...It is important that it is introduced early in the current Parliament to enable political parties to make decisions about their selection procedures. That applies especially in respect of the next general election, although other elections are coming along, such as those for the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and so on.
A number of measures can be taken. Before the last election, the Conservative party had a policy of encouraging our constituency associations to interview at least the same proportion of women as applied for the seat. We are now in the process of reconsidering our selection procedures to see what further measures need to be taken to ensure that women are not discriminated against in the selection process.
I wish to speak about a proposal that I have made, together with my hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire. I am pleased that my hon. Friend is present, as he has long been a champion
We propose a limited list that is more balanced between men and women, and which includes a proportion of candidates from ethnic minority communities. Such a balanced and limited list would enable associations to continue to have the freedom to select their own candidates, but from a candidates' list that is balanced between men and women. It has long been my contention that one of the measures that my party needs to take is to increase the number of women on our candidates' lists. A limited and balanced list would enable constituencies to choose from men and women in equal numbers....
...There is a candidates' list and associations have the freedom to choose from people whose names are on that list, but they cannot choose from outside it. Limited and balanced lists would therefore help to resolve inequalities. I think that the introduction of such lists is a positive measure that could well be adopted...
....my party is currently considering its selection procedure and concepts such as that of a limited and gender-balanced list from which associations can choose their candidates. The number of women on such a list would ensure that more women were selected to fight for seats....
...If we had a limited list, we could have a target number of seats. For example, we could have 100 seats, which were divided 50:50, so that we might be looking at getting 50 women into Parliament. We could approach the issue in that way, rather than having a target number of years, which might be more difficult to work with.
....it is important to show that the Conservative party is examining the kinds of positive action that can be taken to get more women selected without going down the route of all-women shortlists--positive action that a party would have the freedom to pursue under the provisions of the Bill.
I am not a practising Christian, in the strict definition of the term, so
you may find the formula of my words a little strange, even though,
hopefully, you will recognize the sentiments behind the words.
With the beginning yesterday of the bombing campaign in Afghanistan, we find
ourselves, very possibly, at the threshold of the first world war of the
twenty first century -- a good time to pause and reflect why we are here,
and what we hope to accomplish.
The cause here is justice. The extrication, hopefully alive, of the
individuals responsible for the murder of some 5,000 innocent civilians, and
the punishment of all those who were accomplices in their actions.
Such extrication will, necessarily, involve collateral damage and casualties
-- and I think the English language could find no more cruelly antiseptic a
definition for the many lost souls that will be added to the 5,000 already
For myself, I am spending much time reflecting on those souls lost before
now. On the terror they must have felt before they died. And the anguish
still felt by those left behind.
In the coming days, I will find occasion to meditate upon the difficult
decisions that daily will be made by fathers and mothers as they find it
necessary to order others to their certain death. Daughters will lose
fathers; mothers, their sons.
The burden borne by leaders around the world will be heavy. I trust they
will have the fortitude to continue to make those decisions that will make
military action both decisive and as short-lived as possible.
I think about the many individuals who will give of their lives --
selflessly, and all in their own, certain belief that their's is a just
cause. And almost all of them fighting through fear, as they do so.
Let us hope that as the military action draws to a close, and it comes time
to re-structure the world's affairs, the leaders of the world bring wisdom
and vision to the decisions necessary for that realignment to be effective
Let us hope that they remember that the primary goal of such re-ordering is
to minimise the possibility of all of these horrors ever occurring again.
And let us also hope that they display sufficient magnanimity to realise
that the achievement of the latter will require acknowledgement of all the
'just causes' felt by all the different nations, races, creeds and religions
around the world, not just those held sacred by the United States.
A careful study of this document persuaded me that the author doesn't think that the people who work in branches and constituency associations matter a jot. Why? Because this paper seems deliberately designed to offend the "grass-roots" and provoke them into rejecting it out of hand. This would be a pity because there is much merit in some of the ideas presented.
My main objection to the paper, as one who has worked in a number of constituency associations over the last 40+ years, is that the author doesn't show any understanding of how branches work or what motivates the unpaid, hard-working amateurs who do the job at "the grass roots". More of this later.
Before considering the paper in detail I would direct my reader's attention to the final section (9. The Summary). Five key Party needs are set out and I wouldn't quarrel with any of them. However, they did not emerge from the arguments in the paper. So I can only think that they guided - perhaps even stimulated - the author in his task. If so, why not state them at the beginning? In this way we could readily judge how well his proposed solutions would succeed.Turning to the nine sections of the paper, I use the author's numbering and titles and begin each section by quoting in italics the appropriate key Party needs:
1. Party Assets and 5. Party Financial Organisation
Party financial assets (to be) utilised to retain existing seats and win targeted seats. A cost effective Party organisation (is needed).
The surrender of party assets to the centre is proposed as a prerequisite for directing expenditure to the most needy areas, on the grounds that "only the Board could carry this out". This statement is not accompanied by any reasoned arguments and is not likely to persuade members of a Party that fought the last General Election on a policy of "Save the £" (and avoid handing over power to a remote and undemocratic body). It is also noticeable that the terms assets and resources are used interchangeably and the connotation is financial. But any organisation worth its salt cherishes its people-assets. So are we, grafters at the "coal-face", also to be directed to work for a central bureaucracy? Or is it assumed that we will obey whatever diktats come from CCO?
The author argues that handing over all financial responsibilities to the centre would cut out time wasted on financial matters and inter Party negotiations, and so would benefit everyone. This is like saying that the electorate would be better off all round if they agreed to surrender - for ever - their votes to the government of the day.
Before any decision is reached on this proposal, there must be detailed consideration of questions such as:
Assuming that the amount of money available is fixed, will it be used more wisely and effectively if it is allocated remotely by people without personal knowledge of all 600+ constituencies, or if it is under the control of the present "owners", who raised the money and have a vested interest in making it work?
Is it absolutely certain that the total amount of money available would not be diminished by this proposal? (I have known of branches which cheerfully raised funds but which would not release them to their own Constituency officers until they were promised that none of the monies would go to CCO.)Is there any discernible correlation between spending money and success at the ballot box? (If there is, instead of expensive advertising campaigns, we should have been directing available monies this way over the years.)
