Disquiet at MCC over star rating for election



The next AGM at Lords for members of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) should certainly be an interesting affair, as we hear about dismay over the star rating of candidates in the Committee elections. Some are suggest that its synonymous to the ballot form being marked with stars to tell you how to vote in the elections and certainly not in keeping with the “spirit of cricket”.

Now starring of candidates in Committee elections is permitted by the Rules of the Club, but it has moved on from the practice of the 60s and 70s when the Committee used to star (i.e. recommend Members to vote for) all the vacancies when there were more candidates than vacancies.

The impact of giving a star to a candidate has been that he (or she) is virtually certain to be elected – of 53 candidates who have been starred in the history of Committee Elections 51 have been elected!

In recent years starring has been used rarely, if at all. In the past twenty years only three candidates have been starred for the specific skills that they would bring to the Committee table – Robert Griffiths QC in 2002 and Nigel Peters QC in 2004 (legal skills) and Tony Alt last year (finance). And in 2009 a Working Party on the Committee Election reinforced this practice by recommending that starring only be used ‘sparingly’ and in any event for no more than two candidates in an election.

What happens now is that Members are provided with more information about the candidates, together with 100 word statements by the candidate and by one of his or her supporters. This ought to provide for a fair election with a level playing field. Suddenly this year the Committee decided to star four candidates for four vacancies leaving three candidates on past form with little or no chance of being elected. In effect the Committee decided to fix the election.

There is a view that the unstated reason for doing this was to ensure that one or perhaps two of the un-starred candidates did not get elected on the grounds that they had opinions on the matter of ground development that run counter to the present Committee’s view. If so, this is doubly shocking, since to be healthy a Committee needs on it a wide range of opinions to enable it to debate and make good decisions.

It will not have escaped your notice too that this attitude towards what should be a democratic election has been taken by an organisation that owns and promotes the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ brand worldwide and ought to be an exemplar on such matters throughout the game and beyond.

The only remedy to this, in the view of many others, is to run a Resolution at the AGM that will force the Committee to re-run the election without the use of any stars. Thats is get rid of the star rating system altogether. This will surely make this year’s AGM of the MCC an eventual one as much as when it discussed accepting women as members for the first time.

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