Oxford Union President avoids vote of condemnation following Steve Bannon talk

News University News

In a meeting of the Oxford Union Standing Committee on Monday 7th week, President Stephen Horvath opposed attempts to discuss his conduct surrounding the Steve Bannon talk on the grounds that the proposed agenda was invalid. Five members of Standing Committee tried to raise the business but as each spoke President Horvath and Treasurer James Lamming called objection.

Horvath explained to The Oxford Student: “Following informal advice from the Returning Officer, the President ruled that no valid Agenda had been circulated to the Standing Committee by the Secretary. Rule 23 (h) states that an Agenda containing Unratified Draft Minutes of that Committee will be sent at least 48 hours before that meeting.

The Secretary did not circulate either the minutes for the 6th Week Ordinary Meeting (i.e. the one on Monday) or the 6th Week Emergency meeting (i.e. the one on Thursday). Any two members can object to business not on the Agenda being introduced, and no business was on the Agenda.”

On the morning of the meeting Secretary Nick Brown, who called an Emergency Meeting on last Thursday on disinviting Bannon, was informed that a disciplinary complaint had been brought against him for “dereliction of duty under Rule 71(a)(i)(12)”. The complaint, submitted anonymously, states that “Several times I have drawn the Secretary’s attention to his dereliction of duties and I have received neither explanation nor apology”.

Horvath told The Oxford Student that “It would be inappropriate for the Union to comment about the formal complaint that Nick Brown is in dereliction of duty  – this is an ongoing disciplinary matter, after a complaint was first submitted last Tuesday.” The complaint was sent before the Steve Bannon event was announced on Wednesday and was reviewed by the Complaints Consultant before Brown was informed the following Monday. A meeting of the Intermediate Disciplinary Committee will be held on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

A member of Standing Committee told The Oxford Student“Last week, the President said he would resign if Bannon was not adequately questioned. When the event was held, the President only allowed ~150-200 members into the chamber, and the questions he asked himself were not particularly incisive.

“Several members of the Standing Committee believed that this was not adequate questioning, and that the President should therefore resign – the President repeatedly objected to us bringing up the Bannon event, because he wanted to avoid calls for him to resign.

The ruling of this agenda as invalid was a malicious attempt to block discussion, and this is a break from precedent.

An Emergency Meeting of Standing Committee was called for Tuesday but delayed until Wednesday. The purpose of the meeting is: “1. To discuss the events surrounding the Steve Bannon visit. 2. To vote on condemning the President for his conduct surrounding the event. 3. To vote on whether the President has failed in his duty to adequately question Steve Bannon, and should therefore fulfil his promise to resign”.