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Battle principles

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The RIBA presidential election battle is more interesting now that Annette Fisher has joined the fray - because, as we will be told ad infinitum over the course of the campaign, she is (a) female and (b) black. This is supposed to make her more 'relevant' than the other candidates, no-hoper David Thorp and George Ferguson, who can nevertheless be said to represent the 'regions' and perhaps may also be 'relevant'. This is pathetic stuff.

The task of the RIBA president is to lead the profession and to take the many decisions, large and small, which are required of the post. Being white, black, male or female matters little compared to being competent, honest and principled. Presenting Fisher as the inevitable choice of a progressive profession is a form of emotional blackmail - not voting for her condemns you as a white male reactionary. Fisher is a good architect and a lively contributor to professional debate - as is Ferguson. Let them slug it out over almost anything except sex and race. Incidentally, there is something odd about a closing date in February for an election to find someone who will not become president until July 2003.

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