Constitution of Islington Green Party

Contents

  1. What is Islington Green Party (IGP)?
  2. Organisation of IGP
  3. Members of IGP
  4. Annual General Meetings (AGMs)
  5. Officers of IGP
  6. Officer role descriptions
  7. Member meetings
  8. The Core Group
  9. Members of the Core Group
  10. Meetings of the Core Group
  11. Postal ballot procedures
  12. Green councillor groups
  13. Discipline and conflict resolution
  14. Commencement provisions

1.       What is Islington Green Party (IGP)?

Islington Green Party is the local party organisation of the Green Party of England and Wales (the Green Party) dedicated to furthering the objectives of the Green Party within the London Borough of Islington.

2.       Organisation of IGP

ICP is organised on the basis that members have the ultimate power on all matters but then delegate certain responsibilities to Officers and a Core Group which are then subject to regular oversight at member meetings and at Annual General Meetings (AGMs).

3.       Members of IGP

IGP has two types of members. National members are members who are members of the Green Party and who either live in Islington or have chosen to adopt IGP as their local party. These members have full voting rights on all national and local business. Supporter members (also known as Local members) are only members of IGP. These members only have voting rights on local business. For the purposes of this constitution, National members and Local members have exactly the same rights in relation to IGP business and are referred to simply as members.

4.       Annual General Meetings (AGMs)

Purpose: To hold a formal annual meeting at which Officers of IGP report on their work over the past year and are held to account by members, significant changes to the way IGP is run or its direction can be debated and decided upon and new Officers can be elected. The AGM is the ultimate decision making body within IGP.

Timing: Once a year, normally in early July. All meetings will be publicised to all members. Business: As a minimum, each AGM must include the following business:

  • Reports from outgoing Officers on their work over the last year
  • Questions from members to the outgoing Officers
  • Elections for new Officers
  • Any other business, including member motions

Motions: Any member may propose a motion for discussion and decision which must be seconded by another member.

5.       Officers of IGP

The Elected Officers of IGP must include the following:

  1. Treasurer - required by law (under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA)) to maintain accounts and with a duty to inform the GPEW’s registered treasurer of all donations and loans of more than £200;
  2. Core Group Coordinator – with mandatory duties including:
    • ‘PPERA Second Officer’, responsible under the Act for organising a replacement

treasurer should the one in post leave;

  • contact person to liaise with the national party;
  • Public Enquiry Recipient (the local party contact), whose name and phone number can be given to the general public;
  1. Election Agent(s) – the ‘Nominating Officer(s)’ who receive(s) a certificate from the party’s National Election Agent to authorise election candidates. This could be one agent to cover the whole borough or one for each parliamentary constituency covered by IGP;
  2. Election Coordinator - responsible for our party's electoral strategy, helping set the strategy and implement it as well as helping recruit volunteers to support it;
  3. Core Group Member Representatives – responsible, with the other Elected Officers, to

ensure that Core Group decisions conform to the party’s core values (see below). The number of Core Group Member Representatives will be decided by the AGM but will be at least one to represent each parliamentary constituency covered by IGP.

All Elected Officer posts, with the exception of Treasurer and Election Agent for legal reasons, are open to jobshare. All Elected Officers are elected annually, at the AGM, to serve until the next AGM.

The party may create or let lapse any other officer posts as it sees fit. These posts will be co-opted rather than elected and should be ratified at a members meeting (see below). Posts should include a delegate to regularly attend the London Federation of Green Parties.

6.       Officer role descriptions

It is for members collectively and Officers individually to determine the responsibilities of each Officer post. As a legally required post however, the Treasurer may delegate authority to make spending decisions within limits to other Officers or groups of members subject to confirmation by the Treasurer that there are sufficient funds to cover that expenditure.

7.       Member meetings

Purpose: To enable members to set IGP's strategy, for Officers and others to consult members on proposed initiatives and activities, to discuss issues of interest to members and to hold all members, including the Core Group, members elected to public office and members selected to contest elections for IGP to account.

Timing & format: To be determined by members as part of the meetings. All meetings will be publicised to members.

Motions: Any member may propose a motion for discussion and decision which must be seconded by another member. Motions requiring IGP to make a formal decision (e.g. in relation to IGP's position on an issue) should be proposed and seconded by notice to the person sending out notice of the next meeting so that notice of the discussion can be made to members ahead of the meeting.

