“Chairman’s” email

Some LPUK members may have received an email today from Nic Coombe, who purports to be the Chairman of LPUK. His position is controversial, to say the least, with Gavin Webb rightfully appointed to this position by the NCC. To the extent the position is held, it is held by default of bureaucratic actions being signed off by Nic Coombe and Andrew Withers.

This statement had been posted to the old blog spot website and was discussed previously on Libertarian Home. Ken Ferguson, Communication Director had this to say on the statement:

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 status of each of member of the rump committee was also discussed previously.

Ken went on to mention that:

The statement at the bottom of the [blog] 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.

It is of course interesting to note that the email version does not contain sentence quoted from the previous version.

[Text updated to include links]

LPUK Blogspot revived?

As if things couldn’t get any weirder after Simon’s last post on the matter, the old LPUK blogspot site has now been revived with a notice that was posted Monday 25th July stating the following:

For the past three months the Libertarian Party of the United Kingdom has been unable to have a say on national and international events, instead concentrating on internal disputes.

While a few have dedicated their time to hitting the keyboard with the daily hate, it has been necessary for the legally responsible officers to move forward with tasks that will see the continued existence of the Libertarian Party.

On the 29th June the party faced a mandatory de-registration by the Electoral Commission,a situation that the responsible officers have so far prevented from happening. We are also pleased that the financial plan in place with the Electoral Commission has succeeded and the party again enjoys solvency. Operational Standing orders are in place for financial matters overseen by a committee of four Libertarian Party UK members.

The membership function was returned to the officers at the beginning of June and all members that have maintained their membership will shortly be receiving an outline of an action plan to take the party through to 2012 via the postal services.

On Friday 22nd July 2011, the responsible officers received a letter from the Electoral Commission that gave an ‘avoidance of doubt’ position as far as the Law is concerned. This is already available to the NCC and will be copied to all current party members.

The Party has a new website under construction http://www.libertarianpartyuk.com.

It will be designed to promote the Libertarian Party UK to the public, to outline our policies,provide party news, information and contact details, to promote regional party affiliations and to respond to political matters on behalf of the Party. It will not be a ‘blog’ where you can vent your spleen and repel the public.

Many ideas have been put forward on the future of the party, some good, some bad and many that are unworkable for a political party within the constraints of its legal obligations. However as some of these have come from outside the party they cannot be considered as amendments to the current constitution any more than we could draw up alternative constitutions for other parties

It is time to move forward. Those who wish to see the party prosper will stay with the party, whilst those who wish it harm will continue to attack it at every level and we bid them farewell. We will not indulge in flame wars and will use all influence to prevent such attacks on others.

The violent imagery of stringing up politicians and stabbing them until they bleed to death is puerile and narcissist.It has no place in a political party likewise it has no place in the Libertarian lexicon. Norway is currently counting the cost of such imagery by one alleged destructive and deranged individual.

We see the party slowly moving out of the Internet arena as its primary engagement mechanism, and happy that engaging with the public directly is proving more conducive.Our aim is to quicken the pace in this respect.

In 1944 Hayek said the words Liberty and Freedom were the most abused words in the English language and all we were left with is tolerance. Sixty years on that tolerance is under threat

Nic Coome

Party Chairman
Libertarian Party

Ignoring for now the snide references to a daily hate; what really knocked my socks off is how this was supposedly posted by Nic Coombe as Chairman (though was actually published by Ian PJ). Given that Nic had resigned from the party in May and together with Andrew Withers had tried to deregister the party I am at a loss to explain what is going on.

When I first read this earlier today there were four contributors the site listed, Ian, Andrew, Nic and someone called ‘Flatdog’. I’m guessing that these four are the  committee mentioned that is ‘overseeing Operational Standing orders… in place for financial matters’, and that somehow Andrew (who was refusing to sign any of the paperwork to allow new officers to take up positions  when the previous officers resigned) has drafted them in to fill as new officials.

It would seem then that there are now two groups trying to assume control of the party, one consisting of those whose conduct caused the crisis, whose names are down with the Electoral Commission as registered officials, and the other of those who have been trying to move forward but have been blocked by the first group.  If it were come down to arbitration I suspect sadly that the   Electoral Comission would have to declare Withers’ group the legitimate party officials.

Given the conduct of this group over the past few months I almost wish they had deregistered the party back in May, better it be dead and buried than in the hands of someone who’s continued involvement will only repel the public. I would urge all members to refuse to give any money to the party as long as this group is in charge and hopefully starve it through lack of funds.

The message to members from this post seems to be ‘forget the past and keep sending in your hard earned cash’. Well if I were to receive a renewal notice in November my response is going to be ‘Get stuffed, Andrew Withers’.

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
Libertarian Party