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Is it true that Francis Maude also has numerous outside business interests? I'm all for people with outside experience getting involved with politics but not as part-timers. None of Hague, Letwin and Maude (if I'm right) are really focused on their important portfolios.

George Osborne would be the right appointment. He has the complete trust of Cameron. He ran his successful leadership campaign. He used to work at CCO. He's my choice. In opposition the chairmanship is a vital job. It would not be seen as a demotion.

I think Grayling would be a good appointment. Loves attacking Labour, hasn't been connected with anything that's upset the grassroots and is a pretty good speaker.

Some very thoughtful posts above. George has proved a very weak Shadow Chancellor and so might be a smart move for Dave to look at organisation, strategy etc. The unspoken part of project Cameron is the continued, relatively deep collapse of even safe associations as membership and fundraising dwindles at the local level.

Alas CCHQ Spy is right. The problem with Hague and Maude is that they are not working full time on their current roles. Letwin also seems to be disengaged from these policy statements.

Where is the rebirth of our Northern operation from Hague? Has he sorted out our wandering MEPs? Alas no. So leave him in place to ensure continuity and be held accountable for his performance.

One solution to the Chairman problem is to appoint a full time CEO (not an MP) like the LDs have in Rennard who focuses on the running of CCHQ and the regional operations. That would enable an MP to be the Chairman.

Francis has too many outside interests but he is also an MP and that is just too many roles for a Chairman unless they have a CEO.

Grayling is an interesting suggestion. My only worry is that he's an ideology-free zone. Does he believe in anything? Perhaps it doesn't matter. Perhaps Cameron just needs loyalty and competence from his Chairman?

"George has proved a very weak Shadow Chancellor"
Have to disagree with you there, I think he has managed to stand up well to the "clunking fist" by being effective in attacking and undermining him. George Osborne should take a lot of the credit for highlighting some of Brown's weaknesses and failures as a chancellor over the last 18 months.

"Liam Fox... is well-placed to perform the Willie Whitelaw role..."

I am sorry but this notion is so far-fetched that I can't believe it is anything other than satire.

What is needed is three or four very strong performers at the top, ie Cameron, Hague plus a couple of others (no doubt including Davis in the Home Office brief). There has to be an air of unbending unity of purpose and permanence about them so that the public can readily envisage them occupying the real positions. This means very little chopping and changing. The rest just need to look the part and behave.

a new party chairman would help David Cameron to survive these difficult times

So in The Telegraph's opinion, Cameron's leadership is under threat. A paper with its finger truly on the pulse of politics.

Scotty. Try working in the City like I do and saying that with a straight face. I went to a private dinner with him a few months back with a number of economists and bankers and he was truly dire: weak on policy and vision.

I fail to see why - if it is true - it is more welcome that Bridges will take a hands on control over policy. It was his obsession with focus groups which led to immigration dominating the last election campaign, his idea for the simplistic and unappealing ten words which effectively formed the manifesto and his slogans "let down by Labour" and "Labour are all talk" which manifestly did not work.

It is ironic that at a time when the Conservative party is allegedly changing and modernising so many back room people are able to reinvent themselves at will and position themselves in DC's slipstream.

Francis Maude has been an utter failure at CCHQ. No, worse than that . . . a complete disaster.

No one has done more to alienate activists. No one has done more to create an atmosphere of near total distrust between the voluntary party and activists and no MP is more disloyal to colleagues.

We need change2win now!

The removal of the unpopular Francis Fraude would be welcomed with almost universal applause. If the Party were a democratic one - and members were allowed to vote on this - he would be gone already.

Bringing back a democrat like William Hague would be wonderful, although it is most unlikely he would want the job.

It is essential for the morale of the Party that we have someone in the post whose views are more in tune with the membership.

Hague is not a democrat, Frank. He supported Michael Howard on taking the leadership vote away from party members.

I think you mean that Hague is SHADOW Foreign Secretary!

Boris for Party Chair! Grayling is too talented to be dumped in that position, as is Hague.

I agree. We have to get rid of Maude. He is a total shocker.

Look at Gillingham - see how Maude is trying to stuff his last time Labour opponent down the throats of that association. What about the Candidates' Department with Maude in charge? Packed to the rafters with what Maude himself calls mincing metrosexuals and all the rest of it.

