Concern about compliance with Section 6 of the OPs

This post only expresses the opinion of the authors and signatories (Wessel, Ezekiel, Lea, Pedrojuán)

(The following message has been send to the CC:)

Dear members of the CC,

We would like to request of formal statement by the CC as well as a response towards solving the following issue:

At the moment, none of the proposals (except for the “status quo / no” proposal) that will be put forward for the November 1 vote comply with the regulations set down in section 6 of the Organising Principles (OPs).

Reasons for this are:

  • None of the proposals has the formal support of either 10% of the DiEM25 membership or 30 out of a 100 VC members
  • None of the proposals will have been sent to the VC before the November 1 vote after which the VC can reject the proposal or ask for “further refinements”
  • The current setup of the vote (50%+ majority) does not comply with the regulations, for in that case the conditions for any proposal to pass would be 60% super-majority and at least 50% of the eligible members casting their vote

Even though we understand the practical difficulties this brings about, we believe not complying with these rules is far more damaging than facing these difficulties. Why?

  • To respect the statement in the OPs: “Amendments of the Manifesto and of DiEM25’s Organising Principles must be a carefully designed and implemented process, lest DiEM25’s character and mission are inadvertently damaged”
  • To respect the basic democratic rules that the entire movement agreed with at the moment the OPs were inaugurated
  • To make sure the integrity of DiEM25 as a movement is not damaged. A movement that has “democracy” in its name that is operating outside of its own democratic rules does not present itself as an integer organisation

Luckily, these issues can all be solved before the November 1 vote (it is not too late for the damage to occur!):

  1. Proposals could all contain a “disclaimer”, stating that they are merely statements of intent and do not impact the manifesto/OPs
    • The VC can approve provisional actions, like the institution of a PNC, on a case-to-case basis; if needed on the basis of an accepted proposal
    • During later votes, changes to the OPs/Manifesto can be approved, in a way that complies with section 6 of the OPs
  2. OR: the November 1 vote can be delayed in order to have each proposal move through the necessary steps and respect the requirements laid down in section 6 of the OPs

These solutions still allow for timely actions to be taken (e.g. registering “provisional” political parties for the electoral wing) and at the same time respect the DiEM25 OPs that we all once agreed to.

We are looking forward to your timely reply.

Democratically yours,

Wessel

Ezekiel

Lea

Pedrojuán

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Proposal: YES to “Not another political party” BUT under some conditions

This post expresses the personal opinion of its author (Wessel). Nevertheless, this proposal – that has been submitted for the transnational political party vote – has received input from many (25+) DiEM25 members.

Summary

YES, we support the move towards a transnational electoral wing as proposed by the Coordinating Collective BUT we propose a number of conditions for doing so as to guarantee the flourishing of open ideas towards an open future, in a democratic, grassroots movement, such as DiEM25. The specific proposed conditions in a nutshell are: (1) a “sunset” clause: we suggest to carry out another voting procedure after one year to re-examine the idea of a transnational political party; (2) the creation of a task force to redefine the organising principles of the entire movement, working together with the entire membership; (3) making sure that all positions of power are open and subject to an electoral process; (4) making sure that CC members won’t be able to run or stand for office while being in the CC, in order to avoid conflicts of interest; (5) making sure that all legal documents and legal positions in DiEM25 can be known to its members; (6) ensuring that DiEM25 the movement and its electoral wing are statutorily bound but operationally separated and (7) that all electronic voting procedures are transparent and auditable.

Introduction

We support the passionate outcry of the CC and a big part of our movement to start acting to combat the great crises and injustices we face in Europe and beyond. In principle, we therefore also support the idea to start acting on becoming a transnational political party; as one of the means towards reaching our aims.

We also agree with the CC’s proposal, in that a first proposal should not be too complicated and detailed. We face an open future, and an open future demands open-ended ideas.

However, we do want to propose a number of reasonable and necessary conditions to the CC’s proposal that in our opinion will guarantee the flourishing of open ideas, towards an open future, in a democratic, grassroots movement such as DiEM25.

Why a proposal and not only amendments? Because we think the following conditions are all necessary for us to go forward. No cherry picking should be possible, in other words.

