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Over the last year I've become a convert to Mr Maude as Chairman - I think he is making the right choices to re-shape the party and create a better campaigning vehicle. The membership voted for change but, as always the disruption and pain that change involves has resulted in trying to find the person to blame. Change needs to be associated with vision - that it will be worth it.

Francis has been willing to argue directly on this site, and David Cameron's recent article was a good sign but I think we need the leadership to go further in expounding what the end will be. Poll leads help but the troops do need reminding of the goal both in more concrete objectives but also with passion and conviction.

I also have few issues with FM, and none at all with Gary Streeter, who has always written and spoken manifest sense. My concern is in Gary's line:

Francis has taken tough decisions recently, some of them hurting friends of mine.

FM might consider how much hurt friends are prepared to put up with, before they cease being friends.

There are many aspects of FMs Chairmanship which are really positive. The fact that he's embracing the internet and writes for this site earns him a lot of respect imo. I hope his reforms of CCHQ come through as I do have a certain resentment sending them quotas when I feel we don't really get full value for money.

There are issues to resolve though. The A list needs extending imo, as it's too narrow and doesn't offer choice. I would also like to see plans on how future candidates will be recruited and nurtured around the country.

The issue of campiagning in the Midlands and North needs addressing as well. This is where we will win a majority, but don't have the resources and campaign planning to achieve what we can. We believe centalisation is bad in public services. Let's practise what we preach within our party and have a seperate properly funded Northern campiagn centre.

On the whole, I'll vote satisfied with FM. If the issues I've wrote about are addresssed, I might even vote very satisified.

Bruce Anderson launched a bitter and twisted personal attack on Francis Maude this week and called for David Cameron to sack him. In my book this means he must be on the right track! To be denounced by Bruce Anderson is a badge of honour to be worn with pride. The man's a complete arse.

While I agree with much of what Gary Streeter wrote, there is a long way to go before CCHQ becomes the election fighting machine it could and should be.

Let's start with the plusses. It is good that they now have a proper Human Resources Director - unbelievably this has never been the case before. It is good that there are now proper finanial controls and financial management - not before time. The Treasurers Department has become more focussed. It is good that Francis Maude recognises the value of new media, although so far there is little evidence of a new strategy. The website needs a complete overhaul and although toes have been dipped into the world of podcasting the results have not been overwhelmingly successful. The Party needs to appoint a New Media Director whose remit must be to learn from what has been achieved in other countries. I can certainly think of one candidate for the job! His name begins with a T.

But the garden is not all rosy. The break-up of the CRD is to be regretted, and, I believe, shortsighted. It is good that more agents are being trained, but shouldn't we be training campaigners to work in target seats rather than people who are experts in electoral law? Too many of our target seats have no full time, or often even part-time presence. The ACD network has been reformed but the new regional and campaign directors are overworked and under-resourced. The Eastern Region Director has to cover Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambs, Herts, Essex with no proper support at all. It's physically not possible. There is no director of campaigning at CCHQ following Gavin Barwell's departure. Regional Directors and Campaign Directors all report to Angela Browning. Is it a good thing for them to report to an MP rather than a full time party official?

The job of Party Chairman is a bed of nails. Your three priorities are to improve the CCHQ organisation, to act as a political lightning rod for the leader and to rally the troops out there in the country. It's a thankless task as most of Francis Maude's predecessors know.

ConservativeHome should become a forum for giving him new ideas and providing CONSTRUCTIVE criticism for the measures which are being introduced. Too often on this site - and others - the debate descends into the personal.

Be in no doubt, Francis Maude will read this thread. He won't like everything he reads on it - he won't agree with everything. But it's an opportunity for everyone to get their views directly to him - take the opportunity and be constructive.

An extremely well written defence if I may so Gary.
I do not know if the changes made to CCHQ will bear fruit as I do not know enough about the internal workings of it.
My own experience of CCHQ has not been positive.Last year Francis called for volunteers to come and do some work for the party and asked us to contact James Mcgrath one of his staff members.
Eventually we met and after missing a large part of my office Christmas party I had a short pleasant but pointless meeting with James who clearly had no idea why he was meeting me or what to do with me.
Further emails to James with ideas for the Conservative website went unacknowledged.
A bit of a shambles really.So if Francis is successful in improving that I will be very glad!

