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The costs of CF HQ

A recent post on Mark Clarke's blog about going back to work raises some important questions about the financial burden of being on the national exec - particularly if you are the Chairman of it:

"The out of pocket cost has so far been £27,000. This has been spent on travel, hosting CF events which I have often subsidised myself , entertaining key party stakeholders, accommodation, offsetting the environmental cost of my travel through climate care, etc. On top of this my loss of earnings has been £26,000. The total cost to me so far from being CF Chairman has, therefore, been £53,000. I have recieved no support from CCHQ, the State or any Party donors in this period. Alas, I have supported and borne the cost entirely myself."

That's in just three and a half months. The most active members of previous year's execs have also reported excessive personal expenditure, especially on travel, and sometimes on things like leaflets and events.

As an aside, some might argue that as a harsh reality elected CF Chairmen are likely to be those who spent the most money on their campaign for the Chairmanship (that's certainly the case in the last two years) and Fiverstherefore should be willing and able to fund themselves to a degree once elected to the position. But even if this argument carried weight, there'd be no justification for entrenching a system that put money before merit, and the internet very much levels the playing field now anyway.

So as things stand, the effectiveness of elected officers depends a great deal on their disposable income and how much of it they're willing to spend (students need not apply!). Granted, some portfolios don't require as much travel as others, but exec members do have an expectation to lead the way in campaigning and be seen by members at events.

Is this the lot of an ideological organisation? Can CF be compared to a charity in which everyone puts in as much as they can for the greater good? Or is it merely a stepping-stone to individual careers in politics, and so it is only right that they stump up for expenses?

CF is certainly more than a debating society or a social club, it has an important campaigning and recruiting role and should be resourced as such. The long-term benefits to our political ideology of having a strong youth following are hard to quantify but very significant.

Future_cfhq The other major issue is that for an organisation supposedly representing around 15,000 people, one part-time member of staff and a voluntary exec seems grossly insufficient. I know this isn't lost on the national team, we can only hope that the Party come up with the goods. By way of comparison, I'm sure most people would consider having a well-paid intern work full-time on CF for a year to be worth one month of Steve Hilton's salary.

We're certainly behind a number of like-minded groups elsewhere in the world, particularly the College Republicans who have numerous paid Field Officers who travel around regions setting up and sustaining branches.

I'll summarise with the wise words of John Moorcraft:

"Is it not about time the Conservative Party acknowledged the imperative work Conservative Future members undertake for the organisation by funding and staffing the official young conservative movement more appropriately?"


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