OPINION: Report The NEC!
What I am about to say may shock some readers but I nonetheless hold it to be true. Labour, before Momentum took hold of the Party like bindweed, were a pretty, internally at least, democratic Party. Indeed, Momentum flourished in Labours inner-democracy and owe their very existence to the thing they are now hell-bent on destroying.
Certainly even now the inner-Party life of Labour is more democratic than that of the Tories where the Party membership is very much expected to be seen and not heard. Conservative Party members are treated pretty much like children with -1 – 0 input in everything from candidate selection to policy formulation.
So, turning to UKIP, let’s first be grateful we have a governing body elected by the membership which gives members a voice. Deeply flawed and imperfect it maybe but it is certainly much better than nothing. However, it is to one of those flaws I would like to now address myself.
No reasonable rational case exists for the effective non-reporting of NEC meetings. I know the drill because, believe you me, I have had this argument many, many times. However, when push comes to shove there is simply no reason for it not to happen and the fact it doesn’t damages all concerned.
Part of the problem arises from the fact that technically speaking the NEC is a Board Of Directors. I say technically speaking because although it actually is I suspect many Kippers, totally understandably, do not view it that way and view our NEC the same way Labour members view theirs, as the management committee of a political Party. This duel function is part of the problem with how our NEC functions and I believe it should be addressed by a separation of the functions but that is an entirely different article.
Nonetheless, this function should not preclude open reporting because well open reporting doesn’t impinge on that function. Opponents of free speech tend to hide behind illusion and confusion and this is one of those cases. I have heard it said that open reporting of the NEC would impinge on the members ability to say what needs to be said. This is simply not the case. Read this report of the latest meeting of Labours NEC on Labourlist.
Notice how the undoubted disagreements and minutiae of what was said aren’t reported on. What was actually said is only described in very broad brush strokes and indeed no one would want a blow by blow account. The author is obviously an adult in politics who can decide how to report a meeting in a sensible and sensitive way. This is one of things that bugs me about objections to this idea. It infantilises both the members of the NEC and UKIP members and yes treats them very much like children with politics being something that shouldn’t be done in front of them.
Incidentally, this also deals with the other objection, that naturally there somethings that cannot be released into the open. Yes, we know because we are adults in politics. This doesn’t constitute a serious objection but again more smoke and mirrors.
Free speech is one reason why this needs to happen. We are supposed to be the free speech Party are we not yet we do not even have open reporting of the meetings of our management committee. What we have is sporadic, redacted, minutes that the members have to go and find for themselves.
The other reason this needs to happen is for the good of the NEC itself. Only 25% of UKIP members bothered to vote in the last NEC election which is a woeful commentary on its connectivity with the membership. Some individual members genuinely make the effort but others are totally anonymous and the latter are the majority. For a body that is fairly widely mistrusted and not entirely favoured the closed shop approach is simply politically insane.
The cornerstone of any good relationship and the foundations on which true trust is built are on open and honest communication – something I sometimes feel that the NEC as a corporate body, as opposed to some individual members, feels is simply beneath it. Beset by mistrust and powerfully opposed by one prominent and influential Kipper, namely a certain Nigel Farage, this attitude is simply one that the NEC cannot indulge unless, of course, it wants to play a dangerous game of poker with its own existence.
It is simply time for a change. We cannot claim to be the Party of free speech while allowing this situation to endure and ignoring this issue is one that the NEC, if it cares for its own existence and the principle of giving members a voice, should continue to ignore.
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