Financial transparency & accountability
The proposals contained in this document illustrate the need for more disciplined oversight by the NCC – and in particular by the Leader and Chair – of how the party is run. One notable area for improvement is that of how the party deals with its finances, including membership subscriptions, donations, monies raised through fundraising, and spending on election campaigns.
In keeping with the ethos of devolution, it is proposed that each local party, if they are a formal accounting unit, must have a Treasurer, and that each local party is responsible for the management of funds generated at that level, including membership subscriptions, donations and monies raised from fundraising. This devolved approach will mean that each local party must adhere to Electoral Commission regulations. The NCC, in its enabling role, will ensure that local parties receive the training required to undertake these responsibilities.
It is also proposed that most of the monies raised at the local party level will remain with the local party, with only 50% of membership subscriptions being requested by the UK party for national administration and campaigning purposes. Of course, this percentage can be reviewed at another time, but at this stage this is the proposal.
As well as this devolved approach, it is proposed the party will publish a statement of accounts on a quarterly basis. The party will attempt to be a open and transparent as it possibly can be, in accordance with all relevant legal requirements, including data protection. This requirement will apply to both the UK party and any local party that has become an accounting unit. Quarterly publication, as opposed to monthly, has been proposed in recognition that individuals taking on the role of Treasurer do so on a voluntary basis.
On the matter of expenses, the author believes it is entirely reasonable to expect officers at both the NCC and local party level not to be out of pocket. Officers may wish to make donations to the party, which should of course be recorded, but that is a matter for them. Should they have to purchase stationery to keep the membership informed, they should be able to as long as the expenditure is known about, and that receipts are logged for accounting purposes.
Dealing with the media
New media, although growing, is not the only medium from which people get their daily information and news. It remains the case that newspapers, radio and TV play a major part in informing the masses. The party needs to make concerted efforts to access these to promote Libertarian Party policies, messages and principles.
Some media is more difficult to access than others. Newspapers and radio is easier than TV; local is easier than national. On this basis, local parties and activists have an important role to play in building a database of media contacts which they will share with the UK party.
Identifying local newspaper and radio journalists and providing them with good quality, credible content, activists will be working to build positive, long-term relations with some of the community’s most important opinion-makers. The ‘them and us’ mentality that exists amongst some libertarian circles has no place in a confident and bold Libertarian Party.
The author is aware that there are possibly other areas within the party structure and management that could benefit from reform, but in the interests of presenting a document that can be read in reasonable time, he hopes this set of proposals at least give members and friends of the party an idea of what direction – if the will exists – the party could travel.
The proposals argue for structure, discipline, accountability, and most of all, trust. The latter, which is the most important factor of any relationship, is the one thing that needs to be worked on the most. These proposals in themselves will help rebuild trust, give individuals the opportunity to influence, get involved and be active.
The Libertarian Party can have a bright, confident and strong future if that is the desire of its members, activists and friends. Let’s move on, put the bad-feeling behind us. Let’s get down to work. Let’s have a fresh start.