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.
It has been my privilege to have received training from key groups in the broader Conservative movement – campaign management, youth activism and media training at the Young Britons Foundation, who themselves supported further training alongside Christian and Craig, my Forward Together colleagues, at the Leadership Institute in Washington DC. We discovered there was a lot to be learned from our transatlantic friends and our teaming is an effort to guarantee we get some of these ideas into CF sooner rather than later.
I have been an active political campaigner since my teens – canvassing London as a branch member of Hampstead and Highgate and with UCL Conservatives, and now bringing some of the enthusiasm and growth tactics I witnessed in the London Universities to Royal Holloway in Surrey where a reinvigorated branch has just re-launched with 50 new members. In the policy domain I have been an active participant in public policy programs at the US Institute of Humane Studies. These are opportunities I would love to see more young, intelligent Conservative thinkers utilizing.
Matthew, Adele, Christian, Karen, Craig and Anne-Marie and I have given serious consideration to the policy manifesto we have crafted. We do not make our promises lightly and hope to have a working majority to guarantee their representation in the next NME. I invite you to read our short bullet-list agenda covering CF's accountability, campaigning strength, internet presence, area enhancement and plans for a national weekend over at www.forwardtogether.co.uk