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I am personally concerned that Conservative Future is not holding its own in the student activist stakes. Something needs to be sorted out.

I'd like us to think about more focussed and innovative direct methods of recruitment across other essential groups, not just youth.

We set up MumsArmy.org at progcon as a shell to get mums directly involved in member recruitment with an agenda that was first addressed in the Take A Break magazine, that started its own mums' army campaign against crime and yobs.

I think schemes like this, particularly with ties ins with focussed and big-selling magazines,could get women involved in politics by focussing on a set of issues rather than trying without it seeming too *political* (and without needing any patronising 50-50 lists!)

These specialised groups could also work directly in member recruitment with commission-based incentives which are perfectly within electoral commission rules, and offer a way to mobilise members to really help with new members recruitment.

It might be a bit off-the-wall, but we have to try and think of new ways to get people interested in not just politics, but getting involved with the party.

I'm sure David Cameron would be the perfect fresh face for a mums' amry campaign.

I am hoping to see some good of a CF Conference in Redhill next month. When I mean hoping, I dont mean expecting. Im begging for them to do something to make me feel better about being involved. I want more than a talking shop, which is basically how bad things are these days. I need the National CF to be going out of its way to be offering help. Im not seeing it.

CF needs to take advantage of the new atmosphere by raising its game. It needs a new, charismatic leader, preferably female, ethnic, atriculate, likeable and gorgeous.

Er, articulate!

"female, ethnic, atriculate, likeable and gorgeous"

Why dont the Board just appoint someone from the A-List if they want that...

Conservative Future is reported to have a larger number of members than either of the other parties, though there are some constituencies, including mine that do not have a viable number of young members. Surely it is in the universities that we should be strong. But to attract the young you must have a compelling message. Perhaps Dave's environmental policy will do the trick.

James, do tell us if you learn any useful ideas at your conference.

Surely we should be strong at universities, but not in my experience. I know Manchester is largely a socialist stronghold, but we should be doing so much better.

In my day, there were many students who were Lib Dem, because they prefered not to be labelled left or right. They are the Non Political party.

Maybe it has changed, but most students then (15 years ago) were far more interested in everything else that University Life had to offer. The Lib Dems were the perfect "lets not think about it" choice.

James I'm also going to that conference. It seems to me that CF only really operates in universities & London. I'd like to see if there is much milage in rural CF branches.

after an earlier reference to CF being the largest student political body I did a bit of googling and it looked to me that the LDs and Labour youth wings were larger...are we still living on the reputation of the FCS which was?

The FCS was successful because it offered a lot more than politics just as Concervative Clubs used to be big in working class areas because they were good clubs. There's a lot to be said or being the Social Party or is it the Party Party.

"I'd like to see if there is much milage in rural CF branches."

There's a lot of mileage between their few members!

In my constituency, there is just me and another guy who are active in CF. I would agree that it's only universities & London that really have active branches.

It would be good to see regional CF organisations and a better more interactive website. At the moment, I feel disenfranchised being stuck in a rural labour held seat.

"I am hoping to see some good of a CF Conference in Redhill next month"

I'm active in that association and know they are a top bunch of guys. you'll enjoy it and do endevour to come to the curry later on.

I know CF has been fairly appalling in the past, but the new Exec has only been in for a couple of months, and they are making real efforts to change things. Unfortunately previous Execs did very little.

The Redhill conference will be very good - most of the Exec will be there, so do corner them with your concerns.

There are Area Chairmen who should be getting branches more active outside London - visit http://www.conservativefuture.com/insidecf/yourarea.cfm to find yours - do contact them.

Also, email the Exec with your concerns/ideas. Some of them are well aware of CF's problems, but if you can help give them some amunition, they will be able to make changes quicker. I know Jonathan and Andrew on the National Exec are very good - so drop them an email!

Going back to the original article, I'm pleased to see the future direction of the Lib dems. Hopefully this will give us more choice in the voting and hold Cameron to some principles he'd otherwise abandon.

LDYS are a sad collection of freaks, geeks and losers who are largely join for the "social prop". Students have voted Lib Dem in spite of LDYS, not because of them, and they are anonymous on 99% of the campuses in the country.

Its often said of CF that there is little communication between the branches and the Exec. I think this is changing, not as quickly as I'd like, but it is changing.

Rob - are you at a Manchester university? (obviously, there is only one proper one, but still....)

Yes I am at Manchester, not Manchester Met or Salford. I am in my first year doing Politics and Economics.

I have fully taken on board the very constructive comments about the value of Conservative Future. With David elected as Leader, and in turn, the opportunity that we now have, in that he easily resonates with young people - means that there will be no excuses for any of us on the CF Exec not to have improved things dramatically come the end of our term in October of this year. Focusing on the environment, education and social justice is also making our job a lot easier – for these policy areas are on the whole, in the top three for list of issues important to young people today. There is no doubt the LDYS nationally have traditionally done very well compared with that of Conservative Future's performance. However, with places like Bradford and Leeds (with many target seats in the surrounding areas) seeing new CF branches set up, CF overtaking the LDYS at Essex University as the biggest political group for the first time in ten years – these are some good snapshot examples of where we are genuinely enjoying some pockets of success. However, these pockets of success must be transferred nationwide. The same applies to our ability in attracting more young professionals into the fold. I am not stating that the CF is able to go back to heights of 275000 members in 1949, but rather, that we will aim to have an organisation that is properly engaged with young people, has strong backing from all sectors of the Party, and most importantly, can play an integral role in the political revival of the Party. Things will improve, and please do email me if there is anything you can suggest in moving this organisation forward.

