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Tim are you seriously telling us that Cameron is now going to break his leadership election pledge on us leaving the EPP?

Whilst I have feared that that would be the case ever since he reneged on that departure happening "within weeks and not months" of his gaining the leadership there have been enough CCHQ trolls on CH claiming that there would definitely be a departure to keep the vast majority of the party, who want us out of that quisling federalist stitch up, quiet until now.

If it is true that Cameron is now trying to wriggle out of the one promise that he made us all then that makes him as bad as Blair and totally untrustworthy as leader of our party or our country. I sincerely hope that you are wrong about this and that it is not going to be the case.

*If* your suspicion is correct, Tim, I expect this will give UKIP a shot in the arm in the next round of Euro elections.

I don't think DC will break his EPP pledge Matt but I'd be more reassured if the statement that MEP candidates have to sign was explicit about leaving the EPP.

Three National Convention members have already signed up to our campaign. Thank you. Please keep the emails coming...

Place your money on the Tories still being in the EPP in 2010.

I think that that is more likely than not, Michael.

This new pledge is actually better than the ol pledge. The old pledge simply meant that the MEPs had to leave the EPP, but then they were free to whatever, whether it was to join our new grouping, or the socialists. The new pledge specifies that the MEPs must go to the grouping which Cameron orders them to, and as he has pledged that they will leave the EPP I can't see what the issue is...

Regarding the MEPs, once their records have been scrutinised the members of the selection committees should be lobbied as well. Is it just constituency chairmen (with extra reps where appropriate) and regional chairmen, or is it going to include people from the area level as well?

Perhaps, Tim, you should also ask how the membership of the NEF is influenced. Or indeed who the members even are.

"Tim are you seriously telling us that Cameron is now going to break his leadership election pledge on us leaving the EPP? "

I have been worrying about this for some months too Matt.

It is not even a head-banging thing to suggest. It sits perfectly with Cameron stated intention to reform the EU from within.

The only way to do this is to form a powerful, new eurosceptic grouping within the European Parliament.

Should Cameron renege on this pledge, speaking as a "Cameroon", I would find it very hard to have continued faith in sincerity.

Oh - and perhaps we should ask for the agenda and minutes of board meetings (except when discussing genuinely confidential topics) to be sent to members.

Sorry. "..in (his) sincerity - naturally!"

Perhaps rather than just focusing on the members of the party board we should be looking at the whole constitutional structure of the party. The Convention is in no way representative of members' opinions and given the way it's made up it never will be.

With the internet age upon us, maybe we should take a leaf out of the UMP's book and start looking at direct internet internal elections so all members can elect the Board and Convention directly, rather than a tedious ex officio system that breeds distance and contempt in some.


Good luck with all of the above.

I agree Tim Roll-Pickering. The whole constitutional structure could do with a review. It was designed without the internet in mind.

I think I agree about the need for reform of the constitution as well. There seems to be a distinct lack of proper democracy about it.

"start looking at direct internet internal elections so all members can elect the Board and Convention directly"

Now that's genuine modernisation and not the left wing consensus masquerading as modern. Well said Tim Roll-Pickering, let's make it happen!

How ironic that the pro-Europeans are for diluting democracy. Look, why is everyone getting het up about whether we are in or out the EPP. The question should be whether we are in or out the EU.

The desire to drive on the constitution, denying us a referendum and heading to a super-state shows this new European Reform group wont make the slightest difference as the EU will do what it wants and will only reform to pursue its federalist agenda.

The sooner more people support Better Off Out and candidates who want us to leave the EU, the better. Then and only then will there be change as we inch ever closer to the reality of Britain leaving the EU. Why negotiate with a feather when you can take out the smith and wesson and show them you're serious?

We'll also establish the detail of the commitment MEP candidates will sign on the EPP. ConservativeHome had understood that candidates would have to say that they would leave the EPP. New information has reached us that suggests that the pledge may be weaker than that and only involve a commitment to join whatever parliamentary grouping the party leader decides upon.

Well I dont want to say I told you so but see my post on the earlier thread. A prophet is not without honour save in his own country. Even the most federastic MEP is going to be able to sign up to that pledge because we know we can rely on Cameron, when the time comes. This pledge is actually aimed at Helmer and Hannan not at the Quislings.

Better off out.


It's worth remembering that when the EPP decision was taken and you interviewed William Hague last July (link below) you were told that:

"All Tory candidates at the next European Election will be required to commit to leaving the EPP and joining the new group."

Let's also remember what David Cameron wrote in the Telegraph at the time:

"...the agreement to form a new group is not an aspiration, it is a guarantee - and it will be delivered...Others believe that we should just stay in the EPP but it would not be right to remain in a group with such fundamentally different views from ours about the institutional and constitutional direction of the EU."


I believe that character, credibility and competence will be the key issues at the next general election. I think DC and those around him recognise that too. I hope therefore that that Michael McGough (1525) & Sean Fear (1528) are wrong.

We need to ensure that all our MEP candidates in 2009 are completely committed to helping DC deliver his pledge.

Even silver-tops (oldies) are now becoming at least reasonably computer literate, so the Party machine would be wise to try to incorporate internet contact with the party rank and file on a more regular basis.