2. Agents and 4. Constituency Offices
Agent and professional office support (are needed) for all Constituencies.
There is no doubt that Agents are a valuable resource and that access to their expertise is vital to Conservatives in every constituency. It is also true that, if an Agent works solely for one constituency association, much of his - or her - time, energy and expertise will be frittered away on humdrum administrative work. But before any transfer of Agents takes place, it will be vital to look at the whole picture.
For example, the Agent must have time to provide a service to the MP (or parliamentary candidate) and for the two to build up a relationship of trust and mutual respect. In similar ways, the Agent has to help and understand the needs and abilities of local councillors, MEPs and the volunteers (officers and local activists of all kinds).
But more than that, the Agent has to be able to guide, stimulate and organise local officers and members into a reliable workforce which will turn out to canvass, put leaflets through letter boxes or stuff envelopes, etc. whenever and wherever it will help the Party.
What is more, the overwhelming majority of the effort which is deployed in even "strong, safe seats" is from volunteers. Good Agents can maximise their effectiveness, but they know that, if offended, volunteers will stop working hard for the Party. Without local know-how, effort and initiatives, the Agent lacks credibility and utility. Even if money was plentiful, it could not buy what the volunteers give freely.
So let us accept these premises:
The expertise of Agents must be exploited by careful husbanding;Factors that must influence any decision to change the present set up will include:
The Agent's managing/motivating role must be cherished and built into the time assessed as the minimum for each constituency;
The Conservative Party must be able to make available a reasonable allocation of this expertise and time to all constituencies.
Any plans to "share" Agents must not weaken in any way the important relationships with MP, officers, councillors and the like;The solution proposed in the paper is to put agents under central control and locate them in a number of strategic locations. This should be rejected out of hand. Instead guidance (which includes the factors listed above) should be issued. Then there should be local discussions to determine what sensible "sharing" can be arranged.
Great care must be taken to maintain the key role played by the Agent in the human organisation of the constituency association;
"Rich" constituency associations that can currently afford the costs of an Agent must be acknowledged as having "ownership" rights, and persuaded - not obliged - to "share";
When "sharing" is contemplated, the sizes of constituencies and communication problems must be recognised as overriding factors (time spent by Agents on travelling from place to place has no value).
3. Membership, 6. Branches, 7. Women and 8 CPF
Focussing the Party on membership recruitment and (engendering) a climate that encourages new members to become activists (are key needs).
In section 3, the author claims that currently branch officers are so preoccupied with the minutiae of running it and organising fund-raising events that they have little if any time for political matters. He goes on to argue that membership recruitment is neglected and, when new members do appear, they are alienated by what they find at branch level.
In section 6, it is proposed that branch committees should focus only on political matters and relegate fund-raising to others.
Sections 7 and 8 suggest that Women's groups are anachronistic and should be absorbed into the work of the branch committee, and so should CPF activities.
This really is throwing out the baby with the bath-water!
What the author has failed to appreciate is that each volunteer (member, branch officer or constituency worker) has his own image of what the Party offers to him and needs from him. Tell these volunteers that they are misguided and their self-selected efforts are not wanted, and they will stop working.
Any branch chairman worth his salt understands his activists and knows how to maximise their efforts. If - in spite of all positions being open to members of both sexes - a Women's section is wanted, encourage the ones who wish to have it, providing they produce results (political and/or financial). If the majority of branch members prefer social events (with a political element) to political debates let there be a CPF unit to serve the others. If a branch has discovered over the years how to set up local events that make serious money, don't discourage the organisers.
By all means encourage the routine recruitment of new members. But people, who join because they are fed up with the present Government, are unlikely to become permanently established in the Party or become local activists.
Canvassing at election times is the best way of identifying potential members and this obviously requires an active and well-organised workforce. "Cold calling" cannot be a routine activity, so the most fruitful approach is to have a very visible local branch that shows it is dynamic and worthwhile. Local events - including those that are entirely of a fund-raising nature - give potential members access to Conservatives and their thinking.From the centre it may seem that people become members because they are attracted by the leader, his policies and associates. This is - at best - only partially true. The effectiveness of the local MP, MEPs, County and District Councillors are of serious local interest and seem more relevant to the potential member than do handouts from Westminster or CCO. This is especially true when there is routine public dissent and backbiting in the Party which is featured endlessly on the media.
The author correctly identified the most serious membership problem: the present day activists are getting so old that replacements are needed urgently. Branches without new blood will soon cease to function. The problem is not entirely the fault of today's activists (although many have found comfortable roles and see no reason to change their ways). Newcomers would be welcomed if they would only come forward.
Some time ago I had a conversation with a young Conservative who belonged to an active university group. He - and his fellows - would have nothing to do with branches which were close by - or even based at his home. Why? Because these young people had decided - without any evidence so far as I could tell - that the branches were both exclusive and moribund. Sadly, I couldn't persuade him to infiltrate a branch with the objects of establishing a presence and eventually taking over the reins of power. I'm sure he would have been made very welcome. And even more certainly, I know that he would have been able to make a big contribution to the future success of the Conservative Party.
Having disagreed with most of the solutions proposed by the author of this paper, I feel I must close with some brief suggestions of my own on the subject of the recruitment of new members.
Firstly potential members need to be stimulated to join - by perceived failures by the Labour Government and by the successful presentation of the Conservative Party as being suitable for office: democratic, capable, united and armed with sensible, well-thought-out policies. There is a long way to go.
Secondly any new policies intended to change the present structure must not be imposed from the centre. The activists must be convinced that new ways are needed and they should be introduced gradually and build on what works now.
Thirdly - and most importantly - it is essential to find new Conservatives who have the talent, energy, time and abilities to take on the branch chairman's role. Such people will energise the officers and guide branch to new ways - such as making politics and the recruitment of new members their central activities. All senior Conservatives - especially those who are informed about the people in their areas - should be set to work identifying people of potential and persuading them to put their Party and the country before their personal convenience.
First of all who should be entitled to be nominated for Leader?
