« Blue and green tree logo set to replace Tory torch | Main | Council taxpayers foot the bill for unexpected immigration »


I remember having a discussion on CH more than a year ago when several posters including me complained of experiencing the same problems Abigail has faced.Has nothing improved since then ? Perhaps time and money should be spent on this rather than fatuous changes to the logo.

When was the last time the Party sent a newsletter to members? The last edition of Heartland must have been a good while ago.

Whilst Con Home is a great resource I still think there's a niche for a subscription based national Party newspaper, like the Lib Dems have.

Comms with members come principally from Associations in my experience. If the Association is poorly run then its likely that the membership does not received regular information.

I originally joined the party a year and a half ago by post, and it took a good 3 months for even the cheque to be cashed, let alone actually receive anything.

Renewal was due in January, and a few days after my membership expired I decided simply to rejoin by the website. I received my new membership card (With my original member number, so they must have spotted I was merely renewing) a few weeks later, only for a letter in March requesting I renew my membership if I hadn't done so already. Surely it would make more sense to send out renewal letters prior to membership expiry dates, rather than a hit and miss letter a couple of months later?

Abigail Kay's letter is thoroughly dispiriting; she is exactly the sort of potential member that the party should be looking to attract - bright, young, female and northern.

People like Abigail should be welcomed with open arms, instead of being given the impression that they are being cold-shouldered by the organic soya latté set at CCHQ.

Disclaimer: At this juncture, I'd like to offer a pre-emptive apology to Mrs Teresa Stokes if this comment has unintentionally come across as patronising, demeaning or in any other way condescending towards women.

I do have sympathy with people in CCHQ. Last time I was there no air conditioning - or wasn't working very well, adn I can see how criticism doesn't always motivate hard working staff.

Here's an idea. Would CCHQ be amenable to using the talents of external people perhaps who read this blog and give them something to do?

Tim- Mrs T and I watched you on Newsnight last night, and as always you put over the case against CCHQ without overly savaging the leadership per se- a difficult balance.

But we loved the way Steve Norris said "Tim Montgomerie HIMSELF"...that's real stardom.

And did we understand Mr Ferrari as saying he'd stand if the contest was put off for 12 months?

(PS Mrs T thinks you look a little tired- you need a holiday)

Jonathan. That is an excellent idea. Would it be possible for you to use your contacts with CCHQ to see if there are projects/tasks/ideas that CCHQ need working on and use the skills, talent, and commitment that is available on CH to help get these resolved?

It would be fairly simple to set up some secure websites and work in a collaborative manner.

Well I certainly don't want to tread on anyones toes, but would happily try to coordinate something if people want, and CCHQ think it could lead to something.

I think it comes down to what I have mentioned before. There could be many people who feel they have nothing left to offer if they aren't on the A list. They (you would hope if they have been candidates before) are some of the most active people in the party - so why not offer them some alternative "career path".

"Why is it so hard to join the tory party?"

Don't worry, it's just as hard to leave.

Someone has obviously half-woken up as suddenly I am getting invites to renew membership, become a party patron etc, even though I left months ago.

Hmm, I seem to remember a young Abigail Kay in the same Politics A-level class as me, back at college. Those were the days.

Using the talents of the Party? Why would they want to do that?! I sent an email to CCO about an invitation they gave about by elections. Im the only person in the Association able to help and all Ive had is an automated response saying they are on holiday. Theyve been back 2 weeks now!

Maybe she should have given more than £3.

...you can't even get a large coffee or a magazine for that.

You cant get a membership card for less than 25 quid now!

James, I think its a bit like teh NHS - We can all find anecdotes of when things go wrong - butyou don't always hear of the good work that goes on. I actually havent even received my A list thanks but no thanks email - but does that mean CCHQ do othing right? Of course not.

Now I think people have a choice. We could moan about what goes wrong, or perhaps come up with some workable solutions to make things go right.

And as for you Mr Whitmarsh - I'll have you know you can get plenty of coffee for under £3 up here. Though if you asked for a latte they would say "do you mean milky coffee duck?" :o)

"perhaps come up with some workable solutions to make things go right"

What about replying to emails? This isnt brain surgery, this is Business 101. Donal Blaney has written about this already, its not hard...