What do I vote for? When voting for this proposal, you vote for (1) adopting the CC’s proposal for “not another political party”, (2) adding the conditions listed below and (3) acknowledging that in the case of conflict between the CC’s proposal and the conditions, the conditions gain precedence and taking the provision below into account (that is, your vote will not have any statutory effect).

One important provision: a vote for this proposal does not have any immediate effects on the organising principles and/or the manifesto of DiEM25 because the process leading up to this vote did not comply with section 6 of the organising principles. Because of this, no additional mandate to the existing mandates of DiEM25 bodies will follow from a vote for this proposal. For any new mandates and corresponding formal changes to the organising principles and/or the manifesto, additional votes will be needed that will comply with the rules laid out in section 6 of the organising principles.

1. We need a sunset clause

Choosing for a transnational political party seems like a good idea, but the future might teach us otherwise. Whatever the future might hold, we think it would be wise to already propose a moment of reflection and reconsideration: a moment at which the movement can either continue or discontinue the transnational political party project.

Condition I: “One year after the vote, the entire membership of DiEM25 the movement will be able to engage in a vote to either continue or discontinue DiEM25’s political wing.”

Why? The future is necessarily open-ended and uncertain. Moving towards creating a transnational political party might create power-structures or imbalances between movement and party that in time might be seen as undesirable by the majority of the DiEM25 membership. A sunset clause will guarantee that such a problem can be mitigated.

2. We need some rigorous changes to the organising principles

The organising principles (OPs) contain some problems that – if not anticipated beforehand – can lead to structural issues later on. We propose to mitigate the most pressing problems by already putting conditions forward of the following amendments to the OPs to put forward in case we go down the path towards a transnational political party.

Condition II: “At least before two months after the vote on the transnational party issue, an open call to all DiEM25 members should be issued for forming a task force for a grassroots-based review of the OPs in light of becoming a transnational party. This task force should be voted in by the membership with a 2/3 majority. The task force should meet regularly, should not contribute to ideas itself and will be responsible for (1) reaching out to the entire membership of DiEM25 to ask for ideas, (2) transparently collect, collate and summarise these ideas and (3) develop a consensual document that most DiEM25 members can agree with.”

Why? For some time now, the movement has been struggling with the current version of the OPs (not being sure about mandates, ways to put forward proposals from the grassroots, etc.). A dedicated task force will be able to tackle all these issues in a timely manner.

Condition III: “Within two months after the vote, the CC should put forward a proposal to make sure that all significant positions of power that surpass the DSC level (e.g. PNCs,  should be (1) open to all DiEM25 members, (2) formalised in the OPs and (3) filled through all-membership votes or lotteries.”

Why? A move towards a transnational political party will require much more coordination/operational support. The people providing this support will be in positions of significant power, which should therefore be legitimised in order to these people to be accountable. Open positions and votings/lotteries will provide for the much needed legitimisation of these positions.

Condition IV: “An immanent vote on the following amendment to the OPs should follow the vote on the transnational party issue: [original]: ‘No individuals in public office or holding positions of major responsibility within a political party (e.g. sitting on its national executive or leadership board) can sit on the CC.’ => [amended]: ‘No individuals in public office, standing for public office, or holding positions of major responsibility within a political party (e.g. sitting on its national executive or leadership board) can sit on the CC.’ Additionally, a clause should be added stating that, in order to respect the mandate of CC members, they can return to their positions on the CC as soon they seize standing for office, be in public office or hold positions of major responsibility within a political party.

Why? To avoid major conflicts of interests between the leadership of the movement and those involved in the political wing. For instance, under the current OPs a CC member can stand for public office. Under the new OPs, a CC members needs to step down before being able to stand for office. However, in order to respect the mandates of CC members, they should also be allowed to return to the CC as soon as they stop being active in the political wing of DiEM25 (e.g. not running for office anymore).

3. Some conditions for DiEM25’s legal structure

At the moment, the legal structure of DiEM25 (its European level) is very opaque. We don’t know who are part of the “legal entity” DiEM25 (official board members under the Belgian law), we don’t know who is legally in charge with DiEM25’s finances and we are not able to see any of the legally obligatory documents (legal statutes, annual financial report, etc.). Moreover, it is difficult to assess how DiEM25 the movement is kept legally separate from DiEM25’s electoral wing.

