Here are the draft minutes of the IBMT’s Annual General Meeting held earlier this month. These will be submitted to the 2019 AGM for final approval.
International Brigade Memorial Trust
Draft minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 13 October 2018 in the Guildhall, 39 Alfred Gelder Street, Hull HU1 2AG
(to be read in conjunction with written reports presented to the meeting)
Present: Gerry Abrahams, Mike Arnott, Richard Baxell (Chair), Terry Bayes, Colin Carritt, Lesley Carritt, David Chanter, Alun Davies, Tracey Delaney, Megan Dobney, Pauline Fraser, George Fuller, Joe Gibbons, Alex Gordon, Mary Greening, Chris Hall, Gary Hammond, John Hayward, Myra Hunter, Charles Jepson, Hillary Jones, Jim Jump (Secretary), Meirian Jump, Denis Lenehan, Alan Lloyd, Nina Londragan, Dolores Long, Duncan Longstaff, Margaret McKenna, Pearce McKenna, David McKnight, David Margolies, Sandra Margolies, Marshall Mateer, Moira Mateer, John Millington, Mark Mizzen, Manuel Moreno (Treasurer), Anne O’Hara, Manus O’Riordan, Frieda Park, Eddie Redmond, Beth Richards, Kathryn Rodriguez, Manuel Rodriguez, Maureen Saunders, Marlene Sidaway (President), Rob Smith, Andy Stankard, Maggie Thomson, Richard Thorpe, Mike Wales, Ernest Walker, Lynda Walker, Stuart Walsh, Paul Ward.
1. Opening remarks
The Chair, Richard Baxell, drew attention to evacuation arrangements in case of fire. He asked members to use the roving microphones when speaking. He then introduced Cllr Daren Hale, deputy leader of Hull City Council.
Cllr Hale spoke of his delight in welcoming the IBMT Annual General Meeting to Hull, especially in the Guildhall, near to where the new memorial to the International Brigades would stand. It was important that the IBMT had decided to hold its 2018 AGM in Hull, and he was very proud to have the memorial in the city, proud of the Hull International Brigade Memorial Committee that had made it possible, and proud of Hull Trades Union Council and of the whole trade union and labour movement in Hull for supporting the project. The new monument provided a springboard for young people today to learn about the example of the International Brigades. Unfortunately there was a resurgence of fascism and far right politics across Europe at present. He hoped that ordinary people, inspired by the struggles of the people of Spain, would stand proud with the Bob Crow Brigade in Kurdistan and others fighting for freedom today and also stand firm against the far right in Britain. He referred to a London march by the far right taking place today and expected a large anti-fascist presence. We must remember the forgotten struggles of our history and, in particular, working class history, which was seldom taught.
The Chair asked for a minute’s silence to remember those who had died during the past year, in particular Rien Dijkstra, Julian Tudor Hart, Albert Wild and Bill Williams.
2. Apologies for absence
Apologies were received from Margaret Bruton, Lisa Croft, Connie Fraser, Sarah Friday, Mark Hoskinson, Tosh McDonald, Brenda O’Riordan, Danny Payne, Simon Renton, Tom Sibley, Chris and Louanne Tranchell, Alan Warren, Pete and Sheila Widlinski, Mike Wild.
3. Minutes of the 2017 AGM and matters arising
The minutes were formally adopted. There were no matters arising.
4. Executive Committee report
Introducing the report, the Secretary, Jim Jump, said that it had been another year of achievement and considerable activity for the IBMT. He thanked everyone who had contributed anything to make our organisation one of which we could all be proud. Much time had been spent sorting out finances, but he was now cautiously optimistic that we would more or less break even this year. Seven national unions were now affiliated, whereas last year there had been none. More than £1,100 had so far been received from the sale of raffle tickets and we would soon break even and then start raising money. Membership had risen to 992 as of the previous Wednesday. He was confident that it would break the 1,000 barrier by the end of the year.
The Secretary added that, beyond the high-profile commemorative events, major progress had also been made with the completion of the online database of British and Irish volunteers who had gone to Spain. He also drew attention to the partnership with Marx Memorial Library in the project to digitally re-catalogue the library’s Spanish Civil War archives. The IBMT and MML were now producing a series of short films for social media, made by Platform Films, to publicise the work of the two organisations. The films would be rolled out month by month and the first, on trade unionists and the Spanish Civil War, was ready to be released by the end of this month. The film was then screened and members present applauded it.
Alex Gordon commended the Chair and Secretary for taking some difficult decisions to produce a zero deficit budget for the current financial year. A much more disciplined approach had been taken to spending. He looked forward to many more members joining through trade union affiliations.
Ernest Walker asked why there was no mention of activities in Northern Ireland in the report. The Secretary responded that it was the Belfast-based International Brigade Commemorative Committee that organised these, rather than the IBMT. The IBCC’s annual general meeting and other activities were reported through the eNewsletter. The Chair reiterated the IBMT’s support for the IBCC.
