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The future of the Conservative Party Conference

By Tim Montgomerie
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It's been harder and harder to get people to go to party conferences - partly because of the cost of the major city locations and partly because of the lack of rough-and-tumble politics in the main arena events. A survey conducted by the President of the National Convention, Paul Swaddle, reveals, however, that the overwhelming majority of those who go to Conference seem to enjoy it and want to return.

20% of those who attended October's Birmingham gathering were surveyed and these were the key results:

Would you recommend Conference to others?

  • 89% say yes
  • That figure increased to 97% among Conservative Future member

Will you be attending next year's Conference?

  • Yes: 57.3%
  • Maybe: 37.3%
  • No: 5.3%

Have you attended the annual Conservative Party Conference before?

  • No: 22.2%
  • Once: 10.8%
  • Twice: 10.8%
  • More than three times: 56.2%

Our own September survey of Tory members found the following results when we asked people to say which THREE things would most increase the likelihood that they would attend Party Conference:

  • 53% said Real democracy at Conference with members able to debate real motions;
  • 39% said A move back to seaside resorts where accommodation is cheaper;
  • 39% said A Conservative Party that is more in tune with my beliefs;
  • 23% said More access to the Prime Minister and other Cabinet ministers;
  • 23% said Elections at Party Conference for Party Chairman, Party Treasurer and Chairman of Candidates Committee;
  • 22% said More fringe events where members can discuss important issues like Europe, tax and the future of the NHS;
  • 21% said Significant discounts on travel, accommodation and registration for early bird booking;
  • 16% said A shorter Conference of say two days.

Another 16% said "nothing would make me attend Conference"!


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