It now seems like this time every year we’re going to be revisiting and questioning the whole Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland’s Presidential elections process – so here’s the 2015 contribution.
Over the last few years we’ve been promised “change”, “modernisation”, “new Rotary”; “refreshed Rotary” and some have even spoken of “radical Rotary”; but as suspected these turn out be exactly what we all know them to be…nothing more than words!
Yesterday (Friday) saw the announcement of the four candidates who have decided to put themselves forward to be considered by the 50,000 Regular Rots in these islands as President of the organisation in July 2018.
Those who have met the criteria are – in alphabetical order: David Ellis (Salford and Swinton); Debbie Hodge (Ware); Graham Jackson (Irlam) and Mukesh Malhotra (Hounslow) all vying to be the top banana, the grande-fromage, king (or queen) of the hill and head up the organisation that is Rotary in the British Isles in July 2018.
Now all may seem to be well up to this point…but this is Rotary remember – nothing can ever be simple. So despite the fact we should be congratulating the team at Alcester for having listened and allowing the four candidates to each record a three-minute piece to camera outlining their ‘Presidential Vision’ – once again this is all sadly going to be overshadowed by yet more governance issues surrounding the process.
Wasn’t this meant to have moved on after last year’s Annual Business Meeting in Belfast…?
It seems not, as what many readers may not know is there were actually another two potential nominees Nick Corke (Framlingham) and Mike Jackson (Fordingbridge) who had the novel idea to run for President of RotaryGBI on a joint ticket, in a job-share role so-to-speak – but were disallowed purely as a result of the “rules”.
A statement from the joint running-mates makes it clear they were informed that applying on a joint ticket was not “valid” accordingly to Tom Griffin, Chair of the RotaryGBI Constitutions Committee due to the fact that the constitution “implied” that the job should be done by only one person.
Now some Regular Rots may think the ‘joint-ticket’ is the most modern idea to hit Rotary Leadership since email was installed in Alcester. Others on the other hand might think this is the craziest, most half-cooked idea since the membership voted not to disband the Selection Advisor Committee (wonder if that one will now be revisited again after this?)
Regardless, if nothing else the Corke/Jackson or ‘Corkeson’ ticket was an overt challenge to the modernising agenda at Alcester that was made for all the right reasons by two very experienced and committed Regular Rots. But it seems it was just a step too far on this occasion. Too modern? Too radical? Too much in line with current equal opportunities agendas? Too anti-establishment? Too out-of-the-box? Seems so…
Should the powers-that-be should have taken a decision to allow the joint ticket to go through and left to rest the membership? That’s almost a moot point now.
RotaryBlogger (and many others) have known about the ‘Corkeson‘ proposal since summer earlier this year. In fact Corkeson haven’t been hiding their intentions at all and even proactively checked to see if they would be able to run on the joint-ticket in terms of the constitution and were told,
“It doesn’t say you can but it doesn’t say you cannot”.
RotaryBlogger has been informed by Corkeson that despite a ruling by the General Council in November which stated that in future years the President will share Club and District visits with the Presidency as a whole – they were informed only last week by the Chair of the Constitutions Committee – some five months after they originally asked – that they couldn’t actually share the role of President with each other. Does this mean the Chair of the Constitutions Committee is therefore in conflict with the thinking of General Council’s views?
It is understood that despite a short interview with the joint candidates, the Selection Advisory Committee could find no reason to overturn the decision of the Constitutions Chair – and Corkeson were duly sent packing. But surely if the constitution didn’t clearly state they couldn’t run on a joint-ticket the increasingly precarious SAC could have been brave (on the back of their ‘win’ in Belfast) and thrown the dice on this one; gone against Griffin and Co. and taken a gauge from the Regular Rots…no?
The matter of the joint application is certainly not over – as it is understood that Corke and Jackson are regrouping and reforming to consider their options in terms of where next. There could be a PR lifeline to RotaryGBI as Corkeson are good Rotarians who do not want to cause unnecessary angst or bad publicity within the organisation – so much will depend on feedback and external advice over the next few weeks. But there is no doubt that they are both very upset and disappointed in the way they have been treated and how backward facing they believe the decision was to reject their application.
Therefore instead of the ‘new’ Presidential campaign complete with online video representations taking the headlines – one has to feel sorry for the four candidates as what should be an exciting process potentially becomes tainted and overshadowed by what many would say was an entirely reasonable and bona-fide ‘two-as-one’ application and the way it has been handled.
But wait…that’s not it, it’s not over…
Let’s revisit the four candidates left.
But before getting into the second part of this blog post – it should be made clear that this is not in any way canvassing for or against an individual. The blog post is looking at the processes not the individuals.
So despite a very tight challenge to their very survival at the Annual Business Meeting in Belfast the Selection Advisory Committee have once again opted to select only one preferred candidate from the grouping of applicants. However the new terminology for 2015 seems to be to have changed in a way many will feel leaves them needing to adjust their balaclava from their eyes!
If you become very observant and pull out your microscope, you will note there is no preferred candidate – what the SAC has said is:
The Committee recommends that of the candidates listed below Rotarian Debbie Hodge of the Rotary Club of Ware D1260 has fully met the criteria as defined in the job description and person specification agreed by General Council for the role of President 2018/2019 (and Vice President 2017/2018).”
So being what some may say slightly pedantic, Debbie Hodge is not the preferred candidate of the SAC. The Committee isn’t even suggesting you may wish to vote for her. However, it’s perhaps what they are not saying which is more telling as apparently Ms Hodge meets the “criteria as defined” but there is no mention of Messrs: Ellis, Jackson or Malhotra doing the same or even coming close.
Are we therefore to read into the statement that the Selection Advisory Committee are saying the three gentlemen in the Presidential race do not meet the said criteria? Surely this can’t be the case otherwise they wouldn’t have got through the initial selection process?
So what does this “recommend” statement actually mean? Perhaps Ms Hodge meets the criteria better than the others. Perhaps she’s the best candidate or perhaps she’s the one the SAC would prefer to follow in the footsteps of the great and good but just haven’t said it. Perhaps the Regular Rots need clarification on this particular statement…
In this, the first year where the selection committee had the chance to pick more than one preferred candidate – they could have scored a winner with the Regular Rots and those who voted for their cessation by selecting all four candidates (i.e. not selecting any) and leaving the rest to the Clubs. Now that would have been a bold step to take…
Last year was poorly handled in terms of PR administration and selection – where readers of the blog will recall the six candidates could not speak to RotaryBlogger for fear of disqualification. Which in itself ruffled some feathers, particularly on social media. (There will be more on canvassing in a future blog – so make sure you subscribe on the right hand banner so you won’t miss it – as it will be pretty mind-blowing!)
For some, there will be no doubt that this year’s rejection of the joint application and the selection of yet another single preferred candidate could be viewed as saluting using two-fingers to the democratic processes within this “modernising” and “changing” organisation. A thistle waiting to be grabbed but actually where instead a very wide-berth is taken around it.
Could this be the first year where democracy says, “enough is enough” and the single “recommended”, “preferred” or “candidate with most criteria checks” actually isn’t appointed? Something is indicating this could be a very closely run race.
But in closing, and as a timely analogy for this time of the year, remember what happened not that long ago when the public decided X-Factor wasn’t going to get away with yet another win in getting the Christmas Number One in the UK – starting a nation-wide social media campaign to make sure the ‘establishment’ didn’t win…!