As part of the #MeetTheMovement series, The Canary spoke with the founder of the Harmony Party UK John Urquhart. They explained about the party’s organisational structure:
We operate by direct democracy but we’re both a singular entity and many smaller ones the larger entity is comprised of.
The components are Assemblies, which can be divided into two types. The larger, Committees and Committee Societies, and the smaller, Working Groups or Societies. Members can join or depart and participate as they see fit. We have both the geographically-oriented Assemblies – our Constituency Societies – and then we have an array of what you might call “topic-focused”, non-geographic Assemblies.
Assemblies can overrule their own decisions, and Society Committee or Committee decisions can overrule Working Group/Society decisions. The Party as a whole at conference can overrule any decision.
(Assemblies can also spawn other Assemblies. A good example of this is how our Operational Working Group is likely to become the Operations Society Committee in the near future: it will need to spawn focused Assemblies for IT and other things as it grows and specialism becomes more viable.)
All of the Assemblies (regardless of scale) have the same structure and the same basic processes for making decisions in common, and all Assemblies have an elected organiser, called a Secretary.
The Secretaries are tasked with ensuring everyone is aware of Assembly events in accordance with the will of the Assembly members; chairing Assembly gatherings; and helping Assembly members find consensus by negotiating between disparate viewpoints during discussion & debate of members. They can also delegate, and can create Deputies, though the Deputies are also directly elected and are NOT appointed.
Whenever there is no Secretary or Deputy in an Assembly, the general secretary undertakes most of these responsibilities.
The Secretaries also facilitate communication between Assemblies, and five key Assembly Secretaries are members of the day-to-day working body, the Secretarial Committee – as am I as Party general secretary.
The SC is constrained to act only within the consensus of the Party. If we don’t, we can be recalled.
Decisions themselves happen in up to three phases. An Assembly might come to a decision by simple discussion – and if there is no dissent whatsoever, that’s fine. It’s done: you’ve got consensus!
If there’s disagreement and it isn’t reasonably simply resolved, the chair of the discussion will call for a formal debate.
At the Moot itself – which can be physical or digital (or a combination of those) – there is a structured, formal debate. If a decision emerges, that’s consensus.
If one doesn’t and there are still multiple options on the table and the Secretary feels the debate has become intractable, then we move to a STAR (Score then Automated Runoff) ballot. The Party uses STAR for all internal balloting.
At the moment all of this is digitally organised – via the central hub for organising, the Party Moot.
It’s the heart of the Party for participation. It’s somewhat similar to a live chat forum but we also have Zoom conferencing and other useful features, and the Operational Working Group is working on more in the background.
Members are sent to the Party Moot by their “digital welcome pack” (we’ve not jumped to physical packs just yet).
You’ll notice that we have no designated leaders in any of this: and that’s because everyone, collectively, is in charge. And that’s kind of the point. If Harmony Party members are elected into office, even locally, it’ll mean you could walk into our meetings – physically or in the metaphorical digital sense – and change local policy just by talking and persuading people you’re right.
So is there another political Party out that there that could revolutionise government just by being elected to it?
I believe we’ve got the power to be truly transformational at every level.
Featured image via the Harmony Party UK