Organisation update

March 2024 Forums World Socialist Movement Organisation update

  • This topic has 243 replies, 22 voices, and was last updated 6 years ago by Brian.
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  • #130671
    Brian
    Participant
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    As a political party, our effective functional membership is less than a hundred. And it is on that figure we must now base all our decisions and proposals, and no longer a fictitious card-carrying number. 

    Just because a total of 87 members responded this is not to say its a final figure on party activity.  I strongly suspect that many members made a distinction between what they consider to be party activity and socialist activity. If I'm correct it means directing our efforts at getting rid of that false distinction.[/quote]

    Quote:
    Perhaps, as Gnome suggests for his own branch, a paring of the dead leaves is necessary, a weeding out, so to permit healthy growth of the Party.I'm not happy with that suggestion and will be pleased if it can be rebuffed with a more optimistic suggestion.

    Quote:

     A weeding out wont serve any useful purpose when the problem is for the party to engage with the isolated members and to get them involved in activity of a socialist nature.  This is not to say that the membership data base needs bringing up-to-date when the distribution and returns made this a foregone conclusion.  But it only needs bringing up-to-date in respect of those members who are no longer with us and passed away.

     [/quote]

    #130672
    robbo203
    Participant
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
     I'll leave others to do the maths but it now seems like most of the Party doesn't give a toss for the Party's survival, certainly not enough concern to put aside 10 minutes to answer this survey, so we can't expect any physical assistance or internet contributions from them, can we, no matter how member-friendly we make the organisational structure.This places everything into perspective.As a political party, our effective functional membership is less than a hundred. And it is on that figure we must now base all our decisions and proposals, and no longer a fictitious card-carrying number.Perhaps, as Gnome suggests for his own branch, a paring of the dead leaves is necessary, a weeding out, so to permit healthy growth of the Party. 

     I would not go along with this idea of some kind of mass cull, or weeding out, of non active members  at all, Alan. I think its a terrible idea to be perfectly honest. I think it would be utterly devastating in its pschological impact on the Party.  The loss of morale would be incalculable  and it would set in motion a vicious circle of decline.  Organic metaphors comparing the Party, or any other form of organisation for that matter, to a plant of tree are seriously misleading and, in any case,  as someone who does tree surgey as part of my work I can tell you that over-pruning some kinds of trees can very easily  kill them. The fact that many members are not active does not mean they are not socialists and fully entitled to remain members,  The focus is completely wrong here. All organisations display a spectrum of membership participation – from the hyperactive to the inactive. Its just a fact of life and we shouldnt expect the SPGB to be any different. What we should be looking for instead is ways to increase the particapitation rate.  Instead of looking to prune away the "dead" leaves or, more literally , the dead branches, we should be looking to see how we could encourage the green shoots of growth among the currently inactive part of the membership. Again and again I keep coming back to this point.  Any serious re-organisation of the Party has to take into account the kinds of activities that Party currently engages in.  My basic argument is that it is the very limited and restricted range of acitivities that the Party engages in that is primarily responsible  for generating this organisational dichotomy of a relative inactive majority and hyper active minority.  The lack of involvement by large numbers of members arises from the fact that they simply dont see any way at present in which they could meaningfully contribute to the Party's growth.  There is little or no opportunity for them to do anything really useful.   The restricted range of activities on offer effectively excludes them from participation and reduces them to the status of passive consumers. From where I am standing, there seems to be little if any attempt by the Party to reach out to such members to actually engage them.  What attempts there are seem to consist in occasional calls for volunteers to fill the various posts pertaining to the running the central apparatus of the Party.  For a great many members, given the geographical spread of the Party this is totally impractical and it only serves to reinforce a sense of isolation I am saying that what we should be doing is adapting the nature of activity to suits the circumstances of the members  themselves – NOT expect the members to adapt to the organisation and the way it has been doing things for the past 113 years or so.   We need to expand the range of activities that the Party currently engages so as to give people  much more in the way of opportunities to participate meaningfully in what the Party is doing in ways that suit them and fire their enthusiasm.   You join the Party and apart from the welcoming pack you receive along with your membership card –  I still havent received mine yet since rejoining though no doubt it is in the post  – but thats it as far as the Party is concerned.  You are on your own and its more or less entirely up to you what you do next.  So the rot sets in right at the very beginning.   There is little or no serious attempt to reach out and engage members on their own terms not only at the beginning but on an ongoing basis.  Even something simple like a monthly Party newsletter would help here and if we do get  fulltime paid staff at HO this could be one or his/her designated tasks The Party needs to significantly expand the range of activities it engages in so as to give members (and sypamthisers) much more in the way of opportunities to participate and it needs to be much more proactive in reaching out to these members.  That involves a more decentralised and networked approach to activity (albeit it backed up by more effective centrl support).  I have given a number of examples of what this could entail. – see my earlier post 131 – but  I am sure others here can come up similar examples of  innovative ways of involving the membership more fully. Unless we broaden and deepen the pattern of interactions that go on within the organisation there will be little to bind members together in a sense of common purpose..  The majority will continue to remain inactive and isolated not knowing how they can  usefully contribute to the growth of the Party quite simply becuase there are few if any practical  opportuniies available to them to make such a contribution

