We would like to hear from you.
As Alice Cooper raucously yells, “I wanna be elected!”
And so it has come to pass. By the squeakiest of margins, I got enough on the single transferable vote count to nudge my way into the Law Society of Scotland vice-presidency. It is a great honour for me and a power of work to do. I start in May, do a year, and the custom is for the VP then to ascend by unopposed acclamation to the presidency. Assuming I don’t lose my trousers in public and they don’t radically change the rules, I am looking forward to 2 years of service followed by some additional duties for another year as immediate past President.
I use the word service advisedly, to make sure at the outset there is no flavour of power-hungry control freakery in my ambition to lead. In spite of the darkly articulated suspicions of some, the tradition being followed is in seeking appointment to office, not for its own sake but to help protect and advance the interests of solicitors and Scots. Even if I had Stalinist tendencies, they would be rightly ridiculed and ignored. If the Council of the Society is anything, it is a tolerant, collegiate body of decent folk that does not recognise or appreciate bad form. Anyway, I don’t have the moustache for it.
Speaking of manly hair, as part of his speech of welcome and congratulation the President formally presented me with a plastic comb. Indeed some may have recently seen a commentator referring to the candidates, who all happen to be follically challenged, as 3 bald men fighting over a comb. That was a (moderately – don’t give up paid employment for it) funny joke, spoiled a little by some rather more personal epithets accompanying. Not that I was offended by either version of the joke. I am sure if I did a word search I would find that I have previously blogged that head hair is irrelevant, all a man needs for success are cheekbones and charm. I have both, or technically all three.
Everyone was very kind and congratulatory, including David Newton, one of my distinguished opponents. Not that this assumes Olly Adair was un-congratulatory- he was not able to come to the Council meeting at which I was enthroned, so I will catch up with him for one of our customary beers anon.
It is funny how status imperceptibly but immediately changes. I was hauled away from the meeting to sign the office-bearer Christmas cards (thoosan’s of them) and then chat to various officials and bods about this and that. There is a great deal to learn in a relatively short time. Ok, it’s not until May, but I need like all previous VP’s to hit the ground running, and even if there were not great waves of change and debate around the legal world, the rules and practices, contacts and customs of the Society and the Council are substantial and wide-ranging. I expect to keep blogging on the way in and when I take office, but will probably keep this to my personal experiences and reflections on things – don’t expect to read advance copies of papers and projects until they are legitimately out there in the public domain. I am no longer an ordinary citizen. Ordinary as a person still yes, but with duties and responsibilities (crikey, even my writing style is becoming more speechy- if you ever hear me quoting St Francis of Assisi, have me taken out and shot).
And the other thing is the Inbox. Lots of emails congratulating me, and already some asking me to do or advise or explain things which would not have occurred to the writers to pitch at Austin Lafferty. But that’s fine; bring it on as one luckless politico said in the relatively recent past.
And that’s another thing. I have no doubt that what I do and say, or fail to do or say, will be held up to a microscope. No argument with that – it is pure accountability. As long as no-one questioning or criticising starts from an a priori assumption or characterisation of me as one thing or another – allowing them to interpret honest answers with an “I told you so”, “typical” or “ he would say that, wouldn’t he” expression on their face or words. My weakness in this regard is for all that I am a 30-years served legionary in the army of (Roman?) law, I am by instinct a lover, not a fighter. I assume the best in people until disabused, and I may fall foul by naivety and innocent misinterpretation. It would be lovely to think I could have an effortless year supporting the President Cameron Ritchie then assume the purple and bear an Augustinian charmed life for a year, but that is unlikely.
So all I can do is give it all my best shot (see it nearly happened again there – my fingers were about to instinctively type “blood sweat tears and toil”. Stop it!). And buy a new belt for my trousers.