NEC Minutes for 18th January 2014 (Physical Meeting)

Saturday, 18 January, 2014 - 10:00
Attending: 
Loz Kaye (LK) - Leader
Andy Halsall (AH) - Campaigns
Sephy Hallow (SH) - Deputy Leader
Jason Winstanley (JW) - Nominations
Jack Allnutt (JA) - Deputy Campaigns
Ed Geraghty (EG) - Secretary
Sam Clark (SC) - Treasurer

The Pirate Party Physical NEC meeting took place on the 18th of January in Sheffield. The idea behind these meetings is getting together for a day to work, which is invaluable in fostering good working relationships and helps towards the smooth running of the NEC. The NEC physical meeting is open to anyone who wishes to attend and usually the agenda is published in advance. This is the 4th NEC physical meet since the meetings were started in 2012.

 

 

Introduction

EG welcomes the new NEC to this year's physical meet and lays out the intended structure of the meeting. The first part of the meeting is intended to be a reflection on the aims of the previous NEC over the past year, on tasks which were achieved, tasks which were missed, lessons which can be drawn upon, and a review of the party as it stands today, including a proposed revised Party Structure document.

 

Discussion of the proposed changes to organisational structure

  • See the new Organisational Chart here
  • EG walks the NEC through the new structure, pointing out the proposed changes to, and implementation of, the organisation and departments therein.
  • Very specifically, EG talked about policy and how that interacts with the ongoing Policy Alpha
  • NEC talked about campaigns teams' organisation and the dumping ground for tasking.
  • AH reports that some campaigns groups are now functional and autonomous, with additional stuff to work on. That work is now ongoing and includes the social media team under Stephen Ogden.
  • EG sums up this introduction by stating we are putting this document together to reflect how the party actually works, rather than trying to impose structure. This document is a living one and is subject to change to reflect any future NEC/departmental structure.
  • NEC discussed the proposed changes in the structural document, specifically the movement of Spokespeople from falling under Leadership to Campaigns. EG and AH explained that this was intended to allow the Leader's Office to work out the loads between LK and SH in the immediate term, but will still require the input of Leadership until such time as it can be moved back. Another point of discussion is membership - this has moved from Treasury to Secretariat. AH notes that the Secretariat had covered membership contact on join and membership processing in January 2013 when we had the treasury handover and vacancy. It would make sense for membership contact to merge into the role EG is filling, but for the processing of membership payments and such to remain with the treasury.
  • Campaigns & Leadership would be working on recruiting spokespeople together.
  • NEC discuss vacant positions in the structure, specifically deputies for NEC members to balance the load as we go into 2014. An agreement is made that Nominations and Secretariat are to find deputies by the 1st of March.
  • SH notes that it is confusing joining a team with no defined communications process, it is difficult to know who to speak to about what. EG agrees, points out that despite his prior involvement in the party in various roles he counts himself amongst officers new to the team and reiterates to all members of the NEC that he aims for Secretariat to be that single point of contact internally at every level.

Actions

  • SC to send EG a list of all newly approved members.
  • EG to be added to campaigns email list
  • Initial membership contact to be discussed SC & EG
  • EG & JW to appoint deputies by 1st March.

This proposed document was given unanimous NEC approval and is adopted as the formal structure document.

Review of priorities from 2013

  • NEC went through the actions from 2013 and discussed in detail:
  • Membership Process and Retention
  • Press
  • LK pointed out that the party has not met all of its objectives for 2013 for a variety of reasons, and this is obvious from the progress made so far.
  • The reasons for that are obvious and fairly well known, but boiled down to understaffing, firefighting urgent issues and the continued need for underlying structures to be properly put in place (NWP/Team leads/Deputies)
  • LK pointed out that we should always be aware of where we are and what it is that needs doing.
  • LK pointed out that this will change and that EG will be pushing for delivery.
  • EG states that this should be the end of reflecting on the past, but that we must be realistic in our goals for 2014. From the introduction, the NEC knows where we have been and where we are now. From this point, the meeting should be about positive action and the future.

