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Minutes of our 2019 Annual General Meeting

Presented below are the minutes of the IBMT’s Annual General Meeting held on 5 October. These will be submitted to the 2020 AGM for final approval.


International Brigade Memorial Trust

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 5 October 2019 in the Marx Memorial Library, 37a Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R 0DU

(to be read in conjunction with written reports presented to the meeting)

Members present: Gerry Abrahams, Robert Adams, Lindsey Baker, Thomas Butler, David Chanter, Alexander Clifford, Judith Cravitz, Tracey Delaney, Megan Dobney (Secretary), Pauline Fraser, George Fuller, Austin Harney, Hilary Jones, Jim Jump (Chair), Meirian Jump, Sean Kettle, Denis Lenihan, Alan Lloyd, Dolores Long, Duncan Longstaff, Jim McGarrol, Margaret McKenna, Pearse McKenna, David McKnight, Herminio Martinez, Marshall Mateer, Moira Mateer, Malcolm Meredith, John Millington, Manuel Moreno, Anne O’Hara, Manus O’Riordan, Frieda Park, Miriam Peet, Nancy Phillips, Simon Renton, Beth Richards, Kathryn Rodriguez, Manuel Rodriguez, Philippa Saddington, Tom Sibley, Marlene Sidaway (President), Richard Thorpe, Chris Tranchell, Paul Ward, Robert Wilkinson.

In attendance: Ajmal Waqif (Executive Officer).

1. Chair’s opening remarks 

The Chair, Jim Jump, welcomed members to the 18th Annual General Meeting of the IBMT. The Marx Memorial Library was a fitting venue, he said, as it had been set up in response to the rise of fascism in Europe and Hitler’s burning of the books. Several of those who helped found the library volunteered to fight in Spain, among them Clive Branson and Ralph Fox and David Guest, who were both killed. On 28 October 2000, the founding meeting of the IBMT took place at the library.

He thanked the staff and volunteers of the library, the London Fire Brigade and staff of Islington Museum, who had cleared up damage caused by a flooding incident a few days earlier.

He paid tribute to Max Levitas, legendary East End anti-fascist, who died last November aged 103, and to Geoffrey Servante, almost certainly the last surviving British volunteer in the International Brigades, who died in April aged 99. There was a minute’s silence for them.

He then read out a message from Almudena Cros, President of the AABI Friends of the International Brigades in Madrid:
We send you our warmest greetings during this particularly difficult time in the UK, and we hope to see you all next February during our Jarama Memorial March, to be held on 19 and 20 February. We shall all celebrate the international spirit of solidarity that inspired the brave volunteers to rally to help the Spanish Republic and fight the evils of fascism. It goes without saying that fascism is still very much alive and breeding, so strengthening our networks is now increasingly important in order to educate those too young to remember what fascist policies can do to human beings. We await you with open arms and send you our support. Thank you for everything you do! ¡No pasarán!

2. Apologies for absence

Apologies were received from Mike Arnott, Richard Baxell, Huw Bendall, Margaret Bruton, Connie Fraser, Alex Gordon, Chris Hall, Gary Hammond, Jonathan Havard, John Haywood, Charles Jepson, Ellen Meredith, Brenda O’Riordan, Luke O’Riordan, Jess ORiordan, Neil O’Riordan, Eddie Redmond, Louanne Tranchell, Ernest Walker, Lynda Walker, Nancy Wallach, Stuart Walsh, Mike Wild. 

3. Election of scrutineers

Simon Renton and Sean Kettle volunteered and were agreed by the meeting.

4. Minutes of the 2018 AGM and matters arising

The minutes were approved. There were no matters arising. 

5. Film: Refugees and the Spanish Civil War

The Chair introduced the short film, Refugees and the Spanish Civil War. This was last in a series of five films that the IBMT had produced with the Marx Memorial Library over the past 14 months on the importance of preserving the memory of the International Brigades and the Spanish Civil War.

After the screening, Herminio Martinez, who appears in the film, was presented with a framed photo of the liberation of Mauthausen concentration camp in May 1945.

6. Executive Committee report

Introducing the report, the Secretary, Megan Dobney, began by thanking departing members of the Executive Committee for their outstanding work over many years: Mary Greening, Chris Hall, Charles Jepson and Manuel Moreno.

She went on to say that the Friends of the IBMT scheme had been a very successful initiative. It will continue to run in the coming year. ‘No Pasaran!’ has moved to full colour and the benefit is massive. She also expressed the enormous thanks of the Executive Committee to Jim Jump who, as editor, had overseen the development of the journal over the past years. The database of volunteers was now on the IBMT website, and family and friends are invited to send in photos of relatives to be added to it. We had to place on record our thanks to Jim Carmody and Richard Baxell who had built up the database over many years. The Secretary also thanked the Oxford International Brigades Memorial Committee for hosting the 2019 Len Crome Memorial Conference and also raising some money for the Trust. Finally, she informed the meeting of the really positive offer from Milltag Cycling to produce a cyclists’ kit in SCW colours to support the IBMT.

