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I never visit conservatives.com.

I rarely go there because there is no interaction and the stories are almost always all over the newspapers before the party site gets round to them. Also it's bland.

The critical issues should be kept permanently up-to-date and the choice of what is a critical issue should not be a political choice to further general propaganda but should follow the topics chosen by visitors to the site.

This blog has a considerable number of adherents who rate our relations with the EU much higher than “lads’ magazines’ and ‘divorce’ but even it ignores something as important as the energy crisis which we face in which our orders come from Brussels `and over which the government has been dithering for years and is now running out of time. This dithering has also led to us paying more for our gas than other countries in Europe.

Neither Tory site is hard-nosed enough.

I think there needs to be more interaction with voters via the website. Links to petitions, surveys and local and single-issue campaigns should be included and the site should become much more of a forum for people taking a look at the party.

There should also be a section to petition David Cameron on certain issues (VED, tax, NHS) and the scope for people to send in local newspaper stories/anecdotes for us to use. All of these things would also be invaluable as a source of contact-data mining. No-one should be leaving the site without having interacted with it in some way.

I also think there should be more coverage of social events/voluntary projects on the site, as at the moment it appears to be a library of press releases and MP biographies.

Interesting point on single-issue subjects, that is certainly the way politics is going. The block thinking of the 20th century has been replaced by a more fine-tuned political perspective, with hopefully more scope for consensus and cross-party co-operation.

I always enjoy reading reports on world affairs at ConHome and perhaps the international content could be beefed up. I like to tour the internet and gander at political news stories that are breaking around the world, so perhaps if a thread was left open for international news, myself and others could add interesting links etc.

A section for international guest writers would be a real boon. I have certainly enjoyed the comments in the past from foreign commentators. Who knows, it might even be possible to aquire contributions from heavyweights like Rush Limbaugh or to balance things up Mike Papantonio? These men have a permanent finger on the political pulse.

what would I do with conservatives.com? .. I'd sell it - get a fair few bob for that domain name.

mrsawatch.com is taken:

but yes, I think that's a good idea to set up mini-sites on issues and be a bit more Web2.0 so that it's interactive and updated by all and not just a bunch of cobwebbed press releases

I've yet to see a political site achieve and interact the way gop.com does.

That site actually created competition amongst members with rankings of which group had raised the most members or donations in a week/month on a regional/national basis etc. It created healthy competition with a little bit of fame for the most successful members.

It also included integrated blogs (for both individuals and branches) thus enabling the party to benefit from the combined traffic (thus running ads and earning money for the party) and easily maintain templates that fit within the current party colour schemes etc.

I really wanted to try this with ukip, but the leadership still doesn't real appreciate the power of the net and the much larger member base of the Tories could make it a real winner.

On a side note, it is could to see that Labour still doesn't get the net with their new Number10TV site... ;-)

I only ever use it if I am looking for a very specific piece of information. For the most part the site is about as interesting and exciting as looking at a copy of PRAVDA used to wrap up cod & chips....

We do not yet in this country seemed to have cottoned on to the US method of raising finance via the internet. Surely this ought to be one of the things that the site essays in any new incarnation.

What would I do with Conservatives.com? Make it interactive would be a start. Give Conservative members the opportunity to comment on party policy,MPs performance, debates etc. This is a risk of course but at the moment it's very bland and gives me very little reason to visit.
I fear though that CCO will be very unwilling to allow dissenting voices on their website. I'd be delighted to be proved wrong, it would show that not every political party needs to stage manage everything.

Your post reads like a job application Mr Montgomerie!

I would agree better access to the party's vision ,policies and beliefs is important.

I would disagree with the second point. Political parties are in the business of running countries not in the business of championing causes or reporting news. They should be careful not to be confused with the others else they may no longer be seen as being capable of running the business of the nation.

There is a great risk that they could trivialise themselves or be seen as one-trick ponies, being pigeon holed on certain issues (as they managed over the EU and Immigration in the recent past without the internet) if there is too much focus on individual campaigns. It is essential to maintain a broad-tent approach. After all that is what running a country is all about.