Perhaps, now that Mr. Hilton has done part of his job, Mr. Cameron should try to enroll a computer orientated, PR-type, customer relations-type boffin, who would be responsible for increasing the involvment of the rank and file of the party via the internet?!

"This pledge is actually aimed at Helmer and Hannan "

That is my thought as well. Cameron (from his point of view) would have nothing to lose by dropping the EPP pledge (I'm sure a form of words could be found). It's an issue that is only of interest to Conservative members, rather than the public as a whole. In a likely election year (or in the run up to an election) they'd be under pressure to hold their tongues, and he'd gain praise from left-liberal commentators.

Tim - you're producing paranoid nonsense. Cameron has made it quite clear we'll leave the EPP and is requiring all MEPs to sign up to join whichever grouping he then chooses. You don't have to cheerlead for the leadership but you seem to be going completely the other way with unfounded slurs. It's our opponents we need to be concentrating on (and some of them seem to be your regular posters) not our own side.

I can't help thinking that your ConHome power is going to your head. Now you want to run your own slate using ConHome to give it publicity and support. How's about some humility and sticking to the knitting?

"he'd gain praise from left-liberal commentators"

I disagree Sean. In any other year but an election year you might be right. In an election year, urged on by Brown, he would be attacked for lack of credibility and incompetence.

"he'd gain praise from left-liberal commentators"

I disagree Sean. In any other year but an election year you might be right. In an election year, urged on by Brown, he would be attacked for lack of credibility and incompetence.

Tim has never claimed to be anything other than a candid friend of the Conservative Party. And it certainly needs candid friends. It has more than enough chancers, opportunists, carpet baggers and sycophants in its senior ranks.

Regarding the campaign to find candidates to stand as Board members to represent the voluntary party, it would be helpful to know how our present representatives voted on the current changes. It may be that they [or some of them] did not vote for them, but they were out-voted.

As has been pointed out many of the board members are appointed. Changing the constitution would be very difficult as it can only be done by a two thirds majority of three separate groups, the members of the National Convention, the MPs and the whole lot together.

Thes decisions to change voting systems should only be made in my opinion, after a proper consultation of the membership who should support the changes.

The Board is totally 'off message' and David Cameron should stamp on them with a firm hand - or a clunking fist - or something.

David is selling decentralisation but the Board is rowing hard in the opposite, anti-democratic direction. Someone should give them all copies of "Built to Last"

I think you'll find Frank that David Cameron was fully behind the Board's decision.

Tim, every member that you backed to stand for the board has not got on the Board :(in the last two years) John Flack and Richard Robinson. You are managing a blog, not a country, and definitely not our party. Stop trying stir things up for the party. You are behaving like a spoilt brat, so pick up your toys and grow up.

Spolit, Edd, or principled?

You may be right, Umbrella man. David's action or inaction in the next day or two will confirm.

You've got nothing to worry about then, Edd, if us feeble democrats get together to suggest we deserve a say in our party.

I emailed the party chairman today to confirm that the commitment would be to leave the EPP, rather than some more jesuitical formula to the effect that we would all do whatever the party decided (in other words, leaving open the option of staying in). He replied:

"Yes - to leave EPP and join whatever grouping the Leader negotiates".

Re-read the pledges by William Hague and David Cameron quoted in Simon Chapman's post. Do they sound like men leaving themselves wriggle-room?

You know, and David knows, that I felt badly let down by his decision to postpone the break. But let's not lose sight of the magnitude of what he has promised to do (see my blog here:

As for the voting system, it is not what I would have chosen from first principles. Those of you with long memories will recall that I wrote one of the first ever ConHome "Your Platform" contributions in favour of open primaries, including for Euro-selections. Still, I think we should give Board Members some credit for throwing out the truly outrageous plan to have Euro-candidates selected by small committees of party bigwigs.

Yes, Daniel, but what if the Leader negotiates a grouping closely affiliated to the EPP?

Daniel Hannan benefits a lot from what the Party Board has agreed. I would have expected a more principled objection to this disenfranchisement. I'm very disappointed.

I did not bother to vote for anyone this year, it seems to me that once these Candidates get elected onto the board they forget all their promises/pledges that they regailed us with whilst trying to get our vote.
Board members seem to be there solely to enjoy the position they are in and do sod all for the voluntary members, a bit like MPs really.
When will these people realise that without the voluntary members there would not be ANY PARTY.

Has any of the Party Board explained yet why they reject the principle of one member one vote on every single MEP candidate yet?

The issue of democracy - and the lack of it with regards to these proposals - is one point.

On that point, I agree entirely with the need to uphold the democratic principle.

The issue of Europe is a separate issue.

I do not agree that the Conservative Party should leave the EPP, and I regard the "Better Off Out" position as woefully naive.

If we want to show that we are a party again deserving of power we need to approach the issue of Europe as adults.

We have a duty to act in the best interest of Britain.

That means recognising that Europe is important to Britain. Closing your eyes and wishing it were otherwise, will not make it so.

Europe is important to Britain not merely as a unified common market; but also because many of the issues we face can only be dealt with at the European level - including key issues in regards to the Environment, Terrorism and Law & Order.

I know Cameron wants to distance himself from business, but as a traditional Conservative, I do not.

Being anti-European is against Britain’s best interests. This is a fact of which I am certain.

That is why British Business is pragmatic with regards to Europe, and so historically has been the Conservative Party. Indeed, so was Margret Thatcher.

