I would like to ask friends who belong to the UK Society of Authors to consider attending this year’s online AGM on 17th November or to register a proxy vote by 15th November.
Please note that while I am a member of the Society of Authors’ Management Committee, this post is made entirely in a personal capacity. Since I am a member of the Management Committee, I will not be debating these matters here and comments are disabled.
There are five resolutions to be decided which deal with procedural issues and two resolutions proposed by a group of members which are as follows.
“Resolution 6: That in light of her documented behaviour and comments, which are not compatible with the Society’s goals of protecting free expression and their policy of dignity and respect, that Joanne Harris stand down as Chair of the Management Committee.”
Proposed by Julie Bindel, Amanda Craig, Jane Harris, Milli Hill, Richard Morgan, Jane Roffe, Michelle Smart, Michelle Styles, Heather Welford, Julia Williams.”
No evidence is offered to support these assertions, but this subjective opinion is presented as objective fact, requiring punitive action that takes no account of the Society’s established complaints procedures.
Those of you who have been following the so-called ‘Terf Wars’ on Twitter and in other media will recognise prominent ‘Gender Critical’ activists among these signatories, whose personal antagonism towards Joanne Harris can readily be found online.
You may care to note that Joanne was recently honoured by Pink News as ‘Ally of the Year’.
“Resolution 7: That in the light of disturbing recent press coverage about the Society, that the Society urgently reviews how to pursue its stated aim “to protect free speech” and puts in place a robust framework to do so, including a member and Management Committee working group that looks at how best to protect the fundamental right of all authors to express themselves freely within the law, and to uphold the impartiality expected of the Society, including all who govern and work for it. This should include a sub-committee of the Management Committee.”
Proposed by Julie Bindel, Elizabeth Buchan, Marika Cobbald, Amanda Craig, Jane Harris, Milli Hill, Richard Morgan, Jane Roffe, Michelle Smart, Michelle Styles, Heather Welford, Julia Williams
No evidence is cited to prove the implication that the Society has failed to be impartial, and no reference is made to the Society’s existing policies and ongoing work to defend free speech. This proposal nevertheless requires the Society to undertake an ill-defined review process which would take up considerable staff time as well as financial resources, all of which would otherwise be directed towards practical support for authors which is the organisation’s proper function.
Please note that none of these signatories stood in the recent elections to the Management Committee in an attempt to address their concerns. As far as I can see, almost all the recent antagonistic press coverage has been the result of journalists being briefed about these resolutions in a very one-sided fashion.
Please find the time, if possible, to consider the implications of these resolutions for the Society going forward and cast your votes accordingly.