On the 19th May 2011, an ‘emergency’ meeting was called to appoint new members of the NCC and it was to be conducted in a clear open and transparent manner. It was also to be supervised by ‘impartial’ members of the Party acting as observers. Sounds great.
Except it was anything of the sort, this was a fairly unsophisticated attempt to put a thin veneer of respectability on a crude coup based on smears.
One of the officers being proposed was not actually a member of the Libertarian Party, and neither was one of the impartial observers. Yet gamely they ploughed on proposing each other as officers of the party without a shred of legitimacy or even pretending that any of the proceedings were in line with the constitution.
Everything had the blessing of the Electoral Commission it was stated. One member of the NCC actually asked direct questions as to the legitimacy of the observers and of the proceedings only to be fobbed off .
Ken Ferguson who was still under a motion to remove him as Communications Director for breaches of the Data Protection Act was acting as ringmaster and allowed to vote. Ferguson rushed the ‘good news’ of the new appointments online, before the minutes were even drafted, congratulations all round (despite nobody being willing to accept the poisoned chalice of being treasurer)
Except just one fly in the ointment, a call from the Electoral Commission allegedly saying that due to poor Parliamentary dafting (??) the registered officers remained the same, and unless the transfer of officers was in line with the procedures of PPERA, the Act that governs registered political parties, the ‘new NCC‘ would be rejected by the Electoral Commission. And they were.
The small group around Ferguson, who now sees himself as leader in waiting, have been a little shy of announcing this gaffe that they discovered for themselves after having been repeatedly told that they were acting unconstitutionally on the 20th May. So currently the LPUK is a ghost ship, with various proposals to rip up the constitution and turn it into everything from an internet party to a committee led workers collective that will certainly ensure its rapid demise.
Various requests to turn the donation button back on and put moderation on the site to prevent further defamation and harassment were met by a blank refusal by the ‘communications’ director.
The truth is that the NCC announced by Ferguson had no validity has been known since the 20th May. The open and transparent ‘new leadership’ has decided not to make this public.
With no income and memberships flowing into the new unauthorised account, which is not declared as an accounting unit to the Electoral Commission, the insolvency situation has become even worse.
Faced with a blank refusal by Ferguson to stay within the constitution, together with electoral and civil law, and in line with Ferguson’s proposed ‘new constitution’ that suggests that registered officers will have no power, but are simply there to carry the can personally for breaches of of those laws, coupled with the suggestion that the party does not need more than £200 a year just to run his website, the Nominations Officer yesterday decided to call it a day and do the decent thing, and publish a public apology.
Except of course there was no way that this was ever going to be published on the LPUK website whilst under the control of the ‘Communications Director’, whose sole aim appears to be only to communicate what is acceptable to him and censor the rest.
The membership lists were handed over yesterday to the remaining registered officers and the following apology was made by Simon Fawthrop.
An Apology To Andrew Withers, the NCC, Membership and Supporters.
I want to make an apology to Andrew Withers, he is and always has been Party Leader as recognised by the EC and relevant legislation and the Party Constitution and I had no right to try to elect a new Leader and Treasurer. I also wish to apologise to the NCC and the wider membership and supporters for misleading you all about the position of Party Leader and Treasurer, I was wrong and it was not in my power to seek to fill those positions that I thought were vacant.
It was my misunderstanding that Andrew had resigned as Party Leader and that we needed to appoint a new Leader and Treasurer to be compliant with the relevant legislation. I now know that Andrew had not resigned and, furthermore, cannot resign. This means that Andrew is and always has been Party Leader and, with the resignation of John Watson, Treasurer.
As such the NCC meeting that I convened to find replacements for Treasurer and Leader was against the letter of the Constitution and means those NCC elections are not and have never been valid.
Obviously having been so wrong I cannot continue in any capacity within the Party and I have informed Andrew that I am resigning with immediate effect as Data Officer and Membership Secretary. Furthermore, I will step down as Nominations Officer as soon as a replacement is found. I am sure there are many members willing to take on those vital roles.
Once again, I apologise to Andrew and those I have misled and I wish you all well for the future.
This is great shame as Simon has been a consistent and effective membership secretary for over two years, yet again another officer forced out by a small cabal who maintain that they are for openness, transparency and the continuance of the Libertarian Party, but act in exactly the opposite manner. This situation has been known to them for nearly two weeks.
The South West Branch has organised a meeting of its members on the 18th June to try an map out a proposed future for the party, the Scottish branch are doing the same in July.
Clearly things cannot go on as they are, the insolvency caused by the deliberate cutting off of funds needs to be urgently addressed or the party de registered. If it is to continue it may need to be restructured into a federal model. Clearly the ‘internet party’ has to cease.
What is certain is that the SGM to change the constitution called for 18th June 2011 has no validity constitutionally and would not be recognised by the Electoral Commission.
As the existing registered officers have only a short term intention to stay in office to either attend to funeral arrangements or to seek a more viable model for the lpuk to exist, within its constitution and comply with electoral law, the future of LPUK still remains uncertain.