mnmlist: Executive Committee Meeting 4th April 2012

  • This is convened as most Exec meetings have focused on specific events. The purpose today is to take a broader approach, assess our progress and discuss new ideas.

1. Attendance

  • Attending: Arun, Nicolas, Laurence T, Maureen, David Hackett, Andrew G, Daniel Turner, Sue V, Brian P,

– Apologies: Jamie, Kevin, Adam, Lee (in America)

 

2. State of the membership

  • 83 members to date.
  • Decision taken to give new members (March onwards) a grace period of 6 months. i.e. Their annual membership starts in October 2012.
  • The benefit is that, eventually, all members will renew subs at the same time.
  • Next year, it will be made more explicit that the ‘Notts Fabian year’ is from October to October.
  • Maureen: We need to be clearer about the benefits of membership.

ACTION: Maureen to draft a blurb regarding benefits of membership (free entry to events, social events, use of blog etc.)

  • David: An appeal of the society is that it is open to and engages with non-Labour people- events are not full of people toeing the party line.

– Arun: Agreed. The purpose of the Fabians is to be a ‘thinking space’ for the centre-left/Left, in a way which is not always possible within party structures.

  • Despite high demand, it is agreed that the society should stick to four main events a year. Putting on speaker events is time consuming.
  • However, other types of events are discussed, such as a wine evening or quiz.
  • A social event is discussed.
  • Maureen advises that wine at the Maurice Glasman event was expensive.
  • Consensus reached that the society should hold 4 main events, 1 social, plus the AGM. The exact nature of the social to be decided at a later date.
  • Agreed that we need to find novel ways to engage and retain members.

 

3. Financial Update:

  • Total in bank: Approximately £300
  • The Exec agreed that this is a healthy position to be in.

 

4. Reflections on last public event.

  • General agreement that the speakers were good and the balance worked.
  • However, there was some feeling the main question (‘Has multiculturalism failed?’) was not addressed.
  • It is noted that many people came to the meeting to contribute their perspective but there was limited scope to do so.
  • Arun: The two criticisms above highlight the benefits of workshops/break-out groups, which we did not do for time reasons last time. Break-out groups allow people to think the issues through and meaningfully challenge the speakers.

– Exec agreed.

  • Andrew G: I was not fully satisfied with the level of attendance. Could have done more personally to ensure non-Fabians had received invitations.
  • Brian/Amrit- Local officials did not feel as bombarded or as much of a buzz about the event before hand.
  • Laurence: 46 people is still a good turnout.
  • How do we advertise?
  • Arun notes that East Midlands Labour did not send out their newsletter in time.
  • Maureen: We need to spam more widely, outside of Labour circles.
  • There had been some feedback that two speakers were too many and a suggestion that the four speakers at the December event were somewhat disjointed. General dissonance on these point and consensus that we should keep our events varied.
  • Brian: Most Labour events involve 1 speaker, plus a Q&A. It is best if we avoid this structure.
  • ACTION: Arun to send thank you email to our speakers
  • ACTION: Arun and Nicolas to send photos/audio of event to Lee, to put up on website.
  • ACTION: Andrew to send reminder to the membership that this info is up online (with society news, referred to later?)

 

5. Ideas/planning for June/September events

  • The idea is for June to be a themed speaker/workshop event; whereas September will be a large, public event involving a famous speaker which will attract new members.
  • Potentially moving the date of the June event to the 8th June (which is in Parliamentary recess) to increase likelihood of speaker availability. Arun will test speakers for both the 8th and 13th June.
  • Consensus reached that the June event should stick to the Health theme, as previously discussed.

– Although some members are exhausted with the issue (i.e. Arun), many others would like to learn more and talk about Labour’s reforming policies (if any).

  • A broad theme of ‘the future of the NHS’ is proposed.
  • A number of speakers proposed. Arun is also available to present an anti-Health Bill position, although thinks it unwise for him to chair (Agreed. Exec think it would be positive to have a local, active member of the society to speak alongside a better-known speaker).

-Clive Peedell mooted- chairs NHS Consultants Association.

  • Entire Health Team to be invited.
  • Andy Burnham and Dr. Ian Campbell (local, practicing doctor) sometimes speak together.
  • Anna Soubry is noted as a local pro-Health Bill politician. If she agrees, we could easily find someone to debate her. Debate formats are stimulating.
  • Nicolas: Invite Andrew Lansley for fun.
  • Sue: The chair needs to set the context at the beginning of the meeting or in advance.
  • ACTION: Arun to invite all of the above potential speakers
  • ACTION: Arun to ask Amrit if he would like to take on some of the responsibilities for organising this event.
  • The group propose a number of big speakers for the September event. The following are going to be invited in advance:
  • Tom Watson (Arun has already emailed. No response but has previously suggested an interview-style event)
  • Rowen Williams (Exec supportive. He is radical, non-party, friendly and famous)
  • Billy Bragg (Exec supportive)
  • Dan Jarvis
  • Jim Murphy/Labour Defence Team on defence issues (p.s. Andrew notes that Des Browne is very strong on multilateral nuclear disarmament)

-George Galloway rejected for both practical and principled reasons.

  • ACTION: Andrew and Arun to invite above speakers over the next few months
  • Future themes discussed, particularly attitudes to the Scottish question (i.e. devolution) and European issues (i.e. unification), as well the role of religion in society/politics.

– Arun: We have done fairly well to stick to themes discussed at previous AGM. Perhaps future themes can be opened up to the full membership at the AGM in October.

-Andrew Harrop to be invited to our AGM

 

6. New ideas? Innovation? Involvement of members?

  • As discussed, the increased use of social events and ‘workshop’ sessions during speaker events would be positive.
  • Arun notes that the Fabian Society are holding a talk and tea for local society members at Parliament on the 10th July (2-4pm).
  • Deborah Stoate, local society’s officer, sent a letter about it.
  • All members invited.
  • Cost: £15 per head, plus travel (although off-peak). Laurence notes we could get a bus!
  • Consensus that we should advocate the use of the website more amongst members. A number of us have posted articles on there already.

ACTION: Arun to draft an email about the website/blogging (perhaps include note about pics from event being put up?) and about the trip to Parliament. Andrew G to send to members.

 

7. Adam’s suggestion, re: Police debate

  • Exec reject the idea of hosting a one-off hustings for Labour’s local Police and Crime Commissioner nomination.

– It is impractical (i.e. we do not have time) and is also an internal party matter- too contentious.

 

8. AOB

  • We’re automatically affiliated to the East Midlands Labour after a year in existence.
  • A number of Exec note that the society is vibrant comparative to other non-London Fabian societies.

– Andrew G agrees but notes that the need to make sure summer events are very engaging for members, so that we can have a successful second year of existence.