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We need stronger regional operations. The Yorkshire area declined following the loss of a Regional Office in Leeds. Each Region should have its own office and dedicated research officer. There should be a proper operational base for the Regional team.

There should be annual Regional conferences, focussing on issues of importance in the particular Region.

There should be part of the central budget delegated directly to the Regions. The Regions should become semi-automonous organisations, with Regional officers given responsibility for operations in their area. The party board should include Regional Chairman or at least a couple of representatives specifically from the Regions.

The party needs to appreciate that proper Regional structures, run in the Regions for the Regions is essential to a political revival outside of the South East.

Whilst i agree with much of the content the headline title to this article is misleading and inaccurate.

The Party is certainly comparatively weak in the North but this has historically been the case in many areas. In the North East we hold only 1/30 seats but even at our peak we held only 6 or so. There are still working associations in the few NE targets, primarily Tynemouth and Stockton South.

Then there is North Yorkshire, which politically seems like a segment of SE England that went on holiday up north one year and liked it so much that it decided to settle down there.

We are weak in some of the major metropolitan cities in the north, but we must not let this obscure that we are at the same time strong across many northern areas. We are within a whisker of controlling North Tyneside Council and have strong representation in many other areas- Hexham, Penrith & the Boarder to name but two Conservative seats.

The Party needs to realise that focusing on those metropolitan cities where we are weak merely reinforces the media view that we are “dead in the north” whilst the truth is that even though in some areas we are very weak there are pockets of strength- this having nearly always been the pattern.

PS i also agree with Simon's comments and believe that his suggested will be key in strengthening our base in the north and rebuilding in those areas where we have pretty much died out.

One of the most forgotten facts of the last General Election, is that across the regions of the NE, NW, YK & Hm, we actually got a lower % of votes than in 2001. We barely moved in the Midlands.

Part of the problem was is due to the economy because in a general sense everyone in the north, for the first time in two generations, has a job (albeit public sector), house etc. The previous two generations were blighted with severe bouts of recession under Conservative governments.

It means there is little love for the Conservative Party, therefore affecting membership.

I'm sceptical about the need of regional candidates becuase people in the north prefer people who have a northern attitude rather than the way they sound and as long as a candidate either moves there etc, then I have found it does not matter.

To succeed, in the north (votes, members) starts at the top. We need more of no-nonsense plain speaking from the leadership and I don't think we are going to get it from the Eton Mafia.

Yes...and the Labour Party is dead in the South West and the Liberals are dead in the Midlands (even we, like them, have a seat or two in our 'dead' areas).....it is nothing new ...we just work at it.

I know many members in the North West who have fought valiantly over many years to keep the Conservative flag flying.

The state of the Conservative Party in places like Liverpool and Manchester will only be rectified through sheer hardwork at a grassroots level. The volunteers are in place to make a difference, but they need the professional support to make this a reality.

I firmly believe that we have to stop talking and start working if we are going to have any chance in these areas.

We don't need to worry about weakness in Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, or the former South Yorkshire coalfield. Those areas are all resolutely anti-Conservative, and we can win a comfortable overall majority without them.

We do need to focus on regaining most of the Northern seats we won in 1992 , eg the Wirrals, Bury North, South Ribble, a chunk of seats in West Yorkshire, and so on. We also need to regain some seats we held in 1987 to make up for those like Hazel Grove that are now out of reach.

It would be interesting to know what membership levels are like in the winnable Northern constituencies.

Can a party with a priority list that has more Kensington and Chelsea councillors, than residents of the North West and Yorkshire really expect to seen to be taking the North seriously?

As someone who lives in a Labour-held seat (with a 14,000 majority) in the northwest of England I can understand much of the concerns that are being raised. The constituency association has just over 50 members (many of whom are elderly and non-active), however, there is some good news.

Stephen McPartland is correct in saying we have to "stop talking and start working" if we are to regain success in the north. When I first joined my local ward branch after university (just five years ago) we had just 6 members who put out a leaflet at election time (only in our better areas) and lost the ward by 400+ votes. Since then we have put out regular newsletters (in all areas), seen our membership treble and have now got two out of the three councillors (beating a former mayor and the deputy leader of the council in the process). Previously, even throughout the eighties, we only ever had one councillor at a time. Two weeks ago on a newsletter delivery push we had 7 members out - and it is 6 months before an election!

The other ward to see a dramatic membership rise in the constituency is the only other ward that is active. They have reduced the Labour majority dramatically by hard work and determination.

