OPINION: Report The NEC!

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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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28 Responses

  1. Peter Harvey says:

    I did not vote this time because I had never heard of any of the candidates so we might as well pull the names out of a hat!! They can print their aims & promises in glossy brochures but this is just what Labour/Cons do, it means nothing.

  2. mick mcgough says:

    Check with our Chairman but I understand minutes, redacted if necessary, are and will continue to be published.At Sunday’s NEC June minutes were approved for publication.

    • Darrell Goodliffe says:

      I understand that Mick but I’m not talking about the redacted minutes I’m also talking about NEC members making the effort to reach out yes like members of Labours do, so I’m talking about a report – are you happy only 25% bothered to vote in the last election? The papers went out with the policy review and far more of them were returned

  3. Barrie Greratorex says:

    I am so pleased to hear you are finally coming on board, I have been trying to make members see that they are not participating in a Political Party ,but merely subscribing to a Corporate entity, ever since the Bolton fiasco exposed it and the events that led to the summary dismissal of so many who were supported by the majority grassroots members. Being a new member, Sept 2017, and participating in the Nuttall attempt in SOT, I attended the Torquay meeting.I wondered about the hotel with my wife and saw and heard the pre vote antics of some who were obviously already congratulating themselves an a AMW victory. At the meeting, after the shock result( to some) I witnessed yet again that same presumption of “We say who leads not them” attitude. What followed can only be described as a total witch hunt to bring down yet another elected leader, who did not fit a certain criteria. After checking into some of the financial background of UKIP Ltd I began to see the true picture of who and what drives UKIP. It is essentially a Corporate body trying to disguise itself in as a Democratic Political Party, the grassroots were merely cash cows to perpetuate this illusion, whilst behind closed doors the Corporate body was doing its work, just what that was, I will leave to you to discover. Question though is Batten just an ignorant stooge for those pulling the strings, or is he also complicate in this deception?

  4. W.Matthews says:

    So only 25% of members voted in the last NEC election. This should be no surprise. Candidates were in most cases totally unknown to most members. The short write ups provided by the candidates give no indication of their suitability. Voting on the information provided was no better than sticking the list on a dartboard for random selection by throwing darts. Probably the candidates were better known by activists at regional level, in which case only these people were qualified to vote. If we need an NEC then they should be selected by qualified people, not the masses.

    • John Bickley says:

      That sounds like something the EU Commission would say ie that they know best & not the pleb voters.

    • Pat Bryant says:

      So you expect to be spoon fed? Why not make enquiries and find out who the candidates were – or email them and ask questions – many people did that.

      Seems to me that the truth of the matter is that you were not sufficiently interested to do a little homework.

  5. mick mcgough says:

    Darrell, Those voting are always a small percentage, perhaps because they do not know the candidates, maybe to save the price of a stamp. I always start my selection by crossing out those who’ve only been in the party five minutes. It was unfortunate in my opinion that assenters and CVs were not published. The policy review was a good initiative but I doubt provided much new but proved that members want involvement.

    In my opinion the minutes should be sufficient for the membership ; do you want a blow by blow account of our deliberations? The Leader and Chairman send out regular communications as do some regional chairman. In the east we have long received a weekly MEP newsletter now down to only Aggers as Patrick has taken an early holiday. TAkers contributions when in UKIP were minimal as apart from Brussels and Strasbourg he hardly ever left Thurrock. Do yoU really want 12 reports from the elected NEC ?

    • Darrell Goodliffe says:

      Mick,

      Thanks for the reply. I think whatever the reason and I’m not discounting some of the things you say as being factors it shows a general disconnect between the NEC and the members which frankly should worry you as much it does me as by this time next year we may have a leader openly seeking its abolition as Nigel would probably do if he doesn’t run on that platform.

      I don’t believe they are and they are patchy in arriving. No one is talking about 12 different reports but those who want too should be allowed and alongside UKIP Daily we will present a motion to this effect.

  6. John Bickley says:

    Darrell,

    I served on the NEC for over three years, arguably during its greatest period (2014 GE & the EU Referendum) and worst (the useless leaders elected after Nigel resigned and upto Gerard’s election).

    I believe as long as redacted minutes are published on a timely basis that is sufficient for the majority of members (you can’t please all the people all the time). It make no political sense to have sensitive NEC discussions washed in public; company boards do not publish their minutes to shareholders.

    The majority of NEC members are elected by the members, which is very democratic. NEC members’ email addresses are listed so if members want to engage with the NEC as a whole or individual reps they can.

    Over the years I’ve listened to a number of alternatives to how the NEC is elected and I’ve found none of them more convincing than how the members are currently elected.

    • Darrell Goodliffe says:

      Hi John,

      Thanks for the reply.

      As I pointed out in the article the NEC is not a ordinary Board of Directors nor should it be judged as such because it isn’t and indeed this is one of the problems I point too.

      They are sufficient if you want to keep members in the dark and disengaged I agree. In terms of the way the NEC is elected I broadly agree and support a governing body that is constituted of members representatives.

    • Darrell Goodliffe says:

      I would also suggest that the presence of a strong editorially independent but UKIP supporting media as now exists with us and UKIP Daily both performing well there is now a significant difference in the environment. Also the new members will bring with them different and I believe higher expectations in this regard.

