UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM LIBERAL DEMOCRATS
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – 21 MARCH 2019
Location: Room 103, Arts Building
Sophie Thornton (Chair)
Sam Maude (Vice Chair)
Alicia Butteriss (Treasurer)
Adam Belcher (Secretary)
Hermione Peace (Communications Officer)
Alexander Helliker (Events Officer)
Edward “Ned” Hilton (Campaigns Officer)
Total: 17 (56.7%)
Voting by proxy:
Welcome from the Chair
The meeting started shortly after 6pm. Sophie Thornton welcomed the members to the meeting and briefly ran through the agenda. Free pizza was distributed.
Minutes of the previous meeting
There were no questions regarding minutes. The motion to approve minutes was taken; results:
To approve: 17
To reject: 0
The motion was carried. There were no matters arising from previous minutes.
Chair’s Review of the Year – Sophie Thornton
S. THORNTON: We have had weekly events including several cross-party collaborations. Alistair Carmichael MP came to speak in November; thanks go to Hermione Peace for organising that. We also had a webinar with Layla Moran MP, but unfortately Christine Jardine MP had to cancel due to the ongoing Brexit votes in the House of Commons. We had more new people in the second term. We raised £88 for the homeless shelter and lots of food for the food bank at the pub quiz in October and £120 at the second quiz in February; thanks go to Adam Belcher for organising that. We went on a trip to the EU Parliament in Brussels; thanks go to Sam Maude for organising that. We also went to the party conference in York where we had a lot of first-time attendees, and Adam Belcher and Alexander Helliker both made their first conference speeches. Thanks go to the whole committee.
Sophie Thornton then presented gifts to the other members of the committee. Hermione Peace presented a gift to Sophie Thornton.
Treasurer’s Report – Alicia Butteriss
A. BUTTERISS: There hasn’t been much expenditure besides reiumbursing people for attending conference. The bank balance at the start of the year was £312.76 and the balance at the end of the year was £380.26, although some claims are still pending. This is not too little but not too much.
Secretary’s Report – Adam Belcher
A. BELCHER: There are 30 members of the society which is a drop of 6 from last year. 10 members are women, which is a third exactly; this is an improvement on last year but there is still a long way to go. I wish to put it on record that I consider it absolutely ridiculous that the Guild did not give me access to the society admin panel, as the committee member who needs to use the admin panel the most, even though other committee members did have access; I enquired about this problem on multiple occasions but was only told that there was a significant backlog. I have continued to update the society blog.
Campaigns Officer’s Report – Edward Hilton
E. HILTON: We have been metaphorically hungover from the Birmingham City Council elections last year so there haven’t been too many campaigning opportunities. Thanks go to Emily Chomicz and Juliano Saunders for helping in Ladywood. We also went to the Leamington Spa action day. I helped to run the West Midlands Liberal Democrats regional conference and we have good relations with the South West Birmingham local party. Coming up we have Solihull Council elections in May, and the West Midlands mayoral election next year.
Vice-Chair’s Report – Sam Maude
S. MAUDE: We have had a smashing year and thanks go to Sophie Thornton.
Other officers chose not to present reports.
Constitutional Amendment #1
Moved by: Adam Belcher (Secretary)
1. The title of the Constitution is amended to: “UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM GUILD OF STUDENTS LIBERAL DEMOCRATS SOCIETY – Student Group Constitution”
2. Replace the numbers of all Sections with the format “X.0”, where X is any number, with “X.”.
3. Replace Section 1.1 with the following: “The name of the group shall be the University of Birmingham Guild of Students Liberal Democrats Society, which may be abbreviated/shortened to “University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats”, “Liberal Democrats”, “UoB Lib Dems”, or “UBLD”, and shall for the rest of this document be referred to as “the group” or “the Group”.”
4. In Section 1.2, replace “University Of Birmingham Guild Of Students” with “University of Birmingham Guild of Students”.
5. In Section 1.3, replace “Guild Council, or the Student Groups Committee [SGC], acting on its behalf,” with, “The Student Groups Executive.”
6. In Section 1.4, replace “a group” with “the group”, and after “Extraordinary General Meeting”, insert “by two-thirds majority vote”.
7. Replace all references to “the Student Groups Committee”, “Student Development” or “the SGC” with “the Student Groups Executive.”
8. Replace all references to “Vice-President (Activities and Development [VPAD])” and “VPAD” with “Activities and Employability Officer”.