CCHQ doesn't need to get involved to make a difference - local, hard-working, dedicated and determined people can do it on their own. CCHQ should be there to make it easier for us and to assist where necessary. Local people should take responsibilty for themselves.

Simon Mallett's suggestion of regional conferences is interesting, though how large would the regions be? We opposed regional government here in the north west as the people of Cumbria have little in common with those in Greater Manchester and Merseyside, and vice versa. Simon could you expand on how these would work as I think they could work in reviving interest in local Conservatism in the regions, especially the remoter regions from London.

On the issue of northern candidates applying, it was a real problem for 2005 as well.

One chap I met at the 2005 conference, Mark Brooks, was amazed that he was one of a few southerners applying for Northern target seats for the 2005 GE. Even then, these target seats were only attracting a dozen applicants. And that was with the ability of any candidate on the List to apply whether from the north or south. He got Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland I think in the end.

We desperately need to win in the north, else we don't win the next election and those on the A List who refuse to apply for northern target seats are putting their self-interest first.

I agree about Manchester etc. - the last tory seats in these cities were lost in 1987 and it didn't stop the tories winning again twice. But, as Sean says, there is quite a lot of "low-hanging fruit" around the big cities which should be regained.

85% of Labour seats are in decline.

Surely the answer is to give the north of England its independence?

Like the Scots, people in the north of England are not voting Tory. Like the Scots, apparently they've suddenly turned from being hard working and enterprising to being welfare scroungers. So obviously like the Scots they should be dumped.

All conservatives should support full independence for the north. Its the only way the northerners will shake off their socialistic welfare dependent culture and take off economically like Eire (sink or swim). We might then get a conservative government in the rest of England and end up paying less tax. Here`s hoping!

There might be a few problems controlling the border between residual England and - what shall we call it? - let's say, the new Republic of Central Britain.

But I've looked at the map, and I reckon a line from Chester to the Wash should be defensible if we build the right border fortifications. That would join up nicely with the frontier along the line of Offa's Dyke to separate us industrious and put upon true English from another bunch who won't vote Tory and who have also allegedly turned into welfare scroungers, the Welsh, and then on southwards to form the border with those Tory-rejecting wastrels in the former West Wales.

Should the Conservatives be following the LibDems with regional conferences, and regional structures?

I am also unsure how to take the line above that the party should not worry about Manchester, Liverpool etc., because there are enough seats around to win an election "without them". Does this not say something about the Conservative attitude towards the North? What about Scotland - does that matter?

There are distinct Regions in the country but not necessarily the Euro Regions. Yorkshire is one and the North East another. Across the Pennines, Lancashire and Cumbria is probably one, although I suspect some would disagree.

I would like to see a half day or one day conference held in Yorkshire on an annual basis. It would need to be organised at Regional level but would need to be supported by CCHQ with Shadow cabinet speakers and others e.g prominent businessman/community leaders. The outcome would be an Agenda for Yorkshire.

If the Conservatives want to succeed in Yorkshire, a Regional political identity is essential. It would provide a tangible focus for areas where we have supporters but no MPs.

Yorkshire has the same population as Scotland and should have some similar structures to the party in Scotland, and at least the same funding, structure and party support as Wales. Yorkshire does not need an assembly or parliament but should have the same organisational base.

Well I think that if you want to win an election it's best to devote energy and resources to where it's most likely to bear fruit. Then, having won, you can work to rebuild in these "desert" areas.

I think we got 90 votes in a council by-election in Manchester this week, coming behind the Greens and BNP

You could ditch the 15 Old Etonians in the shadow cabinet for a start. And you could try to stop taking yourselves so seriously. Lighten up.

Think we saw the signs of this a couple of years ago when the conservatives didn't run the campaign against the regional assembly in the referendum, but were instead associated with the larger North East Says No Campaign.

"I would like to see a half day or one day conference held in Yorkshire on an annual basis. It would need to be organised at Regional level but would need to be supported by CCHQ with Shadow cabinet speakers and others e.g prominent businessman/community leaders. The outcome would be an Agenda for Yorkshire."


Isn't that kind of thing already happening though?

In February we did have a half day "region conference", held in Harrogate, speakers included Eric Pickles and Timothy Kirkhope, plus the (then) Director of Campaigning.

I got the impression that this was intended to be a regualar thing.

That said it could have been improved upon and I think your way is the right way to go about it. I agree with your comments about getting an organisational base up here.