  7. John Bickley says:

    Speak to Katie Fanning or Paula Walters, who were highly critical of the NEC when they were first elected to it, then realised that all the NEC members were trying to do their best for the party and that there certain issues/points of view couldn’t be discussed publicly.

    I believe the redacted minutes are the best the members can expect and are in the best interests of the party.

    If the chairman is passing on key information to his regional officers, who in turn pass it on to the branch chairmen (and they in turn their branch members) then most bases will be covered without giving our enemies free hits on the party via the public divulging of sensitive information.

    • Darrell Goodliffe says:

      I have spoken to both and indeed do so on a regular basis – doesn’t change my point of view. No one has questioned anyone’s motives John so I find it interesting that you even raise that as an issue. What you say is undoubtedly true of the majority though clearly nor all of the NEC.

      A the best interests of the Party – a phrase used frequently to cover all manner of sins. The Party is not the NEC or the structure – The Party is the brave souls who forked out to save it from, shall we say, certain issues.

      Don’t trust the bureaucracy so your flogging a dead horse there.

    • Darrell Goodliffe says:

      People with nothing to fear have no problem with openness and transparency

  8. Dan says:

    In my experience Darrell large numbers of people join political parties to just be a member and perhaps make a small donation now and again. They don’t want anymore involvement, others will spend a bit of time thinking about the party but not get around to voting for something like the NEC or even the leadership. Some may turn out now and again to help out or participate for them the party is not a priority. Of course a lot of people want more than that and they will be involved in many ways. To expect to have a party of activist following every debate and turning up a branch meetings is not viable unless you have a party the size of, mentality of and ineffectiveness of The Socialist Workers Party or similar.
    Besides, lack of response to an NEC election may not indicate apathy, but contentment.
    It is good to have a large membership, but if you expect them to all be significantly involved then you do not understand human nature. The important thing is to enable those who wish to be more involved to be able to do so. I have confidence that our new leadership is heading in that direction.

  9. John Bickley says:

    So you believe that everything the NEC discusses/votes on should be published? Does that include by-election and general election strategies and funding and policy development? Does it include legal and disciplinary proceedings? If so then we’ll leave it there and agree to disagree. If it doesn’t then you have effectively agreed with my initial post and Mick McGough’s comments.

    • Darrell Goodliffe says:

      I think I provided an example of how a functional report could be done in the article if you read it through John and I’ll just refer you to my previous comments why should people with nothing to hide fear openness?

  10. MIKE MAUNDER says:

    No Darrell, I am unable to see any problems with openness for our NEC. In fact I consider it is necessary for a Party like ours, that champions free speech !

    • MIKE MAUNDER says:

      I will go a little further Darrell. Redacted NEC accounts are fine by me. Only fools want every pip and squeak publicised, along with Party plans for the future ! Being rather housebound, and unable to attend Branch meetings, I tend to feed upon general news and these blogs for information, and my vote for NEC members was conducted upon that information. Age, with poor health is most frustrating, but some decent opinions and facts come across the net. I fail to understand why Bolton is still mentioned, or for Nigel Farage’s backing to this guy. Bolton’s messy private life was his business, but his attitude to our Y.I. turned me totally against him as leader !

      • Darrell Goodliffe says:

        In regards to the accounts then they are available at Companies House though they are light on the detail – the reality is that things have gone on which shouldn’t and they are in the process of being dealt with, that’s why Mr Bickley is so scared of this article, transparency is the only guarantor of safety for the members

  11. J.L.Kay says:

    I have to agree with John Bickley’s comments. While I approve of transparency as much as possible, I feel that in the real world it would by imprudent and impractical to publish ALL the minutes of a meeting without redaction, especially for the reasons already cited, such as by-election and general election strategies. I feel that what some individuals wish for are known as ‘counsels of perfection’ which are rarely achieved in the real world.

    • Darrell Goodliffe says:

      Apart from the fact JL Kay that Mr Bickley has set up a total straw man – read what I actually wrote please and the Labourlist piece – Mr Bickleys smoke and mirrors while entertaining tell their own story

    • Darrell Goodliffe says:

      I think Mr Bickley got confused and thought he was auditioning for the part of Billy Flynn in Chicago

  12. J.L.Kay says:

    Dear Darrell Goodliffe
    What exactly is your point? Instead of insulting John Bickley, I think you should at least be able to state your ‘arguments’ in a couple of sentences, rather than stumbling onward with a load of verbiage. What are you exactly trying to say? Please make yourself clear

    • Darrell Goodliffe says:

      My arguments are above, he knows what I mean, he knows what his record is, the things that go on behind the scenes in this Party would boggle your mind and that is the problem with no openness and no transparency…..

      • Gavin says:

        I am no fan of Henry Bolton, but at least he got real minutes published of the few meetings that he presided over. Once he was gone, all records ceased being published.

  13. W.Matthews says:

    No Pat, I don’t expect to be spoon fed, but as one approaches their 90’s, and who finds the current technology completely alien to their life experiences, but who, in my management consultancy career , learned that it is only by direct face to face contact with people in their work environment that abilities and attitudes can be reliably recognised and a real understanding of their suitability for a particular important position can be assessed. I therefore feel that to elect an effective NEC team, only those who have extensive experience of observing the candidates and hearing their attitudes in different situations are qualified to make good selections, but the majority of grassroot members cannot be expected to have this experience. Activists at regional level would appear to be the minimum membership level, where some opportunity may exist to establish the suitability of some candidates.

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