In a recent Bow Group pamphlet "Who Really Governs Britain", Nirj Deva MEP stated that 55% of the legislation that affects Britain was initiated in the corridors of power in Brussels and Strasbourg. It is possible that at some point in the future the Party would want the Leader of the Party to be an MEP. This possibility should be catered for. A distinction can be made between the Leader of the Conservative Party and the Leader of the Parliamentary Party at Westminster. For a period in 1940 Neville Chamberlain was the Leader of the Party whilst Sir Winston Churchill was the Leader of the Parliamentary Party. For as long as the Party accepts Westminster as the most important political institution, the Leader of the Party and the Leader of the Parliamentary Party will be one and the same person. What is clear is that MEPs should have a greater role in the nomination process than they have at present. The House of Lords as one of the national political institutions should also have a role to play in nominating candidates.
The nominating process should be designed to produce a maximum short list of four candidates who would then be put to the whole Party on the basis of One Member One Vote.
Nomination of a candidate should be by 25MPs, 5 MEPs and 5 members of the House of Lords. Should this nominating process produce more than four candidates then a ballot of the Conservative MPs, MEPs and members of the House of Lords should be held with the top four members in the ballot going forward for election by the Party membership. The members of the Party would then be asked to vote by placing the candidates in order of preference. The candidate with the lowest number of votes would be eliminated and his/her votes redistributed in accordance with the second preference and so on until the top candidate had over 50% of the votes.
Many people thought that the length of the last Leadership campaign was far too long. It is proposed to reduce this so that ballot papers go out four weeks after nominations have been called for with the closing date for the election three weeks after the ballot papers are sent out.
The qualifying date for members to be eligible to vote in the ballot ought to be the date nominations are requested. It was reported by Central Office that due to the qualifying date being three months prior to nominations being requested, in the last election some 20-25,000 members were excluded from voting.
One area of the Constitution that needs clarification and simplification is membership. There are too many different categories of member. We should have a straight membership fee of £10.00 with a membership year running from 1st January to 31st December. The membership list at Conservative Central Office should be updated monthly.
There should be a clause in the Constitution stating that anybody that is a member of another political Party is automatically excluded from membership of the Conservative Party.
We ought to make it easier for members to vote by developing the possibilities of voting on the Internet and telephone voting with each member having their own unique pin number.
Finally the rules for election the Leader should be in the Party’s Constitution and not left in the hands of the 1922 Executive Committee. The Electoral College system for changing the Party’s constitution should be scrapped with changes determined at the Party Conference with a proviso that a major change could go to all the members of the Party. If 1,000 members of the Party requested a change through the Party’s secure web site then the change should be put to the Party Conference.If the Party adopts the above changes they would make the process of electing the Leader smoother and more democratic with changes to the Constitution easier. We should adopt them immediately.
The following paper was tabled at a meeting of Area Chairmen on 15th September: AN ELECTION WINNING CONSERVATIVE PARTY?
To win Westminster elections, the Party needs attractive policies and the right candidates. It must also have an organisation capable of effective campaigning.
Despite the reforms in 1998, Party organisation at Constituency level has remained the same for decades. Change is now urgently required. What was once a formidable fighting machine is no longer able to campaign effectively.
A main reason is that the Party’s financial, organisational and Agent strength is largely concentrated in strong, safe seats. These resources must be spread across the Party, so that all the seats that must be won if the Party is to regain power at Westminster receive the support they need.
Another reason! Most Party members are ageing and can no longer campaign. As a result, there were few able bodied activists available during the recent General Election. The present membership will age further, so without new members the situation can only get worse.
The Party must therefore focus on membership recruitment and turning new members into activists. Currently, new members whose motivation to join the Party is political interest, become rapidly alienated by Branch Committees whose agendas include fundraising, quotas, Branch accounting and other matters that have nothing to do with politics.
Such entrenched problems can only be resolved by radical organisational change, led by the new Party Leader and the Board. To prepare the Party for such major change, a process of widespread prior consultation is essential - similar to that leading up to the 1998 reforms.
Below are proposals to deal with the situation:-
1. Party assets.Party resources must be allocated where they are needed to win elections. Only the Board could carry this out, but to do so it must first control all the assets of the Party. This would require a single Party bank account with subsidiary accounts for Constituencies, instead of the thousands of Constituency and Branch accounts at present operated. All Party property would also come under the control of the Board.
Before Constituency assets are transferred to the Board, Constituencies would need to know how the Board proposes to exercise its new financial powers. A Party strategy plan would therefore have to be approved and subsequently monitored by the National Convention, before any change is finally agreed.
2. Agents.Currently, most Constituencies are without Agents and have no prospects of acquiring one. This is unsatisfactory, because to maximise the chances of winning elections, every Constituency needs Agent support. During the recent General Election, Constituency Officers and Candidates who had varying levels of experience and ability ran most campaigns. As a result, many campaigns in key seats were a shambles.
Quality Agents will only join or remain with the Party if paid the rate for what is a demanding job requiring high skill levels. Few if any Constituencies could afford Agents at the proper market rate. Each Agent therefore needs to be shared by a number of Constituencies. If this happened, every Constituency could enjoy Agent support.
For this to be practicable the many responsibilities of an Agent would need to be reduced to the key elements of campaigning, membership and acting as Agent at elections. The current Agents roles of Constituency finances, fundraising and other support would be dealt with in the ways outlined in point 4 below.
Field Operations would take over responsibility for the Agents in this shared situation. The department has been widely praised for its expertise and has the professional skills to get the best out of a national Agents network. The costs of Agents would be funded by CCO as part of a re-organisation of Party finances as outlined in point 5 below.
3. MembershipBefore the Party can recruit large numbers of new members and enthuse these to become activists, a cultural change is needed. Currently, Branches are largely run as mini businesses. Each has a bank account, internal financial reporting and audited accounts. All of this occupies countless people hours and Constituency Agents, Organising Secretaries and other staff spend much of their time managing and co-ordinating this structure – time that could better be spent on political matters. Equally important, the structure alienates new members who join for political interest and fail to understand what these extraneous activities have to do with politics.
This fundraising culture is encouraged by the Party that recognises and rewards financial success as typified by Campaigning subscriptions, but paying scant regard to recognising achievements such as gaining new members. Yet fundraising and membership recruitment are totally compatible; the best way to fundraise is to recruit members. If each Branch recruited one new member each week, this could generate more income than the time and effort put into fund raising events. Furthermore, subscription income is repeated during subsequent years with minimal cost or effort.
