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Oh dear.

Cameron has never run anything (except ITV Digital !).

What can we expect?

If political parties were private sector, they would have gone bust years ago - or else learnt how to cope with economic and other ups & downs.
Yet we expect their glitterati to use those same skills to run the country successfully.

And then there is pressure for state funding of political parties to rescue them from oblivion!

No political party has some sort of God-given right to survive if it cannot attract sufficient financial support on its own account from a great number of people.

Tim, There are still some of us on the candidates list who hope to find a seat before the next election. We madly wish to devote our time, energy, enthusiasm and resouces to fighting the blue corner. So, while we may share your concerns expressed above we also fear that speaking out may lose us all chance of representing the party and the people who have been so badly let down by this government

Never mind, taxpayer funding will be along to save all the main parties soon, whether NuLab or BluLab are in power

This is pretty pathetic from a party aspiring to Government. The suppression of membership stats is undoubtedly down to the significant falls even in safe seats: I have lived in two safe Kent Conservative seats in the last 3 years and membership has fallen appreciably in both.

To be fair, though, this is merely the outcome of the fact that over 98% of the population do not wish to belong to a political party. This general political disdain and apathy is far more worrying, and should be focused on, than who's up a few points in the polls every week.

How do the parties reverse the decline? Can they even? I don't think the closing up of debate and centralising power (a la the A list) are going to encourage people either to participate, or to donate time and money.

Doesn`t look good for a party which hopes to form the next government. If they can`t manage their own finances why should we trust them?

I recall some wealthy donors gave £500,000 to be used in running Mr.Osborne`s office. Surely they haven`t spent that already?

There is another way of looking at this 'au' and that's if these issues are addressed we might have a better chance of affording more victories. I've tried raising these issues privately but to zero effect.

I may not be a fan of St Obama but we must learn from his internet campaign.

Even with GB striding the globe as a financial guru (this is tongue in cheek) we should be 20+ points ahead in the polls - something needs to change and become effective.

Tim, I'm not disagreeing with you - just pointing out that some of us supporting your view are feeling slightly reluctant to use our usual names.

The selection of European candidates illustrates the way things are going wrong; the vast majority of our candidates for June simply have no credibility with members or the wider public.

If this was a restaurant, then a new Head Chef and a revamp of the menu might do the trick.

One good thing was the outsourcing of the running of Party Conference. For the last couple of years, Fingerprint Events have run things extremely well.

If that £500000 had not been spent on useless ads there might be some CCO workers not facing redundancy this xmas...

Good heavens, John, we'll have you supporting David Cameron soon ;-)

Something needs to be said about 'bed-blocking' MPs as well. New processes have been introduced so that local council candidates have to effectively reapply for their positions. These events can be painful but they were necessary - should the same happen to our MPs? Please don't tell me they are in place already - when was the last time when an idle, useless Conservative MP went?

This is another failure of Caroline Spelman. The Chairman has to have the confidence and stature to moderate Cameron's expenditure. All Leaders want to spend because they're in it to win not to turn a profit. However 2 of your criticisms are completely contradictory - the £500k 'Friends' ads and internet donations. Those 2 ideas were entirely complimentary, how else do you expect to increase internet donations if you don't advertise? In the end it may not have worked as well as hoped but the strategy was sound.

Tim, Good on you for doing a Damian.

CCHQ. Why not appeal to the volunteers? There are enough techy skillies amongst the contributors to ConHome to save you the £50K on t'interweb alone. You know, IT marketing types working in the private sector generating sales, promoting businesses, virals, guerillas: The perfect skillsets.

Or does £50K gig go to Crispin's godson what has just done media studies at the University of Bogshire? We'll do it for free.

Membership. This is a rather archaic measure in a culture that has moved on. We should be in the business of winning hearts and changing minds (= votes) not assessing success on the basis of an opted in, paid in, database. Change the that way we measure and accept that ALL party political membership is in terminal decline.

And, dare I say it, quite a lot of the stuff that fanfares out from CCHQ is, well, a bit naff. Ummm... a bit cringeworthy. Perhaps the creative team needs a little bit less time around the flip charts shouting and a little more time reflecting us rather than them or it could be that the bosses are a bit Kremlin when it comes to risk and creativity.

I'm not worried about special benefits for being a member -- just basic benefits.

It is hard to forgive Michael Howard for trying to scrap our vote in leadership elections and David Cameron for stopping us from deselecting Europhile M.E.P.s

I'm not convinced that anyone "stopped us from deselecting Europhile MEPs" - we did get the chance to do this through the electoral colleges but the nature of the membership of these electoral colleges is that they were likely to know some of the MEPs personally and also that they were faithful members - very unlikely to rock any boats.

