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I think the CF has an important role to play in the marginal seats. If the CF is serious about helping the Conservative Party proper, then it must be focused on running in sync with CCHQ by providing feeting on the ground. It is only through a greater involvement of younger members in electioneering that CF will be able to influence senior Tory members.

Ive received absolutely nothing from CF and had no support from them since Ive been involved with the CF down here two years ago. The CF membership in my Association is at an astounding 4, only 1% of the Association is under 30!

The CF is, to use a popular phrase, "not fit for purpose".

Perhaps Nick Vaughan would like to go for an interview and answer our questions like the leadership does?

That represents a true failure from the top. If members who want to be active are not activated at the grass roots level, then they will be lost forever.

Considering that there are local government elections, Welsh and Scottish elections and the general election, the CF has a HUGE role to play. Because many youth are so desperate to be involved in politics (on a semi-full time basis), then the CF can activate them and get them out to seats where doorknocking and more are desperately needed.

I certainly hope that whoever takes over can reform the way the CF is run.

I feel CF is fine for a "young members' social club". However there needs perhaps to be more unified cooperation with associations when it comes to campaigns and maximising the potential the younger members have to offer.

From what I have seen (and this is only in Sheffield) the CF and local associations are effectively two separate entities with CF being more of a University society. For too long the association has not embraced the talent there is to be offered by CF members and by doing so the CF have been rather disenfranchised.

Perhaps we would be better off not distinguishing by age - all that seems to happen is the old guard maintain the associations whilst the CF members feel uninvolved purely as they are always referred to as "CFers" rather than "young forward looking positive activists with something to offer". I am 25 and maintain links with CF but am more interested in making changes directly by working with the local association.

Perhaps this is not the story across the UK, if it is I would be rather concerned.

I am delighted to see that hustings will happen in Manchester. I tried to organise a last minute one in Leeds last time but several of the candidates were unable to make it that far out of London!

This can only improve turnout and who knows, we may get a Lancashire/Yorkshire based Chairman? At least whoever takes it on may feel a little more connected to the real battleground in British politics (hint: it's not Westminster!).

In my opinion, the biggest issue should be CF's membership of the EDS. The European Democratic Students is a strongly federalist organisation, which campaigns for the European Constitution, common taxation, common foreign policy and European Army. It sums up all that I hate about the EU, and yet I'm forced to be affiliated to it, because I'm a Conservative and under 30 years old.

They may as well go the whole hog and call it the European Liberal Democtratic Students as far as I can see.

The biggest problem CF has had is that it is far too 18-21 student focussed. For an organization that supposedly has an age range of up to 30 that has always been a serious failure. A lot of events are held at times that are deeply impractical for those who experience modern working patterns.

I did make that point a while ago. When the Tories (eventually) leave the EPP, will the CF be withdrawing from the EDS?

I agree with what James Burdett mentions about CF being too 18-21 student focussed. I enjoyed my undergrad days but feel that CF doesn't really apply to me (as a 25 yr old) any longer. I am better off using my time to directly help associations. Perhaps too many other "young professionals" who's tallent we surely are dying to get hold off are feeling isolated by CF being too student orientated and associations being overrun with tories of yesteryear??

The problem with Cf is that it is way too London based. The majoirty of events are based in London, but the vast majority of members actually live outside London.

More training and social events needs to be done in major towns and cities, and this will also raise the CF profile in these areas.

I think trying to group 18-30 is the mistake. It is too vast an age gap imo. I'm 24 and feel no inclination to go to student social events. Many local association CF branches are non existant. In my association, we have 2 which makes the AGM a total farce.

I think the way forward would be to split CF into two. Have a Conservative student grouping and something for twentysomething professionals. At a local level, I would be inclined to regionalise CF so resources can be pooled to achieve something instead of having groupings of 2 or 3 people in associations.

Conservative Future has to be an organisation for all people under 30 all around the UK. I want to see next year's CF exec really focus on providing support, training and assistance to Area Chairman and Branches around the UK. Helping them get a good working relationship with their local associations, encouraging them to become active campaigners and training them to put on their own events and fundraisers. CF should be a network of well run branches up and down the country, providing a valuable resource to the party and helping us win the nest general election.