9. Replace all references to “Liberal Democrat” with “Liberal Democrats”.
10. At the end of Sections 2.1.1, 2.1.2, 2.1.3 and 2.1.4, add “;”, and at the end of Section 2.1.5, add “.”.
11. Replace all references to “Liberal Youth” with “Young Liberals”.
12. In Section 3.1.3, replace “Edgbaston and Selly Oak” with “South West Birmingham”.
13. At the end of Sections 3.1.1, 3.1.2 and 3.1.3, add “;”, and at the end of Section 3.2, add “.”.
14. Add the following:
“3.1.4 English Liberal Democrats;
3.1.5 English Young Liberals;
3.1.6 West Midlands Liberal Democrats;
3.1.7 West Midlands Young Liberals.”
15. From Section 4.1, remove “Student Development,”.
16. At the end of Section 5.1.1, add “.”.
17. Add the following:
“6.1 The responsibilities of committee members are as follows:”
18. Renumber 6.2 to 6.1.3;
6.3 to 6.1.4;
6.4 to 6.1.5;
18.104.22.168 to 6.1.6;
22.214.171.124. to 6.1.7;
126.96.36.199 to 6.1.8;
188.8.131.52 to 6.1.9.
19. At the end of the new Sections 6.1.1 to 6.1.8, replace all “.” with “;”.
20. Renumber 6.6 to 6.2;
6.7.1 to 6.3;
6.7.2 to 6.3.1;
6.7.3 to 6.3.2;
6.7.4 to 6.3.3;
6.8 to 6.4;
6.9 to 6.5;
6.10 to 6.6;
6.11 to 6.7.
21. In the new Section 6.5, after “Student Groups Executive,”, insert, “and”.
22. At the end of Sections 7.1, 7.2, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.4, 9.1, 9.2, 9.3 and 9.4, replace all “.” with “;”.
23. Delete Section 10.0.1.
24. Replace Section 10.1 with the following: “Vice-Chair / Non-Portfolio Officer, referred to henceforth and elsewhere as Vice-Chair – To deputise for the Chair, to assist all other committee members with any matters which may require assistance, and to take responsibility for all matters which do not fall under the responsibility of any other committee member.”
25. In Section 10.2, replace “+” with “and”.
26. At the end of Section 10.3, add “ – To assist the committee in the organisation of social events and all other society events not related to campaigns.”
27. In Section 10.4, replace “lib dem” with “Young Liberals”, and replace “the societies” with “the society’s”.
28. Renumber 11.5.1 to 11.5;
11.5.2 to 11.5.1;
11.5.3 to 11.5.2;
11.5.4 to 11.5.3;
11.5.5 to 11.5.4;
11.5.6 to 11.5.5;
11.5.7 to 11.5.6;
11.5.8 to 11.5.7;
11.5.9 to 11.5.8.
29. In the new Section 11.5, replace “format” with “agenda”.
30. At the ends of the new Sections 11.5.1 to 11.5.7, replace all “.” with “;”.
31. Add the following:
“11.7. The Annual General Meeting, by simple majority vote, may approve any decision of the group, including, but not limited to, the approval of minutes and the adoption of policies additional to this constitution, by simple majority vote, not including constitutional amendments and the election of officers, provided that any such decisions are lawful under this constitution.”
32. At the end of Section 12.1, add “.”.
33. Add the following:
“12.5 The Extraordinary General Meeting shall have all the powers of the Annual General Meeting under Section 11.7.”
34. At the end of Sections 13.1.1 to 13.1.6, replace all “.” with “;”.
35. The Section between Section 13.1.3 and Section 13.1.5 incorrectly numbered 3.1.4 shall be corrected to 13.1.4.
36. Delete Section 13.3, and renumber Section 13.4 to 13.3.
37. After “Date approved by group,” replace “_________________________” with “21st of March 2019.”
38. Delete “(Standard constitution template approved by Guild Council, March 2010)”.
Explanatory notes: this constitutional amendment seeks to:
-Correct grammatical mistakes;
-Replace old names of bodies with current names (such as Liberal Youth to Young Liberals);
-Give proper definitions to the roles of Vice-Chair and Events Officer;
-Affiliate the society with the state and regional parties of both the Liberal Democrats and the Young Liberals.
A. WORTHINGTON: What are the proposed definitions for the roles of Vice-Chair and Events Officer?
A. BELCHER: Vice-Chair / Non-Portfolio Officer, referred to henceforth and elsewhere as Vice-Chair – To deputise for the Chair, to assist all other committee members with any matters which may require assistance, and to take responsibility for all matters which do not fall under the responsibility of any other committee member. Events Officer – To assist the committee in the organisation of social events and all other society events not related to campaigns.