FM is doing a very difficult job, getting the A-list through is one of the hardest aspects of Cameron's project (along with the EPP thing and look how well thats been handled by WH lately). I am prepared to give FM some time to see how things progress through the conference.

At least he has posted on this site and appears interested in moving the party into the digital age.

I think Maude is probably doing a decent job as chief executive of the party machine, with the exception of the misguided attempts to apply Affirmative Action to the candidates' list, which is patronising and unConservative.

The problem that perhaps Brute Anderson and certainly I have with Maude is that he is a LibDem in Tory clothing. Had he not been a spoonfed Tory toddler, I doubt that this would have been the party of his choice.

I can take a bit of broad church, and I don't mind a bit of re-branding and softening of the image, and it certainly pays to be quite liberal-minded on social issues nowadays, but turning the party into a tax-and-spend, HUGE government, Brussels-indulging Centre party is simply not the way forward.

When general elections are about who should spend the most public money, the Conservative party will always lose. We win when we prove to the electorate that it is time for common-sense, responsible stewardship. In the long run, that is the comfortable choice for the electorate every time. If we are cheerful, optimistic and consistent, England is ours.

Who coined the dread phrase "putting economic stability ahead of tax-cuts"? Which Conservative in modern times has cut taxes, whilst conscious that such a move would cause economic instability? This sort of disingenuous marketing has CCHQ fingerprints all over it. I cannot believe it was Osborne's. Is it Maude's?

Change the party's image a bit, by all means, but don't change its policies so as to make it indistinguishable from any post-cold-war european Centre-left party. That way lies disaster. People would have us believe that Maude is showing courage by changing the party. No, this is the easy thing, to rush towards the consensus. Courage more usually means sticking to your guns.

"To be denounced by Bruce Anderson is a badge of honour to be worn with pride. The man's a complete arse."

I wouldn't disagree with that assessment. But surely, the worrying thing is to be praised by the Brute.

Go read Private Eye and see how busy Maude is with his outside directorships, and Willetts, et al.

Could the Tory Front Bench afford to be in government with such a drop in income and since government is a full-time job, would they be available ?

Gary, thanks for an interesting article, I also enjoyed reading Iain Dale's comment's.
As someone who is very much outside the bubble of CCHQ and Westminster I enjoy the articles and Q&A pieces that people inside the bubble provide for CH.
Gary Streeter made an interesting point in his article which I think is very valid.
"And this is essentially the Maude mission: to make us look and feel and sound different, to change the way we campaign and the nature of our candidates. In short, to make us electable once again."
I am not in a position to judge the internal "technical" changes happening in CCHQ so I won't comment on them. But as a grass root's member I will continue to vote "satisfied" with the job Francis Maude is doing, simple because I think that he is moving in the right direction.
I can't resist mentioning football and Alastair Campbell's blog today! He likened Tony Blair to the England manager, but maybe we should actually make the comparison between the party chairman and the football coach. I lot of people may not agree with Sven's tactic's or team selection's but if they produce the correct results I don't think we will be able to hear the critic's above the noise of the cheer's.

Ah but TomTom, you forget that once having been in Government, all future fees for non political work increase very substantially even it seems if they have not been very good, and whilst I don't have the time or inclination to look into and then comment on the names you have given, to prove my point, both Mr Blair and Mr Brown when they "retire" from Government will be in line for bumper pay packets from elsewhere, something that would not happen had they not have been in Government. ;)

"There are only a handful of politicians at Westminster for whom I would die in a ditch. Francis Maude is one of them. "

What on earth does that really mean and since I actually think it is rather meaningless and somewhat shambolic, why make it at all.

Actually Mr Maude seems OK and at least he hasn't made the comment on the lines that some people refer to us as the "Nasty Party". ;)

Paul, everyone agrees that the 'nasty party' tag was a mistake, and we're still trying to escape it, but then people like Gary Streeter and Francis Maude stayed silent while the Party was ferocious and unfair to its own candidates (Flight, Hilton, Kruger). If it's 'nasty' to its friends (as Gary Streeter says FM is being), can't they see it makes winning our 'enemies' over even harder.

