"A Tory activist has been expelled from the party for posting a picture of himself with a Hitler moustache on Facebook. Daniel O'Docherty, 21, wore the 'tache to a fancy dress party and later posted a picture on the social networking site. And beside it, in the "My Favourite Quotes" section, he allegedly made racist and sexist comments, including one saying: "I don't hate everyone, I just hate women." Daniel, chairman of the Birmingham University branch of Conservative Future until earlier this month, yesterday met Tory officials. He told them he made the comments to expose bigotry. But a spokesman said: "These comments are disgusting. He has no place in the party. He is being expelled immediately."" - Sunday Mirror
5pm: This from Daniel's Facebook status:
CF have a new website. It looks very good.
Owen Meredith has an Inauguration Day piece on what Britain's Tories can learn from Obama.
It is being reported on various newspaper websites (here, here and here, for example) that Matt Lewis - who was Conservative Future Area Chairman in Staffordshire until a couple of weeks ago - is being expelled from the party for boasting on his Facebook page about going to a fancy dress party dressed as Madeleine McCann.
ToryBear broke the story yesterday evening, including a number of grabs of the relevant Facebook page, one of which I reproduce here.
"This offensive behaviour is not only shocking but intolerable and completely unacceptable. There is no place for this sort of person in the party."
A spokesman for the McCann family has welcomed his swift expulsion but demanded a private and public apology for his actions.
Elsewhere on ConservativeHome today, there is a discussion going on about councillors' use of Facebook as a tool for political campaigning, which goes to remind us that that social networking sites can be a very useful way of engaging in political activity (as well as keeping in touch with friends and so on).
But this tale also serves as a timely reminder to anyone using such sites that whatever you write on them is in the public domain and will reflect on you and/or organisations which you represent.
Matt Lewis has issued the following statement:
"I unreservedly apologise to Mr and Mrs McCann for my actions. I completely regret my behaviour that night and since, and cannot express how sorry I am for the incredible hurt I have caused. Whilst my actions were not meant to be malicious, I fully understand the pain they have brought."
I now learn that two further Conservative Future members - Flick Cox, chairman of Keele CF, and Richard Lowe, CF regional co-ordinator in the North West and a councillor in Cheshire - are also to be expelled over the remarks they made on Matt Lewis's Facebook page with reference to his outfit.
CF Chairman Michael Rock has issued the following statement:
"As you may know, a young member of Conservative Future has been expelled from the party today. we have also seen two other people expelled due to association with this incident.
"The person concerned made a serious error of judgment, behaving in a completely unacceptable manner that was both shocking and offensive. There is clearly no place for this in the Party. We should all remember that actions have consequences. Representing the Party, at any level, is a privilege and a great responsibility. I know that he deeply regrets his behaviour, and especially regrets any hurt he has caused the McCann family.
"it is important for us to remember, though, that the vast, vast majority of CF members give up their time and effort because they wany to change this country for the better. The vital thing is for all of us to learn from this, draw a line under it and refocus our effrots on representing the values and ideas of our Party".
Michael Rock, National Chairman of Conservative Future, has sent out an email to the organisation's area chairmen aimed at clarifying the status of "radical" proposed reforms to the Conservative Party's organisation for under 30s. No official details of the reforms have been released. But the expectation is that their focus will be the abolition of the National Management Executive, made up of chiefly elected (and some co-opted) Conservative Future members, which has existed since Conservative Future was created in 1998. Powers current exercised at this level would be devolved to the level of regional chairmen. Alternatives to the current postal ballot elections are also being considered, including an internet ballot for election of the national chairman and the regional chairmen being elected at annual general meetings.
In his email, Rock urged patience while full details emerged, arguing that moves towards regionalisation would combat the pitfalls of existing bureaucratic structures:
"These reforms are still being looked at and are not finished yet. I can't release the full details because there is not a fully developed plan. Furthermore, the reason we have not administered a broader consultation is that we cannot change anything without the Party Board's approval.
