Librarian for the Oxford Union, Brendan McGrath, has survived calls for impeachment after winning yesterday’s poll by 400 votes to 189.
A motion for McGrath’s impeachment was led on Thursday last week, 7th February, as a result of concerns over his decision to ask the Returning Officer, Liam Frahm, to review the ‘Trial Slate Ban’ implemented last term and that he was using his position for political gain.
The ban was ruled invalid, prompting the resignation of the Union’s Chief of Staff, Ray Williams, after the Thatcher debate last Thursday and the beginnings of the impeach- ment process, culminating in a poll of Union members.
The motion for impeachment read: “We the undersigned hereby wish to impeach the Officer, Brendan McGrath (Librarian, Oriel College) on the following grounds: abuse of office, and the deliberate subversion of the expressed will of the Membership and the Rules of the Society, for his own electoral bene t and contrary to the fundamental principles of democracy upon which the Oxford Union was founded.” McGrath was accused of abusing his office in order to further his own ambitions for the Presidency, and of subverting “the express will of the membership”.
A number of students came out in support of Brendan, asking members to “Stand Up to Toxic Politics: Vote No”, and expressing their views in Facebook statuses.
Last night it was revealed that the outcome of the poll was 68% in favour of McGrath, with a notice was pinned to the Oxford Union notice- board stating “The Librarian remains in office.”
Commenting on the result, McGrath told Cherwell: “The size of this result shows that the Union’s members won’t accept the ridiculous games and public bullying that the supporters of impeachment engaged in. I am disappointed in Jim Brennan and Brian Wong; the latter using the title of Access Officer to attack an opponent of their preferred candidate for President. However, I have reached out to both to wish them well – I look forward to working with them in the future, if the opportunity presents itself.
“People expect the Union to be political, but even given that expectation the members have rejected a type of Union based on fear, manipulation, and humiliation. I’m looking forward to going back to what I was elected to do.
“The motion was brought because I made a mistake, not raising a rules issue in good enough time.
“But the behaviour surrounding the motion was the most outrageous display of ruthless character assassination I have ever witnessed.
“The supporters of impeachment attempted to forge signatures, tricked drunk ball attendees, and at every step tried to tear me down in a public forum.
“Towards the end of the day, “evidence” of me colluding to have someone abuse their office was being circulated by anonymous actors on social media – it is worth noting that this “evidence” had also been submit- ted to OxStu and Cherwell, and was rejected as either illegally-obtained or fraudulent. As usual, a principled question was hijacked for purely political goals, namely the cut- ting out of a candidate from this term’s elections.
“I will always be grateful to the people who helped me today. At my lowest moment, they were there for me consistently and to a stunning level.
“They helped me realise that when your opponents insist on using the structure of a debating society to wear down your mental health, you’re allowed to call that out.
“Oxford deserves better than the Union it’s seen this week.
“I hope this result is the beginning of that better Union.”
The Oxford Union told Cherwell: “It would be inappropriate for the President to com- ment on ongoing political disputes within the Union.
“Yesterday the members voted overwhelmingly in support of the Librarian. “Hopefully the committee can move past the events of the last week and focus per- forming the roles the members have elected us to do, namely executing an excellent sequence of events for the last few weeks of term.”
Former Chief of Staff, Ray Williams, a key supporter of the impeachment campaign, and former Senior Access Officer Brian Wong were contacted for comment.