Part 4 – Let’s call the whole thing off

So since before the festive period this blog has been talking about the Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland Presidential Elections and how the process seems to occupying many of Rotary-related the social media channels.

And this weekend it really came to a head with one of the Districts having submitted an almost unanimous motion to call off the Presidential elections until the various administrative processes have been brought to a conclusion. This motion resulted in a special meeting of the National General Council meeting taking place on Sunday to discuss the matter associated with the joint Presidential application.

So what’s all the fuss about?

Well in summary, the issue that many have described as a debacle revolves around two key areas; the primary one focusses on the fact the Selection Advisory Committee (SAC) appears to have upset the applecart by what some are describing as having ‘canvassed‘ for a preferred candidate. Thus perhaps having disadvantaging the remaining three candidates.

The second, and almost distracting issue to the leadership campaign is the application from two individuals, Nick Corke and Mike Jackson who wished to stand on a joint-ticket and become National President under a job-share principle.

The two Regular Rots, who through this blog have become known as ‘Corkeson‘ had their joint application thrown out both by the Constitutions Committee who’s position was subsequently supported by the SAC on the basis it apparently wasn’t constitutational. RotaryBlogger.co.uk is aware that Corkeson have now submitted a formal appeal to both decisions presenting their application rejection as the laws of natural justice have not been upheld. In addition they feel that equalities legislation in the UK has also not been applied accordingly.

It is hard to see where the Corkeson application falls within any protected characteristic of the 2010 Equalities Act – perhaps their advice is highlighting something to them that is not obvious. Ultimately however that remains to be seen and I am sure they are not going to uncover their powder here even if that were the case.

I use the words ‘almost distracting‘ in terms of Corkeson not to play down their situation but because this whole process should be all about the Presidential Election. Sadly the way in which the matter of the Corkeson application has been handled means it has become a much bigger issue – if not even bigger. And in fact, it is the very issue that has prompted their home District to submit a motion to have the full Presidential Process halted while the Corkeson appeal is heard.

RotaryBlogger.co.uk contacted Rotary International head office in Evanston to ask about their knowledge of the the current situation; if they were aware of the appeal having been submitted; what their view on a joint application was and what role RI would have in the process.

A spokesperson from Evanston responded,

Keeping in line with RI and RIBI constitution and bylaws, the election of the RIBI president is an internal RIBI matter.”

Further quoting the section of the Nominations for Officers of RIBI which states, “Nominees for president, vice-president, and honorary treasurer of RIBI shall be selected, proposed, and nominated pursuant to the bylaws of RIBI.”

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So it would seem that what goes on in RIBI stays in RIBI with absolutely no influence or input from the worldwide head office.

Closer to home, in a discussion with RotaryBlogger.co.uk Amanda Watkin, General Secretary at RotaryGBI  confirmed that a special webinar meeting of the General Council had been called this weekend by current President Peter Davey to discuss and consider the issue of the Corkeson joint application.

The General Secretary went on to outline following some lengthy discussion that despite upholding the initial decision of the Constitutions Committee not to allow the double-header Corkeson ticket to go through – the General Council under the leadership of Peter Davey have accepted that job-sharing of the Presidency now needs to be seriously looked into. Furthermore they have agreed that if necessary a special motion should be put forward to the next business meeting in Bournemouth to ensure there is no repetition in next year’s elections should a second application come forward. Surely that’s an indirect Corkeson result?

When asked about the whether the issue of the SAC’s decision to name one ‘preferred’ candidate was discussed by the General Council the General Secretary responded that this was not the purpose of the meeting but reiterated the previous position given by President Peter Davey that there was an acceptance the new system put in place this year required a full review and that this would happen sooner rather than later.

Let’s hope when the review of the Corkeson application is considered that it is undertaken by fresh, new and modern thinking Rotarians without any agendas to protect the status quo. Otherwise, as pointed out to RotaryBlogger.co.uk by Nick Corke the organisation is going to be full of retired individuals undertaking the top roles on the basis that the current working Rotarian is finding it increasingly difficult to get time off from employment or to put their business on hold to undertake one of the major posts in RotaryGBI. Surely this basic, pragmatic fact in itself must make it a realistic view that sharing of posts is going to be the norm rather than the exception in the very near future.

So in shutting down the RotaryGBI Presidential [pre-results] Campaign 2016 it seems that despite being asked to call the whole thing off – the tables are being turned and it is the Regular Rots who are now being asked to do the same in terms of the ongoing review campaign. The Club members have been given assurances by the General Council, the current President and General Secretary that a full review will be undertaken into both the SAC’s role; the selection criteria and the announcement of a ‘most eligible’ candidate. Is that enough?

In addition, there will also be a review into the matter of job-sharing roles with the potential for a motion to be put forward to allow such an position to be acceptable in next year’s Presidential elections.

So ultimately, there now appears to be genuine acceptance in some key quarters that things need to move on and modernise and that sticking with the status quo is absolutely not the way the organisation is going to survive in these islands. The positive point here is that it seems to be those with influence to yield who are keen to ensure the review takes place.

So who are the winners and losers in all this?

Well the obvious loser is the organisation itself – where it has once again been shown to be much less forward thinking that it actually envisages itself to be. Coupled with an increasing perception from those who care to show an interest that there is a petulant  old boys network in existence with an unwillingness to listen or be told that things need to change. Sadly, in the last number of months there has also been an increasing number of individuals now questioning the validity of RIBI itself – despite all the advantages it brings.

One clear winner in this whole process has to be current President Peter Davey who along with the RotaryGBI General Secretary has been willing to discuss matters in an open and transparent manner with this blogsite. The national President has kept in touch – and contributed – with discussions taking place on this blog and on other social media channels. His willingness to address some of the more thorny issues over the past number of weeks has certainly not gone unnoticed – and his successors should take note (on the basis few of them even seem to have an online presence…another blog???).

In addition, RotaryBlogger.co.uk is aware that Peter Davey has communicated regularly with his General Council and been willing to call a short notice meeting this weekend to discuss matters, leading his team to a consensus opinion on the current issue. He has to received credit for that.

The Selection Advisory Committee is undoubtedly a loser in this process. It is ironic their actions may have actually handed the Bournemouth meeting the necessary hammer and nails for the SAC coffin. On the back of the last few weeks discussions, it is increasingly probably that once the momentum starts to gather in support of the motion to remove the SAC (narrowly defeated last year) that there will be nail after nail after nail fired into the coffin lid like they were coming out of a pneumatic nail gun used by Animal out of the Muppets after four double-espressos.

Ultimately if only one candidate met the criteria – the SAC should have had the courage of their convictions and put her directly forward, ruling the other three out. Instead a diplomatic, ‘middle of the road’, weak, watered down position that was taken whereby they found themselves in a perceived ‘canvassing’ position which has not gone down well with Regular Rots.

The Constitutions Committee doesn’t get away Scot free either – they should have had the strength to simply rule that a joint application was not accounted for in the by-laws and stand by the decision. No appeal – no review. However, on reaching that assessment – they should subsequently have recommend a review be undertaken ensuring that appropriate measures would be put in place to ensure current UK and EU legislation was being complied with – and that the constitution would be amended to at least allow for the a joint application to be possible. (Whether the membership wanted to support the actuality of fielding and electing a joint President would be a matter for the democratic process in the future.)

Perhaps most disappointingly is that by default the candidates in the Presidential campaign are effectively all losers – as one of them will be returned victorious from a process that has undoubtedly been tarnished and soiled from the very offset – and will ultimately remain so for some period yet. It can only be hoped whoever wins will be allowed to ‘get on with the job’ and put their campaign behind them.

Another winner has to be the online community of Regular Rots – individuals have been discussing matters online in a way they have never been discussed before. For example, had such recent circumstances presented themselves 20 years ago – the level of discussion and communication would never have taken place in the way it has over the last few months – if at all. And while it may make some people uncomfortable – there is now a new way of holding to account the accountable. It is important that the organisation’s leaders follow Peter Davey’s path and not ignore this community observing their voice and position being exponentially stronger.

So as the Presidential process continues – we will await the outcome of the results of votes from the Clubs which will come at the end of the month.

If this year is like any other then the SAC Candidate will win the day and we’ll be bowing to President Debbie in three years time. However, could 2016 be the last time Clubs are ‘guided’ as to which candidate fully meets the criteria as opposed to being informed that all candidates would be worthy of being elected to guide the organisation in these islands and leaving them to their own devices? Could 2017 be the first year we could holding election to appoint people jointly into the senior roles in RIBI?

Let’s hope so…in the meantime, it is important the process is allowed to progress under a very close watching brief to ensure 2017 doesn’t become a repeat of 2016.
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Part 3 – Hungry like the wolves

In this, the first RotaryBlogger post of 2016 we wonder what the New Year will bring in terms of the good, the bad and the ugly of Rotary International, particularly in the Great Britain and Ireland territory.

