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Chris Grayling I think! Certainly not Baroness Warsi who as I keep reporting is talking herself up for the role in these parts.

All your candidates are sitting MPs. They will inevitably be looking at their next job after being Party Chairman. What is required is a Chairman who can do 3-5 years in the post, so tackle the long term problems of organisation in the Party. Some one like Lord Ashcroft for example.
With eight Party Chairmen in the last ten years it was inevitable that they would only be looking at the short term. We need some long term thinking, particularly regarding membership.

There is no vacancy. Something that Con Home has consistently forgotten over the last few months.

Caroline Spelman should be the next Party Chairman. Electorally she has been the most effective Party Chairman since the 80s and she has worked very hard behind the scenes to give us a more professional structure. It would seem to be folly to disrupt something that is working.

Not Spelman. With an election approaching we really need someone who will take the message to the electorate. Whilst she may have been good behind the scenes (and I have no idea if this is true) she has basically been invisible in the media. I don't see that we have been electorally successful because of Spelman.

Either Pickles or Grayling would be great. I feel that Hunt needs more experience. Also agree with Tim about the dangers of creating an elected chairman. He/she would be seen as an alternative leader, or the next leader, and would give them too much power to challenge the leader.

Labour and the Lib Dems must be so grateful ConservativeHome is here to create internal divisions just at a time when we've recovered a double digit poll lead - does this debate serve any constructive purpose at all?

ConservativeHome should be ashamed of itself for the way it has tried to hound Caroline Spelman out of her job. There is no vacancy. She is innocent until proven guilty, something this site has consistently failed to highlight. She has done a good job in difficult circumstances and should be treated with more respect.

In the same way that it is generally unhealthy for a Conservative Councillor to also be the Chairman of their local Conservative Association so it is unhealthy for the Party Chairman to be an MP.

Under Spelman's Chairmanship she completely reconfigured the by-election team and as a result we went on to win two by elections for the first time in modern history, she brought CRD back within CCHQ (reversing the disasterous decision to break it up by a previous Chairman), she managed the relationship between the London mayoral campaign and CCHQ brilliantly, has done a great job in reconstructing relations with the Scottish Party and damped down many of the rows within associations which otherwise would have spilled into the public domain - but why let those facts get in the way of this campaign (which i suspect is designed to push one particular person listed as an alternative)? This whole question is an indulgence we can't afford.

I agree with MA - we need to be focussing on attacking the Government. As it happens, Hunt, Pickles and Grayling are among the more effective shadow cabinet members at doing this and should stay where they are.

"She is innocent until proven guilty, something this site has consistently failed to highlight."

Doesn't change the fact that the public may not be convinced. It may not be fair but that's life. She is tarnished and it makes us look bad.

I never post on these things but I am so cross about this. Why do I bother delivering leaflers and renewing my membership subs just for websites like this to undermine it all by constantly having a go at one of the few competent and voter-friendly female MPs we have? MA is dead right.

Tim: On a number of occasions I have defended Caroline Spelman in the nannygate affair. I have done so on this site and in national media. I have said I believe her to be a women of integrity and expect her to be exonerated. There is an entirely separate question as to whether she has been a good Party Chairman.

Actually I agree with quite a lot of the comments here - why is Spelman not allowed any of the credit for our impressive electoral victories over the last few months? It seems like Pickles has hoovered up almost all of the acclaim, but it's been said on numerous occasions that the Target Seats Team and Spelman played a particularly important - and largely unrecognised - part. On that basis, shouldn't we reward and support the "team-players" that have delivered results for us at the ballot box? There's obviously a pretty cohesive team at CCHQ already.

And on this “She’s tarnished, she’s got to go” argument – it would be a sad day for politics if you have to step down the second someone slings mud at you. On that basis several high-flying shadow ministers would have to step down, which would be a real waste of talent – and that kind of precedent would put off a lot of people getting involved in politics at all! Can’t we wait to find out if she might be innocent before condeming her? She seems like a good woman, doesn't she deserve better support than this?

Given the preium the Editor has placed on loyalty in some other articles in recent weeks, it is curious that he is using this article and a number of others to openly question the position of the Party Chairman. I have difficulty in understanding what good this poll will do for the Party. It is hard not to see it as an attempt to undermine Caroline's position and play in to the hands of our political rivals.