The organisation is certainly heavily focused on the student section. There's little support for branches without universities for support.

I think trying to deal with 12-30 year olds in one organisation is too cumbersome, and it should be split down into schools, students and young adults. I'm 26 and don't really feel I get any benefit from being in CF. Dealing with the petty squabbles of student politics is putting off more young graduates than it is attracting, I fear.

Seems like a clear concensus for splitting CF up then. Perhaps a question for Francis Maude on the next challenge the chairman!

CF's biggest obstacle is having a proper handle on membership - who they are and where they are. Until that is sorted out it will forever struggle.

Why does CF end up concentrating on students - because it knows about the student membership.

Why does CF not concentrate on association membership - because the membership data is half the time wrong, incomplete, or totally missing. It doesn't help when you still have Associations who couldn't tell you how many members under 30 they have because they don't want to ask.

You then have to ask what is CF for for the non-students? What does a 25 year-old need that they don't get from the main party?

It's not a question of 25 year olds getting or not getting from the main party. It's a case of targetting young voters being about more than just words. I'm told that 25-35 year olds are a clear target demographic at present. But at the moment, that's just words.

There is a need to get more young people involved, to ensure that there are appropriate social functions to attract them and raise funds, to encourage them to get involved in campaigning and in the running of the association. When I was Chairman of my local YC branch I attended the CF National Weekend, and decided to never go back again. It was a weekend of pathetic student politics fighting. The training sessions were, for the most part, only relevant to student branches, and the chairman's handbook (which I never received my own copy of, despite requests) was geared entirely to student branches. There was also no joined up thinking between university branches and home towns - membership details should surely be passed on. I could have left university without Folkestone & Hythe Conservatives ever knowing I was a supporter if I had so chosen - we shouldn't be allowing so many of our student members to disappear into oblivion when they leave!

I think you need to have some sort of means of aiding younger members to get involved in associations. Looking round my association, it looks like the Addams family on a bad day. Many of the people are very clever and experienced but most people my age would run a mile!

We need an organisation that can cut through associations in some respect to give younger members an outlet that is more responsive to their needs. It is absolutely no good in todays world of flexible working and high expectations of social outlets, to run associations or CF as niche only outfits. Most associations I know run as some sort of geriatrics get together, with meetings starting in some instances at 6pm. CF as I have already said seems to coalesce around the student end of the market. Womens groups seem to have all their meetings in the early afternoon, disregarding the fact that most women now work as well. The problems are bigger than just CF, we need a party organisation that is a lot more responsive to the feel of the modern world with a younger members section that can whilst continuing with the excellent work done with students can also provide something for the 22+ group that eases them into the structure of the wider party without treating them as leaflet/canvass fodder!

At 21, i have got much better things to do with my life. Besides, who the hell is going to listen to someone who has spent their entire careers in politics? Who needs somone like David Milliband lecturing them on how to live their lives, when he knows nothing about what it is like to hold down a real job? I have seen enough of student politics to know that all those with real ability use their time more productively elsewhere, ie in sport, debating, or welfare activities or even doing academic or paid work.

We need candidates and campaigners with life experience.

I have met Mark Clarke at a CF event and have to say I was hugely impressed by him. We really need someone with "real life" professional experience to lead an organisation like CF instead of another political hack.

who the hell is going to listen to someone who has spent their entire careers in politics?

I agree that if we're talking about Parliamentarians then a diverse life experience is important. But these are all part-time positions which young people do as well as their degrees/careers. It's useful to have a youth wing, and it is only proper that it is run by the youth. There is a full-time national organiser at CCHQ (apparently the LibDems have four, although I don't know this for sure) which is an administrative role.

It's not that CF is "not fit for purpose", as mentioned by one of the writers above, but that it doesn't have a clearly defined purpose in the first place.

