Polling opens next week in the C&RT elections, but so far, no list of candidates has been published, despite nominations closing on January 18th. Normally as members of an organisation electing its officers you wouldn't notice this; the first you would know about any of it would be when the ballot paper and the candidates' election statements dropped through your letterbox, and I would guess that these are probably beginning to wing their way to licence holders this week. Possibly they are still checking the bona fides of candidates' sponsors (not that that would be so hard).
But having a closer interest in this particular election, these things become more apparent. Is it a problem? How far in advance should lists of candidates be published? Does it raise issues for the fairness of the election? Already some candidates have been using their platforms as bloggers or contributors to CanalWorld to promote their cause, whilst others have the muscle of a big organisation behind them; however others, either low profile independents or those standing with the support of smaller groups will struggle to get their name known - surely if anything has the potential to compromise at least some concept of fairness, then it is this. But as I said back before Christmas, this is an inevitable outcome of free speech, and in the era of the internet, all but impossible to curb even if you wanted to. And indeed, why would you wish to stop communicators showing how well they can communicate; campaigners how well they can campaign. Yes, people with a higher profile will get more votes; the same goes for MPs - would Martin Bell have been elected if he had been Joe Bloggs in a grey suit rather than a white one? People with big organisations behind them will do better than independents - how many independent MPs are there? It's not fair, exactly, but it is democratic. Blame the voters if you like, for being too ready to be swayed by a familiar name or the endorsement of an organisation whose aims they vaguely understand and approve of. But don't blame the system; it's doing its best. Democracy, as Winston Churchill said, is the worst possible system with the exception of all the others that have been tried. Whether publishing a list of names on the Waterscape website a week sooner would make much difference to this is a somewhat debatable point.
Anyway, blogger Alan Fincher has produced a very smart PDF flyer which is here, so do have a look. For myself, I know that I shall be voting for Alan Fincher and Sue Cawson; people I know and respect very highly for their boating experience, communication skills and the values they hold regarding waterways priorities. As for any other preferences, I shall wait until those personal statements drop through the letterbox.
Until the list of candidates if officially published, there can be no winner of the great C&RT sweepstake. But I will say, it's looking good for Nick, so far...