Conservative Diary

John Moorcraft's column

31 Jul 2007 06:20:18

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.   

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25 May 2007 10:44:58

John Moorcraft: Improving CF – What Would You Do?

Although both habitually and callously mocked by my non-scholarly peers for undertaking research into the young conservative movement (some of the words they use are extremely discourteous…) I can honestly say I am extremely proud of my work.  I have found researching aspects of the historical and contemporary UK young conservative movement surprisingly enjoyable on occasion and, whilst this may be a somewhat optimistic aspiration, I sincerely hope my work, should it ever be published, helps to destroy once and for all some of the erroneous and offensive stereotypes associated with the social characteristics and political viewpoints of young conservatives.   

However, perhaps somewhat inevitably given my inexperience at undertaking comprehensive empirical academic research, I have made some mistakes at all stages of my project and, if I could restart over, I would unquestionably have done numerous things differently. For example, whilst my decision to become active as a co-opted member of my local branch exec can be academically justified, I perhaps should have tried harder to resist my natural inclination to get involved and instead devoted all my attention to my doctoral thesis.  However, whilst it is far from the imperfection associated with my research project that will be investigated particularly stringently during my viva, the mistake which most frustrates me personally concerns the omission of a question that was originally included when undertaking my pilot survey which read as follows… 

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6 Apr 2007 07:11:00

Electioneering And The Young Conservative Movement

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

First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all who felt compelled to respond to my previous article discussing the issue of race relations in the young conservative movement.  I always suspected that the article would stimulate an impassioned response from readers of CF Diary and I thank every single one of you who took the time to engage with the arguments put forward and articulate a response to the views expressed.  Whilst all the comments posted interested me enormously (even the highly negative and critical ones!), the one which perhaps struck the loudest chord in my mind was made by Mr Michael Hewlett.  Twice in the debate that ensued following the publication of my previous article, Mr Hewlett stressed the importance of focusing attention not on previous misdemeanours which may or may not have occurred in the YCs and The FCS, but instead on enthusiasm the contemporary CF generation has shown for leafleting, canvassing and electioneering in recent times. 

Now, whilst I personally believe it is important for any UK conservative to have a comprehensive appreciation of the Conservative Party’s history and I make no apologies whatsoever for highlighting how the young conservative movement has successfully won its own battle against racism, I do agree that the fantastic electioneering work undertaken recently by CF activists up and down the country deserves considerable acclaim.  I am therefore delighted to praise all those currently active in CF who have been prepared to give up a substantial amount of their time to put leaflets through letterboxes and canvass voter opinions and credit should go to the current CF Exec for planning and successfully organising some of the biggest campaign days the contemporary young conservative movement has ever seen.

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26 Mar 2007 08:52:22

Race relations in the Young Conservative movement: How the problem was fixed

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

In a previous article, I deservedly praised contemporary attempts to persuade more of CF’s substantial female membership to take on positions of responsibility in the organisation.  As previously stated in that article, I personally consider it an extremely positive thing that more women then ever before are now prepared to put themselves forward as potential elected representatives in the young conservative movement and I am pleased that patronising literature such as the following has been well and truly consigned to the dustbin of history.  For whilst numerous factors can explain why young conservative women have historically chosen not to become as politically active as their male counterparts, I have no doubt whatsoever that the prevalence of sexist attitudes in the upper echelons of male dominated young conservative organisations were a significant contributory cause.

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6 Mar 2007 09:34:57

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.

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26 Feb 2007 07:03:00

Is It Time To Bring Back The FCS?

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

Just as with my previous article considering the prospect of CF members entering Parliament sooner rather then later, I would like to begin this piece by offering my congratulations to an individual active in Conservative Future who this week successfully attained a position even they themselves would not have expected to acquire only a few weeks ago. On Wednesday evening, Mr Richard Gale was elected to the Cardiff University CF Branch Executive and, whist one could argue this particular accomplishment is somewhat less notable then the achievements of Mr Clarke down in Tooting, I would wager good money Richard was as stunned by this result as Mark was when hearing he was going to be contesting a seat for us at the next General Election. As an occasional attendee at Cardiff University CF executive meetings (the need to maintain academic objectiveness regrettably permits me from being anything more), I look forward to working alongside Mr Gale in the coming months and I have no doubt whatsoever his contributions will ensure the branch continues to move forward.

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17 Feb 2007 07:11:00

Here Comes the CF Generation!