    #130673
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    'Activity' is they keyword here. I nearly didn't return the survey for a number of reasons, nor do I attend schools, branches etc but I do not consider myself inactive and if I need pruning I'll do it myself, thanks 

    #130674
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    robbo203 wrote:
     I would not go along with this idea of some kind of mass cull, or weeding out, of non active members  at all, Alan. I think its a terrible idea to be perfectly honest. I think it would be utterly devastating in its pschological impact on the Party.  The loss of morale would be incalculable  and it would set in motion a vicious circle of decline.  Organic metaphors comparing the Party, or any other form of organisation for that matter, to a plant of tree are seriously misleading and, in any case,  as someone who does tree surgey as part of my work I can tell you that over-pruning some kinds of trees can very easily  kill them. The fact that many members are not active does not mean they are not socialists and fully entitled to remain members,  The focus is completely wrong here. All organisations display a spectrum of membership participation – from the hyperactive to the inactive. Its just a fact of life and we shouldnt expect the SPGB to be any different. What we should be looking for instead is ways to increase the particapitation rate.  Instead of looking to prune away the "dead" leaves or, more literally , the dead branches, we should be looking to see how we could encourage the green shoots of growth among the currently inactive part of the membership. Again and again I keep coming back to this point.  Any serious re-organisation of the Party has to take into account the kinds of activities that Party currently engages in.  My basic argument is that it is the very limited and restricted range of acitivities that the Party engages in that is primarily responsible  for generating this organisational dichotomy of a relative inactive majority and hyper active minority.  The lack of involvement by large numbers of members arises from the fact that they simply dont see any way at present in which they could meaningfully contribute to the Party's growth.  There is little or no opportunity for them to do anything really useful.   The restricted range of activities on offer effectively excludes them from participation and reduces them to the status of passive consumers. From where I am standing, there seems to be little if any attempt by the Party to reach out to such members to actually engage them.  What attempts there are seem to consist in occasional calls for volunteers to fill the various posts pertaining to the running the central apparatus of the Party.  For a great many members, given the geographical spread of the Party this is totally impractical and it only serves to reinforce a sense of isolation I am saying that what we should be doing is adapting the nature of activity to suits the circumstances of the members  themselves – NOT expect the members to adapt to the organisation and the way it has been doing things for the past 113 years or so.   We need to expand the range of activities that the Party currently engages so as to give people  much more in the way of opportunities to participate meaningfully in what the Party is doing in ways that suit them and fire their enthusiasm.   You join the Party and apart from the welcoming pack you receive along with your membership card –  I still havent received mine yet since rejoining though no doubt it is in the post  – but thats it as far as the Party is concerned.  You are on your own and its more or less entirely up to you what you do next.  So the rot sets in right at the very beginning.   There is little or no serious attempt to reach out and engage members on their own terms not only at the beginning but on an ongoing basis.  Even something simple like a monthly Party newsletter would help here and if we do get  fulltime paid staff at HO this could be one or his/her designated tasks The Party needs to significantly expand the range of activities it engages in so as to give members (and sypamthisers) much more in the way of opportunities to participate and it needs to be much more proactive in reaching out to these members.  That involves a more decentralised and networked approach to activity (albeit it backed up by more effective centrl support).  I have given a number of examples of what this could entail. – see my earlier post 131 – but  I am sure others here can come up similar examples of  innovative ways of involving the membership more fully. Unless we broaden and deepen the pattern of interactions that go on within the organisation there will be little to bind members together in a sense of common purpose..  The majority will continue to remain inactive and isolated not knowing how they can  usefully contribute to the growth of the Party quite simply becuase there are few if any practical  opportuniies available to them to make such a contribution

     

    #130678
    ALB
    Keymaster
    robbo203 wrote:
    I would not go along with this idea of some kind of mass cull, or weeding out, of non active members  at all, Alan. I think its a terrible idea to be perfectly honest. I think it would be utterly devastating in its pschological impact on the Party.  The loss of morale would be incalculable  and it would set in motion a vicious circle of decline.  (….)The fact that many members are not active does not mean they are not socialists and fully entitled to remain members,  The focus is completely wrong here. All organisations display a spectrum of membership participation – from the hyperactive to the inactive. Its just a fact of life and we shouldnt expect the SPGB to be any different. What we should be looking for instead is ways to increase the particapitation rate.  Instead of looking to prune away the "dead" leaves or, more literally , the dead branches, we should be looking to see how we could encourage the green shoots of growth among the currently inactive part of the membership.

