Part 2…Rage against the machine

“Disappointing”, “Revolutionary”, “Disgraceful”, “Dickensian”, “Appalling” and “Miscarriage of Justice”

Only a few of the comments made by Regular Rots in relation to what some have described as the muddle that is the current election for the Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland President in July 2018.

In a matter of 72 hours the previous blogpost “Here we go again…” has received the highest every readership and comments every recorded on So contrary to what many may believe, it seems that the online Regular Rots are actually interested in what is happening with the election of the RotaryGBI Presidents. This one is not going away!

Many of the comments are aimed at the Selection Advisory Committee (SAC) Chaired by former RI Director Mike Webb and the fact they appear to have “recommended” Ms Debbie Hodge as their preferred candidate – sidelining David Ellis, Graham Jackson and Mukesh Malhotra – but leaving them as eligible to be considered by the electorate.

As outlined in the previous blogpost, RotaryBlogger raised questions as to exactly what the SAC were recommending? A quick scout around the various online dictionaries comes to a consensus that to recommend is to “put forward [someone in this case] with approval for being suitable for a particular purpose or role“.

However a statement from RotaryGBI to confirms that the word comes from By-Law 8 Clause 3e, which states,

Duties – The Selection Advisory Committee for President and Treasurer shall consider the nominations received and, if it considers it advisable so to do, propose such of the nominees whom the panel would recommend for election, such recommendations to be communicated in writing by the General Secretary of the Association to the clubs.”


A response from the RotaryGBI spokesperson explains, “This By-law was amended at the last Business meeting before the new procedure was created and maybe the by-law now needs further adjustment.

“What the SACs were doing was to indicate which of the candidate(s) fully met the person specification/competencies.

“The interview scoring identifies who fully meets the criteria down to not meeting it all (4 point scale).  None of the candidates did not meet the criteria in some way (scoring 2 or 3) so were therefore all eligible but only one fully met all the criteria. The decision of the SAC was certainly not to indicate a preference but to detail who fully met the criteria.”

We may be play semantics, but the point remains – would it not have been easier to say that all four candidates have met the necessary criteria making them eligible for election as President? The field is levelled, no perceived preferred candidates, no-anti-canvassing processes commenced and no rages-against-the-machine…?


Online Regular Rots are left not knowing which way to turn – will this be replicated at Club level?

This is a new system – and with any system there will be bumps in the road as it starts its journey. It is slightly unfortunate that as the driver of the SAC bus Mr Webb seems to have unintentionally guided the system on the roughest and bumpiest route on its first outing.

That said, to be fair to the SAC – has been informed they were asked to undertake a roll by the General Council to ensure the candidates met the criteria – and that is what they must measure them against. It would therefore have been entirely wrong for them to ‘create’ a false position in terms of ensuring the candidates all fully met the criteria – just to allow more than one candidate to go through.

What perhaps needs to be considered is the level at which the criteria was set. Was the bar too high? Were there too many essentials as opposed to desirable criteria.

Now, this very issues re-opens one that has been picked up before on and that is of course the matter of canvassing.

The rules are very clear on canvassing in terms of holding the office of RotaryGBI President – basically an individual, a District or a Club is not allowed to canvass or electioneer in any way, shape or form on behalf of any candidate. And in addition, if a candidate is aware of representations being made on their behalf then they have an obligation to distance themselves from any such comments – for fear of being disqualified from the whole process.

But as highlighted in the readers comments of the previous blog; if the SAC is able to make a “recommendation” towards one candidate over and above the others – then they are surely overtly canvassing on behalf of that individual. Regardless as to whether it is right, wrong or indifferent – one candidate is now being “promoted” as fully meeting the necessary criteria – whereas the other three it would seem are merely eligible for the process.

And therein lies the issue – the appearance that it is one rule for one [the Regular Rot] but another for the Committees who are able (at the least) to ‘steer’ Clubs in a particular direction.


One point that has been raised is the fact that Regular Rots are not able to canvass in favour of one particular candidate – but as highlighted in the previous blog – there appears to be nothing to prevent someone taking an ‘anti-canvassing‘ position. This is where an individual doesn’t comment on the individual they are supporting; but in fact details who they would NOT vote for…

For example, if someone posts, “I will not be voting for the recommended candidate” is this type of anti-canvassing against the rules and by-laws?