Is it any surprise that so many selections have gone to deadbeat locals when associations would rather vomit than take the Central Office clone?

The real shame is that Maude has already done the damage - too much of the next Parliamentary intake will be an odd combination of "local" knuckle draggers who struggle to string a sentence together and Maude's mincing yes people who would struggle to hold down any portfolio - assuming that they do not defect back to the party from whence they came.

Whatever happens now, Maude has given us a quality problem and we all stand to lose from that.

Aristeides I totally agree with you - surely the comment comparing Fox with Whitelaw has to be ironic?! I can't imagine two people more different.
The Party Chairman's role is often seen as a "poisoned chalice" and it is a very difficult one. I certainly think Boris would be a popular choice but would he want to do it?

Not keen on Miss Widdecombe -so far as I know , she was anti England , ie any specific representation for England , when last asked . She answered that the British parliament is ok for the English but Scottish parliament for Scotland just wonderful . Usual brainless received PR rubbish .

Hague might be all right .

Boris Johnson would be fine .

Osbrone has been building respect among the City and financial journalists for his considered proposals for a Tory government eg tax cuts aimed at businesses, reforms to MPC appointments.

Under Osborne Labour and particularly Brown's economic reputation has taken a battering. This is a real achievement. He was also instrumental in prolonging the pensions story.

One can't help feeling that this site's support for Osborne as Shadow Foreign Secretary is motivated by his well-known neo-con views.

What are the skills needed to be party Chairman? In my opinion, inspirational man manager and superb organisational ability are two of the absolute prerequisites. Do any of the above names fit this profile? I think not. I have never quite understood why the party chairman is always an MP. Is this for any reason other than convention? Otherwise my vote would be for someone like Lord Ashcroft.
Neither Osborne, Hague or Fox have delivered any outstanding successes in their positions as yet.All I think should be given a bit more time to prove themselves.

'Is it true that Francis Maude also has numerous outside business interests?'

Well CCHQ Spy, you could always look at the Register of Members' Interests. This link should work:


I'm surprised a self-styled insider such as yourself didn't think of that.

Position of Chairman is the second most important position within the Conservative Party next to that of Leader at present. Person needs to be both high profile and have the foresight to keeping modernising the Party. To replace Francis Maude with Hague, Davis or Fox would be a back word step. None of the three touted by the Telegraph as replacements for the forward looking Maude are modernisers and have at times simply catered for the Grassroots (pre-Cameron). To go back along this root would be a disaster and probably mean electrical defeat and I will cite 2001 and 2005 as examples. Of course many in the grassroots will not accept this and some will simply say we should try harder on the same policies.

Reason for Maude’s lack of popularity with grassroots members is in part a rejection of modernising the Party. Maude is a lightning conduct of discontent for those who hanker back to days that never existed. If Cameron does think Maude needs replacing and I hope he does not then at least let it be George Osborne to be the man to carry on in every sense of the word. Conservative Party is now beginning to look like a Centre-Right Party ready for Government not a wacky warehouse full of eccentric right wing ideas that are not shared (or is some cases tolerated) by the British public. That wacky warehouse is now I believe operated and manned by UKIP.

Bloomin' heck! No wonder Maude is such a useless party chairman . . . he's never there! He seems to chair a whole load of companies and is pressing the collect button on a load more as a non exec. He's the detail:

- Benfield Group Limited, from 2 May 2002 (non-executive deputy chairman from March 2003); reinsurance brokerage.

- Benfield Limited (non-executive) from 4 November 2004), wholly-owned subsidiary of Benfield Group Ltd.

- Prestbury Holdings PLC (chairman) from 1 August 2002; non-investment financial services.

- Jubilee Investment Trust PLC (non-executive chairman), from October 2002; an investment trust.

- Globalink International Ltd. (non-executive chairman from January 2004); provider of telecommunications services.

- Mediasurface (non-executive director from 26 August 2004); a web management software provider.

- The Mission Marketing Group (non-executive chairman from 1 February 2006); an advertising group.

- UTEK Corporation Inc (non-executive); a technology transfer company based in the US and listed on the Alternative Investment Market in London.

- Member of Barclays' Asia-Pacific Advisory Committee.

And, nice if you can get it . . .

"Receipt of a discount card on the purchase of shoes from Russell and Bromley, which has the potential to be of registrable value."