I am also concerned at the phenomenal implosion of conservatism in Cornwall.This demise in interest and involvement can be traced directly back to the troubles which surrounded the Openly Gay Candidate Ashley Crossley some two years ago,and his attacks on very influential and powerful Conservatives in control at that time.
The consequence of everything which has happened is that little interest is given to the party by the grassroots down here, and membership has all but gone other than a small clique of octogenarians who fuss along.
There was a degree of hope developing that a new PPC in Truro could calm things and become a new cornerstone in rebuilding the party but this has taken a very serious knock this week with details circulating around Liberal Democrat circles about a Holiday Home she owns.The problem with Holiday homes are that they are the number ONE issue in Cornwall and an anathema to voters of all persuasions.First time buyers in Cornwall are facing prices of property which is 18 times the average wage as Costa Del Cornwall house seekers from the South East flood in and snap up properties.
The only way forward is that Central Office at some stage will have to address the Problems of the past and apologise to all who were ridiculed a year ago.
In the meantime the Liberal Democrats are watering at the mouth at this downward drift in support for Conservatism in Cornwall.

To do what you propose Denis Cooper you should join the Labour Party simply because ideas as bizarre as you propose will mean the Conservative Party will never again form a government in this country...............it will be a fringe party with fringe ideas like the BNP

Robert P wrote: "This demise in interest and involvement can be traced directly back to the troubles which surrounded the Openly Gay Candidate Ashley Crossley some two years ago,and his attacks on very influential and powerful Conservatives in control at that time."

This is a complete rewriting of history. They were attacking HIM for being gay, not the other way round. These people shouldn't even be in the Party. Their very membership of it brings us into disrepute.

Maude is building a Party of cronies in the model of NuLabour. Northerners speak their minds - and are not required.

If you want a party that will win in the North, appoint a Northern Chairman in replacement of Maude, who understands the culture of the north, and who pitches for the northern tribes.

The southern Conservatives have nowhere else to go but be Tory. The North being working class to a greater extent will be more attracted to the BNP or UKIP, than to a bunch of Oxbridge, public school southerners.

This is the greatest error Cameron has made allowing Maude to recreate the Party in the same old image. The joke is they said it was all going to change. Nothing is further from the truth.


The difference on the regional conference thing is not to talk to ourselves but to others - have top notch speakers and actually produce some Yorkshire wide policy initiatives. Create something that will be interesting to the region, get covered by the regional media and put the Yorkshire Conservatives on the map.

Simon, your ideas on a regional conferences do have some merit, however, my problems with it are that you have to make the regions large enough that sufficient activists go to them to make them successful. That then causes problems that you have such widely differing issues that the constituent parts of the region have that the regions become meaningless (such as the Euro-regions). For example, in the north west I would suggest there are insufficient members to make a Greater Manchester/Merseyside (two areas probably most alike) conference a success. To bring in areas with more members who would attend this conference (such as Cheshire, Lancashire and Cumbria) you cause the problem that there is little in common between those of Cumbria and Greater Manchester.

By the way, Manchester City Conservatives got a new member on Thursday evening through canvassing. Get out to the people and the people will come to us.

Sorry, TomTom, I picked the essence of those ideas from others on this site.

We need to not right off the political value of cities we will struggle to win - if we were to commit to Leeds or Manchester's tram projects which Labour cut, that would have an impact in those outlying marginals much earlier than in the seats within those cities which we lost in 1992 and 1997.

A return to the cities is essential to demonstrate that we actually care about parts of the country we appear not to have.

I totally agree with all Simon Mallet's posts. CCHQ are SO not helping Colne Valley! We have only 1501 to beat, thanks to Maggie Throup, now we cannot select until we have sorted out an area campaign centre involving all Kirklees, and Calderdale, Fair enough, but why do we have to delay our selection?? Libdems have reselected their candidate, and I bet she is beavering away as I speak. We will be really left behind.
I dont see why we cannot have a PPC in place, one with enough gumption to be able to work without a shiny new campaign centre.
And yes, CV is an aging bunch.We need younger members, and we need our old fogies to give them a chance when they do come and join us, plus I will personally shoot the first one who whines "But we have always done --- this way" When faced with some innovation or other.
One possible explanation for the difference between North Yorks and the rest, is that North Yorks is rural/agriculture, and the rest is/was heavy industry. Now most of the west riding mills have been turned into expensive apartments, complete with central restaurants and swimming pool, and the south yorks coalfields have been shut down.
I am not about to apportion blame. Rise of the East, our welfare culture, who knows.I am not a political anorak. But that is why North Yorks is still Tory.

Oh! and Tomtom. Re Dennis Cooper. Do you not recognise satire when you read it?? It was actually a very funny, satirical comment. It seems to have gorn right over your head.