The CCO membership department would support Constituency membership recruitment by identifying the best strategies to be followed and the materials to be used. For many years membership recruitment has been a significant failure because ‘membership drives’ have been one off spasmodic events. Instead, membership should become a continuous Constituency focus as well as a main method of fundraising.
4. Constituency OfficesThe cost of running the Party with Constituencies having individual offices and staff is no longer affordable or necessary with new technology. Meetings can equally well be held in local halls. Instead a number of offices, strategically located throughout the Country, are needed. Each would be a centre of excellence with modern technology, networking, mailing and printing equipment. Effective support would then be provided for all Constituencies.
A Manager would run each office, controlling the administrative work and personnel, including keeping the financial record of the Constituencies the office covers. Each office would employ someone with specialist fundraising expertise to support Constituency fundraising. The Manager would report to a committee of Constituency Chairman. All costs would be paid by CCO, who would agree local budgets.
This would create a lean and effective national structure that would reduce the cost of running the Party and release money that could be better utilised in winning elections.
5. Party Financial Organisation.The most cost effective and efficient way of controlling membership records and collecting subscriptions would be by using a central database and central collection. From these funds, CCO would pay the expenses of the new offices and Agents. Central members, that have caused friction between the Constituencies and CCO, would disappear. All members would be treated in the same way.
There would be no more Campaigning subscriptions or CCO loans, because all money would be under the control of the Board. This would cut out all the time spent by Constituencies and CCO on inter Party negotiations and money transfers.
Prior to introducing such change, CCO would need to assure Constituencies that they would be capable of implementing and running the new arrangements effectively. Therefore a new post of Party Financial Controller could be created, with responsibility to ensure that everything is operated competently and professionally.
6. Branches.Branch Committees should focus only on political matters - campaigning, membership and political discussion. It is these Committees that new members could join and hopefully find to their liking.
Fundraising would be dealt with separately within each Constituency, coming under the direct control of the Deputy Chairman – Fundraising and Membership, who would produce a Constituency fundraising budget. This would be met though Constituency fundraising events and local fundraising Committees - possibly existing Branch fundraising committees, plus new groupings.
Fundraising Committees would remit to the local Office the cheques and cash generated. There would be no Branch bank accounts and the roles of Branch Treasurer and Branch Deputy Chairman - Fundraising and Membership, would disappear. A vast amount of internal Party administration would then cease.
7. Women.It is an anachronism that women have a separate organisation within the Party. This makes the Party look very old fashioned to the modern women we need to attract.
This dilution of effort should ideally be rationalised. Everyone in the Party needs to be working to the same objectives - campaigning and increasing membership, within a totally integrated structure.
8. CPF.It is difficult for new members to understand why Constituencies have a separate section dealing with policy and why this does not form a part of Branch Committee agendas. The motivation for new members to join is political involvement and they expect policy matters to be within the mainstream of Branch activity.
Under the new Branch structure, separate Constituency CPF Committees would not be needed. Branch Committee agendas would include discussion of policy papers with feedback to the Deputy Chairman – Political, who would co-ordinate Constituency feedback to CCO
9. Summary.This paper illustrates an approach to how the Party can be transformed into a modern, integrated and tightly focussed organisation. There could be much support for such change, because many Area and Constituency Officers are concerned about the ineffectiveness of the present structure and face problems in delivering what is expected of them.
The key Party needs are:-· Party financial assets utilised to retain existing seats and
win targeted seats.· Agent and professional office support for all Constituencies.
· Focussing the Party on membership recruitment.
· A climate that encourages new members to become activists.
· A cost effective Party organisation.
Whatever actions are finally decided, it is essential that these core issues be addressed and resolved.
.Real Reform for the Conservative Party
There were some spectacular failures.
- The creation of a Conservative Party Constitution
- The creation of a Party Board representative of the whole Party.
- National membership.
How do we change the failures into success? Set out below are the changes required.
- The Party is still undemocratic.
- We are still not "One Party".
- Participation by ordinary members of the Party in Party policy development is virtually zero.
- Communication to ordinary members is non existent.
- Motivation of Party workers has ceased.
The Board of the Conservative Party
The National Convention
- A Deputy Leader appointed by the Leader should undertake the political role of the Party Chairman, leaving the Party Chairman responsible for Party Organisation.
- The Party Chairman should be elected by and thus accountable to the entire membership of the Party.
- Voting in elections could be by use of the Internet or by telephone.
- An elected Treasurer should be responsible for the income and expenditure of the Party with a remit to balance the books.
- The Treasurer should present the accounts of the Party to the National Convention for their adoption.
- The Leader of the Conservative MEPs should be a member of the Board. The political institutions of Westminster and Local Government are represented on the Board – Europe is not. This must be rectified.
- The Party Vice Chairmen should be appointed by the Board and answerable to the Board.
- The Vice-Chairmen of the Party are at present appointed by the Leader. Their responsibilities cover Parliamentary Candidate Selection and Conservative Future amongst other important aspects of Organisation.
- The Party Vice Chairmen should each make a report to the National Convention.
The National Convention consists of approximately 1,000 people. It is too big to be an executive body and too small to be representative. It does not comply with the concept of "One Party". The National Convention should become a representative body of the whole Party.
- MPs and MEPs should be members of the Convention and encouraged to attend and speak
- All Conservative group Leaders of District, Borough, County Councils and Unitary Authorities should be members of the Convention.
- In addition to the Constituency Chairman each Constituency Association should be entitled to an extra representative to the Convention for every extra 500 members in excess of 500.
There should be a National Executive which would meet twice a year. Its function would be to take action in conjunction with the Party Board to maintain an effective organisation throughout the country. It would consist of
- The Party Board
- Members of the Executive of the 1922 Committee
- 1 MEP per Region
- Regional Co-ordinators
- Regional Treasurers
- Officers of the Conservative Councillors Association
- Leaders and Deputy Leaders of Conservative Groups of the Scottish, Welsh, and, if applicable, Northern Ireland Assemblies.
- Officers of the National Association of Agents
- Representatives of Recognised Bodies (Maximum 10)
- 10 co-options
The role of the Regions is to co-ordinate, communicate and motivate.
- Regional Co-ordinators should be elected by all the members in their Region.
- Twice a year meetings should be held in each Region to which all members of the Region are invited. The MPs and MEPs should attend these meetings for the Region. They should be socially motivating and politically inspirational.