Providing they don’t talk of “not supporting” a number of candidates to the point of identifying who they are supporting then is there anything against doing this?

Many will remember in 2009 that after four years of the hit TV show X-Factor winners taking the top Christmas Number One slot that an online social media campaign was started to make sure that the winner of the show did not take the most coveted musical position of the year. After a closely run battle, “Killing in the name” by Rage Against the Machine pushed X-Factor winner Joe McElderry into the number two slot in a two-fingered, enough-is-enough gesture to the TV Show production music machine.

Has Mike Webb become the Simon Cowell and the SAC the production team of Rotary? Will the Regular Rots become the public who say “enough is enough” and rage against the machine? And as unfortunate as it would be, has the SAC actually made Ms Hodge the Joe McElderry in this analogy? If the feeling on and other social media platforms is replicated when Clubs around the country meet to decide to vote – then there is every chance this may very well be case.

However during the discussions, the spokesperson from RotaryGBI commented, “Hopefully the membership will still vote with integrity based on reviewing the C.V.s and candidate videos.”

Is the whole process tarnished?

So despite what was meant to be a new and fresh approach to selecting the President it has frankly become a bit of a muddle the needs sorting quickly.

The Constitutions Committee ruling against the joint ticket of Mike Jackson and Nick Corke. A ruling which was subsequently be supported in some kind of pseudo-appeal by the SAC – leaving the matter in an apparently un-finished position.


Is it too late to put things right?

The fact the SAC has “recommended” a single candidate that is perceived as the ‘preferred candidate’, leaving the remaining three as eligible for election has in-turn left those who have shown an interest in the process confused, bemused and in some cases downright angry.

The fact the SAC may actually have unintentionally canvassed on behalf of their “recommended” candidate and therefore given Ms Hodge an advantage over and above the other three in the running needs to be considered.

Regardless, in my mind all of the above really only leaves only one question…

Would you want to be elected President in the year where it all appears to have gone wrong?

If it were me, I’d have unquestionably pulled my application by now and I know others feel the same.

Is the appropriate route, as one commentator in the previous blog said, for all four candidates to do the honourable thing and withdraw en-masse and ask for the process to be restarted with an entirely new SAC process. This would be up to the candidates and all would need to multilaterally agree – which even if possible seems unlikely. I guess it remains to be seen what happens in this regard.

One thing’s for sure – this Presidential Election Campaign is certainly not over and from discussions I have had with various Club representatives over the last 72 hours this is certainly no sure thing this year…

Images by Monica Arellano-Ongpin and Ken Douglas by CC


27 thoughts on “Part 2…Rage against the machine

  1. Aled Owen says:

    So if I read this blog correctly one candidate met all the criteria but the others failed to meet one or two of them. Would it help us if we knew which candidates didn’t meet which specific criterion?

    1. I have to say, I’m not sure it would Aled, I think there has probably been enough ‘subjective’ influence in this regard. As outline by the RotaryGBI Spokesperson all candidates met the criteria to some level or another; so ultimately I think it would further muddy the waters to highlight the actual ‘scores’ achieved by any one or two individuals. Hopefully people will vote with integrity and consider the information they have before them and make up their own minds.

  2. Cath Chorley says:

    Just curious RB. How many people read your earlier blog and how many club representatives have you had discussions with on the subject of Presidential elections?

      1. Cath – each post on RotaryBlogger generally received hundreds of views in the first 12-24 hours (obviously as it is just released); the previous “Here we go again…” blog picked up at least double the usual readership (and continues to do so). This follow-up one has now received more readers than the previous one did in 12 hours.

        In terms of conversations – in addition to these comments, receives many private messages and emails in reference to posts in one-way-or-another (some from individuals who due to positions cannot post). I have many discussions with people where I always make it clear that I will not use anything in the blog that has been part of that conversation. Where I need or want something ‘formal’ I will make that approach. I feel that is why people do actually speak to me and dare I say ‘trust’ the blog as not misquoting or stitching anyone up – as is not about exposés or tabloid blogging – but about getting people talking and thinking. In terms of answering your direct question – I have again received substantially more private communications (calls/emails) in terms of these blogs than I normally would.

