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I would also point out the decision to make huge investment in people and financial resources behind Conservative Future. Francis was always very supportive of CF. He was always available to attend event around the country and I discussed CF regularly with him. I found him totally committed to CF.

I think the only thing Francis Maude has ever said that I agree with was that we are not going back to Blackpool for Party Conference...

What? Francie Fraud, sorry, Maude is and was a disaster. He took every opportunity to berate the conservative base. He brought us the A-list, promoted people with questionable conservative credentials and been constantly loathed by the party base.

It's worrying that ConHome is starting grovelling to the Tory establishment like this, especially in this ode to a man who hates ConHome and the conservative movement in the country.

The Party Chairman is supposed to lead and inspire his troops; all Maude did was denigrate and criticise them - as well as promoting non Conservatives to positions of power and the Candidates list.

The Party will reap the whirlwind in terms of defections in a few years when these cuckoos fly back to their real political homes.

No tears for Maastrict Maude

Francis Maude was a terrific Chairman and it is a great shame that he has been moved. We should thank him for all his terrific work - INCLUDING bringing us more diverse candidates. He will be missed.

Francis Maude was late in coming to the modernising table, as many of his colleagues will tell you. Once he arrived he managed to alienate many who agreed with a more tolerant and open party. His biggest failure in my view was his inability to articulate to the grass roots what modernising the Party meant, perhaps because he didn’t know himself. I suspect he didn’t care and in his own ‘lofty’ way decided they were not worth bothering with.

Francis Maude deserves credit. Speaking as a modern, compassionate conservative these right-wing extremists calling him names only make us more unpopular. Maude's right when he says we have to increase taxes. Tories have increased taxes before and so should we to take millions out of poverty. We need more immigration, as Francis states, so we can become a more diverse country, forgetting our shameful past. On Europe, Francis signed the Maastricht Treaty, helping make us a part of the European neighbourhood of communities. Maude has tried to make our country and party better!

Let's forget the xenophobes and racists left in the tory party and move on with Cameron in power. Hopefully Francis will return to the Shadow Cabinet soon!

The Editor's comments about James McGrath are spot on and he deserves many more plaudits than he gets. He has been a towering strength in CCHQ, and kept the Maude show on the road much of the time. Spelman will be a million times poorer without him - not that I am particularly certain what it is she is being asked to do anyway in the light of the takeover.

A little OTT...I think this story would have kept better until Friday. Then we will be able to judge his decision to chose a by-election candidate who has been a party member for barely a month and on whom no background checks appear to been conducted to check his links...financial or otherwise with our opponents....

Francis Maude was the best possible chairman we could have, when he was chairman, because he implemented Dave's vital reforms to the Party. But equally Dave was of course right to sack Francis as chairman, because, er, he, uh, what's the line again Steve? Oh yeah: two Etonians good, four Etonians better! Oink! oink!

The Party needs to find a new role for James McGrath before he works out that he is far too talented to be working at CCHQ

FM did not confuse leadership with a popularity contest - he took risks and was not afraid to do the unpopular thing.

Whatever you may think about the individual decisions, on that basis, I conclude he served well.

Good piece. But might have waited until Friday.

I think this eulogy is overexaggerated in all respects.

I don't want to get personal but the legacy left by these characters is not as rosy as painted.

The HR and Press operations have gone backwards. A lot of other internal problems remain.

At least Caroline Spelman will give the place a more decent and kindly feel. I fear she doesn't have the mandate to exert major change but she can boost morale.

My God, that picture shows how much it aged him.

Posted by: Cameron's Conservative | July 18, 2007 at 10:07

Good joke! I enjoyed the wind up above.

Maude hasn't left a legacy - just a bad taste in the mouth. Metaphorically speaking he died intestate and bankrupt.

It would be a staggerringly stupid own goal to lose James McGrath.

James McGrath had good cause to feel hard done by CH sometimes, but he is always very friendly in a genuine way.

I sympathise with Mike's comment. He's certainly earned the right to join the corporate world to work less and earn far more, but I hope he stays with the party and I think his idealism will make him inclined to do so if HQ is savvy enough to give him a good offer.

I'd also like to make it clear that it would be wrong to discriminate against James for being Australian, he can't help it:

"I do hope that staff at Conservative HQ aren't letting the party's new watery-green image turn their brains to cabbage.

I'm told that the amiable chief of staff to party chairman Francis Maude, James "Crocodile Jim" McGrath, is going to admirably daft lengths to flaunt his environmental credentials.

He has taken to picking up old golf tees around his local course, The Drift, East Horsley, to avoid forking out for a new packet in the pro shop. Fellow players have reportedly begun referring to him as "Swampy".