Condition V: “The official legal documents of DiEM25 (its statutes, annual financial reports, etc.) should be made transparently available to all DiEM25 members. The CC is expected to propose a way to do this within two months after the transnational party vote.”

Why? Like every political movement/party, transparency concerning legal matters is essential for the membership. Especially when funding is organised for national parties of DiEM25’s electoral wing and money is channeled towards the movement, the membership needs to know who is legally in charge with taking care of these finances; to provide the necessary accountability.

Condition VI: “DiEM25 the movement and its electoral wing should be statutorily bound, but operationally independent. This has the following implications (1) what DiEM25 political party’s can and cannot do is solely determined by the statutes (the OPs) of DiEM25 the movement in conjunction with membership-wide votes, (2) the leadership of DiEM25 the movement has no further control concerning the day-to-day operations of the DiEM25 political parties, (3) disputes between a DiEM25 political party and the leadership of DiEM25 the movement should be settled by the independent mediating body and (4) in extreme cases, a DiEM25 political party and DiEM25 the movement should be able to “separate”, which would mean that the DiEM25 political party would lose its right to carry the DiEM25 name and identity.”

Why? One of the main concerns of the members of DiEM25 is that DiEM25’s electoral wing will de facto replace DiEM25 the movement. Merely making membership of DiEM25’s electoral wing optional, as proposed by the CC, seems not sufficient to mitigate this problem. By having the abovementioned condition, the following risks are mitigated: of (1) the DiEM25 leadership totally controlling the day-to-day operations of the DiEM25 political parties, de facto turning the movement into an umbrella party and of (2) a DiEM25 political party moving into a direction that the movement cannot identify itself with and vice-versa, in case of which a proper separation would be better than a continuous internal struggle.

Condition VII: “All electronic voting procedures should be made transparent and auditable. This implies that the CC should present a roadmap to ensure this within 2 months after the vote and should start implementing solutions no later than 4 months after the vote, unless convincing grounds for extension of this period are presented and validated by the VC.”

Why? Voting processes are the cornerstone of democratic organisations and it is paramount that they are transparent (e.g. that the sorting algorithm for lotteries is public) and auditable; meaning that in principle everyone should be able to contest voting outcomes and ask for proofs that they happened in a fair way. At the moment, neither is the case in DiEM25. We therefore ask to change this.

 

Digital or human democracy?

The following text by David Bovill is an excerpt from a debate about purely digital democracy, in response to the proposal from the Cosmopolitical party.

The proposal is roughly what I believed in when I first proposed using Liquid Democracy in the late 90’s, and started coding implementation in the early 2000’s. So I’m a natural advocate, but it is a position I rejected around 2003.

I still agree with most of it, but I absolutely disagree with the online only element, and since you have expressed this so clearly, I’d like to try to say why.

It is partly a practical reason, but only partly. More fundamentally it is a deep human reason grounded on what I would consider the fundamentals of politics from a philosophical perspective.

The human reason is based on experience of tow types of people – my neighbours, and hackers.

I have tried many times to organise groups using online voting, and seen many groups try to use Liquid Democracy (as you define it) and my neighbours, or at least some of them won’t use it, and don’t want to use it. They are also right about this, that is their instincts are based on more than a dislike of online culture or interacting with computers.

The question I asked myself is how to get the grandmother who lives two doors down to use the computer, or how to get the mother of 5 children two floors down to do the same.

At first I thought well it’s easy, let’s get one of her kids to talk to her, and then he can use his mobile phone… then I thought well how about if she came to the community meeting and talked to people and the delegative vote was registered there….. ?

Thinking of this harder, and trying out a few scenarios, I got what was missing from this picture of democracy.

This idea of text based, deliberative democracy, is fundamentally elitist hacker culture that does not respect the diversity of human thought (neurodiversity), nor culture. Just as important it does not take into account the value of different forms of understanding and therefore deliberation about human value, and human value IS politics.

Making text only, intellectual deliberation not only the primary way for a human being to express their political opinion is not simply excluding certain types of people (ie discriminatory and therefore antidemocratic) – but it is also epistemically wrong – as it ignores other very useful ways human beings sense and judge value.

Secondly the problem of hacker culture. What you describe is a perfect medium for a certain type of human – it is ideal democracy for hacker culture. Not just digital natives, but also people who understand / prefer to express themselves rationally and in text. We should allow these people to express themselves that way. But we should be wary of two things.

