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An Undeniable Fear To Speak Up

I have shared some of Steven Seymour’s writing with you before but that was before he won the accolade of Canine Journalist of the Year at the PAWSCARS just before Crufts.

Famed for his Beagriff Griffon Bruxellois Steven is a native of Australia but has been in the UK for several years now. He had written several well thought out and well reasoned letters to Dog World shortly after I became the paper’s editor, we chatted and shortly afterwards he became a monthly columnist. Steve would love to see the UK Kennel Club adopt what he sees as a much more democratic approach not just to membership but to its whole decision making process.

This is Steve’s latest offering and as usual he pulls no punches. as ever I’d be interested to hear what you think of his views.

LAST MONTH I wrote about the approval process and the Judges’ Sub-Committee. Within 24 hours of publication I was told directly by a member of that committee that any chance of me having a judging career in this country was never going to happen. So there we have it folks; rules are not followed nor are they important. What really matters is who you are and how you behave! Why follow rules when it’s possible to just use the ‘friends and not friend’ policy. Sadly people are not able to look objectively at what points are being raised but rather take issues raised as personal attacks.

Imagine business operating like that when a customer wrote and said that the product or service provided was not up to scratch in some way. Would they just dismiss that customer as a bad egg and never supply them again? No, they would look into what the complaint or argument was and then decide if there was room for change or improvement. They would almost certainly write or speak to the customer, maybe to explain the process or product quality. Sadly what I wrote last month has just been confirmed by the knee-jerk reaction of a committee member who has taken it upon themself to speak for the KC.

When rules are absent, certain people are given a free hand in dishing out favours or the denial of them. These people have never been challenged. They have been able to operate with a free hand and sadly it is the British judges and exhibitors who suffer the most. I would urge people to go back and read what I wrote last month again. The point I raise is a fairly simple one. It is one of fairness and accountability. I argue that if the KC wants to behave in such a manner with its own members then that is a matter for the members to accept or reject, but in many cases the KC is making decisions involving non KC members. So being denied membership is one thing but these people are also being denied natural justice. To simply say that on this occasion they have not been passed is just not good enough. People are entitled to know exactly why they were not passed. Did they fall short in numbers? Did the breed club object? If so which club and why? Or maybe the committee just thought that they were not ready yet? Or maybe the committee felt that having been passed for another breed recently that this was enough for now. We all know that rule about going too fast and being too ambitious!

Warning

One of the great tragedies of this subject is the undeniable fear to speak up or object. “Don’t take them on because they can destroy you” is what I was told in no uncertain terms. It was as much a warning as it was advice. I am more than happy to ask the questions because my judging prospects in the UK have clearly been laid bare. Apparently all I want to do is judge? Has this come from a KC member who has had a long and involved conversation with me. No it hasn’t? It is very interesting how much people can know about a person without ever having spoken a word to them? So my punishment for questioning the KC on this and many matters is to obstruct and deny me judging privileges. I am well aware of this fact and if this approach gives pleasure to some people then I am happy for them. I will not forget the obstruction of one application to judge. Three times the questionnaire was returned with such vital questions as please state which country Stockholm is in. Then there was the “deep regret” expressed at an FCI meeting by a KC staff member that FCI had accepted my Australian judging licence and issued me with an FCI judge’s number. So you can see that my so-called judging career was never going anywhere in the UK. It was decided long before I wrote last month about the Judges’ Sub Committee.

When I first began writing I would occasionally receive an email from Clarges St to clarify or refute something I had written. Then the tactic changed and it seems that the ‘ignore him and he will go away policy’ was taken. Well several years on, and with it seems the support of a good many readers, I am still writing. I see us all as equal and expect to be treated as such. So my advice to those who think they have struck some nasty revenge on me for daring to write about matters which should be left unquestioned is simple. The dog scene will change in this country. People will eventually be granted equal status no matter where they come from or what they do for a living. The KC will be forced to open its secret world up and account for what it does, and one day all active dog people will have a say in how things are governed.

Ugly and nasty

The other issue which surfaced after the Crufts week was the rather ugly and somewhat nasty comments in Our Dogs over the Pawscars awards. What a great night it was and what a huge success. Four hundred tickets sold out by January. Here we had a big gathering of dog people all with a united cause to raise money for charity and also to demonstrate what a positive lot the dog world can be. How sad it was to have bitchy comments not only in the press but also around the bar of the Metropole on the night by those not attending. Reference to “that lot” did not go unnoticed by many. Is it not time that the so-called old guard realised that for the KC to prosper it needs new and younger people. The Pawscars event symbolised that fact. The room was very much a great mix of young and old, of KC members and non-members. This is the future and the way forward. So maybe those who long for a return to the good old days need to stop for a while and think about things in a different way. The collar placed around everyone’s neck by the KC does no good and serves no purpose to anyone. New and younger people will never tolerate such behaviour for long. They are most likely to drift in and after a while move on to something else. As a result numbers will slowly drift down and talent will slip away. Let’s hope our new much younger General Committee members can see and understand that fact. – See more at: http://www.dogworld.co.uk/product.php/111665#sthash.Pp3SUHnp.dpuf

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Comments
  • Keven Harris April 10, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    Steven,, being the apparent fearless one, be a good Aussie and name this person who would dare to make such a threat / promise regarding your judging career going no where in the country you choose to currently ( for a long while now) live in!

    Should not happen and there is such a thing as reciprocation if push came to shove. As almost everyone knows, Australians, no matter where they are located do not bow down to any form of bullying!!

    • Keven Harris April 10, 2014 at 8:47 PM

      Thank you.

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