Thank you, Annabel. I was thinking of it more as "sarcasm", but I'm happy to have it described as "satire" instead.

De rien Dennis!

Re Dennis Cooper. Do you not recognise satire when you read it?? It was actually a very funny, satirical comment. It seems to have gorn right over your head.

Sorry, TomTom, I picked the essence of those ideas from others on this site.

Posted by: Denis Cooper | October 21, 2006 at 14:35

I understand Denis that you collated ideas posted by others on this site.............Annabel will know who they are...........but it doesn't change the fact that the only Conservative MP in West Yorkshire holds Marcus Fox's old seat with only 400 vote majority

"The difference on the regional conference thing is not to talk to ourselves but to others - have top notch speakers and actually produce some Yorkshire wide policy initiatives. Create something that will be interesting to the region, get covered by the regional media and put the Yorkshire Conservatives on the map."

Yes that makes sense Simon.

Annabel, I think you're right in that we've always done well in rural areas which is why we stil hold safe seats in North (and East!) Yorkshire. As for Colne Valley, I'm not defending CCHQ, but my theory is that they want to deal with the more difficult 'winnable' seats up here first, so they're getting the 'barometer' seats first. Frustrating as I'm sure it must be for you, it does make some sort of sense. Regarding young members, do you think you've got enough under-30s to get a CF branch going over there?

The comments about Yorkshire needing more respources are correct. Here in the East Riding of Yorkshire, a target Council no less, we have heard hide nor hare from central office. Not a dicky bird!

I am not even sure they know we exist!

Rob Brown

Mark, East Yorks safe seats are not that safe either. Remeber Haltemprice and Howden was nearly lost in 2001. Beverley and Holderness still has a relatively small majority and the Tory vote actually fell there at the last General Election, although the new MP for Beverley is doing a brilliant job in the local press.

Denis, your knowledge of geography is somewhat warped too. The wash is not where the north starts. The north starts at the South Yorkshire, merseyside boundary, anything south of that is either the midlands or the south

Well yes, and I even plagiarised, with suitable modifications, a posting on the previous "Tory report recommends fiscal independence for Scotland" thread.

Of course it doesn't change the weak position of the Tories outside those areas of the country which more or less made up the secure heartland of Roman Britain - which may have something to do with the island once again becoming part of a continental empire. Map of Roman legionary forts (the one up in Scotland was started in AD 84 and abandoned a few years later before it was even completed):


Sean Fear asked earlier about membership levels in Northern marginal seats . From statements of account for 2005 Wirrall West had 510 members Wirrall South 279 South Ribble 220 Southport 471 Cheadle 307 Tyneside 400 . Most show a small decline on 2004 .

I worry about all this talk about "hard work" being the key. In my experience up t' north "hard work" just means the poor bloody infantry pushing leaflets while the leadership continues to pose at sherry parties. For whatever reason Conservatives up north have ceased being a coherent force, little attempt is made to take the fight to other parties, candidates just stand on their own name, even leaflets hardly show any similarity from ward to ward. We're mostly just going through the motions. Hardly surprising in view of the lack of interest by the party or its leaders and the silly behaviour of many Tory MPs. Many active Tories up north might feel a bit like the reargard at Dunkirk.

I like the Dunkirk analogy. The Viking north is indeed harsh territory for us but success depends not just an hard work but on recognition from the great and the good down south that the message that is attractive to southerners does not resonate the same up here. I can't pretend that people in the Cock and Bottle in Yorks spend their days discussing climatic change.

Surely William Hague and David Davis as two very high profile northern MPs could promote the Party better than most in key areas in the North.

In strict geographical terms, there is the North of England and the South of England, the dividing line is the River Trent. The Midlands is a term of convenience, not a geographical one.

Yes David and the British Isles is a geographical term but it don't make Eire British.

The culutural differences between the north, the midlands, the south, the south west etc are more important than geographical terms. Geographical terms do not take account of the peoples and the heritage of areas. Saying all that, there is also an obvious English culture just with regional, but very important, variances.

Tapestry says "The southern Conservatives have nowhere else to go but be Tory. The North being working class to a greater extent will be more attracted to the BNP or UKIP, than to a bunch of Oxbridge, public school southerners."

Oh, yes we HAVE somewhere else to go and with a leader like Cameron we're going there. The idiot refused to comment on the "veiling" issue except to say that Moslems feel they are being targeted!!! Too right - we the British have been supine too long.