Anyone who believes we are better off out has no grasp of the basic economic and political realities that face us as a country, and has become delusional. That type of delusion is woefully naive and dangerous.

British business uses DG VII to open markets, to secure fair access, to spread the principles of competition. In so doing they act in the best interest of Britain. The approach is pragmatic. Often, it is France, Germany and Spain who are deeply resentful of our successes in this regard. That is part of the reason that France voted against the European Constitution – their public regard the European Union as too heavily influenced by English political principles.

I have heard a lot of clap-trap from anti-Europeans on the Human Rights Act. Clause 6, the one often criticised, deals with a fair trial. It was inserted and drafted by English lawyers and is referred to as the “English clause”. This clause is something of which we should be proud both as Britons and Conservatives as it represents that flowering of English jurisprudence that has won us as a nation universal admiration.

I am tired of the “Witch finder General” mentality of some Euro sceptic Conservatives - being anti-European is not a prerequisite for being a Conservative. If it were, the Conservative Party would have split long ago, and those committed to that position of splendid isolation would have drifted-off the nether regions of irrelevance currently occupied by UKIP.

The Conservative Party is a broad church united by certain common values - anti-Europeanism is not one of those defining principles. As such, when working yourself up into a rabid froth, remember that however much you may criticise the so-called “pro-Europeans” you have more in common with them than you have with the Liberal Democrats or Labour. If you did not then we as the Conservative Party will never be in power again. As such, respond in a measured way when you encounter a Conservative who has pragmatic views on Europe – they may well still do a good job in representing you.

The MEP's you are identifying as having "gone native" are simply doing what mature and responsible politicians are expected to do - they are getting involved in the process and arguing for policies that are in Britain’s best interest. I do not believe that any of them have argued for a European Super-State. Indeed, I do not know anyone who has argued for that particular bogyman – it certainly would be an anathema to both the French and the Germans. If we are talking about undemocratic laws – hey, isn’t this blog a reaction to the Conservative Party Boards arbitrary and undemocratic policy making? Lets be consistent in our criticism.

As a lawyer, I have dealt with Brussels bureaucrats, and as a general rule they are far better educated, more competent and efficient than any I have met at Whitehall, and they make the officers you encounter at County and District level appear as bumptious yokels. As such, Business generally welcomes dealing with Brussels - you get results, things get done, you do not get shuffled from desk to desk or brushed-off.

As such, please cut the grandstanding xenophobia and grow up!

Turning to those hero’s of the Eurosceptic cause, Helmer & Co. are a joke. They have done absolutely nothing to benefit British business; they have done nothing to create jobs. Like Kilroy-Silk all they have done is pander to prejudice and preen their own bloated ego's.

Helmer should go – he had the whip withdrawn because of his failure to adhere to the basic principles of party discipline, he is widely, and rightly so, regarded as a pathetic politician.

Leaving the EPP is not a responsible course of action. It will make us a peripheral party and irrelevant. Have any of you sat representing a minority party in a Council? If so you will know the frustration that comes with being politically impotent.

The proposed alternative is a joke - loonies and extremists one and all. These are not the kind of people that a serious party wants to get in bed with, least of all a party with the proud history and traditions of the Conservative Party.

There are very good reasons why some of us remain pragmatic on Europe. First and foremost we recognise that it is in Britain best interest to be fully engaged in Europe.

It would be easy to roll-over and go with the flow of anti-Europeanism that has driven our party to three consecutive election defeats, but to do so would be to recognise that the Conservative Party will never again be deserving of holding power. I am not prepared to chuck in the towel on our great Party.

The anti-Europeans have much to answer for, they have driven us to the periphery of British politics, and their extremism has cost us three elections. When these folk were given a choice between a serious politician and a joke, they chose the joke. To make it worse, some still can not see the joke.

I am not laughing.

It would appear that Edd Adams (not his real name I suspect) is clearly very much irked by Tim and Sam's excellent new initiative. I doubt that he is particularly enamoured by the efforts of MEP Watch, Richard Robinson or John Flack either.

The only person acting like a spoilt brat is you, 'Edd'. Tim has, and continues to do excellent work for our party. I can only support his efforts in this respect. You on the other hand clearly have something to lose from Tim's proposals - either that or have a adverse reaction to increasing levels of democratic practice within our party.

'The MEP's you are identifying as having "gone native" are simply doing what mature and responsible politicians are expected to do - they are getting involved in the process and arguing for policies that are in Britain’s best interest.'

With comments like that Mark Horn, the only one who is 'woefully naive' is you.

If you wish to present an argument Neil do so.

Explain to me why these Conservative politicians have "gone native", and no longer represent the best interests of Britain?

With 20 years of representing British interests I do not regard myself as nieve, and no one I have dealt with would regard me as being starry eyed and filled with Euro ethusiasm.

The difference between being a Party ready for power and one revelling in the ideological purity of opposition, is that if you want power you know you need to get your hands dirty.

Next time give a reply that has substance.

Neil you are right my real Name is Edward. For you info I am not an MP, an MEP or a Councillor, not am I a officer of the party e.g. Chairmen etc. I don’t stand to gain anything from casting my say on this site.

