When I left for the Annual Delegates’ Meeting at the crack of dawn my gps told me that I would have half an hour to spare on the journey. Unfortunately, it didn’t know that a stretch of the motorway was closed and so the virtual lady in the machine was soon working herself hoarse telling me to ‘turn around when possible’ as I followed the extended diversion. There were less than 5 minutes to go by the time I got there and, after parking and finding my way into the vast hotel, I entered as the President was making his opening remarks and so was unable to bag a seat at the front as is my habit when possible.
The first of the motions for debate was concerned with ‘Natural Beekeeping’. I had intended to point out that this phrase is an oxymoron but so many people wanted to speak that I sat on my hands.
I couldn’t restrain myself, however, when a later motion contained a split infinitive and was pleased when my anguished request that it be re-phrased was greeted with acclaim by the other delegates. Another motion was that the constitution be amended by giving the Chairman a second casting vote. I pointed out that one casting vote must surely be sufficient and the lady, a lawyer, who had draughted the motion confessed that she had inadvertently omitted the word ‘or’ between ‘second’ and ‘casting’. So that was put right.
Out of kindness to the President, who had only minutes of his term of office remaining, I didn’t take him up on his statement that, as delegates, we were there to represent our members. The role of the delegate is quite different to that of the representative: the former is duty bound to cast his members’ vote as directed by them whereas the latter has the freedom to listen to the arguments before making up his mind as to how their vote should be cast.