Andrew Zigmond wrote:I've now finally had a chance to digest the paper in detail and have communicated my views via the official email address, as well as to my direct membership representative.
Oh. It hasn't arrived
My main view, which I kept coming back to, is that however much weight the views of direct members carry in Council, it should be representative and members should be balloted with their votes cast accordingly. It may be that the votes have to be split between membership category (as they are now) or by county so that a bronze/ gold or North/ South difference is taken into account but the process should be transparent and accountable. While I have a lot of respect for my direct representatives; under the current rules no direct representative is obliged to vote in any specific way. For that reason I'm not in favour of increasing the number of direct membership representatives as I feel it could lead to individuals standing in order to gain influence within the ECF while claiming that they are representing members.
So my personal preference is to reject option 2 while either adopting option 1 or 3. As far as option 1 is concerned I'm not in favour of OMOV for general resolutions but I see no reason why OMOV shouldn't be used to elect the board, particularly as we will need some form of OMOV to elect direct representatives anyway and three year terms now mean there are less elections.
Outside of the proposals, I suggested that if Council continues with increased direct membership representation (the most likely scenario) there could be a policy of different interest groups not voting on matters that do not effect them. There is a precedent here; I recall Mike Gunn asking congress vote holders not to vote on a proposal concerning league grading eligibility.
I largely agree with Andrew but a big concern must be the level of participation that can be expected from the direct membership. It is simply not going to happen that we shall get views from any significant number of members on most issues that come before Council. To take an example that comes (randomly) to mind a motion was presented in April 2016 that the Board should progress a quality assurance programme (which failed, because the item agenda was not reached). Silver members were invited to comment to me as part of my consultation and I received 13 comments from a membership of about 2000 and a total response of just over 100. 13 was quite a big response compared with some other items, but I don't think it sufficient to constitute a sensible mandate. At these numbers a very simple campaign to encourage supporters of a view to write in could easily sway matters and, further, if the result is 7-6 does that give any clear guidance? For that reason I do regard myself as a representative with the right to use my judgement and also to change my vote on the basis of extra information at the meeting. Even on the rather more emotive question of membership fee levels which in October attracted, (as I recall) about 50 responses, there was a wide spread of views from 'no increase' to 'yes, bring it on' and my attempt to divide this into a 'yes/no' division resulted in roughly parity. Indeed, on one issue in October John and I voted differently, reflecting a split view in the silver membership. I have always made it clear that I would personally feel bound by a strong expression of opinion and would vote accordingly. Oddly, the quality assurance did provide such a situation with voting 12:1 against!
In practical terms, it might not make a lot of difference anyway as many respondents often add something like 'on other issues I'm happy for you to decide as you think best'.
I also can't quite agree with Andrew about removing delegates rights to vote on issues that don't concern them. Inviting delegates to consider this possibility I think is fine, and many delegates I'm sure simply do not vote if they feel it is outside their area of interest, but any attempt to formalise this into a binding rule would have terrible problems. Whether a matter is solely 'a league issue' is not necessarily clear and we then have the thorny problem of who decides. For example, let us take the very hypothetical case of the ECF suggesting a dress regulation of 'no headwear' at congresses (and I seem to recall this has was mooted by FIDE at one point, though I may be wrong). I think a league representative might well consider this an intrusive step by the ECF that could set a precedent that might in the future affect leagues. Fees made by leagues is also not just a league issue because it affects the balance betwen leagues and congresses. Also, a county rep might be aware that his/her county actually has congresses that it directly supports (Lancashire certainly regards Blackpool as a Lancashire event and Blackpool reports back to Lancashire at the AGM). Timetabling of county championship matches is not just a county issue: it directly impacts on congress attendance. (Though admittedly I think county captains would say it is more likely that the county match is sacrificed for the congress).