S. BOARDMAN: Does the affiliation with the state and regional levels of the Young Liberals indiciate an intention to work more closely with the Young Liberals, or is this simply a technical change?
A. BELCHER: The latter; it is down to the committee of the day and the society-at-large to decide how much it wishes to work with the Young Liberals, not the constitution.
E. HILTON: Could we give an officer responsibility for alumni relations?
A. BELCHER: That is a good idea but it would have to be proposed as a separate amendment.
The society divided:
Thus the amendment was passed.
Constitutional Amendment #2
Moved by: Edward Hilton (Campaigns Officer)
1. At the end of Section 10.3, delete “.” and add “and maintain a line of contact with former members of the group and arrange an annual “reunion event” so that they can maintain involvement.”
The society divided:
(1 recorded abstention)
Thus the amendment was passed.
Election – Chair
Nominated candidates: Adam Belcher, Hermione Peace
A. BELCHER: Most of my best friends are in this room so it goes without saying that I love this society. It has also boosted my confidence and given me the opportunity to develop my public speaking skills and do networking. I believe every liberal and social democrat on this campus should have that opportunity. We have a duty to nurture young politicians; you never know if the next Nick Clegg or Jo Swinson could be on this campus. This is my motivation; I have a couple of key ideas. Debating is a big part of what we do, but a lot of people find them intimidating and I want to make them more accessible. We also have to address the the fact that this has been the second consecutive year of declining membership. I want to work on how we engage with new members after freshers week and how we integrate new members into the friendship group.
H. PEACE: This society is my main friendship group and I love everyone here. I feel that I have good experience from being Communications Officer. Through being Vice-Chair of the Young Liberals I have experience of leadership and organising events. This time last year me and Ned were the only freshers in the room. We have more new people this year but we need to do more. As Adam said in his Secretary’s Report, the Guild have not made communications with members easy; I will work with the guild so that we have full access to the control panel. I am also interested in a cross-society social, potentially with the University of Nottingham Liberal Democrats, who are fairly new and reportedly view UBLD as an example of a good society. Please vote for me.
E. HILTON: How would you delegate roles to committee members?
H. PEACE: Delegation is important, it better to spread the roles and not have one or two people doing everything. I would hold more committee meetings.
A. BELCHER: I would try to delegate as much as possible in line with their job descriptions as is reasonable depending on their free time. I’m always happy to take on work from other committee members. If I lose this election I will run for Vice-Chair and it is my understanding that Hermione intends to do the same; whichever combination we are in, I believe we will both be happy to help other committee members with their roles.
S. BOARDMAN: You will both be in your final year. How will you manage your time?
A. BELCHER: I don’t forsee too many time issues. I’m not on any other committees, whilst I do have hobbies such as my micronation they would come second to this society.
H. PEACE: I am the Vice-Chair of the Young Liberals but I will not be seeking re-election in the autumn so that I can focus my energy on this society. I am in other societies but not on committee so I will have enough time.
S. THORNTON: As Chair I have done a lot of cross-party work, including cross-party diversity events. What would you do on this front?
H. PEACE: At the party conference in York I ran a fringe on young women in politics which went well. I would like to do something like that here. I want to continue the cross-party events.
A. BELCHER: We don’t have a diversity officer, so we could start by talking to the Conservative and Labour diversity officers to see if they want to do something; we could also do something with the Lunar Society.
S. MAUDE: What do you think is the most difficult part about being Chair?
A. BELCHER: The large number of people you have to deal with, such as the other political societies, the Guild, the other committee members and the members of the society itself; you have to juggle a lot of interpersonal relationships but I think I’m prepared for that.
H. PEACE: Working with the chairs and committees of other societies; the Chair also has separate training to undertake and they have to listen to and work with their own committee. They are also the face of the society and people look to them; that comes with responsibility. I would be good for this because I have leadership experience with the Young Liberals; when things have gone badly in terms of welfare I’ve managed to get through it and organise some good events. I have made some mistakes but I have learned from them.
Voting then took place. Results:
A. BELCHER: 7
H. PEACE: 11
Hermione Peace was duly elected Chair of the University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats.
Election – Secretary
Nominated candidates: Alexander Helliker
A. HELLIKER: It’s no secret that I have been a terrible Events Officer. However, I was doing the wrong job the entire time. I’m doing a Masters, and Secretary is something that I can actually do – handling emails, payment forms, and the society’s constitution.
