Thursday, 06 April 2017 11:56

BMC and the No Confidence Vote

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Later this month the British Mountaineering Council hold their AGM at Plas y Brenin, and with last year's rebrand fiasco fresh in the memory the executive face a vote of no confidence that could shake the organisation to its roots.

When news of the rebrand broke last year MyOutdoors were strongly against it, and campaigned openly to have the decision overturned. As an individual member of the BMC I was also strongly against not just the rebrand but also the way in which the decision was made without consulting the whole membership. As a result of the backlash from members the decision was ultimately overturned but while that decision was welcome questions still exist as to how such a decision could be passed in such a way.


It will probably come as a surprise therefore that while supporting the opportunity to question the executive on the need for change in how such decisions are made I am going to be voting against the No Confidence motion.

The Executive made a decision that I honestly believe they did with the best of intentions and in a manner they felt was covered by the organisation's constitution. Of course there was a perceived lack of democracy with the decision made by a very small number of people, but that's a problem with the constitution rather than a it stands the executive followed the laid down procedures to the letter.

On realising the strength of the opposition to the rebrand the executive and National Council overturned the decision at the next available opportunity and apologised for misreading the wishes of the mebership to such a degree. There were no caveats and no justifications, just an honest "we got it wrong". Now some will argue, no doubt, that in making the decision in the first place it shows a massive lack of judgement but the decision wasn't made solely by the Executive, but was also backed, initially, by the National Council - and we the members control the makeup of that council. So if the Executive bear some of the responsibility then so do the members.

It's worth noting the way the Executive works at this point. All the members of the Executive do so voluntarily and often at great cost to themselves. They don't get paid for the work they do, although they're responsible for the day to day running of an organisation of some 80,000 members. They're governed in how they do this by the BMC's constitution, and while the rebrand decision was unpopular it was done following the constitution.

If the decision, and subsequent reversal, showed one thing it's not that the Executive acted incorrectly or inappropriately but that the constitution itself may need changing. While the day to day running has to be done without reference to the membership over every decision, perhaps the consititution should be amended in a way that ensures a decision of such magnitude can only be passed by a full vote of the membership.

Day to day the Executive do an amazing job on our behalf and deserve our support and direction rather than dismissing. The No Confidence motion gives the membership an opportunity to look at the way in which the decision was made and offer guidance or changes, and it's for this reason that I support the motion being presented. The decision was too controversial to be consigned to the history books without looking at the process that allowed it to be made and without an opportunity for the membership to offer guidance to the Executive for the future.

There are other issues facing the organisation, particularly over governance changes demanded by Government, and the BMC needs strong leadership in dealing with these issues. I don't like everything the leadership does and strongly disagree with the way they're pushing into some commercial areas while having a priviliged position in terms of access to "celebrity" athletes, but I honestly believe the Executive have always acted in what they feel to be the best interests of the membership. They've made mistakes but throughout they've acted with integrity and when they've got it wrong they've accepted it unreservedly. What more can we ask of an Executive? I've personally seen the amount of work they put in on a daily basis and while there could be a better balance of hill walkers and clibers, along with more women and minorities, I don't think we could find anyone more committed and more willing to put in the hours without reward than our existing Executive.

Members can vote on the motion at the AGM but if you can't get along to it you can still vote by proxy. Members will find a proxy vote form in the latest issue of Summit and they're available at many of the area meetings that take place before the AGM. A proxy vote allows a vote to be placed on your behalf, either by someone in particular that you nominate or the person leading the meeting (The Chair). You can indicate on the form the direction of your vote on any of the agenda items. If you do not specify the direction of your vote, your nominated proxy can use your vote as they see fit. For further details on how to vote by proxy check out the link here.

MyOutdoors strongly supports as many members as possible voting on the motion and on a personal basis I will welcome the debate but will be voting against the No Confidence motion.