Furthermore, I would also disagree with the third point as by nature they then become associated with those groups and individuals. Once associated any malfeasance relating to a 3rd party can also be used (fairly or not) against the Party and the Party has enough problems keeping it's own in check without further worrying about 3rd parties.

That said I would favour more of the type of open debate that was had over the policy reviews (oh that they had allowed the public to express their views on the democracy task force). It is true there was a lot of dross posted but I note that more than one policy announcement has directly or indirectly resulted.

As for Labour going down the route suggested by Tim - let them - they have already shown themselves as being little more than one trick ponies so let them acknowledge it.

I think that Conservative Home is good (and I am a self confessed member of a rival party). It is much better than any of its competitors. The views expressed here are generally well informed and thoughtful, the discussion is both robust and courteous and the editorial control is light but effective.

My only immediate suggestion is that perhaps you might like to broaden the range of contributors; that is the people who write the major articles and start the discussions. So, perhaps, you might invite contributions from some people who are not overtly political with, perhaps, the occasional "guest article" from prominent members of the Labour Party, the LibDems or, dare write it, UKIP?

A question, if I may? Is Conservative Home run as a labour of love or a business? Or both?

They should definitely hire Tim. Or alternatively get give Sam a call so he can draw DCs attention to it.

Sorry, I misread the question. Not a good way of passing an exam!

Conservatives.com is bland and boring with little to stimulate the mind. It would be much better if it moved in the direction of this excellent website.

I disagree with John and support the second point.

At some point we are going to have to free ourselves from financial dependence on Michael Ashcroft and his mates. We need more funding from ordinary people. Given that people don't join political parties in large numbers anymore we need to connect with people around the causes that matter to them. Europe. Environment. Third World aid. Gay Rights. Our funding needs to come from our connection with them on those causes.

Re a real frustration with this site. Is it worth pointing out to typepad that splitting comments into pages actually leads to more bandwidth usage as you are forced to scroll through all pages to get to the latest comments?

Why not simply add a 'last page' option instead of just previous and next?

Another point on this. The suggestions above only address potentially how the politically motivated might be better reached.

However, the real goal should be to reach the 50% plus of the electorate(40% of whom have not voted since 1997) who are not particularly politically motivated and who are hardly likely to visit Conservatives.com (or any other party web-site) on a regular basis.

It seems to me that the resources required to put in place such changes might be better spent in other ways.

"It is much better than any of its competitors"

Definitely true, but its going to be interesting to see how the left respond once they are ousted from power and ripped kicking and screaming out of their comfort zone. No doubt they will rally and with a Conservative government in place they will have something to aim and will be able to create an antithesis of sorts. This will mean a massive increase in online campaigning with the sort of blogpolitik that Conservatives have dominated thus far.

Hopefully ConHome will continue to be challenging and not lapse into its own comfort zone after all the hard work of electing a Conservative government is over. I look forward to seeing an angry left rising up on the internet after the Labour project is no more. Good opposition is always healthy.

"we need to connect with people around the causes that matter to them. Europe. Environment. Third World aid. Gay Rights. Our funding needs to come from our connection with them on those causes."

Most real voters are either hostile to these causes or, more probably, could not give a monkeys.

The voters actually care about the economy, the NHS, ever rising taxes (particularly the hated Council Tax), immigration and police (lack of).

I you don’t believe me, Felicity Mountjoy, then try knocking on a few doors during an election campaign and droning on about “Gay Rights”. I will not get you many votes outside Brighton.

Conservatives.com is currently totally irrelevant and little read by anyone.

As well as agreeing with CH's suggestions regarding headlining a handful of significant policies (that is if we actually have any) and initiating single issue campaigns I would proffer the following suggestions which I wholly expect to be roundly ignored by CCHQ as ever.

1) Have a separate party members only section with secure login on which we can make comments and suggestions and then (revolutionary idea this one) actually have someone at CCHQ read it every day and the Party Chairman read this section occasionally.

2) Make important announcements on the website first, not only after they have been widely reported elsewhere. At the very least ensure that when a press release is issued about something important that it is posted on the website at the same time. That will at a stroke make conservatives.com a must read.

3) Introduce a regular monthly "Ask Dave" section where anyone can email questions for the leader of thre Party to answer. Ideally some of the difficult and or hostile questions should get answered and not just the sycophantic or planted ones.

