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CF Election Speculation – Isn’t It A Bit Early For All That Jazz?

John Moorcraft writes a weekly article putting current young Conservative issues into a historical context.

First and foremost, I would like to thank Matthew Sinclair  for taking the trouble to respond so eloquently to some of the issues raised in my previous article considering whether it is time to bring back a separate organisation for conservative students.  His article made for interesting reading and his concluding paragraph in particular was one I found myself agreeing with strongly.  It is, in my opinion anyway, imperative that young conservatives reflect upon what exactly conservatism means and should mean and I for one agree wholeheartedly with Mr Sinclair when he urges us all to be thoughtful conservatives. 

In my previous article, I indicated I would this week be putting the case for keeping the one size fits all organisational structure of Conservative Future.  However, in a move that would make Labour Party spin doctors proud, I wish to sweep that particular statement under the carpet for the moment and instead reflect upon some of the speculation I have had the pleasure/misfortune (I remain undecided on which it actually is) of being subjected to over the last few months regarding the next round of Conservative Future elections.

In the last fortnight alone, I have become aware of at least 3 young conservative bloggers who have been informally asked whether they intend to put themselves forward as a candidate next time the CF election bandwagon comes to town.  When I last returned to the big smoke in December to conduct some interviews arranged as part of my research project, almost every single individual I met asked whether anybody had told me they were standing for either the Chairmanship or Exec (why they thought I would betray academic confidentiality and tell them even if somebody had deemed me worthy enough to be informed of their pending CF election bid is beyond me). 

Somewhat more bizarrely, I was involved in similar conversations at the Welsh Conservative Party Conference and, on a personal level, I have been rather amusingly asked whether I intend to “throw my hat into the ring” on quite a few occasions over the last couple of months (despite having repeatedly stated that a lack of willingness, money and talent, as well as a desire to remain objective for the sake of my academic studies, will prevent me from holding any elected position in the organisation). 

Now that I have studied the young conservative movement for longer then any sane individual probably ever really ought to, I suppose I really shouldn’t be surprised such discussions are already taking place. After all, competition for places on the national executive of official young conservative organisations has historically been extremely competitive and the campaigns run by even defeated candidates are often meticulously planned and of the highest quality (this is why I have no objection whatsoever to those actually intending to stand contacting me).  For example, Demitri Argyropulo apparently travelled the UK during his Chairmanship bid in the late seventies, meeting almost every eligible voter, yet he was still defeated by Robert Hughes.

In addition, the accomplishments of this particular executive, and in particular the personal one of Mark in Tooting, have demonstrated that it might actually be beneficial once again for the politically ambitious to have a stint as an elected representative in the young conservative movement.  Nevertheless, from my admittedly idealistic position glancing across at CF politics from my academic ivory tower, I personally find it absolutely amazing activists in CF are already casting one eye towards the next round of national elections.  As far as I am concerned, Mark, Ranil, Christian, Craig, Karen, Matthew and Claire were elected to do a job for a predefined period and it seems to me ridiculously premature to either comprehensively evaluate their performance or discuss potential successors now when the elections are not scheduled to be held until June (?). 

Now don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe it is only right and proper for a democratic organisation that decisions taken by the CF Exec are discussed by those interested in such matters and I therefore make no apology for the fact I have previously both commended and criticised the actions of this particular Exec on my personal blog . I also believe it is beneficial for the organisation if the national elections are keenly contested by a surplus of highly proficient candidates and I would only ever encourage those who believe they have something to offer Conservative Future to go beyond thinking they might do some good and actually walk the walk.  However, I also believe it is not particularly healthy for the organisation that certain quarters (and it is only a few individuals in an organisation of more then 15,000) are already earnestly speculating on who will be going for the National Chairmanship and Executive next time the CF Elections are held.

If they really want to be gripped by election fever, I would advise them to contact one of the numerous individuals currently fighting to win us more representation in The Scottish Parliament, The Welsh Assembly or on local councils up and down the country.  I am sure they will have plenty of leaflets that need delivering and at least we know who the candidates are actually going to be!


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