How is the MG Car Club run and what say do members have?

This NEWS item provides a report on a question raised by Jerry Birkbeck of the Y Type Register at the recent six monthly meeting of the Club Council, who suggested changes to the Club's governance, particularly to the voting system and arrangements for the Club's AGM. The note then sets out the current Club voting arrangements and highlights real concerns raised by several Council members at that meeting with the suggested changes. Whilst no vote was taken, it was clear that most members attending that Council meeting felt unconvinced by the suggested changes. Many felt they saw few signs that Jerry Birkbeck accepted the reasoning or logic behind those concerns and the sensible need for the present voting system. As it is likely this topic may arise again, this note aims to set out details of the current system and the reasoning behind the real concerns over the changes suggested by Jerry Birkbeck.

If you have any views on MG Car Club governance or the Club's voting arrangements, do let the V8 Secretary, Debbie Brading, know so we are aware of what you feel or suggest. Email

For further information on the Club structure and governance, see our webpage. More


Posted: 121121

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A question was raised by Jerry Birkbeck (Y Type Register) for discussion at the Club Council meeting held on Saturday 10th November 2012. He proposed "one member, one vote" rather than the present arrangement where one representative of each CRB (Centre, Register and Branch) with a vote at Council and at general meetings of the MG Car Club. He suggested that to encourage greater participation by members, holding the Club's AGM as a stand alone event with a guest speaker would be an added attraction.

Several members responded explaining the reasons for the present Club voting arrangement and expressing concerns over the unintended risks that could arise from the changed voting system suggested by Jerry Birkbeck.

What is the present voting system?
There is a prudent provision in the Club's Articles of Association that those entitled to vote at the Club's Council meetings and at general meetings of the MG Car Club Limited are the Voting Members, each a representative of their individual CRB. Two representatives from each CRB are entitled to attend those meetings, one of whom is the Voting Member. Their role is to represent the views of the members of their CRB so far as they are able. The views of their CRB members may be gathered from either correspondence or direct contact with their members or from matters raised and discussed at general meetings of their CRB. Voting Members are however representatives rather than delegates, an important distinction.
The Club's voting system was last examined in 2006 when an Articles Committee was set up by Council to review the Memorandum and Articles of Association. That committee, chaired by Dick Morbey (MMM Register chairman), continued the present voting system in their redraft of the Club's Articles of Association which was adopted at a Club AGM in 2006.

What scope is there for Club members' involvement in CRB affairs and voting opportunities?
Club members are able to vote for the election of the committee members of a CRB at the annual general meetings of the CRB and indeed can be members of more than one CRB - for example of a Centre and of a Register or several Registers. So the views of Club members can be made through the CRB or CRBs of which they are a member and they can vote for the election of their CRB committee members too.

What outcome do we want from good Club governance?
Our aim is to ensure the Club is well run in terms of the quality of the support and scope of services it provides for Club members and that its finances are run in a prudent and professional manner. It's important that the present system of Club governance encourages those aims and also encourages members to volunteer for key roles on their CRB committees and the Executive Committee who have real ability and skills in managing the business and organisation of a true members' motor club.

A practical aspect is the geographical spread of the members of the Club in the UK is wide so the likelihood of many members being able to attend a general meeting of the Club, even if attached to an event providing additional attractions, is relatively low because the distances many members would need to travel would be considerable. The likely outcome is Club general meetings would not be very well attended and consequently might not be representative of the views of Club members as a whole.

The single issue group or "takeover" risk
A real concern with a members' club with a countywide membership is that if an alternative system were to be adopted where each Club member had a vote at general meetings of the Club, a single issue group or a group of members intent on taking over the Club could very easily arrange for a large number of their supporters to attend the meeting and by strength of numbers win key votes on both the usual agenda items and on any special motions the group had tabled to give effect to their single issue concerns or intent. So in that case a reasonable view would be that disproportionate representation by a single issue group could lead a situation that could very easily misrepresent the views or wishes of the majority, many of whom are happy to play a passive role in their Club's affairs. Would that be a desirable outcome and would it represent the wishes of the majority? Many members feel that is unlikely but a greater concern would be a real risk the Club could be taken over by that small group attending a general meeting.

Protection of minority interests
The present voting system gives equal votes to each CRB regardless of how many members it has, thus protecting CRBs which have a small number of members, an important concern as CRBs differ greatly in membership numbers. Without this protection the two largest CRBs would effectively control the Club and could push through measures against the interests of the smaller CRBs.

Effectiveness of the present CRB representatives system with Voting Member rights
This system has been seen to work during difficult periods for the Club over the last decade, for example when overambitious Club office development plans were promoted by the Club's Executive Committee (the Board). In cases like that the Council, as a representative body with the general role of monitoring the Board and the ability to vote on motions at Council meetings together with their voting rights at general meetings of the Club, has been able to exercise good governance over the Board and the Club's affairs. The proposal to move to a system of one member-one vote at general meetings of the Club is seen by many with experience of the Club's affairs as misguided as it does not seem to recognise the success of the present Club governance arrangement and the realities or the dangers from an unrepresentative single issue group applying a disproportionate influence on the Club's affairs and prospects.

Many Club members feel our current voting system protects the interests of Club members far more effectively
We heard at the Council meeting that the proposal put forward for discussion by Jerry Birkbeck had not had full discussion with his Y Type Register committee or at their AGM which many felt was not an encouraging feature for a proposal seeking to make a major reform of Club governance. "One member one vote" has a superficial appeal as a democratic slogan, but "one CRB one vote" - our current system - actually protects the interests of Club members far more effectively.

If you have any views on Club governance or the Club's voting arrangements, do let the V8 Secretary, Debbie Brading, know so we know what you feel or suggest. Email

For further information on the Club structure and governance, see our webpage. More

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