AGM Motion to Propose an Updated Young Fabians Constitution.
The Young Fabians were founded in 1960 and we have a long and rich history. However periodically our governing documents need to be renewed and modernised for a future that promises to be just as vibrant. Over the last six months we have been consulting with many members on how our constitution can be updated to better reflect how the Young Fabians now operates and to refocus it more on the member-led approach the organisation now embodies. The new document has been drafted by Luke John Davies, founder and Chair of the Young Fabians International Network, who will be proposing the motion to adopt it at the Young Fabians Annual General Meeting on 21st November. The motion is being seconded by Martin Edobor, Ria Bernard, Ben West, Nathaneal Amos-Sansam, Jun Bo Chan, Oana Olaru, Mohammed Ahmed, Rebecca Carpenter, Amrita Rose and Ian Kugler.
The majority of the change has simply been to reorder the existing constitution so that similar clauses are now linked together as sub-clauses under main headings. This makes the document clearer and easier to understand.
There have however been some major changes, which are outlined below with the reasons why they are proposed.
Executive Committee Changes:
The Executive is to be gender balanced, Co-Options are to be scrapped and the Executive Committee is increased from 12 to 14 members.
The main changes proposed are to the way in which the Executive Committee is structured. The current constitution mandates that a minimum of four women be elected to the Executive Committee of 12 members, supported by up to five co-optees. The feeling amongst the members consulted was very strongly in favour of a balanced Executive Committee with a fifty/fifty split of male and female members. As a principled and renowned left-wing organisation the Young Fabians should be a place of gender equality and the Executive Committee should embody these ideals.
The model for ensuring gender balance is a “zipper” system based on similar models used by the Swedish SSU and London Young Labour. The person elected with the highest votes is elected first. The person with the highest vote total of the opposite gender is then elected second. This then alternates between genders until a total of 14, being 7 of each gender, are elected. In order to ensure this, no ballots can be sent out until a minimum of 7 candidates of each gender have been nominated.
There was a similar feeling amongst the members that the Chair appointing Co-Optees who have not been selected in a vote of the membership was undemocratic and against the principles of elected officers serving on the Executive Committee. As such it is proposed to scrap Co-Options to the Executive Committee. However the reason for introducing co-option in the first place was to increase the manpower on the Committee. As such it was felt the committee should expand from 12 to 14 elected members to provide them with the capacity necessary for the good governance of the organisation and broader spectrum of ideas.
Basic Governance Procedures.
Procedures for the resignation or removal of Executive Committee members.
The current constitution includes no procedures for internal governance in the situation that one or more members of the Executive Committee resigns, or if it is thought desirable for their removal. The proposed new constitution provides a clear and transparent mechanism for this, whereby an officer can resign and be replaced by the first “runner-up” in the elections. It also provides procedures for either nine members of the Executive Committee or 3% of the membership to call an Extraordinary General Meeting for the removal of an officer. These are basic governance procedures which allow for transparency and openness in the case of a resignation or if it is felt an Executive Committee member should be removed.
Networks and Alumni Relations
Networks are included and codified and the EC is mandated to ensure good relations with the Alumni.
Luke John Davies, Chair of the International Network, and Jun Bo Chan, Chair of the Education Network, have codified the practices by which networks run and these are included in the constitution for the first time, in order to reflect the way in which the Young Fabians now operate and the manner in which the majority of members now interact with the organisation.
Additionally the Executive Committee is now mandated to ensure the Young Fabians retain good relationships with the organisation's alumni, who are one of our biggest resources. The manner in which this is to be done is left open as this is likely to adapt and evolve over time and it was felt that there should be flexibility in this.
Opportunities to propose and vote for amendments will be available on the day of the AGM.