Leader - ICA should strive for democracy

by John Stokdyk

15 Apr 1998

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It is easy to understand the English ICA being a little upset by meddlesome member Jeff Wooller, who is forcing a debate on the thorny issue of democracy at the institute.

Naturally, Wooller should not use a quotation against the wishes of the person quoted. Of course, his contentious Ginger Group should not be allowed to use the ICAEW initials unless it has gained authorisation to use them.

But the real issue remains: why shouldn't the institute elect its president democratically? The trade unions have been forced to adopt democratic election procedures. Even the Conservative party is promising to let the whole party membership vote for its leader. Democracy is the dish of the decade, it must be seen on the institute's menu.

Acting secretary and chief executive John Collier says a one-year president who doesn't have a complete understanding of all council's ongoing work could upset the institute's reform programme. His case is reinforced by the recent history of the Law Society, which allows its members to vote in, and stand for, the annual presidency, a process which has led to the election of at least one awkward customer.

But, in the case of the English ICA, there is little chance of an awkward customer winning the vote. Experienced council members would remain favourites for the presidency, but at least the institute would be seen to be a truly modern democratic organisation.

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