In answer to a question about the setting-up of a Yorkshire group, the Secretary said the IBMT welcomed the creation of local and regional memorial groups and was keen to work closely with them. Asked if there were any more short films planned, the Chair said that we would discuss with the Marx Memorial Library the possibility of the production of a longer omnibus version of all five existing films. In response to comments about the election nomination process, the Secretary stressed that we would like to see more people standing for the Executive Committee and the Trust would look into how this could be facilitated. She went on to say that trade union branches were encouraged to affiliate to the IBMT.

Several members urged the IBMT to do more to make sure that the Spanish Civil War and International Brigades were taught in schools. It was pointed out that the International Baccalaureate, which tends to be taught in private schools, includes a module on the Spanish Civil War and the fight against fascism. Another member reported that the A-level Spanish language syllabus in England and Wales also includes an option that covers the Spanish Civil War. The Secretary agreed that education and engaging with young people in general should be on our priority to-do list.

The Executive Committee report was approved.

7. Financial report 

The Secretary reported that the Trust was moving forward in a positive direction, with finances stable. The Executive Committee had adopted a three-year plan in June 2019, including the appointment of an Executive Officer from 1 October this year, which would of course have implications for expenditure. We have initiated Gift Aid claims for new member applications and VAT was being reclaimed on memorial expenditure.

The Treasurer had resigned in the summer for health reasons and the hand-over to the other Officers had delayed the production of the 2018/19 annual accounts. This was because we could not access the Unity Trust Bank account, where our accountants had a query over a £20,000 sum in our account. The process of registering the Chair and President for access to the account was now underway. She said that the accounts would be submitted to the Executive Committee as soon as possible.

The financial report was approved.

8. Election of Executive Committee members

The President, Marlene Sidaway, asked new candidates for election to introduce themselves, speaking for up to one minute. The voting procedure was explained, with members being asked to put crosses or ticks next to up to four of the five nominees named on the ballot paper. This would determine which candidate would fill a one-year vacancy on the Executive Committee, while the other four candidates would be elected to serve a full three-year term.

Megan Dobney, Jim Jump and David McKnight introduced themselves to the meeting. There was a request for information about the other two candidates, and the Chair said a few words about Mike Arnott and the Secretary did likewise for Jonathan Havard.

Ballot result: Jim Jump 46, David McKnight 44, Megan Dobney 43, Mike Arnott 38, Jonathan Havard 6.

9. Any other business

Motion: European Parliament resolution

Jim Jump moved a motion deploring the European Parliament’s resolution, carried on 19 September, on the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe. Strong support was voiced for the motion, with members urging that it should be sent not only to Labour MEPs but other MEPs representing Britain and Ireland. An amendment was proposed by Robert Wilkinson, seconded by Simon Renton, and further amended by Manus O’Riordan, which added the words ‘including communist and other patriotic forces’ to the end of the penultimate sentence of the third paragraph. The amendment was carried by a majority on a show of hands and the amended motion was carried unanimously:

This Annual General Meeting of the International Brigade Memorial Trust deplores the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on 19 September 2019 on the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe.

The European Parliament’s resolution makes highly contentious statements about the causes of the Second World War. Specifically it ignores the defeat of the Spanish Republic as an important factor in hastening the advent of the war. The non-intervention treaty adopted by Britain and other countries in relation to the Spanish Civil War and the wider policy of appeasement towards the fascist powers emboldened the expansionist ambitions of Hitler and Mussolini. We find it alarming that the resolution makes no reference to the war in Spain, nor to the Munich Pact that sacrificed another European democracy, Czechoslovakia, to Nazi aggression.

We also reject in the strongest terms the equivalence given to communism and fascism in the European Parliament’s resolution. We note that tens of thousands of communists from around the world, motivated by international solidarity and opposition to fascist ideology, volunteered to fight Franco, Hitler and Mussolini in the Spanish Civil War. Thousands of them gave their lives. Many more continued the fight against fascism in the Second World War, whether in Allied forces or in underground resistance and partisan movements, including communist and other patriotic forces. We salute their bravery, sacrifice and memory.

In addition, we note with deep concern that the European Parliament’s resolution fails to acknowledge the decisive role played by the Red Army in defeating Nazism and the enormous sacrifice of the Russian and Soviet peoples in doing so. This is an unforgivable insult to their memory and, by equating communism and Nazism, seeks to place the liberators of Auschwitz on the same moral footing as the perpetrators of the Holocaust.

Finally, we note with dismay that the resolution was carried by MEPs with 535 votes in favour, 66 against and 52 abstentions and that among those voting in favour were members of the S&D socialist and social democrat group in the European Parliament, including the Labour Party. We resolve therefore to send a copy of this resolution to the European Parliamentary Labour Party.

10. Date and place of next AGM

It was agreed to accept the Executive Committee’s recommendation that the 2020 Annual General Meeting should be held in Southampton on a Saturday in October yet to be decided.

11. President’s closing remarks

The President thanked everyone for coming. She also thanked the four outgoing Executive Committee members who had all worked hard for the Trust: Mary Greening, our Wales Secretary and former Membership Secretary, Charles Jepson, former Treasurer, Chris Hall, our Merchandise Officer, and Manuel Moreno, our Treasurer until the summer, when he retired on grounds of ill-health. She also thanked Jim Jump, who was stepping down as the IBMT Editor after 11 years.

The meeting concluded.

 

Posted on 24 October 2019.