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YesCymru director brands organisation ‘dysfunctional’ after being voted off national governing body

14 Jun 2022 10 minutes Read
Louise Aikman

One of the directors of YesCymru has branded the organisation “dysfunctional” after being voted off the national governing body.

Louise Aikman was elected to the governing body unopposed in January as one of two members from the ‘Outside of Wales’ region.

She said that she decided not to attend the governing body meetings after making a formal complaint about two other directors due to their “hostility” towards her, but was then removed from the governing body last month.

She said that the hostility towards her was prompted by her concerns about a lack of diversity on the YesCymru governing body.

YesCymru’s Chair, Elfed Williams, responded to say that the organisation’s complaint procedure was followed and, when the complaint was not upheld, Louise Aikman given the opportunity to appeal, which she did not do.

He added that it was common practice in other organisations to ask directors to step down if they did not attend a number of meetings.

Elfed Williams said that YesCymru took diversity seriously but there was “no quick fix” and that it was a major piece of work that a new CEO would need to undertake.

YesCymru is currently advertising for the £47,000 Chief Executive post for the first time.

Full statements by Louise Aikman and Elfed Williams are included below.

The latest disagreement within YesCymru comes after the remaining members of the central committee of YesCymru resigned last August. It followed a period of turmoil within the organisation, with a number of other resignations, including that of former Chair, Sion Jobbins.

But in December YesCymru members voted to adopt a new structure and constitution for the campaign group. 80% or 2717 voted in favour of the motion, and just 489 against.

Louise Aikman’s full statement

My name is Louise Aikman and I am passionate about Welsh independence. Wales is on the cusp of a rare shot at independence, is YesCymru on course to prepare the people of Wales for a referendum? Here’s why I think the current NGB will miss this open goal.

Taking on the role of Board Director on the NGB in January this year was beyond exciting.  With years of experience working with boards as an in-house solicitor and voluntary roles with charities and campaign groups I was ready to drive forward the agenda for change which was at the heart of the campaign to replace the old Central Committee. As a single mother, working full time, I didn’t have a lot of spare time but was determined to make a difference.

The diversity of Wales, from grassroots to the National Governing Body is not represented at any level within YesCymru. In my view, starting a meaningful conversation around this should be a YesCymru priority not least after 2021’s in-fighting, death threats and cases of harassment. Wales wants to be known as a nation of sanctuary and the campaign for Welsh independence should set the tone by demonstrating efforts to understand and celebrate each other’s contributions to life in Wales.

I came on board the NGB with ideas around how we could create an organisation that was truly representative of the Wales that I love. What was apparent from the very first meeting was that we, as an NGB, looked nothing like the diverse Wales that we wanted to reflect. The question was how could we work together so that everyone no matter what their race, ethnicity or sexual orientation could feel welcome in this great movement of ours?

My attempts to persuade the other Directors that this objective should be at the heart of YesCymru’s strategy were largely rejected. My proposal for inclusivity to feature as one of the Board’s three strategic objectives was dismissed by a small vociferous group of Directors and I was told ‘anyone can join, anyone can stand for the NGB so there is no problem with inclusivity here’. My further attempts to engage other Directors on this topic were met with hostility and I was told to stop raising this issue.

I made a formal complaint against two Directors because of their open hostility towards me in meetings and other behaviour that amounted to bullying. I notified the Chair of my intention not to attend NGB meetings until my complaint had been dealt with. While waiting for a response, three meetings went ahead without me, giving Directors an option to vote to remove me, which they did during a barely-quorate meeting.

I still haven’t received a response to my complaint and have not seen the minutes of the meeting where my removal was discussed. We should be building a movement that leads with integrity and professionalism to inspire confidence and trust in the organisation.

Will having a CEO make a difference? Will the CEO be able to lead the organisation to achieve its objectives? Maybe, if they listen to the quieter voices on the NGB and deal with the unprofessional behaviour of the loudest. If the NGB continues to be dominated by an angry, spiteful, gerontocracy then you may as well save your £2 a month.

I’m not the only one to have experienced this total lack of professionalism since the NGB took office in January this year; organisations who have committed significant time and energy to supporting YesCymru have been treated with contempt.