I personally think the organisation needs radically reorganising - a 16 year old has nothing in common with a 29 year old, and trying to fit everyone into an umbrella yoof organisation simply doesn't work.

Melissa (age 23!)

I see all the problems cited and I've got to say not one of them comes as a great surprise to me.

The problem you have I think is a lack of support and recognition for CF at all levels, and the only way that it will earn that respect, support and recognition is by working hard to earn it.

It's a vicious cycle; without resources, assistance and help from the main party whether that be locally or nationally, CF's potential to flourish and be a massive asset to the party will go mostly unrealised. But as an organisation, it needs to accept that at present it's not getting that support; and rather than complain about that, accept it and work to earn it.

I've been area chairman for West Yorkshire for the last 8 months and when I came in, most people knew only vaguely that there were Young Conservatives at one point, and little beyond that. There was one real CF branch in the area; getting no assistance from local associations. The youth angle was never considered by the regional party management, the area party management, or the executives of local associations; save for the occasional table-thumping speech at exec meetings now and then about how they really *did* need young people (frequently followed by stumped faces should anyone consider for a moment how that might be achieved).

In this area I've worked to turn around the culture. I've personally contacted nearly over 100 members who'd never been contacted before and brought them together into new CF branches that were non-University-focussed, met with many of the executives of local associations, and built links with the area and regional party management. And we're now in a place where over the next six months we'll be able to start thinking about holding area-wide events, fundraising for the party, assisting in electioneering and generally being invaluable in the region.

The point I'm trying to make? Yes, all the problems mentioned in this thread are very real, and have caused headache after headache for CF national exectives. But the truth of the matter is that there is no alternative to hard work, getting organised, building bridges with the party, actually making local CF-aged members feel wanted and working hard in every area of the UK by using people who are dedicated and hard-working.

And for the record, I agree completely with Caroline Hunt's earlier sentiments, and when the time comes I will certainly be casting my vote for her.

Again I'll have to agree with James here: "we need a party organisation that is a lot more responsive to the feel of the modern world with a younger members section that can whilst continuing with the excellent work done with students can also provide something for the 22+ group that eases them into the structure of the wider party without treating them as leaflet/canvass fodder!"

It really does seem that CF is not fit for purpose, it fails to appeal to those it really ought to capture i.e. those from 21-30yrs - and it almost acts as a separate political organisation from local associations.

Surely the sensible thing to do is to amalgamate into local associations so the "younger" members take over aspects of running the party locally from the ranks of dinosaurs that seem to be too rife still. In this way we can be seen to be a party which want's the younger generations to get involved not just one that give it lip service.

We need to get rid of the "Them" and "Us" relationship between CF groups and associations. There must be clear commnunication and mutual involvement at all levels in the party across the spectrum of ages. By catagorising a demographic age group all we seem to do is isolate a group of individuals who should have the oppurtunity to be taking the leadership roles in local assocations nationwide if we are ever to see the party progress. The many ageing stallwarts in associations across the country have done sterling service over the years and we should value their experience.....too many of these people still hold control of too many associations, again and again we fail to appear electable to the public....so why not let the younger members take the associations forward. They are the party's future and must be treated as such by the party and local associations.

As someone beyond even the upper age limit for CF but who can remember (just about) this time in my life, I do think a splitting/targetting of CF would be useful.

Some may know that there was originally a Conservative Students organisation which was abolished (by Norman Tebbit funny enough) as it was not much more than a group of extremists.

It seems very logical to target students (school, college, university etc) as the core of CF; but from my own exprience, the further beyond graduation, the less this older group will have in common with students. I don't really see why a dedicated 'youth' group for postgraduate ages is necessary. Much better to have such people injecting new blood into the Associations.

I also think CF needs proper organisation. I'm from the Wirral where we had two target seats, yet I know a number of CF members were regularly working in Crosby (non target) and even Liverpool during the last election. Why?!

PS) No offence meant to all those CF members locally who did so much work wherever it was, but it really should have been more targetted at our marginal seats.