- Regional Treasurers should be elected by all the members in their Region.
- Regional policy forums should be set up linking with the National Policy Forum. Any member living within the Region should be entitled to attend the Regional policy forum.
Conservative Policy Forum
- Areas should be scrapped as part of the formal structure of the Party. The professional Agents should be grouped under the Regions. Where Areas can demonstrate success they can continue on an informal basis.
Conservative Central Office
- The Regional Policy Forums should elect Two thirds of the Council of the Conservative Policy Forum.
- Each Department Shadow Cabinet Minister should set up a Policy Group which would produce "Green" papers on policy for discussion through the CPF discussion groups.
- After discussion and consultation the Policy Groups would produce a "White" paper which would then be put to National/Regional Forums.
- The National Forum would be open to any member of the Party.
- After approval by the National Forum and the relevant Parliamentary Party back bench committee the "White" paper would go to either the National Convention or the Party Conference for approval.
- The Party Leader would determine priorities.
- Central Office should service the whole Conservative Party and not be treated as the Leader’s private office.
By adopting the above proposals we would create a democratic Conservative Party, increased participation by ordinary members improved communication and greater motivation. A political Party for the 21st Century!
- Every two months each member of the Party should receive a newsletter explaining what the Party is doing. This could be expanded to include Regional and Constituency activities. It should be a two-way newsletter and not be afraid to include criticism in it.
- There should be an Ombudsman appointed by the Party Board to resolve disputes within the membership at grass roots level. The Ombudsman would report to the National Convention.
This article was published in the current edition of "Crossbow", the magazine of "The Bow Group"
- Only in Britain... can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.
- Only in Britain... do supermarkets make sick people walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.
- Only in Britain... do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and DIET coke.
- Only in Britain... do banks leave both doors open and chain pens to the counters.
- Only in Britain... do we use the word "politics" to describe the process of Government. "Poli" in Latin meaning "many" and "tics" meaning "blood sucking creatures".
- Only in Britain... do we leave cars worth thousands of pounds on the drive and put our junk in the garage.
- Only in Britain do we buy hot dogs in packs of ten and buns in packs of eight.
- Only in Britain... do we use answering machines to screen calls and then have call waiting so we won't miss a call from someone we didn't want to talk to in the first place.
- All Constituency Association and Branch Bank accounts will be taken over by the Party Board.
- All Constituency property to be controlled by the Party Board.
- All Agents to be controlled by Central Office.
- Constituency offices to be closed and a number of offices strategically located throughout the Country set up.
- All membership subscriptions would be collected centrally using a central database.
- There will be no loans from Constituencies to Central Office because all money would be under the control of the Party Board.
- It is an anachronism that women have a separate organisation within the Party. This dilution of effort should ideally be rationalised.
There are two essential conditions to precipitate a change of government:
The existing government must have persuaded the electorate that they are too incompetent and too dangerous to remain in office.
The main opposition party must have convinced floating and other non-committed voters that it is ready for power, offers sensible and well-thought-out policies which will serve the nation well, and has the leadership and management expertise to put them into practice.
Only in these circumstances will the electorate abandon the devil they know.
Is this likely to happen at the next election? Or the one after? Let us consider the matter.
EUROPE IS A DEAD ISSUE
Our new leader - like a majority of Conservative members - is opposed to any closer links with the EU and is adamantly opposed to joining the euro. But until Duncan Smith leads the party in office, such beliefs are irrelevant.
Voters have been promised by Labour a referendum on the subject and this could happen in this parliament. If they choose to go ahead and obtain a mandate to join the euro during their time in office, the die is cast. The issue is decided.
But as long as Blair and company continue to await the right moment, all Eurosceptics (who are naïve enough to expect a fair campaign) can feel comfortable with the present party in government. Other "don't-yet-knows" can debate and discuss the matter at length and without time constraints. The debate centres on the currency and not the consequent surrenders of power. So what does the voter-in-the street focus upon?
Sterling is not important enough to most electors to attract large numbers to our Party. In general, people who travel and use foreign currencies are well aware of the reliable purchasing power of the US dollar and, up to now, the franc, the mark, etc. Unless it fails (in which case there will be no referendum), the euro will soon be familiar to and trusted by many. Other voters are concerned only with what the currency in their pockets will buy.
The ramifications of joining the euro are of vital importance although they have not, so far, been objectively and adequately examined and explained. But should the ordinary voter care about these aspects? When we consider casual reports about living standards in EU countries within the euro, are their people downtrodden and poverty-stricken? If we joined, would we, ordinary citizens, be better or worse off? It would seem that in areas such as education, health and housing, we (especially young people) might even benefit significantly from being absorbed into the EU. Voters may not care for the EU's bureaucratic and centralist approach to governance, and its attitudes concerning security and defence, but how many of us (who are basically selfish in arriving at our political decisions) care too much about these aspects?
Going into or staying out of Europe is not a General Election issue but is one which can only be settled by a referendum. Our new leader should focus his - and our - attention on other aspects. Firstly, though, he should announce that, once the Conservative Party is in power, there will be no enactment of any legislation or policy that will take us into or keep us permanently out of the EU until a binding referendum has been held.
Promising a referendum on Europe will allow the Conservative Party to concentrate on those policies and issues which the public at large see as relevant and vital.
Conservatives believe that, in general, individuals are better at dealing with their problems than are local, national or supra-national governments. But we must recognise that the majority of voters will put effective public services (NHS, education, defence, police, transport, etc.) before tax cuts. So we must convince the nation that we can provide better services more efficiently than "New Labour", and that they are unprincipled pragmatists.
The Labour Government, by pushing ahead with Public Private Partnership schemes, has accepted that management and organisational skills are not to be found readily in the public sector. After all, the Chancellor reduced the national debt and stressed the financial benefit for coming generations. PPP schemes do the exact opposite (avoiding capital expenditure now and committing future tax-payers to paying resultant dividends), so surely the Government would not have gone down that route unless ministers were convinced that only private expertise could make the schemes work efficiently. We should miss no opportunity to show the Left that their masters are unprincipled, and to trumpet to the nation that Labour may have adopted our policies for the sake of expediency, but they dare not express a belief in them.
