Conservative Diary

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How should National Convention places be allocated?

CF has 42 places on the National Convention (the 900-strong official voice of Party members to the Party leader). The allocation of these influential places has been an ambiguous business, is it time for a more formal process (as has now been instituted for Area Chairman and NME co-options)?

Last year, the NME went for a pragmatic approach which was certainly an improvement on previous years. Each Exec member individually drew up a list of CF activists who they thought should be on it, and the most common names to come up got in. The two potential pitfalls of this method are "jobs for mates", and low turnout at Convention - whilst nominees accepted their roles they didn't actively apply for them initially.

One simple solution that has been mooted is making the role ex-officio of being, say, an Area Chairman. Most ACs go to Party/Spring conference when the main meetings are held which is one advantage, but the numbers don't quite add up with there currently being 44 ACs, together with 9 NME members and a Chairman.

Giving the position of Area Chairman more value in this way would be welcome (the co-opted ACs will be announced shortly by the way - I'm told CF received as many applications for the roles in the few days after the article on CF Diary than in the few months previously!). However this would leave us with the difficult options of either petitioning for more NatCon places, or finding a way to discriminate between ACs.

The problem with the former is not only that it will be hard to persuade the Party of its necessity but also that the number of AC positions is likely to change again - hopefully we can get to the stage where we can split up the bi-county positions. With the latter, it's hard to concieve of a method which is structured (rather than just asking who can make it on a first-come-first-served basis), fair (unless there was some kind of performance measure which determined which ACs got the place!) and practical (a full membership election, for example, would be unfeasible).

Some, especially legal eagles which I very much am not,  will see this discussion as merely academic as the Party's constitution says that representatives on the NatCon:

"...shall be elected by the members of each Recognised Organisation Specialist Group or Other Body in accordance with their respective constitutions"

But the constitutional basis for selection seems uncertain as CF's constitution says:

"The Chairman shall ex officio be CF’s external representative and/or delegation leader but, with the agreement of the NME, may nominate other Members of CF to represent CF at affiliated bodies and at the National Conservative Convention."

I know this is a very anoraky subject but it is important so your views are very welcome...


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