"... I ask members for patience; the NME and I will be continuing to work through the reforms before releasing them to the membership. These reforms are radical but they do follow my manifesto pledge of giving CF back to the membership at the lowest level, through regionalisation and turning our bureaucratic structure on it's head. In essence, the plans we are discussing do not affect the majority of members directly but should see a much more effective management structure at a national level."
ToryBear's second survey focuses on opinions of Conservative Future's National Management Executive, and can be completed now.
CF Chairman Michael Rock has given a couple of interviews to bloggers in recent days. He talks to ToryBear about CF needing a better structure, needing to be more independent of CCHQ, and of branch chairs enjoying more autonomy.”
Talking to Richard Holloway Michael Rock defends his stewardship of CF:
"There’s been lots going on, we had the Mayoral elections, Crewe and Nantwich, Henley and the local elections to deal with, events come in and you have to react sometimes, in fact there are so many events to deal with it can be difficult to stay on track with the promises we’ve made but we’re managing it."
Richard continues: "Michael still works full time as a consultant while balancing his responsibilities as CF Chairman. He brandishes his Blackberry, proudly boasting: "Yesterday I got 42 emails, 8 calls and had two meetings in my lunch break, it doesn’t stop and it’s not going to, there’s just too much to do.""
Patrick Sullivan: "Patrick Sullivan, known as “Puddles” or “Patch” to his friends. Sullivan is studying for a postgraduate degree in marketing. On first impressions he is the young fogey of the group – rotund and crumpled in a Churchillian way, an aficionado of the Prime Minister brand of snuff who was christened “Tory Boy” at university. Like all good Thatcherites, he was inspired by Friedrich Hayek’s demolition of socialism The Road to Serfdom. But although he seems like a throwback to the young Torydom of the 1980s, Sullivan is a true Cameronite. “The party has ditched a lot of the social conservatism,” he says. “We are not really Daily Mail Tories. If you take on a girl out on a date, you don’t spend the whole time slagging the date off. You are not going to get a second date. We are now trying to be nice to our dates.”"
Anastasia Beaumont-Bott (pictured on the cover): "She is 19, bisexual and wears a sharply tailored hounds-tooth overcoat that looks like it has been stolen from a member of the Human League. Her hair is sculpted into a severe pixie-cut, her Scottish skin is deathly pale and she speaks with a genteel Edinburgh Morningside accent. She has, she tells me, 45 pairs of shoes, but today is wearing kitten heels. Her incessantly bleeping personal organiser has been studded (or “pimped”) with pink plastic crystals. Beaumont-Bott is chiefly known as the founder of LGBTory (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Tory) – a social network which promotes “pro-gay policies” within the Conservative party. So far, with just 200 members, LGBTory seems not much more than a website with the party’s English Oak logo bedecked in the rainbow colours of Gay Pride. But it has been far from idle. LGBTory has held a stall at Gay Pride events throughout Britain."
Liza Chantelle: "it seems like I’ve stumbled across the Conservative party’s Paris Hilton. She has cherry-red false nails, striking extended eyelashes and describes everyone, including David Cameron, as “hot”. The best thing, she says, about Conservatives is the canapes. On her Facebook home page she says that Jesus is her “home-boy”. Everything she says seems layered in irony: “I’ve got a very sardonic humour,” Chantelle concedes. “I’m very intelligent. Sometimes you find yourself disguising that because it is just easier.” The 23-year-old Miss Jamaica runner-up from Harrow is now the face of the Conservatives’ latest leaflet. It features her in a tight T-shirt under the slogan “Your Country Needs You”. The photo wouldn’t look out of place in FHM magazine. She gives me a copy and admits: “They did ask if I had anything less tight.”"