Tim, in my opinion thinks that he owns the Conservative Party just because he is not getting his own way. WE the members own the party, he does not seem to have any idea who voted, who did not and how they voted.

So yes I stand by my opinion, free world free speech - but it seems that not in Tim’s world. I think he is such a looser. Everything that he touches turns to a negative. Starting from the very binging just a winger.

Edd Adams: "So yes I stand by my opinion, free world free speech - but it seems that not in Tim’s world. I think he is such a looser. Everything that he touches turns to a negative."

I have to say there's some truth to what Edd writes...

One month after I joined the Bank of England we crashed out of the ERM;

Whilst I was on the Russian desk in the City the country defaulted on its government debt...

I joined IDS' office two months before he lost the leadership...


I joined the Post Office and closures ensued. I joined Boots and they restructured yet as soon as I left they became a target for Private equity with hige increases in the value of the company - I suspect we both have the reverse midas tough ;o)

Touch not tough that should read. Anyway back to the subject - I am currently editing the latest interview with Francis Maude where we speak frankly about the Euro selections amongst other things. It will be online shortly.

So Tim, I hope that your bad luck will not be felt in the Conservative Party.

Those of you who believe the closed list system for electing MEPs is a disgrace and should be replaced with an open list system so that individuals can be voted for and not a list, click here

MH, I don't agree with you but thanks for taking the time to argue your position so thoughtfully.

I have it on good authority that the 3 VPs elected to the Board (Emma Pidding, Jeremy Middleton and Charles Barwell) all voted to KEEP the current system where members vote for the candidates on the final. They were the only ones to vote to keep this.
The Party Chairman and others were leading the way for the move to the system that will be in place. I don't think Charles, Jeremy and Emma deserve the flack they are likely to get on this issue.

MH aren't you the same MH who resigned from the Conservative party after having been an Assn Chairman in Tunbridge Wells last year? If you are that person why are you still so interested in the internal workings of our party?
The overwhelming number of activists within this party I would think disagree with your views on Europe.
The reason that a few of our MEPs are so disliked on this site has less to do with their Europhilia than the fact that were not honest enough to be open about it when seeking selection. That is why I feel strongly that those who say one thing to become candidates and then something quite different once elected should have to answer to the party members when seeking reselection.
Edd, the fact that Tim Montgomerie is trying to fight for greater democracy within the party is something that I would have thought normal people would applaud.

Tim, if what "Mastiff" state is correct I think our three VP's deserve an apology from you. Or are just too arrogant to offer an apology.

I really hope you do give up your day job, but please don’t go into investigative journalism you will be terrible at it.

No Malcolm I am not that MH.

An amusing attempt to smear, but misdirected.

I am a County Councillor currently actively campaigning for the Conservative Party.

I have the blisters and scrapped knuckles to prove it.

I won my seat in May 2005 fighting Labour in a Labour area, and I did it by good old fashioned campaigning on the doorstep.

Trust the people - if you do, many will put aside inherited prejudice and select the best person.

You do not need to gerrymander the rules if you believe in what you say, you have done your homework, and can marshal a convincing argument.

Margret Thatcher knew that - she was a conviction politician who spoke right to the heart of the British people, which is why we reached into parts of the country that we never had previously.

Speak plainly, speak honestly, speak passionately.

The same arguments on selection on the basis of merit should apply to how the Conservative Party selects its MEP's and MP's.

I think the majority of the country has disagreed with the Euro sceptic views articulated by some activists, to wit, 3 election defeats.

I have forthright views and they are well known – these are not hidden.

I also deliver on my promises.

I do not expect people to agree with me all of the time, if they did, I would be doing something seriously wrong.

I expect people to disagree with some of my views – that is healthy, that is part of the democratic process.

I have argued for democracy - and I believe in it.

I have no problem in being defeated, provided I have been given an opportunity to argue my case.

What I have noted, however, is that there are an awful lot of fair minded folk – who, even if they disagree with an aspect of my views, will take a rounder view of matters, and support me if I am the best person for the job.

Most Britons do believe in merit. The Conservative Party certainly used to believe in merit.
These new rules on MEP selection are not a pro-European connivance – they are simply undemocratic and unfair.

The reason I began to take an active role in politics again 4 years ago followed a clash with Roger Helmer over the Iraq war.

He was rude, intemperate and boorish, high handed and arrogant.

I could not believe that we had elected such a person to represent Britain and the Conservative Party.

During that clash of correspondence he challenged me, if I disapproved of him so much, to take him on come the next European elections.

That has been my intention for the past 4 years.

I would like to challenge Roger Helmer - and I would like to do it from a pragmatic European perspective.

Most betting folk would lay odds on my skills as a barrister to shred him if given the opportunity.

I would delight in taking him on in the hustings. It would be a very pleasant experience from my perspective.

However, as a result of these new rules I am denied the opportunity of taking Roger Helmer on, of arguing my case, and of letting the members decide.

That is wrong.

I have been a member of the Conservative Party for 21 years and I believe I am entitled to argue my case – and having done so – to let the members decide on the merits.

Does anyone else find it ironic that when the Labour leadership in opposition sought a show-down with the left it was over whether to make their party more democratic - but when Cameron and Maude decide to do the same they push to make the Conservative party less democratic?

Do you have any information as to how each member of the Board voted?