With the BNP knocking the Tories into 3rd place in Leicestershire this week thsat's where some are going (UKIP wasn't standing)

David Sergeant, I can assure you that the 'hard work' I was talking about was not just the "poor, bloody infantry pushing leaflets while the leadership continues to pose at sherry parties". As ward chairman I have always done more than my fair share of leaflet pushing (if you can't lead by example then don't lead at all) and have never been to a sherry party in my life (afterall I am only 30!). Our success has come through having a proper structure in place (a full exec, ward maps, a timetable for action, etc), great socials that encourage people to participate, regular meetings where everyone is involved in all decisions, knockinc on doors and speaking to people and generally getting out there and being seen. None of it has been easy and all of it has been hard work but it has paid dividends. I have spent a large chunk of today getting ready for next May and preparing January's newsletter (we are still delivering the present newsletter). This si what I mean by hard work.

Unfortunately too many wards and constituencies don't have the people willing or able to do all that work. Also, from my experience for every older member who actively encourages younger members' participation there is at least one who discourages it.

Cameron is right to say that about the veil in my opinion. It is correct that Britishness be defined and that all citizens of this country subscribe to loyalty to the Queen, but not in a way which makes one group feel targetted. Multiculturism is not an absolute term. Cultural choices are choices of emphasis.

I support Cameron. That is why I am upset that he allows Maude to run the A-List as a southern dominated public school, oxbridge club. This should be the moment that regional accents flood into the party's ranks, and the stranglehold of oxbridge be broken.

Waste your vote with UKIP and the BNP if you like.

The Conservative Party could be so much better if Cameron would broaden it. Maude is failing.


Cameron starts to resemble this character...........

"I've had a lot of ha-RASSments lately"

We do have a problem in the North, although it's important not to talk ourselves into defeatism. Results in most of Northern England in 2005 were disappointing although we do have some very solid areas of support. One of the interesting things I found on moving from a marginal seat in Hertfordshire (which the Conservatives won in 2005) to one in Cumbria (which we didn't) was that the latter has many more Conservative councillors.

Some good points have been made in the discussion above, but one problem which has not yet been mentioned is the way the Labour government's expansion of public sector bureaucracy has made the local economy in many parts of the North East and North West dangerously close to dependence on the public sector. (Chapter and verse are given in the Reform report, "Whitehalls last colonies" by Professor Nick Bosanquet and others.) In such areas it is easy for the other parties to suggest that a Conservative government which made a serious effort to reforms public services might damage the local economy by putting lots of public employees out of work.

Just in case anyone misunderstands what I am saying, this is not an argument to avoid reforms in public services which the country desperately needs: it does mean that when we finally get into power those reforms will have to be carefully managed. Fortunately David Cameron and George Osborn seem to be well aware of the issues involved.

As the National Chairman of Conservative Future may I say that from our perspective this article is wholely inaccurate. Conservative Future is thriving in our Northern Cities. We are seeing membership soaring as well as more broad expressions of interest. Some examples...

- In Newcastle University we recently had around 200 people sign up as interested in the party.
- In Durham North West Association the Association Chairman is in his early 20s.
- Sheffield CF has around 200 members and is hugely active politically and on the Social Action front.
- I was at last nights dinner in Manchester and there were around 100 CF peopleManchester CF has always been strong.
- Wirral West is one of our strongest CF branches - highly active on the campaigning and social action front.
- Leeds is also very strong with hundreds of people signed up.
- I spoke at an event in Durham last week where we have over 150 members.
- A CF working life event in Newcastle recently attracted around 70 people in their late 20s - this is comparable with a similar event in London.

Student life and Working life sides are strong and growing. And with over 50% of graduates in key northern cities remaining in that city on graduation this will play through to association strength.

In short, talk of our Northern cities being Tory deserts is not true for Conservative Future. They are in fact rich picking grounds for us. I believe that the Conservative revival in our northern cities is underway - and it is being led by Conservative Future.

Dear Mark, So would it be too much of a big ask for conservative future to pitch in with the local constituencies, deliver a few leaflets, do a spot of canvassing, you know, the usual stuff.
We could win Colne Valley easily. But we have hardly any workers due to old age and infirmity.
Be nice if you could join up too. Form a CF branch. Come and shake up our exec meetings. Organise a bit of fund raising. That sort of stuff.

The success of some northern, mostly uni-based, CF branches is really great but little more than a blip in the major trend.

The tone which Cameron is currently pitching doesn't resonate with many northeners, as demonstrated by polling.

If Tapestry wants to make this country unrecognisable as Britain that's his opionion. Count me out! When Cameron sides with the Moslems he loses me.

