So how was Southwark?

The Rose and Crown, Photographed by Ewan Munro

It was good to see so many people getting reacquainted with one another over a few Spitfires. Promotion here, on Outspoken Rabbit (thank you Daz) and on twitter lead to attendance quadrupling on last month. Rumours that Andrew Withers and Nic Coome would be joining us may have helped, but proved unsubstantiated (I’m told that Mr Withers had to attend a board meeting which was arranged after initially accepting an invitation).

As always, the discussion was wide-ranging. I’ll try to summarise the best I can.

There was a level of interest in renewing LPUK but general pessimism about the likelihood of success. The chief concern was that any money given to the rump would not be in safe hands, and the members present suggested they would not renew. The assumption appeared to be that Simon Fawthrop’s action to extend memberships indefinitely would not be honoured. The second issue was that the AGM is not yet announced so cannot occur before December, when members may have other things to attend to. Nic or Andrew could have offered some reassurance on all this, if they had attended.

Tim Carpenter, filling the role of leader, took to a bench to suggest that members should be prepared to risk a small fee if it helps to ensure the Party gets back on track. It was a long speech but the feedback was that some matters needed to be attended to. There was an expectation that the AGM should be held in November, or else a Christmas date avoided, and that it should ideally be held in London. The unfilled post of Treasurer was the subject of some discussion and Tim’s commitment to request disclosure of the accounts to prospective candidates was received with cynicism, but was seen to be important.

From the floor there were a couple of suggestions for alternative courses of action outwith the party and speculation that the community is not ready yet for a Party anyway. I reiterated the role Libertarian Home can play in providing a space to discuss these suggestions further and I’ve invited articles on these ideas from the proposers. For now, I will keep quiet so as not to pre-empt their announcements. I went away with another action point, which is to establish a mailing list to carry announcements on these topics. I anticipate this will take a newsletter format until there enough going on to justify setting up and moderating additional discussion spaces.

I’d also like to point people towards the Webb-Andronichuk proposals, which came up again in conversation around detailed issues.

The conversation moved on to libertarian campaigning especially the choice of campaign  issue were a favourite. James Rigby made some interesting points about how strongly emotive issues are a less fertile ground. There was emphasis on lifestyle choices that had been criminalised and practical issues that affected easily identifiable groups. In short, tax and prohibition.

The next theme was how to get the messages out there. There were lots of idea and one common problem, without methodical organisation and a core team of paid staff none of them would gain the momentum necessary to be effective.

There is clearly demand then for a libertarian campaigning organisation, but the shape of that organisation is up for debate.

8 Comments

  1. I can’t agree with the penultimate paragraph where you state that without “a core team of paid staff none of them [the ideas and messages] would gain..momentum”. I do not believe that paid staff should be part of any solution – until we’ve a membership measured in the high thousands. In fact, any payment for people’s time in the current party climate would almost certainly be a bad thing. By all means let the party pay for web hosting, stationery, printing and essential travel for party business – but no more.

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    1. James.

      It is down to supply and demand, if you issue to many requirements and responsibilities on to an individual, then the chances of willing volunteer to do the work for nothing is highly unlikely. The party/organisation would then need to consider reducing the requirements/responsibility or pay/reward that individual for taking on that particular role.

      In the month before I resigned there had been individuals demanding more from the treasurer than what is legally or constitutionally required including what I regarded verbal legal threats.

      To this date there has no one who has stepped forward to take on the permanent treasurer role from Andrew and this issue which I keep raising has not been addressed and until then the current leader will still be treasurer.

      John

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    2. If paid staff is important after we have 1000 members, then why is it undesirable when the membership is between 1 and 999 members, and the project has upto 1000 times fewer resources available to it?

      BTW, the post has been edited for quality, grammar and spelling.

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      1. It’s about money, motivation and proberty.

        Money: With few members, there will not be much money to pay anyone. Even with 1000 members, all paying £15, the party will only have £15,000 and that goes quickly when you pay people.

        Motivation: One would expect with a new party that those fighting to create it/save it would be willing to give some time. If those who are in at the start are not prepared to give a little time, then there’s not much hope for the entire movement.

        Proberty: There have been questions asked of some of the party leaders regarding the use of party funds. No satisfactory answers appear to have been forthcoming. In such a climate, is it wise to consider using party funds to pay people to do work. It is open to abuse! If I were leader, perhaps I’d employ my brother to do £5,000 worth of research! Wouldn’t look too good. Any payments to people are bound, in a small party, to result in questions of value and proberty.

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      2. The sum of money is not fixed at £15 or 1000 people, I suggest £120 and 1250 people. More that 1% of that number turned up on Thursday, that could have been 1% of a target reached if we’d had something for them to sign on to.

        The rest of your comment deserves a longer treatment.

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  2. Rumours that Andrew Withers and Nic Coombe would be joining us may have helped, but proved unsubstantiated (I’m told that Mr Withers had to attend board meeting which was arranged after initially accepting an invitation).

    ============================================================================

    I was happy to attend (Andrew did indeed have another engagement that evening) and was in email contact with an individual (presumably from the SE Group). On 22 August that person sent me a message with the following phrase in it:- “… some libertarians are even keen on ordering a functional room and bringing some audio-video-photo recording equipment”. My response was to ask what the purpose of that was, as I have been the subject of considerable abuse and vilification in the past and was not prepared to face a lynch mob. I never received a response to that and therefore inferred that I had been ‘un-invited’. N.b. in the interests of individual privacy, I have not revealed the name of the person who contacted me, but will be happy to do so if s/he is content with that.

    I am still prepared to attend a meeting in London if I can get assurances over the “audio-video-photo recording” and the uses to which any output from such a recording will be put and also that my appearance will be treated with respect and that the whole thing will not turn into a bear-pit.

    By the way, in the interests of accuracy, it is probably better to spell my name correctly as insertion of the letter ‘b’ into any email address will lead to communication failure.

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    1. @Nic

      In that email “some libertarians” obviously meant me. P mentioned he’d contacted you and I suggested it would be more civilised if people knew it were being filmed. Also, P suggested the meeting could be very well attended and people might not be able to see and hear you properly on the day.

      In case you would still like to come I suggest we take this conversation offline and work on some straightforward precautions. Nothing you mention cannot be fixed.

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