Exclusive: Christian May on the CF Reforms
The Exec have been watching all sorts of comments fly around on various blogs concerning 'proposed reforms' to CF. Comments have varied from the mild ("who will stand for election?") to the extreme ("Rock is parachuting in his 12 best friends to run CF"). We have yet to see an accurate comment on the ideas we're working on. The reason for this is simple; we haven't proposed any changes yet. Michael stood for election on a very clear policy of regionlisation - a policy which I very quickly signed up to as I think it will sort out a lot of the nonsense in CF. Before I talk a little bit more about our ideas, let me make one thing perfectly clear: there will be no unelected appointments. I shall say that again for the slower ones amongst you: there will be no unelected appointments.
In a nutshell, our idea is this: CF will comprise of Branch Chairmen (elected) Regional Coordinators (elected) and a National Chairman (elected). Please note that none of these positions are appointments. The reason for this proposal (and I stress again that is is simply a proposal) is to make CF more effective at a local level and to increase its accountability
. In replacing Area Chairs with regional Coordinators our aim is to remove the ambiguous "second layer" between Branch Chairs and the National Exec. We all know that a well run Branch often constitutes CF at its best. We also appreciate that there are many superb Area Chairs - and we think that they will function more effectively as Regional Coordinators, overseeing a larger area. Of course, if a collection of branches held an AGM and decided on the need for a figure in between themselves and the Regional Coordinator, then they could vote one in. However, this decision should be made at branch level. Again, it's about promoting accountability and grass root level effectiveness.
We anticipate that there will always be a few (largely anonymous) criticisms of this plan, but this is the 10th anniversary of CF and I think we should mark such a milestone by shaking things up a bit and giving more responsibility to the Branch chairs.
More details will be announced as and when this proposal is put to the Party. It might go ahead, it might not. Either way, your Exec are only ever working with the best interests of the members in mind, and we'd never undermine the democratic nature that is so highly valued within our organisation.
Thanks for clearing it up Christian, but you have to admit, when information is dripped out piecemeal people are inevitably going to jump to conclusions.
Michael Rock in an interview with Blue Guerilla said: "Anyone elected will serve the term they stood for."
Then Owen Meredith chips in to say: "Nobody is being sacked from any elected role."
Until your post there was nothing that resembled a denial of appointing regional CFers.
What I don't understand if why there is such secrecy over the exact proposals to the party.
Will there be a point in time before conference (and before putting them to the party) where they will be put out to members to digest?
After all, a democracy isn't just elections, it's reasonable scrutiny of those in positions of power.
I have to say that I think removing Area Chairs is a really, really bad idea.
I'm the Chair for a large area now (it takes me almost three hours to drive from one side to the other) and the size definitely makes my job much more difficult, a view I know other Chairs share. In fact, I had a discussion only last week with a neighbouring Area Chair about how we feel CF needs more Area Chairs, not less!
Therefore, I can't see how actually increasing the area an individual is responsible for will make CF 'more accountable at a local level'. If anything, it will just increase the distance (both metaphorically and literally) between grassroot members and the CF executive.
Branch Chairmen are effective because they are focused on one small area - however, this then leads to branches becoming isolated, especially outside of London where it can take up to an hour on public transport just to reach a town 5 miles away!
Consequently, Branch Chairmen don't have the time to focus on creating regional activities or connecting local branches, which is where an Area Chair steps in.
Personally, I've found that trying to co-ordinate and connect almost 20 constituencies is extremely difficult, and there are always times when I can't attend an event or make a meeting because I'm somewhere else.
In addition, if I'm honest, my assigned NME Regional Co-ordinator has been useless, having spoken to me once, promised to send me some information and then never done so.
Basically, it's hard work being an Area Chair. A lot of us feel we have areas which are far too large for one person to realistically manage without providing a very impersonal service, so how on earth will creating larger areas make this situation any better?
Instead of Branch Chairs having a locally based Area Chair, who knows their constituency and is able to provide a personal link to the London based hub of CF, they will have a figure who they don't know, who doesn't live anywhere near their branch and who is responsible for a vast number of constituencies. I have to ask again - do you honestly think this would make CF "more effective at a local level and increase its accountability"?
Finally, apologies for remaining anonymous; I know how nasty CF gossip can become and I don't want my Area to think I don't enjoy my position or find it a chore - nothing could be further from the truth!
Anonymous @15:03, thank you for your comments.
All comments received by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) before 13th September will be treated with ABSOLUTE confidence and will contribute to the next NME meeting where this issue is set to take up a good few hours. If you so ask, I will delete all reference to the author before sharing any comments with my fellow Exec members. Can't say fairer than that.
You may of course email your comments to any Exec member who will speak on your behalf at the meeting.
What are the likely regions going to be? Will Wales be treated as one region? Thats a very large area for one person to cover? Will the North West be one region? Thats an absolutely massive region to cover with Cumbria being very spread out as well as the likes of Greater Manchester and Merseyside.
I would like to reiterate Christian’s comment about this being YOUR Exec. This means that we want to hear from YOU!
If anyone wishes to contact me with their ideas/concerns/suggestions I can promise that their comments will be fully considered by my colleagues and me.
Nothing has yet been decided and your contributions can help us to have a meaningful discussion taking into account all views and ideas.
My e-mail is email@example.com.
We've got our work cut out in Kent. There are minimal CF branches from what I see most with small membership under ten. I can say that a previous Area Chair of Kent wasnt very good and Ive met him. Very negative and just saw it as something to stick on a cv.
When I got in touch with various associations and branch chairs, I was seen as a relief and about time too.
Long way down the page, but ho hum.
Christian, are you in a position to confirm or deny that The Board has today approved Michael Rock's proposals, namely that from now on the Chairman, the NME and all Area Chairmen will be appointed by CCHQ?
If I might offer a suggestion based on broadly accepted industry best practice for change management, any proposal for change should be put out to consultation before it is presented to the Party Board. The argument that because the Board makes the decision, and could reject any proposals out of hand, then consultation is a waste of time does not really stand up to scrutiny. Arguably, a proposal which has been subject to general consultation and around which a consensus of support has been built, is far more likely to be accepted by the Board.
In our internet enabled world, a comprehensive consultation could be undertaken between now and the meeting on the 13th quite effectively. I am sure such an excercise would dramatically improve the chances of success of any proposal.