Disraeli is right. We should all shut up and do as we are told by our political masters.

Caroline Spelman may well be exonerated, as we hope she will, but this is issue is not really anything to do with that.

The issues are competence to promote the conservatives and organise the party and to be acceptabley high profile. She is obviously very pleasant but not well known to the general public (as is the inevitable case with several other shadow ministers).

As an election is due to be called fairly soon I would prefer to see George Osborne doing it but he seems set to remain where he is. Are there no other high profile tories who are not MPs who should be in contention?

For balance, may we also have a "Who should be the next Shadow Chancellor" post?

You don't think Ken Clarke might be a potential candidate for Party Chairman? If he's to make a comeback, isn't that quite a plausible role for him?

I think the attack on Caroline Spelman role as party Chairman is unjustified. She has been cleared of any wrong doing and under her stewardship she has brought about a professional manner behind the scenes within the party on all fronts including improving relations with the Scotish Conservatives, Local Associations, the list could go on. However I do not think it is entirely proper to purely associate the successes in by-elections etc to her, Eric Pickles led the charge at Crewe and Nantwich and the economic situation influenced many votes.

However I would see strengths in Caroline, maybe it is time for her to be wheeled out into front bench politics. I think she would be an adequate replacement for Teresa May. As for appointing a replacement, the big names that are being pushed suchas Grayling, Pickles, Hunt etc need to stay where they are. As a party we cannot afford for our biggest performers to be 'shut away'. I personally would like to see a backbencher such as Sir Malcolm Rifkind brought back in. Be a way of bringing in a Big Beast with experience. Or a junior shadow minister such as Anne Mcintosh. I just dont think if the position of party chairman came up you could afford to loose key shadow cabinet members. At the same time I dont wish to play down the importance of party chairman, however the general electorate dont see it that way.

As a democrat I support the proposition that members elect the Chairman of the Party.

As a democrat I oppose Tim Montgomerie's attempts to promote and thus install one of his favourites.

As a democrat I note that Tim Montgomerie has reservations - ie HE IS AGAINST - Party members electing the Chairman.

An indefensible position for a democrat.

Very bad form on ConservativeHome's part in such an article.

Daniel Kawczynski MP

I think it's extremely unedifying to constantly talk about the "next chairman" as if the position is open. Caroline Spelman is a worthy holder of the position and has done a large and incredibly important amount of under-the-radar work to improve the grassroots of our party. Indeed, my understanding (especially in the light of the campaigning role Osborne was given at the last reshuffle) is that this was exactly the task with which she was charged.

I agree that we want a longish-term chairman rather than constant turnover as people move to different roles. But I don't see why the person can't be Spelman - and we should remember that she has the role at the moment.

I think GB£.com's post is spot on.

I don't really see why it is "bad form" for Conservative Home to run a poll inviting people to express their view. After all it is entirely up to the Party Leadership whether they choose to take any notice or not!

Given that Hague has promised no euro membership under a Cameron government what about a 'who should be next leader' for us Europhiles

Hilarious: the Platform 10 crowd out in force preaching the virtues of loyalty to a lacklustre (and virtually invisible)Party Chairman. In the years 2001-5, I seem to remember that they exhibited the loyalty of the average alley cat.

Spelman, Grayling and Hunt are all lightweights.

This party needs someone with extensive experience of journalism and PR. Andrew Neil would be an ideal candidate.

Failing him, we could do worse than Michael Gove.

Pickles could hardly be called a 'lightweight' in anyone's vocabulary, but the person who suggested that he could take on Campbell and Mandelson is having a laugh.

Tim, whilst I recognise that electing a Party Chairman may create a 'rival' power base this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Frankly the post of Leader is ill defined. It comes across, particularly without the checks and balances that were swept away in 1998, that the Leader is the sole proprietor of the Conservative Party.

This is both dangerous and (I hate using this word but I will anyway) undemocratic. If you doubt this, just take the example of how shrivelled and meaningless Party conference has become. The members have no voice, nothing is decided and no-one watches anything much but the Leader's speech. Why bother going? Particularly when the venue is some inner city conference centre where the prices are as high as the chances of being mugged.

Leading the Party whilst we are in opposition in this way is just about manageable. When we are in power, as we hopefully soon will be, means the Leader as PM cannot be so closely involved. That is when an effective Chairman really does become essential lest management of the Party fall to some behind the scenes crony.

