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Donal Blaney: A new dawn for Conservative Way Forward

BLANEY DONALDonal Blaney is the Chief Executive of Conservative Way Forward ( and the co-founder and Chief Executive of the Young Britons’ Foundation.  

After the putsch against Margaret Thatcher in November 1990, a small group of committed Thatcherites resolved to protect the Iron Lady’s legacy within the Conservative Party. Conservative Way Forward was born a few months later, led initially by Lord Parkinson and eagerly supported by the now sadly missed Sir George Gardiner MP as the first editor of Forward and the redoubtable Mark Allatt as its General Secretary.

Over the last 21 years, CWF has achieved great success thanks in large part to its volunteer Executive Committee and its succession of Chairmen: the redoubtable Lord Parkinson, the late, great Eric Forth, Thatcherite favourite Chris Chope and the energetic Don Porter. It remains “the largest and most effective pressure group within the Conservative Party” (according to no less an authority than David Cameron) and many of its supporters are now prominent MPs, MEPs and councillors. CWF has helped to shape European, tax and defence policy and its networking and social events are spectacularly attended (could you get into the Midnight Drinks Reception at the Party Conference?!).

Lady Thatcher has been President of CWF since its formation: the only Conservative group on which she has bestowed this honour. She has closely followed its fortunes and continues to do so. Her key advisers, led by her ever-loyal Private Secretary, Mark Worthington, and her de facto PPS, Conor Burns MP, have been intimately involved in CWF’s activities and Lady Thatcher has attended dozens of CWF events since 1991.

Lady Thatcher even committed to paper what she called her “Nine Principles” for CWF to follow: democracy, capitalism, deregulation, freedom, community, enterprise, nationhood, security and choice. The Nine Principles were endorsed by the Prime Minister when he said, “Your nine principles are right: indeed I believe that they are the common ground of the Conservative Party today”.

The urgent need to promote and extend Thatcherite principles which represent the soul of the Conservative Party, and to adapt them to the challenges of a changing world, means that those of us who believe in Lady Thatcher’s “Nine Principles” need to work ever more closely together.  Lady Thatcher’s legacy is being shaped by her political enemies and few in schools or overseas truly now understand how she came to be such a transformative Prime Minister.

That is why I am delighted to announce that I have taken over responsibility as Chief Executive of Conservative Way Forward.

Having been involved in CWF since 1993, I have served on the CWF Executive Committee and have also founded and run the Young Britons' Foundation. My colleagues and I intend to deliver an exciting programme of conferences, seminars, workshops, research, publications and events, to ensure our principles have the political and media profile they deserve.

We will be busier than ever before. CWF should truly be at the heart of the conservative movement, fusing the research of think-tanks such as the Centre for Policy Studies, the campaigning savvy of the TaxPayers' Alliance, the vision of the Adam Smith Institute, the dynamism of the Freedom Association and the intellectual coherence of the Institute of Economic Affairs.

When Conservative Way Forward was launched in 1991, Margaret Thatcher said that she wanted it to be "at the forefront in shaping a clear vision for your country".

Her great friend, Ronald Reagan, memorably once said that "freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction". As ever, the Gipper was right.

As we enter 2013 together I hope those of you who shared Lady Thatcher's vision for Britain in the 1980s and who remain true to her nine principles today continue to support us in this quest.


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