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The BMF Action Plan: Wind of Change or Just a Draft!

August 5, 2010


Shrewsbury, England – Reader discretion advised. We’d like to say that in our opinion the following may not suitable for motorcyclists who perhaps have a nervous disposition, basically couldn’t give a monkeys or are currently BMF members!

It’s here, it’s public, it’s been outed the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF) ‘Action Plan’ 2010-12 is here. The bottom line? The BMF is closing all its worldly manifestations and going on-line. From here on out it’s going to be the cyber BMF, a biking whirlwind of apps, social networking, flash mobs, breakfast clubs, Twitter. Facebook, person specs, rigorous reviews, out sourcing, partner working and cloud based project software. If all the buzz speak in the ‘Action Plan’ is to be believed the BMF will, like religious deities, be all around us, be an all-encompassing biking matrix, the bikers new age ‘Tron’. OMG I just hope I’m not ‘the one’ mind you I wouldn’t mind a thrash on the 996.

How did the BMF descend into progress? Well suffice to say like some other organisations organised and run by volunteers not everyone sees eye to eye. So from a splinter group leaving to form the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) via varies alleged  forms of back stabbing, power struggles, self-interest, calls for cash, fighting funds, unwarranted sackings of events managers, strange dispersals of cash, goods and chattels, dodgy expense claims, alleged unauthorised signing of cheques, alleged Masonic self-help, office ‘antics’ and ill-advised money-raising ideas the BMF progressed from a house in Mordon via a half million pound HQ to a boutique office in Leicester, and that’s going too.

It’s all in the past so let’s forget it. But do remember the motorcycle club chairman who started the BMF, led by the inimitable Jack Wiley, the legacy of rider’s rights and the fantastically well run and fun bike rallies/shows that the organisation leaves behind. Biking is better because of the committed activists and lobbyists, both volunteer and professional employed, who found their way to the BMF and worked their b*****ks off for UK biking.

So what now?  Well decided for yourself here. Could be that the BMF has not asked of itself the right questions. a) Why do we need the BMF and b) Why would people pay to join. What’s the Unique Selling Point? I can do all that the BMF is doing myself without a subscription and it’s more fun.

Then of course there is this gem from the ‘Action Plan’:-

‘There is no room for competition in motorcycling lobbying between the bmf, other lobbying organisations or the motorcycling media, when we are all seeking the same outcomes for motorcycling’

That statement highlights the BMF’s current political naivety. Does the BMF really believe that a German based media group, the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCI), the Association des Constructeurs Europeens de Motocycles (ACEM) and MAG are really seeking the same outcomes? I’m sorry but I simple don’t believe that someone who is trying to sell me a paper or a motorcycle has my interests at heart. It is after all about profit!

The ‘industry’ currently needs friends, wouldn’t you with a 23% cut in sales. So it’s all open hands and partnership working. But just wait until the recession ends. Then there are the BMF members do they want their interests popped into bed with all the ‘others’. Has anyone asked them?

Still I guess the ‘Action Plan’ is progress, of a sort. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.

© Back Roads Rider 2010

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Itchy & Scratchy permalink
    August 5, 2010 7:01 pm

    It sad though to see such a powerful lobbying organisation that has done so much in the past for riders’ rights, reduced to a twitter – or should that be twit?

  2. A late night outpouring permalink
    August 6, 2010 3:40 am

    I’m not sure it is that sad that they have decided to do away with a physical HQ. How many of their members had reason to visit their HQ, not many I would guess.

    I’m feeling a little smug, it might be misplaced, but I think the NTBPT group has shown both the BMF and MAG what can be done by using the Internet. Is it not true that neither organisation were able to contact their own membership so quickly and instantly as the NTBPT group.

    But the NTBPT lot are really just upstarts, but upstarts that kept doing things which were said to be impossible. Those upstarts have not had to grow through the problems of asking for membership fees, and electing committee members. If that comes, I hope the NoTo group can remain as fluid as they are.

    I would like to see both MAG and BMF working out a way to engage new riders, and be able to get across how and why this boring political stuff can and will end up directly effecting them.

    Lesson one has to be, if you want to reach ordinary riders, don’t do what the MCIA does.

    Respect to the BMF for going down the IT route (I’m a big fan of reaching people through the Internet) it will bring great benefits to them if they don’t start employing overpaid IT consultants. If political internal struggles can be put aside then why not have a chat to the back room people at NTBPT and soak up lots of free IT advice. They ride bikes as well so what’s not to like, plain un-sugar coated speaking perhaps. Ask them if they think MAG and BMF are sexy, and if not, how they could be sexy once again.

    So long as no one wants to use phrases like ‘Composite Needs based Criteria’ and ‘Syngenetic Incremental Microstructure’ everyone should be fine.

    Congratulations to the BMF for 50 years and still going without imploding, that is quite an achievement, and thanks for what you have achieved so far. There is IMO a need for a UK wide direct action group, people are fed up with politicians, bikers are way down on the horizon, and need to get noticed, we are getting walked all over. We should be much more mainstream and seen as a big part of the fashionable green solution. Come on MAG you can do it if you try once again.

    • Nemissis permalink
      August 8, 2010 9:17 pm

      yeah yeah yeah…..

      Both the BMF and MAG need 1) a charismatic leader 2) passion and 3) issues that bikers can relate to.

      IT is a means to an end, but TBH, I would prefer to become a supporter of Marmite than either of the these two organisations – at least Marmite knows how to intrigue people and get them involved.