    Precisely. Couldn't have put it better myself or so politely.I'm afraid, Alan, you are becoming a caricature of yourself. The good news is that, although you are a moaning minnie, you are not a cassandra.

    #130679
    robbo203
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    robbo203 wrote:
    I would not go along with this idea of some kind of mass cull, or weeding out, of non active members  at all, Alan. I think its a terrible idea to be perfectly honest. I think it would be utterly devastating in its pschological impact on the Party.  The loss of morale would be incalculable  and it would set in motion a vicious circle of decline.  (….)The fact that many members are not active does not mean they are not socialists and fully entitled to remain members,  The focus is completely wrong here. All organisations display a spectrum of membership participation – from the hyperactive to the inactive. Its just a fact of life and we shouldnt expect the SPGB to be any different. What we should be looking for instead is ways to increase the particapitation rate.  Instead of looking to prune away the "dead" leaves or, more literally , the dead branches, we should be looking to see how we could encourage the green shoots of growth among the currently inactive part of the membership.

    Precisely. Couldn't have put it better myself or so politely.I'm afraid, Alan, you are becoming a caricature of yourself. The good news is that, although you are a moaning minnie, you are not a cassandra.

     To be fair, though, Alan was not  really making this suggestion.  What he actually said was  "I'm not happy with that suggestion and will be pleased if it can be rebuffed with a more optimistic suggestion" My criticism was directed at the suggestion, not Alan's  point of view, and to continue in the metaphorical vein,  it is a suggestion that needs to be "nipped in the bud"

    #130675
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    " WOE, WOE AND THRICE WOE"

    #130676
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    Brian wrote:
    A weeding out wont serve any useful purpose when the problem is for the party to engage with the isolated members and to get them involved in activity of a socialist nature. 

    In Kent and Sussex we've probably done more than most branches in attempting to get our members "involved in activity of a socialist nature" but to no avail.  Demoralisation within the party is already at an advanced stage and the abysmal survey return of 26% will do little to ameliorate matters.  Anyways, I'm taking a longish break during which I shall doubtless consider my own options.

    #130680
    Brian
    Participant
    robbo203 wrote:
    I am saying that what we should be doing is adapting the nature of activity to suits the circumstances of the members  themselves – NOT expect the members to adapt to the organisation and the way it has been doing things for the past 113 years or so.   We need to expand the range of activities that the Party currently engages so as to give people  much more in the way of opportunities to participate meaningfully in what the Party is doing in ways that suit them and fire their enthusiasm. 

    Totally agree, but this bespoke tailored approach has to be a planned process of project management so there's a steady growth in socialist activity. Project managment ensures there's constant assessment and evaluation on the successes and failures on party growth at each stage of the project.  This precludes a pilot module so the project feeds on 'Best Practice' every step of the way.In regards for the need to expand the range of party activity the committee has already had two brainstorming sessions on this subject.  And no doubt there'll be several more before we write up the report.  So far we have identified that our IT needs upgrading and further applications and platforms procured to enable a general expansion in socialist activity. However, we have also identified there are several activities which can be developed now using the present IT.  Unfortunately, until we have a General Secretary in post with the necessary skills and experience to kickstart them, this is not going to happen.

    #130681
    HollyHead
    Participant

    COSTS RELATING TO THE EMPLOYMENTOF A PAID HO ORGANISER (As of 2009)Report from the Treasurers (December 2009.)The thorny question of rates of pay was not raised at ADM.We have therefore estimated the cost of employing someone at the National Minimum Wage (currently [2009]) £5.80 per hour = £232 per week = £928 per month)and at twice NMW rate (£11.60 per hour = £464 per week = £1856 per month) for a forty hour week.Income tax also becomes deductible at 20 per cent on earnings over £125 per week.National Insurance Contributions are (currently) deductible from earnings over £95 per week at 11 per cent of earnings.Employers are also liable to pay Contributions at 12.8 per cent of earnings.Assuming we pay an employee £232 p.w. the employee will have £25.52 NIC deducted and the Party will have to contribute £29.70.At the higher rate the deductions are £51.04 and £59.39.Yearly cost to the Party £12,468 or at higher rate £25,122[Remember these rates are ten years old! and also lets bear in mind London cost of living rates]