In turn the elected Chairman must deliver a first class campaigning organisation both at the centre and in the constituencies, which is why local Associations exist.

There has got to be greater accountability to the people who deliver the goods for political careers to continue. Members often resent the voluntary work they do delivers a well paid career in Westminster or Brussels for not a lot of thanks or consideration of their views.

If there were not a Conservative Party in the country there would not be Conservative Party in Westminster. Its as wise for the people in Westminster to remember that. The grassroots are not an optional extra.

"Failing him, we could do worse than Michael Gove."

The problem with Michael Gove is that no matter how eloquently he speaks on education issues, you can't help but think that he would rather be plotting some war or other.

I don't think there is anything wrong with the grassroots expressing their views on the next party chairman. yes, the decision is david cameron's, and he might choose to keep Caroline in post. But the leadership should at least be clear what the views of the activists are. For me, it has to be Pickles.

I think Mr Grayling shows a real will do get things done, that type gusto is what that party needs to pull it into sync. So Mr Grayling as chairman would be a good move.

The question of Spelman's guilt is irrelevant to this debate. The question is - do we want an upfront chairman like Tebbitt, Parkinson or Fowler or do we want a backseat organiser. I prefer the former with a GE in prospect, the ability of the Chairman to act as a lightening conductor, cover quickly on any subject and use more robust language was important during the Thatcher/Major years. If, however, it is seen that the latter, backseat, option is favourate then Spelman seems easilly the best person for the job. The problem with this approach is that the party Chairman is often expected to be publically involved and a backseat chairman can look unimpressive to voters expecting better.

I had no idea Caroline Spelman was quitting.

Aside from her little problem with a nanny (surely a storm in a teacup), I was under the distinct impression that she has been, and remains, an outstanding chairman who has helped to deliver some astonishing election performances to date.

Shows what proles like me know, eh!

Sack Spellman, (give her a Peerage if needs be), replace her with Eric Pickles.

She isn't what is needed in the year which will be run up to a General Election and is also tainted by the Nannygate Controversy.

Pickles would take the gloves off and hit Labour hard.

As much as I like Caroline Spelman the trouble is that others like Eric Pickles, Lord Ashcroft , William Hague and George Osborne are doing parts of her job & this complicates things no end.

One possible solution is to make Lord Ashcroft the sole Party Chairman while Hague & Osborne and Pickles just get on with the shadow jobs that they excel at. By having a Peer in the job they do not have a seat to defend so that all their time that they spend on politics can go on getting the strategy & tactics right regarding our general election campaign.

The Tory leadership ought to remember that we need to take the gloves off & go after Labour by generating more media interest. Having an arch operator like Ashcroft who was prepared to do the job for five years would give us greater stability so that we can tackle all Party related problems on a secure long-term basis. He would not be thinking about his next job - just getting on with chairing the Party.

I know nothing about the guilt or incompetence of Mrs Spelman just that it looks really bad. She has been invisible save for this Nannygate business and we need a person who can be high-profile and take the gloves off. Lord Ashcfroft has the talent for this & no mistake. This promotion would reward him for his loyal support and service to the Conservatives and at last we would have a genius who do this important job properly. A reformer is needed !

Does Daniel Kawczynski, MP for Saudia Arabia, stating something make him think it becomes true? What arrogance.

The Party Chairman should not be an MP, therefore I will not take part in this ballot.

And anyone who thinks Clarke would put in the amount of work demanded in this post must be 'aving a larf.

Why change something that is working? There's no vacancy. Stop spreading mischiff.

Caroline Spelman is a superb Party Chairman. She's understood (unlike a few of her predecessors) that the Chairman's job is not to do the rounds of the TV and radio studios - that's what we have Shadow Ministers for - but instead to sort out the party organisation and structures, and get the operation working. She appears to have managed this quietly and effectively.

Carling don't make Conservative Party Chairmen, but if they did, they'd probably be Caroline Spelman.

Hello Plopwell! Nice to see all Gloy's family and friends here. I note you are as good at spelling as he/she is! :-)

Really Adam? I'm not a Westminster insider so am genuinely curious to know what changes have taken place on under Carline's stewardship.
As far as I can see she has kept the lowest profile of any Chairman in living memory.

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