        1. Very well said RB … Balance and honesty is important to represent a level playing field. RIBI are losing the trust of many many Rotarians …especially when it will not recognise when it has gone so wrong.

  3. If one of the criteria was that the candidate must be female, then the SAC have met their obligation but is that so?

    There is an inevitability about Rotary and some things that are fait accompli. Presidential election is possibly one of them.

    Personally I have a choice and I will be putting that forward at selection meetings but I also know that the other candidates are ‘worthy’.

    Mr, Jackson, heart of Gold, Mr Ellis, excellent organiser. Mr Malhotra humanitarian to the core (WGM) and Ms Hodge, well I know nothing except that she is a fellow Rotarian and doubtless a true ambassador for our organisation. Mike Jackson and Nick Corke, thundering good blokes but two Presidents, we can’t even elect one and anyway would we have two Prime Ministers? Have enough problems with ONE (note I did not say this one before the political bias accusations come in)

    The truth is that 1200 clubs get to vote and I doubt they all read this blog (excellent and relevant as it is). I would question whether there is even a majority of clubs voting at all.

    The solution to this is staring us and Rotary Blogger readers in the face. Do not just canvass for or against but encourage clubs to actually participate. The strength is in the numbers. If every club sets up their projector and views the video presentations, at least we can be sure that they have seen the candidates. Why does not every Rotarian have the videos sent direct to their email (assuming they all online)?

    There is nothing that can be done about the decision by SAC now but we can level the playing filed somewhat. In that way we will, or maybe get the best candidate, Mukesh, Dave, Graham or Dawn, frankly most Rotarians do not know who the President of RIBI is or even RI, they just do what they do and hope to be guided by their immediate club president who has been on the PEPs course and knows what is going on.

    Good luck to all the candidates, you are all ‘worthy’ none more so than……….ooops nearly made a faux pas there (smiley emoticon)

    Off to Rotary breakfast meeting…Merry Christmas All!!!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment Adrian. You make some great points, and the one about engagement of the membership is key to the whole process. I can see from readership figures that this blog is certainly going further this week than in others, so perhaps indirectly individuals are picking up the process. This is after all ‘their’ President that we are talking about. That said, we need to find ways to actually pull them in and not simply turn them off.

  4. Mark Stewart-Clarke says:

    How about we all refuse to vote rather than all four stand down, the spirit of Rotary certainly has left the room.

  5. A concerned Rotarian says:

    Ok, so having read quite a bit about this now and seeing the General Council state their opinion (Ray Dixon’s comment), I think it seems like the SAC worked within the confines of what they had (the Presidential SAC that is as it was a different group for the director). What we really need now is an abundance of applications next year to give the SAC the best possible chance to nominate a number of approved candidates.

    The only other change I think we need to see come in to bring this back to the grassroots is “one member, one vote” – unbelievably, this whole drama I’ve followed through this blog because no of this communication has yet fed itself down to our club members!!!!

  6. Peter Davey says:

    In my various presentations this year I have been saying that RIBI will evaluate everything that it does. I have started myself – Districts evaluate what I do when I am at conferences or visiting. It follows that we will evaluate this new process too. In the meantime clubs have more information including the cvs, videos and SAC report upon which to decide their vote. I hope everyone will use their vote responsibly.

    1. Thanks again for posting on the blog RIBI President Peter Davey. I know from discussions with other Regular Rots it is very much appreciated that you have your ‘ear to the ground’ in terms of online communications and participating in these discussions certainly does not go un-noticed.

      I agree wholeheartedly with your comments in terms of evaluation – and I understand that you recently proactively made contact with the General Council to make this very point on the basis of the current situation and to encourage Clubs to use the information in the CVs and videos to reach a decision with integrity.

      Thanks again for being willing to comment on the blog Peter – it is very much appreciated not only by but also by the wider Regular Rot readership.

      1. I agree and support your comments RB regarding our current president … At least Peter does embrace the need for a social media response and keep up with things … I respect this. I hope that common sense prevails and we can restore order and confidence that things wil change for the good of grass roots Rotarians wishes.

