Secretary reports on the outcome of the 2011 AGM
This year’s annual general meeting of the SHS occurred on 21 May in the Courtyard Room of the Bishopsgate Institute with Stefan Dickers in the chair.
Society members and existing committee members were all present apart from David Parker and June Cohen who both sent their apologies.
The Secretary David Morgan reported on the lively series of meetings that the Society had held over the past year, mentioning in particular the special event with Professor Eric Hobsbawm, the Society’s honorary president, talking about his new book, How to Change the World. This was the only public meeting in London that Hobsbawm had agreed to take part in to promote the book and the Society was greatly honoured by the tribute that he made to it in the remarks Hobsbawm made during the talk, an edited version of which is on You Tube, available to watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0IeOGQElXw
On the issue of finance, Treasurer Francis King pointed out that the position was only superficially healthy because of the backlog in the publications schedule. Finances had also been strengthened by a donation of £1,000 from Tony Atienza in memory of the late Eddie Dare, for which Tony was warmly thanked.
The Society also receives some income from Lawrence & Wishart as a result of the discount offered to members wishing to subscribe to the journal 20th Century Communism. As takings at meetings were down, it was agreed that more efforts would be made to ensure regular collections. Deborah Lavin agreed to take some responsibility for this.
Francis stressed that in order to secure its long-term viability the Society needed to attract around 300 paying members; it was now about 240.
In response, he proposed an increase in rates of subscriptions based on the principle that even the reduced rate should actually cover our costs of servicing each member: after a lively discussion, it was agreed on a vote to raise the rates to £25 (full) and £18 (reduced) taking effect from 2012. The AGM also committed the Society to holding these rates for several years.
David Morgan reported on the forthcoming Occasional Publications; mentioning that the next issue would be Marx and Bradlaugh by Deborah Lavin to be followed by Willie Thompson on Hill, Dobb and Thomson. Several other interesting proposals had been offered for future OPs including one on Clara Zetkin.
Francis, who had been elected as the new editor by the editorial board in November 2010, reported on the state of the journal; he said that the first priority was to get the publishing schedule back on track so that we had two issues a year. The conference on “Reform Communism” that he was organising in October would form the basis for a future issue.
The AGM endorsed the appointment of Francis as editor along with Willie Thompson and David Parker as editorial advisers.
Warm tributes were paid to Society veteran Willie Thompson who indicated that he wished to step down from the committee after many years; Willie will continue to work on the Society’s publications, as a member of the Occasional Publications team and on the journal.
June Cohen also stepped down as co-chair and was replaced in this position by Greta Sykes; June will continue to take part in the work of the Society.
Finally, Charlie Pottins, a longstanding member of the Society and a member of the Jewish Socialists’ Group, was welcomed onto the committee.
All other officers and committee members remained in position and were endorsed by the AGM.
The meeting was followed by a public meeting on aspects of East End London history with speakers Janine Booth, Sarah Wise and Samantha Bird.