"Jim decided that it's not environmentally friendly to keep buying new packets," says a fairway rival.

"I, on the other hand, reckon he is just tight-fisted."

I was horrified when Howard appointed Maude and very disappointed when Cameron kept him on.

Nothing he has done since has altered my opinion of him one iota.

It is highly questionable as to whether CCHQ 'modernisation' under Maude has done anything to make the Conservative Party more credible or electable. Compare Maude to other reforming Chairmen and he comes up very short in the results department.

When Tony Blair made his jibe about Maude being 'tieless, shoeless and clueless' he was not far wrong.

Maude suffered from a confused ideology, and a degree of self loathing.

Both limited his ability to provide leadership, and it is cathartic that he was fired, but does not restore the party organisation to its pre Maude moral. In this respect his tenure will be seen as causing permanant damage.

When the post Cameron era comes, there may be a reassertion of those with conviction which may start to inspire the grassroots. Until then the situation is best described as a sceptical party down-tooling and watching "the charge of the lightweight brigade."

The memebership figure tell a truly awful tale and are being hushed up. Over 80,000 people can't be wrong.

One of the things missing from your list of achievements Tim is the increase in number of female candidates. You may not have approved of the priority list but it did succeed in increasing the number of women in our top target seats... as you hasd to acknowledge last week.


The commitment to a primary election in London is also an innovative reform.

The negative posts above are all to Francis Maude's credit, for the first duty of a Conservative Party Chairman is to be unpopular. I mean this quite seriously. The party needed (and needs) to modernise its structures substantially. I'm not talking here about candidate selection - which understandably concerns ConHome readers more than most - but about simple structural changes, above all deploying resources away from the safe seats where they are least needed.

Conservatives are, appropriately enough, conservative. They are naturally predisposed to resist change. So a Party Chairman who craves popularity with the Associations will do nothing, leaving the party with structures and mechanisms designed in the 1950s when few voters had a telephone. Luckily, Francis Maude had no hang-ups about wanting to be liked. In consequence, he did more, logistically, for the Tory party than any of his more immediately popular predecessors.

In the longer term, I suspect that this will be recognised, and his stock will rise commensurately.

I have to disagree with Daniel Hannan. I can’t believe he is seriously suggesting that the role of the chairman is to be unpopular, which Maude certainly has been. In the corporate world it is the CEO (David Cameron) who decides the appropriate strategy. It is the chairman who liaises with the various stakeholders (In the corporate world, shareholders, media, unions etc) to insure there is clear understanding of that strategy. As I’ve said before, Maude’s greatest failure was to articulate and bring people with him. That is the sign of either a stupid or weak chair – you decide which.

I completely disagree with Daniel Hannan on Maude's legacy.

Francis Maude was a complete disaster. Thanks to him people attack CCHQ all the time which can only harm morale. I believe there are some good people at CCHQ and they deserve encouragement.

However, Daniel is right on candidate selection. The whole Candidate's Department is a disgrace and there should be total change starting with the poisonous Sireen Ritchie.

By introducing the anti-male Priority List (including the current sexist selection rules), Francis Maude sexually discriminated against me on the sole basis that I am a man.

I cannot forgiven him for this. Ever.

I cannot forgiven him for this. Ever.

But at least you now understand why so many other groups also cannot forgive us.

Look at it another way, z-list. Priority candidates were adopted early, largely in tight marginals where a lot of work is required with no guarantee of success. You on the other hand may well be able to pick up a rock solid safe seat when the election is announced and there are the inevitable retirements.

Francis gave the sleeping lion the nudge it needed.

He had the vision and courage to make the necessary changes to the Party's organisation and structure. Theresa May got the ball rolling and the Party is lucky that Francis was chosen to continue in this vein after the Fox/Saatchi Chairmanship.

Francis knew there was no quick fix to the Party's problems, particularly in relation to the Cities, and alot of his work was slow burning and done under the radar.

If the Party is serious about winning again, it must represent Britain better, select more people from the real world and increase the number of women candidates.

Not all members might be happy with change but they should remember that when they voted for Cameron, they voted for just that.

It is not the Chairman's job to be popular. It is his or her job to get tough and ensure that the organisation is best placed to win. It's tough and it's thankless but Francis did it because he wanted to make the Party roar again.

The only dissapointment I have is that he has been replaced.

I hope that the Party manages to hold on to James before he is snapped up by someone else. Despite what some members say on Conhome, there is real talent at CCHQ and he is a shining example.

Hear hear about James McGrath. Tough job and he did very well. He will make LOTS of money in the private sector... I hope.