In Jack Straw's surgery it's up to Straw what he allows. In this agitprop Moslem woman's private life" that's between her and her family. But "her private life" does NOT include public places of any kind . All those calls and notices appealing for witnesses to crime are meaningless if anyone can wear a mask and totally conceal identity and even gender.

"Well, Officer, the mugger was about 5ft 9 inches entirely dressed in black. Colour? Couldn't see. He or she didn't speak audibly and had a gun under the robe. I hope that helps"

They're trying it on and Cameron is being supine.

"The success of some northern, mostly uni-based, CF branches is really great but little more than a blip in the major trend.

The tone which Cameron is currently pitching doesn't resonate with many northeners, as demonstrated by polling." ??!! Just trying to remember the last time anything a conservative said resonated with many northerners!

The conservative party has become almost extinct in some parts of the North and it will take time and effort to rebuild a presence in some area's.
I think its unfair to say that David Cameron's strategy in not working in the North, give him a couple of years and then judge his success or failure in reviving the party's fortunes in these area's.
It will take more than 11 months to turn around 20 years of decline.

This is an important thread. Firstly we are not dead in the north by any means but we do have weaknesses in the main metropolitan areas like Manchester and Liverpool. We also have real pockets of success. The answer is very simple - you only need a core of 3 or 4 younger members willing to go out doing things regularly and you can transform things. Start with local councillors and lay a foundation. I do agree that we need to empower our regional structures. Let them sort candidate lists and get things going. Get loacl candidates in place at least 3 or 4 years before election whether local or general election and hit the area hard. This is localism, embrace it, this is what we are about under DC. Lets walk the talk,


"anortherntory" talks sense and I agree strongly with him. I know from personal; experience what can be done in "northern" areas. A great deal is possible with the right attitude and hard work in many parts of the North. As I said above, get 2 or 3 really serious young activists and do your own thing. Stuff the ridiculous committee meetings and ludicrous functions, bypass the lot and campaign relentlessliy on local issues with down to earth local candidates.


No Tory Councillors in Newcastle, Manchester or even York. Just two in Hull and Sheffield, that's not a success! Even Leeds should be much better, we use to be able to win it outright, now we share power with the Lib Dems because they hold wards like Horsforth and Otley which they should never have won and we should never have lost!

I was once a member of a Tory Association in Manchester and I can remember a time when there were Tory councillors there and strong associations and clubs even in areas which would never, ever, return a Tory MP.

It's been a long decline from that and while Cameron can't be held accountable for what has happened over the past 25 years he can be blamed for talking a language which English Northerners don't even understand, let alone agree with.

(In this part of Scotland, marginally influenced by tartan metrosexuals, we Tories do at least understand the Cameroon line, much as we detest it)

As for what goes on in some CF uni branch in Durham or somewhere that is totally irrelevant.

It might as well be on the moon!

Maybe Mark Clarke could tell us how many actual paid-up members Conservative Future has and how that compared with the total strength of YCs/FCS say 20 years ago?

People expressing some vague interest in the party does not equate to membership.

Indeed Stuart, you need people from the local area campaigning in their area. That is the only way they get credibility. CF is hugely important but many of their members in their uni branches are not exactly local or in-keeping with the local demographics shall we say.
Thus they are hardly likely to convince you hardened Hull or Sheffield man that they should vote Tory. That will only happen if you have someone from that community fighting the Tory corner for us.

We have councillors all over outside of those cities and in the North. Stop whingeing and starting doing. Stand as a councillor or get out and do something,


I've been reading this thread and hardly feel qualified to comment as someone who's always lived in the south. However, I do have friends who keep me in touch with developments in Yorkshire.
Matt, I have to say I agree wholeheartedly with your last comment - if people feel not enough is being done,then they should get active themselves.
One thing I would say though is that I know there are some excellent women in Yorkshire who have not been "A listed" and who deserved to be! Karen Woods who fough Hull West & Hessle comes to mind. Enthusiastic, dynamic, hard working and loyal! There must be others as well.

"Matt, I have to say I agree wholeheartedly with your last comment - if people feel not enough is being done,then they should get active themselves."

Well I don't live in the North of England so that comment hardly applies to me - anyway this discussion is essentially descriptive rather than prescriptive.

Cameron's yuppie-style message doesn't chime with Northerners of any political outlook any more than it chimes with Tories in Scotland.

That's the big problem of his narrow public school/metropolitan liberal outlook and as long as he remains leader he is the only person who can sort it out.

Personally, I don't give much for his chances.

