[Ed: This is Part II of a letter by Dr Tomasz Slivnik, taking a close look at the current state of the Party Leadership, and the legal issues. For Part I go here.]
Next question: who is the Party Director?
Before we on the NEC reluctantly agreed to Paul Oakden’s appointment as Party Chairman, we also pointed out that we firstly needed to understand who would take over his job as Party Director. Steve Crowther, who was still Party Chairman at that time, assured us the NEC would be given the opportunity to decide that question next, immediately upon having approved Paul Oakden’s appointment – but of course, we were never given that opportunity. Instead, Paul Oakden – I believe on the very next day – e-mailed every party member saying that Graham Young had been made Party Director. This then lead to vehement objections from the NEC.
Paul Oakden then privately told us all that he did not mean to say Graham Young was Party Director and that he was not so appointed, but that Paul himself remained Party Director, and indeed kept his employment contract as such. Graham would merely be helping him out with some of his duties of Party Director. Paul also told us it was not necessary for him to mailshot the party members (as we had requested) to correct the earlier mailshot, because, in his view, nobody considered Graham Young to be the Party Director, including Graham Young himself. So legally, right now, Paul Oakden is also Party Director, but does anyone in the Party act as if this was the case?
Our score so far on the compliance with the Party Constitution: 0 out of 3.
Nathan Gill appears to have accepted now that he is no longer Leader in Wales – but for the wrong reason. He announced, I understand, that his office terminated when Nigel ceased being Party Leader. The truth, of course, is different: his office ceased earlier, as I explained in my resignation letter. We now have the surreal situation where one person, the former Leader in Wales, claims his office ceased upon the election of the new Party Leader, although it did not and there is no legal basis for this, and another, the former Party Chairman, claims his office did not cease upon the election of the new Party Leader, although legally, in fact, this is precisely what happened.
Our score so far on the compliance with the Party Constitution: 0 out of 4.
Why does Nathan Gill not believe his office as Leader in Wales terminated when he was (albeit briefly) not a member of the Party when he was expelled by the NEC? Because Paul Oakden claims that he “reinstated” Nathan to membership of the Party, rather than had him readmitted, with the consent of the NEC, under Article 4.4.1 of the Party Constitution, once Nathan re-applied for membership of the Party.
Readmission to membership of the Party (with the consent of the NEC) of an expelled member upon a new membership application is a proper constitutional power of the Party Chairman, “reinstatement” is a nonsense Paul Oakden has conjured up from thin air ,and a power no one in the Party has. Lest I be seen as splitting hairs or picking nits, there is a difference: the claimed “reinstatement” power is supposed to have the effect of the expulsion never having taken place, as a result of which one’s offices in the Party are not affected, nor is the length of continuous membership of the Party, which may be relevant e.g. in elections where there is a minimum length of membership requirement. The proper constitutional procedure does not have this effect!
Our score so far on the compliance with the Party Constitution: 0 out of 5.
Since I have brought this point up, I understand Paul Oakden has subsequently exercised his conjured up “reinstatement” power in other circumstances. Minutes of the August meeting of the NEC, in which, as I wrote before, I do not recognize a single word attributed to me, record me as saying that Emmett Jenner “must be thrown out of the party”, and Paul Oakden as saying he would “expel” him. Apart from the fact that I never uttered the words attributed to me, it is the case that Emmett Jenner’s membership of the Party was revoked by Paul Oakden because Emmett Jenner formed a competing political Party.
Article 4.3(b) of the Party Constitution gives the Party Chairman (and indeed the NEC) no discretion as to what they must do under such circumstances: the Party Constitution expressly says that the Party Chairman “shall” (not “can” or “may”) “revoke” the membership of the person in question – not: “expel him”; again there is an important difference of the legal effect, which I shall not go into here. I understand that subsequently, Paul Oakden has again purported to exercise his conjured up power of “reinstatement” to “reinstate” Emmett Jenner to membership of the Party, as though the revocation never took place. That being the case, under the Party Constitution, he continues to be required (or would continue to be required were he properly, constitutionally be the Party Chairman) to revoke Emmett’s membership, which he has not done.
Our score so far on the compliance with the Party Constitution: 0 out of 6.
One of the reasons I gave for my resignation was that the NEC expressly rejected a particular financial scheme called Lyoness – more on this is in my resignation statement. The NEC also resolved that any Party official promoting Lyoness to Party members, or anyone promoting the scheme at the Party’s events, would automatically be deemed to have brought the Party into disrepute. This is not the only occasion when a particular activity is deemed to bring the Party into disrepute – the Party Rulebook contains a number of Articles stating that such and such shall be taken to bring the Party into disrepute.
Despite this resolution by the NEC and in defiance of it, Peter Jewell, the Party’s Deputy Treasurer, promoted the scheme at the chairmen’s conference on 30 July. The NEC asked the Party Chairmen (both Steve Crowther and Paul Oakden as the events overlapped with both their tenures) to take disciplinary action, and they both refused – but not on the grounds that what Peter Jewell did was unintentional, or not bad enough etc. but on the grounds that Lyoness was never promoted at the conference at all (!), despite there being photographic evidence of the Lyoness stall at that conference. Naturally, the NEC assumed that, at the very least, this would not happen again.
Not so! I understand that a Lyoness stand was very prominent at the Party’s national conference in Bournemouth as well.
What is the purpose of having an NEC if the party’s officers act as though the NEC had endorsed the scheme, when in fact the NEC had banned it, and totally ignore and defy all NEC decisions?
Our final score on the compliance with the Party Constitution: 0 out of 7.
Not a particularly encouraging result!
What is the positive message in this, and is there one?
The answer is: I don’t know. There certainly isn’t going to be any change for the better unless a whole slate of “mani pulite” [‘clean hands’] candidates get elected to the new NEC. Can this be done? The job will certainly be a poisoned chalice, but if no decent people are willing to do it, the future for the Party looks bleak.
Are there enough heroes willing to put themselves forward, go into the bear pit and sort things out?