By its own admission, Vote for Change is anti MMP. Its website homepage has “More Accountability” as its first principle. It is also an Incorporated Society. So I had a look at its rules – you can find them here by entering “Vote for Change” in the box. It seems more like the Politburo to me. Not a good look for a group supposedly promoting better democracy.
Here’s some examples from the Rules. Re membership Rule 4.2:
Every application for membership shall be made by application in writing to the committee, and shall be accompanied by an entrance fee, the amount of which shall be fixed by the Committee. If the applicant’s name is approved by the Committee, the applicant’s name shall be entered on the register of members. The Committee need not give any reason for approving or not approving any application.
That provision is fairly standard. But re the Committee Rules 6.1 and 6.2 say:
The Society shall be managed by a Committee comprising not less than two or more than five members of the Society.
The initial Committee shall be made up of Peter Shirtcliffe and Jordan Williams.
The FAQ section of the website indicates that Peter Shirtcliffe will not take part in the day-to-day activities of the Society but will be a member of the Committee only. The Committee has very wide powers, including the appointment of its members, of officers and the ability to decide on different classes of members of the Society (Rule 8.1).
As for the members’ opportunity to have a say, an AGM must be held no later than May 31 in each calendar year (Rule 9.1). As the Society was constituted in June 2011, this meeting will be held after the general election. A special general meeting may be convened by the Committee, or by a request in writing signed by 250 members of the Society (Rule 10). Four (that’s 4) members of the Society constitute a quorum at a general meeting. Go figure.
Perhaps this is why. Rule 22.1-2 state that:
The Society may at any time be dissolved by the resolution of a majority of the members present at any General meeting. Any resolution of dissolution shall be confirmed at a Special General Meeting of members to be held not less than thirty days after the date on which the winding up resolution was passed.
And Rule 22.3:
In the event of dissolution any residual funds and assets, subject to the payment of its debts and liabilities and the costs and expenses of winding up [shall be passed to any other persons, associations or bodies having similar objects] as recommended by the Committee before the subsequent Special General Meeting referred to in the previous clause.
And if all that’s not enough, Rule 24.2 says:
If at any time any matter arises which is not provided for in these rules or in the regulations or by-laws, the same shall be determined by the Committee, whose decision shall be final.
Democracy may be a bit messy around the edges at times. but we don’t need our rules made up by a closed shop with a hidden agenda.