Poor leadership and an evident inability to run a balanced budget. It sounds as though CCHQ has become a social enclave for Mr Cameron's dinner party chums. It's all at one with CCHQ's apparent intention to quietly sidle into power - I wonder if it will work?

"also that they were faithful members - very unlikely to rock any boats."

Nothing wrong with that! Those faithful members perhaps disparaged by some are the ones that get our Conservative MPs and Councillors elected as well as MEPs. They are the ones that raise much needed funds as well.

The Party Chairman is supposed to oversee these things. The buck should stop there. Fire her now, she is a failure.

All of the top 3 parties are losing members, ours has probably lost proportionately fewer than others.

The European selection was an opportunity to recruit. However the lack of member say becuase of the automatic selection of existing MEPs and the fact that many members had no vote because of admin foul ups was destructive. Democracy is a powerful tool if used properly. Spellman and co do not understand that.

I agree we need to do more via internet - web/ emails etc.
I looked at the Labour Party website the other day and it would be much easier for the casual surfer to volunteer or donate online. It is hard to find how to do that on our CCHQ website.

Boris' website got me a couple of long term volunteers - but the CCHQ website hasn't. We need to use that type of technology to get volunteers (now Boris site no longer functioning, and it only worked for London anyway) and also he had an innovative way of raising money via text messaging as well.
More of this, please!

Sally

Not only do i support Cameron (in the face of quite a lot of doubters among our membership) bit I really want to see the party make a difference and enthuse the electorate which would also enthuse the donors.

But and this is a very big but we need to be radical in what we do. "Only millionaires will pay inheritance tax" set not only Blackpool alight but the whole country, forced Brown out of an election and gave us a huge lead in the polls.

There are some very big ideas we can use-

Localism - give power back to LAs

Europe - referendum whether or nat ratified

Europe - take powers back to Westminster

Policing - promise to make them reponspible to the people and not politicos

Taxation - less

Governemnt interference - less except where it matters (baby P)

etc

Money will flow in if people generally there is a point and it will make a difference.

This minimum subscription of first £15, now £25,doesn't always help with membership totals - many older people gave £5 and ended up spending much more over the year.

"Not only do i support Cameron (in the face of quite a lot of doubters among our membership) bit I really want to see the party make a difference and enthuse the electorate which would also enthuse the donors."

John - glad to hear it! In fact there is nothing - nothing at all - that I disagree with on your Little List! ;-)

The biggest effect has been down to the severity and rapid onset of the credit crunch and recession.

Well done for highlighting this issue, Tim

It should however be stressed that this sort of thing has been going on for as long as I can remember.

Whoever replaces Spelman should hold an discreet but thorough internal inquiry into the running of CCO/CCHQ since 1997. There'd be no shortage of witnesses to all the years of waste and incompetence.

"also that they were faithful members - very unlikely to rock any boats."
Sally Roberts | December 07, 2008 at 10:40

"Nothing wrong with that! Those faithful members perhaps disparaged by some are the ones that get our Conservative MPs and Councillors elected as well as MEPs. They are the ones that raise much needed funds as well."

There's nothing wrong with being a loyal party member but when it comes to choosing people to do a difficult, little understood job one needs a panel of people who are prepared to make difficult employment and strategic decisions - NOT those who will support lovely Mr Euro-Phile MEP because he bought them a drink in a lovely restuarant on their last, subsidised visit to Brussels or Strasbourg!
The recent scandals have surely proved that the system, if not the list, needs reviewing openly, honestly and urgently.
This is for the good of the party not to attack it.

I would be very interested to hear from anyone who can tell me what the current list of MEP candidates actually stand for! Fishing rights? Lisbon Treaty? or just the great milk chocolate war and glorous victory of 1996 or thereabouts?

NOW will they put a PayPal DONATE button on their websites (for the thousandth bloody time of asking)?

My few donations have only ever been in single or double digit amounts - probably doesn't even cover the cost of the begging letters I get...

But I could cheerfully offer more if I knew where it was going.

I emailed the local party office offering my services to soup up their online-fund raising (labour encombant stepping down, likely to go tory) - I didn't even get a reply.

Who would I speak to at CCHQ about a new dontations strategy (particularly online)? Or do they only talk to big london agencies who charge the earth because they aren't passing on the 'internet dividend'.

John Broughton, yes that was my thoughts, and perhaps a revolutionary thought is that like any other business may be political parties should start trying to sell political products people want to buy, rather than sticking in front of us plastic politicians who mouth politically correct platitudes on demand, yet are incapable of having an opinion.

A prime example of this is the Speaker Marin affair, apart from Marshall Andrews and Carswell all other MP’s seem incapable of recognising the fact that he is useless and should go without first having umpteen number of committees, debates, and investigations by which time any normal person has given up the will to live!