MH is clearly EU material - he never uses 100 words when 1000 will do. You will go far mon fonctionnaire - but in which direction, je ne sais pas.

MH, if you really believe you could take Roger Helmer on and beat him for selection, then you really are deluded. Unlike the Pro European MEP's, Roger has advocated the open selection process on here and is an MEP virtually all East Midlands Tories are proud of and supported during his reinstatement. (You may remember that was something to do with the covering up corruption within the EU)

You make a very eloquent pro EU argument, but I wonder if you would care to address one or two counter points.

1. What has the EU done for British Fishing?
2. What has the EU done for British democracy? Is it really right that a nation state should have more than half it's laws emanate from an unelected unaccountable bureaucracy?
3. How has the EU helped British farming?
4. If EU membership is so essential to British business, perhaps you would care to state how countries such as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland have fared outside the Eu but inside EFTA?

I would just like to echo the comments made by Andrew Woodman above. Roger Helmer is a very hard working MEP who does a great deal for his constituents in the East Midlands. He has a background in business and works tirelessly for businesses in the East Midlands and beyond. Roger is a rare bread in modern politics; he is open and honest and tells people what he really thinks, sometimes to his own detriment.

During the campaign to have the Conservative whip restored to Roger in the European Parliament we were deluged by letters, petitions and e-mails in support of Roger. Roger was supported by people from all sections of our Party, by many of his fellow MEPs, Peers, MSPs, East Midlands Councillors and MPs.

What I want to see is an open, honest and democratic Conservative Party. A Party that values its membership. If one member one vote was good enough to get David Cameron elected why is it not an acceptable method for selecting and ranking our MEPs?

Many of our MEPs, both pro and sceptical about Europe do a huge amount of work for their constituents and those MEPs would have nothing to fear from an open selection process. Caroline Jackson was number one in the South West and Roger Helmer was number one in the East Midlands at the last European elections and they hold very different views on Britain’s relationship with Europe.

All I want to see is a system based on regional hustings where new candidates and existing MEPs have to compete against each other for positions on the list and where all those wanting to be Conservative MEPs give a truthful account of their views and opinions. What is wrong with that?

Sorry it should read "Roger is a rare breed in modern politics".

The Conservative heirarchy is playing with fire here. They don't seem to realise what these plans actually mean. If we all turn out to rank the Eurosceptics at the top of the list of sitting MEPs and then vote for a different party in the election, the result will be that the top couple of (Eurosceptic) MEPs, whose positions are safe, will be reelected and the bottom (Europhile) MEPs who are vulnerable will be defeated. Overall, it means that the only way to get a more Eurosceptic body of MEPs, in tune with the party membership, is to reduce the total number of Conservative MEPs. I really can't begin to imagine what the Party Board thinks it is playing at.

May I thank MH for his comments, and for his challenge. MH -- if you think you can beat me in the East Midlands selection process, please apply. I should be happy to waive my incumbent's rights, and take on all comers in an open contest.

MH is the first person in nearly ten years in politics to describe me as "pathetic". Very nearly a thousand Conservatives signed up to the campaign to reinstate me to the Whip, and these included MPs, MEPs, Lords, GLC members, MSPs, candidates, Councillors, Constituency Chairmen and officials, and agents. Presumably they would not agree with MH.

But let me give the last word to Lib-Dem Nick Clegg MP, formerly an MEP (1999/2004). I recall him saying to me "The first time I heard you, Roger, I thought you were barking. But having listened to you over the years, I have to admit that you have a coherent alternative view of the European project. I don't agree with you, but I accept that you have a defensible position".

But perhaps MH isn't as open-minded as a Lib-Dem MP.

Tim, I ask you again what proof have you got on how the the three VP's voted?

MH - why not reveal your identity? After all, if you want to defeat Roger Helmer we will need to know who you are.

I have no proof, Edd, how people voted - only that Jeremy Middleton was the only one to say that he'd vote in favour of membership democracy. You, of course, have no proof either.

I would, however, draw your attention to what I said in the original post: "We won't rule out supporting existing or past Board members who are willing to sign up to our aims."

Thanks to all those people who have emailed in. I'll be posting a campaign update tomorrow. I'm very encouraged by the scale and quality of the response.

It's probably unrealistic to get a blow by blow account of each member of the Board's part in the meeting - the outcome was a compromise of sorts and I expect everyone would say that they supported the compromise.

What would be a real service by ConHome - perhaps on some permanent note on here - would be to tell everyone who is on the Party Bd, who they represent and who appointed/elected them. Plus contact details if possible.

As I recall, even those who are supposed to represent the voluntary party are elected by very indirect means - is it just Association Chairmen? And has anyone ever heard of a Chairman asking the opinion on such elections of his/her members? A first step to getting a democratically minded Board might be to have them more democratically elected.

Those of us who voted against the Hague reforms in 1998 (?) of course saw all this coming. The effective abolition of local Associations (they cannot change their own rules in any essential particular, for instance) was all part of it. One might call it "figleaf democratic centralism" - the figleaf being the right to elect the leader, which we even had to fight to retain in 2005.

The Euro selections were in fact one of the few remaining democratic functions left to the membership - to me, that is why it is so distressing, not an active desire to de-select a whole lot of people. (Although it's true that John Bowis may feel less need to take account of the Eurosceptic party membership in London than he has had to over the last 8 years.)