Like I said yesterday, it's not a Party Chairman's job to be popular, so I wouldn't worry about poll ratings if I were FM.

My only concern is that the A-list has now - whether fairly or unfairly - been characterised as containing South East, metrosexual 'pretty people'. The A-list needs to be re-orientated towards candidates much more representative of modern Britain. We need more local, regional canidates if we want to win in all areas of the country.

I do not believe "change" to be a sensible policy. We have become obsessed with it, and I believe FM is the driving force. Every change needs to be justified and needs to be fair and transparent, as well as leading to clear improvements. His A-list has been a mistake imo, and could still lead to lots of problems.

Loyalty is an important quality and I have heard from a number of sources that FM was behind a lot of the plotting against Hague and IDS, although clearly he still has the trust of the current leadership.

I do give him credit for coming on to this site to put his point of view, though I reserve my right to disagree with some of it.

Good point Paul...............I think Goldman Sachs must be ready to reward Gordo - he has been so good to them over the years

A very interesting article from Gary Streeter who proves the old addage about a friend in need.

Personally, I don't take such a rosy view of Francis Maude's reforms -- but at least he has made changes instead of just talking about them.

In many respects his main failing is not going far enough rather than going too far. Thus the laudable goal of diversity was achieved through centralised, secretive methods. I'd much have prefered a local and open approach.

Still, the man was under to pressure to deliver fast and so he took the short cut. Some of his mistakes were avoidable, but in the main he's probably achieved as much as anyone else could in similar circumstances. So just as the Editor and Iain Dale have said, we should be asking ourselves how we can widen and deepen the reform programme rather than engaging in a pointless bitchfest.

I do not believe "change" to be a sensible policy. We have become obsessed with it, and I believe FM is the driving force.

Of course it isn't. After all, our previous approaches have won us the last three General Elections - why would any serious political party looking to win power and deliver a programme wish to change anything? Thank goodness Francis Maude is driving this through - those of us in the constituency parties should be looking to do the same.

Loyalty is an important quality

Yes, it is - amazing then that so many armchair politicians who quote this are so happy to snipe aganist the Party Chairman, isn't it?

If there is one thing that delivers an election result it is by making sure you have seasoned, experienced campaign professionals who know how win an election running the operation.


Sure we should have politicians with oversight, that is what Deputy Chairmen are for - but acting as line managers, making professional judgments, supplanting good people who have far more experience and expertise? It's barmy.

Likewise, I am dismayed by the lack of continuity at the party centre. Every two weeks there's another unplanned change, another appointment to a key position, another 'organogram' sent out to explain who does what. That, quite frankly is shambolic.

Maude is not doing a good job, I don't regard change as an end in itself and I am very concerned about the state of professional organisation within this party.

Like it or not, we need a centre that is seen as reliable and trustworthy first and foremost. Where help can be found when it is needed, where 'support' is just that - support.

Change is needed when things are wrong and need to be put right. But very often we are changing things just for the sake of change.

Maude has done little to develop campaigning excellence within the party. He's produced no plans, only rearranged deckchairs and its time he went.

So Tim, when do we get the platform blog on how horrendously Francis Maude is performing? Drop me an e-mail and I'll write it, but I bet I'll have competition.

I disagree strongly with this article and think that, with all due respect, Gary Streeter is sucking up to Francis Maude.

His role is essentially to ensure that there is a strong link between the Party at large and the Party at CCO. I think he has failed in this respect. Wheres the discussion with Associations and CCO over policy and over internal issues? The CPF is being cut down. Ive heard nothing from Central Office about its plans with regards to the CPF.

This Party is ignoring Associations and doing what it wants according to a single vote taken last year about who should lead it. I think thats crap. The leadership cannot simply ignore Associations and do its own thing. I cant be the only one annoyed at the lack of support from Central Office for Associations. This is something Maude is responsible.

I think Francis Maude should go. He is not creating party unity and if anything is causing trouble. As has been written about here, he has an issue with the A List, then he should speak up and stand up for Associations. If he does not do that then he should not be Chairman. We do not need gutless "yes" men. We need people with fire, ready to stand up for the Party at large. The Party is bigger than one man. The Conservative Party has never been a "cult of the individual" before. Why should it be that now?