New Conservative policies should be designed to satisfy the wishes of the nation in ways that stress free enterprise and put the individual before a remote bureaucracy. These policies must be practical, free of dogma and be simply stated.
GETTING BACK INTO POWER
The public has lost its fear of a Labour Government and – as yet – has no particular wish to get them out of office. When that time comes, as one day it will, the Conservative Party must be seen as the only attractive alternative: intelligent, experienced and - above all - ready for office.So its policies, which must be inclusive and not exclusive, must be well understood and widely approved. We must also present the image of a united and winning party. This means that all ability and experience is valued and deployed. The nation expects political parties to put all their talents at the disposal of the electorate and not to exclude people of imagination and stature because their faces don't fit. This point is addressed to all Conservative politicians: to those who are in power and are duty bound to seek out and make use of the best; and to dissenters – of any faction - who must accept that Conservatives will only achieve great things for the nation when in office. All of these people must put the future of the country before their personal beliefs and desires.
Who should be Leader of the Conservative Party? Result:
Michael Ancram 1%
Kenneth Clarke 36%
David Davis 16%
Iain Duncan Smith 12%
Michael Portillo 33%
None of these 2%
It is quite clear from the actual result that the supporters of Michael Portillo and David Davis overwhelmingly transferred their support to Iain Duncan Smith. If the membership of the Party had been allowed to vote for all the candidates on the basis of first and second preference etc. voting, Michael Portillo would have been Leader assuming he would have picked up reciprocal votes from Iain Duncan Smith and David Davis when they were eliminated from the election. It makes you think, does it not?
Not Such A Stark ChoiceA Research Brief from the Campaign for Conservative Democracy, by Will Phelan
Although many Conservatives feel they face an uncomfortably stark choice between the experienced and well-known but perhaps too pro-European Kenneth Clarke on the one hand and the less experienced and less well-known but reassuringly Eurosceptic Iain Duncan Smith on the other hand, the choice need not be as stark as they may fear. Both to reconcile principled Eurosceptics to a Clarke leadership and, vice versa, pro-Europeans to a Duncan Smith leadership, the Conservative Party should adopt a policy to put major treaties negotiated with other European Union member states to a referendum, in which party members and MPs would be free to campaign on either side. As well as helping the party towards a sensible middle road on Europe, this policy would increase democracy in the United Kingdom and help address the democratic deficit of the European Union.
Too Stark A Choice?
A Means to the Right Outcome
For Duncan Smith, such a policy would also be beneficial, both in the leadership election and thereafter in opposition and in government. One of the most significant criticisms which has been made of Conservative European policy is that it is "extreme", and/or likely to be incompatible with Britain’s continued membership of the European Union. For Duncan Smith, a priority is to show that neither of these accusations is true. No party is helped at the hustings (or in the polls) by the accusation of extremism (no matter how unjustified), and the business community, which is the backbone of the Conservative Party in Britain, would never support a complete exit from the Union. With a policy of referenda on European treaties, both of these accusations could be comprehensively rejected. By definition, nothing favoured or rejected by a majority of the public can be held to be "extreme". A referendum would never support leaving the Union, not least because of the position of UK business as mentioned above. British business would also benefit from Britain’s strengthened bargaining position in negotiations.
Disadvantages of the Proposal?
Will Phelan is a graduate student studying European politics. Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgLiverpool Garston Update
27th August 2001
The following letter has been sent by Ivan Prosser to Brian Hanson:
Some time ago on C.O.P.O.V.'s web site there was a misquotation mistakenly introduced by Mr.John Strafford. Mr. Brian Hanson thought it sufficiently important to ask for a retraction and apology, which he has received.
It is ironic that as yet no retraction and apology has been received by me on account of a letter, written by Mrs. Wendy Powell, and produced to Mr. Hanson at a tribunal concerning the affairs of the Garston Conservative Association. This letter was written to an outside agency, The Yorkshire Building Society, concerning my wife and myself, which contained five deliberate lies. Some of these lies were repeated in a subsequent letter to the same organisation.
What was written about us by Mrs. Powell was deliberate and malicious. How much more important, therefore, to have her retract and apologise?
Also, the final report to the Board contained the mistaken remark that Mrs.Prosser had never been a member of the party. A letter to Mr. Hanson complaining about this was brushed aside as making no difference.
The last letter from the board signed by Mr. John Taylor, merely stated that the Party had spent a considerable amount of time considering these matters. In that case the time spent by the Party and by ourselves in preparing evidence for submission to the Board and to tribunals was utterly wasted.
Nothing has been done to alleviate the sense of injustice,anger and even bitterness over the way we have been treated. Obviously not all members warrant the implementation of democracy and decency to resolve injustice.
August 19thPRESS RELEASE
CAMPAIGN FOR CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRACY
Release date: Tuesday, 21 August 2001.
Released by: John Strafford, Chairman,
DEMOCRACY, EUROPE and the LEADERSHIP ELECTION:
A PROPOSAL FOR BOTH LEADERSHIP CANDIDATES
The Campaign for Conservative Democracy today publishes a research brief arguing that both candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party should commit themselves to a policy of referenda for the ratification of major European Union treaties (the likes of Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice). This will be particularly applicable to the forthcoming talks on a European "Constitution".
The paper’s author, Will Phelan, argues that this would benefit both leadership candidates: Ken Clarke, because it would reassure many of those attracted by his experience and character but who are hesitant to support him because of his views on Europe; Iain Duncan Smith, because a policy of referenda would anchor his criticisms of European integration in terms of democracy, rather than notions of legal sovereignty which are alien to public opinion.
A policy of referenda would also reinforce Britain’s negotiating position on European treaties, and, together with a range of other policies to improve democracy and accountability in the UK (and Europe), it would be a popular and centrist critique of the Labour government.
John Strafford, Chairman of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy, said:
"This is a provocative paper which suggests a sensible and moderate policy on Europe. It would be a potential vote winner for either of the candidates. I have sent a copy of this paper to Ken Clarke and Iain Duncan Smith, and I urge them to consider it carefully. I expect that they will be asked about it in the forthcoming regional hustings. If we can agree that we should have referendum on whether to adopt the Euro, there can be no reason why we should not have a referendum on future European treaties, particularly in light of plans for a future European "Constitution" ".
