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How many Conservative party members (as a percentage) actually have access or know how to use the internet to be able to vote online? I would suspect that physical mail would have a greater impact on voting.

Further, would the cost of sending the Built To Last document be outweighed by favourable publicity for the new "modern, democratic" Conservative party? I am sure the bean-counters at party HQ have some small idea.

Osborne: it "doesn't necessarily have to be paper referendum" ...... Yeah, I'm sure it doesn't. After all, it's tricky to fix them.

I know I bang on about it but why not just have a round of CPF nationally devoted to the Built to Last document? Ive not seen a CPF brief for a year, why not start it again with a discussion about the Built to Last document?

If a decent number of party members vote, that would still be a pretty expensive affair. It must be possible to do it for less.

Just get members to log their mobile number online (for verification), then set up a text sms premium line for the vote. It will cost less than £100 to set up.

I've got one starting for Imagine's membership subscription/donations next week.

Labour are already using premium sms for donations. It was a breeze.

With a 25p call charge, it would make a tidy sum (perhaps £25k+) for the Tory coffers.

Just set up something on the site so users enter their mobile number and membership number. Then get them to vote with a syntax like:
e.g. B2L 12345 NO!

Of course, I'd set it up for you, but I'm sure there'd be some opposition to that idea!

Since it would maybe, perhaps, possibly, hopefully, who knows stop every other thread turning into a de facto thread on Chad, could we have an actual thread on Chad? I've things - not spiteful things I hasten to add - I'd like to say.

Could there be justification for a thread on 'independent C/conservatives', on the pretext of addressing the unofficial Tories who want to stand in Bromley? It strikes me that, in the context of 'a movement, not just one Party', schists could do with some consideration.

I was trying to be helpful, simply suggesting that you can set this up for a few quid and actually make some money for Tory coffers in the process.

What is wrong that? what is your suggestion Le Nerd?

It's all too easy to bitch, but a little more difficult to offer constructive solutions isn't it?

Stop being prickily Chad. I specifically tried to point out taht I wasneither bitching, nor seeking an opportunity to do so. I am, however, bored of posters (mostly Cameron loyalists) popping up whenver your name appears on a thread, to o so tediously remind us, 'Chad is NOT an [official] Tory'. And I'm equally sincere in suggesting that is, being right is not the sole monpoly concern of the official Tory party, then we should have a thread on dissident/3rd party right wingers. I'd have thought you would have welcomed the ozygen of this publicity?

But one more time: I do not wish to have a swipe at you. I merely wish to fence off the bores who do in a thread of their own.

Not enough late afternoon sugar: "And I'm equally sincere in suggesting that if being right wing is not the sole monopoly concern of the official Tory party, then we should have a thread on dissident/3rd party right wingers". Doubtless other mistakes too, but must find mars bar now. Or Chocolare Orange, obviously.

Members can already register on the main site, just run the vote from there.

It will have the added benefit of driving members to register with that site.

Too simple?

I think that the Party should take up Chads idea reference using mobile phones for the B2L poll.

Good on you Chad.

It's a great idea, to do the vote using SMS. I would charge £5 per yes or no message, and make it into a big fundraiser. After all, if you care about either and yes or a no, you still want the party to do well and have resources.

Re Chad, I think he's a great presence on this site. But Dear Chad, I think you should try to hit an overall average of no more than 2 posts per thread, if only so you can get some other work done!

I think there would be a positive benefit if we encouraged non-members to express an opinion - I'm sure it would create a lot of press interest if we opened up to potential members rather than just preaching to the choir. That would thereby increase awareness and hopefully voting.

We would be able to differentiate because members have a membership number (as Chad noted) and it would be interesting to see how members and non-members respond.

As to CPF, the latest one (on Pension Reform) came out on 19th May and responses are due by July 21st.

buxtehude: Although using the text messages as a fundraiser is a good idea, I think it would be a public relations disaster (Tories poll taxing their own etc.).

Out of interest, is there some sort of verifiable audit trail that can be run on this SMS system?

I thought joining the Conservative Party means that one has a right to vote? The cost of this right is in the membership fee.

Are we really going to say "We are not for the rich" and then charge £5 to vote!!! What kind of message does that send!

Hi Andy,

Yes. Full online reporting from the companies that manage the services.

I don't want any thanks, just from next week, all 250k+ of you please send sms IMAGINE to 84010. It's only £1.50 (16+ please ask the bill payer etc) ;-)

I agree Christina. You want as many members to vote as possible to ensure the vote provides a true reflection of opinion. I think 25p is the lowest tariff. Don't be greedy!

ps. I see Labour have sent out an email to their supporters and members asking for their views about party political funding. That would have been nice in the Tory Party!

"Dear Colleague

The future of political party funding

As you will know, Sir Hayden Phillips launched a review earlier this year to look into the future of party funding. In response, the National Executive Committee (NEC) gave a commitment to present the position of the Labour Party to the Phillips review.

