The Gang of Four

Zombie Walk by Moggs Oceanlane

Despite an air of secrecy, I am now in a position to name, tentatively, the members of the anti-audit faction who are now claiming legitimacy to run the Libertarian Party and to invite donations:

  • Andrew Withers (who’s work is the subject of the proposed audit, resigned April 2011)
  • Liam Hillman (former regional co-ordinator, resigned May 2011)
  • Ian Parker-Joseph (former party leader, who stood down in 2009)
  • Nic Coombe (former chair, also resigned in April/May 2011)

It is also possible that the “committee of four Libertarian Party UK members” includes John Watson, who has posted sympathetic pieces on the Scottish regional blog. John resigned as treasurer in April/May and was replaced by Simon Fawthrop [UPDATE: I just located a comment in the trash folder where JW denies involvement].

Of these only Andrew, Liam and Ian have posted online on their own behalf, so there is a question over Nic Coombe. In Liam’s case he confirmed for me by email that he had updated my address on the Party database. Andrew has stated he intends to put something in the post to members, so I’m pleased to have my details updated, but I am appalled Liam, who resigned membership, is in any position to modify this data which is the property of the Party.

The data should be in the care of the the officers of the Party who, where not appointed by the membership, should have been appointed by an action of the NCC at a quorate meeting. I am told by NCC members that, of course, no such meeting has occurred. The purpose of this democratic accountability is to ensure that the individuals appointed are capable of performing their duties well. The membership database is a key function of the Party and is used to determine who, at any time, has the right to vote on certain matters and hold positions. At present, this is an awesome responsibility.

Ian Parker-Joseph is at least a member, but cannot have been appointed an officer. He seems to some extent to be acting in the role of Communications Director, which is a post held uncontroversially by Ken Ferguson.

Two other members of this group have been replaced by the emergency meeting which named Gavin Webb and Tim Carpenter as leader and chair. Gavin’s membership was retrospectively disputed by Andrew Withers who insisted that payment to the bank account opened by Simon Fawthrop was not a legitimate method of rejoining the Party. This explanation does not hold moral validity and the constitution is silent on it. In my view then, Gavin is now chairman and not Nic, as is claimed.

Tim is rightfully Party leader, by virtue of a unanimous vote of the NCC which members appointed in November. I understand that Andrew Withers disputes this on the basis that he himself has not relinquished legal accountability to the Electoral Commission, a group that no member voted to appoint arbiter. Of course, the NCC have demanded he update this record, to no avail.

Andrew will claim that his position as leader is actively mandated by the Electoral Commission, by way of his name being registered as such. This would in fact be a conflict between the constitution and electoral law, which the constitution subordinates itself to. Since he has not published the “avoidance of doubt” advice received from the EC, members are left to trust his word on this point. An alternative interpretation is that Andrew remains accountable to the Electoral Commission, but is no longer in office due to his own resignation and the subsequent appointment of a replacement.

Simon Gibbs

Simon is a London based IT contractor and the proprietor of Libertarian Home. Working with logic and cause-and-effect each day he was naturally attracted to nerdy libertarianism and later to the benevolent logic of Objectivism. Find him on Google+ 

  16 comments for “The Gang of Four

  1. pavel
    Jul 29, 2011 at 11:36 am

    ..why not to create another libertarian party in the UK? Imho there are more interesting things to do than discussing for 3.5 months “who is the real leader”..

    • Jul 29, 2011 at 12:02 pm

      Absolutely, though it is also important to challenge people who are doing wrong. If we didn’t waft the odour, some poor soul might miss the bad smell and get sucked in. It is an issue of justice that we do talk about it.

      The trick is not spending so much time on it that we fail to do thing things that are even more important.

      • pavel
        Jul 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm

        OK, at the moment LPUK with Andrew Withers smells bad – but imho everyone knows this story, thanks to independent bloggers. The problem is there are no alternatives to LPUK currently, LPUK is so to say the Monopolist. If in Germany or in Russia there are 2-3 libertarian parties (and knowing the language you can identify which one matches your ideals), in the UK I know only LPUK (and I cannot say UKIP is a libertarian party).
        Justice and providing the labels who is bad/good should be rather a question of natural competition, than main activity of the only libertarian party here.

  2. pavel
    Jul 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    After all, if there were Spitfire/Banana party with 300+ members explaining what libertarianism means for different groups of society – Andrew Withers could have his LPUK with 3-4 members.

  3. Ken Ferguson
    Jul 29, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    It is important to know that the NCC, as elected, is still functioning and will continue to resist the hi-jacking of the party by the rump of former officials.