Stuart Walsh raised the issue of problems with the search facility of the online database of International Brigaders. The Chair said he would resolve these as soon as he could.
Gerry Abrahams said she could not understand why Scotland, Ireland and Wales had representatives on the Executive Committee, but not Northern Ireland. The Secretary said he could not recollect anyone from Northern Ireland standing for election to the committee. He was keen for our committee to be as representative as possible. However, it was not necessary to be on the committee to be active in the IBMT. The IBMT wished to encourage local groups such as the IBCC and hoped they would affiliate to the IBMT.
In response to queries from members, the Secretary recognised there had been problems with processing a number of membership subscriptions. Managing the IBMT’s membership records and payments was now a complex task – there were four membership categories and subscription rates, plus four for overseas members, subscriptions were made in three different currencies and payments were received in cash, by cheque, via Paypal and via bank transfer. The current IBMT Office Administrator, Ajmal Waqif, had sorted out previous problems and was now chasing up lapsed members. The Treasurer, Manuel Moreno, supported this and praised the administrator’s work in dealing with the backlog. There was now no going back to the old system of a volunteer doing this work alone on a laptop, though there was still a place for an Executive Committee member to oversee the work.
Charles Jepson proposed a vote of thanks to Mary Greening for her long-standing work as Membership Secretary. Members responded with a round of applause.
Mark Mizzen asked if we had a regional strategy for increasing membership. The Secretary explained that we did not, as we were all members of a single organisation and had no regional structure. There was, however, a priority to recruit more members in general, as we depended on membership subscriptions and donations to survive.
The President, Marlene Sidaway, said that memorials raised in different areas were paid for locally as a result of campaigning by local activists. She praised the number of memorials being put up.
Manuel Rodriguez asked about working with groups in Spain. The Secretary said we were very keen to work with such groups, as we did with those in Barcelona and Madrid. It was important too, he added, to reach out to the increasing number of young Spaniards working and studying in Britain. He said we were organising an all-day fiesta on 1 December in Brighton with a group of young ex-pats, Marea Granate. Mike Arnott, the Scotland Secretary, had also built good relations in Edinburgh with young Spaniards in the city. Dolores Long spoke of her contact in the North West with young Spaniards in Manchester and agreed it was important to work with them. These sentiments were endorsed by Stuart Walsh. The Chair said the IBMT always tried to encourage people to join or follow us on social media. This was also a way of communicating with younger people.
Duncan Longstaff said that more performances of ‘The Ballad of Johnny Longstaff’ by The Young’uns were planned for January and February 2019. A CD should be available soon. The Chair said we would continue to publicise these events.
The Executive Committee report was approved.
5. Financial report
Presenting the financial report, the Treasurer said we had had two very difficult years where we had been spending more than we had raised. Now that the IBMT had a budget, balances were, thanks to a joint effort, the same as prior to this difficult period. He looked forward to a hugely exciting year ahead.
The financial report was agreed.
6. Proposed amendments to the IBMT constitution
The Chair explained the voting procedure. If there were to be amendments to the constitution, a two-thirds majority was needed. If there were amendments to the amendments. then these required a simple majority.
Moving the Executive Committee’s proposals to amend the constitution, the Secretary explained that they were designed to introduce a system of three-year terms of office, with each AGM electing four members to the committee. This would replace the current system of one-year terms of office and each AGM electing a new Executive Committee. Longer terms of office were the norm in similar organisations, he said. It was destabilising to have one-year terms as it took time for new committee members to make a positive impact. In addition, the size of the Executive Committee would be reduced by one (from 13 to 12 plus a President) and the Officers – Chair, Secretary and Treasurer – would be elected from among the committee members. These proposals were based on the fundamental principles of democracy and he asked for support for these amendments.
Charles Jepson moved two amendments to the Executive Committee’s proposed amendments. He supported the committee’s ideas, but was concerned that many new people would struggle to be elected, which would go against the idea of democracy. He therefore wanted those with the longest continuous service to stand down first during the transition to three-year terms of office and wanted all Executive Committee members not to be eligible to stand for re-election for one year after having served a three-year term.
Manus O’Riordan pointed out that the amendment on long service would apply only to continuous service and that candidates with long service, but not continuous, would not be affected. He would welcome more new blood on the committee, but the amendment in question did not encourage this.
Hilary Jones asked why long service in a voluntary role was being portrayed in a negative light.
Alex Gordon supported the Executive Committee’s amendments. He was concerned that Charles Jepson’s amendments would not encourage new people to get involved in the organisation, but would disrupt continuity by disbarring members who had already served a three-year term from continuing to serve.
Alan Lloyd said we should trust the membership. If they felt that people had done a good job, then they would be elected.
