Today a special issue of Guild Gazette has been rushed out to report on last night’s collapse of Guild government. This is the lead story:
Last night, after protracted argument and considerable chaos, the remainder of the Executive, the President and the Deputy President resigned after Guild Council passed a vote of No Confidence in them: a motion which last term failed to stand after the Chairman used his casting vote.
The vote of No Confidence followed from a debate on the invitation to Lord Salisbury to Guild Ball and the financial investments of Guild in South Africa and Rhodesia, during which the Executive failed to satisfy Council with their explanations of the situation. Mr. Macmillan has said for some time now that if Council ever passed a vote of no confidence in him he would have no alternative but to resign.
At the meeting of Guild Council in the Abercromby Room, the motion of no confidence against the Executive was passed and the Executive, including President Macmillan and Deputy President Caroline Farmer duly resigned. This was after the meeting had been thrown into disorder when a call for discussion of Lord Salisbury and investments in South Africa was made.
Mr Paul Mostyn, External Affairs Secretary, immediately called for order and was shouted down as Miss Susan Rossinger made a speech alleging that the Presidents did not take action after they knew Lord Salisbury was coming, although they professed to be against racialism.
Miss Rossinger followed this up by proposing a motion of “no-confidence” in the President, Deputy President and officers of Guild. Miss Rossinger then called upon the executive of Guild to defend themselves against the allegations that:
- Despite their professing to be against racialism they still invited Lord Salisbury.
- That they kept the intended visit of Lord Salisbury secret.
- That despite the sit-in in the Mountford Hall they still “hob-nobbed” with Lord Salisbury.
Miss Caroline Farmer then made a speech in reply to the “no-confidence” motion. She said that she invited Lord Salisbury to the Guild Ball in the belief that he would not attend, as he had not done so previously.
She acknowledged that she committed the mistake of not consulting the students over this invitation but stressed that she had to invite Lord Salisbury as he is the Chancellor of this University.
However, it was pointed out to Miss Caroline Farmer that last year’s Lady President, Miss Margaret Kear did not invite Lord Salisbury to the Guild Ball last year as she did not think he had any place in the Union.
Miss Farmer then replied to an accusation that she kept the news of Lord Salisbury’s visit away from the Left-wing, saying that she did so because when she knew the peer was coming she had to ensure that he was able to come and that there was not time for a referendum to be held concerning the matter.
Mr Peter Cresswell spoke in support of the motion and said that not only did the executive invite Lord Salisbury but that they kept it a secret and were collaborating with the university authorities.
Mr Peter Brown, VPGA, then spoke against the proposal informing the students that he was a member of various political organisations that were against racialism. He defended the decision to invite Lord Salisbury saying that it was only “human courtesy” to allow the Chancellor to come to the Guild Ball.
A short speech in support of the motion stated that there was no need to attack the executive as they had condemned themselves by their own speeches.
Mr A LS Macmillan, President, made an attempt to answer the allegations that were levelled at him earlier. He stated that he did not give a firm assurance that Lord Salisbury would not come to the Guild Ball only that he reported back to the students that Lord Salisbury would not come to the Ball but would decide about the dinner after he had seen the delegation.
Mr Peter Ryrie, president two years ago, then asked Mr Macmillan to give the dates at which the invitations to the Ball were sent out and when he did not get a satisfactory answer he called upon the executive to resign, saying “in the name of God, go!”
Mr Davies then announced that he considered the constitution to be invalid and that, like elephants, the Executive should go to their “graveyards”.
In the summing up of the speeches, Mr Macmillan stated that he would stand by his decision to invite Lord Salisbury, and Miss Rossinger concluded that it was significant that half of the Guild Executive could not even get up and defend themselves.
There seemed to be some debate over whether to have an open or secret ballot, but finally there was an open vote according to the electoral roll.
Their vote on the motion of no confidence went as follows :
President Macmillan then announced his resignation and this was quickly followed by the resignations of Deputy President Caroline Farmer; Mr Peter Brown, Vice President for Guild Affairs; Mr Michael Dodgson, Vice President for Financial Affairs; Mr Anthony Charlwood, Vice President for Internal Affairs; and Mr Neil Lewis, the only remaining Ordinary Member of Council.
Guild Executive then moved into Mr Macmillan’s room, ostensibly for a private conference, where a Gazette reporter, attempting to obtain comment on the situation was told to “p-0ff” and had the door slammed in his face.
At that point several ordinary members of Guild, and members of Council who had begun congregating at the bottom of stairs outside the President’s office decided to go into the office to hold an informal meeting. Asked whether he would stand for re-election later, Mr Macmillan replied that he would. Some time later he and the rest of the Executive left the office, leaving the rest to their informal meeting.
Messrs J Snow, R Davies, D Robertson, R Morris, J Aspinall and T Shuttleworth led the discussion to attempt to ascertain what should be done now, and the possible situations that might arise as a result of the resignations.
It was agreed that the Guild of Undergraduates should be consulted on this crucial issue at a Mass Meeting to be held in the Mountford Hall at 5 pm today.
THIS IS A VITALLY IMPORTANT MEETING – IT WILL DECIDE THE WHOLE STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT IN THIS UNION.
It is imperative that everyone should attend at 5 pm today.