Francis Maude's worst legacy was to reduce the democratic rights of the rank & file.
He did this by supporting the Board in its decision (April 23rd 2007)to prevent the members from democratically de-selecting any incumbent MEP - no matter how disloyal - no matter how unpopular.

His other gaffe was to discontinue the very lucrative Winter Ball. This has cost the Party more than a million pounds a year in income.

Caroline Spelman should correct both of these serious mistakes asap.

Frank: I have my differences with Francis Maude about party democracy but I understand that the party board's recommendation on MEP selection would have been worse without his interventions.

M Malone – If the Party is serious about winning again, it must represent Britain better, select more people from the real world and increase the number of women candidates.

Of this I don’t disagree, but winning is about taking people with you. Your attitude is that if you don’t like it tough – do you feel the same way about the electorate, or is it just Party activists? Actually it was Maude’s job, in my view, to go out and sell why we need to change. Just to say they voted for Cameron and that’s it is to say in the least just arrogance. I suggest that it’s this arrogance that is at the heart of the problem.

Whether it’s those that work in CCO, those on the candidates list or the grass roots – they are all working for the same thing, a Conservative government. But unless they are involved and consulted you have no advocates – that’s the job of the Party chair. My advice to the new chair would be to get out there and start building bridges.

I doubt McGrath would make much in the private sector. Lets be honest he was an oily rag. A very friendly, prodcutive and efficient one. But an oily rag. Simon Cawte is cut from the same cloth and will perform basic admin to the same efficiency.

They aren't strategists. Perhaps there is a need for one working with the Chairman. But that isn't the role they were given and certainly not one they have ever performed.

If this thread does have any merit then it is in deciding what Maude did right and what wrong and what legacy is passed on.

There can't be any merit in exaggerating roles performed by those no longer holding them.

Editor – I find it spineless that so many people on this sight are prepared to criticise and in many cases insulting, but then hide behind some pseudonym. At least have the conviction of your views and lets us all know who you are.

Chris King - I believe that many will share my view that the changes made by Francis to the Party organisation were worthwhile and prove to help the Party in the long run.

Francis toured relentlessly around the country, consulting with Party colleagues and spreading DC's message but you can't win everyone around.

Francis worked hard to bring people along and yes, sometimes he had to talk tough to get that support, like at Party Conference 2005. He helped the Party to realise that it had to change fundametally to win. David Cameron agreed with this and so did the Party faithful who voted for him.

M Malone - yes of course, which is why David Cameron sacked him.

Which many believe was a mistake.

Maude's legacy

1) Record support for UKIP

2) Record support for the BNP

3) The highest membership resignation rate, certainly for 15 years, if not the highest ever.

I have to say that I am very disappointed at the quite uncharacteristically sycophantic editorial for this piece. Is it a coincidence that it follows in the immediate aftermarth of l'affaire Bercow earlier this week, where the editor ran a legitimate story on the basis of three credible sources, and as such, should have stood by it.

All of this seems very strange.

In short, ConHome must remain totally independent, and be seen to be so. Otherwise it is worthless.

It is incredibly sad that Maude is no longer Chairman and that McGrath does not have a leading role in Central Office. The loss of two great examples of talent, knowledge and expertise is a heavy burden on the shoulders of the Party.

Pre-Maude every individual who held the Office of Chairman did it and ran it as a pre-leadership election role. Davis, Fox, May and Ancram all wanted to be Party Leader and so if someone is in that situation they will be unwilling to make the difficult decisions and changes that are necessary for the Party to ever return to Government. Maude wasn't interested in becoming a Leader and dedicated his two years as being solely a Chairman and getting the job done.

No-one is perfect but Maude achieved a great deal and was incredibly successful. When Cameron becomes PM, it is mostly down to Cameron but a huge part is the result of Maude's hard work.

He will be sorely missed.

Michael bates used to be my boss. He's an excellent guy, and he could be quite effective. It would be good, too, if he could win back one of the northern seats. He would be an effective minister as well.


Maude is an appalling individual.

He was one of the first, after Portillo, to go off on the PC 'Modernisation' ego-trip.

And of course, like several other people we could mention, he was previously masquerading as a 'Hardline Thatcherite'

Good riddance.

If the Party is serious about winning again, it must represent Britain better, select more people from the real world and increase the number of women candidates.

What you mean people like 'ethnic' millionaires, gay millionaires, millionaire authoresses etc.

When I see a few candidates who are dustmen and dinner-ladies I may moderate my contempt for this windy PC tosh.

As always when reading threads like this I can quite understand why Theresa May made her 'percieved as the nasty party' remark. She was right.

And of course, like several other people we could mention, he was previously masquerading as a 'Hardline Thatcherite'.

Who would you have in mind? Not a certain former Monday Club member recently tipped for defection perchance?

