July 21, 2008

Vernon: July's Editorial

I rarely write editorial content in this blog. I much enjoy reporting on factual curling news in Scotland and around the world, most of that positive and enjoyable. Comment is best in the magazine. But this is July, and the Scottish Curler is in its close season! So please forgive this blog post. Call it, if you will, a 'summer editorial'.

You see, I am annoyed and frustrated about how the Royal Caledonian Curling Club Board has tackled the Vernon issues, and failed to keep members informed about what's going on. You remember the story. Scotland fielded three players for the last couple of games at the Ford Women's World Championship in Vernon.

Why did this happen? An initial explanation was posted on the Royal Club website, then promptly changed, then changed for a third time. Initially, Lyndsay Wilson was made to appear as the person solely responsible - an inference that is so obviously not the complete story. Unfortunately, she remains in the eyes of many as the guilty party. I thought in this country we had a presumption of innocence, and guilt had to be proved?

An independent enquiry was promised. Months have gone by. You can read my last 'Vernon update' on May 13 here. Official complaints were made. Vague comments have been issued, most recently at the Royal Caledonian Curling Club AGM on June 9 (here), that a 'conduct panel' had been convened and had submitted a report. But the 14,000 members of the Club have been left wondering if they are ever going to find out what went wrong, and if lessons have been learned so that a similar situation will never happen again.

Why am I writing this now? The new Board of Directors is due to meet for the first time on Wednesday. Bob Tait (who is the new chairman), Colin Grahamslaw (the CEO), Irene Hird, Jeanette Johnston, Anne Malcolm, Lockhart Steele, Matt Murdoch (the new RCCC President) and Willie Nicol (the most recently elected Director) will have lots of things to discuss. But I hope that the Vernon controversy, and its resolution, is top of the agenda.

I would like to see a statement issued following Wednesday's meeting that confirms that an independent enquiry is underway. Note my emphasis on independent. Not an internal enquiry, not a 'we've had a report' and we're moving on, not a whitewash. Why the promised independent enquiry has never taken place (apparently), I cannot understand. I firmly believe that the Royal Club has treated us (its members) like young children. I find this reprehensible. That has to stop now. The Royal Club Board of Directors has not handled the Vernon controversy very well. Let me change that. The Board has handled it very badly indeed by not being open about its actions, and especially in leaving the presumption of blame totally on Lyndsay's shoulders.

It's a new Board. A fresh start. Time for change in attitude? I do hope so.

I hope the Directors read this. If you know a Board member, email them and tell them what I've written. These are our elected representatives, don't forget that. If you know an Area Standing Committee, or Ladies' Standing Committee representative, tell them too! "Bob's written a summer 'editorial'. Do you agree with what he says?"

I simply want to know what's going on, and, I suspect, so do you.

Most of all I want to have pride in the curling teams that wear Scotland's colours - whether they win or lose. I want to have confidence in all the coaching and backup staff. And I want to respect our governing body, the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. And, I suspect, so do you.

Contrasting views are always welcome. You can comment below, of course, but the Scottish Curling Forum is probably the better place.

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