Michael Rock: "“I’m exactly the kind of person who votes for us but isn’t a member of the party. I worked for a few years and didn’t go to university until I was 25. I don’t fit the stereotype at all.” I ask him to describe the average member of Conservative Future: “The average member is probably a graduate professional, aged 25, anti-EU, pretty much libertarian. But there has been a reversion back to a community feel where they do believe in social action.” But, though he’s anti-tribal, Rock’s views are far more libertarian than the next Conservative manifesto is likely to be. He believes that income tax should be replaced by a local sales tax, dislikes the fact that the government takes 40p in every pound of income, hates ID cards and distrusts what he sees as fear-mongering by the state: “I don’t believe in rule by fear – and that is what Labour have done. It’s just like Bush – this sense that we are under attack every single day.”"
"On the evidence of my travels, the “decontamination of the Tory brand” is working. It’s hard to imagine fashionable young women and openly gay teenagers knocking on doors for the party a decade ago. And, having seen their party in opposition for 10 years, there is not yet a hint of hubris about them – or of the harsh slogans that the Young Conservatives seemed to relish in the 1980s. Most of the new members I met were concerned with a Cameronite agenda of ending family breakdown and generational poverty and safeguarding civil liberties. It’s impossible to imagine them using the word “sound”, as their 1980s equivalents did, to describe eye-watering views on everything from the repatriation of immigrants to the return of the gallows."
Read the full feature here.
The relatively recent phenomenon of party conference social action projects have so far been limited to the dates of the conference. This year there will be a much bigger lead up for the Birmingham conference, with party activists already working hard in the Welsh House Farm area of the city.
Last week there was a huge swing in a by-election held in the area of last year's social action project in Blackpool, so the benefits to both the ocmmunity and the party are clear.
Anastasia Beaumont-Bott is co-ordinating CF's role in "WHF":
"The task is simple: to transform the area using a bottom up approach through working with the local community, local charities and local entrepeuners. But what singles this project out from all our other past projects is that this make over we are doing, is more than just the physical; painting fences and planting flowers etc! It's social changes as well and will go under the skin to find the roots of the problems and potentially find solutions. For example: one of the charities we are working with is "Positive Parenting." Over the last couple of weeks I have grown increasingly more excited about "I LOVE WHF" - it really is the definition of what I want the CF Social Action Network to be, and I am thrilled to have CF working so closely with the party on this."
She needs several CF volunteers to help with a community sports day event on the 13th of July. There's also a big event planned on the 6th and 7th of September, and various ongoing projects. Contact ABB if you're interested in getting involved.
The irreverent, insidery blog seems to be pitched as a Guido Fawkes of the CF world. Holding CCHQ/the exec to account is obviously something CF Diary would support as long as it doesn't make things too personal and foment divisions.
Anyway, it's holding a survey on CF which you can take here.
Fresh from a successful effort in Crewe, Conservative Future is gearing up for campaigning in the Henley by-election. The Exec will be using new software to update members with the progress in the by-election:
Twitter - Using Twitter (a microblogging site) we will be able to provide constant updates of how things are going - from now until polling day. You can see the Twitter feed at the top of the right sidebar on the Exec blog (CFHenley08). We have been 'twittering' from London so far; with info and things we hear, but from tomorrow it will be from the heart of the action - the full feed can be seen here.
Flickr - Through Flickr (online photos) we will be able to upload photos directly for members to see what we are up to - these will be online minutes after they are taken. There is also a Flickr photo feed just below the Twitter feed in the right sidebar.
Details of an upcoming campaign day in Henley, and a coach being taken up by ConservativeHome...
CF National Day - Sat 21st June @ 11:00am
If you have any general questions about travel etc then get in touch with the CF National Campaigns Director, Patrick Sullivan - email@example.com
Location: Henley train station
Conservative Home bus to Henley - Sun 22nd June @ 10:00am
Like with Crewe a number of CF members will be catching a ConservativeHome-organised coach up for a day of campaigning. We'll leave from central London at 10am and spend six hours in Henley including a lunch break. The voluntary cost will be £12 per person (we say voluntary because we'd rather have poverty-stricken students' time than their money). If you'd like to join us please email us.