New Priorities

  • Membership Migration to the new platform (SC)
  • Data Protection Policy updating and turning into clean, simplified language instead of boilerplate (EG & SH)

 

NEC Priorities 14/15 Overview

  • Membership Drive
  • Membership Migration
  • Attain 1,000 members
  • Election Review
  • Conference Finance review
  • Data Protection Policy update
  • Policy Beta
  • Press - increasing output and setting targets
  • Donations / Driven donations
  • Budgets
  • Financial Statements
  • Branches / Sharing branch knowledge and experience
  • Euro '14
  • Local issue based campaigning
  • National issue based campaigning
  • NWP

Actions

  • SC and EG to talk about membership process
  • EG to take control of membership contact
  • AH to hand over process documents from 2013.
  • NEC to agree timeline for priorities 14/15

 

Political aims 2014

EG hands the chair over to LK for the remainder of the meeting

  • LK asks the NEC - what is it we care about? What makes us important and distinctive in politics?
  • LK says we need outward clarity that we are not a pressure group, we are a political party and as such we are driven by elections
  • LK points out there are a series of elections in 2014-15; Euros, Local and General

Elections in the coming 18 months, as well as any by-elections which take place

  • AH and SH note that there has been a shift in our membership since we have shifted focus from copyright to civil liberties
  • SH makes the point that we need to work with our strengths - our NEC consists of people with a range of backgrounds and experience, we should be using this to our full advantage
  • For instance, SH makes the observation that there is high LGBTQ representation on NEC - how can we express this outwardly?
  • NEC decide we need to choose four or five discrete areas of expertise, with credible spokespeople on each given subject
  • LK & AH make the point that we need to build this around candidates, who in turn need to be supported by local branches. It makes no sense to run this centrally any more.
  • LK says we need to distill what we represent, who we are and why it matters. We need to sell ourselves to the electorate
  • LK points out we know, for instance, that by the end of 2014 there will be ANOTHER draft legislation on copyright, we know immigration and the EU will be important topics and we must have something to say about them.
  • LK says we need to start jumping up and down and stop being so restrained - people do care about this stuff. We needed to be restrained in order to build our credibility, we have broadly achieved that now. Now is the time to start making our points more forcefully.
  • NEC decided to take a coordinated issue based approach to national campaigning through the next year.

Some key areas were identified, others will be brought onstream as the year unfolds:

  • Copyright - Sephy Hallow
  • Web Filtering / "Great Firewall of Cameron" - Sephy Hallow
  • EU Reform
  • Open Access
  • LGBTQ
  • Mass surveillance - Loz Kaye
  • It was decided that each area should be assigned a lead spokesperson, and tie in web, graphics social media.

 

  • LK poses a question about Elections: we know we can reach (and have reached) 5%, how do we get to 6%?
  • NEC discussed the applicability of Manchester elections on other parts of the country and other scenarios.
  • Common consensus is we need to increase voter turnout; how do we achieve this?
  • LK states we need to push the fact that there is low turnout as a far bigger issue.
  • LK says we need to "re-find" radical edge; EG points out that we have had to professionalise in order to become credible, but we are activists, we mustn't forget it!
  • LK points out that Russell Brand crystallised the disquiet in voters, especially the young; people have been far more moved by his arguments than they have by UKIP, for example.
  • NEC agrees we need to try and capitalise on this
  • This section was followed by a break for lunch

Actions

  • Leadership team to identify timetable and leads for each campaign area.

 

Treasury

Accounts

  • SC shows the NEC the HSBC balances.
  • SC notes we are currently running a steady surplus and are holding around £11,000 on the HSBC accounts
  • SC notes we need a new bank account which will allow us to issue capped debit cards to each department, allowing them to administer their budget without having to go cap in hand to the Treasurer
  • SC notes the eventual plan is to issue credit cards, in order to ease the cash flow for the wider accounts by offsetting payments
  • NEC unanimously agreed to open new account with Co-Op bank, paperwork signed and sent for delivery during the meeting.