Several of the postings have lamented the fact that CF does not always focus on young professionals as much as we might like. I agree!

There is a CF training weekend on the 5th/6th August which is targetted at just such a group. The committee is made up, among others, of a barrister, a lloyds broker, an IT manager and myself, a strategy consultant, so hopefully will have a professional flavour. There will be media training; policy sessions with several representatives of the Cameron policy groups; campaigning training sessions; and, with a nod to the cyber world, Iain Dale will be doing the evening speech.

Sarah Southern at CCHQ has more details. I would recommend it to all those who are perhaps beyond their student days but want to stay involved. It is also in Loughborough - good to have a non London event.

I'm sure there will be other opportunities for me to put forward a broader manifesto at other times on this site. If anyone would like to contact me, please do so via this e-mail.

"We really need someone with "real life" professional experience to lead an organisation like CF instead of another political hack."

If this is trying to imply that Caroline is lacking in life experience you would be sorely wrong. She's no 'hack' either.

What differentiates her from the rest of the field is that she came into the Party comparatively late on as a young woman, braved an election for the national exec, and started DOING.

She hasn't just wandered back into the fold and expected to be given a job...

Have any of the people winging about CF on here every actually contacted National Exec members asking for help or to make suggestions?

I suspect not.

Then you suspect wrong. I contact three members of NME regularly for support, advice, and to relay my own experience and opinion, and I maintain contact with the national organiser at CCHQ. I've generally found both to be efficient at diagnosing queries and problems and helpful when I need it. Believe it or not I have both time to whinge *and* do something about it, too ;)

I hardly think questioning the structure of CF is 'whinging'. It is clear how difficult it is to run a grouping of 12-30 and that's why many of us have suggested splitting it. I favour the decentralisation proposals of Caroline Hunt myself and will be supporting her for chairman.

For the record, I e-mailed the chairman after he wrote a piece on here and never recieved a reply.

Updated above, Andrew Young has indicated to me that he will be standing for Chair.

Mark, info on the CF Working Life conference is in this site's Events section.

We need to get rid of the "Them" and "Us" relationship between CF groups and associations.

I've wondered whether Associations should include "CF overseer" in the role of one their Vice-Chairmen. It probably wouldn't be popular because of CF independence etc, but it might be a useful link in the association when CF need funds and representation.

Also, they would be a solid foundation for University groups as all too often information is lost over the summer holidays. Uni CFs don't have any members who have been around for more than a few years so they tend to make the same mistakes, and some of the strongest groups have collapsed when a few committed members all leave at the same time.

Agreed, Caroline is no hack.

But as for 'started DOING' - I don't see the evidence

A position on the Exec as Deputy Chairman and Communications Officer has surely afforded ample opportunity to demonstrate the credentials that should be expected of a potential Chair.

The current CF Chair and Deputy have scant little on record to demonstrate an interest in Conservatives over the age of 21.

It has taken other members of the CF exec to take up the gauntlet of appealing to the post-grad Conservative population.

Is it any surprise that the Party doesn't appeal to 'Young Professionals', when the CF Exec can be perceived as career politicians, doing little but wait for the student vote to roll in?

here we go...

the bitching begins.

it started with that fake advert about nick vaughan that was placed in the paper.

CF does more harm than good.

I've wondered whether Associations should include "CF overseer" in the role of one their Vice-Chairmen. It probably wouldn't be popular because of CF independence etc, but it might be a useful link in the association when CF need funds and representation.

I've found that having the association accept their branch chairman on to their executive to bring a CF voice to the table does wonders to strengthen bonds. Most associations I've spoken to have been more than happy to do so and it's a valuable link for the CF branch chairman, too.

The Deputy Ed isn't in the running then?

Clearly there are some major problems needed to be sorted out in the CF at current, but using an open forum where non-conservatives can access is a little silly to say the least

"using an open forum where non-conservatives can access is a little silly to say the least"

To say the Most! These are niggles that are hardly reportable in the national media or that interesting to the opposition. It's healthy to have an open debate, we don't have anything to hide, do we?

