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January 15, 2014

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Charles Oppenheim

That's why I was sceptical about the motion of no confidence in Vaizey at the AGM, though I doubt it would have made any difference if the motion had been rejected. The fact is, that unlike say the NHS, there are few if any votes going to be switched because of the Government's approach to libraries. I agree with everything Phil says. Nonetheless, I would like to see CILIP engaging with the Labour Party more.

Elizabeth Ash

I take the opening statement in this post with a giant vat of salt. It is pretty clear that CILIP sat on the vote of no confidence in Vaizey, a motion that was tabled by members at the AGM, and CILIP was given a clear mandate via the membership vote to press this point. It received little coverage due to the lack of statement made on the matter.

If Annie and CILIP feel out in the cold and unheard then welcome to the club. That is what those advocating vocally for libraries have endured for years now - from the sole voices of library users standing up for their valued service through to library campaigners representing all views, with little support from bodies like CILIP who have pussy footed around the issues.

CILIP needs to grasp the nettle, not only to hear and to act on the voice of its membership but to speak out for the profession before the damage is irreversible. If this snub by Vaizey has prompted this action then I may just have to thank him!

Whether Vaizey will meet with national library campaigners also remains to be seen. Let's hope he does.

Biddy Fisher

This is an inevitable consequence of the vote of no confidence that I for one perceived. Hard for a CEO to do the job expected of them in the resulting scenario. As for the Labour Party, among others I met Dan Jarvis when he was writing the party's library strategy and have pushed it towards Councillors/LA cabinet members ad nauseam. Unfortunately the strategy is not implemented or adhered to in many labour controlled authorities. Kirklees & Sheffield are managing to ignore some of its more sensible suggestions. We all have the option of lobbying our MPs & prospective parliamentary candidates - I met ours last week & have asked to be present when she is bringing shadow ministers up here to Dewsbury. CILIP isn't just the CEO & we can all give the organisation a higher profile if we are minded to do so. There is an election looming so let's go canvass as Phil has, once more provided us with a splendid script to do so.

Hazel Dakers

It seems to me that CILIP needs to seek out any members who happen to also be members of the Conservative Party and ask their help to create links to the Minister.
I've sometimes felt over my many years of membership that CILIP/LA has not been keen to use such personal connections. It is the OUTCOME that matters more than the means! Hazel Dakers

Leon Bolton

The fact is Ed Vaizey is ignoring Cilip has absolutely nothing to do with the vote of no confidence. It’s naive to think otherwise. Vaizey has always ignored Cilip’s views he just kept up the pretence of listening to them as a sop. This is because Cilip and the Government are at opposite ends of the spectrum over public libraries. Cilip would like a well-resourced, comprehensive and efficient library service, the Government wants the exact opposite.

Vaizy, Maria Miller, and all the other ministers are dedicated to an ideology of neo-liberalism and a programme of austerity and that’s why Vaizey doesn’t bother with Cilip, or indeed anyone interested in protecting/supporting libraries, because he genuinely doesn’t share, or care about, our point of view. There is no middle ground to compromise on.

Compare that to the LGA, ACE, and even I suspect the SCL who all to a greater or lesser degree support and implement the government’s approach to libraries. I doubt that they would have much difficulty in getting to talk to the minister.

Phil Bradley

Well let's see. Prior to the NC vote EV was talking to CILIP. After the NC vote he decided not to. You may regard that as a good thing or not, but it looks like a fairly clear correlation to me. If he had decided that he wasn't interested in talking to CILIP, he could quite easily have chosen not to at any point, and if he'd always ignored CILIPs point of view he could simply have carried on doing so. People wanted, and expected the NC vote to have an effect, and it certainly seems to have done. It might not have been the effect that people wanted, but that's by the by. The alternative viewpoint is that the NC vote was - as far as affecting the minister - completely pointless. You can't have it both ways.

There are other, more interesting points - are we better off now, worse off, or does it make no difference? Is it possible to have *any* effect on the minister at all? Does his decision simply mean that there's no point in appealing to his offices over library closures? Should this continue anyway, even though we know the outcome? If we want to force him to talk to us, what's going to achieve that? What are we doing currently that is working with him, what should be changed, what should we do differently?

I've made some suggestions, and I'd be interested in positive comments on where to go next.

Leon Bolton

Hi Phil, I agree with most of what you say. However, in 2013 both the BMA and the teachers unions passed votes of no confidence in Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove respectively, yet neither minister refused to meet those involved afterwards and face-to-face dialogue continued.

Obviously, both the NHS and education are bigger hot potatoes than libraries but if Vaizey’s political masters wanted the meetings to continue they would be. As you state, he could have chosen not to meet at any point, well, now is that point!

Therefore, the NC vote is, at best, a feeble excuse but certainly not the actual reason. This snub might be a political tactic or, as I said above, neo-liberalism, austerity, and a vision of a ‘Big Society’ means he doesn’t need to engage with Cilip – or indeed anyone interested in protecting libraries – because he genuinely doesn’t share their point of view, and in this he has the full backing of the government.

Personally, I think it makes no difference whatsoever whether Cilip meets with the Minister as the outcome will be exactly the same. As you say Cilip should be considering what to do next and perhaps asking the membership their views would be a good start.

Phil Bradley

Hi Leon, yes it's true that other organisations who have passed a NC vote have continued to have discussions with their minister, but it's not to be guaranteed, and would you put EV in the same category at Gove and Hunt? Which is a heck of a question!

As for asking the membership - trustees and the CEO as well as the presidential team do talk to them all of the time. The CEO has 11 meetings set up for branches and groups in the next couple of months for example. However, I wonder at the extent that the membership wants to be fully engaged, given that only a small percentage voted in the NC vote, and the number who voted in the Council elections has actually dropped - and quite dramatically - even though we have instituted electronic voting.

Thanks for continuing the conversation! :)

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