4) Introduce an Association or National Convention section, again accessible only by secure login, where the voluntary party can debate, inform and learn.

Felicity Mountjoy:

On what point - that political parties are in the business of running the country?

To answer you directly:

It is Labour's obsession with minority causes and tunnel visioned ideology that in good part has led to their current woes.

Whilst they focussed on those pet issues they took their eye off the important stuff and as a result their popularity is in the dustbin and their party membership is in the gutter.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives did not progress whilst they obsessed on their pet issues (some of which are close to my heart).

Only when the Conservatives ventured beyond their comfort zone into the areas of public interest did their fortunes improve.

A web-site spouting minority causes is not going to bring people back to the fold, it will just drive more away.

Our connection needs to be with the British people at large not the vested interests of single issue causes.

Mr Angry: Webcameron had your (3) (ASK DAVE) but dropped it for some reason. It was the only interactive part of it. Disappointing.

"Our connection needs to be with the British people at large not the vested interests of single issue causes."

I would think the idea of the mini-sites would be to extract the single issues from the main site, leaving the main site to concentrate on the big issues.

I would stop publishing boring press releases on topics that nobody cares about. The party should give space to shadow cabinet members to show that the Conservatives are a government-in-waiting. At the moment, is too focused on David Cameron. It seems that party is running a Blair-style Presidential campaign - very 1990s.

The Cameroons hate the members so do not expect too much interaction or member participation. They are only interested in a one-way dialogue and are not interested in members' opinions on policy. The CPF is a token exercise and frontbenchers only pay lip service to it.

Members are supposed to do as they are told, tramp the streets, get their cash out and not question the wisdom of Team Dave. Like Blair, the focus groups drive policy and message. That's why there are so many contradictory policies. If the public mood changes, policies like green taxes are soon dropped.

Cynical expediency rather a principled vision drives the Cameroon agenda. That's why voters still do not understand what Cameron stands. The opinion poll lead is due to a hatred of Brown's Labour rather than a love of Cameron's Conservatives. The lead is therefore soft. If Labour ditches Brown and elects a new Leader who is not tainted with Brownism, e.g. Milburn, Dave's opinion poll lead could shrink rapidly. Enjoy it while it lasts, it could be gone, like Brown, by the end of the year.

There are plenty of under-employed MPs. They should help with conservatives.com. A pro journo should be appointed as its editor. It also needs to be updated at weekends. If this site with just Tim can be updated at weekends then why can't the 300 employees of the conservative HQ ensure weekend cover?

Norm Brainer @ 1844 " leaving the main site to concentrate on the big issues."

The question then is (as I said at the beginning) WHO decides what are the big iussues?

They certainly are NOT 'Lads' Mags' and so much of the minutiae that occupy valuable space even here on THIS blog. There are a lot of eurosceptic would-be Tories that are getting increasing livid at Cameron's in ability to address the EU question, the credit crunch, or any of the big issues. Holiday book lists indeed - Pah!

Much more interactive spleen venting would be refreshing. i.e. "Would Party members vote on the continuance or otherwise of Ms Spelman remaining Chairman?" Could become very exciting. I believe the outrage on CHome., over Conway, brought an earlier reprimand than intially The Hierachy were going to do.

ps I think Guido generally is a magic site!

"The question then is (as I said at the beginning) WHO decides what are the big iussues?"

Well, if there's a minister for it then it's a big issue and can be talked about on the main site in general.

If talking about a specific policy/idea/event etc. then it can be shipped off to another domain/subdomain.

possibly.. it's not my idea, just how I could see it working!


If Labour ditches Brown and elects a new Leader who is not tainted with Brownism e.g. Milburn, Dave's opinion poll lead could shrink rapidly. Enjoy it while it lasts, it could be gone, like Brown, by the end of the year.

I think the vast majority of people know very well that it is not just Brown who is to blame and all those in the frame to replace him are tainted by Labour's 11 year march to failure. In anycase in the event of Brown's demise the unintended consequences of such an event may well be even worse for Labour than even they contemplate.

True the party must not be complacent and must continue to improve it's case that it is ready to take over Government but any change in the Labour leadership (the 3rd leader in less than 2 years) provides massive potential opportunities for the Conservative Party to further progress.

