I have been a member of the Pirate Party UK since it formed, and since November 2009 I have also been Nominating officer for the party, which is one of the 5 member-elected voting positions on the National Executive Committee of the party.
The time has now come for me to resign this, and for someone fresh to take on that position. The main reason for this is that it’s now coming up for 2 years since I first took the position, and I believe that’s long enough, and that it’s time to move on.
In addition, as well as a change of leader during my time, with Loz Kaye taking over from Andrew Robinson, more recently we’ve had further changes to the NEC, with Andy Halsall taking over from Peter Brett as Campaigns officer, and Gavin Meredith taking the position of Treasurer. These changes should re-invigorate the party, however since I don’t plan to stay on the NEC through the next major election cycle (London 2012) it seems right that I should stand down sooner rather than later, for a new officer to come forward and become familiar with the role.
My final reason is that since I moved to Maidenhead at the start of this year, and with other changes in my life, I should be able to put myself forward as a prospective PPUK candidate in my area, and to promote Pirate activism in the general Maidenhead-Reading-Oxford region. Now that the previous election period is over, and the changes to the NEC described are complete, I am free to stand down as Nominating officer and put my time into more local activity.
What does a nominating officer do?
Most of the time the nominating officer is a relatively undemanding NEC role, compared to for example the Leader, Campaigns Officer, or Treasurer. That is one reason why I put myself forward for that role originally rather than one of the other positions, because I knew that working full-time I would have relatively limited time, and that I might be able to serve as Nominating officer where I could not take on another role.
The essential elements of the role are:
- The basic requirements for any officer; attend the regular weekly NEC meetings, or send apologies, and to carry out actions from those where possible and report back in either case (this might seem too basic to point out, but our experience has been that it needs to be said)
- To sign the electoral forms to confirm our candidates to returning officers as officially endorsed. In the case of individual candidates, such as local or constituency, this is a single page of the nomination papers the candidate prepares, in the case of list elections such as Scottish regions or European parliament it’s normally the entire nomination papers.
- To delegate the signature of these forms where necessary, e.g. if needed because of the number of candidates, or simply to ensure that it isn’t dependent on a single person. My approach has been to delegate that to Regional administrative officers, acting within the appropriate electoral boundaries, and with a longer term eye to devolving it further given enough candidates and members to support that.
- To act for the party in administrative changes and updates to the Electoral commission. Along with the Treasurer and the Leader, the Nominating officer is required for the party to make changes and confirm actions to the Electoral commission, and in the event other officers are failing, removed, or unavailable the Nominating officer becomes a lynch-pin for recovering the situation.
- There may also be internally assigned duties and responsibilities, according to what the Nominating officer is willing to take on and the NEC wishes to assign.
The time and effort commitment needed does escalate during an election period, and also if there are party changes such as recently, so anyone proposing to take this on should realize that it does get frenetic and there may be times when you’re under pressure.
Candidate selection itself is not strictly the nominating officer’s role, as that has to be done according to party policy and practice as determined by the entire membership and the NEC of the day, and then the nominating officer or their assigned delegates see that is carried out correctly and that when candidates are confirmed for elections they meet those requirements.
During my time, I delegated signing authority for candidates to Regional administrative officers, who acted within electoral boundaries, which I think is right from an administrative perspective (not necessarily from a campaigns or activism perspective). As the Regional administrator position is under review and may be removed or changed, it will be a matter for the next nominating officer to work out whether and how to delegate.
In addition, while I was serving I normally took responsibility for internal party elections and member votes, which seems to be a natural fit with the Nominating officer position, and is another role which would make sense to delegate in future.
For internal voting, my achievements during that time were to see that we introduced preference voting not just first-past-the-post for member votes, and for the “vote receipt” concept so that members could verify their votes, combined with the use of the OpenSTV software so that the count process was transparent and member-repeatable, and separated from the vote collection
process so that in the event of any question about electoral process it would come down either to the collection process, or the count process, but not both together.
Future directions for me
I will still be remaining an active Pirate member, and as mentioned I propose to put myself forward as a Pirate candidate and promote local activism. I also intend to put myself forward for the position of Governor for the party, as and when the next Board elections are held.
My thanks to everyone who has helped me during my time on the NEC, it’s been quite a ride at times, and the story goes on…