    #130677
    HollyHead
    Participant

    We seem to have been here before comrades!TREASURERS REPORT RE THE PROPOSAL TO EMPLOY A PARTY MEMBER AS HEAD OFFICE ORGANISER [1998][Edited December 2017] Annual Conference discussed the possibility of paying a Party member to carry out the duties and functions of Head Office Organiser… This Report reflects my understanding of the current [1998] legal position. …EMPLOYMENT STATUS. [1] Some suggestions were made at Conference that the Party could decide for itself to treat the matter as one of internal administration and that the Comrade appointed be treated as being self-employed for the purpose of remuneration and be deemed responsible for his own ‘stamp’.Sadly we cannot do this.Although the terms ‘employment’ and ‘self-employment’ are not defined in the legislation a person’s employment status is in fact decided by applying the following criteria:Does the person run a business on his own account taking the profits and being responsible for any losses?Do they risk their own money in the business?Do they provide their own tools and equipment?Are they free from the instruction and guidance of another (outside the terms and conditions of a contract regarding the work to be undertaken)?Do they work in their own time ?Can they send a substitute to cover any or all aspects of the work?Are they free to undertake other work at the same time?[2] If the answers to the above are in the main ‘yes’ then the person is self-employed.Clearly the Comrade filling the proposed paid post would not be in this category but in the category of ‘employed earner’ being paid an agreed amount per week/month for a set number of hours attendance.The Head Office Organiser is under the direction of the Party as a whole via the EC and Conference Resolutions, EC instructions, set Terms of Reference etc etc. That is he/she is under  a contract of service.The HMRC would have no difficulty at all in proving in court that what exists between the Party and the proposed Head Office Organiser is a contract of service, and not a contract for services to be provided by someone who is self-employed.IMPLICATIONS. [1] Both the Party and the Comrade employed would therefore be liable for National Insurance contributions paid as a percentage of earnings.When the current National Insurance scheme was implemented in 1975 it was the intention that all premises carrying on a business should be visited by a National Insurance Inspector at least once every [?three] years to ensure that the regulations were being complied with. HMRC Inspectors now have targets to meet and quotas for contributions “found” unpaid.HO has not [yet] had such a survey — a visit could be prompted by a “squeal” from a disaffected former Party member as was the case when a member of the EC was challenged while in receipt of Incapacity Benefit not so long ago. CONCLUSIONS. [1] The Party cannot fill the post of Head Office Organiser by paying a Comrade as a ‘Self-Employed’ person. To do so runs the risk of petty involvement in unnecessary legal wrangling with the HMRC which the Party would very likely loose.[2] Do we have the willingness and resources necessary to set up and keep the records required.At the moment I think not.

    #130682
    Brian
    Participant
    HollyHead wrote:
     [Remember these rates are ten years old! and also lets bear in mind London cost of living rates]

    The present average payment in London (2017) for a full-time Office Manager is £31,789 p.a. and for an office administrator its £20,748 p.a.

    #130683
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    Brian wrote:
    HollyHead wrote:
     [Remember these rates are ten years old! and also lets bear in mind London cost of living rates]

    The present average payment in London (2017) for a full-time Office Manager is £31,789 p.a. and for an office administrator its £20,748 p.a.

    And for a Project Manager between £42,000 and £49,000 p.ahttps://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Salaries/london-project-manager-salary-SRCH_IL.0,6_IM1035_KO7,22.htm

    #130684
    jondwhite
    Participant

    Lets keep in mind the SWP and SPEW employ not one or two staff, or a handful but dozens. There is a political case against staff and practical legal barriers with dire serious consequences but if they are insurmountable then why are SWP and SPEW employing staff?

    #130685
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

     Certainly, Hollyhead's post makes us cautious and considering the many changes in employment law it means we need to take professional up-to-date advice from an employment expert. Also, we should think that for members outwith London applying for a full-time job, living above shop at HO may well be a necessity and brings its own set of employment rules that must be abided by.But i fear anything less than following the letter of the law will lead to complications in the future. Do we want to be in a position that a future employee of the Party has a falling out and takes industrial action against ourselves and the EC has to cross a picket lineThe other option is to "bribe" volunteers with generous out-of-pocket expenses but this too may well not be clear-cut tax-wise or for those on some sort of benefits.

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