The Henley campaign may not be as exciting as Crewe. Holding a seat is not as exciting as winning a seat but we can't afford to be apathetic. We need to maintain the momentum that has been built up over recent months by keeping the LibDems in a weak second place. If you can't join our coach trip but would like to help in other ways please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wrote in January about concerns that social action hadn't been developed in CF as much as it could have so I'm pleased to note the creation of the Conservative Future Social Action Network, which will bring together branch-level social action officers from right across the country.
Not every branch has a Social Action Officer but I understand the role was incorporated into the CF constitution towards the end of the last term by Mark Clarke so hopefully this network will catalyse its use. Unlike last year it doesn't look like someone with experience of social action will be co-opted onto the exec to focus on that aspect but it's clearly still a priority in CF as it is in the Party at large.
Exec member Anastasia Beaumont-Bott said:
"By bringing all the social action officers together, we hope to be able to find the communities in need of Social Action and work with the party to help promote Conservative Future as a caring and compassionate organization.
The Conservative Future Social Action Network will also aim to coordinate our efforts with the main party as a whole and help to spread awareness of the many social action events the Conservative Party are involved in right up and down the country."
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Shadow Minister for Social Action said:
“Social Action is about becoming embedded in our local communities and doing our bit to improve the wellbeing of local residents, I am very excited about the launch of the Conservative Future Social Action Network and look forward to working closely with them to get more social action projects up and running across the country.”
Your help is needed in compiling a list of all the social action bods (email AAB) and coming up with ideas for projects locally and nationally.
25th - 28th June.
See our Events page for more details.
These annual gatherings can take place anywhere in the world so you might as well take the opportunity of going whilst it's in Paris.
Conservative Future has this week announced the launch of Student Life – the student wing of Conservative Future that will coordinate the work of Student Conservative Future groups across the country.
The committee will be jointly chaired by National Executive Member, Patrick Sullivan and Sam Rozati, the only Conservative on the Executive of the National Union of Students'. Patrick will champion Student Life within the National Management Executive and sit on the Student Life Committee to ensure consistency with Conservative Future's wider activities.
Rozati will chair Student Life on a day-to-day basis to provide support to student groups in colleges and Universities across the country. The membership of the Student Life Committee will be announced by shortly.
If you are a student and would like to be considered for a position within the Committee please contact Patrick by 5pm on Thursday.
As well as tomorrow's CF Action Day you can help get Boris elected by making crucial Get Out The Vote calls:
For every 5 calls we make, we ensure an extra voter turns out and votes for Boris, so your calls can really make the difference. Therefore if we make 30,000 calls over the next two weeks we can help turn out an extra 6,000 votes – in a narrow contest that could determine who wins! So if you have a spare hour after work tonight please book in or if you could make calls from home let us know and we can get you canvass cards to make calls. It can and will make the difference!
Over the next week there will be some special prizes for the most completed calls:
Book in for a session by emailing email@example.com to win these Fantastic Prizes Today!
The Call Centre is based at 34 Bedford Row, London, WC1R 4JH and is open 5pm to 9pm Monday to Friday,10am to 6pm Saturday, and 11am to 6pm Sunday.
The Conservative Future exec have now got a blog just for their use - check it out.
It's a temporary measure before the new CF website is launched but it has the potential to be a great way for keeping members in the loop. Christian May told me that:
"This is the fist step that the new NME have taken towards to increasing communication and involvement. When the main website is developed you can expect many more ways for the members to get in touch and get involved."
Conservative Future is to officially support a protest outside the Sudanese embassy on Sunday April 13th. Andrew Mitchell MP, Shadow International Development Secretary, will also be there. New CF Chairman Michael Rock said:
"Becoming an organisation that appeals to a broader range of political activists, and becoming more accessible is the first step towards rebuilding Conservative Future so that we can expand in a whole new direction. To that end, we are pleased to announce that we are official supporters of “Day for Darfur 5”, a protest against the crisis in Darfur with particular focus on the affect that the situation is having on the children of Darfur.
