There is something rather wonderful about democracy. My old pal Winston Churchill reckoned it was the worst form of government except for all of the others. That great man was absolutely spot on about that. Just ask anyone who has spent time living in a society where basic democratic rights don’t exist.
I definitely subscribe to the view that elections are somehow more interesting when they are closely contested and even more joyous occasions when a genuinely surprising result occurs. There is something truly satisfying about seeing the experts and those highly paid political analysts all somehow getting it wrong or even promising to consume their hat.
And 2015 does seem to be the year for electoral upsets. Few observers were predicting an outright victory for either of the two traditional parties of government at the recent general election and look what happened back in May. As I write this article, it does appear, if the polls and pundits are to be believed, that Jeremy Corbyn could pull off an even more unlikely victory and become the next leader of the Labour Party. What odds on that outcome just a few months ago? And thus, given that 2015 is clearly the year of the underdog, an even more unlikely candidate is about to throw his hat into the electoral ring, namely yours truly.
When British Waterways evolved into the Canal & River Trust back in 2012, the governance structures changed significantly. The board of Trustees are now advised by a national council. This national council has various elected representatives including a seat to represent volunteers, one to represent signed up Trust Friends plus a staff representative. Chris Bailey, who I first met at Fradley way back in the 1980’s, triumphed in the inaugural staff election in 2012 in a contest which featured nine candidates. Chris has just retired from the Trust after 39 years of service which makes me feel like a mere spring chicken. So after careful consideration, I will be entering my first, and almost certainly my last, election campaign in an attempt to become the Trust’s new staff representative on National Council.
I wonder if my best chance of a half decent result might just be that I do actually have a few things in common with the current frontrunner in the Labour Party leadership race. Whether this will be sufficient to deliver a tidal wave of support from my colleagues up and down the country is of course extremely doubtful but you have to live in hope. Hope is never a bad thing in elections, particularly before the counting of the ballot papers begins.
First off, Jeremy and I both grew up and went to grammar school in North Shropshire, albeit we were not at the same school and I am a few years younger. Like Jeremy, I also have a brother who is a bit of a weather forecaster. In north Shropshire, being an expert meteorologist is not really quite as onerous as it sounds. Essentially you turn and face westwards towards the Welsh Hills and if they are visible, then you know that it will shortly begin to rain. However, if those wonderful rugged mountains are not in view, you can be pretty certain that it’s already raining.
The third thing I definitely have in common with Mr Corbyn is a radical manifesto or in my case at least one uniquely radical policy that may be decades ahead of its time. I dare not share it with you now, not least because I have not checked out the rules to see if it is permissible to do so. It would be a rather unfortunate and indeed catastrophic end to one’s political ambitions to be disqualified from competing in an election even before officially declaring one’s candidacy.
A wise man once advised me to avoid making predictions, particularly when it comes to the future. Consequently, I won’t speculate on the number of votes that I might somehow muster from the 1500 or so eligible staff voters. However, if the total number of votes cast in my favour does end up as substantially fewer than four, I don’t feel it would be unreasonable for me to at least consider launching an unofficial internal fisheries and angling team enquiry once the results are finally declared in the middle of December. Watch this space.
The latest heat on the Rochdale Canal run by Jimmy Ridley and Tony Campbell went off successfully with some good weights although personally I was a trifle disappointed with the entry of 23 pairs. Many good judges who fish the canal circuit regularly reckon the competition will be much better supported in 2016 and I do hope they are right. Well done to the five pairs who made the final. The eighth qualifying heat is held on the Staffs & Worcester on the first weekend of September. It promises to be a virtual sell out which is great news.
David Kent from the Angling Trust and I have already got our thinking heads on regarding the planning for the 2016 event. Qualifying heats will be held between early July and early October with the final scheduled for Saturday 29th October. We are now interested in hearing from any of our customer clubs who would like to put their name forward to host their local qualifying heat. You can read more and download an application form here.
The closing date for expression of interest is the end of September
John Ellis, national fisheries and angling manager
Image: the hopeful candidate with committed supporters in the background
The team undertake a diverse range of work including looking after the Trust's £40 million worth of fish stocks, managing agreements with over 250 different angling clubs and helping more people, especially youngsters, take up angling on the canal. Follow this blog to keep updated with the thoughts and work of the team.See more blogs from The fisheries & angling team