Saturday, 22 February 2014

You can't make it up!

On the 1st of January, I wrote bit about the future elections to the CaRT council. (Has the change arrived) I note that Peter Ponting in (IWA should not hijack elections again) has also picked up on the same subject. (note Peter had a slip of the fingers and typed 'trustee' instead of 'council' in his contribution.) I must admit I have been thinking about the subject. At a personal level, I have no interest whatsoever in standing as a candidate. I feel that my activities as a 'critical friend' of the trust are much more rewarding and effective. However, I feel that getting truly proactive and independent members on council to represent boaters interests is very necessary.  I'm not surprised as the top heavy and unwieldy 'management structure' is already confusing enough. It continues to grow out of all recognition, with the notable exception of any real independent boater representatives.

In the pythonesque world of CaRT. It's even possible that at the next elections, other boating organisations will do an IWA style back door mutual deal amongst themselves. After all, if one can hijack the process so can others. 
I can see it now. Psssst, if you get your members to vote for our candidate, we will get our members to vote for yours. I can see the tapping of a digit to a proboscis followed by a "know what I mean, know what I mean, nudge, nudge, wink wink, say no more squire."

I am of the mind that its never going to be to early to get organised for the next CaRT elections. It's also time to learn the lessons from the past and find four people who are actually truly electable. The previous CaRT Council Elections are now history. A great deal of time and effort went into trying to find four 'independent' boaters. The next representatives will need to be truly independent of all significant affiliations. I also think it would be best to find suitable fresh faces. Candidates for various offices traditionally only get one chance of standing for election. If they are rejected once by the electorate they are almost certainly seen as a reject in the mind of the electorate and will be rejected again in the future.

Under the current scheme the odds are heavily stacked against the truly independent wanting to stand for office. This is because the IWA, like large political parties is wielding their membership as a blunt instrument.  They can always triumph over the truly independent candidate with no affiliations to any other organisation.  As an election process the current system is on this basis alone flawed. Where we should be electing based upon the information in a candidates manifesto, the last election was hijacked and any resemblance of choice based upon a manifesto was a joke. A system that can be hijacked is utterly worthless. The lack of worth has proved to be the case with the last election. The candidates from the IWA being almost silent on all issues. But then if you have nothing to offer, you will have nothing to say. 

Everyone currently gets a 150 word election manifesto published at the time of the election by CaRT. But the IWA candidate will have the IWA website, in house magazine, newsletters and flyers going out in mailings. Once again the truly independent candidate is disadvantaged. Another issue is getting sufficient nominations which may be problematical for the independent, if as I expect the requirement for the number of nominees is raised significantly. Once again the truly independent candidate is disadvantaged. Any candidate in the IWA could go to a local meeting and get the required number of signatures all in one go.

So the really independent candidate is going to be seriously disadvantaged unless they become proactive now. The candidate will have to use a long term strategy. First to get to know the electorate and  secondly for the electorate to get to know them. Utilising on-line magazines like Narrowboat World, social media sites like Facebook. Newsprint like the Towpath. Going on the hustings by visiting boat clubs and marinas. Meet with various other waterways organisations and enlisting their support. More than anything else a candidate going to need a small election team of two or three individuals to help. 

You will need to identify the key issues that you think will be of importance to the electorate. A quick synopsis at this moment in time would be. The management of the property portfolio and the management of the huge backlog of repairs. The cost of boat licences and the cost of moorings as well as other fund raising are pretty obvious issues. There are the more indirect issues such as directors salaries, directors performance criteria for bonus payments. The amount of expensive litigation, the promise of openness and transparency. The poor public relations perception and the management of visitor moorings and enforcement. The ineffectual waterways partnerships, the falling number of boats on the inland waterways and value for money of ownership. The lack of a membership by subscription to the trust. The real value and number of visitors. Campaigning for an end to crude and clumsy management and to drive forward positive change.

There is a need for the small 150 word manifesto and an in depth personal description of skills, knowledge and experience. The individuals in the election will need to be of good standing within the wider boating community. They will need to have previous experience in a similar representational role or bring a broad ranging knowledge of the Inland Waterways.

One of the concerns expressed from the previous election, is that those elected last time have been silent and as good as invisible to the electorate. Take advantage of their silence by becoming a voice and of reason and start now.

Their continuing allegiance to the Inland Waterways Association has been almost palpable. To elect anyone with a similar allegiance, no matter how 'fleeting' would be to commit the same mistake again. For who would these individuals actually represent. All boaters or just a minority. Would their remit be set by the IWA. After all, the IWA have a memorandum of understanding with CaRT. The ex chair of the IWA was elected to council and will now be setting the ground rules for the next election. As they say, you can't make it up!

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