Size matters

Published: Thursday, 07 May 2015

IN THIS time of political turmoil and during the run up to the election, it is a time with the various political parties each wanting to be in the broadcast debates, writes Mick Fitzgibbons.

Or in some cases, alternatively, not wanting to be involved, particularly if others are also going to be sharing the same stage. It seems that be the parties large or small they all are wanting parity in air time.

Size matters

There has to be a cut-off point where small parties that do not have sufficient size and volume of membership and therefore only a limited opinion to share, should not have an unfair and unrepresentative allocation of air time granted over and above what would be commensurate with the size of the membership. Not only that but there should be a strictly enforced cut-off point.

In a strange and in a similar parallel way, the Canal & River Trust seems to set a great deal of store by its close ties to various representative associations. Yet there is a parallel to the political circus of over and under representation. How many members should an association have to warrant being able to influence the trust through its meetings with various representative associations.


For some time now there has been a great deal of speculation about the representation of boaters interests by groups that either represent boaters and a wealth of other waterways users, or are so small that they only represent a small almost insignificant number of boat owners.

This calls into question that there is the possibility that there could be small groups, where it could also be argued that they do not actually command sufficient numbers to be really representative of a significant proportion of the boating community. For some time there has been some speculation on social media about the provenance of one such group. The speculation being 'that one minority boating group is actually almost a one man band operation'.

Litmus Test

One way to test such an outcome would be for the groups wishing to represent members to provide annual membership figures. To be a true association the group should also hold Articles of Association. As a part of the level of proof, the associations should be able to demonstrate, times and dates of annual general meetings and the results of the elections being held.

There should also be sufficient proof to demonstrate that opinions expressed are actually representative of the membership, including the way that membership opinion is collated. Otherwise, the whole process can be thrown into doubt about whether the opinion is led by a single individual, an unrepresentative group or by real consensus from a significant membership.