Marginally off thread, does anyone ever visit 'campaigntogether.com'?
I recall that it didn't even feature the Henley by-election.
Is it ever updated?

It might just be nice if the website gave an indication of what Conservatives believe in, without resorting to vague platitudes.

I wouldn't mind seeing a revamped shop on the party website. Maybe instead of just selling books, the party shop could sell items like mugs, t-shirts, lapel badges of the Party logo, ties and other party merchandise like on the GOP webstore.

Exactly what is the POINT of this thread?

Conservatives.com is 'about' to be relaunched? If it is 'about' to be relaunched then the content of the new site will have already been decided, so what is the point of inviting conhome visitors to suggest ideas?

If the editors of conhome are aware that the designers of the new site are likely to take comments on board then you should say so. Vaguely offering visitors to make suggestions about a site which is 'about' to be launched is a bit pointless otherwise. Fair comment?

I'd like to be able to start a new thread. Maybe I can already but I don't know how.

For instance. Has anybody noticed that in Scotland there are only two parties:Nationalists and Socialists?

National Socialists. Hmmm...

I also admit to never using the official site apart from as a source for officer and association contact details.

Interaction is the key as so many others have pointed out. As we all know, many shadow cabinet members have been good enough to post articles on CH. This has been done in the full knowledge that their thoughts will receive comments which may or may not be constructive. Overall the experience has been a positive one and having had a "dry run" of the concept on this site it would be easy and obvious to have the front bench undertake a similar exercise on the official site on a regular basis.

One slight tweak might be to air different policy proposals on particular issues and ask for comment before a final view is reached. There is a risk that members of other parties will try to hijack such a process but it is in line with the concept of candidate selection by open primary. It would be nice to have "real people" giving some input to the policy process as well.

"Real people" like me, you mean?

So what about these Nazis in Scotland?

Hardly ever go to it but on first impressions for the Frontpage.

1.) The banner at the top is taking up far too much valuable page real estate.

2.) The light blue colour for the headline text is too light, light colours don't provide enough contrast for easy header identification.

3.) The images on the right are too large relegating the actual content middle column to too small an area.

4.) RSS feed links are hidden at the bottom of the page in the footer section, Actually! Conservative Home should have an RSS feed! Can't believe you don't.

On the content point of view, I would like to see each area of policy separated into its own section with the Shadow minister who has its portfolio involved. News, developments, viewpoints, blog that sort of things.

There is other stuff, but its late. On that note! I eagery await the ConservativeHome RSS link which I can stick on my bookmark toolbar in Firefox

Within conservatives.com is the supporters resource section which I visit several times a day and use when appropriate to pass briefings onto Association mailing list members.

However, it is sad that it's main contributors come from and concern Wales and Welsh issues.

I have been a Party member for 35 years, I read many websites daily, but only visit conservatives.com when I need information from the secure site concerned with operational issues. It is not user friendly or attractive as it stands, and needs to become a 'must read'


I can assure you, as a very active member myself:

We do NOT want you to the tramp the streets and we don't want your money. All I ask is small minded, miserable members like yourself resign your membership if you are so upset with Mr Camerons leadership. The vast majority of us are more than happy with the fantastic position he as helped to put us in.

Conservatives.com is a dismal site which I hardly ever bother to visit. When the policy discussions were going on and we were asked to contribute, it felt like we were able to make a positive contribution. But that no longer happens. The weekly questions for DC were interesting for a while, but it became clear that only friendly questions were being answered. If you want to find out what policies have actually been adopted, this list is suspiciously brief and clearly is not being updated.

The presentation is dire. The light blue print is difficult to read on a laptop with the sun shining and looks wishy-washy and insipid. There is no sense that future policies or ideas can be properly discussed. It's not updated and is well behind the mainstream media, never mind the rest of the web.

Personally, I think the best thing to do with it is to get rid of it altogether and put a place on ConHome for policies that have been adopted. This website is where it is really happening.

Conservatives.com may not be brilliant, but it's a damn site better than Labour's. I just visited labour.org.uk and their front page photo has David Cameron.