So as we left 2015 embroiled in the RotaryGBI Presidential Campaign it seems we move into the New Year with the same topic still in the minds of many. As the Clubs return after the festive season break they will start to consider where they will put their ‘X’ in the ballot paper in terms of electing the individual who will become their leader in three years time.

In the interest of fairness it is appropriate to name all the eligible candidates. So the runners and riders are David Ellis (Salford and Swinton); Graham Jackson (Irlam) and Mukesh Malhotra (Hounslow).

However, readers of the blog will be well aware that the remaining candidate Debbie Hodge from the Rotary Club of Ware is the candidate who has effectively been put forward as the ‘preferred’ candidate by the RotaryGBI Selection Advisory Committee (SAC) under the chairmanship of former Rotary International Director and National Past President Mike Webb.

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Has the festive season meant the whole Presidential Election debacle has slipped from the radar? It would seem not – the wolves are circling ready to pounce

There also remains the issue whereby many believe the SAC have actually breached Rotary’s own rules and regulations by naming Debbie Hodge – with some seeing this as overt canvassing [by the SAC] on behalf of one candidate over the others. Having reflected on the way things have been done – it seems difficult to establish how naming one candidate before the others doesn’t actually breach the non-electioneering rules. But again, this remains to demonstrated at some point in the future by the Committee who clearly believe it to be otherwise.

In previous years the ‘preferred’ candidate has always won through to victory and become national President. However taking into account the anecdotal information and comments being received by RotaryBlogger.co.uk from across these islands it is not Debbie Hodge who appears to be out in front; but one of the other names seems to be continually coming to the fore. So could this be the year where we see the apples from the cart rolling down the street at the end of January? Only time will tell…

The other issue that remains a talking point is the disallowed joint application from Nick Corke and Mike Jackson aka ‘Corkeson‘ – where both had applied on a ‘job-share’ set-up to take the role on the basis that ‘two heads are better than one’ and far more can be achieved.

RotaryBlogger has obtained information that would have featured in Corkeson manifesto had their application been allowed to progress to the next stages and it makes for interesting reading.

In their ‘manifesto’ they refer to internal reform – perhaps the biggest and most noticeable being that of job-sharing the Presidency. And as well as asking for ‘fundamental change’ and full review of large-scale Assemblies they went on to say,

The continued use of the same broken model will not get us the reforms necessary.”

Corkeson were also looking to make big moves into the corporate sector seeing the benefits of pulling a Rotary ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ programme together on a nation-wide basis – as well as looking to maximise collaboration with other organisations where Rotary has a connection.

Their manifesto also went on to consider Rotary’s relationship with external charities. The Corkeson partnership picking up on a very current topic regarding how much of the charity pound is actually dedicated to being spent on the work of the organisation and not going towards administration or senior management salaries.

The Corkeson manifesto looked at other areas including; innovative ways to increase members; promotion of satellite clubs; the generation of a Rotary Football Fellowship and the creation of Rotary Members Health Benefits.

However, interestingly though it is not their policies but the previous RotaryGBI processes which seem to be giving the joint-application ‘doubters’ the licence to make their comments against having a job-share President at RotaryGBI. Comments being received,

Well if they can’t get the process right for one President – how are they going to manage it with two?” or “Club Rotarians don’t care that much about the Rotary President so why would it be any different if there was two of them?”

So whether or not as a reader you agree with the Corkeson application – the irony is that in what is probably one of the most forward thinking and radical challenges to the ‘norm’ – it appears to be the processes from the past that continue to dissuade and disengage individuals from paying attention to what Corkeson is proposing leaving the duo a potentially difficult challenge to persuade Regular Rots of their validity.

So we have a few more weeks to go in the Presidential election campaign for 2018/19 and it remains to be seen what the outcome will be. As a representative from RotaryGBI explained – they hoped individual clubs would vote with integrity and not in a way designed to give the ‘establishment’ a bloody nose – which is all very well and good.

However, that same establishment must realise that the patience of Regular Rots (albeit perhaps only those interested in the process) is now starting to wear thin. Undoubtedly something needs to be done to address the increasing concerns and views that it is merely hollow words and promises escaping out of Alcester in terms of the change and modernising agenda. And in no way should the current feelings be underestimated nor swept under the carpet.

The wolves are once again circling with an increasing hunger. It would be folly for those in positions of influence not to pay close attention to what could quickly becoming an every decreasing wolf-circle…

Images by Ronnie Macdonald by CC

 

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