After Bolton, What Next? Can the NEC Do What Is Required?
Why I am Qualified to Speak
The old professions, accountants, lawyers etc. all believe they are experts in pretty well everything. My profession, from which I am now retired, is a relatively new one. Its origins lie in what used to be known as “Organisation and Methods”, “Work Study” and of course the third and critical component: Systems Analysis whose emphasis is on the rigorous demands of “Data Processing” or “Information Systems”. The latter component instils a need for the rigorous application of logic. Machines only understand “Yes” or “no”. They cannot interpret “maybe” or “perhaps” or “should have”.
The skills for this profession are basically God given. You need an instinctive appreciation of “what if?” The tools used are learned and enable the Business Analyst to deliver solutions in a form that can be understood. The function is to make what the old professions wish to do actually happen. More than that. The Analyst ensures an organisation can deliver what is required and do so efficiently and in a manner that is fail-safe. The Analyst is a designer but 90% of the work involved in design is the analysis.
I have lost count of the number of times the old professions have failed miserably and I have been called in to clear up the mess. Despite, often, being the last resort I have never had a failed project or system. I spotted a potential for fraud within a major Local Authority. The accountants bitterly opposed my proposals for dealing with it but I won the day and within 48 hours of introducing my solution a fraudulent transaction of a quarter of a million pounds was identified. I had lots of such satisfying moments. I have designed major financial systems, payroll systems and more.
What the NEC Lacks!
The NEC believes it has the skills necessary to introduce the necessary reforms to UKIP. If they did then the reforms would already have happened. Clearly there are skills they need to employ from outside their tightknit group. The first rule of analysis is to consult. That means consult everyone. The managers, the clients, the shareholders or owners, the front line staff. (for UKIP this means members, Managers, NEC, leader, the general public) In a project such as this one there is a strict priority of what needs initially to be discovered:
- What is the organisation and what is its purpose?
- What is its product and how is it delivered?
- Who holds the power of decision-making and how should that be exercised?
- Will the organisation create decision-making conflicts and if so how will such conflicts be resolved?
- How will those who should hold the ultimate power be able to hold the organisation to account?
A Skeleton Proposal
I have produced a provisional hierarchical top down diagram illustrating how I see the needs of UKIP. It is intended only to give a basic idea of the principles that might rule. It is not intended to be definitive but it deals with the basic organisational dilemma. That is the need to separate the administration of the company from the operational requirements of the party. UKIP is a political party and therefore a hybrid comprising a paid administration and voluntary effort. It is a company and as such must have a board of directors who are responsible for its financial probity. For comparison I have also produced a hierarchical diagram for a typical commercial company.
Separation of Roles
It seems clear to me that the skills required for the company functions differ from those necessary for operational requirements such as the development of policy. Therefore there has to be a separation. In the diagram the administrative needs are dealt with by the newly constituted National Executive which would fulfil the role of the Board of Directors. It should appoint a chairman (unpaid) who should fulfil the usual function of a Company Chairman and instruct the paid Chief Executive. That should free the Chief Executive to concentrate on his day job rather than dealing with issues that are better dealt with elsewhere.
Missing from this hierarchy are the branches. The role of branches needs to be looked at carefully. Is UKIP big enough to support one branch per constituency? In practice it does not support one branch per constituency as things stand. Would it perhaps be more appropriate to have sub-regional groupings of constituencies as a general rule? How would branch views be incorporated at national level and should they be? How should branches be funded? Is there a need for regional officers? How flexible can the Constitution be made to provide for future changes to the size of the party? These are questions that would have to be put to the members as a part of a comprehensive consultation process.
What is the role of the leader? Clearly the financial needs of the company are the responsibility of the Board and Chairman. Would the leader merely be a mouthpiece for the Party? Should the leader simply be a salesman for the party’s products (its policy and philosophy)? Should the leader be paid? Should that be something determined in the Constitution or does that bind the hands of the party too tightly? Should the leader be responsible for fund raising or should that be a function of the NEC and Chairman or better still should this be a collaborative effort? How will that be defined? Who will design and approve the leader’s terms of reference? Should those be fixed or variable?
Policy and Philosophy (The Product)
In my diagram I have created an entirely separate “policy formulating branch”. This is to recognise that the skills needed in policy formulation differ entirely from the skills needed, for example, to run a branch. A grown up party needs to recognise it will have skills available to it that are not available through traditional structures especially while it remains a relatively small party. Those skills need to be recruited and harvested.
I suggest the best way to achieve this is to elect regional policy making forums and the regional policy forums should each send a delegate to a national group. The national and regional groups should each be open to presentations from individual members with policy or philosophy proposals on the basis that if the member can convince a couple of the group members a proposal is worth looking at then they should be given the floor. This introduces a workable form of direct democracy.
This branch of the structure is the one that will need most consultation. Should there for example, in addition to the regional delegates, be a group of people directly elected on a national basis? What constitutes a region or sub-region? Should UKIP regions be based on membership numbers or population? Should participants be eligible to claim expenses?
Libertarianism and the Individual
UKIP makes claim to be a libertarian party. A libertarian supports and promotes the role and rights of the individual. The party’s present Constitution is authoritarian. For it to become libertarian the individual party member must be the ultimate authority. UKIP can no longer afford to be ruled from the top by a powerful ego, or group of egos, that disregard the rights of the individual members.
Reform, when it comes, must be root and branch. If the proposals are prepared in secret by a clique, which is what the present leader appears to be attempting, then that is not the libertarian way. Meanwhile the leader does not have the right, under the present Constitution, to deliver anything. Only the NEC has a manageable avenue open to it to propose reform. Indications are it is willing but has yet to learn how.
A Once in Eternity Opportunity
There are some good people on the present NEC. They are elected by the members. They can be removed if they do not perform as expected. It is the nearest thing UKIP has to any form of accountability. Therefore it needs to be given the opportunity to remedy the failings of history. One bite of the apple is all history is likely to permit. They have to get it right.
© PJW Holland MMXVII
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