AGM '09: Sunday morning voting (#10)

8:46am  It may be Sunday morning after the Saturday night before, but there's a big crowd in the auditorium for the continuation of the great democratic process. AIUK's national conference isn't like a party political affair when the only time the hall is full is for the leader's speech. If party activists feel the need to cheerlead the leader, Amnesty delegates seem genuinely cheered by the whole democratic process.

Sheila Banks, who has just been re-elected as conference Chair for next year, tells us that we will need to get our human rights skates on if we are to progress through all the remaining resolutions. With whip-cracking like that, you can see why she's just been re-elected. Oh, Amnesty likes a little bit of Yorkshire discipline from its conference chair…

Accordingly, we lash through three-in-a-row: international justice – whip-crack… done; life without parole – whip-crack… done; AGM press releases – whip-crack… done; with few dissenting voices.

More. Scholarships – whip-crack… done; prostitution – whip-crack… done. Oops, wait a minute, that last one sounded a bit seedy. I mean, of course, ahem, that we voted on the resolution dealing with a proposed policy study on the issue of prostitution and human rights, eh, without undue delay. There, that's clearer. Gulp!

First close call of the day – and therefore requiring a card count of voting delegates – comes during the debate on environmental activists. While the counters are counting, we manage to rattle through a motion on trades union rights and move on to a proposal to campaign on Scottish gypsy travellers. In Northern Ireland travellers are classified as a distinct minority ethnic group and therefore entitled to specific protections. The Aberdonian proposer of the motion tells us that this is not the case in Scotland. Another Scottish speaker says her local pub has 'travellers not welcome' signs on the door. Delegates not well pleased at this news.

10:42am  We're making good progress. Substantive debate is taking place, but speakers are mostly keeping to the point and keeping it concise. By now, we've dealt with children's rights, the right to education, AI's policy on corporate fundraising (we don't do very much of it, by the way), and the integrated strategic plan.

10:47am  We're galloping towards the end now. Just 'internal democracy', 'financial strategy' and 'youth group votes' to make the final hurdle. (This is getting more and more like a Grand National commentary.)

Tom Hedley and Glyn Ishwerood are hopping up and down to the podium. The 'democracy' motion has been duly despatched and we're on to 'financial strategy'.  Wait. We're done with finance. Phew!

10:58am  Like fine wine, we save the best for last. We've been widening AIUK's voting mandate over the last few years and now the Board wants to extend group voting rights to our 600+ youth groups throughout the country. These are rights already enjoyed by local and student AI groups. It will be a brave / foolhardy soul who opposes this constitutional amendment… Is there one in the room? No! Four speakers in favour (including Laura from the Belfast AI Youth Group – yeah!); none against. 75% of votes are required to pass the resolution… Hands in the air. Biggest cheer of the weekend.

Democracy rocks!

And it's bang on 11 o'clock. How does Banksy do it?

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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