How so, Malcolm?

I think the Editor's right to recognise Francis Maude's achievements - some I hadn't thought of, actually. I have a few other things that were achieved on his watch, for which I don't think his critics here give him enough credit. He set in train in the latter half of 2005 a lot of work - boring, unglamourous backroom stuff which helped build up our campaigning infrastructure. I'm think of things such as recruiting and training more agents, replacing our campaigning software, establishing regional campaign centres, and encouraging groupings and federations.

I think we do need to do more to endourage reforms in some Associations on the ground, building both capability in target seats and capacity in Conservative-held seats to offer more campaign support - Daniel Hannan's comment above is bang on the money on this one.

I knew this thread would inevitably touch on the changes to candidate selection. A word in defence of the Priority List (well, you wouldn't expect me to shy away from an unpopular position, would you?). No it didn't achieve everything we needed, but it got a job done. We said we were going to get more women selected for winable seats, and we did. You can't argue with delivery on that - we need to take that spirit of setting a goal and then getting it done rapidly into other parts of our organisation.

You can't argue with delivery on that - we need to take that spirit of setting a goal

It's easy to score a goal when you move the goalposts, Richard.

The object should be for each association independently to choose the best candidate available, regardless of sex, colour or creed.

I have no problem with women candidates. The greatest leader of our party in the past half-century was a woman. Nothing wrong with that.

My solicitor, accountant, architect and managing agent are all women - chosen on merit - not from an A-list.

The party demeaned itself with this gross and cowardly act of Political Correctness.

My solicitor, accountant, architect and managing agent are all women

You forgot to mention your vicar...

I have to admit that if Maude has irritated Northern Tory at 1852 then Maude has done a superb job as Chairman

Yes as you mention it my vicar is a woman, and I have enormous admiration for her.

I was once opposed to women priests, but through the manifest goodness and piety of the women ministers I encountered I came gradually to realise that it was God's will that women as well as men should be called to serve Him as priests.

Some changes are good. Many are bad. It's not difficult to tell the difference.

The party demeaned itself with this gross and cowardly act of Political Correctness.

That is, as Boris Johnson might say, "an inverted pyramid of piffle", although I'm obviously not shocked by that. This shouldn't be a row about candidate selection, which I seem to have inadvertantly inflamed (it never seems to be hard around here!) It was one tool, TT - which did actually deliver some desired results. End of story as far as I'm concerned. I do think that your response is a little demeaning to the people I know who were selected from that list - they were talented campaigners with whom I had worked in the past and I would gladly do so again.

I agree with you that we do still need to do more going forward, both centrally through CCHQ and the Candidates' Committee, and in Associations, on selection. We still need to have a serious response to the very difficult issues of financial exclusion that might face some potential candidates, as well as keeping encouraging a diversity of backgrounds among candidates. More people with real experience in our public services, for exaample, as you cite.

By the way, broadening our focus from the candidates issue, what do you think about the other positive organisational steps I highlighted in my post - more professionals, groupings, resource centres etc? Another thing that I welcomed was a recognition of "development seats" as well as target seats in our strategy.

what do you think about the other positive organisational steps I highlighted in my post - more professionals, groupings, resource centres etc?

Not much, because those are merely a continuation of processes that have been going on for years - in many cases none too successfully.

You might as well measure the success of the head of the Civil Service by the number of paperclips issued during his tenure.

Cameron has the same problem as Thatcher. He is surrounded by a small clique of europhiles who can get media support more easily than he can.

Maude has done many good things, but if the EU issue was important in 1990 pre-Maastricht, it is buring in 2007 as they try to impose the Constitution.

Cameron has decided to fight.

It will draw withering fire down on his head from all media. Within his own party he faces Ken Clarke openly europhile, and Hague who is covertly europhile and a smallish bunch of europhile MPs who would happily knife Cameron and this country given a chance. Quentin Davies is an exmaple of how they will work to undermine Cameron now he has decided to fight the Constitution.

Maude has been happy enough to see a few more europhiles recruited into the party. In my view this negates much of the good he has done, although much good has been done to the party's image under his watch.


Francis Maude as Chairman was very supportive of us in Newcastle and when other prominent MP's could not find a space in there diary. Without the encouragement of people such as Francis the positive signs we are seeing with more active members may not now be occurring.

On another point I have read with disappointment some of the comments made on this site about Francis and James as well. I find it unacceptable that either are allowed to be criticised by people who hide behind pseudo names.

"Well, the image of Maude's malevolent scowl and hooded snake-like eyes is certainly memorable. I suppose it's possible such a sinister individual"

"Traditional" Tory, is there anyone in the Conservative Party whom you have a good word for?

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