  7. David Simpson says:

    What a glorious muddle. When many Rotarians question the value of RIBI how can this encourage them.
    Would this encourage a new member see Rotary as a modern and forward thinking organization. Does it have parallels to FIFA.

  8. Lindsay Pearson says:

    As the President of Framlingham R.C., the Club proposing Nick Corke for the joint Presidency , I have yet to receive ANY communication from RIBI SAC or Constitution Committee to explain why Nick and Mike’s candidacy was vetoed. This would have been, in my view, a common courtesy.

    I have, however, sent all my Club members a link to Rotaryblogger, and I suggest everyone else who has any interest in the proper running of RIBI does the same.

    1. I cannot comment on the internal processes of RIBI but hope information will be circulated to you in due course. I do however appreciate you circulating the blog to your Club members.

      I understand the link for the videos and CVs has only been sent to Club Secretaries – now I know we have already touched on the ‘one-member-one-vote’ scenario, but understands there are over 30,000 registered Regular Rots on the RotaryGBI mailing list – could the link to the videos not also be sent to them in order that this may encourage discussion as the Club go to cast their votes?

  9. wouldn’t it b a good idea to hae no “recommended” candidate [or SAC for that matter] and have all eligible candidates present and have a panel approach to answer questions form regular Rotarians attending and also to strea it to anyone who want to come online to do the same?

    That way it would be both seen as fair and would be a level playng field .. RIBI would also gain credit for moving forward positively

    1. Now this would be a novel way of doing things. There would be absolutely no problem in doing such a set up as I know many eClubs are using software packages that would actually accommodate such a process – so the technology is certainly out there.

      The more comments are taken on board here – the more it becomes clearer that Rotary must surely be heading towards a straight forward ‘first past the post’ vote with every member having the opportunity to take part…no?

  10. Jim Sleight says:

    Most of the CVs [and video presentations] seem to concentrate on what the candidates have done in the past [due probably to the nature of the application templates] some are very voluminous as well! However, whilst previous achievements, involvements, responsibilities, etc. inform us of the past: for the role of “President”, we are actually electing our leader for a future year. I look for qualities of understanding [what state we are in, etc.], what solutions are going to be offered when approaching the role, what new ideas the new leader will have and, most importantly of all, how the new leader will inspire the membership to address our current challenges and ensure we are sustainable into the future. If you read the CVs & watch the videos you get a different perspective on each candidate and I wonder how important this figured in the SAC’s structured analysis and ultimate recommendations for each role? Obviously, I am not going to comment on this by name, other than saying that if I had been doing my previous professional job and the applications came before me in the way we current see them, I don’t think I would have reached the same conclusions.

    On a separate point – could the time-frame for the process be re-jigged in the future so that candidates could address the Annual Conference live for, say, 5 minutes each to “sell their ideas” of how they would lead us & then eventually being selected by a one-vote-per-member process? [I am assuming this would also be a live simulcast web transmission as well as being available as a download after the event to maximise its coverage of the membership at large]. As we are always selecting our leaders 2 > 3 year’s in advance, I would think this could easily be fitted in to the selection process.

    1. totally agree Jim and the sad fact is that the Corkeson job share did exactly that … looked at what they offered for the future!!

      The Conference proposal is a good one indeed … regular Rots get a chance to be part f the process rather than an onlooker.

      1. Great suggestions there as usual Jim. I understand there was a clear criteria in terms of the 3 minute presentation that was given – but, having viewed all the videos I also picked up on your remarks as well whereby there is much talk of what has gone before and little about the future. Like you I won’t make any mention of who did and who didn’t – but another viewing of the clips by readers will allow them to make up their own minds.

        As I asked in last year’s blog – is it really important as to the number of conferences, conventions and other Rotary functions our future President has attended in the past? Or is it more about an understanding of what is required for the future of the organisation? I certainly know where I place the greater importance.

        The idea of the ‘live pitch’ to conference is a great one – and one that surely must also be considered in the future too when the evaluation of the new process takes place.

    2. Paul Jackson says:

      Jim ….you are right. I used to have a recruitment agency and I certainly would have come to a different conclusion BUT do we really need a President?

Leave a Reply to RotaryBlogger Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *