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Editorial

Dilemma

Our esteemed Hon. Sec. puts his finger on a weakness in the system we use to determine who does what on the club committee.  In his secretarial column this month, he suggests that comments would be useful, so here is the editor's comment which is not, repeat NOT the official view of the committee but merely the editor's opinion as a club member.  Since we have had no election for two years, and thus many of our current members have never voted, I feel that Mike's point is of importance this year.

At one time, when the club was much smaller, all the officers were elected by show of hands, one at a time, at the A.G.M.  Later, when we decided to allow members to vote by post if they wished, it was thought to be too complicated to elect each officer because of all the possible permutations ("I would like A to be Hut Warden, rather than B, but if B gets elected, then I would like A to be Caving Sec.  On the other hand if C gets to be Caving Sec, then …" - and so on.) So we adopted a system where we elected nine blokes to run the club and left them to sort it all out.  Even more recently, we have gone in for a secret ballot amongst members of the newly-elected committee to avoid any embarrassment during the voting.  All of this sounds fine BUT, as Mike points out, there are snags.

Many people, for instance, hold the view that if a man is elected to the committee, he should be prepared to take any job he is offered.  In practice, this is not so and Mike is by no means alone when he points out that he wishes to take on no other job than that of Hon. Sec.  He suggests that Barrie feels the same about being Hon. Treasurer and I might add that I cannot nowadays see myself doing anything other than my present jobs.  I should not be at all surprised if there are not other members of the present committee who hold similar views.  Thus, in practice, voting for some people is mainly done on the understanding that they will do certain jobs when elected - whatever the club's system might imply.

To my mind, even worse trouble occurs when somebody gets elected to the committee who, through no fault of his own, upsets what would otherwise be a natural choice of jobs for people.  When this happens, other members of the committee are then left with no job to do. This is not just a theory, for I found myself in exactly this position after being elected to the committee in the election of October 1967, when I came third in the poll and finished up five minutes after the start of the first committee meeting with nothing whatever to do.  As a result, I did not seek re-election in 1968.  I am not, of course, claiming that this did the club any harm, but there could well be times when considerable harm might be done.  For instance, a man could be doing a particular job pretty well, but the committee might elect another on the basis that they thought he could do the job even better.  The first man (I ought to add that wherever I have written 'man' it implies 'person') might not feel able to take on anything else, and might resign or not bother to stand next year.  The second man might not be able to stand again, and the result would be the loss of a good club officer.

Thus, I feel that members, when voting, should consider who is likely to be asked to do each of the main jobs, and what will probably happen if there are two natural contenders for anyone job.  The result might well be a committee having people in it who have come high up in the voting only to find themselves redundant.  In this case, the committee may well be forced to co-opt straight away. If a person is so co-opted who has just lost out in the election, the committee might well feel that they have gone against the wishes of the club - yet what else can they do?

As I see it voters must consider this point in particular, when they choose who is to be on the club committee.

Raising The Tone

Both readers who do the Monthly Crossword will be pleased to see that this month's crossword is much better than usual.  Many thanks to Margaret Innes (Angus’s wife) for having sent in a crossword which not only fits the current series, but is much better composed than is my usual rubbish.

Annual Dinner

A full-page advert for the dinner will be found in this B.B.  It only remains to add that the A.G.M. will be held at the Belfry, starting at 10.30 (I presume, unless you hear to the contrary) and that as many members as possible are urged to attend.  Mike tells me that this year it will be run strictly according to the book (which means that I don't have to write the minutes, thank God) and that he will be formally handing over the meeting to the Chairman when elected who, according to tradition, will later act as M.C. at the dinner.