When David Cameron visited the region last year, he did so because the humanitarian crisis is affecting millions of individuals and we should be doing more to alleviate the suffering. It is unacceptable to stand aside whilst government back militia attack innocent civilians."
If you live in London I strongly recommend going to this. That CF is engaging with this serious issue like, for example, the young LibDems (and later the IYDU) did with Belarus, is very welcome indeed.
For more information click on the flyer above, join the Facebook group, or contact Anastasia Beaumont-Bott on 07719797344
Some good press work here by Hertfordshire CF. They want to get Gordon Brown in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "worst rogue trader in history".
They based this on figures obtained by local MP Peter Lilley in this Parliamentary answer, showing that between 1999 and 2002 Brown sold 395 tons of British gold at a twenty year low, making just £2.3bn. The current market value of the gold is around £5.8 billion.
As the Telegraph's Spy column noted last week, the discrepancy beats Jérôme Kerviel's mere £3.5bn and the famous Nick Leeson by some way.
A Hertfordshire CF spokesman said:
"The money that Gordon Brown recklessly gambled away would have paid for tens of thousands of teachers, police, doctors and nurses. We would like to thank Peter Lilley, MP for the tremendous work he has done in exposing this scandal and forcing the government to admit the size of the financial losses taken."
On Thursday Lilley also asked for details of what advice Chancellor Brown was given at the time but the Treasury aren't budging on that one for some reason...
Just got back from the count, which was handled very efficiently by the ERS. The results are as follows:
Michael Rock - 291
Daryl Williams - 249
Matt Richardson - 228
National Management Executive
Christian May - 413
Adele Douglas - 400
Owen Meredith - 380
Steve Ricketts - 378
Anastasia Beaumont-Bott - 358
Patrick Sullivan - 347
Matt Lewis - 339
Karen Allen - 323
Charlie Groome - 320
Craig Cox - 299
Anne-Marie Bray - 273
Devon & Cornwall Area Chairman
James Morton - 36
Sean Mayer - 20
Just under 4000 ballots were sent out last time, just under 9000 were sent out this time. At a glance it looks like the number of votes is virtually the same, however - Michael Rock has in fact been elected Chairman with exactly the same number of votes as Mark Clarke was!
This halving of turnout despite there being a massively long election campaign might suggest that the additional votes sent out went largely to people who aren't active members but are merely members of CF age.
Congratulations to Michael Rock and the successful NME candidates on their election. It was a long and hard-fought campaign, so commiserations to those that didn't make it in the end. I look forward to CF moving out of campaign mode and onwards and upwards into a successful year ahead.
1. The results will be delayed by a day because the ERS, the organisation contracted to manage the elections, has requested more time. The count will now be on Tuesday afternoon instead of Monday evening. At least one candidate is out-of-pocket with their pre-booked train tickets but there's presumably not much that could have done about the unforeseen delay. An evening count on Tuesday would suit the "young professional" candidates that the Party is so keen to attract, however.
2. In case you missed it, click here for the Mail on Sunday piece on the Michael Lunn fiasco. The Political Editor of the paper contacted me after reading the story and commissioned Brendan Carlin, a well-respected journalist recently moved from the Telegraph, to investigate it. He found it to be true. These are the key bits:
"Leaked emails show 24-year-old Ms Hilley, who wants to become a Tory MP, was secretly urged to stand for election – and was given a signal that the Tory leader approved. Last night Ms Hilley told The Mail on Sunday she was approached about standing for the post – while the Tories claimed she approached them."
"In the wake of the row, Tory chiefs received a formal complaint over officials' meddling. The party's ruling board carried out a probe and gave Mr Lunn a "mild rebuke". Mr Lunn did not return calls from this newspaper."