A. WORTHINGTON: Will you take over the blog from Adam?
A. HELLIKER: That depends on what Adam wants to do; I am happy to work on it.
A. BELCHER: We can work out the details of this later.
A. WORTHINGTON: Will you sign off every email with XD?
A. HELLIKER: No.
C. MICHAEL: Will you continue to fight the Guild to get hold of membership lists?
A. HELLIKER: Yes, I was annoyed by this as Events Officer.
S. BOARDMAN: If you had to pick a post-war Prime Minister to take over the Brexit process, who would it be?
A. HELLIKER: I have no idea because nobody can salvage this mess.
Voting then took place. Results:
A. HELLIKER: 16
Alexander Helliker was duly elected Secretary of the University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats.
Election – Treasurer
Nominated candidates: Emily Chomicz
E. CHOMICZ: I was going to make a poster but could not due to austerity. Money is important in today’s world. When it comes to finance you know somebody is doing a good job when you don’t hear about them. I am good with money and will bring some fresh blood to the committee. I am in a foundation year so I will probably be in the society for the next four years.
E. HILTON: Would you support a moneyless society?
E. CHOMICZ: I did A-Level Economics, so no.
A. HELLIKER: What is 1+1?
E. CHOMICZ: 25. I’m joking.
Voting then took place. Results :
E. CHOMICZ: 16
Emily Chomicz was duly elected Treasurer of the University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats.
Election – Vice Chair
Nominated candidates: Adam Belcher
A. BELCHER: Basically what I said when standing for Chair. Me and Hermione are very good friends and we have a strong working relationship. I’ve been Secretary for 18 months and have become slightly bored so I would like to try something else.
S. BOARDMAN: What do you think is the most important task of the Vice Chair?
A. BELCHER: To support the rest of the committee with their tasks.
Voting then took place. Results:
A. BELCHER: 16
Adam Belcher was duly elected Vice Chair of the University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats.
Election – Campaigns Officer
Nominated candidates: Ishbel Macpherson
I. MACPHERSON: I joined the Liberal Democrats because I believe in its policy and want to see it implemented at the national and local level; this can only be done by winning elections, so campaigning is important. I have worked on campaigns back home including for the last general election. I think I would be a good campaigns officer.
S. THORNTON: Would you prioritise campaigns on-campus or off-campus.
I. MACPHERSON: Both are equally important. Young people aren’t very politically engaged but to win a People’s Vote or any other campaign we have to get out around Birmingham and around the country.
H. PEACE: Will you get contact details for the local party from Ned?
S. THORNTON: That will be part of the handover.
I. MACPHERSON: It would be really good to do campaigns with local parties.
J. SAUNDERS: Campaigning for the Liberal Democrats is important but what other campaigns should we work on?
I. MACPHERSON: Stopping Brexit, the environment, and engaging women and minorities in politics.
Voting then took place. Results:
I. MACPHERSON: 16
Ishbel Macpherson was duly elected University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats Campaigns Officer.
Election – Communications Officer
Nominated candidates: Charles Michael
C. MICHAEL: I wasn’t planning on standing but Sophie persuaded me to. I didn’t get too involved last year but I went to Brussels this year. I do enjoy the society and I have very staunch liberal politics. I guess I would make an alright officer, I have some graphics design experience so I can make banners, memes should also be fine.
H. PEACE: How committed to memes are you?
C. MICHAEL: I’ve already posted a few memes in the society chat. I prefer more traditional memes rather than Hermione’s abstract modern memes. I’m better at using Twitter, less so Instagram.
A. BUTTERISS: What is your favourite meme?
C. MICHAEL: Hermione made a meme within a minute of being elected Chair.
S. BOARDMAN: What is your favourite subreddit?
C. MICHAEL: /r/GamingCircleJerk.
Voting then took place. Results:
C. MICHAEL: 16
Charles Michael was duly elected University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats Communications Officer.
Election – Events Officer
Nominated candidates: None
The position of University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats Events Officer was uncontested and subsequently falls vacant.
Any Other Business
S. THORNTON: The Trans Women in Politics panel is on the 26th.
S. MAUDE: The yellow forms are for those who went to the conference in York. Please make sure you provide me with receipts.
S. THORNTON: The new committee’s welcome drinks will be at the Bristol Pear on Thursday the 28th at 6pm. The Conservative Society is holding Port and Policy tomorrow at 6pm at Bournbrook and Selly Oak Social Club.
Sophie Thornton then adjourned the meeting.
Group photographs were taken of the outgoing committee and the elected committee. Most of the members present then went to the Goose at the OVT for drinks, followed by the Nightingale nightclub.
Meeting chaired by Sophie Thornton. Minutes taken by Adam Belcher, except for when Belcher stood for election, at which points minutes were taken by Sam Maude. Ballots counted by Sophie Thornton and Alicia Butteriss.