Thursday, 22 March 2012

The AGM That Isn't, Run By The Leaders Who Aren't

Before the Libertarian Party website was taken down, supposedly “for maintenance”, it was announced – very quietly announced, in fact it was buried in the news section – that there was going to be an Annual General Meeting this coming Saturday. Here are the full details:

Party AGM 24th March 2012 10am
Committee Room 2 Clevedon Town Council
44 Old Street, Clevedon, North Somerset

Membership Card required for entry and £5 towards venue costs apply to

Federal Constitution to be approved

New Manifesto for 2012 In Process

There are several things wrong with this announcement:

  1. The membership have not been directly informed – at least no member known to me has been emailed about this. Certainly I received no notification, which I certainly should have done being both a regional co-ordinator and long-standing member (Party Membership Number 12).

  2. The last Libertarian Party AGM was held in late 2010. The Party Constitution says that AGM's must be held no further apart than 15 months.

  3. The venue is extremely hard to get to.- the nearest railway station is nearly 4 miles away. Anyone would think the “leadership” didn't want ordinary members attending, especially in view of the early start time.

  4. The requirement for membership cards to be produced. I know of only one member in the North West region who has received one. Have the majority of active and formerly active members been blacklisted?

  5. The £5 entry fee. The group that is organising this event has no authority to ask for money.

  6. “Federal Constitution to be approved”. Not debated, but approved. Again, the group calling the so-called AGM has no authority to do this. This has not even been discussed by the National Co-ordinating Committee – even then it would be up to a vote by the attending members.

  7. “New Manifesto” - same as above. They have no authority.

Now the reason that the group organising this meeting has no authority to do any of this is that they're not the NCC. During the internal crisis that was triggered by the Anna Raccoon blog last year, former Party Leader Andrew Withers resigned and has never been re-instated. That's right, the man who currently claims to be both Party Leader and Treasurer isn't even a member. Withers was Party Treasurer until the last AGM, in 2010, then he was elected Party Leader and another member was elected Treasurer. Unfortunately – and for reasons best known to himself – Withers failed to turn over the accounts and control of the Party bank accounts to the new Treasurer. Why would he do this unless he has something to hide?

The upshot of all this is that control of the Libertarian Party bank accounts and – even more importantly – the membership list are no longer in the possession of the NCC. Instead they're in the hands of a small unelected group centred around Andrew Withers, Nic Coome and Ian Parker-Jospeph. This has left the Party completely paralysed since last year, and with no obvious prospects of recovery. People who really want to promote a libertarian alternative to mainstream politics would not act in this way – as a matter of fact, Withers' group did actually try to de-register the Party last year, without success.

So we have an unelected group holding a fake AGM in a place and time that most members will find it difficult to access. This looks very much like Withers and his gang trying to complete the coup they started last year. They won't profit from this.

Here's my advice to any Libertarian Party members who plan to attend this so-called AGM:

  1. Don't pay the £5 they're asking for. Withers and his mob have no authority to ask you for any money, and there's no way of knowing how the money is going to be spent. The money raised by the Party prior to last year's implosion has not been properly accounted for, despite the best efforts of honest members to obtain this information.

  2. Ask Withers for a full accounting of Party funds. It's YOUR money, you have the right to know how it's been spent.

  3. Demand that Withers and his cronies surrender control of the bank accounts, financial records and membership lists to the legitimate NCC without delay.

  4. Ask Withers why the IT contractor who was in charge of re-vamping the website doesn't seem to have been paid.

  5. Make sure your questions, and any answers you receive, are properly recorded, preferably with a digital video camera. Andrew Withers, Nic Coome and Ian Parker-Joseph all have a history of dishonesty, so it's as well to record the proceedings. If there are two or three people with cameras and/or voice recorders present, so much the better.

I joined the Libertarian Party because I believed that it was necessary to have openly libertarian people taking part in the electoral process and promoting libertarian ideas in order to counteract the statist trend of the last century. I still believe this to be necessary – two years of relative inaction by the current government has shown that just getting rid of Labour was not enough. There's a lot of good work that can be done by an effective Libertarian Party, especially at local level. But the Libertarian Party will never be an effective organisation as long as it's resources are under the control of a gang of crooks.

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