Conservative Diary

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John Moorcraft: There is good news as well as bad, you know!

First and foremost, I would like to apologise for the length of time that has elapsed since I last put together an article for your perusal.  It has taken far longer then expected to analyse the results of my questionnaire, due in part because well in excess of 1,500 CF members, Westminster Villagers, Councillors, Members of Parliament, Academics, Journalists, Bloggers, representatives from young conservative organisations outside the UK and members of the great British public responded to my request to take part (I expected around 900).  My intention of completing the work by December 2007 (which still stands) has therefore meant I have barely had enough time to breathe recently, let along knock together any articles! I sincerely hope the prolonged period of time that has passed since I requested your views on how CF as an organisation could be improved will not have seen your enthusiasm to leave comments on my articles dampened.   

My motivation for writing this particular article comes principally from having read some of the critical comments left on a previous post informing visitors to CF Diary that the CF Working Life Conference has been cancelled.  Now, before proceeding any further, I wish to counter any accusations that what follows is an apologist piece on behalf of the CF Exec.  As previously, I have not contacted anybody other then the Deputy Editor of ConservativeHome about the contents of this article and whether people like or agree with what I have to say is entirely up to them (do let me know in the comments section!).  In addition, I personally think some of the anonymously made criticisms (it would add weight to your arguments if you criticise under your own name) left on the CF Working Life Cancellation post hyperlinked above are in fact justifiable.  For example, the scenario described by "Another CF Farce" (that his/her CF Working Life application forms were lost due to the absence of administrative staff) is one that causes considerable concern (particularly with Freshers coming up; who is going to oversee that?), whilst some of the issues Pisaboy mentions at the end of his comment regarding the lack of NUS involvement this year and the continued inadequacy of the official website (a point also picked up on by Kipling) I personally have sympathy with.   

However, whilst I find myself agreeing with some of the specific criticisms mentioned both here on CF Diary and elsewhere; the general pessimistic and doom laden perception of CF some people seem insistent on holding is one I simply do not accept.   

I never witnessed first hand the tremendous electioneering work undertaken by scores of CF activities down in Ealing Southall (I was out of the country), but an understanding of our history allows me to believe the assertion Mr Richardson puts forward in his 7th monthly report about CF members putting in over 5,000 man hours and delivering approximately 200,000 leaflets.  I also have no doubt Mr Clarke is correct to point out on his blog that CF easily outnumbered the increasingly non-existent and politically inconsequential Young Labour and Labour Students in Ealing Southall.  For organising, coordinating and ensuring substantial assistance was given to Tony Lit in Ealing Southall, Mr Clarke, Mr Richardson, Mr Sullivan and, in particular, Mr Seery (who I am told delivered in excess of 10,000 leaflets single handily) should be proud.  Back in 1959, David Butler described the Young Conservatives as an essential part of the Conservative Party’s election army.  I would go further then Butler and suggest the electioneering work CF activists undertake at both organised campaign days (such as Ealing Southall, Hammersmith and Fulham and Battersea) and on a daily basis in constituencies across the UK makes us indispensable.   

In addition to providing the Conservative Party with its most dedicated and proficient activists, CF has also once again begun to provide the Conservative Party with its leaders of tomorrow.  Recent local election results have seen CF aged councillors elected in their droves (the result in Hammersmith in Fulham in particular was a good one for CF) and our congratulations should also be extended to Greg Stafford, who I am informed has just been elected to serve the good people of Cleveland Ward in Ealing.  At Westminster level, a recent(ish) blogpost by Brendan Carlin and Jonathan Isaby suggests at least 11 of our top 150 target constituencies will have either CF aged candidates, or recent graduates of the organisation, trying to win them for us at the next General Election. The young conservative movement has come a long way from the days when we couldn’t hold a political discussion without causing considerable offence and embarrassment to the senior party and I would argue the selection of such a high number of individuals to contest genuine target seats is both a credit to the organisation and a reason for its membership to celebrate.  The young conservative movement is obviously once again trusted by the powers that be… 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly for CF nerds such as myself, it seems the penny has finally dropped regarding the importance of ensuring CF has an appropriate number of skilled administrative staff working for it.  In order for CF to successfully move onto the next level, it is imperative it possesses a proficient administrative support team all working together to ensure progress is made and I personally think the announcement that CF is to get 2 coordinators (one Northern, one Southern) and a General Manager (on 45k a year) is tremendous news.  The hefty wage package associated with the General Manager’s position should ensure candidates of high calibre are persuaded to apply, something that will hopefully go some way to helping CF once again ensure the Conservative Party has a world class rather then merely good official youth organisation affiliated to it.   

Of course, CF is far from perfect and the organisation still retains its proficiency to move swiftly from one small internal difficulty to another.  For example, the allocation of CF National Convention Places remains controversial, the cancellation of the CF Working Life Conference regrettable and the delaying of CF Elections to November undesirable.  However, some of the recent criticisms of the organisation, and the people who currently run it, have been over the top to say the least and those making them are seemingly turning a blind eye to the many positive things currently going on in CF.  By all means constructively criticise; there is plenty still for you to get your teeth into and there is nothing like a good honest debate about the direction the young conservative movement should go in.  However, let us not deny progress has been made and that the future for CF looks rosier now then it has done for some considerable time.


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