January 2001 – Ballot papers for the Consumer Association council have recently been sent out. The format is exactly what we would like so-called “mutual” societies to adopt. Names of candidates are arranged with no indication as to whether they are existing council members or not and no special highlighting of “preferred” candidates.
Our Comment – The paper was devised by Electoral Reform Services Ltd. The company, with a rather misleading title, also produces the ballot papers for the Nationwide. So why are Nationwide ballot papers so anti-mutual? This is because Nationwide directors dictate the design and they do not approve of democratic balloting. This is despite the agreement of the BSA, in 1996, to a code of practice which said ballot papers should be democratic and despite the word of the Nationwide chief executive to the Parliamentary Committee to welcome member-nominated candidates.
One of the candidates for the CA council claims to have worked with the BSA to make their Model Rules more open and democratic. However, the BSA has yet to get around to including democratic methods in its Model Rules for Ballots. The major problem has been that no one at the BSA has yet been able to understand what the words democracy and mutuality mean.