membership Applications Committee)
(b) Form A for Simon Hewitt (via Membership Applications Committee)

It was AGREED to accept the Forms ‘A’ and, as both successful applicants reside in South West England, their details be passed to the Central Organiser who is currently investigating the prospect of reviving SWRB.

(c) Form F for cde Andy Matthews (West London, disagreement)
(d) Form F for cde Helen Roberts (Central, disagreement with hostility clause)
(e) Form F for cde Bettie Ferrie (Glasgow, lapsed)
(f) Form F for cde Stewart McLeod (Glasgow, lapsed)
(g) Form F for cde Martin Lennon (Glasgow, lapsed)
(h) Form F for cde T Napier (Glasgow, lapsed)

It was AGREED to accept the Forms ‘F’.

9) Treasurer

Assistant Treasurer report (email dated 28th July 2017):

It was reported that:

a) The audit had been delayed due to the failure of some branches to provide the required information, and that we are therefore likely to suffer a financial penalty.

b) There was need for a scanner facility at HO for transferring items onto emails, the absence of which had compounded the delay.

NOTED

Cde. McLellan left at the meeting at 16.20 to get his train.

10) Reports of Party Officers, Party Appointees, Subcommittees and Departments; discussion of advertising, campaigns, and The Socialist Standard

i) Report from cde D Poynton of the Internet Committee on the Website upgrade project (email dated 25th July 2017)

“The website upgrade / update project has been frozen at a near completed state for some months now. To enable completion of this project I would like to request that we again hire the services of Nathan Lisgo to assist with the final stages. We estimate that the new website can be completed and uploaded to our sever within 33 hours of Nathan's time. The estimate is broken down into tasks as follows:

Integrate website menus into the migration : 1 days

Configuration of views; Views calendar, front page images and others : 1 day

Fix possible problems with forum 'quote' module : 1/2 day (depending on what's found)

Fix as yet unknown issues : 1 day

Upload to digital ocean server for test phase : 1/2 day

Implement of new site on live server. : 1/2 day

This represents 33 hours which will be £1980 (including VAT).

If work is completed in under these hours the remainder will be used on further improvements and tweaks.

It would be hoped that the new site would be online before the new year.”

MOTION 11 (Browne & Wicks)

That the estimate of £1980 to complete the Party’s upgraded website be approved”

AGREED 5-0-0

ii) Report from the Audio-Visual Committee dated 25th July 2017

"We are unable to obtain the Party's YouTube account details and are therefore unable to access and improve audio and visual material and in particular unable to upload party material for the Internet Committee to disseminate.”

MOTION 12 (Chesham & Tenner)

"That the Internet Committee be asked for their urgent reply."

AGREED 5-0-0

iii) Request from the Investment Committee dated 18th July 2017

“The Investment Committee have received the following request from Alliance Trust Savings in regards to our application with them: Certified documentation confirmed by a solicitor/accountant of the committee members appointment, Mr Melvin Tenner, Mr David Perrin and Mr Brian Johnson.”

MOTION 13 (Thomas & Tenner)

“That the matter be referred to our external auditors”

AGREED 5-0-0

iv) Request from the Audio-Visual Committee dated 18th July 2017

“Re: Whiteboard Introductory Video. So that we may build on the initial success of the new whiteboard video – 2.5K views in the first two days - the Audio Visual Committee requests a grant, to be decided by the EC, to be used to advertise and promote the video on the various social media sites.”

MOTION 14 (Chesham & Wicks)

That the AVC be asked to provide specific proposals and costings regarding advertising on Facebook and YouTube.”

AGREED 5-0-0

v) Report of the Membership Application Committee to ADM.

“The Committee received 35 applications centrally (nearly all online via the questionnaire on the Party’s website) during the period 1 January-30 June 2017, communicated with 35 applicants and recommended to the EC that 7 of the applicants be accepted for membership. The equivalent figures for the same period for 2015 were 33 (applications) and 7 (recommendations for membership).

Communication is ongoing with other of the applicants, some of whom may become members in the future.

The main aspects of the socialist case that gave rise to discussion with applicants, especially those whose questionnaire answers suggested they were relatively close to our thinking, were residual support for reformism and/or the Labour Party, difficulty in not seeing socialism in ‘state’ terms, advocacy of ‘equal wages’, and, in particular, forms of religious belief.