The Deputy Ed isn't in the running then?

If Andrew Young is going for Chair, surely Sam should take on e-campaigning?

Speaking as a chairman of York University's Conservative association, one problem a lot of my members find with CF is its focus and style. Many people that have been on events with CF events came back saying it was too focused on becoming a politician and networking. Surely CF events should be social events, and welcoming to both those that want to go into politics and those that are just Conservative.

My experience of CF is quite limited, but I think that our association has little in common with many other branches. We are a primarily social organisation, but that goes campaigning and has speakers occasionally. We are not a society looking to boost people's careers and having a laugh at the same time.

My feelings are that CF should aim to be an group that encourages Conservatives to become active, not a group that helps a few people's CVs. I think this ties in with the issue of whether it is too university focused. CF shouldn't be an exclusive organisation. I would hope that the two sides could stay linked, I don't think workers and students should be seperate, but there has to be a bridge.

In Yorkshire and Cheshire I have never seen anything CF related coming through my door, like ballot forms. There is a serious democracy issue if certain areas of the country just aren't getting ballots.

Like all student political groups, CF members appear to be too busy hacking away at each other like The Peoples Front of Judea vs The Judean Peoples Front. I thought it was only lefty students unions execs who stopped speaking to one another after there was that bust up about the wording of the latest diversity and equality ammendment to the constitution....

If this is trying to imply that Caroline is lacking in life experience you would be sorely wrong. She's no 'hack' either.

it started with that fake advert about nick vaughan that was placed in the paper

Who are these people? OK, I know who Nick Vaughan is, but the point is that if stuff like this is the bread and butter of CF then I fail to see why people should want any part in it.

I think I'd be spreading myself a bit thin if I took on one of these positions, but thanks for the suggestion!

i don't pretend to be a big shot in the CF, but speaking as the social secretary for the CF at essex university I personally believe the the CF (if only in universities as this may not be practical to elder memebers of CF) should have a main focus towards social events. Following on from Michael Rutherford's post (but also deviating from it) since I joined CF I can see where people get the impression that it is purely a network building exercise for the main players in every group. However I believe that it would be a much more fruitful exercise if the CF would try and encourage as many social events as possible. Unfortunately there is very much an image that all CF members are middle class toffs who sit around and talk politics and annoy people by knocking on there doors at awkward moments (classic toryboys). However if we could change that image, give the impression that the tories are a fun loving bunch who are committed to making life better for everyone we could attract much more participation. In my experience at essex over 100 people joined but only a small percentage of those were active members. If we could convince people that to go out campaigning isn't a boring political exercise but another day out with your mates, with amusing stories to tell, far more people would join in. Same as debating politics, instead of people seeing it as boring stuff they can't influence, people will see it debating about football and other things, interesting things which people can have a laugh about. If we are to bring about a revival in political participation we have to make it seem less alien to people and make them enjoy it like they enjoy all their other interests in their life.

Bloody hell!

This turned nasty quickly.

Listen, I know a lot of you have been approached by people who have been campaigning since, well, probably last year. But I've worked hard on the exec. I specialise in getting volunteers working together on projects that benefit the whole organisation.

If anyone sees the work I do and can say "that guy has been lazy", fine - vote for someone else, but if you think it's decent - even if you've been approached by someone else - perhaps you'll consider giving me your support.

Email below.

www.conservativefuture.com www.conservativefuture.com/tv
www.conservativefuture.com/london (or any region name)

(and others - will see about getting a blog or something soon, anyone who wants to help on campaigning, give me a shout)

Yes I think it would be better if it didn't get personal and manifestos rather than personalities are discussed.

Glad I'm not up for election if this is what it's like.

Come the 1st August i'll be taking the reins at Hull University CF. Already i've been in contact with Leeds CF and will soon be in contact with the York CF. A few socials later and I hope to have strengthened ties among the Northern branches and hopefully decentralise (I hate using that word as a Tory) some of the power and social aspects from London.

Oh yeah...manifestos. If last year is anything to go by, what exactly are we voting on?