Tim, I have no proof you are right, I am not the owner of this Blog, if I was I would have solid evidence prior to putting in the following statement and I quote:

"As a response to this track record ConservativeHome is looking to find candidates for next year's Board elections that will always vote to protect members' voting rights."

HOW do you know that our current three VP's did not vote to protect the members voting rights on this issue? You seem to assume they did not. Defamation comes to mind…. Remember we only have 5 official members representing the members. If all five voted against the vote would still get through with all other members voting "Yes"

Lord Ashcroft KCMG - Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party & Member of the Party Board

Charles Barwell - Vice-President, National Conservative Convention

Cllr Margaret Eaton OBE - Chairman, Conservative Councillors' Association

Sally Griffiths - Secretary to the Board

Lyndon Jones - Chairman, Welsh Conservative Party

Timothy Kirkhope MEP - Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament

Francis Maude MP - Chairman of the Conservative Party

Ian McIsaac - Director of Finance & Registered Treasurer, Conservative Party

Jeremy Middleton - Vice-President, National Conservative Convention

Simon Mort - President, National Conservative Convention

Richard Ottaway MP - Elected representative for MPs

Emma Pidding - Vice-President, National Conservative Convention

Don Porter CBE - Chairman, National Conservative Convention and Deputy Chairman of the Party

The Rt Hon The Baroness Shephard of Northwold JP DL - Chairman of the Association of Conservative Peers

Michael Spencer - Party Treasurer

Sir Michael Spicer MP - Chairman, 1922 Committee

Graham Stuart MP - Elected representative for MPs

Bill Walker OBE - Deputy Chairman of Scottish Conservatives

John Whittingdale OBE MP - Elected representative for MPs

MH, your enthusiasm for the EU strikes me as being anything other than pragmatic.

What powers do you think national Parliaments should actually be left with?

And if being pro-EU is as popular with the voters as you imagine, why do the Lib Dems always finish in third place?




12 There shall be established and maintained a Board of the Conservative Party (referred to in thisconstitution as "the Board") which shall be the supreme decision-making body in matters of

Party organisation and management. The Board shall consist of

12.1 The Chairman of the Conservative Party ("the Chairman of the Board") who shall be appointed by the Leader and who will chair the Board in the absence of the Leader and
act as the Leader's representative on it;

12.2 Two Deputy Chairmen,

12.2.1 One of whom shall be Chairman of the National Conservative Convention and who, in the absence of the Chairman of the Board and the Leader, shall chair the Board;


12.2.2 One of whom shall be appointed by the Leader;

12.3 Four further members elected by the National Conservative Convention (in addition to the Chairman of the National Conservative Convention), in accordance with the provisions contained within Schedule 3;

12.4 The elected Chairman of the 1922 Committee;

12.5 The Chairman of the Association of Conservative Peers;

12.6 The elected Deputy Chairman of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party;

12.7 The elected Chairman of the Welsh Conservative Party;

12.8 The elected Chairman of the Conservative Councillors Association;

12.9 The Treasurer of the Party, who shall be appointed by the Leader;

12.10 Up to one further member who may, from time to time, be nominated by the Leader subject to endorsement by the Board;

12.11 A senior member of the professional staff of the Party, who shall be nominated to serve on the Board by the Chairman of the Board.

12.12 The Board may make one further appointment to its number, subject to the approval of the Leader.

13 The Board shall meet not less than six times each year. The Leader shall be invited to attend all meetings of the Board.

14 The quorum for any meeting of the Board will be eight.

15 The Board shall appoint a Secretary to the Board who shall support the Board in its proper and efficient administration and shall be Secretary of the National Convention.

16 The Board shall agree rules concerning the notice to be given in respect of ordinary and emergency meetings of it, and rules governing the circulation in advance of briefing and other papers.

17 The Board shall have power to do anything which in its opinion relates to the management and administration of the Party. It shall oversee all activities within the Party and in particular be responsible for -

17.1 the development and implementation of the strategies for the Party, for its campaigning, organisation, membership, and fund-raising at a National, European and local level;

17.2 the review and approval of the Party's annual budgets, the monitoring of financial performance and the production and publication of annual accounts;

17.3 the appointment of senior staff within the Party;

17.4 the administration of the National Membership List in accordance with the provisions of Article 19.1 and Schedule 6;

17.5 the maintenance of the Approved Lists of Candidates in accordance with the provisions of Article 19.2 and Schedule 6;

17.6 the oversight of the management and administration of Constituency Associations,
including the power to recognise Federations or other groupings of Constituency Associations;

17.7 the cancellation or refusal of membership, in its absolute discretion, of any Party Member or prospective Party Member;

17.8 the replacement or removal from office of any Officer of a Constituency Association or Recognised Organisation in accordance with the provisions of Schedule 6;

17.9 the establishment of a new or replacement Constituency Association in accordance with the provisions of Schedule 6;

17.10 the withdrawal or refusal of membership of a Constituency Association in accordance with the provisions of Schedule 6;

17.11 the management of the National Conservative Convention;

17.12 the organisation of Party Conferences, in accordance with the provisions of Article 19.3 and Schedule 4;

17.13 ensuring that women are properly involved and represented in all aspects of the Party's work and organisation including, if appropriate, the maintenance of an organisation to promote the interests of women within the Party;

17.14 ensuring that young people are properly involved and represented in all aspects of the Party's work and organisation including the maintenance of a youth organisation to recruit young people to the Party and communicating with them;

17.15 to grant to organisations, groups or other bodies the status of a Recognised Organisation, Specialist Group, or Other Body and the withdrawal of such status;

17.16 the co-ordination and implementation of a national strategy with respect to electoral boundary changes;

17.17 the resolution of any disputes within the Party, howsoever arising, as it sees fit;

17.18 the implementation of the decisions of the Ethics and Integrity Committee established in Part XII of this Constitution;

17.19 the overseeing of the procedure for the election of the Leader in accordance with the provisions of Schedule 2;

17.20 the registration of trade marks, intellectual property rights, copyright and design rights and patents.