. . . after all, he must be wearing out a lot of shoe leather travelling from board meeting to board meeting.

Further to your post of 13.04 Distributionpolitics Editor I suppose you think an 'electrical defeat' is a bad thing? Personally I'm all for it as I hate electricals!
Distributionpolitics Editor, a weird name ,a weird guy!

Russell & Bromley and they have become rather tacky and down-market. Francis Maude should go to a proper shoemaker such as George Cleverly (Hague's), Edward Green or Trickers. With all those non-exec salaries, he can surely afford to.

Can we have Party Chairman who looks and dresses like a real Conservative? Hague cuts the mustard but too many of our MPs, including Dave, dress like PR and marketing spivs.

Whatever Maude did in the name of 'modernisation' was done in good faith. The problem has been that the so called modernisers never understood that the electoral pendulum and the shifts change every 10 years. They are too overawed by the success of new labour that they cannot see that the electorate is going through a sea change and what we require is less nannying and less political correctness.

Maude should have gone last year - and be replaced by Chris Grayling or William Hague.

Most important of all, Cameron, Osborne and their coterie should refrain from attacking the grassroots. The liberal media will trumpet it as a victory for the fanatical right wing, but I am convinced that the country as a whole is now ready for a clean break from the New Labour project.

"Otherwise my vote would be for someone like Lord Ashcroft."
I think that Lord Ashcroft would be an excellent choice, but would he be able to do it full time? Not having a full time chairman since Cameron was elected has been a mistake especially with all the changes being implemented.

Thank you Tom.

This is what the Register says about Francis Maude:

"MAUDE, Rt. Hon. Francis (Horsham)

1. Remunerated directorships
Benfield Group Limited, from 2 May 2002 (non-executive deputy chairman from March 2003); reinsurance brokerage.
Benfield Limited (non-executive) from 4 November 2004), wholly-owned subsidiary of Benfield Group Ltd.
Prestbury Holdings PLC (chairman) from 1 August 2002; non-investment financial services.
Jubilee Investment Trust PLC (non-executive chairman), from October 2002; an investment trust.
Globalink International Ltd. (non-executive chairman from January 2004); provider of telecommunications services.
Mediasurface (non-executive director from 26 August 2004); a web management software provider.
The Mission Marketing Group (non-executive chairman from 1 February 2006); an advertising group.
UTEK Corporation Inc (non-executive); a technology transfer company based in the US and listed on the Alternative Investment Market in London.

2. Remunerated employment, office, profession etc
Member of Barclays' Asia-Pacific Advisory Committee.

9. Registrable shareholdings
(b) Prestbury Holdings PLC."

Some very thoughtful posts above. George has proved a very weak Shadow Chancellor

Interesting to hear this confirmed by someone (MH) who's right on the spot in the City.

Personally I've thought this for months. We need a 'grown-up' as Shadow Chancellor and Hague is just the man.

All seem agreed that Maude has been appalling as Party Chairman. We need somebody the grassroots like and trust and either Fox or Widdecombe would fit the bill admirably.

Traditional Tory,
I originally wanted Hague to be shadow chancellor when Cameron took over, but now my view has changed. Hague is a part time shadow foreign secretary as it is, there is no way he ought to take over Osbourne's role if he can't commit himself to it 100%.

Osbourne might have a squeaky voice but at least he's committed to the role, and a lot of what he comes out with is good stuff. All in all he's not perfect for the role but at the moment he's the best we've got.

I hear what you say Chris.

Let's all agree that Maude must go. Even the Notting Hill Set seem to be at one on that.

I am appalled at all these people that refer to Maude as a moderniser. The cheap shoes may be modern, but filling your boots while serving as a MP is very old hat!

So we all agree on this thread that Maude must go.

Editor - can you include the question in the next Con Home poll?

Inside Out: In the last survey 44% of members were happy with Francis Maude and 46% unhappy.

I have to say I generally find the shadow cabinet an uninspiring bunch.

Maude is lazy. We can't go into a general election with a chairman who can't work hard.

Editor - the question I suggest is not approval, but (no) confidence.

