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Baroness Berridge: Would the Prime Minster please silence Tim Montgomerie?

BerridgeElizabeth Berridge was Director of the Conservative Christian Fellowship from 2005-11.

No, I am not about to argue that David Cameron should come over all dictatorial and close down ConservativeHome, although this might be the stuff of CCHQ dreams. Rather, I am asking him to address Tim’s repeated calls for the Conservative Party to set up an External Relations Unit to help manage relationships with key stakeholders and communities.

In a customarily impressive address to the Association of Conservative Peers this week, Tim made the case, once again, for such a body, which would focus on building bridges with, say, the top 1,000 movers and shakers in our society.

Despite good work over the years by individuals such as Dominic Grieve QC MP with Britain’s Asian Communities, Eric Ollerenshaw MP in Cities and Diversity and Alan Lewis with Business Relations, a central, well-resourced department does make sense. The party would then have a bank of relational information about who has met whom, and could ensure that all key events are attended by somebody in the party. Managed well (perhaps even by Tim) it could also provide an early indication about what reactions might be to proposed policies.

Tim has been banging on about this for more than a decade now. To be fair, Tim did speak of it in answer to my question on what priority the party should give to its low vote share in Britain’s ethnic minority communities. But I do wish David Cameron would ask Tim to put his idea to the test, and find out once and for all what the value of an External Relations Unit would be. If only for the sake of Tim’s poor friends, who really can’t face another decade of his enthusiasm for this project.


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