So if anyone was in any doubt about the story, Clare Hilley's corroboration and CCHQ's rebuke of Michael Lunn should assuage it. It should be noted that Hilley believes it has been blown out of proportion and has absolutely no reason to lie about it. It therefore doesn't reflect well on Michael Lunn and the CCHQ spokesman that they have been saying that she was the one who did the approaching, indeed it is just one more reason for rational people who haven't access to the story's sources to smell a rat. It's such a shame it came to this.
3. Just to be clear, this issue is about trust as much as fairness. It's this absence of trust between the membership and the administrative element of CF that has led Chairman candidate Matthew Richardson to ask the Returning Officer if Mark Clarke may be present at key stages of the ballot verification process. As Chairman there are no data protection issues with this and he could potentially spot any glaring inconsistencies in the electoral roll that was submitted to the ERS. The Returning Officer has however denied Clarke access to those stages. There may well be no evidence of foul play but why stop Clarke, the elected Chairman of the organisation, seeking to verify that?
The stories keep rolling in about the distribution of ballot papers. A number of people are still waiting for ballot papers to arrive, apparently including the whole of Nottingham CF, and a number of people have had two of them.
Michael Lunn, who was responsible for the electoral roll, revealed the scale of the problems last night:
"We have removed some 3500 duplications where by there is a similar name, but I have learnt today that where a name has an incomplete address or postcode then an extra ballot may have been issued by ERS. This is extremely disappointing. The main thing is that ERS picks up on any additional duplications when they are returned."
Lunn also said yesterday that there had been a 24hr delay in sending out the ballots. They were supposed to be sent out on Monday 11th and voters have two weeks until the deadline for sending them back, March 3rd.
If you are having problems ring the helpline on 0208 889 9203.
Now that a blog has run with part of the story I think that CF members unaware of the full story deserve to be told it. CF Diary can reveal that the Party's "Youth Development Manager" has approached long-standing activist and Castaway star Clare Hilley offering Party resources for a campaign to get her elected Chairman of CF instead of the other, long-standing candidates.
I've been following this since before Christmas in the hope that the Manager would backtrack, apologise, or be disciplined internally. Instead, there has been continued deception on his part, and in the last week a Party Board investigation into the matter quietly concluded by telling him off for "the suggestion" that he had acted wrongly. In writing this report I've spent longer analysing the complexities of CF internal politics than I would usually care to, but it's important that it is made clear that this behaviour is absolutely unacceptable.
In November, being completely new to the CF scene and having only been appointed around the time of Party Conference, the Manager asked a young CCHQ employee if they knew of any female activists who may be willing to run against Williams, Richardson and Rock. As a result the Manager met with Clare Hilley twice, talked regularly to her on the phone and on a few occasions exchanged emails with her (see below). He claimed to her that Justine Greening MP (who has some responsibility for CF), Caroline Spelman MP (Chairman of the Party), the Shadow Cabinet and even David Cameron weren't keen on the current candidates but were keen on getting a woman in the role.
Hilley said she didn't think she had the time or money to organise a campaign, never mind having the time to be an effective Chairman. The Manager said that he could take care of the campaign and that unlike previous chairmen she could be more of a media spokesman than a director. He started to work on a website and other promotional materials, and even intended to use the CF Christmas Party to launch the campaign, even though candidates had (strangely) been told not to overtly campaign at it themselves. He also told her about the strength of different CF branches around the country and the details of meetings he had had with Mark Clarke and Justine Greening.
After all this, the Manager told the democratically-elected Chairman of CF, Mark Clarke, that he didn't know who Clare Hilley was.
Hilley initially thought about the idea before becoming concerned about the implications it would have for the relationship between CCHQ and the voluntary party, and realising that the Manager was clearly looking for somebody he could make decisions for. There is no question about Hilley's integrity here at all and she deserves to be re-elected Area Chairman of London South.
I spoke to the Manager this morning to give him a heads-up on my intention to go public with this and to see if he happened to have any solid rebuttals. The only one he offered, other than it all being "rubbish", was that he only met Clare Hilley as a matter of course because she was standing for Area Chairman. This was back in November - four months before the election - and at a point when she wasn't intending to stand for AC.