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

First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the current CF National Chairman on being selected as the Conservative Party candidate for Tooting at the next General Election.  He will hopefully become the latest in a long line of individuals who have subsequently enjoyed successful political careers having firstly been prominent members of the young conservative movement.  Peter Walker, Sydney Chapman, David Hunt, Michael Jack, Eric Pickles, Andrew Rosindell, David Davis, Paul Goodman, John Bercow, Murdo Frasier… the list really is as lengthy as it is illustrious and I sincerely hope Mr Clarke can add his own name to it. 

Of all the groups historically associated with the young conservative movement, the YC’s in particular established a reputation second to none for preparing the politically ambitious for the world of politics and, between 1945 and 1981; sixteen of the twenty three National Chairman of this organisation subsequently entered the Houses of Parliament. However, for perhaps somewhat understandable reasons, the nineteen eighties and nineties saw the number of those with backgrounds in the young conservative movement entering Parliament diminish considerably. 

In part, I believe this can be attributed to the fact many who come through the young conservative movement’s ranks during this period have subsequently chosen to earn a crust in a profession other then politics. For example, Nick Robinson, Harry Phibbs and “Guido Fawkes” all cut their political teeth in the young conservative movement during the nineteen eighties, only to subsequently shun senior politics in favour of influencing, to varying degrees, the agenda with what they say or write. 

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11 Feb 2007 11:47:00

Is the CF Website good enough?

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

The political establishment are constantly being told by those who consider themselves experts on the subculture of contemporary British youth that they must learn the rules of engagement specific to this particular hoodie wearing section of society if they want to persuade increasing numbers of them to take an interest in all things political.  The aspiring politician is forever being reminded that the next General Election (assuming it is not held this year of course) will see youngsters born in 1990 (after the fall of the Berlin Wall and during the fag end of Thatcher’s premiership) entitled to vote for the political party of their choosing. This, we are informed by the experts, should scare politicians to death on the premise the traditional method of choice for making themselves popular with the public (promising to make us all wealthier whilst improving public services) simply will not cut the mustard with the new kids on the block.  Instead, we are led to believe this cheap flight loving, iPod owning, broadband internet using generation wants to hear about “post material” issues such as environmentalism and ending world poverty, not to mention whether any wannabe MP loves the Arctic Monkey’s and can drink 14 pints of beer on an average night down the pub. 

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4 Feb 2007 17:20:00

CF Women – Another false dawn or finally turning the corner?

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

"It is known when the list of candidates is sent down to the constituencies and if a women’s name appears on the list, her name is often struck off because she is not considered suitable…I would ask you to specifically consider the Young Conservative women and do all you can.  This is a resolution on which you can act.  Go back to your constituencies and give a chance to Young Conservatives, particularly the Young Conservative Women"

- Frances Vale speaking at the 1947 Blackpool Conservative Party Conference

Two_cfers In the manifesto section of his campaign website, Mark Clarke expressed concern about the shortage of women occupying positions of responsibility in Conservative Future.  He brought to light the statistical fact that, despite having a near 50/50 ratio of male/female members; Conservative Future only had 3 female Area Chairman (out of a possible 44) at the time of the last CF elections.  In addition, he also highlighted the fact only 3 out 47 university branches in existence at the time of the last CF elections had a female chairman.  Having revealed these statistics, Mr Clarke pledged to explore this particular issue (and one relating to the loss of members following graduation) and present a plan to the board in order to try and fix the observed problem(s).   

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27 Jan 2007 13:14:55

John Moorcraft: Greetings One And All

This is an introductory article to John's new CF Diary column.

As some of you may perhaps be aware, I have spent the best part of the last three years undertaking research to ascertain the extent to which the establishment of Conservative Future has revived the official young conservative movement in the United Kingdom.  Essentially, this research project involves comparison of the organisational structure, composition and political activities of Conservative Future with those of previous young conservative groups, such as The Young Conservatives and The Federation of Conservative Students, in order to assess how well CF is performing. 

Over the last 12 months, I have been undertaking interviews and distributing questionnaires to current members of Conservative Future, former prominent YC and FCS activists and Conservative Party voters aged under 30, as well as individuals associated with right wing political youth movements abroad, in order to obtain as comprehensive an understanding of contemporary young conservatism as possible. Considering my research project is merely a doctoral thesis, I have been overwhelmed by the phenomenal response I have received and my completed work, barring any last minute mishaps, should constitute the largest academic consideration of the official young conservative movement in the United Kingdom ever undertaken.

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