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« ‘Modernise and die’ warns new Tory group | Main | David Cameron calls for fixed-term parliaments and majority-elected Lords »


Wat Tyler

Maybe it's worse than disingenuous- maybe he believes it.

James Hellyer

"A 21st Century Party, to which MPs were asked to respond."

How does MPs responding make it quite clear what the voluntary party thinks? My MP politely listened to what I had to say and then ignored it.

Ray Davies

Who is your MP James?

James Hellyer

Geoffrey Cox, the new Member for Torridge and West Devon.

He's a really nice chap and generally quite sound, but like a lot of the new boys was, I fear, rather to prone to influence on this issue from the party hierarchy.

Ray Davies

He looks nice and smiley!

James Hellyer

He *is* nice and smiley, and is showing a lot of dedication to his constituency work. However as a middle aged, white barrister who sounds quite posh, he also sums up the problem about just how representative our MPs are!

Simon C

The complacency of Vice-Chairman Ottaway is breath-taking, and surely entirely cynical. His take on "reality" is Orwellian.

In truth, the party board is not representative. The "21st Century Party" document does not, on its face, represent the wishes of the party membership. It is, after all, a "consultation document". If the Area meeting I attended in Lincolnshire recently is anything to go by, large chunks of the document are likely to be "consulted out".

The attitude of some of our MPs to the grass-roots membership is bluntly unsavoury. We have had "the members can't be trusted because they voted for IDS" approach. Leaving aside the merits or otherwise of the IDS leadership, that argument bears no scrutiny whatsoever, for reasons rehearsed at length elsewhere on this site. Now we have this.


If anybody wants a take on how MPs view their constituancy organization, read Alan Clark's diary. Conceding that Clark may not be typical (a snob, notably), what comes across is Clark's utter contempt for the party members who worked to elect him, and his often frantic efforts to avoid even having to meet with them, let alone listen to their concerns.

Michael McGowan

Richard Ottaway was my MP from 1995 until August 2001. I voted for him in the 2001 election and did a certain amount of constituency work for him. I am afraid that I find his letter to the "Times" very disappointing but unsurprising. I have already challenged him by e-mail about the letter, which glosses over the key difference between (i) MPs having the final say in terms of who leads the Party; and (ii) removing the members' right to any democratic voice in choosing the Party leader. Many members could live with some variant of (i). It is (ii) which sticks in their throats.

Michael McGowan

PS I suspect that Alan Clark's views are far from atypical. A few years' back, I went to the inaugural public meeting of C-Change at Storey's Gate, chaired by one Francis Maude. Present were a number of the luminaries who grace the ranks of the Conservative "modernisers". Some of them are MPs. The views expressed by a number of these people about Conservative Party members were a bile-ridden hymn of hate. I suspect that there is no more rancour and venom at a meeting of the BNP. The most prominent voice of sanity and moderation was Gillian Shepherd MP who in particular objected strongly to the expression "the blue-rinse brigade" because it was both ageist and sexist.


If Mr. Ottaway believes that the Board represents the members' views then it just shows how out of touch he is. The Editor's comments are spot on.

Selsdon Man

I agree with the comments of the editor and other commentators. The key point is that proposals came from the Board - many of whom are appointed by the Leader. The voluntary party is only being consulted now. It will have its say at the national convention.

Sadly the national will soon be enlarged to include Parliamentarians, Assembly Members et al. They will be able to outvote the voluntary party representatives.

I am deeply disappointed by Richard's letter. It is typical of the attitude of many MPs, particularly the supporters of Ken Clarke.

Simon C

"It is typical of the attitude of many MPs, particularly the supporters of Ken Clarke."

No surpise there - it fits entirely with their preference for centralised institutions which lack democratic accountability -such as the EU.

Simon C

Interested to see that Barry Legge has set up a campaign for an electoral college - the "Better Choice" camapign - reported in today's papers. Anybody out there know much about it?

Simon Hames

This any use: (Sorry, don't know how to do that 'it all becomes underlined then works as a link' stuff)

Simon C

Thanks Simon

Michael McGowan

Richard Ottaway asked me whether I had read the consultative document on selecting the Party leader. I said that I haven't....although I have read a lot about the process in the press. But then I don't feel the least bit guilty about that: in 1997 and 2001, Richard backed Ken Clarke whose proud boast was that he had never read the Maastricht Treaty.

James Hellyer

Remember the deadline for submitting feedback on "A 21st Century Party" is 31 JULY.

Your comments can be sent by e-mail to

[email protected]


Simon C - I was present, as you will remember, at the Area meeting you refer to. I was perhaps a rarity in arriving supportive of many of the points and aims of the consultation document, especially with regard to some suggested reforms of local parties.

At the meetings that have taken place, I am concerned that I have not really heard many clear views from the Associations on what changes they *do* want to see in our Party organisation. I was genuinely disappointed at the Lincolnshire meeting that much of what I heard from the floor was what CCHQ, the Leader and the Parliamentary party should be doing. The Conservative Party is one party – volunteers, professionals and parliamentarians working together to a common aim of winning government again. Anyone who can’t sign up to that should get out of Dodge…

This is a time for the national Party to take stock as well, to look again self-critically at their own operations on the ground – what can we do differently, how can we work smarter, how can we do better? At any level, not to change is not an option at this time.

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