EU Funding

  • AH & SC state we need money to run in the Euros - our mark to increase the number of regions standing is at each £45,000
  • This will be spent on Mailshots, and any other appropriate campaigning. AH pointed out that much of the broader reach we have via social media and online is actually cheaper than traditional methods.
  • We need to show costs to the membership, we need to justify the amounts we're asking for - we know what we're doing when it comes to running elections but we need to express this to the wider membership.
  • JA suggests "Adopt a postcode" as a way to fund mailshots, with agreement from the NEC
  • AH states everything from billboards through to internet radio and advertising is possibility, but it all hinges on money. Important aspect is to ensure that members are aware of what we want to spend money on and how much it will cost.
  • SC says his projections are £15k from crowd-funding (kickstarter etc), £15k from donors
  • AH and LK point out the need to "up-sell" and keep new members
  • LK suggests we approach smaller groups; hackspaces, crypto-parties etc - we can offer promotion channels in return for content and support
  • LK states we need a concrete timetable for the EUs
  • There is a serious sense of urgency, but as pointed out by various members of the NEC, we are running at peak capacity already on many areas - until the new website is in place, we are crippled
  • For EU election we need:
    • EU content for the website
    • Templates for mailouts
    • Candidates call-out
    • Crowd-funding
    • Quotes for 1.9 million leaflets
    • Advertising on Reddit et al
    • Advertising with online radio stations, perhaps?
    • New video camera to shoot videos
    • CANDIDATES!
  • LK notes that despite appearances, we are not that far behind, and we are reactive enough to make this work

Budgets

  • SC notes new budget started on the 1st of Jan 2014.
  • The period under discussion will be 01/01/14 onwards
  • AH asks that Travel expenditure continues to be broken down by department instead of as a catch-all, this allows for more accurate reporting by type of activity.
  • SC states that going forward, the NEC are required to report to Treasury all notional expenditure as well as actual expenditure more regularly. This will allow us to work out the party's actual costs, not just what it spends.
  • SC lays out new reimbursement timetable: Monthly reporting by all departments to Treasury, by the 10th of next working month - all re-imbursement will be by the 15th, meaning reimbursements will be in arrears (except in exceptional circumstances, if they were to arise)
  • SC notes this will become less of an issue once we have our new bank account and have issued departmental cards
  • SC notes that from now, branches should be doing their own accounting, with reporting back to treasury as above
  • SC will create an up-to-date list of party assets
  • LK asks regarding local elections - should fundraising be passed to branches? SC answers: Yes, but it requires the branches to support.
  • LK notes we need to be careful about budgets; it is difficult to justify £1,000 set aside for travel when we are running elections, but a single Manchester-London trip by train is into 3 figures.
  • NEC agrees ballpark figures of £20,000 for 2014 (excl. EU) with formal operational budget to follow:
  • Secretariat: £350
  • Leader's Office: £650
  • Nominations: TBC
  • Campaigns (including IT/International/Social Media, etc): £16,100
  • Treasury: £500

 

Campaigns

  • This section was chaired and presented by AH

2013 recap

  • Almost constant elections in Manchester
  • Several conferences (domestic and international) held in the UK
  • Election in Scotland
  • PPI & PPEU has been ongoing
  • New Web Project (NWP) is ongoing - rapidly approaching 6 months' work
  • New social media team is largely autonomous and is working well
  • Press team is an ongoing concern, it waxes and wanes

2014

Key things:

  • We will have spokespeople on key areas
  • We will have a new platform for publishing
  • We will be able to run national campaigns
  • We will have the capacity to run petitions etc
  • As agreed in the earlier session, we will be focussing on Surveillance, Web Blocking, Open Access, Education Reform/Academies and Broadband - this is where we have specialised knowledge and can talk with authority
  • A person, hashtag, event, tag, start and end dates for each area is vital.