8.       The Core Group

Purpose: The Core Group is charged with directing the day to day activity of IGP to achieve IGP's goals as set by members through member meetings. It is subject at all times to oversight by IGP members.

9.       Members of the Core Group

All IGP Elected Officers and any elected local councillors within IGP are ex officio Members of the Core Group.

The Chair of the Core Group will normally be the Core Group Coordinator though the Elected Officers may also decide whether or not to select another Chair from among its members or a non-voting Chair from outside its normal membership.

10.   Meetings of the Core Group

The Core Group is responsible for determining how often to meet. All Core Group meetings are open to all IGP members.

There is no quorum for Core Group meetings and all members attending a meeting are entitled to vote at it.

The Core Group will aim to take decisions by consensus. Where this is not possible the matter may be put to a vote. An individual does not have more than one vote by reason of having more than one post. The Chair does not have a casting vote. If there is an equality of votes, the motion is not passed.

Decisions and action points from Core Group meetings will be reported back at the next member meeting.

However, the ex officio Members (ie the Elected Officers and elected councillors) can also review any vote taken by the Core Group to ensure it conforms to the party’s core values. Such a review must take place within five days of the meeting. If a majority of the ex officio Members decide the vote does not conform to the party’s core values, the vote will be declared invalid. Any such decision will be presented to the next member meeting, to be ratified or overturned.

In some instances, the Core Group will need to make decisions quickly. In such cases, they may be made by phone or electronic communication between the ex officio Members rather than at a formal meeting.

11.   Postal ballot procedures

IGP's existing policy on postal ballot procedures agreed on l5 December 2009 is included within this Constitution and is attached as Appendix A.

12.   Green Councillor groups

IGP's existing policy on the organisation of Green councillor groups agreed on 2 March 2010 is included within this Constitution and is attached as Appendix B.

13.   Discipline and conflict resolution

IGP recognises and welcomes diversity of opinion but Members have a right to expect that other Members will not act in a way that harms IGP or its ability to meet its objectives (and hence those of its Members). We have included in Appendix C the national Code of Conduct as reference.

14.   Commencement provisions

This Constitution may be adopted by an Annual General Meeting at which its adoption has been proposed and seconded by members and which has been included in the notice of that motion sent to all members prior to the meeting.

This Constitution may only be altered by members at an Annual General Meeting or a specially convened Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of which members have been given at least two weeks' notice. The Local Party Contact is responsible for making arrangements to hold an EGM as soon as they receive requests to do so from 20% of the current members of IGP (as defined in section 3 above).

All aspects of the Constitution become effective immediately upon adoption. The first Officers under this Constitution are the existing Officers of IGP elected at the most recent AGM. A Members meeting may fill any vacancies in those Officers. The first Core Group consists of the relevant Officers listed in item 9 above and must then meet to complete its membership and commence work.

This constitution was adopted at the IGP AGM on 23rd Feb 2011 and amended at the AGM on 10th Feb 2016. The current version was amended at the IGP AGM on 9th Oct 2018.

APPENDIX A: IGP postal ballot procedures

As approved at IGP meetinq on 15/12/09

The aim of running a postal ballot is to allow as many members as possible the chance to make their preferences known, whether for candidates for external elections or for internal postholders.

It is not required that all elections must be made by postal ballot. though it is recommended that all elections of significance (e.g. for target ward candidates, constituency candidates) are done by postal ballot.

Electoral Returning Officer

A party meeting must decide when to conduct a postal ballot and, having done so, select an Electoral Returning Officer (ERO).

It is the ERO's job to run the election from start to finish in a correct and fair manner. They must therefore be, and be seen to be, independent of all the candidates for election. This includes a prohibition on being a candidate themselves, campaigning for or against any candidate(s) and being seen as 'closer to' any candidate during the election process. The ERO must therefore be independent in mind and in action and reject any actions which may compromise their integrity or the fairness of the elections. Once selected, the entire conduct of the election is the responsibility of the ERO and this may only be altered by majority vote at a properly advertised party meeting.