Now, read these email chains between the Manager and Hilley. The Party Board investigation was aware of these emails. A Party spokesman told me he was only encouraging her to stand and that anything more than that would of course be unacceptable, but these emails alone point to there being something more than encouragement:
Not only, by all accounts, have ballot papers been sent at least a week late but voters are required to sign their names on the ballot paper. It also seems that accompanying instructions on how to vote are actually from last year and therefore don't help people with the new setup.
Secret ballots are a standard feature in Western democratic elections. Anyone with experience in youth politics, and politics in general for that matter, knows how much chaos would be caused by somebody finding out who voted for whom.
I'll be seeking assurances from the ERS that the ballot papers don't go anywhere near CCHQ...
10.45am update: An urgent meeting in CCHQ today was assured that the part of the ballot papers that have the voters' names on will be guillotined off before going to the count.
When I was elected last September to serve on the NME I had a plan of action which I wanted to carry out. I had grand ideas, glorious plans and a romantic vision for change. I was an individual fighting my corner, trying to get my ideas onto the agenda. It wasn't to be. I now understand, with hindsight, that my ideas were a bit too extravagant, a bit too hopeful, a bit too unachievable. What is needed a group of people that have a consistent set of ideas that will work, rather than the NME being fractured along lines of aloof principles and far away concepts of grandeur. Forward Together is this team that will, given the chance, be the best team for the job.
As an incumbent, I am open to criticism. I did my best to help create branches in marignal seats, such as Pendle, Crawley, Solihull, Portsmouth and the Wirral; I intiated them, and they have since taken the reigns of power over themselves and I so pleased to see this happen. I organised the Nottingham Spring Forum CF presence, and many people said that it was an enjoyable experience. Others said it was bloody awful, but that's just life. I have done my best in the last year, and done my best to help CF members across the country have a branch close to them, and to enjoy the times they have amongst their CF friends. If you agree, then thank you. If you don't, then I apologise.
Having grown up in the Labour heartlands of the North East of England, in the only constituency in the country, which has never been Conservative, many people asked me why am I a conservative and what my motivations are? Then, working in the City and living in East London people have continued to ask me why I am a Conservative, but also querying why am I bothered to be involved with politics at all. The answer I would give is that when you passionately believe in something, in my case being enterprise, choice and democracy, you want to engage with likeminded people and you want to do anything possible to make sure you live in a country run by those principles. We do not live in that country now, the nationalisation of Northern Rock being yet another example of incompetence and control, but it has further increased my motivation to working with the Conservative Party to ensure we return to power at next Government.
I have been involved with CF for the last four years. I am an incumbent NME member who holds the Working Life portfolio. Over the year I have served I have tried to organise a variety of events to attract new members and to keep the existing membership engaged. I have acted as a focal point for Working Life enquiries nationally and put together a manual on “Setting Up a Working Life Branch.” Things are really going from strength to strength and we are in the process of setting up a sub committee comprised of individuals from across the country to organise events and to ensure new branches we set up nationally.
Charlie Groome, candidate for NME,
explains his motivations as part of this year's Why am I standing series.
The last decade has seen little innovation in domestic politics and a gradual erosion of civil liberties. With the triumph of market economics over state socialism the Labour Party's greatest assets have been voter antipathy towards Tories and a charming, youthful leader. Now they have neither. The ball is in our court and I want to guarantee that come the next general election the Conservative Party has a large, adept and proactive youth membership ready to spring into action across the country. We are not a policy organisation – but the networking of speakers, ideas, information regarding think-tank opportunities and Conservative civil society groups fosters the kind of dynamic atmosphere that can propel a movement. This is the kind of CF I want to innovate.
Acting on initiative in 2006 I set up National Conservative Future facebook groups, which now has over 1300 members and act as portals for distributing campaign bulletins, public lecture information and internship opportunities for CF members across the country. It has helped transform canvassing – increasing numbers and substantially reducing the average age of canvassers. I think back to when I first started out campaigning in London in 2004 at a time when many constituencies relied upon the generous support of pensioners and the odd eager local or dedicated party member. Together with the modernization of CF and the broadening of the Conservative movement this has been thoroughly transformed, though much opportunity remains unexploited.