I have a whole dossier of the problems with CCHQ and the relationships with the Associations. Tempting as it is, I am not going to list them here. Guys and girls, remember that this is a PUBLIC site and our opponents keep a close eye on it; we do not want them to discover our weaknesses. Jeremy Middleton is a good guy - as are most people on the Board, so it's better to email them directly with suggestions on improvements. Sorry, Tim.

I take your point, but I dont think our perspectives are mutually exclusive. Yes emails should be responded to, but of they aren't why arent they, and what can be done about it?

Perhaps Tim could hand-pick 10 Conservative Members from this site (obviously not Chad) to meet with the Party Chairman and members of the Board. Tim could chair it and we could put our concerns to them and have regular progress meetings?

Maybe she should have given more than £3.

...you can't even get a large coffee or a magazine for that.
Just stop for a minute and consider that this is a 17 year old we are talking about here. Admittedly £3 is a little low (I'm a youth member at £3, but I donate about £15 every 6th months too) but its very hard to talk about how we want more young people to become involved in politics only to expect them to pay large amounts of money to do it.

I personally haven't ever bought raffle tickets or gone to an association evening because I can't personally afford it. I'd love to spend the evening talking to like-minded people, but as an 18 year old I can't afford £50 and then drinks money and raffle ticket money.

Plus its not as if this is the type of thing you should, or for that matter want to go to your parents seeking money to fund. My political activity is my business, and it wouldn't be right for my parents to be funding it on my behalf. Just be happy that there are young people out there who are giving what they can reasonably afford.

We should have a mimimum sub.

Sorry, that should have read "shouldn't" have a minimum sub.

We do have a minimum sub and it is £3 FOR STUDENTS, OUR MINIMUM SUB FOR GROWN UPS IS £15 -

Pamela, see my last posting. Please do not write in capitals - it's shouting in pc terms!

And "grown ups" is very patronising!

my daughter (then aged 19, keen, energetic and ripe for development)had exactly the same experience.
after a couple of months, i contacted central office on her behalf, and was told by a lackadaisical minion that there wasn't much activity around our area - surprise - and he'd get someone to call her.
no one called. she did not rejoin, despite loving canvassing and being awed by the difference that practical politics can make to life. when you consider that the average age of party Members in this constituency (mid beds) was then over 65, i should have thought that the integration of my daughter should have been a priority for someone.

It's quite simple: the leadership of the Conservative Party holds ordinary members, and the British public as a whole, in contempt. So it's very hard for them to think curteously, or to care about good organisation, or value efficiency. They splosh money about to their friends, enjoy themselves on their sad version of a catwalk, and that's about it. Don't expect change.

It all seems very hit and miss. I was lucky that my local association was very welcoming. I'm not so sure what it might have been like in neighbouring associations as I've heard a few bad reports.

Perhaps CF and CCHQ need to work something out together to see if a more efficent system of registering people like the woman in the article.

Good idea Justin, though I suspect those living a fair bit away from London would struggle to make it.

Thanet's not that far! As a matter of fact Suzy and Roger Gale are brilliant campaigners and should be utalised.

So whatdoyareckon, Tim?

Indeed the Gales are. Im not talking about Thanet per se (the trains run fine, though the 20 quid a pop doesnt help). Im thinking more about those further than that, like the North and the South West.

The subscriptions thing kicked up a fuss down here (like most things!) where our membership is relatively old and financially constrained. The fact is that we need our older members (they are very supportive of our events) and they were brought up under a completely different regime to the one now, and were used to the married membership for example. The changes make it even harder for Associations like my one in getting a high membership. This is why I dont like the proposed rise in membership rates. It hurts our ability to attract a membership with a broad range of people.

If those who should be servicing party members and advancing the conservative cause spent a little more time doing what they should be doing - and a little less time indulging in intrigue and office politics - such appalling lapses in customer relations would be less likely to happen.

I would be fascinated to know if anyone from her local party or CF itself has yet telephoned her to apologise and to arrange to meet her.

Its such a shame that good people who contact the Party offering their support and wanting to help promote the conservative cause should be ignored. She clearly has a very keen interest in politics, choosing it as her degree. Best of luck to her in getting involved. We need people like her.