Matt, trying not to make this sound like a love-in between the pair of us, I completely and wholeheartedly agree with you too. It is amazing what can be done when you actually get out there and do something instead of just whingeing at the sidelines.

When I first joined back at home the ward put out a leaflet to half the homes in the ward at election time, in just the "better areas". I changed that by having the leaflet to all homes and a second leaflet (a complete anathema to the branch) to the better areas. In May we had three leaflets (two to all homes) and we knocked on a good chunk of the homes in the ward (including our very worst areas). I lead from the front and showed what we can do and went and did it. Too many activist seem to say we can't do something and won't even try.

Mark Clarke is also correct. At my university in 2001 we had a team of CF members from the university out virtually every night in the 6 months in the run up to the election. During the election we could guarantee about ten students every day to be out from morning until dusk helping the campaign. Although we still didn't win the seat we bucked the national trend of marginals becoming more solid-Labour and reduced the majority to a mere 481. In Lancaster the swing towards us (where the students had put most of their time and effort) was very big. However, the swing away from us in Wyre (where more traditional methods were used by the usual members) the swing away from us was just as big. I would tell any association to use and encourage their younger members to their full potential - it can and will pay dividends. Don't ever tell a younger member they can't do something. If they want to deliver leaflets then give them some, print extra and get out there. Support your younger members as they otherwise as when the older members get too old to do the delivering and canvassing then your association will die off!

You can bang on all you like about your personal achievements and bully for you. You're not the only one who has spent endless hours trudging the streets for the party.

Sadly, it doesn't alter the fact that the situation in the North appears to be just as described - and getting worse.

We even, if recent posts are correct, are now seeing local elections where the Conservatives are being beaten by bthe BNP.

Since you are a recent CF member perhaps you can answer by earlier question about how many members CF has nationwide. I'd be interested to compare the membership with that of YCs/FCS

Stuart, I am not banging on about how much work I have done for the Party and trying to denigrate the achievements of others. My point is that if you don't do that sort of thing then you will make the predictions of the Party dieing in the north a reality. I have been trying to explain that with the hardwork over the past 5 years of the whole ward team (and not just myself by any stretch of the imagination) we have turned round the ward and have achieved things we weren't even achieving in the 1980s (ie more councillors elected than ever before, greater membership numbers, greater active membership than in living memory). The situation doesn't need to get worse Stuart.

As for the BNP, we have been coming behind these people for many years now. However, in my experience they tend to stand where there is no opposition and the Tories are nowhere to be seen (paper candidates aside). You cannot turn around the fortunes of a national party in a few weeks of an election campaign, but if you are a party of opposition, against everything, then it is easy to pick up votes.

As for CF, I have no idea how many members there are. I have never played a full part in CF (apart from my 7 years on the university CF exec) preferring to put my efforts and time and energy into the local associations campaigns. I would encourage all CF members to stop posing within CF and get into your associations and make a difference there. (oh, and change the name of the group - why, if you are under 30, are you only the future of the party and not it's present?).

As has been said before, there are areas of very significant Conservative strength in the North, but equally, areas where we are almost (or actually) dying on our feet.

There is no substitute for getting out on the streets and delivering leaflets/communications with the electorate (which is why it's so ironic that this is frankly derided by many on the current Conservative leadership).

Conservative Future can and do play a critical role, but again, if they are coordinated properly.

As I've said before, at the last election, CF were campaigning in a ward in the centre of Liverpool and in Crosby - two areas where we had no chance of winning. This must have been demoralising to the individuals involved and frustrating to target seats nearby.

Equally, whilst as Mark Clarke says, CF numbers may be increasing and are generally dynamic, it's of little use if the Association is riven by factional infighting. Wirral West is a case in point here. If these people spent half the amount of time they spend bitching and carping, tramping the streets instead, they would already have a Conservative MP and wouldn't have lost so many Tory council seats over the last 10 years.

Yes but if the London Apparatchiki would get lost it would serve Conservatives better to use local radio coupled with synchronised print - flyers etc to focus on local themes in a focused and consistent manner.

The largest majority of any MP in Westminster is the Consultant Surgeon from Wyre Forest who knew his subject and gained trust...............just being focused on a key theme and being the expert makes the media much more interested

It is clear that those who think that all we need to do in the north is 'get out there and work a bit harder' are living on a different planet. We ARE doing that, the message however is not one many people want to hear. Crime and Immigration are huge issues up here but we need leadership from the centre before we can be successful on those.