What has the current CF Management done to improve things down on the ground? Has Nick Vaughan gone through with his regionalisation...

James, the manifestos were all published on the CF site last year.

Nick V isn't restanding.

Think a good friend of mine may have something to say about 'taking over the reigns at Hull CF' Mr. Jay..!

I'm a member of CF, have been since 17, and quite frankily the unprofessional light which CF operates in and is seen, is one of the major areas which needs to be concentrated on.

CF is less London centric than what it used to be although I do agree that there is far more to do on that front.

One aspect which is particularly worrying is the amount of people within CF who take up various voluntary positions. They then turn around after a year in the job and say what an utter waste of time its all been and strongly advise others not to do the same.

Unfortunatly CF is still a talking and drinking shop without much (& i hate this word) action.

Unless there is radical reform of CF, and I mean within the way CO operate the organisation as well different branches, CF will struggle to be anything than a minor campaigning cart-horse.


Cllr Tasker has it right. CF has the potential to be a great campaigning force but without proper support and effective internal structure, it risks just being an add on.

As someone said above, why were CF members working in Crosby and even worse Liverpool during the last general election?! How many target seats are there in the North West that could have appreciated their help. Hardly the fault of the committed people putting in the effort, but who decided where they went?! The mind boggles!!

Crosby was almost as much a target than the targets though, not that there was that much CF campaigning there anyway.

haha - i just noticed the address of this page in the address bar.


A Young? Its a conspiracy!! :-)

Surely that's not the point Dep. Ed. A target is a target for a reason. Crosby was not one and was never even a possible gain last time (next time is a different story). There shouldn't have been ANY CF campaigning there.

CF members should have been directed either to Southport or the Wirral seats (the closest targets I think). That they were not speaks volumes about the internal organisation of CF. (And to go to Liverpool was even worse).

Caroline, Crosby's Lab majority was barely any bigger than neighbouring West Lancs' which was a target - for example. There was far more CF campaigning in Wirral and Southport, rightly.

Targets aren't the be all and end all - some hopeless seats need to have seeds sown in them at some point, and others will become target seats the next time around if they run a decent campaign.

"D", well spotted!!

When I initially drafted the post it was titled something cheesy like "Are you a young Conservative with a bit of spare time?" - which caused this unfortunate coincidence, honest!

Thanks Dep Ed for the responses.

No offence but it's not for you or me to argue whether certain seats qualify as targets or not. All seats have the chance to put themselves forward and then targets are selected on the basis of their winnability. It's brutal but necessary.

Sure, some seats may be 'stand alones' with prospects down the road in which case they can left to it, but in our current political predicament (not enough MPs), targetting has to be the be all and end all.

We don't have enough resources to fight the seats we can win, without diverting resources to others which we have decided as a party that we cannot - however much individuals may disagree.

And to get back on track regarding CF, once we've decided where we are likely to win, CF can be a wonderful boost to local campaigning. But CF should be disciplined in where their precious resources spend time and effort.

At any rate, all healthy debate!!

Dep Ed,...I saw the manifestos last year, thus my point. In fact I emailed Nick Vaughans campaign HQ during the campaign with my views and questions about his policy platform as I did with a couple of others. Not one reply. I didnt get a ballot either. The manifestos didnt really explain how they would improve the financial standing of CF or organisationally. There was nothing really radical that attracted my attention. The problem ios that CF is a second rate Conservative Party.

The point about making CF overseer a Vice Chairman position would be good, but I cant see it working down here. Our Vice Chairmen are in the right positions and there isnt a space for CF. Saying that theres no official CF branch here...

CF is a joke and this election's pointless. Well have the same promises carted out and Ill be saying all this again in June.

Well maybe guarenteed ballot forms for CF elections are something the new potential chairperson can promise us.

I got the final nomination through today and so as of 4pm this aftenoon will officially be in he race for the Chairmanship.

And who are you?

- a joker, usually.

According to Recess Monkey, CF has failed to secure a speaker for the national ball. Is that true?

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