Conservative Diary

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Matthew Richardson's monthly NME report

Mathewrichardson Preface

I have not been tasked to write this report; nor was it a manifesto pledge. But I believe that greater accountability comes from greater transparency. I also note recent posts on ConservativeHome have indicated a greater desire to “benchmark the NME” and keep track of its progress.  I will, I hope, produce a monthly report for the duration of my time on the NME.


I have attended all of the scheduled NME meetings, including the induction and media training and the training day for area chairmen. I was unable to attend party conference due to the commitments of my new job as a barrister’s pupil. I anticipate no further such clashes.

I have been very pleased with the attitude and professionalism of this year’s NME. I find Mark Clarke to be a very able leader and am sure that his managerial expertise will be nothing short of a great benefit to CF.  Although I, as a plain speaking Yorkshireman, do not always appreciate the managerial language he uses, I realise that his methods will accomplish real goals for the organisation. I voted for Claire for Deputy Leader and believe her skills will augment Mark’s. I look forward to working with them.

I welcome the transparent appointments process Mark has outlined for new members of the NME. I hope that the recruitment process will allow the NME to acquire members with competencies that are not currently represented.

I am delighted by all of the area chairman selections. We have some very talented individuals working for us at a grassroots level. I also note with pleasure that the new cohort is more diverse than it has been in the past.

Comments on ConservativesInTouch and FastTrack

Earlier this month I made comments on a “private” Internet forum regarding FastTrack and an event I encountered while, incidentally, at a London club. My comments were a brash way of trying to determine the efficacy of FastTrack and these events. These comments were copied to the head of FastTrack, the Treasurer’s department and several other staffers at CCHQ. I am unsure what the purpose of this petty and childish move was.

This incident has served to highlight to me that even though I am a member of the National Executive of CF and a young professional in London I am largely unaware of the work of FastTrack. Later this week I will be writing to the FastTrack committee to request further information, and to highlight ways in which I hope FastTrack and CF can synergise to engage more young people in donor clubs.

Assigned NME role

I have been assigned the role of campaigns co-ordinator. I have agreed with Mark and the rest of the NME a goal of organising four campaign days throughout the year, with an anticipated attendance of 40 at each. I realise that this is a very ambitious goal. I am currently liaising with Justin Tomlinson and several other councillors in Swindon regarding the first campaign day, to be held there in mid-November. The day will include conventional campaign efforts, as well as a drive to alert the residents of Swindon to a new Nightbus service introduced by the conservative council, to be followed by entertainment and refreshments afterwards.

Key details will be available for consideration next week. The other three days are still in the exploratory phase and I hope those members with any thoughts on our campaign strategy will contact me at [email protected]. I intend to combine all campaign activities with some form of community action this year.

Manifesto commitments

In my manifesto I highlighted the need for a guide for university branches, more events for young professionals, more policy days and a decision on NUS involvement. 

I am pleased to have discovered that the guide already exists and has been sent out with the freshers’ packs this year as part of the massively successful campaign for fresher recruitment. I hope to build on the content of this guide for next year’s freshers process.

Mark has tasked Karen Allen with organising events for young professionals. She has already formed a working party and has provisional dates for several events. I trust that Karen will confirm more details as soon as possible. I am also pleased to note the close relationship she has formed with individuals in the events management industry.

As yet I have not made any progress on my promise to establish more policy days. At the next NME meeting I will be bringing a proposal for an event I have provisionally entitled “Pints and Policy.” Close observers may see that this draws somewhat on my OUCA pedigree. I hope to hire a venue and discuss policy affecting young people over a few pints at least three times this year. 

Currently the NME is consulting with students on our NUS policy and university branch development and I would be happy to hear from anyone at [email protected]. Unusually the NME has only two student members this year. Expertise will therefore be drawn from non-members of the NME. A clear proposal will be put to the next NME meeting and I will report further on it then. The contributions to ConservativeHome (CF Diary) have been considered by the NME and will continue to remain part of our deliberations.

New branch development

Each member of the NME has been allocated an area in which to develop CF branches. I am working on Worcestershire and with the help of the area chairman, Anne-Marie Bray, substantial progress has already been made. We have drafted a programme for new branch events and communication with members. To this end a brand new website has been set up in the area, mailouts have been sent and the first event will be held before Christmas.


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