Some comments also demonstrate a very southern or country (northern rural associations are as bad) ignorance of why people in our northern cities do not vote for us. Many of them blame us for the loss of traditional industries, the death of manufacturing, the end of the dock labour scheme etc etc. It's not just a simple as 'trying a little harder old boy.' It is that ignorance of the north which is as much our problem as is our image!

Posted by: Rob B | October 22, 2006 at 16:22


"CF were campaigning in a ward in the centre of Liverpool and in Crosby - two areas where we had no chance of winning. This must have been demoralising to the individuals involved and frustrating to target seats nearby."

This kind of stupidity is not new.

In the 1970s ago I was one of a group of YCs drafted to help a struggling constituency nearby.

We were all sent to spend hours canvassing a council estate where we had virtually nil chance of winning votes.

When I complained about the waste of resources I was firmly rebuked by the local YC Chairwoman for "snobbery" and told that it was fantastically important to show our faces on an estate which was not used to seeing Tories.

How wonderful. Sentiments worthy of a Cameroon. Sadly, we lost the seat, and by quite a small margin as it happens.

Rob B, I do not believe that just getting out there and working a bit harder, old boy, is going to turn the north of England blue at all.

However, as someone who comes from an old mill town in Greater Manchester (Ashton-under-Lyne), is ward chairman of one of the wards in that town (with just two farms making up the whole of the rural part of the ward - vastly outnumbered by two huge council estates) and presently lives in the city centre of Manchester, I think I have some experience of urban life in the north of England.

I have seen in many wards in Greater Manchester that very little work was done for many years and is still not being done. We AREN'T doing the leg work in sufficient areas to make the difference (partly through lack of will, mostly through lack of people). Having a local campaign run by local people actually getting out and meeting people and communicating with local residents CAN produce success.

That is, however, only a part of what the Party needs to do. I agree entirely that the leadership does need to change its attitude and language when addressing the kind of seats we were winning in the 1980s. They need to understand that many people do blame us for the closing of the heavy industry that many of these seats used to rely on heavily but do not credit us with the regeneration of these areas into the vibrant places they are today (Salford Quays, Manchester City Centre for two examples).

As for never canvassing on a council estate - how can the Party ever hope to represent the whole country if you aren't even willing to engage with great sections of the public. Afterall some of our most senior politicians lived on a council estate when they were young (David Davis probably the most famous at present). In a ward with two huge council estates that make up about half of the electorate we engage with the residents on the estates and we reap the reward by showing up on the council estates and taking our message to them. Though, Stuart, I do agree that during an election campaign with limited resources you should focus your energies on the areas you will gain more support.

Out of interest, can anyone here comment on how we came to beaten into third place by the BNP in Batley & Spen in May. This is precisely the sort of marginal seat (we held it from 1983 to 1997) we need to win a working majority.

It is about getting out there and not just working hard but cleverly with good local campaigns and genuine open minded local people. It has to start years before an election. Unfortunately as another post says, in some areas committees just live in the past and prefer to argue over why Elsie didn't but any of Emma's cake at the last coffee morning. We've got to bypass all that rubbish and getting just a few really committed younger members is nearly always the answer in triggering change,


We also need to regain some seats we held in 1987 to make up for those like Hazel Grove that are now out of reach.
The Liberal Democrat majority in Hazel Grove fell in 2001 & 2005 with the Labour vote rising and Conservatives remaining the clear challengers, if it falls in a General Election which is the Liberal Democrat's highest point in terms of total votes since 1992 and in percentage vote since 1987, then in a situation in which nationally the Liberal Democrat vote declines especially with the Gulf War declining as an influence there is no reason why with perhaps people switching against the trend last time returning to Labour and the Conservative Party possibly reversing what has been only a slight drop in the Conservative vote since 1997 that Hazel Grove might in the next General Election or two be a prospective win for the Conservative Party.

anorthern Tory @ 18.15 - I agree with what you say about council estates - we in Hammersmith & Fulham have always campaigned in them and and the votes obtained in them helped us win in 2005 and 2006!

Sorry - I know H&F is NOT the North - but I still thought the point was a fair one!

As I think everyone would accept, working council estates is extremely hard work but sometimes can yield results. BUT, they inevitably are not areas of natural support.

In associations with very few members and resources, wasting time on them whilst more productive areas are ignored is a nonsense.

This was my point above.

Steve, I agree with you, hence my comments. However, between elections there is nothing to stop even the worst associations making some effort with everyone in the wards/constituencies. We have gradually increased our scope of activity in the ward during the past few years as the number of active members has increased. However, even whe it was one man and his dog doing all the work we still leafleted the council estates - something some wards and constituencies with many active members won't do.

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