The motion of Impeachment for Brendan McGrath, Librarian of the Oxford Union, gathered the requisite number of signatures to move to a poll for impeachment. The poll for his impeachment will take place on Wednesday and will need to gather at least two thirds majority and at least 150 votes to pass. All union members are eligible.
The motion gathered 175 signatures. Signatures are presumed valid until verified.
The motion of impeachment was triggered on Thursday night, following the resignation of the chief of staff, Ray Williams. Williams resigned dramatically in front of the chamber on Thursday night’s debate and declared his support for the impeachment of the Librarian. The motion itself was brought by member of Standing Committee Jim Brennan following the internal disagreement in the Union about the validity of slates in elections. Slates had been banned under pressure from Williams, but were brought back when McGrath asked the Returning Officer to make a clarification regarding what rules the election would be run under.
The signatures have not yet been verified by the Bursar. Although the motion gathered an excess number of signatures, there are suggestions that some signed their names at the Union ball when many were under the influence of alcohol. There is also evidence that some signatures were signed by proxy by other members of the Union. These claims will be investigated.
Brendan McGrath told The Oxford Student: “This process has been the Union at its worst. I am genuinely shocked that my political opponents have been able to twist me asking the Returning Officer to decide what rules the election would be run under, into a cartoonishly evil act. I asked for clarification. That’s it. The impeachment notice was signed by every supporter of another Presidential candidate that I know of. This has gone beyond political manoeuvring into personal attack, and it’s exactly what the Union needs less of.”
In a message to Oxford Union members, Jim Brennan, who brought the motion of impeachment, said: “The Oxford Union exists for its Members. The Officers serve the Membership, and should be held to account for their actions. When he ran for Librarian, Mr McGrath claimed in his manifesto that “the Union alienates members by rewarding ambition over integrity”. If only he had known then how true that would turn out to be.
By his own admission, Mr McGrath has known about the invalidity of the slate ban for “quite a while.” His claim to have only recently realised that he should inform the Returning Officer, responsible for running Elections, is ludicrous considering his experienced four terms on Committee. When an ex-President publicly expressed concern that Rule-changes from last term may be invalid in 1st Week, Mr McGrath did not disclose that he knew the ban was invalid.
On Friday of 3rd Week, the Librarian secretly told the Returning Officer the slate ban was invalid, yet over the weekend continued to campaign publicly for the Rule-changes designed to strengthen the slate ban. By the time the Returning Officer had informed Standing Committee on Monday, it had become all but impossible for any Member to ban slates again for this term’s election. It became impossible when the President suppressed a Rule-change that would have banned slates, just minutes before it was due to be debated.
When questioned about his advance knowledge of this, Mr McGrath left the room to avoid having to answer. For someone that once pledged “to stop Rule-changes from surprising Members”, the timing of these events surely isn’t a coincidence. The Librarian should not seek to protest ignorance of the Rules, or seek to pass blame by claiming others knew but didn’t act. His advance knowledge and deliberate timing of the invalidation of the slate ban has allowed him to gain significant advantage over other potential candidates, who were acting in good faith according to what they believed the Rules were.
I, and Ray Williams, are amongst the few Members of Standing Committee in recent history who were not elected on a slate. As finalists, we have no ambition within the Union – we gain nothing from this Motion of Impeachment.
The Motion was signed by a total of 175 Members, including 9 current and 5 former Members of Standing Committee, as well nearly 20 further Members of Committee and Appointed Officials. On Wednesday of 5th Week, a Poll of the Membership will be held. The Members of the Oxford Union always should have the final say.”
Image credit: Barker Evans