Does Withers want to go it alone?

Zombie Walk by Moggs Oceanlane

Ian Parker-Joseph’s new company is hosting a website, at libertarianpartyuk.com with a PayPal button inviting members to donate to the “Libertarian Party” and renew memberships. The site gives an unfamiliar address at Gemini Business Centre in Brighton. The NCC is not presently in control of all the Party’s known bank accounts so where this money goes is a matter of some concern. The Paypal feature appears to be going to a new account.

The obvious inferrence to be made is that Andrew Withers wants to keep the party open, rather than deregistering it. The idea that Andrew Withers will be able to meaningfully lead a Libertarian Party and achieve any legitimate goal is barking mad, but having dealt with Andrew over an outstanding invoice it is apparent that wants to preserve the appearance of operation. He is at pains to use grand terms and give it the appearance of being operated properly. He talks of finance committees, purchase orders and money eventually being paid, if only I correct a typo in the Party name. Coupled with Andrew’s history of using of words like “coup” and “faction” in unlikely contexts; his insistence he is legitimate controller of the only legitimate bank account; and his name remaining stubbornly attached to the Party’s legal identity on the Register I wonder if he might actually get away with it? In this light, his actions with regards to LPUK.org appear particularly mendacious. With LPUK.org out of the way, the website and email broken, and control of the old blogspot account he can appear to all the world as if he is in fact the legitimate controller of the Party, rather than the NCC. The feelings of the activists he needed to lean on to make that happen are apparently acceptable collateral damage.

Who would be reassured by all this?

The mood at the Party’s most active institution – the Southwark drinks – is clearly not in his favour. I don’t believe the people there would ever return to trusting him again, even in the face of an innocent verdict and the backing of Lord Ashcroft. The likely audience are the Electoral Commission.

After the SGM the EC will be faced on the one hand with a group of people claiming a democratic mandate to run the Party and on the other hand a smaller but more vocal group – perhaps just Ian and Andrew – who appear to actually be running a Party and claiming their own smaller mandate. If the NCC are awarded control, members have a shot at ensuring the Party is reborn along more professional lines. If Andrew is awarded ownership then the doors might stay open, but it will be a Party of the walking dead existing forever as Andrew Withers desires. The word Libertarian on a ballot paper will be an unlikely fantasy.

For your own sake, and for goodness’ sake, get your vote in at the SGM by plane, train, post or pigeon.

 

Update: Hello all. The situation above annoys me, and I want to do something positive. There is a chance to catch up next week and the week after in London. Let’s use those opportunities to try and decide what to do.

LPUK.org is dead

Ken Ferguson explains, over at Outspoken Rabbit:

Withers … tried to have the party de-registered with the Electoral Commission. Having failed in this, he turned his attention to the website, not targeting those members brave enough to publicly call him out for what he had done, but threatening the person in whose name the domain was registered. This resulted in comments and posts being closed down and the website was mothballed.

Earlier this week it seems Withers was unhappy that new membership subscriptions were apparently being diverted from the party bank account that remains under his control.

I can confirm the bank details matched those announced by Simon Fawthrop, I updated that page myself and I can confirm the basic story that the web host, someone I consider a freind and a hardworking activist for the party, was leaned on in the manner indicated.

I can also predict, in case it’s needed, that you won’t be receiving any official emails for a while, as the systems are hosted in common at Heart Internet, and my guess is that the account there has closed.

NCC agrees SGM agenda outline

Image by Clagnut

I have been passed the following message for publication:

Dear member,

I hope you forgive me for contacting you all again in this manner, but am writing to you today to let you know that I, as promised, did call an NCC meeting. This meeting had the sole purpose to vote for announcing and then holding a Special General Meeting (SGM) so that the membership may vote on proposals on how to reform the Party and who will be on the NCC.

The meeting was quorate as per the constitution.

All attendees agreed that I should Chair the meeting.

The proposal to hold an SGM in accordance with the Constitution was agreed unanimously.

The proposal to have that SGM consist of a vote on reform proposals (after a presentation and Q&A for each) and NCC posts (likewise) was also agreed unanimously.

No other business was raised by any attendee.

The SGM announcement shall contain full details of the meeting and the mechanism surrounding reform proposals. The NCC aims to get this to you shortly.

Tim Carpenter
Policy Director
NCC
Libertarian Party

Source: Simon F refusing to handle membership enquries

Simon Fawthrop is now directing membership enquiries to Andrew Withers, referencing the fact that he (Simon) has stepped down as membership co-ordinator.

Of course, this now means Mr Withers is in a position of great (in fact total) responsibility. Given what Andrew has been accused of, it requires an enormous amount of trust to believe it is safe to allow Andrew to handle your money. Based on what I have been told (admittedly second hand) over the last three months, Andrew has not earned this amount of trust. I am therefore bound by integrity to recommend that members do not part with cash in this manner and do not join or renew membership of the Party until matters have come to a head.

I will note, as some might like to explore the edge cases, that to my knowledge the online membership process does not demand any financial information.

Tim Carpenter calls for an SGM

Image by Richard Rutter

In a message to emailed members, and available online, Tim Carpenter has announced his intention to call an SGM:

This meeting is essential, in my view, as the Leader, Chair and Treasurer have resigned without and still refusing to sign over replacements as per Electoral Law, and so these posts should, in my view, be filled by popular mandate

The constitution of the Party contains a serious flaw in that it places itself entirely under the sovereignty of electoral law. In effect, caving in, in advance, to any conflict between the electoral department of our imperfect government and the interests of the governed, however. This clause was cited in support of the argument that Andrew Withers, and Nic Coombe remain official leader and chair, since they remain registered as such. Since the treasurer has resigned, the electoral law is again sovereign when it nominates the leader to be interim treasurer.

In the message Tim pauses to condemn the continued withholding of financial information by the registered Treasurer:

The post of Treasurer may be problematic as access to the bank account and all historic documentation is still being withheld from the remaining members of the NCC, who, as per the Constitution, have a right to oversee the financial affairs of the Party. We hope the open and democratic nature of the above plan will make those responsible for this realise that I and others of the NCC wish the membership to decide the future of the party and to know what has happened. To resist that request is, in my view, to hold the membership in contempt and I will not stand for that. Should that situation persist and a Treasurer not be elected or, if they are, denied full and complete transfer, then I will support immediate use of legal/offical avenues without fear or favour. I believe you would expect nothing less from the NCC.

We know, thanks to Ken Ferguson’s minority report that there are expenses claimed by Andrew Withers that require explanation:

two of the transfers marked A P Withers are described as “Election Expenses” and party members might be interested to ask why LPUK funds appear to have been used to fight an uncontested parish council election on an “Independent” platform.

The sovereignty of the Electoral Commission does have it’s advantages, as it provides for a mechanism to reallocate control of the Party by official diktat:

The officers in post will then be able to follow the Electoral Commission’s advice given to me of contacting the Electoral Commission with this mandate so as to resolve the bureaucratic impasse.

It is, of course, entirely reasonable to expect the Government to intervene in cases where the control of an asset – the Libertarian Party accounts and name – is disputed. But as Tim concludes:

It would, however, be much simpler if those who have the means to make this transition dignified and correct, do so, by transferring the official posts in accordance with the membership’s wishes.