The leadership cannot simply ignore Associations and do its own thing.

Yes it can. Remember Slough. Cameron has not yet said what 'further action' he will take if associations do not play the A-list game...

Remember Slough.

James I know you're young but you must remember Mrs Thatcher? I think she still qualifies as a cult of the individual for many!

Welcome back to the Party by the way. P

erhaps you could try thinking up every day one new thing you can do to try and ensure a Conservative government. This would take you're mind off worrying about what's bugging with the internals of the party and concentrate your energy and enthusisam on kicking this truly corrupt and disgraceful government out of office.

Unfortunately, I dont remember her as she left government when I was six...but yes I get your point. I dont think the cult of the individual was so strong with her in 1979 as much as Cameron is now. That came later when she had more grit in the role when she had to fight the wets.

Indeed we should be concentrating our efforts on getting Labour out, but theres the second problem of what is to replace it. Thats the internal aspect and its not something that can be lightly thrown aside in a push for power before thinking of what we are going to do.

Thanks for the welcome back. Its hardly like I was gone. I join not because of anything that Central Office has done, but instead to support the Association. If I could be a member of the Association and not a member of the Party, I would, but I cant sadly.

TT, you are right. I really dont think Cameron would risk it. However on the other hand, it would be his Clause 4 moment...can he force the party to follow him in active discrimination...its certainly against what the Party used to stand for! Hes risking open warfare and its a losing battle for him. Im rather interested in what the second load of seats will be.

James@22:10 "Indeed we should be concentrating our efforts on getting Labour out, but there's the second problem of what is to replace it. That's the internal aspect and its not something that can be lightly thrown aside in a push for power before thinking of what we are going to do."
James I would like to replace this government with a conservative one. It won't happen unless the conservative party becomes not just representative of a broad range of the view's within the party but it also has to reflect those of the wider public. How will we judge the success of David Cameron as leader or Francis Maude as chairman?
You might not agree with the "brand" the public wants to vote for, but the customer is always right and unpopular brands tend to get discontinued.

I dont think the cult of the individual was so strong with her in 1979 as much as Cameron is now.

That is simply because her Shadow Cabinet was opposed to her; it was the Shadow Cabinet selected by Edward Heath and she was a minority opinion within it.

Streeter's views on this sort of thing are well known, and this piece doesn't really add much to them.

I think the key to Maude improving his rating is a realisation on his part that CCHQ are the servants of the members, and not the other way around. We are not little paper flags to be pushed around on the CCHQ campaign map, our views matter, we are the party, we should command respect from our paid employees and they need to remember that *they* work for *us*.

Mr Streeter does not mention of the Priority List - astounding!!

Mr Streeter does not mention the Priority List - truly astounding! Does he, a Foxite during the leadership contest, support it?

Unfortunately for the Tory Party, the brand the public still want is enormously expensive, highly invasive mediocrity (sorry, I meant sustained "investment" in skoolsnospitals). There is no evidence that the Tories can provide that any better than Labour. Because the Tories gave up the battle of ideas decades ago and chose to focus simply on power and perks as an end in themselves, the Tories have no Plan B. Plus they are utterly useless at propaganda.

Og @ 10.50: "We win when we prove to the electorate that it is time for common-sense, responsible stewardship. In the long run, that is the comfortable choice for the electorate every time. If we are cheerful, optimistic and consistent, England is ours."
I believe that there is a lot in this remark and, as it is completely at variance with Nulab's approach, I think that - if they believe it themselves - DC and FM should trumpet this loudly.
Of course, Nulab will always claim that the tories will cut essential services and "deliberately" create unemployment, as one Labour backbencher claimed at PMQs last week.
However, Nulab has presented us recently with so many open goals (the Home Office, Defra, DfSE etc), that we should be able to convince people that (i) we will maintain the current level of funding for essential services, (ii) that we will reduce out and out waste by much more efficient management and (iii) that we will first simplify the tax system and when we have cut out sufficient waste, we will start on reducing taxes.
That line would certainly get my vote and, I suspect, many others who really are not sure yet what the tories stand for.

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