Conduct of the election

It is the ERO's responsibility, in discussion with other members, to set the election timetable. The timetable must allow for the following to take place:

  • Advertising of election, nomination process and timetable
  • Opening and closing of nominations,
  • Confirmation of validity of nominations
  • Process for withdrawing nominations
  • Opening of voting
  • Hustings
  • Closing of voting
  • Count of votes
  • Declaration of result to candidates and wider membership

A typical timetable may be as follows, though this should be flexed for specific circumstances each time:

Day 0 Election advertised and nominations open
Day 14 Nominations close
Day 19 Deadline for withdrawal of nominations
Day 21 Ballot papers and supporting information sent to members, voting opens
Day 28 Hustings open to all members (e.g. at a party meeting)
Day 42 Close of voting
Day 43 Count and declaration of result

 

ln some circumstances e.g. across holiday seasons it will be necessary to extend the timetable to allow sufficient time for absences.

Communication by ERO

All communications by the ERO, whether with the membership or with candidates, must be clear, factual and avoid potential charges of favouritism. In other words, they should be professional, as members and candidates have a right to expect that the election will be conducted in a professional manner.

Voting system to be used

In line with national Green Party policy, all elections must be conducted by Single Transferable Vote (STV), with the option to Re-Open Nominations given to voters. Running an STV count can be complex. It is the responsibility of the ERO to ensure that they are sufficiently familiar with the count process so that candidates and members have confidence in them during the count of votes. Helpful guidance is available on the Electoral Reform Society website.

Nomination of candidates

The party meeting at which it is decided to hold a postal ballot must also decide the criteria for nominations. These may include current membership and length of membership. Candidates may be required to obtain a proposer and seconder, as decided by the meeting. Nomination, proposal and seconding must all be made in writing (including by email) to the ERO by the relevant individuals themselves. Individuals may only propose or second as many candidates as there are posts for election. Nominations received after the deadline, and nominations that have not been correctly proposed/seconded by the deadline are invalid. The ERO may remind potential candidates of the incompleteness of their nominations, but it is not the ERO's role to chase potential candidates, proposers or seconders. Nor may the ERO offer help in remedying any deficiencies in nomination and they do not have the right to make exceptions to the agreed timetable once it has been set.

The ERO must notify candidates of their valid nomination as soon as possible after validity has been confirmed. On the passing of the nomination deadline, the ERO must state the candidates validly nominated in a communication to all candidates and this notice must include details of how to withdraw their nomination if they so choose. The ERO must also notify candidates whose nominations are incomplete of this on the passing of the nomination deadline.

Selection of reserves

The party meeting at which it is decided to hold a postal ballot must also decide whether, in addition to the identification of winners by the ballot process, reserves (for example back up candidates if one of the winners later withdraws) should be determined.

Ballot packs (inc ballot papers)

The aim of the ballot packs and ballot papers is to provide useful information to voters on:

  • how to vote
  • the process for hustings and count
  • the candidate's reasons for seeking election
  • how to get further information

A typical ballot pack may therefore include:

  • a covering letter from the ERO including the 1st, 2nd and 4th items above
  • personal statements from the candidates
  • the ballot paper itself

Rules covering the content and length of personal statements should be set by the ERO. The ballot paper should state clearly:

  • the purpose of the election
  • who the candidates are
  • how to vote
  • how and by when to return the ballot paper

Ballot papers and ballot packs - fairness and anti-fraud measures

It is well-established that voters have a tendency to vote from the top of a ballot paper to the bottom where they are selecting multiple candidates. ln other words, if a ballot paper is listed alphabetically, candidate A is more likely to be elected than candidate M or candidate Z even when they are in the same party. To avoid such bias, the order of candidates for the ballot paper should be drawn by lot to randomise the order. The ballot papers and ballot packs must give equal prominence to all candidates.

The ERO must issue only the correct number of ballot papers, and only to those members properly eligible to vote. This may include both national and local members, as decided by the initial party meeting. National members eligible to vote should be determined by obtaining a current membership list from Party Office. Local members eligible to vote should be determined from the current membership list held by the IGP Membership Officer. Ballot papers must be numbered. The ERO must also ensure that no ballot paper is traceable to a specific member (either by the ERO or by anyone else) and take measures to ensure that any copying of ballot papers will be detected during the count. How the ERO achieves these goals is up to them, and must not be advertised to other members, in order to prevent fraud.