17.21 ensuring that the Party is compliant with the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, and such legislation, regulations, or measures amending, supplementing or replacing the same.

17.22 The suspension of membership or the expulsion from membership of any member whose conduct is in conflict with the purpose, objects and values of the Party as indicated in Part I Article 2 or which is inconsistent with the objects or financial well-being of an Association or the Party or be likely to bring an Association or the Party into disrepute.

18 The Board shall have the power to delegate such of its functions as it shall from time to time see fit provided always that it shall not delegate any of the functions mentioned in Articles 17.2, 17.8, 17.10, 17.15 and 17.18.

19 The Board shall establish and maintain the following Committees, which shall comprise at least one appointed and one elected member of the Board:

19.1 The Committee on Membership, in accordance with the provisions of Schedule 6;

19.2 The Committee on Candidates, in accordance with the provisions of Schedule 6;

19.3 The Committee on Conferences, in accordance with the provisions of Schedule 4;

No attempt to smear MH. The 'other MH' used to post on here often saying that he wanted to have nothing to do with the Conservative party whilst DC led the party.Therefore I couldn't understand why 'MH' had suddenly become interested in our internal workings again.
If you are in favour of maintaining member democracy within the party we are in complete agreement. Regarding Europe I am hugely sceptical but would welcome a rational debate within the party.

Fact is that the Party is held by the bollocks by a network of europhiles who've crawled into such powerful positions, created by William Hague's changes (a key crypto-europhile himself)that Cameron can hardly move in a sceptic direction even if he wanted to.

The Hague alterations to the Party, and its domination by a traiterous secretive slimy bunch needs to be undone. I wish you all the best Tim in your campaign.

If you don't succeed, democracy in the Conservative Party is doomed, and Britain will carry on as a democratic wasteland, and become an increasingly unattractive place to work and live.

If you win and force the reemergance of democracy in the Conservative Party, many who are currently quitting the UK as it grinds to a European highly taxed impoverished halt would no doubt return. Hope will live once more.

Edd has the tone of a angry Cameroon teenager.

Matthew, I don't believe Edd is being angry in any way but is positively challenging Tim and others about their assumptions about how our VPs voted.

As Londoner and the Deputy Editor point out, the majority of members of the Board are not elected by the voluntary wing of the Party.

Also recall that the Chairman and President of Convention were unopposed, so Convention voted for only 3 people in the end - Emma, Charles and Jeremy - and I stand by what I said previously, i.e. that those 3 voted to keep the democratic process we have experienced in the last 2 European selection processes.

I think it is also fair to say that the Board has to act like Cabinet - you lose the argument / the vote, you have to speak with one voice and cannot be disloyal (even if that is difficult for their election battle next year).

"The Board has to act like Cabinet" why do people make these things up? The Board's neither like a Cabinet, nor does it act like one.

“You make a very eloquent pro EU argument, but I wonder if you would care to address one or two counter points.

1. What has the EU done for British Fishing?”

Dear Andrew, I do not have the time to write a full brief on all the points you raise, but I will deal briefly with what the EU has done for British fishing.

Lets put the UK fishing sector in context:

“If the English sea fishing and fish processing sectors were removed simultaneously, the impact would reduce UK GDP by £2,688 million, though it is important to note that this is only 0.28% of total UK GDP. ….The impact of removing these two sectors from the Scottish economy is to reduce Scottish GDP by of 1.01%.” -
The economic impacts of the UK sea fishing and fish processing sectors: an Input-Output analysis, see http://www.seafish.org/land/economics.asp?p=fl

As such, the total UK fishing industry is small, far smaller than for example the Telecommunications, Energy, Retail, etc sectors. These are all sector where the EU has done done a great deal to open and liberalise Euriopean markets to the distinct benefit of British business.

The fishing industry is one that is described as a “sun-set industry”, it has low value-added and requires low skill.

It depends on exploiting a finite resource, which is renewable, only if it is managed properly.

Nevertheless, it is an important sector for those involved in, and each British job is valued.

Now what is the big issue – quota levels?

UK fishermen argue that it is set to low.

That argument has been supported by Conservative politicians, particularly Scottish MEP’s.

However, considered British scientific opinion disagrees.

“The Royal Society, Britain's national academy of science, says European Union politicians are gambling with the health of the remaining European fish. It accuses the politicians of ignoring sound science in continuing to set catch quotas above sustainable levels.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3162434.stm

It is a fine line to tread, but the EU seems to have generally got the balance about right. Defra and the Marine and Fisheries Agency have supported EU opinion on this point, and have actively engaged in the process, see. http://www.defra.gov.uk/fish/pdf/fishfocus5.pdf

Lets now have a sensible discussion about the Common Fisheries Policy.