So yes, as our plastic politicians are clueless about what to do about the constitutional settlement regarding England, how about selling a political product on giving English people as say on it, and they abiding by what we decide.

How about advancing a population policy?

And like you I too would like to see a strong policy to repatriate powers from Brussels, unfortunately as Cameron can’t even summon up the courage to leave the EPP I get the feeling its in the realms of fantasy that he will do anything regarding the EU, other than as the British political establishment have done for 40 years of signing more treaties that hands Brussels yet more power whilst lying to the electorate that the reverse will happen.

"NOT those who will support lovely Mr Euro-Phile MEP because he bought them a drink in a lovely restuarant on their last, subsidised visit to Brussels or Strasbourg!"

au I think you insult the intelligence of our members if you think that is their criteria!

Prodicus - I agree with you 100%! WHY don't we have a Paypal button on the site?

Some time ago a list was published of the wealth of the members of the party`s front bench and some of them are pretty well off. Nothing wrong with that, doesn`t worry me in the slightest,and I don`t mind what people do with their own money, Ashcroft included but I don`t recall seeing any of them in the list of people donating large sums. Maybe I am wrong. Should they not set an example by disclosing how much they have given the party?

https://www.conservatives.com/Donate.aspx

is the link to the party's online doantion section, Tim could always put a link on this website and the others run by his publishers?

Sally Roberts, I may be a little disenchanted with many of our activists but I still believe that I am correct in my assessment that they choose to keep, or at least not to upset, our encumbent MEPs for unprofessional reasons. This is not to be insulting - most of them are not professionals and know little of the real role of MEPs.

How many people actually felt able to support (and I really mean support) the candidates presented to them for the Euro selection process?
Until we are told how many ballot papers were spoilt because some members could not bring themselves to support every candidate on the list we cannot really judge the success of the process. This secrecy is destructive of trust and credibility. REquiring that every potential candidate MUST be voted for is undemocratic - placing current MEPs on a protected list is foolish - especially in the light of the track records of some of them!

"Poor leadership and an evident inability to run a balanced budget."

Clearly practicising what they plan on doing in government then. What is it with people in politics/government not understanding that you have to live within your means? Perhaps if more of them had done proper jobs in proper businesses then they would understand this.

The Conservatives should give a 25% paycut to their leadership and get rid of some of the 'dead wood' starting with Spelman.

It's clearly dredful publicity. If they can't run their own party properly why should voters think they can do a good job of running the country?

Answer is that voters don't believe they can run the country well but at least they might not be as bad as the present government.

The Friends of the Conservatives scheme might have achieved more if all those who signed up to were treated as a potential resource and the Party actually followed up on their offers of help.

In summer of 2007, desperately concerned as to where the current government seemed determined to lead us, I resolved to do something other than sit and fume. I'd get involved and actively try and help the Conservative Party. As a first step I went along to a fund-raising function organised by local constituency association. Well, aside from the children (grandchildren?) of a couple of members I was the youngest present by at large margin – and I am over fifty. As a new face, a potential new member was I welcomed? About as much as a plague rat, and when I had the nerve to ask our local MP a question? Well, both he and the people around me could not have treated me with more contempt. I came away from the evening convinced that the local party was dying (especially as one of the elderly ladies present had a cardio-vascular event during the evening and had to be taken away by an emergency ambulance), and was more of a social club for the ageing, well-heeled, and well-to-do rather than anything to do with politics and the state of the Country.

Clearly the local association was not the route for me, but, thought there might be another way, after all I live in a constituency where the Party could put up a strategically shaved chimp and still see him or her elected, so did it really matter that the local membership would be extinct in the not too distant future? Other opportunities would arise.

So when I saw the advert for Friends of the Conservatives I signed up immediately. When filling in the questionnaire I ticked the boxes that said I would be prepared to travel, including into London, to help in the Party's work. I got an email in reply thanking me for volunteering. Since then, nothing, zip, zilch, b*gger all. Not even an invitation to contribute to party funds.

I'll echo here the comments of others above, if this is the way the Conservative Party leadership runs its organisation, what hope is there that they can lead the Country?

"most of them are not professionals and know little of the real role of MEPs."

I am sorry au but I find this rather patronising! The Regional College consisted largely of Association Chairmen and others who have great political experience and certainly knowledge of how our legislators (including MEPs) do their jobs. Perhaps very few of them have actually written a book about How The European Parliament Works or are deeply familiar with every comma or full stop contained in every Directive - but then how many of those sitting on Westminster Selection Committees are deeply familiar with Erskine May?

The last constituency-wide newspaper produced by the Party was so bad that some activists would not deliver it (and the one before it was only marginally better). Apparently a couple of comms staffers did it without management input. I am told that funding to target seats is to be more flexible in that we will have more choice about what we spend it on-but I've heard that before.

Yes, abc tory, I will do that but a Donate button is only 5% of what is necessary.

To build serious online giving the party needs to run online campaigns, blogs, meanigful and resources that make people feel part of an enterprise.

Phil H - I wish you'd come to Hammersmith! We'd have given you a much better welcome. I don't know which was this disgraceful association that treated you in this manner but I hope if anyone from it is reading this they are suitably ashamed.

Sally Roberts | December 07, 2008 at 12:39

So you stand by the choice of every one of the potential candidates and the protection given to the existing MEPs and their track records and the fact that we must not be told how many spoilt ballot papers there were?
Believe me the number of spoilt ballot papers is a real indicator of the support for the selection process or rather the lack od such support.

Please also tell me what the MEPs manifesto will say or will they just be piggy-backing on the local elections?

I think the biggest barrier to giving is (as I mentioned)'knowing where it goes' - I feel that most of what I gave was spent nagging me for more money - so why should anyone bother with samll donations?

And what difference does (say) a tenner make when members of the front bench probably spend more on a glass of wine...

If the budget were more open, and people could contribute to specific things (say a bit to osborns paperclip fund a bit to this a bit to the other) they would have a clear idea of what difference their contribution made.

What is the budget? how much is needed for each elemet of it? how much still remains to be raised for each element of it etc...

If there were a published budget, fundraising could be focused around specific objectives (like clearing any overdraft).

It would take a big commitment to openness -but this would leave the other parties looking like dinosaurs.

"Please also tell me what the MEPs manifesto will say"

Patience, au! I am not the one drafting it but I am sure you will find it well worth waiting for.

I used to find those campaigners for democracy in the Conservative Party leafleting outside Conference a bit weird. But it seems there are times when we need them.

Every party needs to be able to take strategic operational decisions without referral to debate at a wider level, but things can go too far the other way as well.

The Board of the Conservative Party needs to start acting like a Board, not like (as former Australian Labor leader Mark Latham once said) a conga line of suckholes. If budgets are broken and spending cannot be sustained then the Board must act.

Its time to put the operation of CCHQ into the hands of the Board, a Strong Chairman and a skilled Chief Exec, then weed out the piggybacking MPs, bag carriers and 'advisers' like the grossly overpaid Steve Hilton who often contribute not a lot. The Leader should not be involved in okaying major spending, or exercise patronage by hiring or firing on a whim or a shared past.

We need a Board that is willing and able to stand up to the Leader who is not, contrary to some people's belief, the sole proprietor of the Conservative Party. This is something that happens over and over, not just with this Leader, but his predecessors as well.

This Party wins elections not just from the top down, but the ground up. CCHQ hasn't been helping either cause much for a while. Its not Cameron's fault particularly that this has happened, but the culture of the Party which has failed. That needs to change and be modernised.

Modernise the modernisers, thats a turnround.

perhaps David Cameron would be so good as to explain to the hardworking party workers, those that have lost their jobs, those that face a wage freeze, and importantly THOSE PEOPLE who have donated money just how this came about :-David Cameron has personally authorised up to £2m of extra expenditures, none included in the budget for the year............

How on earth can he lecture Brown about housekeeping now. Talk about self inflicted wounds.

IS Cameron proving to be a lead weight on tory hopes!

What a farce.

Sorry, I don't have anything witty or useful to say about this but felt like putting something up anyway. The point does not need to be made again that these schoolboys are incompetent. You can see that every day.

Great story ConHome.

Less contempt from CCHQ for the existing membership and activist base might well have kept us the lost members and maybe even attracted some more.

The Cameroon clique would do well to learn that the Conservative party does not just comprise them.

Oh and yes we were most certainly stopped from deselecting Europhile MEPs by a process that placed incumbents in front of everyone else, then disallowed a whole membership poll in favour of an electoral college, and then on top of that actively discriminated against men in the cause of politcally correct, but otherwise sprurious, gender equality.

The whole thing was an insult to the party's membership, once again.

I'd also say, comments like ukippers should not put anyone off openness - hiding things rather than addressing them is the Labour Governments way -- and then when things do eventually come out (as they enevitably do) it is ten times worse.

Sorting out the parties finances could be a great start to preparing for government...

I do not know who some of the people posting here think the members of the Board are but they are in fact people who, by and large, have given their lives to the Party and no not all of them are simply ex-MPs! They all started off pushing leaflets through letter boxes and knocking on doors in the rain - just like ourselves.
I do sometimes wonder about the mindset of conspiracy theorists - those who believe that the world is being controlled by the reptiles/freemasons/Jews/illuminati/bilderbegers (delete as applicable)! Perhaps some of you would like to add Members of the Board of the Conservative Party to that list?
I am afraid I detect the whiff of sour grapes here....