Conduct of candidates

While the ERO must ensure the conduct of the election in a professional manner, candidates should also be aware that this also applies to them. Any rules relating to campaigning must be set by the party meeting at which the decision to have a postal ballot is taken. Regardless of this, all candidates are expected to conduct themselves in a professional and fair manner, including the avoidance of negative campaigning and not using information that is not available for use by all candidates. If it appears to the ERO that these values are not being upheld and, as a result, the fairness of the election has been impaired, the ERO is entitled to take any necessary action to correct this, including exclusion of candidates and declaring the election void. In all such circumstances, this decision must be debated at the next party meeting for appropriate consideration.

Receipt of ballot papers

The ERO alone is allowed to receive ballot papers, and may do so in person or by delivery to their home or other suitable address. As it is likely that the ERO themselves is a member and entitled to vote, they should avoid opening ballot papers until the count, to avoid biasing their own vote. Votes received should however be kept safely together until the count. Unintended opening of ballot papers may be minimised by asking voters to address their envelopes to (for example) "Bob Smith (ERO)" to distinguish them from normal mail received by Bob Smith which he would normally open.

Hustings

Hustings are a very important part of the election process as they give members the chance to ask questions of the candidates in person and gauge their suitability. It is therefore important that hustings are well advertised and well organised. It will normally be appropriate for hustings to take place at the normal IGP monthly meeting. As they are responsible for the conduct of the election, the ERO should chair the hustings, and agree the format in advance with the candidates. A typical hustings might start with the ERO introducing themselves, explaining their role and the format of the hustings, before inviting each candidate to speak for up to two minutes to set out why the members should vote for them. Then the hustings will move to questions from the floor, with each candidate being given the same amount of time to reply. The ERO must ensure that a range of members get to ask questions, that any questions are not unfair and that the order in which candidates answer rotates. At the end of the hustings, i.e. when there are no more questions or time has run out, the ERO should remind members of how to vote and of the deadline for voting. The ERO should also consider whether to run 'virtual hustings' whereby members ask questions by email to the candidates. If so, this should be agreed with all candidates and applied in a consistent and fair manner, as with the rest of the election.

Count and declaration

The final stage of the election is the count and declaration. This must be open to all members so that they can satisfy themselves that the count has been conducted correctly and the correct candidates declared winners. There is no compulsion on anyone other than the ERO to attend the count. If no-one else chooses to attend, the count will be conducted in private and still be valid. If others do attend then the conduct of the count remains entirely in the hands of the ERO. Attendees do not have the right to handle the ballot papers or to obstruct the count in any way and the ERO is entitled to exclude an attendee if they are disrupting the count. Nevertheless, the count must also be conducted in a manner that allows for attendees to check that the votes have been correctly counted. This can be achieved by the ERO explaining the count process at each stage, including the opening of envelopes and verification of ballot papers prior to counting, and ensuring that attendees can see all stages of the count. Once the count has concluded, the ERO should declare the relevant candidates elected and (if mandated to do so) reserves selected. The count is then over. The ERO must arrange for all candidates and all members to be informed of the result (normally by email or IGP newsletter). Subject to any complaint about the conduct of the election, this then concludes the duties of the ERO.

Rights of review

Following the declaration of the result or the annulment of the election, any member may call for a review of the election within two weeks if they feel it was conducted unfairly, incorrectly, or a decision of the ERO was not made in a manner consistent with their duties. Such a review must be conducted at a general meeting of all members, given not less than two weeks notice of the time, place, location and purpose of the meeting. Such a meeting must be chaired by an independent member and the complainant and the ERO will have the right to speak before an open discussion of members. The object of the meeting is to determine whether the complaint is upheld and, if so, what action to take as a result of it. The decision of that meeting is final and at the end of that meeting, the ERO's duties are over, even if a decision has been taken to re-run the election.

Expenses of ERO

Legitimate expenses incurred by the ERO will be reimbursed by the party on presentation of receipts to the Treasurer.

