Graham Hamilton has been elected as the new president of Equity, narrowly defeating incumbent Harry Landis by 11 votes – 0.4% of the turnout.
Hamilton, who is the current vice-president and had been put forward by the union’s ruling Representative Group, received 1,163 votes, while independent Landis recorded 1,152.
This was more than he received two years ago, when he was successfully re-elected, but not enough to defeat Hamilton this time round. Nicholas Smith, the Members4Members faction’s candidate, received 507 votes – more than 150 votes fewer than the group’s previous candidate Teri Scoble, who ran in 2006 and got 683 votes.
Speaking to The Stage, Hamilton, who has been the union’s vice-president for the last ten years, said he was “honoured” to have been elected to the top post at his second attempt.
He added: “I would like to thank Harry Landis for the work he put into Equity during the six years he was president – we always worked well together as officers of Equity. Whichever way [people] voted, I promise I will be a president for all our members.
“As to the future, I hope we will achieve a good, fair settlement in the West End theatre, satisfactory to both players and producers alike and that we will be able to complete the difficult pan-industry discussions for a single contract in TV, which will protect the interests of our members in an all-digital future. I am also very concerned about the many closures of variety clubs because of the smoking ban.”
Hamilton has served on Equity’s ruling council since 1973. In the seventies, he appeared as Fagin in Oliver! in the West End. He currently serves as membership secretary for the Phoenix Artist Club.
Landis, who beat Hamilton by 12 votes in the election two years ago, said he was disappointed to have lost this time but was pleased with the number of votes he had received.
He also claimed that in the separate ballot for the general council – which has no bearing on the presidential elections – he had beaten Hamilton by nearly 400 votes. He added that he would not be standing for vice-president.
Landis told The Stage that he felt the support and organisation Hamilton had received from the Representative Group had been the decisive factor in his loss, rather than the recent controversy over comments he made during his president’s speech at this year’s Annual Representative Conference, when he criticised producer Bill Kenwright.
“The result is not too bad, bearing in mind they spent £2,000 on campaigning,” he said. “I think that had an impact and I also think that Nicholas Smith might have split the vote to some degree. I don’t think the Kenwright issue has had any effect.”
However, he said that there were still some doubts as to how suitable Hamilton would be for the post.
He added: “People seem to have doubts about whether he can do it. I’ve had one or two calls from people saying that we need a president with a profile in the business, which they don’t feel he has got. I don’t know whether that matters a lot, but they seem to think the president should have some kind of standing within the business.
“But he is very efficient with things like rule books and that sort of thing – he’ll be good in that area. But I worry that with his job he never seems to be able to make morning meetings, because he works so late. Whether he has got the time to do it all, we will see.”
The full results for the council elections have not yet been announced, but will be available on The Stage website this week. However, it has been revealed that the turn out for this year’s election was up nearly 30% from last election’s all-time low figures. Meanwhile, it is understood that there will be nine new members on the ruling council, six of these holding the positions for the first time.