With no legal right to call a referendum, Wales needs strong public support for any move to independence, the type of support that comes from positive, inclusive leadership to inspire the grassroots and give confidence. By 2023 we could all be holding our breath as Nicola Sturgeon walks up to the mic and announces the results of the 2nd referendum for Scottish independence. YesCymru needs to get Wales ready for this moment. Instead, I believe that the organisation is decaying from the top down.

How can YesCymru inspire the debate and discussion needed to win public opinion if the leadership body is dysfunctional, inward-looking and represents only a small clique of angry people?

Is YesCymru capable of the reform necessary to deliver indy-supporting public opinion?

Current preparations for an independence march taking place in Wrexham this July, in which YesCymru is involved, suggest not. Social media is already highlighting that many people won’t attend the march because they don’t feel it’s a safe environment for them and/or they no longer want to be associated with YesCymru because of its damaged reputation. Sadly, I think I’m now one of their number.

Can YesCymru find room for different voices and get Wales ready for a referendum or does our chance for independence rest on finding a new organisation to take the lead?

A response by Elfed Williams, Chair of YesCymru 

Since the election of the National Governing Body of YesCymru earlier this year the Directors have been working exceptionally hard meeting weekly every Monday evening as a whole Board but with many sub meetings during the week with the focus on putting the organisation back onto a professional and sound financial footing.

There has been ample opportunity in meetings for every Director to put forward their views and many of the meeting have been robust with opposite views expressed as to the way forward for YesCymru. But once the discussion has been completed and everyone has had the opportunity to speak a majority decision is taken and acted upon otherwise the NGB would grind to a halt.

The NGB does recognise and accepts that there is a lack of diversity on the Board and this is an issue that has received much attention in meetings. There is a process set up within the NGB to look at how diversity can be improved but it is also recognised that there is no quick fix in bringing more diversity not only to the NGB but also YesCymru membership. As this is a major piece of work to bring more representation from all diverse sections of our communities in Wales, it has been decided it will become a major focus of attention of the new CEO who will be appointed in the next couple of months who will be tasked to reach out to communities that might not feel part of the Independence movement at present.

Since being appointed as Directors the internal mechanisms and bylaws have been reviewed to ensure that YesCymru can function in accordance with its Articles of Association. Professional and legal advice has been followed in reviewing these processes. Bylaw 17 sets out how complaints can be dealt with, and this was followed when an internal complaint was made by one Director against two fellow Directors. The complaint procedure was followed in accordance with Bylaw 17 and when the complaint was not found the Director was informed about this, but also according to the Bylaw the Director was informed an appeal could be made. When no appeal was brought forward in accordance with the set time scale the Director was informed that the complaint was closed in accordance with set procedures within the Bylaw.

Since the NGB first met it has taken a considerable amount of time to reorganise YesCymru to ensure it is a fit for purpose and sound organisation structurally moving forward. That has meant that there had to be a level of commitment from those attending meetings and if some Directors do not attend meetings, it slows the decision-making processes. Unfortunately, some members have not been able to give the required commitment required for personal reasons, but others have not attended meetings because of personal agendas. According to YesCymru Articles of Association section 21.1 (e) if a member of the NGB, as is common practice in other organisations, does not attend a number of consecutive NGB meetings they can be asked to resign. These decisions are not taken lightly, and much consideration is given before a Director is asked to step down. Since the inception of the NGB this has happened on two separate occasions due to non attendance not only in Board meetings but also consideration is given if other sub meeting have been missed.

In the next few months, members will start to see the fruit of the work that has been carried out by the NGB, including the second addition of the newsletter which is about to be sent out to YesCymru groups to be distributed. Only last weekend the Storm the Beaches to highlight the money the Crown Estates takes from Wales was a great success. YesCymru have also been holding sessions in Merthyr Rising and will be at the National Esiteddfod and considerable amount of work has gone into working with Indy Wrexham and AUOB to organise the Wrexham march of which YesCymru is providing the majority of funding to enable it to go ahead.

I am exceptionally proud of the work carried out and the commitment in time shown by the majority of Directors since our first meeting beginning of this year which has on occasions been to the detriment of their own paid working commitments. As in any committee or Board meeting a democratic decision has to be taken at the end of each discussion and a majority vote has to be taken and following that vote the discussion has to move forward and not continually revisited because of one person’s personal agenda.

I strongly believe that the groundwork we are putting in place now will put YesCymru in a strong position to fight for an Independent Wales in a referendum on Wales’ future.


