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Subject: Convergence of UK conservation organizations

Convergence of UK conservation organizations

From: Jonathan Farley <j.farley>
Date: Thursday, July 22, 2004
Lara Artemis <l.artemis [at] wellcome__ac__uk> writes

>On convergence, the work of IPC and with reference to comments made
>by Jonathan Farley and Sarah Clay on 25 June 2004, shame you threw
>away the consultation document Jonathan, as this would have been a
>prime opportunity to voice any concerns you may have had to the
>committee and the rest of the membership.
>The Institute of Paper Conservation (IPC) is not a political party
>or a union, and despite your feeling that the document presents
>convergence as a forgone conclusion, I can sincerely say as a recent
>ex-committee member that this is *not* the case. IPC has charitable
>status therefore cannot act in a political way. ...

It is a shame you did not read my email before commenting on it. I
did *not *say that the IPC was a union, (I am fully aware of its
charitable status), I stated that it was behaving like the worst
kind of unions I had dealings with in the '80s.

With regards to the consultancy document, a multiple choice exam, as
I learned when I did my 'O' levels (didn't you?), leaves no place
for personal comment. Any accompanying comment is generally ignored
as unrequired. In short, unless there is room on the document itself
to make formal comment, any comment can be, and generally is,
discarded. I am completely convinced that had I made accompanying
comment, it would have been ignored.

This was the behaviour I encountered with SOGAT and the NGA in the
'80s. Leading questions were asked using multiple choice
questionnaires and any additional comment from the member was
ignored, (except where that comment was favourable, or could be
quoted out of context of course). This allowed the committee to
paint a rosy picture to its membership that their way was the only
way forward, and the view of the majority. It is a very effective
propaganda procedure to ensure capitulation of the waverers. It
seems to me that there are striking similarities with the way the
rosy future with convergence has been painted for us recently.

The only way to register dissent with SOGAT and the NGA when this
happened was not to return the form so that a consensus in the
consultancy was not obtained (over 50%) and consequently, the
consultancy was deemed a failure and the process started again or
abandoned. This is the course I took (one learned from experience)
and I believe this is what has happened with the recent IPC
consultancy. So lets look at the maths:

Of the consultancy documents, 13% were returned and 87% were not.

Of the 13% returns, 85% were favourable and 15% were not.
Consequently, the 85% of favourable returns constitute 11% of the
membership, while the 15% unfavourable constitute 2% of the

We must consider the non-returns as unfavourable, undecided or like
me, have dispute with the procedure. This adds up to 89% of the
membership either not actively in favour of convergence as yet, or
against it in principle, while only 11% are actively favourable;
certainly not enough to provide a consensus in the consultancy
(required: 51% for organisational view).

This does not constitute a ballot, it constitutes a failure of the
consultancy and ergo; the consultancy process (and hopefully the
whole process) should be started again, *properly*.

>The consultation document was meant to represent just that--to
>*consult* the membership, on if the IPC were to converge how would
>you like to see the new professional body work.

You are absolutely right, a consultancy document is meant to do
exactly that; to 'consult' the membership. Then again, what we had
was not a consultancy document, was it?

A questionnaire which investigates how the new professional body
should work can only become a 'consultancy' document after the
ballot has approved convergence and therefore justified the
questionnaire's existence. Before the vote, it is a propaganda sham
which is treating the outcome as a forgone conclusion; exactly as I

The 'consultancy' questionnaire we should have received, required
nothing more at this time than for the membership to express its
favourability or unfavourability towards convergence; presenting as
part of its content, an unbiassed case for and against, including
accounting scenarios and forecasts prepared by an independent

Providing that full documentation was included in the pre-ballot
consultation questionnaire, many questions could have been asked,
however only one main question was actually needed:

"Are you in favour of a converged organisation? y/n"
(and that is the one question we didn't get!)

If the majority of returns were unfavourable, the consultancy would
have shown that there was no case to put to the vote, and if
favourability were indicated, a formal ballot would then become a

Following approval by formal ballot, *and only following formal
approval by ballot*, should we have progressed to 'consultation'
regarding the new organisation's structure and the number of
publications it produces per year. Consequently the questionnaire we
received prior to the ballot was not a 'consultancy' document.

Whether I agree with convergence or not is unimportant, I am simply
stating that the committee has not done its homework properly
because they did not ask the most important question, and advanced
questions that will only possibly become important after the
official ballot. Consequently, the process is flawed and should be
re-started. It doesn't matter one hoot what the other 'spearhead'
organisations do, or think; we can and should declare a moratorium
on our activity in the process and get it right before we do untold
and irretrievable damage to our organisation.

Unless we start the procedure again, and do it properly this time, a
considerable quantity of the membership *will* split and form their
own body. It will be unavoidable. If this happens, I will most
likely be one of them. I would rather not be, but I will not be

>... The petitioners are
>aware that their points are being dealt with and they know that the
>vote is not in IPC's hands, and are heavily dictated by the Statutes
and the Charity Commission. ...

This is the biggest cop out I have ever heard! The vote is not out
of the IPC's hands. The Charity Commission don't care whether we
converge or not and they are not running the vote.

They do on the other hand have specific requirements which the IPC
have to meet (as a charity organisation) in events where a
constitutional issue is at steak.

In the end however, if we said 'hang on! we've done this wrongly,
lets start again,' the Charity commission wouldn't give a damn. Just
like they don't give a damn what was in our consultancy document,
that was completely in the IPC's hands.

The only thing the Charity Commission will be interested in is that
the ballot, if and when it happens, is democratic and fair, and that
any resulting body meets the requirements of a charitable
organisation if it is to remain a charity. Everything else is our
responsibility and not that of the Charity Commission.

>Where have you been Jonathan and Sarah?  I have been working on the
>committee for over four years and don't ever remember hearing a
>dickybird from either of you before on any IPC issues. ...

I find that extremely peculiar considering we have spoken many times
on the telephone, and I have offered my services on more than one
occasion. If I remember correctly, you even phoned me up once (CDs?)
though since I heard nothing more, I assume nothing came of it. My
not being more involved is not through my lack of offering. True, I
did not offer to help out when Clare passed away, but then again, I
was rather busy at the time, being chairman of both a theatre
restoration trust and my former school's alumni association as well
as providing my services as a conservator (in my own time) gratis,
as my contribution towards the worthwhile setting up of what is now,
a major London museum collection.

That aside, I have been quite vocal on many different IPC issues, if
you haven't heard a dickybird, I suggest that perhaps you haven't
been listening.

Jonathan Farley

                  Conservation DistList Instance 18:9
                  Distributed: Thursday, July 22, 2004
                        Message Id: cdl-18-9-008
Received on Thursday, 22 July, 2004

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