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When will ERS members wake up?

July 15, 2012

Abe Lincoln was reputed to have said that ‘you can’t fool all the people all the time’. Saturday’s special general meeting showed that you can fool 75% some of the time. The special resolution passed has made it much more difficult for the membership to hold council to account. Council now has powers to make bye laws including how elections are to be carried out, possibly giving existing council members a significant edge over challengers. Members have reserve powers, but these can only be exercised via special resolution. This only leaves the nuclear option of members expelling a council member under article 27.10.

Council can now expel a ‘troublesome’ member, or a dissenting council member, without provision for appeal.

The society’s main object is still to promote STV, but the CEO’s protestations that they are doing what can be done on this ring hollow. Members have no realistic way of forcing council to do anything. Rumour has it that some council members favour a merger with Unlock Democracy. One might think that at least a special resolution would be needed, but my reading of the wind up provisions suggests otherwise – an ordinary resolution would be sufficient to wind up ERS and transfer assets to Unlock Democracy. This of course would be a huge coup for UD director Peter Facey. He would get his hands on the ERSL dividends, but it might not suit ERS CEO Katie Ghose quite so well. Some may say this is paranoia, but given the fact that council never tells us what it is discussing but prefers to spring bombshells like Saturday’s resolution on us at very short notice, such suspicions are surely natural.

What does this show? Any organisation campaigning for democratic reform and which starts out with a clear vision cannot itself afford to be democratic. The forces of evil will always find a way of subverting the aims of a democratic organisation. I now understand why Anthony Barnett, the first co-ordinator of Charter 88 was against it becoming a membership organisation. He was rather more realistic than I was then.

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From → Democracy

2 Comments
  1. Dave Thawley permalink

    In the following I don’t mean to be offensive to any single person – I just need to say this for my own sanity…..

    But… (and this is just my opinion) the ERS was completely broken, unfit for purpose it didn’t work. It had a great opportunity to progress the way we elect our MPs last year and it it showed it was ineffective (to say the least) in executing its primary purpose. I (like many others) wasted hundred of hours of our time and as much money as we could throw at this with absolutely no support or direction at all from ERS. In the end I packed in my membership and went it alone feeling I was better able to campaign by myself than as part of the ERS which is a ridiculous situation to be in. This was based on my experience in dealing (or trying to deal with and getting absolutely nowhere) with the organization, it was a joke, a very bad joke to the extent it was almost as if it were working for the no camp (although I am sure this was just an appearance rather than its true stance). . P*ss up and brewery is the politest analogy I can draw. I am sorry if I offend but I find it extremely offensive to have been left out to dry and have the chance of reform undermined by the very body that should have been the nations cheerleader. Words cannot truly explain the way I feel about the old organization.Anything at all would be better than the way it used to be run – even to the extent of closing it down.Right now we have some dedicated people within the organization (dedicated to doing what they should be doing – moving towards electoral reform) who are going to push our primary objective while removing obstacles which stand it its way. I am all for them and give them my utmost respect, thanks and congratulations for moving us in the direction we so dearly need to be moving in. Than you all. I’m looking forward to being part of our organization as it returns to being great.

    Again I am sorry if you feel I have hit this home to hard – I think this needed to be said though for my own healing process.

  2. Hi Dave, Yes the AV campaign centrally did fail us, but it was not being run by the old ERS council, which had in effect handed control and money to others without perhaps sufficient scrutiny. Since the new council was elected they had a chance to set up a mechanism to support local groups to campaign for STV for local elections. An offer from Leicester group has been thrown back in their faces. As far as I am concerned the question of whether Council or staff run the society is as relevant now as under the previous Chief Exec.

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