Saturday, September 06, 2008

Lessons for Local Party Secretaries: no. 2 – establishing your information sources

In order to control information, you need to have some. Bizarrely, people are somewhat loathe to convey information generally, especially if they understand that knowledge is power. Your job, as Secretary, is to empower others whilst making yourself indispensable. Providing people with information will allow them to make better decisions (hopefully), more quickly and without frivolous, unhelpful and, most importantly of all, lengthy, debate. Remember, you are going to be minuting the meetings.

So, what does an Executive Committee need to know? You’ll need reports from the Local Party Officers (Chair, Treasurer, Membership Secretary), whoever organises social events, the Council Group, the PPC(s) and any branches. Where there is no specific source, find one (ensuring that they’re reliable). Explain to them that, in return for providing a written report in advance, the meeting will be shorter and they can go home/to the pub/leafleting earlier. Most people hate sitting in meetings when they could be doing something more useful/fun. Take advantage of that.

Make sure that your Regional Party knows who you are. After the Annual General Meeting, the Secretary is required to report the contact details of the Officers, as well as the Federal and Regional Conference representatives to Cowley Street. Make sure that, if you weren’t responsible then, that it has been done. In return, they’ll send you information about conferences, and use you as a conduit for reaching Local Parties when they have something to disseminate, as will the Federal Party.


Mark Pack said...

It's a good series of posts Mark.

One slight clarification: regional conference reps are told to your regional party, aren't they, rather than Cowley Street per se? It just happens that London Region is based in Cowley Street, but if you're in another part of the country, it'd be somewhere else the informaton should go I think?

Mark Valladares said...


You would think so, wouldn't you?

However, last year's form indicates that the form should go to Membership Services, who will pass the Regional Conference representatives form to the English Party who will, in turn, forward it onto the Regional Party...

Mark Pack said...

Oooh, that's new-ish. And quite sensible too if it means the local party is sending one piece of paper to one place with all the relevant information.

Niles said...

S'not terribly new - back when I was a regional party's data monkey, we had a frequent problem where local parties would do as they were asked and send all the info off to HQ. HQ then sat on the info until long after we had to send out calling notices for Spring Reg Conf, and in one particularly memorable year, posted the only copy to the wrong person, and was then unable to tell us where it had been sent.

So, if I were still running a regional organisation, I'd definitely be sending a letter roundabout now urging local party secretaries to make two copies of the info they send to Cowley Street after the AGM. Keep one themselves, send the other to the regional organisation. We need to know who LP officers are, and it doesn't hurt to tell us who federal reps are.

Another key lesson for local parties worth flagging up roundabout now: your constitutions says you gotta have an AGM in October or November. It also says you gotta give everyone 21 days notice. So you really need to think NOW about when the meeting is and when the papers have to go out.