This Policy is made up of four main areas of responsibility covering:
• Conservation and limitation of the environmental impact of fishing. Policies in this area aim to protect fish resources by regulating the amount of fish taken from the sea, by allowing young fish to reproduce, and by ensuring that measures are respected.
• Structures and fleet management. Policies in this area seek to help the fishing and aquaculture industries adapt their equipment and organisations to the constraints imposed by scarce resources and the market. The EU has sought to put in place measures aimed at creating a balance between fishing effort and available fish resources.
• Markets. The EU has sought to maintain a common organisation of the market in fish products and to match supply and demand for the benefit of both producers and consumers.
• Relations with the outside world. The EU has set up fisheries partnerships agreements and has negotiated at the international level within regional and international fisheries organisations for common conservation measures in deep-sea fisheries.

The aim of the CFP has been to secure the future of the EU fisheries sector by ensuring sustainable fisheries. If Cameron really is an “Eco warrior” then he should, if his thinking was vaguely joined-up, be a fully signed-up enthusiast for the CFP.

Most scientific opinion is in favour of what the EU is doing in this regard, indeed, the only grumble is that they perhaps have not been tough enough.

In pursuit of the CFP the EU have negotiated TAG’s, and implemented them; they have put in place fleet reduction programmes, and provided funds for a range of schemes, in addition they have negotiated a wide range of international treaties affecting the British fleets right to fish in a variety of international waters.

All of these initiatives have been done involving extensive interaction and consultation with industry stakeholders. Defra and the Marine and Fisheries Agency are constantly consulted and consulting on behalf of the EU. The CFP has not been designed and implemented by a far-away Brussels bureaucracy, it has been designed and implemented by Brits.

All of these activities have been to the benefit of the British fishing industry and the British public. That is the opinion of the overwhelming weight of British scientific opinion. These are facts.

Sensible politicians and administrators have realised that it is essential that we engage in the process of effectively managing our fish stocks. This engagement is essential to the development of a sustainable fishing industry. There can be differences of opinion, but those differences can only be resolved by engagement in the process. This is the grown-up way of dealing with business issues – grandstanding with a partial grip of the facts helps no one, least of all those who depend on fishing for a livelihood.

This position has been fully supported by the overwhelming weight of British scientific opinion.

These are facts.

I will deal with your other points re democracy, farming and EFTA when I have a moment.

"Edd has the tone of a angry Cameroon teenager" I assure I am not a teenager (although it would be nice to be that age again) and yes I am angry with the editor. Tim does not have any evidence to support what he is saying. You on the other hand Matthew seem to think that this is acceptable behaviour. Remember Defamation has huge consequences.

Like there was even a vote at the Board meeting (and I'm not a teenager either, bit it's fun to speak like them every now and then).

Ah I see Matthew is also calling him self a Yeah Yeah Yeah boy. Just the kind Tim needs YES men as long as they do what he tells them to do. if they did not have a vote on the Board then it further proves that Tim has got this wrong.

Zero idea who 'Matthew' is, or is to be supposed to be, and am too lazy to ctrl-F the thread to find out - but smear away "Edd"! - it's nice to have the measure of you. Oh, and the point about the Board agreeing to this nem con hardly vindicates the utterly useless elected VPs.

The only problem with a pledge to "Leave the EPP and join a new group" is the possibility that the leadership will come back and say "Despite our best efforts, we were unable to form a new group, so we stay where we are". That was essentially what the Party said when resiling from DC's commitment to leave the EPP in "months, not years".

We have gone through this process of consultations to form a new group many times under four successive leaders, and on every occasion at least one (Brussels) person closely involved in the process has been working to ensure the initiative fails, leaving us with the EPP by default. If history is a guide, this could happen again.

Could? Will - as Roger knows better than the rest of us, 'failure' (i.e. success for those who want to keep us in the EPP) is built-in for Cameron. To establish a formal Group in the European Parliament, we're nowhere near the transnational threshold (five I think, but no doubt My H can put me right) of countries needed. At the moment, Cameron's pretence of a (possible, maybe) group has, er, 2 countries involved, and that includes us!

Cameron lied when he said we'd leave the EPP: we didn't, yet there was no scope for creative ambiguity in what was just about the only concrete peldge he made during the leadership campaign. So what grounds are there for supposing he's not fibbing now?

MH - you say that we have a duty to act in the best interest of Britain. I completely agree. So maybe you will be kind enough to explain why the EU policy of limiting British catches, while allowing other EU nations to fish in British waters, is in the interest of Britain?

I also fail to see how losing our privileged position as a member of the UN Security Council is in this nation's interest. Maybe you can explain?

If a European Super-State is anathema to the Germans then pray tell why they are so keen to have a non-rotational EU President, an EU Foreign Minister and an EU Diplomatic service. Why is it necessary for Britain to give up control of its criminal justice system? Do you feel the case of Chris Lees is the standard of jurisprudence this country should be content with? Indeed, why is cooperation on law and order not enough?

Why should this country lose its right to act in its own interest because the EU wants a veto over any proposed British actions in the future? Is this really necessary for business to flourish?

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