For further information, please contact:
John Strafford, Chairman, Campaign for Conservative Democracy:
Telephone: (h) 01753 887068
(o) 020 7474 3464
(m) 07956 352 022
Will Phelan, Paper author:
Telephone: (h) 00 49 30 785 0286
- First of all restrict the number of candidates to two so that some members are denied the opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice, then
- Do not allow the candidates to debate with each other at Regional Hustings meetings, then
- Deny the candidates access to the membership lists so they cannot target their campaigns, then
- Allow the candidates to ban the media from the question and answer sessions at the meetings they do hold, so that members who cannot get to the meetings do not see the candidates under pressure, or facing hostile questions, then
- Allow some people whose membership subscriptions have lapsed to vote in the election, then
- Bar from voting some members because they signed up after March 28th 2001, then
- Confuse members by having two qualifying dates (see below)
- Voting in the Leadership Election
- Iain Duncan-Smith
House of Commons,
London SW1A OAA.
Dear Sir Michael,
If only two candidates are put to the membership they will be signing the "Suicide Note" of the Conservative Party. If all three candidates are put to the membership they will "Save the Party" by being more democratic and it would unite the Party behind the new Leader."ENDS
Upon the initiation of an election for a Leader, it shall be the duty of the 1922 Committee to present to the Party, as soon as reasonably practicable, a choice of candidates for election as Leader. The rules for deciding the procedure by which the1922 Committee selects candidates for submission for election shall be determined by the Executive Committee of the 1922 Committee after consultation with the Board.5. If there is more than one candidate, the Leader shall be elected by the Party Members and Scottish Party Members by postal ballot on the basis of one member one vote.6. A candidate achieving more than 50% of the vote shall be declared elected Leader of the Party.8. Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the rules for the conduct of the ballot or ballots of Party Members and Scottish Party Members shall be agreed by the Board and the Executive Committee of the 1922 Committee.
1 Pennington Street,
London E98 1TA.
Sir Michael Latham is quite right in saying that the Conservative Party needs to rebuild from scratch (letter June 9, see also letter, June 11). The first opportunity that the party will get to start that rebuilding will be the election of the leader.
At present the parliamentary party decides which candidates should be put to the membership for election. In a democratic Party the whole Party including MPs and members should have the opportunity to vote for whichever candidate they wish.
The present system is a recipe for division, whereas a leader elected by the whole Party from an unrestricted choice would unite it.
By changing the election process the parliamentary party would demonstrate that it has abandoned the arrogance that has cost us two general elections
JOHN E. STRAFFORD
- One Member One Vote
- Chairman of the 1922 committee
Sir Michael Spicer responds to the request for all the candidates to be put to the whole Party for election. See below.
- The Party Board
- Michael Ancram
- Michael Portillo
- Open letter to the Chairman Elect of the Executive of the 1922 Committee.
- Michael Ancram
- David Davis
- The lost votes!
- The Lost candidates!
1 Pennington Street,
London E98 1TA
1) If the Commission is to be part of the legislative process then the people of Europe should directly elect its members. If it is not to be part of that process, it should act like the Civil Service, under instruction from the Council of Ministers and have no formal powers.2) The Council of Ministers should meet and debate in open session.3) The closed party list system of proportional representation for election to the European Parliament must be abolished because it denies the people the ability to get rid of particular representatives. An electoral system must be chosen which meets the democratic criteria.4) Each Member of the European Parliament should represent a similar number of people.5) The meetings of the European Central Bank should be held in open session with the Council of Ministers or Parliament having the power to instruct or dismiss one or all of the directors of the Bank.
- "Do you know that the average age of the ladies stuffing the envelopes was 81"
- "All the tellers that I used at the polling station at the last election are now dead"
- "We cannot man every polling station because we no longer have the members"
- William Hague has got to show some anger. When people ask a particularly offensive question he should fire back at them and not just smile and laugh it off. By showing controlled political anger he will demonstrate that he feels passionately about his beliefs.
- It is no longer credible to keep on saying that we will keep the pound for the next parliament only. We do not say this in relation to any other policy. It is crunch time. We either risk losing some Europhile MPs or the Election. It is make your mind up time.
- Now that the result of the Election is beginning to revolve around Europe we must widen the argument on to the issue of freedom and democracy generally. This means "Five democratic tests for Europe". See "The Times" letters 22nd May. A Wholly elected House of Lords. A truly democratic Conservative Party. Democracy in Northern Ireland, we could start this one by William Hague going to Northern Ireland and giving support to the Conservative candidates there.
- The Conservatives should stop using smear tactics such as stating as fact that petrol under Labour will go up to £6.00 per gallon. The electorate are not stupid.
- In a similar vein we do not need to resort to these tactics by saying Labour will increase the tax rate to 50%. We know Labour use these tactics but the Conservative Party should be above this kind of thing.
- The Silent Ones - Members of the Shadow Cabinet that seem to be having a holiday. Andrew Mackay, Gary Streeter, Angela Browning. Where are they?
- Congratulations to Peter Ainsworth, David Amess and Anthony Steen for having the fastest response to E mails sent to them.
of The South West Convention to debate the merits of regional government for
the area and before the conference appear on Radio Four promoting the merits
of regional government?
Is the Church of England now officially promoting the break up of the United
Kingdom and will other clerics follow suit in organising regional
conventions to recommend referendums for directly elected assemblies?
Tories Win General Election by Default!
Last week the Government announced that they had spent £62,000,000 on advertising. It is quite clear that a significant proportion of this is of direct benefit to the Labour Party. The expenditure has been referred to Sam Younger - the Chairman of the Electoral Commission. He took the view that as there were strict limits on how much the Government could spend during a referendum campaign similar criteria should apply in a General Election. In his view approximately 10% of the money spent by the Labour Government fell into the category of party political expenditure. On the basis of the first quarters expenditure of £62,000,000 the whole year expenditure would amount to £248,000,000. 10% of this amounts to £24,000,000. Unfortunately for the Labour Party the maximum that is allowed for them to spend in the General Election is £18,000,000. They have therefore already overspent by £6,ooo,ooo.
The Chairman of the Electoral Commission has decided that rather than declare the Election null and void, in view of this direct contempt of the law the Labour Party will be fined £6,000,000 and will not be allowed to spend any further money at all during the General Election campaign. As the Labour Party is all spin and no substance it is thought that without any advertising this will allow the Tory Party to sweep the board in the Election. If only!