Interestingly if you look at the Recess Monkey site (written by Labour parliamentary assistants and owned by Alex Hilton who runs Labourhome.com)you will see similar criticisms of Labour's central machine from the grass roots and activists. I have also seen not dissimilar moans, especially about membership cock ups, on LibDem blogs, the Darbyshires for instance went on at some length about being unable to actually quit their party. So it would seem that we are not alone in finding that our central operation does not work as we would wish it to, seems to be implicit in all three major political parties.

This probably says more about the unholy relationship between the party machines and their employees and the equally inefficient public sector and their employees than it does about anything else.

"the Darbyshires for instance went on at some length about being unable to actually quit their party"

I always found that odd - presumably the Liberal Democrats were too busy rejoicing at the Darbyshires' exit (which achieved the remarkable feat of making a certain UKIP blogger's exit from the Conservatives look *ahem* noble and dignified) to actually complete the necessary administrative work involved?

GCHQ are too posh to push. No wonder the associations ignore them and just get on with the job in hand.

I'm 16 and tried to join Conservative Future some time ago by sending an e-mail to the address on their site. I got no response. I haven't bothered since. Any suggestions?

Whereabouts do you live Rachel? You may be better going through the local association.

I know these oversights are embarrassing for the Party, but we need to keep things in perspective.

Associations can sometimes be in meltdown (I know!) with no-one doing the day-to-day membership tasks, but we're hearing here of 3 or 4 oversights, which (though totally unacceptable) are plainly the exceptions.

Thousands have joined since DC became leader, and have done so without problems, so, please, 'proportionality' is the buzzword of the moment..

Rachel - try looking for the list of area chairmen on the CF site. Then when you've found yours email him/her and if they're any good they should put you in touch with your nearest CF branch.

Or alternatively if you're in a university town try contacting their students union who should tell you if they've got an affiliated CF branch.

CCHQ isn't yet fit for purpose

Time to merge it with The Home Office and let John Reid sort it out !

I can remember when the party agents - at CCO at well as local and regional level - were a disciplined efficient cadre with a real elan about them.

There are few paid or experienced agents now and CCO appears to be staffed by inexperienced recent graduates who have no experience of life whatsoever.

The experiences of this young woman do not surprise me in the slightest

As a matter of information, what is the management structure at CCHQ and who has the ultimate responsibility for addressing the many issues raised by ConHome?
The fact, Matt, that Labourhome throws up similar moans should not reassure us much; we expect inefficiency from Nulab but the hope is that the tories will show themselves capable of managing things competently. Let us hope that Tim is correct is saying that CCHQ is beginning to get its act together.

Well this doesn't surprise me at all, small ordinary people trying to make a difference v the big political party, the net result? don't give a damn! ..good to see this party inclusive change thing is coming along on course!, a couple of words springs to mind 'total Joke'

It is a bit annoying when people you know attempt to join centrally and receive nothing (though their bank accounts get debited). I know this happens & it ought to be sorted, while not being the worst crime of the century - it's the first contact most people have with the party &c &c.

I do agree with Jonathan's excellent suggestion though. There must be heaps of readers on this site who could be given a task to expedite for CCHQ (letter writing for regional press; compiling lists of newspaper editors/journalists in target seats; interrogating NuLab spending plans & producing impact statistics per constituency &c &c) - please most excellent Tim and Jonathan - maybe you could bring this up with the chairman's office?

There are already organistions in the party that are supposed to do that, Graeme. For example, Conservatives Direct was supposed to organise activists to do things like write to the local press on the party's current hot issues. It all seems to have died out under the current leadership though.

CCHQ would do better if it recruited active Conservative Party Supporters, rather than deliberately NOT recruiting activists.

A little less playing computer games and indoor cricket would have helped too.

I'd never even heard of Conservatives Direct James! It sounds like a great idea.

I noted the reason Abigail gave for wanting to join: "I knew that I had to become a member to stop the Conservatives going down the 'New Labour route' - abandoning all their principles"

Come on, all you Lancastrians! Its not rocket science to contact the daily mail, to send a welcoming message to this NORTHERN lass! A rare catch! Lets see, who is local to Bolton?? How about Councillor Paul Brierley who was supposed to contact her and did diddly squat? Lets think of the constituencies bordering Bolton, if not Bolton itself, and lets show CCHQ how its done. CH.com can do.Come on, Abigail Kaye, Bradshaw, Bolton, Lancs. I bet even the post office could find her. Tim buys a pint for the first CF member to welcome her to a nearby constituency.