First we should recognise that there is a real danger of hackers / coders becoming the new lawyers, bankers, politicians and high priests of our age. They have increasing respect and status, they speak their own highly technical language, and they are increasingly demanding that everyone else do things the way they prefer to do things.

Secondly we need to recognise that people who see things this way are not “rational” while other people are “irrational”. They are just different. We need other perspective. They (as an emerging class of people) need other perspectives to make competent political decisions.

For those reasons we need physical meetings, we need face-to-face discussions, we need art, and documentary, and anthropological techniques in our politics and our political systems.

We need “democratic sensors” that capture the full range of human experience and judgments – text does not do that and never will.

A good text only interface is a wonderful thing for those that like and are powerful in our ability to express things in the written word. But NEVER impose this one modality on the rest of us. There are many ways for human beings to express themselves, and if you want to bring more empathy and tolerance into politics – universalising text as the only way to do this is almost certainly not the best way to get there.

David Bovill

Personal message to the CC concerning the institution of the “Internal Communication Group”

This post only expresses the opinion of the author (Wessel)

Dear CC members,

After reading the summary notes of the CC’s meeting in Brussels on the 10th of September, I would like to raise an objection to one specific decision made at this meeting and offer a constructive alternative route for reaching a similar goal.

Objection: I would like to object to the decision to institute an “Internal Communication Group” (ICG) in the way stated – having three administrators (Erik, Luis & Mehran) that have not been democratically elected select up to 12 people to populate this group. Reasons why I object to this are (1) it does not provide an equal and fair opportunity to all DiEM25 members who are interested to get involved in this crucial group, (2) there is no explicit mandate mentioned in the OPs that gives the CC the power to institute a group like the ICG, (3) selection “from within” will create a group of insiders chosen by insiders; leaving people at the periphery of the movement without a voice and (4) it does not guarantee input from all the different initiatives that have been started so far (including DiEM Connect, DiEM Cafe, etc.).

Alternative: Instead of the current way in which the institution of the ICG is proposed, I would propose the following course of action. (1) One of the elected CC members leads this group (based on personal interest) and starts by (2) issuing an open call for all DiEM25 members to be part of this group, clearly stating its aims and activities, (3) selecting with the elected CC, based on the applications, a core group of 12 people and a periphery (people who stay involved in communication, idea generation, etc.) of all the other applicants, (4) putting the core group up for a vote to either the VC or the entire DiEM25 membership and (5) in conjunction proposing a change to the OPs that would facilitate a process of instituting groups such as the ICG.

Notes: the selection of the core group can be made by means of some clear criteria (e.g. being involved in an internal communication project, having valuable communication or IT skills, etc.); the change to the OPs should include a mandate for the ICG (e.g. it is chosen for one year) and a timeline for creating a new ICG.

Best wishes,
Wessel Reijers

(for a response, you can contact me on wesselreijers@posteo.net).

p.s. I send you this personally in order to react early on in the process and not to cause any “wasted time”. Nevertheless, we will also soon discuss this issue with the DiD (Democracy in DiEM25) group and probably get back to you with a more fully developed response.

Why DiEM25 members should vote NO in the transnational party vote

This post only expresses the opinion of the author (Wessel)

We have arrived at a pivotal moment in DiEM25’s history, a crossroads. On the 20th of October, we face a deadline for sending in proposals to the DiEM25 membership that will shape its future: should DiEM25 become a transnational party or not?

Notwithstanding the good intentions of the people who put this initiative on the table, I will present a compelling case for all DiEM25 members to vote NO in the upcoming vote on electoral expression of the movement.

This no-vote does not represent an unwillingness to consider the means of electoral expression. Rather, it represent a gentle, compassionate, but firm disagreement with the way in which the DiEM25 membership is confronted with the upcoming vote, its organisation and its time-frame. This, in line with DiEM25’s philosophy of constructive disobedience.

I would therefore present two options for alternative campaigns and the reasons behind these campaigns: one for a NO vote, and one for a NO, Unless vote (which would practically be a counter-proposal to the CC’s proposal).

1. Case for the NO vote:

(Discuss the NO vote here on the DiEM25 forum: https://diem25.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=176&t=14953)

The reasons why DiEM25 members should vote NO in the upcoming vote are the following:

(1) The vote has been set up in an unfair way

Even though the vote makes all proposals formally equal (each proposal has the same chance to be accepted, on paper), the vote is unfair from the very start. No alternative proposal has the capacity to engage in a consensus process similar to the CC’s, nor has it the capacity to reach out to as many people as the CC’s (note that the CC’s proposal is already being spread in the media: https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/diem25/diem25-detailed-proposal-on-creating-electoral-wing)

(2) Accepting the CC’s proposal means saying goodbye to DiEM25 the movement

The CC’s proposal, notwithstanding its rhetoric, calls for a de facto abolition of DiEM25 the movement. This is the case because DiEM25’s current leadership (the CC, in conjunction with the VC and the DSCs and members) will politically control the “electoral wing” of DiEM25: the nation-based parties. There will therefore be no real separation between DiEM25 the movement and DiEM25 the transnational party.

(3) In the current voting system, NO seems to be the only viable alternative

Given (1), the current voting system of two rounds leads to the very likely outcome (due to reasons of exposure of different alternatives) of the CC’s proposal and the NO-vote “winning” the first round. Without a proper campaign behind it, the NO-vote is doomed to fail in the second round. Not seriously considering the NO-vote therefore leads to the almost automatic adoption of the CC’s proposal.

(4) The grassroots have not been seriously involved in setting up the vote

There have been many initiatives to set up a constructive dialogue to address the concerns many DiEM25 members have with the current move towards becoming a transnational political party. An open letter by a number of DSCs was send and people were making efforts to put together open fora such as the DiEM Cafe. This, to make sure as many as possible voices would be heard before organising a vote. A No-vote would therefore be a strong message to the CC that for further initiatives towards electoral expression, the grassroots should be much more involved.

2. Case for the NO, Unless proposal

(Discuss the NO, Unless proposal here: https://diem25.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=176&t=14954)

I would argue that the DiEM25 membership should not engage in drafting a huge list of alternative proposals, but rather to come together to collaboratively express the conditions under which a proposal for a transnational party might work. These conditions should be discussed out in the open (on the forum, on Mastodon, and other DiEM25 channels).

The reasons for a NO, Unless proposal are:

(1) it mitigates the risk of a “pick and choose” strategy of the CC to adopt some amendments into their proposal and leave others. Rather, we want to express that there are a number of conditions “sine qua non” for making the decision towards a political party.

(2) A “NO, Unless” proposal could put forward the condition that DiEM25 the movement be kept in tact and it would spell out what this would mean.

(3) A “NO, Unless” proposal could demand for a clear spelling out of the mandate involved in the vote towards a transnational party. If we vote “yes” to the CC’s proposal, it is not at all clear what kind of mandate is given to whom. We could state that each proposal should involve “actions on the short- medium, and long-term” as conditions for them to be valid.

(4) A “NO, Unless” proposal could slow down the process towards a transnational party for the sake of involving the grassroots in the way in which this should be organised.

(5) A “NO, Unless” proposal, if collaboratively drafted and widely discussed, could be a viable alternative to the NO vote and would therefore stand a chance of winning the first round of the voting. In the second round, it would be a constructive alternative to the CC’s proposal.

 

Democratically yours,

Wessel

 

 

Empowering grassroots in DiEM25 by using Mastodon.

If you already know what this post is about, you may want to jump to the “How to” section.

The question of “tools for democracy” needs an answer with respect to both which tools to choose and how to actually use them to map and support the topology of the movement. Not long ago Aral Balkan installed a Mastodon server to be used by DieEM 25 members as a movement wide communication tool. For reasons that scape my understanding this tool has not been properly advertised or featured in the DiEM-wide media, which has resulted in a very low usage of Mastodon (99 not very active users) and, why not mention it, has to a great extent resulted in the lost of a great asset for our community.

As with other initiatives taken by other diemistas, such as the diem-connect forum or the Diem Café, the effect of all this work, put by members into the organic growth of DiEM25, could be multiplied with very little support by the CC, from whom I think it is fair to expect at least one system-wide e-mail notifying that these tools are now available to the community. Official, unofficial tools… those words are not very meaningful until we are actually using them to make decisions. The validity of the tools must be proven by the tools themselves, only then can they be adopted as part of the “aparatus” but they cannot prove their use unless they are given a chance, unless they are properly advertised. So here is my plead to the CC: please do advertise our Mastodon instance, the DiEM Café and the diem-connect forum, thank you.