The Secretary said we did not have the luxury of barring people from standing and agreed it was a shame that Nina Londragan and Lisa Croft had each only served a single term in the past two years. But three members with no prior service on the Executive Committee were elected last year and a further two would join the committee this year. A total of 40 people had served on committee since the IBMT had come into being. He said we should trust the members and the AGM. Members had a democratic right to decide who they wished to serve and for how long.
The amendments to the Executive Committee’s proposed amendments to the constitution were put to the vote on a show of hands and both were lost.
In the subsequent vote on the Executive Committee’s proposals, the result was 41 in favour and 7 against and the Chair declared that the proposals had been carried.
7. Election of Officers and Executive Committee members
It was agreed that Joe Gibbons and Mike Wales would act as scrutineers. The Chair explained that a ballot of Executive Committee member nominees would be necessary to determine the order in which they step down from the committee over the next three years while three-year terms of office are introduced, with the four with the highest number of votes serving for three years, the four with the next highest for two years and the two with the lowest serving for one year (ties to be decided by lot). The candidates were invited to speak for up to one minute about themselves.
Charles Jepson was nominated by Lisa Croft, seconded by Stuart Walsh.
Jim Jump was nominated by Dolores Long, seconded by Hilary Jones.
Charles Jepson declined nomination and Jim Jump was declared elected.
Megan Dobney was nominated by Alex Gordon, seconded by Pauline Fraser, and was elected unopposed.
Manuel Moreno was nominated by John Haywood, seconded by Megan Dobney, and was elected unopposed.
Pauline Fraser was nominated by Marlene Sidaway, seconded by Meirian Jump.
Alex Gordon was nominated by Meirian Jump, seconded by Marlene Sidaway.
Mary Greening was nominated by Hywel Francis, seconded by Rowland Davies.
Chris Hall was nominated by Lisa Croft, seconded by Stuart Walsh.
John Haywood was nominated by Colin Carritt, seconded by Gerry Lavery.
Charles Jepson was nominated by Danny Payne, seconded by Terry Bayes.
Alan Lloyd was nominated by Myra Hunter, seconded by Eddie Redmond.
Dolores Long was nominated by Hilary Jones, seconded by Ruth Muller.
Tosh McDonald was nominated by Simon Renton, seconded by Paul Hardy.
Manus O’Riordan was nominated by Lynda Walker, seconded by Ernest Walker.
There being up to 10 candidates to be elected, all 10 nominees were declared elected unopposed.
The Chair said that, because counting the ballot papers was a lengthy process, it was likely that the result of the Executive Committee ballot would be declared after the meeting had closed (see Appendix).
8. Any other business
The Secretary reported that he had sent a message of support to RMT, which was taking part in the protest in London today against a demonstration by the the neo-fascist Democratic Football Lads Association. He read out the message:
The International Brigade Memorial Trust, holding its Annual General Meeting in Hull today, sends a message of solidarity to RMT and others protesting against the rise of fascism on our streets. We are proud to keep alive the memory and spirit of those men and women who were the first to take up arms against modern fascism. Many of the volunteers who fought Franco, Hitler and Mussolini in Spain between 1936 and 1939 – while their Conservative-led government was busy appeasing the fascist dictators – had already been active in defending their communities against Sir Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts. Just like them, we have to say today: They shall not pass! ¡No pasarán!
The Secretary said that Bob Galliers had requested that printing the IBMT magazine ¡No Pasarán! in colour should be raised at the AGM. He had written to say that the ‘grey and gloomy’ black and white pages didn’t do justice to the excellent articles and photos. The Secretary reported that he had replied to say that he agreed and that colour printing of the magazine should be a priority if sufficient funds were available.
Manus O’Riordan asked the meeting to remember Jimmy Kelly, who had sang at a number of events commemorating the International Brigades, including the 2016 AGM of the IBMT in Dublin. Jimmy was the brother of Luke Kelly, of Dubliners fame.
John Millington said, as a first-time attendee, he wanted to get more involved with the work of the IBMT.
Andy Stankard said that tickets for the evening social would be available on the door. He invited people to stay for a screening of the musical ‘Ocho’.
Pauline Fraser invited people to buy second hand books from the stall at the back of the hall.
John Haywood asked for raffle ticket stubs and money to be sent to the IBMT, but if anybody wanted more tickets, they should get in touch with him or the IBMT. He urged people to buy tickets, a call that was endorsed by the Treasurer and President.
9. Date and place of next AGM
It was agreed to accept the Executive Committee’s recommendation that the 2019 Annual General Meeting should be held in London on a Saturday in October yet to be decided.
Result of the ballot of Executive Committee members: total votes cast for each candidate
Pauline Fraser 44
Alex Gordon 39
Mary Greening 29
Christopher Hall 24
John Haywood 24
Charles Jepson 19
Alan Lloyd 40
Dolores Long 44
Tosh McDonald 27
Manus O’Riordan 42
Posted on 29 October 2018.