I've had to endure a Labour government for my entire teenage life, and I'm damned if I'm going to endure them as a young adult as well.
Daryl Williams, candidate for CF Chairman, explains his policy for a CF Training College (download pdf).
I believe National Conservative Future needs to recognise its primary aim is to act as a service provider, supporting members locally. The grass roots are the heart of our organisation, without our dedicated activists, our organisation would cease to function. This is why I will ensure we are supporting members through the creation of a new college. The college will adopt four principles. There will be induction events and resources for new members joining our Party. It will support our grass roots activists through training days, seminars and online resources.
We need to distinguish between the different roles in CF and provide training specifically to the requirements we ask of our activists. Also, the college will encourage and support young people running for local government. Many activists I have spoken to have made clear their priority is for Conservative Future to concentrate on getting the basics right. The college is about providing practical support, helping you get on in the Party and perform your functions better.
I’m excited about Conservative Future. I can see how good this organisation can be. That it can cater for the all-weather campaigner, the guy who is more interested in the social scene and the member who is convinced she will be Prime Minister before her 35th birthday!
I’m optimistic about the future and I realise that to be all that CF can be, we need to get the basics right. I’ve been a CF activist who has wanted to push on and achieve more for my branch but I have had to face the same problems with communication and teamwork that many of you do too; my emails regularly go unanswered and my concerns often go unaddressed. It is time for action, it is time for practical changes, and it is time somebody was honest about the problems we are facing and constructive in finding the solutions.
Some of our branch and area Chairmen face a daunting task. Too often data has gone untracked and lines of communication have broken down. I’m facing a similar challenge in my own branch, but I’m now working to turn it around and I promise to help you to overcome these same challenges in your own branches.
CF is a great organisation and the reason for this is simple – our members. The strength of CF, our potential and our ability to deliver lies with the activists who work tirelessly hard around the country.
Change is needed, but I am proud of CF, proud of its activists and what we have delivered. This is an organisation that wants to achieve more, but for this to happen we must recognise the hard work and efforts of those who campaign, organise events and run our branches. They need to know they have the confidence and support of those who want to lead them into the future.
I have a decade of experience and joined the Party when many people were leaving us and we had lost power. I have been involved with CF since its creation and have first hand experience of the day to day challenges our members face. From being a CF Branch, Area Chairman and Member of the CF National Executive I have myself tackled the role of recruiting members, organising campaigns and social events at the grass roots level.
National CF needs to recognise its role as that of service provider, supporting members locally. I know that serving in office is a difficult experience and this job will involve making tough decisions, resolving differences and careful managing of our resources.
There will be many occasions when difficult decisions will need to be made. Some decisions may not be popular but a leader that can be trusted will do what is necessary with thought and concern for the people they lead.
Matthew Richardson, candidate for CF Chairman, explains his motivations as part of this year's Why am I standing series.
We have to be honest: Conservative Future is a fantastic organisation. It’s packed with passionately committed young conservatives who form the backbone of the Conservative Party. As an organisation we have achieved a great deal, supporting candidates in marginal seats across the country and helping to bring David Cameron closer to Downing Street. We are an asset to our party and, by default, our country.
But it’s not just campaigning that makes CF a great organisation. Thanks to CF I have made friends I know will last a lifetime. And I know this is something I share with members up and down the country.
Other candidates have been quick to attack our organisation, but I think when you take a step back and look at things it’s difficult to deny CF is something we can all be proud of. I know I am.
Of course just because we’re proud of CF doesn’t mean we can’t strive to be better. And in determining where improvements could be made there is one thing that should be foremost in our minds: the next general election is at most two years away.
Accordingly the next NME will be in charge of getting CF into fighting shape.