There’s a really useful piece by Mike Smith in this week’s issue of Guild Gazette which provides a chronological explanation of how the present state of affairs on Guild Council developed last term.
He concludes: Who knows where we will be by the end of this term?
Last term, as the mass meeting debate grew, there was probably more what can be termed political activity than in any other term in Guild’s history.
For those who, in the midst of all this, may have lost track of events, here is a short summary of the most important events:
During the first week of term there was a mass meeting called by Deputy President Caroline Farmer at which the motion ‘this meeting would prefer mass meetings to Guild Council’ was passed by a large majority. President Sandy Macmillan and VPGA Peter Brown both spoke against the motion.
Gazette, in a front-page leader, criticised the whole Executive for ‘in-fighting’ and headlined the ‘danger of Executive breakup’. The following Saturday, after a long and stormy Executive meeting a compromise motion calling for a 6 month trial period of sovereign mass meetings with a referendum at the end to decide on future policy was prepared for Guild Council.
At the term’s first Guild Council, the Executive motion was passed unanimously, except for the clause concerning a quorum. After much debate (Peter Brown wanted 15%, Davis Christie 5%) the figure of 5% got through. Because it needed a change in Guild’s bye-laws to effect the move to mass meetings, not only a two-thirds majority in Council but also three days written notice were required. Council had to meet again to ratify its decision.
At this extraordinary Council the mass meeting proposal was passed, but this time without a two-thirds majority.
Due to a failure on the part of Guild Affairs office, the necessary notice had again not been given for the extraordinary Council, so another Council had to be called. A referendum on the whole question of mass meetings was called for by a group of medical students. The Executive recommendation on mass meetings again failed to get through. When the result was announced, Dave Christie, an ordinary member of Executive proposed that the whole of Council resign. This was passed. For the rest of that day rumours and counter-rumours of resignations circulated. Four members of Executive resigned – Jon Snow, Dan Sinclair, Dave Christie and Jackie Munton. Mike Smith, the Guild Public Relations Officer, also resigned. The exact number of A Society representatives who resigned is difficult to tell, since they did not all inform the VP for Guild Affairs. However, the Social Studies, Social Science and Architecture representatives all resigned and Politics Society refused to elect a new representative.
A mass meeting of about 500 people called for the resignation of Guild Council and the Executive. It also called for a new Council pledged to implement the 6-month trial period of mass meetings.
Challenges to the validity of the referendum question had been settled, at least to the returning officer’s satisfaction, so the referendum was held. The result was an overwhelming defeat for mass meetings.
Guild Council was packed with observers and challenges to Mr Macmillan’s validity as President went on for 20 minutes until Council retired on the grounds that they had not had time to look through the minutes.
After much talk of holding the next Council in private, it was eventually held in the Crosby Room and was again packed beyond capacity. A motion of no confidence in the Executive was proposed (on precedent, if this were passed, Executive would be virtually forced to resign). The result was 29 for and 29 against. President Macmillan saved himself with his casting vote. The meeting broke up as people walked out, moved in on the Council benches and Mr Hewitt in one formal motion passed the whole of Council minutes. Mr Moss, one of the two remaining ordinary members of Executive, resigned.
The position at the start of this term was, then, that the Executive was down to six members and so strictly inquorate and no proper Council had been held since November 3.
Who knows where we will be by the end of this term?