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Y Cymro
Y Cymro
17 days ago

For Wales to move forward we all must pull together not apart.

Ianto Ffrainc
Ianto Ffrainc
17 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

See below. I don’t think that message is getting through. Some seem tied to their prejudices

anon
anon
17 days ago

The primary aim of Yes Cymru is a strong independent Wales and this should not be forgotten. The very nature of the organization determines that people may disagree politically and that’s fine and healthy but it cannot and should not be to the detriment of our fight for Independence.

Ianto Ffrainc
Ianto Ffrainc
17 days ago
Reply to  anon

Looking at the upvoting / downvoting pattern here, I fear that it is not political differences dividing us. It’s hatred of the not-like-me. That is what will divide us. The young are inclusive of difference. If the elderly cannot get on board, their outdated prejudices will cost them the young people who have really re-ignited the Indy movement and will kill it for another generation

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
16 days ago
Reply to  Ianto Ffrainc

Or maybe it’s because people know a troll account spreading lies and falsehoods when they see one

defaid
defaid
16 days ago
Reply to  Ianto Ffrainc

There’s a bit of ageist and divisive exclusivity if ever I read it 😉. Troll.

Phil
Phil
16 days ago
Reply to  Ianto Ffrainc

Yeh, let’s forget independence until we get a balance which includes the minority groups that can shout loudest.

Pob lwc
Pob lwc
17 days ago

Couldn’t organise a p**s-up in a brewery.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
17 days ago

“Social media is already highlighting that many people won’t attend the march because they don’t feel it’s a safe environment for them and/or they no longer want to be associated with YesCymru” – are you referring to the poisonous wreckers who hounded dr dilys davies and niki jones (a bame woman) off the Yes Cymru CC?

Last edited 17 days ago by Leigh Richards
Phil
Phil
17 days ago

Is it me, or is there a touch of the ‘What have the Romans ever done for us’ about this?

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
17 days ago

I can see the Welsh independence movement getting fragmented. If it does (and apologies in advance to Monty Python) shall I join:

The Welsh Peoples’ Front
The Peoples’ Front of Wales
The Campaign for a Free Wales
The Welsh Popular Front (I’ll be the sole member of that one).

Congratulations to those of you who seek to split our independence movement by petty in-fighting, you’ve done the work of the Tory party for them.

Ianto Ffrainc
Ianto Ffrainc
17 days ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

It’s how the Saxons and the Romans got in. We were busy fighting amongst ourselves.

Llinos
Llinos
17 days ago

Oh no. I’m not touching this one! Not after last time. I hope that one day people will see that division costs all of us dearly.

CJPh
CJPh
17 days ago
Reply to  Llinos

Despite disagreeing with some of your positions, you make passionate, intelligent points that more than merit being heard, Llinos. I for one welcome the dissent you offer and have learned a great deal from your reasoning and insight on a wide variety of issues. Ymlaen.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
17 days ago

I’m sad and disappointed that this has been given such publicity, but what really matters – as many others have already commented – is that the cause of independence that matters. Full Stop. There are two issues. It seems that this person had her own opinion of what YC should be about, given away with her comment that “diversity is not represented…and addressing this should be a YC priority.” Really? Independence apparently comes second…or third …or… There is also the real world. The governing body was elected in an open and fair vote of candidates who were prepared to stand… Read more »

Jacqueline Davies
Jacqueline Davies
17 days ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

As a female born in England who has made Wales her home so much so that I joined Yes Cymru 2yrs ago I couldn’t agree more with John Ball. Ive been made to feel welcome and involved at every and any YesCymru group meeting, I’ve been to on line or in person. In three weeks time along with my daughter I’ll be in Wrexham

Ianto Ffrainc - Keep trying NC censors!
Ianto Ffrainc - Keep trying NC censors!
16 days ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

Some heavy editing of responses under your post Dr Ball. My posts gone. Your own smug responses gone. You REALLY like to control the narrative don’t you? Your ad hominem attack speaks for itself. You position yourself as some wise guru who will guide us to independence. But you’re not are you. You are a just an amateur politician who attacks the messenger not the message. And stifles dissenting voices.
I would be interested to see the faux justification when you “moderate” this post out of existence.