"several of their leading lights are clearly in the Orange book ‘tradition’, more economically ‘blue’ than ‘red’. They resent being categorised as left or right, but rather see themselves as the inheritors of Britain’s liberal tradition – supporting localism, libertarianism and liberal social policies. Indeed, there is a surprising amount of overlapping with Conservative Future on domestic ideology and economic policy.

Add to this the fact that the younger MP’s are generally more libertarian and economically liberal than their elder counterparts, and you get an idea of the likely future direction of the party."

The libertarian students used join to FCS before Tebbit closed `it down. We offered idelogical training in those days. It is the authoritarianism of Howard and IDS that put them off the Conservatives.

Has anyone mentioned the fact that the LDYS students have four permanent members of staff for a membership of 5000?

We haven't even been able to get an intern to help our one member of staff.

Imagine the difference in outlook for CF if it were possible to concentrate on long term goals as opposed to working frantically just to keep the show on the road.

This is where the Lib Dems currently lead us - it would take very little effort to address the problems and start a genuine revival. (more on this on the blog)

Our party spends too much money on inexperienced press officers and researchers.

Are university associations now incapable of organising events themselves? They seemed to manage to be relatively dynamic when I was involved in running one - and that was when Major's majority meant you couldn't get an MP out of Westminster for love or money - and then there just weren't any MPs to get out of Westminster!

"then there just weren't any MPs to get out of Westminster!"

Not many were worth getting out of Westminster!

You are lucky that the Ed is across the pond, St Andrew!

"Not many were worth getting out of Westminster!"

That's true. At least while Iron Michael was Home Secretary, you could still guarantee a protest riot. Afterwards, nobody cared!

The problem we now face is a lack of presence. The truth of the matter is, few students are made aware of the existance of the CF at manchester. In the politics building we are faced with poster after poster of George Galloway and the Socialist Workers, while CF posters are no where to be seen. Walking outside the Union I am attacked by various anti-nuclear protestors, or students calling for revolution, but nobody is there arguing for freedom and individualism. The student newspaper runs campaigns to save the student halls from privatisation but doesnt argue for lower council taxes.

I think that most students, if asked would say they believe in freedom and individualsim, they are two core parts of Conservative beliefs, we could, with a little professionalism, make a big impact. The Republicans in American Colleges are having success, why cant we?

Are university associations now reliant on CF for their presence and activities then? When I chaired my University Association, we were successful despite receiving no support from the YCs (as they were then).

“Are university associations now incapable of organising events themselves?”

The key thing that CF should be doing is not organising events for the universities, it is about long term strategy.

We have spent too long in the past focusing solely on student issues in CF (and I speak as one of the Student Life members of the National Exec), whereas the key challenge for us is the young professionals - those aged 23-30 who are included in the CF age bracket, yet we have a disproportionately small number of.

I firmly believe that most young professionals share Conservative ideals, and we really need to be looking far harder at graduate retention and young professionals in key cities in the UK.

My excellent National Exec colleague Andrew Young said earlier on the comments to this that we should focus on the long term goals and he is right. That is how we will make a positive difference to CF.

Would welcome people's opinions on this.

"The key thing that CF should be doing is not organising events for the universities, it is about long term strategy."

And my point was that what Rob was describing was a failure of the University Association to act and attract.

Get speakers, organise events and publicise them wisely - that's their job.

"whereas the key challenge for us is the young professionals - those aged 23-30 who are included in the CF age bracket, yet we have a disproportionately small number of."

I'm not surprised. Being in that demographic, I've noticed a magnificent lack of infrastructure and communication...

If CF can't even keep in touch with the young professionals that are party members, how does it expect to be able to reach beyond them?

You didn't know what sin was until you were a Young Conservative. ... Painful hours spent letra-setting letters onto paper, sellotaping on pictures, then tipexing and photocopying to produce the North Cunninghame Young Conservative In Touch. I remember well my cringiest headline ever: "I See a YC Event List: Do I See a New YC?". Since the "events" mainly involved delivering leaflets for everyone else, the answer was usually no. Though we did organise the most excruciatingly embarrassing disco that Largs had ever seen ... we danced like we were dads whilst still in our teens. (Not so bizarre in Ayrshire, come to think of it). .

My first snog was at a Liberal club cheese and wine party at Glasgow University. What were we thinking of? I was chairman of North Cunninghame YCs, he was secretary of the Bearsden Labour party ... it would never last. It didn't.

I'm sure CF will deliver a strategy that delivers the youth vote to our new party well in time for the next election ... if that fails, they could always put on toga parties? We used them very effectively in the Scottish YCs.

I think, old fashioned as it may be. A fraternity style of university association would be far more successful in attracting new members and provided a bigger, better motivated volunteer force for the party. My mum told me how at her local conservative club she and her friends went to see The Beatles play there before they were famous and got to sit round in a circle as they watched The Animals. Imagine if we could provide that now.

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