One of the stories that Conservative Home has consistently NOT covered from its polls is the consistent unpopularity of Francis Maude as party chairman.
Quite frankly, I am embarrassed to have to defend Mr Maude as our great party's chairman; he seems totally hostile to the membership and to the history and values of the party he claims to represent. Yet he has also totally failed to convince the public that the party is changing!
Its about time Cameron put somebody into the chairman's role that will offer some sort of olive branch to the membership-particularly if he wants to keep us on board next time he wants to make a major announcement on changing the party, its policies or its values.
Meanwhile, Mr Maude should be dumped from the frontbench altogether!

John Hayes MP for Chairman. He writes the most intelligent material on party organisation and strategy. He woiulkd make Cameron into a winner. Hague's tired material from yesterday with no ambition and a liking for the euro superstate.

I don't quite understand the hatred for Maude that so many display on this blog. Was the A list his idea? No. Have we done well in local elections on his watch? Yes. The only byelection has been Bromley and Chiselhurst which we won with a candidate who was very easy for the opposition to attack. So Maude deserves some credit.
On the other hand he gave a fairly inept performance on Question Time and does at times seem very politically correct.Whether CCHQ is managed well or not is for others with more knowledge to say. It's a tough job and I cannot see an obvious MP as a successor.
I trust you are joking Henry, (Tapestry) John Hayes is a good guy but I don't think his politics chimes with the leadership or that he could be the unifying force which this position demands

On the other hand he gave a fairly inept performance on Question Time and does at times seem very politically correct.

I don't know about non-PC. It was Maude who claimed that the 'homophobic' Thatcher government caused the death of his brother from AIDS.

Apart from the fact that his brother was clearly the only person to blame for his own tragic fate, Maude himself voted for the fabled 'Section 28'. Self-hating homophobe, or just a crazy mixed-up middle-aged man in a hurry?

Maude has said publicly 'I'm passionate about the equality agenda'.

Long before anybody had heard of Cameron Maude started 'banging on' about the new liberal agenda then being pioneered by Portillo and Bercow. He hasn't stopped since.

Bruce Anderson is certainly not my favourate political columnist, but on the subject of Maude he is absolutely to the point.

'He is the worst Tory chairman of all time...Brooding over the years, Francis Maude has virtually come to blame the Tory political culture of the 1980's for his brother's death. This is adolescent, self-indulgent nonsense...Francis Maude seems to wish to take revenge for his family's problems on the Tory faithful'

So it seems we're all agreed. Time to ring down the curtain on this struggling member of the cast.

He really needs to spend more time with his family

I think that the main cause of the hatred for Mr Maude amongst the party members is not actually that he has called for change or supported change (after all, there is no hatred for Cameron who is driving through the changes). The problem is that Mr Maude has gone over and above the call of duty in putting down the party.
He no longer sounds like he just wants change, he seems to be embarrassed to be a Conservative! The membership find him insulting.
Yes we have won local elections on his watch-no thanks to him, I hasten to add! We have won due to the hard work of members on the streets and Mr Maude has always been on call on election night to AGREE with the media that we are still doing very badly! He doesn't seem to know when to stop; I suspect that if the party won 99% of the vote, he'd still be moaning about some Liverpool ward that we failed to win!
Furthermore, he just doesn't do well on TV either. Sooner he's gone, the better.


I agree some of the comments re Maude seem a bit extreme. Do you or anyone else know if he was as ardent a fan of the previous leaders Thatcher, Major, Hague, IDS, and Howard as he appears of Dave?

Let's move on from discussing Francis Maude now please. Enough, perhaps too much, has already been said.


Lets look at this a slightly different way. What we need to do is build up a consistent top team of say 3 people from the shadow cabinet. Cameron should appear more often with them and we should build up trust and a strong Govt-in-waiting image. We haven't got armies of big hitters so we need to get the top three right first and keep them there,


Lets get someone in who can sort out the organisational issues. For example:

1. Getting the best agents in the tightest marginals
2. Convincing party activists to telephone canvass
3. Make sure the literature gets the right message over the right time
4. Sort out Party Finances
5. Get determined and driven people in the key campaigning roles
6. Better training for agents
7. Ensuring that on election day, party activists stop mucking about in safes and spend all day in key targets

Who, I don't mind. But it has to be someone with a big talent for delivery, just as Labour has the very talented Matt Carter whose planning and targetting ensured that Labour kept key marginals 2 years ago

I dont care who is Party Chairman as long as they sack Maude.

Not joking Malcolm. Hayes would be first class and pull the membership powerfully behind Cameron.

What about Liddington?

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