Last edited 16 days ago by Ianto Ffrainc - Keep trying NC censors!
Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
16 days ago

Unlike a cowardly troll like you John Ball, like myself, posts under his real name! While youre paranoia is even more laughable and even more sad than your rantings -there are organisations out there who can help you you know

Last edited 16 days ago by Leigh Richards
Richard
Richard
16 days ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

Well said John. These folk nearly ruined YC last time – they are at it again. YC is open to all. It’s leadership is open to all.

Wales is inclusive, energetic and embraces all who rejoice in a future that develops opportunities and open discussion

Llinoss
Llinoss
17 days ago

we need to pull together. the only issue is that leadership of yescymru and plaid are out of touch with ordinary Welsh people and what we want. let’s get our act together

Phil
Phil
12 days ago
Reply to  Llinoss

You said that you weren’t touching this in an earlier post, You fibber!

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
17 days ago

Storm in teacup. Welsh people essentially conservative. Lots of Welsh people vote Labour because of the Tory threat to our country. A conservative nationalist party would soon wipe the floor with Labour. Minorities should be treated with compassion, but if they want to be up front and centre, forget it.

Notttabottt
Notttabottt
17 days ago
Reply to  I.Humphrys

Delusional, Wales is far more progressive. I have seen one of the lot causing trouble on Reddit suggesting we shouldn’t have a non white miss Wales because it doesnt represent us. Those are the conservatives you refer to, they support a certain indy party that always seem to be at the root of trouble.

Gareth Westacott
Gareth Westacott
17 days ago

Louise Aikman said – ‘The NGB continues to be dominated by an angry, spiteful gerontocracy.’ What’s that if it’s not ageist?

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
17 days ago

If we seriously want Welsh independence, are we going to put all our eggs in one dysfunctional lobby group?

Arwyn
Arwyn
17 days ago

So sick of this. Activists slugging it out for top spot on the moral high horse. Don’t panic and vote for an independence supporting party when you have the chance.

Arwyn
Arwyn
17 days ago
Reply to  Arwyn

If YesCymru can’t be anything better than a distraction, what’s the point? Just join Plaid, Greens, Gwlad, Undod, whoever ticks your boxes and go campaign for what you believe in. All the muck flinging is doing no good whatsoever. What an all round embarassment from which very few emerge with any credit. Glad I’m not on Twitter anymore.

Arwyn
Arwyn
17 days ago
Reply to  Arwyn

https://nation.cymru/opinion/yescymru-needs-to-learn-the-lessons-of-cymru-fydd-and-put-unity-over-division/ Written a year ago but I think YesCymru’s had it now. Pointless letting it fester. Thankfully Plaid is working with Labour on a programme of government for Wales and we finally have a national conversation on our constitutional future. But yet again Wales will be beholden to external events – why? Because we keep letting our tribalism set us against each other. And I’m fuming about that. I’ve said it so many times now but folk need to campaign via the vehicles that match their politics. I’d hoped that YC could be non-partisan but the differences in personal politics… Read more »

Last edited 17 days ago by Arwyn
Gill
Gill
16 days ago

The headline is incorrect, she is an ex director and it seems for good enough reason if she did not bother turning out to meetings. Seems she is a bit out of touch about her fellow board members diversity credentials as they include gay members. Does Nation fact check before printing personal statements? Never heard of her. I like the regular newsetter telling us members what’s happening. Looking forward to Wrecsam.

Last edited 16 days ago by Gill
The Original Mark
The Original Mark
16 days ago

If yescymru want to prove their credibility, they need to get behind supporting the ECHR, and fight any suggestion of the UK withdrawing from it, It could be useful to Wales if we ever get round to declaring independence.

Phil
Phil
16 days ago

Why? That would only provide them another topic to argue, bicker and get venemous about!

Phil
Phil
16 days ago

Why? It would only give them another topic to argue, bicker and disagree over!… (This is the second time I’ve posted this.. NC took it down last time. They’re rather fond of doing that if it’s something that they find mildly disagreeable)

David Harking
David Harking
16 days ago

Even if every single requirement for inclusivity box ticking was met, the hard left woke ideology will never be satisfied because they constantly strive in a never ending pursuit of racism and prejudice. It’s a one way ticket train and everyone’s invited – I’d rather pursue a happy life myself.

Phil
Phil
16 days ago
Reply to  David Harking

Quite true! They’d identify some other ‘under represented’ group and proceed to shout loud about until they get them included, whether the group agrees with their support or not.

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