      • Back Roads Rider permalink*
        August 8, 2010 11:29 pm


        Introducing an element of satire….

        It even tastes better!!

        The British Marmite Federation.


        For a more radical and pithy approach.

        The Marmite Action Group.

  3. August 6, 2010 2:03 pm

    Yep no more BMF support from me, and I’ve been a member for a lot of years. Sad init.

  4. Ian Lee permalink
    August 9, 2010 10:32 pm

    Have given my membership up, not so much due to the action plan, but more as a typical BMF cockup not informing the membership and keeping quiet yet again on their finacial position. in otherwords I’m fed up of paying a membership fee and not recieving owt for it but silence.

  5. Voysov Reason permalink
    August 10, 2010 9:55 am

    On the BMF website there are instructions regarding motions for the AGM which include examples:

    ‘A should be removed from office as of the Union on the ground that he is unable to perform his functions satisfactorily and has brought the Union into disrepute.’

    So it shouldn’t be difficult to find two people to put in motions for each of the eight directors using the template above.

    I don’t doubt that individually these directors are good, decent people. But for the Chairman and Finance Director to allow the organisation to end up in this situation, perhaps it is time that somebody actually told them that they are incompetent. Maybe nobody has?

    Why is it that the public affairs executive who effectively represents the BMF in government, Europe and beyond is not held accountable? Surely if the BMF has not been able to retain members, he has a large share of responsibility?

    But let’s face it, normally what happens in RR organisations is that the members and regional officers prefer to not know, so who’s really to blame? The incompetents running the show or the members for not throwing them out?

    Just an observations – on the Action Plan there is a spelling mistake. These things happen but in this case it is ominous – The “Public Relations and Communicaiton Director”.

    The best advice to give the Directors of the BMF and the Public Affairs Executive is quite simple:
    go now.

    • Chris Hodder permalink
      August 12, 2010 6:07 pm

      Dear Voysov,

      I am open to fair criticism, but can you please explain how I can be so responsible for a decline in membership that I should be fired? As an employee, I am accountable to my employers, the same as any other employee in any other company and not one of them has expressed a disatisfaction with my work in my more than three years of employment. To the best of my knowledge, the decline in membership of the bmf has not been down to a significant failure on the political side for which I am responsible.


      Chris Hodder
      Government Relations Executive
      British Motorcyclists Federation

      • Voysov Reason permalink
        August 14, 2010 2:15 pm

        Dear Chris Hodder,

        Your comment “I am accountable to my employers” is crucial to this response. Just who are your employers? As an employee, considering the type of organisation that you work for, your responsibility is not just to the Directors of the BMF, but more importantly – to the membership at large.

        You are effectively more than an employee. You are the voice of the BMF and your communications to the members and outside are fundamental in keeping the profile of the BMF “out there”. Your communications define the organisation.

        At present, the means of communication to the members of the BMF and public are:
        facebook and twitter. On facebook, your photograph does not give the impression of professionalism. There are three facebook pages for the BMF, even so not everybody uses facebook. For those looking for information about issues, Twitter is not the best means of communicating detail and substance.

        Where is the basic information on Riders’ Rights that people need to understand the BMF’s positions. The last position paper in the “Briefing Room” was written in May 2007. The last “Campaigner” was written in February 2009.

        You have moved so far away from detail and substance that there is nothing to enable anybody to understand what message you are trying to give and how it relates to the issues that are so important to riders.

        As an example, MAG UK has a email activists list and regularly sends out information – you do not.

        Their website is regularly updated with news and looks professional. The BMF website is badly designed and most of the graphics are pixelated.

        That may not be your fault, but those failures could be overlooked if there were regular information apart from the BMF shows and other initiatives on which the BMF has piggy backed. For example, NTBTP which was a spontaneous reaction to Westminster Council by a group of bikers and RAV – where it appeared that MAG did most of the work.

        Effectively the last informative press release was on July 9th on the Motorcycle test review, so it seems that there is very little there to show that your organisation is a motorcycle lobby group with its finger on the pulse and ultimately that is down to you.

        This comparison is not intended to promote MAG UK over the BMF, they too have shortcomings, but simply to identify where the BMF is failing.

        A good example of an employee who seriously got it wrong and was responsible for the public perception of the organisation was the BP CEO. He may still be employed, but the company suffered dramatically because of his appalling PR, not because his employers thought he was wonderful.

        On the point of whether the decline in membership is due to a failure in the political side – I beg to differ. Certainly the loss of money due to bad commercial decisions has been a terrible blow to the BMF, but active lobbying, getting out there to talk to the members to find out their concerns is the most important aspect of a voluntary organisation that relies on its membership to survive.

        Perhaps all these issues are due to your mentors not supporting you?

        Why do you not attend the AGM to provide details of your activities? How is it possible for members to ask you directly, what you actually do?

        If you feel that you are so precious to the organisation, then you should attend the next AGM and explain why this is so – to the members who ultimately pay your wages. They may think you are wonderful – or not.

        Considering the sheer scale of the waste of money the BMF Directors have overseen, they (your so-called employers) are not the best examples of business acumen or common sense and anyway, they may not be around in a couple of months time.

        The BMF is the sum of its membership and the members are the people you need to convince.

  6. Jeery Schwarczkopf permalink
    August 27, 2010 12:18 pm

    Well, that killed the conversation.

    Perhaps Mr Hodder would like to reply and let the BMF members know if he intends to attend the AGM to explain just what it is that he does, apart from twittering?


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