In 10 weeks’ time Conservative Future members will have the chance to vote for those who want to lead it. The organisation has grown from strength-to-strength, but there needs to be change. In short, our future leaders must be more focused and more strategic; and work even harder to deliver a Conservative majority in 2015 (including voters from BME groups and the inner cities).
It’s taken Conservative Future, which was founded by William Hague more than 14 years ago, until recently to be taken seriously as both a nationwide campaigning tool and policy-building organisation. We made progress with Mark Clarke, but have seen this accelerated under Ben Howlett: an increase in supporters, a mobilised campaigning base and a professional reputation.
So what’s next for Conservative Future? While our members decide which direction they want the organisation to go for the next 15 months and UKIP’s youth wing reconsiders its future in light of the appalling treatment by their Party Chairman earlier this week, I want to offer up my thoughts to the base.
Conservative Future has become a fast-reacting campaign force, but there’s still more to do. In 1997, while we were just getting started, the Conservative Party was wallowing after its catastrophic defeat. A number of lasting legacies were left that continue to affect the party. One of these was the damaging impact on our activist base and the readiness of associations to get stuck in. As an activist in Lewisham and a former cabinet member in Southampton, I remember only too well how tough it was to establish and maintain a respectable campaigning operation.