The Committee operates by one of its three members (Paul Bennett, Richard Botterill, Howard Moss) dealing in turn with each application and communicating with the applicant. When the committee member dealing with an application considers it should be recommended for acceptance to the EC, they first communicate this to the other two committee members and request comments/agreement before recommendation is made. The Committee would normally expect all its members to agree before recommendation takes place.

The Committee incurred no costs and would not expect to have any financial requirements for the coming calendar year.”

NOTED

As cde Wicks announced he would have to leave at 17.00, which would leave the meeting inquorate, it was decided to defer the remainder of the business after an item cde Thomas asked be considered urgently.

Request from South London branch 29th July 2017

"Comrades,

At our meeting yesterday South London Branch discussed the possibility of holding a meeting at HO later this year on the attraction Jeremy Corbyn has to many “first time” voters. It was agreed that the branch invite younger party members to make a contribution to the meeting.

Unfortunately (as you may be aware) the branch is currently without a Branch Treasurer and therefore has no access to its limited funds.

I was asked to request that the EC make the branch a grant of £50 to cover the travelling costs of members invited to speak.

We are in the process of inducting cde Cibele Alvarenga who has volunteered to take up the duties of Branch Treasurer.

Fraternally
Gwynn Thomas

[Branch Secretary]”

It was AGREED the £50 be granted.

Meeting adjourned at 16.55
 

alanjjohnstone
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Quote:
It was agreed that the branch invite younger party members to make a contribution to the meeting.

Do we have an age that might define what members might be the "younger"? cheeky

"I have no country to fight for; my country is the Earth, and I am a citizen of the World." - Eugene V. Debs

gnome
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alanjjohnstone wrote:

Quote:
It was agreed that the branch invite younger party members to make a contribution to the meeting.

Do we have an age that might define what members might be the "younger"? cheeky

I think 65 was mentioned.  cool

Vin
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vi) Forum guidelines

A detailed response to Swansea Branch’s proposal has now been received from the Internet Committee.

MOTION 10 (Tenner & Browne)

“The EC accepts the arguments in the Internet Committee’s response and does not approve Swansea Branch’s SPGB Forum guidelines.”

AGREED 6-0-0

 

Anyone know where I  can get a copy of both docs?

 

gnome
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Vin wrote:

vi) Forum guidelines

A detailed response to Swansea Branch’s proposal has now been received from the Internet Committee.

MOTION 10 (Tenner & Browne)

“The EC accepts the arguments in the Internet Committee’s response and does not approve Swansea Branch’s SPGB Forum guidelines.”

AGREED 6-0-0

Anyone know where I  can get a copy of both docs?

Normally one would ask Head Office for sight of documents like these but as we do not have a General Secretary or Head Office Organiser at present I may have the temerity to put them up on the forum strangely enough.  I think that would be in everyone's interest.

Vin
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ii) Report from the Audio-Visual Committee dated 25th July 2017

"We are unable to obtain the Party's YouTube account details and are therefore unable to access and improve audio and visual material and in particular unable to upload party material for the Internet Committee to disseminate.”

MOTION 12 (Chesham & Tenner)

"That the Internet Committee be asked for their urgent reply."

AGREED 5-0-0

Doesn't seem to be much urgency applied here.  Aren't we entitled to an explanation?

ALB
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Vin, please lay off the Internet Committee. Like yourself, they are volunteers doing work for the Party in their free time, key work actually, such as maintaining and running this site which is taking the place of the Standard as our flagship.  Continually sniping at them doesn't help. The same applies to those running our Facebook page.

In any event, what you are suggesting would open the door to chaos. It makes sense to have one committee in charge of the whole site, not individual committees or individual members adding stuff that might not necessarily fit into the whole. The same principle applies to the computers at Head Office: only one person can upload new programmes. That's the efficient way of doing things.

Vin
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It is "opening the door to caos" to allow the Audio Visual Committee access to the Audio Visual material?

 

Simple Yes or no will do.

Vin
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ALB wrote:

Continually sniping at them doesn't help. 

That's because I love doing that? I have nothing better to do? 

 

ALB
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Not the AV committee in particular but more than one committee. Same applies to Socialist Standard Committee , Publications Committee, Election Committee. Best to have just one committee in charge of  actually putting stuff on. That was my point.

Vin
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With regard to motion 4.  

 As this issue is of monumental importance to the future of the party shouldn't as many members as possible be involved in the early stages? and as the issue is not unrelated to the growth of digital communications, what about an online discussion, about the changes, on the party's forum with all members invited?   
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