20 November 2000
Yorkshire members urge Union ballot
By FWi staff
RANK-AND-FILE farmers wanting more say in how their leader is elected could have their case considered by union leaders early next year.
After heated debate on Friday (17 November) West Riding National Farmers Union branch carried a resolution to allow ordinary members to vote for their leader.
This will be submitted to the London headquarters where leaders will place it on the agenda for the national AGM in February if they deem it relevant.
West Riding accepted a Wakefield branch proposal that all full farming members get the opportunity, by a postal ballot, to elect the union president.
At present ordinary members can vote for council members, but only council members can vote in leadership elections.
Wakefield vice-president Dick Lindley said if the resolution is adopted it would “change the face of the NFU forever”.
“We believe that it will make our organisation more democratic and more dynamic, and it would confer on our president a new and more powerful legitimacy, and would silence many of the critics of the NFU.
“For it would for the first time in our history that the rank and file members could actually change the direction or style of this great organisation.”
He added: “We are amazed that in this day and age we should have to battle and scheme in this manner in order to obtain a fundamental human right in most civilised societies, the right to vote for our leader.
An NFU spokesman said it would be “very unusual” for an organisation of its type to have one-member-one-vote.
He said the current system allowed council members to elect someone they knew and could judge whether their abilities were suitable for the job.
“The most popular person may not be the one whos best suited to deal with ministers or scientists,” he explained.