With or without support of the CC, most active DiEM25 members can actually be reached by means of the DSC distribution lists and Aral will be keeping the Mastodon server for the time being. Let us jump in and take the chance. Carpe diem. If the user volume increase, we will eventually have to take responsibility over its financial and labour costs but I believe he would be more than happy to see other people taking ownership of the tools. It is not his baby. It was a present we should appreciate in its full value and play with until it’s broken.

Without making an in depth analysis of the current situation, and above all, stating quite clearly that I do not believe there was any ill intent in the choice of the present structure and tools, it can be stated without hesitation that the use of restricted e-mail and slack groups as the main means of communication has resulted so far in lack of transparency, formation of “islands” inside the community and multiple bottle necks resulting in inefficiencies, all of which have hindered the healthy development of the grassroots spirits within DiEM25.

Things are the way they are and the only question that we have to ask ourselves is how to improve them. Soon I will try to describe a complete information architecture for DiEM25 as proposed by Aral in the Passau event (Aug 26th 2017) but right now I would like to concentrate in Mastodon because it is already there, because is has been offered to us for free and because I believe it could change the way we deal with each other and the way that DiEM25 works.

First of all, Mastodon is an improved free software version of Twitter. If you already use Twitter, the only thing you need to know is that you can type 500 characters instead of 140. The rest is self explanatory. If you think it can help, please read this short guide, I have tried to explain the mains aspects in easy to understand terms. I hope I succeeded.

One last remark before I jump into the details: Tools can be used in many ways and, not surprisingly, I will describe how to use Mastodon in order to give support to the grassroots, self organising topology that was previously described in previous posts: here, here and here.

The methodology proposed below can be automated by means of bots, or it can be supported by a human adminsitrator. The first solution is now being implemente, but until then we can start working already with the caveat that things requests may take a bit longer to be processed. The most important issue, however, is that we DO use it, en masse, all of us, to break barriers, to seek transparency, to make of DiEM25 a real grassroots movement. So please, if you are unsure do make your mind up, decide to take the risk, to try thing. Open your Mastodon account and push for your DSC to move to Mastodon.

Here is the proposal of how to use Mastodon in the context of DiEM25

Salud, Paz y Democracia
Pj

How to organise a DiEM Café Hybrid room.

The DiEM Café will soon become a reality. This is an on-line implementation of the World Café methodology, prepared for DiEM25 members to talk across borders about issues that concern us all.

The long term view of the DiEM Café is a hybrid -online offline- conversation where people who are less fond of technology can rip the benefits of this event by means of hybrid rooms, where some people make sure that the technology is working for everyone and others just go from one table to the other taking part. Optimizing the implementation of this long term view will imply the introduction of software changes that are quite simple, but will not be implemented in this first phase. However, here is how you can organise a hybrid café room with the existing software.

0.- Familiarise yourself with the DiEM Café instructions in diemcafe.pour.press and contact us for details at did.diem25@gmail.com

1.- Get a room with a good bandwidth, or make sure that all computer can hold a zoom conference by means of mobile hotspots.

2.- Get as many laptops as you can, and set them in points in the room with two chairs in front of each one of them.

3.- Set as many tables in the room as you will need to seat the rest of participants (excluding two per laptop) in groups of 4-5.

4.- At the time of the event (ten minutes before) ask the people with laptops to join the DiEM Café. It may happen that two of the laptops are taking part in the same virtual table, because the software is not optimised yet, but this is all we can do now.

5.- The World Café consist os a series of rounds, in which people discuss a question at a table, and then move to another table. People in the room can sit next to a computer, in a maximum number of two or three, or they can move from one table to the other as they would in a face to face diem cafe.

6.- Unless a user is a table host in the diemcafé please ask everyone to move around.

7.- At the end of each section please make sure that the notes taken in the physical tables are typed up and mailed to us with the subject: “diemcafe harvest”

8.- Make sure there is a room host who makes sure users in front of laptops manage to move from one virtual table to the next and the dynamics of the room work.

Above all, understand this is an experiment, enjoy and give us feedback of how it went for you.

If you have any questions just ask.

Happy debating.
Pj