The NEC has produced a draft consultation document to help seek the views of our party stakeholders. Your responses will help form the basis of the Labour Party's submission to the review later this year.

Click on the link to download the document:

The cost of each individual in any feasible system wouldn't be close to £5 - it's when you times however much it costs by how many memebers there are, that you have to question its value.

If it did cost say 50p each on average (a pretty conservative estimate for stamps, envelopes, ballot papers and generally administering the election)- that's £145,000 (going by the last figures I saw for total membership, although they don't have a great record of reliability) - which is the equivalent of 435 constituencies (about as many as there are active) all having Wine n Cheeses which raise £333 !

How many pensioners in the CP have a mobile phone? How many in the CP?

Isn't there an assumption here that everyone has a mobile phone?

Hi Christina,
There are lots of complimentary services for those who do not have mobiles, for example premium rate numbers and click pin services that you can access online but it bills your home phone bill rather than credit card.

In short, with a little thought, you can reach members for little cost and make the whole exercise a little fund raiser rather than drain on funds.

I have never read such piffle. The average age of Conservative Party members is over 60. You only have to open "Heartlands" magazine and see the pages of adverts for Stanna Stair Lifts and Rheumatic Mattresses to see this.

The thought of hundreds of thousands of elderly members voting by text or internet is nonsense. 5 of the 12 members of my own branch committee do not have internet access and 3 don't have mobile phones - and we are a relativley young and progressive branch compared to most!

The ballot does not have to be franchised out to a mailing house, nor does the count need to be run by the ERS - both of which add enormously to the cost. A small financial appeal sent out with the consultation document would almost certainly cover the costs.

If the leadership wishes to be seen as inclusive and claim a wide mandate for these B2L proposals the consultation must be fair, open and accessible to all.

What a charming post Andrew. Can someone remind me when the last copy of Heartlands was sent out? The last time I ever received one was back in 2003 during IDS' leadership.

As for e-voting, well you'd be surprised to find out how many members these days do have access to the internet, however I accept that there are arguments on both sides for this. Nevertheless an all out mail-shot would be expensive, and although you have said that the costs could be recovered by a financial appeal, that plan could easily go awry if there is a low turn-out. Perhaps instead of a postal ballot ‘Built to Last’ could be approved at the Bournemouth Conference – it would be in keeping with the ‘consulting’ theme of the document, and whilst it would not leave it open to every single member to vote at, it would prevent the unnecessary costs of an all-out membership ballot for a document which has caused neither controversy nor passion for the vast majority of members.

Voice from the South West - I agree. It will be costly and the promise of a ballot should never have been made. However, if there is to be a ballot it MUST be accessible to all - not just those with digital access.

My point about alternative voting methods is valid. In my own Outer London branch, based in a fairly prosperous neighbourhood, 40% of the active members do not have internet access and a quarter do not have a mobile phone. We must not disenfranchise such a large number of people in the name of modernity or cost cutting.

Finally, my comment about our ageing membership was not meant to be critical although I accept I may have made the point in a brutal way. 76% of CP members are aged over 65 and only 16% aged under 45. The real point I was trying to make as that any voting system must be accessible to the entire membership, regardless of access to modern technology.

Email a blank ballot paper to each constituency chairman, let him print off one for each member who asks for it, let them post their own votes. Chairman responsibile for certifying each voter with a unique number reported separately to CCHQ.

And what if the Chairman doesn't have email? I'm tempted to say: fire him. But in that case, he/she presumably knows they they don't have email so they can ask their local ACD for a master copy for photocopying.

Even if the Chairman doesn't have email - the Association office should have, and he could get the ballot paper from there.

Chad and Andrew Kennedy. I am an OAP and I have become reasonably computer literate since my partner died. I have a mobile phone, and can text simple things but fairly slowly (by the standards of most young people!), but reading Chad's posts above seemed like double-dutch to me so goodness knows what they would sound like to the Stannar Stair brigade. If you remember Annabel said recently, that she was just getting broadband, but in every other way she is a hive of activity and VERY up-to-date.

Patsy - the only comment I made was, in my own branch in Surrey, we have 25% of members without a mobile phone and 40% without internet access.

I made this comment because I would not be happy with any ballot arrangements that excluded people from the process.

I know of many people in the 60's / 70's and 80's are are computerate literate. I also know many who are not. Any vote on the future direction of the party must not exclude people who do not have access to digital technology.

I don't see a problem with having a postal referendum and asking for a voluntary donation to cover the cost. Some people would rightly think that their membership fee should pay for such a thing, whilst the more well off could dip in to their pockets to do their bit for the cause.

A lot was made early in the life of Nutories about local democracy.
Why not ask each constituency to debate the principles of B2L and then for the Chairman to conduct a poll of that constituency? S/he could then report the result to the the centre.

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