Conservative Diary

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Hamish Stewart: Conservatives in the community

Stewart_hamish The first CF Diary article dealing with the importance of community engagement; “Conservatives in the Community,” was submitted nearly two years ago by Patrick Sullivan. Since that time the concept of “social action” has grown enormously within the party and is widely touted as both a new front in campaigning as well as a force with which conservatives will affect society for the better. It goes without saying that conservatives who are active in their communities enrich them in the direct manner that leafleting and canvassing do not, and improve the standing of the party through their actions. I believe that the benefits of community activity go further even than those commonly recognised, and I hope to outline how encouraging social action can strengthen CF branches and enrich their individual members.

A party branch is only as strong as its members are active, every branch chairmen’s’ biggest problem is to maintain member involvement, including social involvement but especially when it comes to campaigning. The reason that persuading people to campaign on behalf of the party is difficult is simply that traditional campaigning methods, while necessary, alienate a substantial portion of our members.

CF must maximise its members’ involvement, and therefore should offer or enable a diverse range of activities to allow members to contribute to the party and society in a manner which they consider fulfilling. For many people like me, who became involved in politics because they wish to make the world a better place, social action such as volunteering attracts by providing rewarding results and a great variety of possible activities. The point is that social action need not replace traditional campaigning but should instead compliment it by involving those conservatives who are left cold by canvassing.

Directly organising social action isn’t the only way CF can encourage community activity and indeed for smaller branches may prove difficult. We must recognise that in any community there already exists an impressive wealth of activities, be they volunteering for a local charity or more political work such as activity in a residents association. Area and branch chairman can enable involvement by researching these opportunities and making their members aware of them, giving those with an interest in supporting their communities the encouragement and the means to turn that interest into action.

Social action also has a benefit that is of special importance to young conservatives in that it gives them a stake in their local communities that they might otherwise never have. I believe that CF should encourage its members to grow to become pillars of their communities, and that those with a real sense of involvement  will be likely to come around to fight traditional campaigns when they have something more to fight for.

Rest assured that if elected to the Nottinghamshire area I will use the seat to put these thoughts on social action into practice, to strengthen the branches and support their members and communities. Whilst researching this article I spoke to Patrick Sullivan, who has pledged to introduce a Conservatives in the Community program if elected to the NME, I hope that though writing this article I can encourage more candidates to offer policies in regards to community action.


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