Elections

  • Manchester in May - run locally, as many candidates as possible
  • Other areas in May - run with national support if possible
  • Need a shift from purely the "old faces"
  • Minimum of six weeks run-in for locals - deadline will be Monday 31st of March.

International

  • What do we want from our international contacts?
  • PPI has nothing to offer us, in fact PPUK are giving them life support as mandated by the membership vote
  • PPEU - there has been, and is, coordination on Euro material, but we need content and media to use it effectively. NEC continues to hold the view that joining PPEU is not the right thing to do.
  • JA discussed PPEU in the context of CEEP
  • JA suggested a memorandum of understanding or similar for PPEU so that we can show willing and arged for continued support and effort in that direction. AH agreed and also added that he wanted to make the relationships that PPUK has with international partners clearer.
  • Bilateral relationships outside these organisations are working, albeit slowly
  • AH states we need to focus as much as possible on issue campaigns
  • EG reiterates that Secretariat need content from anywhere and everywhere, we need diversity in our output not just the "same old faces"
  • Unanimous agreement of the need to further cultivate our extant relationships with International contacts

 

Nominations

  • JW gives a brief update on current candidate situation
  • JW gives a brief update on internal election process - notes there will be no votes until NWP is in place, as otherwise it would further delay the rollout
  • NEC discussed process for EU elections and stated the importance of having a practical overview of the entire process from start to finish, as well as the earliest possible dates.

 

Secretariat

Processes and procedures

  • EG outlined his positions and his handover.
  • EG points out that the processes are somewhat out of date, or will be shortly. EG stated that the NEC should decide which processes (Data Protection, IT Usage, Subject Access Requests etc..) need to be reviewed for clarity or newly documented.
  • In addition to the administrative processes, we have a requirement to publish a policy process with policy Beta in mind.

Documented policies

  • Treasury
  • Internal and internal elections process
  • Electoral Roll
  • Handovers process.

 

Leadership

  • LK chairs and presents this section
  • We have dealt with the intentions for 2014 - upcoming elections and campaigns.
  • Leader/Deputy need to be the outward facing ones - each need to earmark specific areas
  • PPUK campaigns need to be led by the people, spokespeople to be moved under Leader's Office by June 2014 as discussed at the beginning of the meeting
  • We must re-establish the pace of Press and writing output - notes it's already picking up, but still has a long way to go
  • We need to provide media training to our outward-facing people
  • We must diversify our media contacts
  • LK relinquishes the chair to SH
  • Written a piece for policyprocess.eu within an hour of getting the result through, so it was rapidly delivered, albeit published late.
  • SH issued her welcome blog post, plus a number of articles currently with LK on the copywrongs.
  • SH has also been talking to a law student to do a consult with in February.
  • SH is also working with Will Tovey's response on copywrong.
  • Over the next year SH is planning to write two articles a week for outward facing, with a similar quantity per month for internal consumption. SH is also aiming to carry out talks every other month, depending on availability and demand.
  • SH feels that she needs to know how things function more fully, especially in practical terms. SH is keen to carry out the profiling as it is vital. AH asked whether the profiling would be internal and then external when press was back up and running more completely. LK noted that he would be highlighting SH as much as possible where appropriate. LK reiterated that SH would be fronting the copyright and some of the so-called "porn block" aspects, so LK would need to share the contacts and pass on introductions he has in those areas.
  • SH asked about the leaders report and whether SH and LK would share the input into that. NEC agreed that would be a good idea.

 

Actions

  • LK & SH to dual the Leader's report.
  • LK & SH to do a quick talk on audio.
  • LK to pass over reliable, reasonable contacts for SH
  • AH to take photos.

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