I'd like to see Conservatives.com become more truly interactive. There is space to submit comments but frankly I do it so rarely that I keep forgetting my log-in details...!! I would like to get the CPF back to what the CPC used to be like - a real genuine forum for debate where views were passed on and acted upon. Let's have a proper online forum there.

Sara @ 00:52 - hear hear! I second what you say 100%. No one forces members to do anything. Those who help are glad to do so! iTory, If you want to join in with a glad heart then please stay, we welcome you - otherwise can I respectfully suggest you join the RSPB or the National Trust instead?

"Actually! Conservative Home should have an RSS feed! Can't believe you don't."

Do they not? ... all pages on here have the little orange icon for me!

It would be good to have a members only section on the site where people can discuss properly - and maybe even get listened to; unlike on here where any disagreement is seen by the media and then reported as a party split.

Conservatives.com suggestions:
1. Link to all Conservative MP blogs, all candidate blogs and all Conservative leaning blogs. Consider a daily 'wall' blog, to allow registered contributors to post their own topics and others to comment on them.
2. Last year's Built to Last consultation programme was a good start, but was at the wrong time of year, and not interactive enough. Put policy thinking on the site earlier in the process and ask for suggestions and comments. Risky, with our feral media, but once established it would be unique and appreciated by policy makers, members and supporters.
3. Regular 'live' Qs&As with Shadow Cab members, MPs and even candidates. Interviewees should be identified by members.
4. Petitions.
5. Online auctions and raffles, if legal.
6. For candidates: Guest articles on speechmaking, media handling and campaigning.
For all of us: Guest articles from think tanks, conservative thinkers and policy specialists.
7. Reading lists and book reviews.
I would see a new Conservatives.com as a core site featuring much of what is there now, with a looser-knit series of sites, blogs and features that are of interest to the wider conservative family and that are interactive.

Stop wasting time and money. Make Conservativehome the official website of the Conservative party.

They should definitely not let Tim M within a million miles of Conservatives.com - hes got his own "grass roots activists" website to play with

Mr Angry
"..Have a separate party members only section with secure login on which we can make comments and suggestions.."

The problem with that is it wouldn't be secure. For example someone working for FascistsReunited Weekly or its cuddly workers revolutionary counterpart simply has to become a party member to access it. If conhome gets mischievously cited as evidencing a split on whatever topic, think how much more so would be the case if the debate were occurring on the official party site.

Beyond that, its not for me to meddle in what the official site should contain.

However, I am prompted by the topic to wonder whether it is feasible for conhome to incorporate some sort of labelling for its posters. One does wonder about the occasional agent provocateur posing as a staunch Tory!

On this basis, each poster would be required to specify an allegiance when registering, whether specific or just 'floating voter'.

Each post would then be emblazoned with the relevant symbol.
E.g. Tory oak leaf/fig leaf - restricted to party members furnishing evidence of membership.

Other parties symbols as appropriate.

Doubtless a crap suggestion, per se, never mind technical feasibility - but just thought I'd mention anyway.

Ulster Tory is of the opinion that the official website should just be a portal to regularly updated and interactive websites run officially by CCHQ/Local associations or unofficially by members, BUT ALSO have a section for official press releases, a section for clear concise policies (in anything but PDF form - please!?!?), and a members only section for members only type things...

I also seldom visit Conservatives.com, I just find it rather boring and not particularly welcoming.

I think that Malcolm Dunn's suggestions @ 17.27 on 7/8, are a good idea, but the person with the best suggestions is, I think, Mr. Angry @ 18.38, with the addition of Luke Seaford's idea for a more comprehensive shop as well.

I thought at first that the idea for a seperate party members only section - with a log-in would be great news, until I read Ken Stevens comment @ 18.07.

If the website is going to work, like ConHome does, it HAS to be devised and set-up but someone or people who are really professional, and therefore realise exactly what is trying to be achieved and what the priorities are on the website.

I for one would very much like to see much more interaction between CCHQ, MP's and the web. You can reach so many more ORDINARY people on the web, than you can via Constituencies, and ordinary people can have ideas, just like more professional people, and sometimes they might just be landmark ideas!

Just to add an apology for not getting to this thread earlier, but my grandchildren were down for the week........

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