Sally Roberts, The fact that you have missed the opportunity to answer my other questions tells me all I need to know and is unutterably depressing. I know that you are a loyal supporter of Conservatism in Europe but even you cannot willingly vouch for the integrity of the list or the selection process tells us all that much is wrong with both...

Typical from most of the posters. Know all armchair pundits so bloody sharp it's amazing they are not all in casualty having their wounds attended to. This is all about the desperate economic mess wrought on everybody and everything.
The ruling elite will be untouched as always, including much of our leadership, whilst pensions, savings and lives are in tatters. However, CCHQ and The Party are the last bastions of any hope for a future and this housekeeping nonsense is an internal issue which, as always, we are choosing to air in public. Just how much of a love in with Mandleson was your little, cosy meeting, Tim?
Given the massive income from nefarious sources and Trade Unions, The Liebore Party should be in clover. Bet they'd swap for our situation any day. Furthermore, action, regrettable as it is, is being taken. Unlike the do nothing, except play the "bung" violin of Labour action, cuts are being made. Do a similar exercise with the nation's finances and we might salvage the future.

au that is not what I said and you know it! I am not an agent and I did not scrutinise the ballot so am emphatically and categorically not in a position to comment on the technicalities. The fact that you and one or two others go on and on about this tells me all I need to know about your own thinking!

"The ruling elite will be untouched as always, including much of our leadership"

M Dowding you normally post very well so what is all this "ruling elite" stuff? Don't tell me you are getting sucked into the conspiracy theory stuff as well? Look, the fact is our leadership are normal human beings. They too have to cope with the credit crunch and they too do their shopping at supermarkets, take their kids to and from school and nip out for the occasional pint or two and curry at their local restaurant! They are normal people who happen to do senior jobs. This "elite" word is one utilised by and large by people who want to make a political point which is a very UN-Conservative one...

Our slection of MEP candidates is a disgrace and we have had several members leave on these grounds.

As for the friends "initiative" - what a farce. Both agents and constituency organisers hadn't been told anything about it until after the campaign had launched.

CCHQ is completely disfuctional!!!

Sally Roberts | December 07, 2008 at 14:15
Sally Roberts, I am sorry if my thinking is upsetting you but the condition of the party I work for as a volunteer leaves me so sad. Unless we can sort it out and confront the problems they will persist. The fact is that the hard work done by our good MEPs is undermined and wasted by the rotten apples and the foolish selection process that left so many of them in place.

Why doesn`t this surprise me. It is obvious from the party`s economic policy, such as it is, that at present only a fool would put the party in charge of there financial affairs.

Until recently, I used to belong to two Associations, now its just one and I only still belong to that because I always have.

Even in the midst of this crisis, there is no fire, no attack, no sense of urgency in the Tory leadership. There is administrative change, the more careful management of inevitable decline, incremental doubt.

The first politician to get off his a*se and offer real leadership is going to reap a whirlwind of grateful support. Desperate men, desperate measures - until then it's just desperate voters.

I'll re-invest in the Conservative party when I see the prospect of a return on my investment, otherwise its 1.8% in Premium Bonds and a weekly quid on the Lottery.

Jack Stone even I know that you are a Labour troll so please go away

m dowding: Your willingness to defend everything the party does makes you as in credible as the critics who always attack it.

"To build serious online giving the party needs to run online campaigns, blogs, meanigful and resources that make people feel part of an enterprise.

Posted by: Tim Montgomerie | December 07, 2008 at 12:41"

Got it in one! Absolutely bang on the button. There are a lot of us (myself included) who would do far more work for the Party if there was a way in and we felt that our input was needed, appreciated and used.

Instead, communicating with the Party (and many MPs) is akin to dealing with a black hole - a one-way process where stuff is sucked in and never seen again.

This is compounded by an all too common attitude that the only acceptable input is that which follows the current Party line. Anything which disagrees with that, or suggests improvements or changes (or, perish the thought, suggests that it might be wrong), is rigorously ignored.

There are many, many volunteers out there - including myself - who would willingly expend many hours helping the Party to get elected, We find, however, there is no way into the machinery where we can actually use our skills and experience to advantage.

Thus, we end up - like me - sniping from the edges and getting nowhere.

"Sally Roberts, I am sorry if my thinking is upsetting you ..."

Hardly upset - just rather irritated that we get the same old same old stuff - can we not move on?

Sally Roberts, no, we can't move on without answers and improvements. My frustration with the party is based on the fact that I want it to win and to be worthy of that victory and until we send credible people to Europe and put forward credible candidates running on credible tickets we are working in vain. It is not enough that Labour should fail it is only good enough that we are ready and worthy of leading this country.

The sad conclusion from this is that the party executive couldn't run a bath.

We should be the exemplar of prudent, careful budgeting for the very simple reason that to be otherwise offers our detractors an open goal.

Why on earth should the public trust us to run the country if we can't run something as Billy-basic as a membership base on a break-even basis?

Good job I don't run my business like that. Sadly, it looks like when we're back in power I'll resent giving our Tory government my taxes as much a I do Labour because it looks like they'll be just as profligate. Spelman: get a grip. Pronto.

au, my last word on this subject is that I am sorry you do not find our candidates "credible"! Perhaps if you were to involve yourself wholeheartedly in the important job of getting them elected next year you would actually see that they are in fact highly credible and highly capable people with a wealth of talent and experience which will stand them - and us the Party in very good stead for the future. Don't stand shivering on the edge of the pool and complaining how cold the water is....jump in and swim with us and you will see that in fact it's rather warm!

m dowding: Your willingness to defend everything the party does makes you as in credible as the critics who always attack it.

Posted by: Sammy Finn | December 07, 2008 at 14:46

Well, two conflicting views on my meagre contribution! Free speech after all, surely, Mr Finn.
Sally, my "ruling elite" has legs. Senior Civil Servants, shady Labour placemen and jobsworthies. At least our leadership chooses a career path for reasons other than "snouts in troughs". However, the world over is populated by wealthy and corrupt regimes and cabals. That includes the likes of Murdoch. Not conspiracy so much as the human condition and it's less attractive side. Christian Conservatism works for me and helps keep me sane. I am not happy with a lot of CCHQ issues since 1997 but still regard anything but Labour decidedly attractive!

I understand what you say, M Dowding and as I commented above your posts are usually excellent and indeed much of what you say here is right - especially your reference to Labour placemen!
I do have a problem with this phrase "ruling elites" and it is all part of the burgeoning "conspiracy theory" mentality! The reason for the growth in that mindset is understandable and ZANULab's rule of this country makes the situation ever worse! People feel powerless and powerless people throughout history have always wanted someone or some group to blame for their perceived powerlessness. As I have said, the "culprits" have varied over time and in fact often the most hardened conspiracy theorists merely change the goalposts when the situation changes. Look at Obama being elected in America - the conspiracists said that a black man could never become President - now they merely whinge that of course Obama is "in on it" - whatever "it" is!!
The point is that everyone - even a Rothschild - has to go to the lavatory! I am sorry to put it in such a blunt manner but I am afraid people should get real.

Sally Roberts | December 07, 2008 at 15:08
I am right in the water with every right to complain and knowledge of that of which I complain...

Thank you Sally and I withdraw, in the face of your stark comment on our human functions, my "ruling elite" phrase. I suspect we are both blue as blue, cold weather notwithstanding!

No thank YOU M Dowding and you will be pleased to know that I am no longer blue with cold having just had a warm bath! :-)

Phil H - I recognise what you are sayiing. When I first joined I was not contacted by CCHQ or by local association. When I did contact the local association, they didn't know what to do with a volunteer!
There is a problem with some associations still, and clearly the signposting to target seats in particular needs to happen (it worked in Boris election as I detailed above).
If you contact me at rachel.joyce@hotmail.co.uk we would be delighted to use your time/ efforts in Harrow West. If you are too far away from us geographically, I am sure we can link you up to an active target seat in your area.

Scouse Tory, you have to be in the competition to win it.

If an overdraft of a few million would be the difference between winning an election and losing it - do you think it would be worthwhile?

It shouldn't be down to money (and hopefully isn't), but I still think that budgets should be set, and then money raised against them.

I'd be more likely to put in a few more quid if it was for something sepcific.

Donors who aren't worried about exactly what it goes on can fill the gaps...

Posted by: Sally Roberts | December 07, 2008 at 15:56

"having just had a warm bath! :-)"

Not just standing on the edge then? :-))

Absolutely not, au! jumping in the deep end!! ;-)

I'm a supporter, but I'm NOT a member of the party. I do not see the point of joining - my vote is my support. From where I sit the party seems archaic in structure and I see no benefits in joining. What modern organisation has no idea of how many members it has? I understand the point about the local associations and affiliating to the party and that is fine for flower shows and stamp clubs, but this is a political organisation that purports to be capable of running the country.

What ARE the benefits of joining? Seriously - I don't actually know.

PAYPAY DONATE: I absolutely agree. And you know the really sad thing? It takes about ten seconds to do and involves no hard work whatsoever.

In regards to this report from Tim. It's pretty unhelpful, in my opinion. Since the electorate are deserting all political parties in droves, what's the point in giving our opponents this sort of ammunition to pretend it says something about us in particular?