APPENDIX B: IGP: Options For Organising A Green Cllr. Group

Passed with agreed amendments at the IGP AGM 2nd March 2010

 Immediate Term

  1. That the IGP Green Group has a Leader, and, if practical or necessary according to Council rules, a Deputy Leader and a
  2. That these positions are chosen by the group of Green Councillors, by vote or consensus, or by any other method as they see fit, within 24 hours of the May election, and communicated to the membership.
  3. That the terms and duration of the Leader's role should be determined by the Councillor
  4. That in the days following the election, should decisions of political strategy need to be taken, (eg alliances, Mayoral selection, Executive positions on the council), a group comprising at least the following must be consulted:
    • all elected councillors
    • Campaigns Co-ordinator
    • Treasurer
    • Press Officer
    • Target Ward Co-ordinator

The consensus view of this group will be taken to represent the view of IGP membership as a whole

Longer term

  1. That IGP councillors are not bound to vote in council according to a Party Whip, but that the Party expects that in most cases there will be unanimity, and the Green Group should at all times seek to achieve
  2. That the Council Group is not bound to seek the view of the IGP membership before Council votes, but that Councillors will make a monthly group report on their activities and issues for distribution to the wider
  3. That all significant decisions of political strategy (as set out in 4) relating to the Green Party's position in the Council - as opposed to decisions on individual issues - must be referred by the Group Leader to at least the Officers described above or to a Branch meeting of the Party, before the Green Party is committed to them by the
  4. That IGP in the course of 2010 develop a broader Constitution encompassing and elaborating these rules, for agreement by the Party at the 2011

APPENDIX C: Code of Conduct for Green Party of England and Wales members

 

Why is a Code of Conduct needed?

Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW) members come from many different backgrounds and do not always share the same expectations about what sort of behaviour is, or is not, acceptable. It may therefore be helpful to provide guidance on best practice, and to ask all members to be mindful of this when representing the GPEW to the public and working together as a local GPEW team.

Failure to follow high ethical standards of behaviour can have serious consequences such as:

  • breakdown of relationships within a local party causing stress and disillusionment
  • activists' time and energy being wasted on internal wrangling instead of campaigning and winning elections
  • regional and national activists having to spend time on conflict resolution and disciplinary issues
  • loss of activists, members and potential members
  • bringing the GPEW into disrepute
  • winding up of local parties that cannot function

How might a Code of Conduct (CoC) be used?

As a supplement to local party constitutions.

All members of a local party could be given a copy of the CoC, including new members when they join.

It may then be used as a tool for promoting good relationships within the group - e.g. remind each other of the CoC, or ask members to 'sign up' to abide by it. if necessary'

Failure to behave in accordance with the CoC could be evidenced as part of a complaints procedure if necessary.

Local parties can tailor the CoC for their own use, taking advice from Local Party Support as necessary. The CoC should be regularly reviewed, perhaps at the same time as the local party's constitution.

Proposed Code of Conduct

As a Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW) member or affiliate member I agree to:

  1. Treat other GPEW members, supporters and members of the public with respect at all
  2. Uphold the ethical principles of the GPEW and avoid bringing the GPEW into disrepute. High profile members, such as office holders in local parties and election candidates, should be mindful that their private, as well as public, lives have the potential to affect the party's
  3. Welcome diversity in the GPEW and strive to accommodate the different needs of members wherever
  4. Ensure that all members are encouraged to contribute to the discussion and decision-making at meetings, and that everyone is listened to properly, without being interrupted
  5. Respect the decisions made by my local party through democratic process. Any members who dissent from a decision should ensure that they make it clear that they are expressing disagreement as an individual and not as a representative of the local party or
  6. Abide by e-communication protocols agreed by GPEW and my local party
  7. Check drafts of written communications on behalf of the GPEW or my local party (such as press releases, letters to the paper, and consultation responses) before sending them. This may include checking with at least two experienced local party members, such as the chair and the press officer, as agreed by my local party.
  8. Refrain from criticising other party members publicly, including any situations where non-members may beIf criticism is felt to be necessary, it should be done sensitively and constructively.
  1. Only visit or phone people to discuss GPEW business between the hours of 8.30am and 9.30pm, unless by prior arrangement. I will always ask if it is a convenient time to talk whenever phoning another member, and offer to ring back at a mutually convenient time if
  2. Remember to show appreciation to other members who give their time and talents to support GPEW.