The NEC have cut the Dumbarton Constituency Executive off from their membership by denying them access to the membership list via Headquarters. You might remember me mentioning this in a previous post on the matter. What follows is the letter to members which the Executive are trying to circulate. Please post and share widely on Facebook, Twitter and all formats. I warned earlier the Party was losing control to an out of control Woke dominated NEC. What do the heads in the sand brigade say now?
You may have received a communication from the National Secretary advising that the hustings organised by the CA will not now take place.
The National Executive of the Party has insisted that it will arrange a hustings.
The CA executive has been in constant discussion since Friday 16th October 2020 and met by Zoom this afternoon to respond to an email which I received late this morning from an employee of the Party, a Mr Chris Jones.
Following a further exchange of emails late this afternoon we were informed by Mr Jones acting on behalf of the National Secretary that our ‘event’ as he referred to it, must not go ahead.
I am instructed by the CA Executive to explain this matter to you.
When the National Executive Committee (NEC) issued its Candidate Vetting and Selection Rules (which can be read on mysnp.org) the Constituency Associations were excluded from the process except for the arranging of a hustings. Every other aspect of the selection process was handled by the NEC unlike in previous elections.
The CA organiser/ secretary emailed online members an invitation to a Zoom hustings for 19th October. You were invited to submit questions beforehand to raise with the candidates. We also indicated that we hoped to record the meeting so that those who couldn’t attend would be able to view the hustings in order to assess the nominees before voting.
Following that invitation it was a matter of some concern to the CA executive that around 140 of our members (who are not online) would not be part of the hustings or have access to a recording of it. It occurred to us that there would be insufficient time for each nominee to adequately answer the questions put to them as by that point we had received a large number of questions.
To ensure the widest distribution of (A) all seven presentations and (B) answers to members’ questions, the CA executive explored the possibility of an exclusive Question and Answer session of 15 minutes with each of the seven nominees. All of these sessions would be recorded UNEDITED and made available online to all the members with online access (around 950).
This recording could be viewed immediately after the last session on 19th October 2020. Sadly as the NEC has made no provision for those members without online access, your CA executive had made arrangements to transcribe each session into a written format and post copies to all our non-online members.
Until we had put in place the recording and transcription we couldn’t advise the membership of the proposed changes. In the meantime the sixty members who have indicated as of today a wish to be part of the hustings have received an acknowledgement from me.
On Thursday, when we were confident that our proposal for seven interviews, unedited recording and transcription could proceed I was authorised by the CA executive to email all nominees with our proposal. None of the nominees offered any objection to us.
On Friday afternoon I had a telephone call with Mr Chris Jones who advised me that we could not hold the hustings as he said that in his opinion it wasn’t a hustings and we had to adhere to the guidance set forth by the NEC.
I interrogated Mr Jones at some length. (A) why the National vetting and selection process was generally viewed as “a shambles” ? (B) what was his authority for his claim that NEC guidance was obligatory? (C) was he not aware that the dictionary definition of hustings includes campaign meetings involving one or more speeches? I(D) why was the NEC treating the members without online access with such disdain when the NEC had a means to include them?
Furthermore I asked him who were the complainants were. At first, he said members but strangely later in the conversation he admitted it wasn’t members but candidates. I asked which candidates, but he refused to name them. He said that the event had to be live so that the members could see the nominees’ answer in real time but failed to appreciate that as the seven sessions were being recorded our members would have even more opportunity to consider each nominees’ answers and would also be able to ask each nominee to clarify any point through the personal email and telephone number of each nominee which some nominees have already published.
He then volunteered that there were a few known ‘hotheads’ (his words) in our local membership who might concentrate their attack on one or two nominees over a certain issue which is currently the cause of heated debate within the Party and beyond. He insisted that a strong neutral chair was required. I replied that members were entitled to have opinions and to challenge the nominees on any issue which could impact on their selection of a candidate. I also commented that if a nominee had to be protected from the scrutiny of party members it did not augur well for his or her prospects as our candidate in the cut and thrust of the election .
I explained to him that the CA executive has had to change its proposed hustings three times to accommodate the changes which the NEC had made to the vetting and selection process, and that our proposal for individual Q and A sessions with each nominee, would give them the opportunity to make their responses without interruption in order that all members could witness the nominees’ arguments. Indeed the CA executive’s proposals ensured one topic, however important, would not dominate each interview. As the interviewer I had made it clear that I HAVE NOT AND WOULD NOT voice any personal preference for any nominee. I have already undertaken to abstain from voting in the selection process to ensure complete impartiality.
In the course of the conversation Mr Jones volunteered that the conversation was causing some amusement in the SNP HQ office. Members can draw their own conclusion as to whether this was an appropriate matter to be the subject of some amusement amongst SNP employees who are paid through members’ subscriptions when the highly important selection contest for our constituency in the forthcoming Independence Election was being discussed.
Sadly Mr Jones threatened to request the National Secretary to arrange a hustings if the CA executive did not change to the one which Mr Jones indicated was required by the NEC.
I indicated that I’d seek the views of the CA executive and revert to him.
I immediately contacted the CA executive and over the weekend there has been much discussion and outrage at the attempt by the NEC to interfere with our practical proposals to offer all our members an opportunity to engage in the democratic process. I have still not received any complaint or adverse comment from any of the nominees to our proposal.
Late this afternoon I was instructed by the CA executive to advise Mr Jones that the CA would not deny our members the widest involvement in the selection process and change the format. This I did.
I then received a response from Mr Jones, on behalf of the National Secretary, NOT to proceed with the hustings tomorrow evening and that the NEC would arrange its own hustings under what he termed a ’neutral’ chair.
I regret any inconvenience to members and the nominees as we all wish to ensure a fair and informed choice when selecting our candidate. However the CA executive is firmly and unanimously of the view that manipulation of the process is afoot. We strongly urge all members to register for the NEC hustings and submit robust questioning on the topics which matter to you.
As you know the AGM of the CA which was delayed as a result of the Covid 19 crisis, is taking place shortly . If delegates disagree with the actions of the CA executive they are free to vote for others to replace them. . Equally National Conference at the end of November will give all branch and CA delegates the opportunity to register their satisfaction or otherwise with the membership of the NEC. Please use your vote to maintain the democratic rights of all members.
Yours for Scotland