It strikes me that maybe CCHQ has started to regard itself as a sort of Civil Service department. Having spent ten years working in a civil service department, I would say that that is exactly the opposite of the work ethic and motivation that should be inspiring? conservative central office. I keep getting a reoccurring thought, that perhaps CCHQ, could do with some 'input' from an organisation doing similar sort of work in the States! No doubt I have committed a cardinal sin by suggesting that, but there we go!!

Its a shame that Abigail wasn't recruited for the DD campaign

Try and join the party online if you are a young member.

you can't pay by solo (the card that most young people are likely to have).

you are unlikely to be contacted by anyone for ages. (took me 9 months).

oh and p.s. have a look at the size of the print should you miss enter any details. (https://www.conservatives.com/involved.join.register.action.page.do).

This is fascinating and it stems from one article in the Daily Mail. What that worthy publication failed to mention is that young Abigail was also a Labour activist in the Bolton North East constituency last year. Now, who offered to sign her up for the Party?!

Hi, Abigail here.

A friend pointed this site out to me to show me the reaction to my letter in the Mail yesterday.

Thanks for all your kind words.

I'd just like to answer Camilla:

I did in fact state in my letter to the Daily Mail that I briefly volunteered for David Crausby, my local MP. It was the publication that chose to omit this information.

I decided to volunteer my services for Mr. Crausby because I was planning on reading politics at University, and I felt some experience in the political arena would be helpful. I would much rather have worked for a Tory MP, of course I would, but as it happens, there are very few conservative MP's up north, and this was the only option available to me. Yes, this did involve helping with the election campaign - but it was after this experience that I decided not to offer my services anymore - because I felt somewhat hypocritical.

I'd just like to reinforce the point that I did include this information in my original letter to the Mail.

So don't judge me for this - especially considering I have subsequently volunteered my services for a certain Paul Brierley.

Who, by the way, has still not made any effort to contact me.

Things arent as bad as they are painted here. I suspect that in the majority of the country associations would snap the hands off of any young person who wanted to join. Unfortunately it is very much down to the local associations, some of which are in poor shape.

There is no excuse however for the central organisations failing to follow up membership enquiries ESPECIALLY in areas where Associations are known to be weak!

I sat on the party's national membership committee until 1994 and I was very keen that the membership felt that they got something for their money. A welcome pack was often discussed but doesnt seem to have been implemented. We also looked at raising the minimum level of subscription but I was against this until we had something organised that would be seen to be worth the increase.

I understand that the party now intends to increase the 'adult' minimum to £25, which will probably cause the same ructions as the imposition of the £15 minimum. £5 will be retained by the centre and the rest will go to the local association.

One thing that should improve the situation is the creation of a proper web based 'BluChip' system which will enable proper central records of membership to be maintained. It will also then be able to tell us all for the first time how many members the party actually has.

To be fair to CCHQ it is very aware of the problems of weak associations and is trying to encourage mergers and federations, but its powers are still weak vis a vis local parties. Until the Board of the party is prepared to impose mergers not much will happen IMHO.

Ooops - I didnt mean 1994 - I meant 2004!!! Senilty setting in or I had not woken up!

Abigail, Glad you found us before CH sent out the search parties. Seriously, is Diana Brierley related to Paul Brierley, and was it it Paul Brierley who applied to be PPC for Colne Valley twice, albeit unsuccessfully, that still appears to be doing not a lot to contact you?? Hmmmmmm!!!!


Yes, I believe Paul and Diana Brierley are a married couple.

I'm not sure about Colne Valley, but I do know he was the Conservative candidate who stood against Crausby in my constituency.

Abigail! I am sure about Colne Valley, because I was on the selection panel!! Nuff said!!!!!!

Just like to say thanks for all the offers of help I've received since my post yesterday. Much appreciated.

As a young Conservative Future member from Bury North, my local party have been excellent since I joined, fairly regular meetings, and opportunities to support the Party at election time and attend the count.

For us not to be taking interest in Bolton North East is farcical. I know the seat well and it should be a top target.

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker