Avote for Alex Reid is a vote for disaster, RIBA pastpresident Owen Luder warned last week. It may well be, but it could also be a vote for a snazzy new e-mail-phone from Amstrad, absolutely free. Reid, a self-confessed Internet maniac, wants to convert the luddite membership of the RIBA by handing out the £80 units (which look certain to become the IT version of the Sinclair C5), to everyone without e-mail. He reckons there are about 4,500 members struggling with the plain old fax-phone-post combination, so the plan will cost around £15,000 of membership money. The thought of regular access to HQ partially cheered the dismally small audience of 30 at the London Region presidential debate last week. A rather more dull attempt to buy votes followed, with the thrilling promise of 'a battery of free CPD modules available on line', before the audience decided to liven things up and tear into Reid's time as director-general as being 'dogged by controversy'. Veteran councillor Bob Giles questioned 'his complete lack of enthusiasm to practise architecture', and it all became a bit too much for the self-styled listening candidate.
Reid screamed at Giles: 'What exactly is the question?' Life on the platform itself was far more harmonious, with Paul Hyett expressing the deepest admiration for his opponent: 'whatever you have read, he's one of the most charming people you could ever hope to meet'. But a moment later he stuck the knife into Reid, casting doubt on his right to be standing at all. The Scots have it right, he said - if you want to be a corporate member of the RIAS, and so president, you must be registered with the ARB.
Which, Hyett has been keen to remind the press, Reid is not.
There you have it: Paul Hyett good cop and bad cop, all in one.
This boy will go far.