If we've got funding issues, that's something we share with everybody else in the current financial climate. Let's work harder to get funds in!

au said: "My frustration with the party is based on the fact that I want it to win and to be worthy of that victory and until we send credible people to Europe and put forward credible candidates running on credible tickets we are working in vain."

Well said - you speak for me also. The party needs to be efficient and well run. It also needs to be more in "attack dog" mode and tearing into Brown and this corrupt, sleazy government.

I suspect a problem with online donations is ensuring that they can be accounted for/traced.

I have no doubt that online could be massively improved, but it does need to be done properly - dodgy donations are the last thing that are wanted...

Need to make sure the legal bods are in the loop...

Agree with Steve above. All the parties and just about every membership organisation in the country is struggling with member levels and funds. As I said the other day I have been through my statements cancelling any memberships that aren't essential. There must be hundreds of thousands doing this right now.

Tim, I'm sorry but I do have to agree with Steve Tierney and one or two others that it probably wasn't very sensible having a report on this subject! Our political enemies must be thoroughly enjoying themselves...
It's rather like a family where all the children know that their parents are unhappy together and may even end up getting a divorce. THEY know it...their parents know it but they don't want the whole world to know it and therefore they put on a united front.

Yes Steve it's a difficult fundraising environment - we all know that - but I'm not obviously blaming the party for that but for the fact that CCHQ isn't spending money well, isn't respecting members, isn't using the internet well and is cutting the long-term, strategic work as a result.

PS au and Sally - that's enough please.

I'm sorry but I haven't got time for those who say these issues shouldn't be discussed.

The level of waste and poor practice is a disgrace.

Private warnings have gone unheeded.

If ConHome doesn't discuss these issues it is failing in its task.

Yes, I'll be more careful close to an election but I'm appalled at what is happening in CCHQ at present.

Considering how ineffective the party machine has been to cut back on staff might be no bad thing. Conservative HQ has really been ineffective the polls have been everything about Zanou Labour being so bad and not Conservatives being good and effective.
It irks me when a lady who I have the most admiration and respect put herself up as a parliamentary candidate because of her fears for Britain and she had people interviewing her that she could tear apart with knowledge know how, experience, and debating skills that would enable her to rip apart most of the Shadow Cabinet on most subjects. This same Lady I have heard on the radio many times tearing stupid Europhiles and lefties apart using her brains and knowledge of life and she was turned down for some of the chinless wonders that would be an embarrassment to our great party. How many other talented people have been overlooked? Most people I have spoken to at HQ seemed to be just enthusiastic amateurs and when it comes to being interviewed and public appearances many of the Shadow Cabinet just do not cut it like the many previous Conservative Cabinets that held office.

Our political enemies must be thoroughly enjoying themselves...

If that is the only issue, then so what?

I don't care whether labour activists are happy or sad, as long labour end up in opposition.

I expect the tories to get in because conservative principals are superior to labours' (if labour can be said to have any) - not because they have 'hidden' their faults long enough to get elected!

Openess/Transparency is the way forward!

"PS au and Sally - that's enough please."

Apologies Tim.

Isn't a question we should ask what does a member gain from joining ? All I get are requests for money and leaflet delivering or canvassing. I'm fine with that, I desperately want to see a Conservative government but I can fully understand why it's not for most people.
Until CCHQ at least try to answer that question then I fear there will be no improvement in membership.
I also think we should have a Chairman who is high profile and who wishes to involve members in the affairs in the activities of the Conservative Party. Caroline Spelman does not seem to be that person.
PS The selection of EU candidates was an absolute farce and reflected very badly on those who responsible for it.

Malcolm Dunn makes a good point. What exactly is the point of being a member? Historically, it was the ability to have a say in candidate selection, as well as eating the odd vol-au-vent and downing a few glasses of Chechnyan riesling at branch events. However, the former has been removed in most instances and the latter appeals to few but the geriatric stalwarts.

After 3 years of Chairman in Sevenoaks, we were at c.1,250 members, which was just about where I started. Not very impressive I know, but at least we had not lost a couple of hundred, which other seats in Kent did.

Unless CCHQ reviews the benefits of membership, the decline in numbers in even safe seats will continue. Moreover when one reflects that Smith Square was sold to generate funds for solvency and you hear of the waste in this article, it is likely to deter even more people from joining.

Tim, I may no longer be a member, but you really should keep up the fight on such issues. Without people like you, there will be no grassroots voice. If Dave moves to the Right a bit, you might even persuade me to rejoin in a few years time.

I'm a supporter, but I'm NOT a member of the party. I do not see the point of joining - my vote is my support. From where I sit the party seems archaic in structure and I see no benefits in joining. What modern organisation has no idea of how many members it has? I understand the point about the local associations and affiliating to the party and that is fine for flower shows and stamp clubs, but this is a political organisation that purports to be capable of running the country.