    The statement at the bottom of the announcement is untrue.

    “This notice is published after consultation with all the legally responsible officers and as many members of the NCC as could be engaged.”

    As far as I am aware, Nic Coome did not contact or consult any NCC member prior to publication.

    More soon.

    • John Watson
      Aug 1, 2011 at 2:01 pm

      Just to get a clearer picture. What communications has occurred or efforts of communications between the current NCC and the current legal officers over the past past few months (not the last few weeks)?

  4. Jul 29, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    According to wikipedia the following are currently registered as political parties in UK:

    Communist Party of Britain
    Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
    Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
    Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee)
    New Communist Party of Britain
    Revolutionary Communist Group
    Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

    And that’s just the commies! Anyone fancy starting Libertian Party of Great Britain or Libertian Party (Hayakian-Rothbardian)?

    • Jul 29, 2011 at 8:15 pm

      I must be exhausted, I can’t even spell Libertarian!

    • pavel
      Jul 30, 2011 at 1:00 am

      So named K-Groups (small communist parties in the West) is an interesting phenomeon. For example “According to the party’s accounts for the year 2005,[6] it had income and expenditure around the £100,000 mark, of which £34,000 is spent on staff salaries.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_of_Britain
      Not bad for a party with ~1k members.

  5. Jul 30, 2011 at 8:02 am

    I sympathise with Pavel’s wish to move on from the debacle of the LPUK, but Simon is right that we cannot allow those who have misused funds, concealed information and lied to the members to pretend that they are legitimate officers of the Party.

    Libertarian politics goes and we should not cease our political activity. However, there needs to be as much clarity as possible in having a Party that can contest elections with registration at the Electoral Commission.

    It is entertaining to list all the Marxist schisms, but it does not give us any guide. The quasi-religious antics of the extreme left are a symptom of their terminal decline. Libertarians need to be involved in the practical issue of restoring individual freedom and limiting the the over blown state.

    We have to clear out our own corrupt politicians to be fit to do that.

    • Jul 30, 2011 at 6:59 pm

      I think Andy’s point was much narrower, that the similarity of the names is pointer to a specific course of action: registering a party under a similar name.

      • pavel
        Jul 30, 2011 at 11:59 pm

        But who want to register these parties/movements? IMHO Max, Richard, James wanted to lead something?

        One of the core activities of a libertarian party I can see in explaining to a grandmother/people who heard nothing about libertarianism what is it and how is it supposed to work, with examples from other countries/centuries/etc.

        Supporting libertarian candidates for elections is definitely a good thing, but how can individual freedom/etc. be restored by a party with 5-20-400 members?

        Would it be possible for us to quit from the LPUK in order to leave The Gang of Four alone? However it’ll be useful to join another libertarian party with sound policy and keyrings beforehand 🙂

        Can a party exist with only 4 members? Or may be I’m wrong and it is worth spending another 3.5 months in discussions about Andrew Withers, in the middle of November there will be more interesting things to do, buy Christmas presents for example 🙂

        • Jul 31, 2011 at 9:33 am

          You name two things that are arguably useless. In a libertarian party would we really all want to adhere to one set of policies? One of our most effective candidates was Andrew Hunt, who stood on an ultra-local platform of *not* bull dozing a library.

          Keyrings etc are nice, but the biggest material items is leaflets, which is also a local problem as the issues will be different. These are the things that carry the message about how libertarianism applies to local people in their circumstances.

          Even the party name is optional, as Gavin Webb (excluded by Andrew Withers) demonstrated by running on an independent platform in Uttoxeter Town parish with a libertarian description on the ballot.

          I believe the main challenges are locally deployed volunteers to distribute leaflets, canvass etc and the money to supply leaflets and subsidise travel.

          Does anyone know differently? Is there anything else that challenges candidates?

          • pavel
            Jul 31, 2011 at 10:36 am

            Well, to support libertarian candidates there is no need for a party. You can create a page on libertarianhome.co.uk “We are looking for libertarian candidates, tell us how many leaflets/volunteers you need and a paypal button will appear on this website”.

            Not sure all candidates will support *not* bull dozing a library, some could be opposite with ideas like “Let’s close East End Life News and save 5 buckets of money on printing, distributing and recycling it. Saved money will be used to buy Road to Serfdom for everyone/etc.” 🙂

            Another question is how to get enough visitors on this website/increase if not the membership (of what?) but at least explain to more people what is libertarianism.

Comments are closed.