We like this one…so vote for them!

So the order for a large box of cigars and a case of finest brandy was delivered to Rotary GB&I Headquarters for the meeting of the Selection Advisory Committee as they came together in the corridors of power to consider who they want to join their inner sanctum and become President of the organisation in three years time.


When will the processes of selecting the organisation’s ‘preferred candidate’ be removed and replaced by a modern, up-to-date evaluation that presents the candidates who meet the required criteria?

This outdated Committee was headed up by Keith Barnard-Jones as Chairman, with his Committee consisting of past Rotary GB&I Presidents and Governors (obviously only people of note). Each and every member of the Committee can therefore be held equally accountable in enacting the antiquated and wholly un-democratic system of pre-selecting a ‘preferred candidate’ for the lofty position of Rotary President of these islands.

RotaryBlogger has previous published an article called ‘Democracy or Otherwise‘ on the process of selecting a candidate that those in high places would like to see succeed them into their conclave. No matter how it is dressed up, the preferred candidate process simply smacks of ‘jobs for the boys’ and it has to be brought to and end. It urgently requires to be replaced with an open and transparent evaluation panel (probably external), using appropriate benchmarking against a criteria where the membership is presented with say, the best three candidates to choose from – with no preference given!

Let me make one thing clear…I have no issues with the preferred candidate that has been chosen by the selection panel – I don’t know him! However, it is the system that I and (based on previous blogposts) others have issues with, that’s all.

Now I’m sure that like last time I will get messages from proponents of the system saying that the process is democratic as Clubs don’t need to vote for the preferred candidate if they don’t want to. Really? How many Clubs fully engage in the process and don’t simply stick an X in the box of the preferred candidate. I genuinely believe if there was no preferred candidate, the Clubs would be forced to do their research on who they were selecting and ultimately pick the best candidate.

I also have an issue with the timing of the process. The details, CV’s and other relevant information are released right at the point where Regular Rots are probably at their most disengaged with their Club activity – other than their Christmas dinner meeting. As they think about their santa’s lists; how they’re going to wrap their presents; whether they’ve bought a large enough turkey and so on. Why can all this not be done at a different time of the year?

I’m sure it purely coincidence that these elections precede the only real recess time of the year in Rotary – where many Clubs will not actually have Council meetings to fully discuss matters. But it certainly doesn’t help in throwing the doors of transparency and accountability open. Imagine a local government election taking place immediately following new year with canvassing over the festive period – there would be public outcry!

Anyway, this year there are six applicants for the position of President – and I’m sure they all have individual qualities that would be of benefit to our organisation. However, how much of these can be extracted from the Curriculum Vitae they each submit along with the applications.

Let’s be honest – in selecting a President how important is it as to how many Rotary Conferences, Institutes or Conventions they have attended in the last five years? What does this actually demonstrate to the Regular Rot?

In my view what is important is how up-to-date they are with the society within which Rotary is now operating. Do they understand the media? Do they present well as the ‘face of the organisation’? Can they inspire, influence and motivate? Can they engage with people at all levels of society? Can they/do they use social media? Does their job allow them to be outward facing and presented to the Public?

Surely these things are more important to the organisation’s survival than whether our President has a 100% attendance rate at conferences over the last number of years?

Between now and the vote RotaryBlogger is hoping to contact all the prospective candidates to ask them some ‘real’ questions about Rotary and then feature their responses in a post on this increasingly popular blog. If there are any questions you would like to ask an incoming President, then feel free to send a message to

I am hopeful that all the candidates will ‘play ball’ and answer the RotaryBlogger questions that will be put to them in order that the subscribers and readers of the blog can get a better insight as to the person behind the CV standing for the post of RotaryGBI President and who will ultimately be leading us in a few years time. Fingers crossed!


Follow @RotaryBlogger on Twitter for updates throughout the week

  Image by Graham Holiday by CC

8 thoughts on “We like this one…so vote for them!

  1. Aled Owen says:

    Will your proposal not be in breach of this RI Regulation or Policy?

    26.090.5. Rules Regarding Campaigning, Canvassing and Electioneering It is a fundamental principle in Rotary that the best qualified candidate should be selected for service in Rotary’s elective offices. Therefore, any effort to influence the selection process in a positive or negative manner by campaigning, canvassing, electioneering or otherwise is prohibited under the RI Bylaws. The following rules shall be followed concerning campaigning, canvassing and electioneering for any Rotarian considering election to the office of president, director, Governor, or representative to the Council on Legislation, or the nominating committee for any such office. These rules are designed to ensure that the best qualified candidate is selected for office: 1) Rotarians should at all times conform to the prohibitions of the RI Bylaws concerning campaigning, canvassing or electioneering. All Rotarians should observe both the letter and the spirit of the bylaws and refrain from any activity whose purpose or effect is to influence others by promoting or soliciting support for a candidate’s or another Rotarian’s candidacy. Such activity is repugnant to the spirit of the bylaws and the principles of Rotary and will be grounds for disqualification of a candidate. 2) Campaigning, canvassing or electioneering is any action seeking to promote, attack, support, or oppose a candidate, either directly or indirectly, in any medium, including, but not limited to, any action seeking votes, requesting support in a forthcoming election, distribution of literature or promotional materials or other overt actions intended to promote one’s candidacy for an elected Rotary office. 3) The periods of candidacy for elective office begin when individual Rotarians begin to give serious consideration to submitting their names for a position covered by the RI rules for nominations and elections. Commencing at that time, candidates should be particularly careful to avoid any actions designed to publicize their names or achievements, to call attention to the applicable nominations or elections, or to give candidates an unfair advantage over other candidates for the same position. 4) The normal performance of duly-assigned Rotary activities would not be considered to be a violation of the policies related to campaigning, canvassing or electioneering. 5) Should a candidate become aware of any campaigning or electioneering activities which are undertaken on the candidate’s behalf, the candidate shall immediately and in writing express disapproval to all concerned and instruct them to terminate such activity. 6) Contacting clubs to inform them to request their concurrence for a proposed challenge or election complaint is not prohibited provided that such contact is limited to the exchange of factual information. (February 2007 Mtg., Bd. Dec. 149) Source: March 1993 Mtg., Bd. Dec. 135, App. E; Amended by June 2001 Mtg., Bd. Dec. 325; February 2007 Mtg., Bd. Dec. 149

    1. If any of the candidates were setting up their own blogs and blogging about themselves, their achievements and why they should be voted as President – then I would say yes that would be in breach (even though I don’t agree with the policy). However, on the basis I – as someone external – will be contacted each person and giving EVERY candidate the chance to respond to a list of questions that will then be published on this popular blog in an open and transparent manner, then I don’t see that being in breach or canvassing in any way at all. Ironically, the RotaryBlogger site will certainly NOT be making any recommendations as to a preferred candidate either directly or indirectly.

      I guess it’s a bit like the rules and regulations of interviewing politicians on radio/tv – as long as every party gets the chance to take part that is what matters. Whether they do or not is entirely up to them.

      This is the view I am taking and will soldier on with my contacts to each candidate. Hopefully we’ll see the replies on RotaryBlogger in the weeks to come.

    2. says:

      An interesting post about Rotary Rules, because of this election I’ve been visiting the RIBI Website and was very interested to explore the Compliance Committee. What an organisation we are operating the law of our land states we should observe Equality & Diversity policy, our organisation asks all District Governors and for that matter Presidents to sign the RIBI Equality and Diversity Policy, we have a compliance committee, but when it comes to challenging we hide behind the fact ‘that all Clubs are autonomous’. Yes let’s have a constitution and rules, but let us not just use rules to ensure we stay in the 19th Century, have no possibility of recruiting in a modern society and we let Clubs do their own things provided it keeps the money coming in. It is time for change, time for challenge and time to cut the crap and become a modern organisation of the 21st Century.

  2. Kate Keter says:

    Well said, James. The SAC is the most ridiculously antiquated system of selecting candidates I can think of. I know in other parts of the RI world there are nominating committees who select candidates but we kid ourselves that we are being “more” democratic by going through the same process and then allowing clubs to vote. It’s a joke. Either just have a nominating committee and be done with it. Or better still do away with the SAC and let us choose properly.

    There were resolutions at the Annual Business Meeting in Birmingham to get rid of the SAC, but they were “bumped” when the meeting was “suspended” (no comment on that here). Hopefully these resolutions will re-appear for the meeting in Belfast – and we will have the courage to vote for their removal.

  3. says:

    This puts me in mind of the state of play in Hong Kong. There students etc were on the streets risking detention, and no doubt some were locked up, trying to change their system which only allows vetted and selected candidates for the top job. Good to be in an organisation that follows the same rules. No wonder few Rotarians have anything to do with RIBI. They just get on with the day job of helping others.

  4. Aled Owen says:

    In case anybody thinks that I support the SAC please let me point out that I don’t. It is a format designed to maintain the status quo and to ensure that the management of all things Rotary is in the hands of a select few.

    I suspect that any changes we advocate will have to be implemented at CoL in 2016. We will have to wait until the papers are published to see if this RI rule change is down for consideration. Failing that it will have to be CoL 2019.

    Rotary Blogger is to be praised for starting this ball rolling but I suspect that we will only achieve change by a much more radical tactic – guerrilla warfare. Social media is ideally suited to draw out any latent support for such a proposition.

    1. Kate Keter says:

      So far as I am aware, Aled, the SAC is purely an RIBI thing, so I can’t think why we’d need to wait for CoL. So, we can vote to get rid of it at the Annual Business Meeting in April – so long as there is a proposal to do so.

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