What ARE the benefits of joining? Seriously - I don't actually know.

Posted by: Hawkeye | December 07, 2008 at 16:26

The point of joining for a local association is to a. have a regular income it can rely on and b. we have people who can become active in social events or c. get involved with campaigns either as a volunteer or an officer/ campaign organiser or d. become a councillor.

I've got a paypal donate button on my website. Haven't yet had a payment that way but we have only just sent out our first email to all constituents that we have emails for. I'll have to let you know if it works.

At moment we do pick up some donations when we do leaflets, and I assume we will get some via emails.

If anyone wants to donate, please go to my website!!

The general election is being planned by George Osborne. The battleground seat campaign is being run by Michael Ashcroft's excellent team headed up by the superb Stephen Gilbert. DC's friend is in operational charge of the building. Treasurer's Department do the fundraising. Therefore what is the purpose of the Chairman? In the 1980s and 1990s the party Chairman was supported by a secretary. Firstly Shirley Oxenbury and then Kirsten Bird who now does great work for William Hague. Now there are secretaries and a 'Chief of Staff'. It was in the papers recently that the Chief of Staff is paid over £50,000 coffers. Lets go back to a hands-on Chairman supported by an efficient secretary. That's 50k saved at a stroke and not a penny away from front line campaigning.

Trouble is the External Relations dept has been mismanaged.

It was heralded with a fanfare on here when Eustice was sidelined from a press role but has never been heard of since.

Not really surprising that they see it as fat to be trimmed. Everybody is judged on results.

Yes, abc tory, I will do that but a Donate button is only 5% of what is necessary.

To build serious online giving the party needs to run online campaigns, blogs, meanigful and resources that make people feel part of an enterprise.

Posted by: Tim Montgomerie | December 07, 2008 at 12:41
---------------------------------------------
That is good news,Tim,thanks

It is step in the right direction. I agree much more needs and could be done.
Staff, at the sharp end are fed up to the back teeth with the latest chapter of events.

Normally I don't rise to Sally Roberts and her 1950's style Joyce Grenfell "oh isn't everything wonderful so do stop moaning" approach since she is as entitled to her view as anyone else is. However it is impossible to let her risible statement that the current Conservative front bench have the slightest connection to real people's problems in the real world pass by.

Quite how even she can imagine that a bunch of, largely, Old Etonians with substantial family wealth behind them, not to mention their various Parliamentary allowances and company directorships, are feeling the recession in the same way that most people are and will do into 2009 is beyond even parody. Ridiculous statements like hers simply play straight into the hands of the class war dogmatists in the Labour party.

Sally the days of the deferential, forelock tugging, voter and party member/activist are dead you know and no amount of wishful thinking on your part is going to change that.

"In regards to this report from Tim. It's pretty unhelpful, in my opinion. Since the electorate are deserting all political parties in droves, what's the point in giving our opponents this sort of ammunition to pretend it says something about us in particular?"

If we've got funding issues, that's something we share with everybody else in the current financial climate. Let's work harder to get funds in!"

I agree whole heartedly with Steve Tiernay on this issue, and I do think the points raised by Tim have been cherry picked to back up his points, and those of Fraser Nelson.

Do I believe that CCHQ is in a better position than it was 3 years ago in terms of organisation and funding, yes, very much so.
And I read through the article looking to see a bit of balance being added, by pointing out the positive improvements in both funding and organisation.
Alas, I was disappointed, not even a mention of the targeted marginal seats funding.

Do I think this was the wrong time to bring this issue up, absolutely! With the current political climate and the Green issue rumbling on, poor timing from ConHom.
There is going to be a GE in the next 18 months, and this naval gazing as ever is about as useful or helpful as a fox in a chicken coup.

ChrisD said "Do I think this was the wrong time to bring this issue up, absolutely! With the current political climate and the Green issue rumbling on, poor timing from ConHom."

Not really - LabourHome ran this story 4 days ago so it is not really news....

I've praised CCHQ when it deserves it Chris.

eg

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/torydiary/2008/04/westminster-ins.html

and

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/torydiary/2008/03/rapid-rebuttal.html

and

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/torydiary/2008/05/stephen-gilbert.html

I'm not, however, going to defend the waste, the way members are treated and the neglect of the internet.

No apologies for today's post.

HOMOPHOBIC COMMENT OVERWRITTEN.

I wouldn't want to be devisive, but would there be scope for an 'independant' fund raising organisation?

There are people who want to do stuff - CCHQ (and at least some local organisations) don't have the time to take up the offers (/manage the resources)...

So raise the money, and make it available for specific projects...

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