Friday, September 22, 2006

More flipping rows

Jeez. I was pretty disappointed yesterday with some of the name calling and bad behavior in the session on Keith Taylor, but today one session was just beserk!

The debate was on the topic that's on everyone's lips all round the country - membership ballots on constitutional changes. Gasp.

I'll be brief. In order to change the constitution, or "Philosophical Basis" you need a 2/3rds majority. The motion (D02) proposed that if something won a simple majority at conference (but not 2/3rds) then it could be put to the membership in a ballot (which would still require 2/3rd majority to pass).

It's partly tied in to the debate over having a leader which, apparently consistently gets a majority at conference (to have leader, boo) but never gets enough support for it to become policy. So although I'm not in favour of the leader thing I see no reason that a minority of conference should be able to block a wider debate on the subject with those who are not part of the self selected group of conference goers.

Darren Johnson put the motion and in the debate Matt Selwood made a very smooth tongued speech in favour. What surprised me was the downright vile behavior of those who opposed - including some who are supposedly left wing like Penny Kemp, who I've lost all respect for.

There were a number of wrecking amendments three to change the barrier to get the ballot approved by conference to 2/3rd (which begs the question if you can't get 2/3rds to agree in the constitutional change how are you going to get 2/3rd to agree to put that very question to the members?) And one to raise the quorum of the postal vote from 15% to 33% a barrier higher than any previous postal ballot ever taken by the Greens.

My point that if you oppose the motion you should vote against it not put in amendments to destroy the motion was well taken I thought.

Anyway we had allegations of corruption, people grabbing the mike and speaking without being called, pointless point of information / order after another - often not really points of order at all but yet another speech against. When the votes on amendments began the wreckers realised they were on the losing side. The first three amendments fell 46 to 188.

But instead of calmly battling on, accepting the will of conference they behaved... ah... it's too terrible to mention. Some delegates were utterly revolted by the sight of these (mainly gandalf types) cavorting and bullying and making allegations of dishonesty against anyone who disagreed with them. Others just laughed and I realised if you step back it's not nearly so painful.

Anyway, the chair was suffering terribly as these people just ignored him and they clearly think they own the party and they simply had no respect for democracy. The motion itself passed 115 to 50 (some people had walked out by this time) gaining the 2/3rds it required. a card vote was insisted upon by people who had just a few seconds before been insisting that card votes could not be trusted. The motion passed 150 to 54 this time (the extra are proxy votes on the whole) and justice was served.

It all just confirms to me that there are some very serious people in the Green Party that I dearly want to work with very much - and there is a minority of utter muppets.


stroppybird said... are really selling the party :-)

rows and crusties, ugh...

stroppybird said...

But interesting posts, do get a feel for the conference. Which Church hall are you in ?

Matt Sellwood said...

Bloody hell - I've never been called 'smooth tongued before'...ta!


P.S. I agree the debate was an utter disgrace, and some people should be very ashamed of themselves. It was the denuoument of a long, protracted, years-long struggle over some of these issues, so one can at least hope that it is the beginning of the end of such appalling behaviour....was very glad that the motion passed, anyway.

Peter said...

Hi Jim,

I agree with you about people's behaviour during the ballot debate, but I'm not sure it's the best thing to blog about. Dirty linen in public and all that.

My views on "the downright vile bahviour of those who opposed - including some who are supposedly left wing" can be summed up in an article I wrote some months back about Thucydides -

I really don't care whether somebody is right or left wing. What I care about is whether they have a pragmatic and constructive approach to cooperating with other people to find the best solution. What I found most interesting at the conference were not fringes on defining ideological differences, but those focussing on what needs to be done.

And to be fair to some of the more disruptive people in the debate, there are legitimate concerns about the use of proxy votes, and some people just got caught up in the heat of the moment.

Jim Jay said...

If it's worth doing it's worth doing honestly I think.

I'm going to cover some of these points in other posts... and it was some methodist hall off of montpelier (?) road.

Lizardboy said...

To be fair, most of the argument wasn't about the motion itself but about the totally unworkable proxy system.

The hilarious irony was that most of the people complaining were against the motion, but one thing the motion would do is to take pressure off the proxy system!

Jim Jay said...

I agree on proxy votes definately.

I'm very tempted to propose abolishing them altogether - or at least reducing the number delegates can hold.

Matt Sellwood said...


Want to work on that with me as a possible first motion to Conference?


P.S. The weirdest thing about that whole debate was that the side who were complaining about the proxy votes were the people calling the card votes in the first place! I guess to prove a point...

Joe Otten said...

That's nothing. I was there in 1989 when 500 journos turned up for the first time, and the first two hours were spent debating whether to follow the normal procedures of debate or not.