Now that there are cases of suspected "foot and mouth" disease in humans will the Government enforce a cull of all human beings within 3 miles of any suspected cases?
When will the bumbling bureaucrats of the Bucks. County Council demolish the ridiculous road traffic pinch in Fulmer Road, Gerrards Cross. There have already been two accidents involving injury at this pinch. The residents did not want it in the first place. What has happened to democracy? The people of Buckinghamshire wanted the County to be abolished and a unitary authority at district level to be put in its place. Only the intervention of Lord Carrington stopped this from going ahead. Another reason for having an elected House of Lords!
British Justice - a partial victory.(2)
(See story below) On April 20th John Archibald the rapist was jailed for three years at Reading Crown Court. The Judge said that as a result of adverse press coverage no social services accommodation could be found for him.
To the media who picked this story up from this web site and to those that publicised the story "Thank you" The husband of the victim was threatened in court by the rapist's brother. Let us hope that the police take action to ensure that no further damage is done to the victim or her family.
Commission for Racial Equality
Is it not time that the Conservative Party promised to abolish this quango along with all the other quangos that have proliferated over the last few years. Nothing but trouble seems to emanate from the Commission. We should work on the basis that there is only one race and that is "The Human Race". All are equal.
A corrupt General Election?
Last year the "Representation of the People Act 2000" was passed. What does this Act do?
- We can all vote by post and there are effectively no controls on these postal votes. The notes on the new Act say "Postal votes should be treated as valid even if not returned in the official envelope or if the ballot paper and the Declaration of Identity are returned separately. You can obtain as many ballot papers as you like. You can have another ballot paper if you lose the first one.
- No proof of citizenship is required. No proof of residence is required either. The homeless can register by giving a park bench as their address.
- The Act allows people in mental institutions a vote. This contravenes an ancient principle of English law that those diagnosed as mentally ill cannot vote.
Charles Wardle MP has had the Conservative whip withdrawn for supporting an Independent candidate for the General Election. Quite right too. On the other hand Christopher Gill MP, whose membership of the Conservative Party has lapsed and who has stated that he will be addressing meetings of the United Kingdom Independence Party still has the Conservative whip. Why?
The Gravy Train adds more carriages
The Local Government Association Labour Group has recommended that school governors be paid £32.00 per day plus travel expenses, plus paid time off for up to six days per year. This is how the gravy train always starts. You start with modest allowances and then you end up with obscenely high payments. What ever happened to public service? It was strangled to death by Labour.
- Friday evening started the weekend in uplifting mood. For the first time ever the bars were full of MPs, MEPs, professionals and voluntary workers, all mixing together. This was truly "One Party" On previous occasions the Friday evening was pretty dull. Not this one. We should make this happen every time.
- Scrap the "One minute please sessions. These are not "quick fire" but more like "quick froth".
- Scrap the "summing up" session on Saturday afternoon. We have just heard it all so why repeat it?
- The coffee arrangements in the Conference centre were appalling. Huge queues in the middle of Saturday afternoon, no coffee at the end of the session and no coffee at the end of the Sunday session, just when many people want one before setting off for a long journey home.
- Michael Ashcroft never turned up so a Party Treasurer has still not chaired a session. No reason was given for his non appearance.
- The dinner was an unmitigated disaster. William Hague was not there. He should have been. Michael Portillo was observed working the tables and the bar afterwards.
- Richard Whiteley and a folk group with Michael Ancram were the entertainment. If we want to be entertained we will pay to see what we want. The whole thing reminded me of a school talent contest where because someone wants to make a fool of himself he gets cheered. Do not encourage them.
- The dinner used to be a semi formal occasion with speeches, some light hearted, some serious. It started to go downhill when Gyles Brandreth was the guest speaker. It is time to change it back. Why cannot they use this occasion to make presentations? It should be a highlight, not a low point. The location is also pretty disastrous. As one MP said "It is like eating in a National Car Park", and that just about sums it up! At £45.00 per ticket we can surely do better.
Don Porter(one of the candidates for National Vice President), has asked us to point out that he is totally relaxed about Richard Stephenson having testimonials on his CV. At no stage has he objected to this and he believes that Richard is entitled to do what he has done. We are grateful to Don for putting the record straight and apologise to him for giving the misleading impression that all the other candidates objected. This is clearly not the case.
European Parliamentary Question H-0949/00
by Caroline Jackson MEP
to the European Commission
Subject: UK VAT rate on church repairs
On November 8th 2000, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer claimed in his pre-budget Statement to the House of Commons that he had asked the European Commission to reduce VAT from 17½% to 5% for repairs to churches.
Could the Commission confirm that such a decision would have to be taken by the Council of Finance Ministers on a proposal from the Commission, and can it indicate when it will submit such a proposal? Or can the Council alter the relevant annex to the 6th VAT Directive on its own initiative?
Mrs Caroline Jackson
The Honourable Member is correct in that the Paymaster General has recently written to the Commission suggesting that it should consider making early legislative proposals to include repairs, maintenance and improvements to listed places of worship in Annex H of the 6th VAT Directive, thereby making it possible for Member States to apply a reduced rate of VAT to such services.
The Honourable Member’s understanding is also correct in that any change to the 6th VAT Directive would have to be decided upon unanimously by the Council, where the Commission to propose such a change, and that Finance Ministers could not propose such an amendment on their own initiative.
The Commission can inform the Honourable Member that while it has every intention of reviewing the contents of Annex H of the 6th VAT Directive, this review will only take place after the evaluation of the current experiment on the application of the reduced rate for labour intensive services.
In this context, it should be noted that under the Commission’s original proposal for an experimental reduced rate for labour intensive services*, the repair and maintenance of historic buildings could have benefited from a reduced VAT rate, had Member States requested it.
However, the scope of the Commission’s original proposal was narrowed considerably by the Council by the definition of a limited list of sectors eligible for a reduced rate. In respect of the building sector, only the renovation and repair of private dwellings can qualify for the reduced rate. There is therefore no possibility in the short term for the United Kingdom to apply a VAT rate of 5% to repairs to churches.
* COM(1999)62 final – of 17.02.1999