In the modern age, where people don’t join the Young Conservatives to meet a future spouse at a ball, they need to be given a political, not a social reason to become a member of the party. They need to be offered, at the very least, the chance to pick their own candidate and probably far more than that. How many more people would sign up as Tory members if it gave them a real chance to set party policy on tax?
The Cameroons argue that the membership is too small to make this a sensible move, that the result would be unrepresentative candidates and policies that were unsellable to the public. But unless the party in the country is given some real power, it will continue to wither away. If the Prime Minister’s own association can add only 20-odd members in the year its MP enters Downing Street, what hope is there for other local parties?
If the leadership are not prepared to trust their members with some real powers, then they are going to have to find a whole other way to organise the party. Otherwise, it is going to die under them
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2008127/JAMES-FORSYTH-Theres-reason-join-Tories-Weve-come-voracious-crass--Who-says-Daves-constituency-chairman.html#ixzz1QPTLcthU
James Forsyth sums up the position exactly
Many condolences to Christopher Shale's family
We have always felt the sovereignty clause the less important aspect of the Bill compared with the referendum lock but the latter, designed to give Parliament and voters a say over any significant future transfers of power to Brussels, has now been attacked and severely mauled by peers.
On Monday, peers voted to restrict the issues on which referendums should be held to only three: joining the euro, the creation of a "single, integrated military force", and changes to border control. This would leave the public without a say over several important issues such as whether a future UK Government could sign up to the creation of a new European Public Prosecutor or give up arguably the UK's most important veto of all: it's right to veto the multi-annual EU budget.
And, in the words of Foreign Office Minister Lord Howell, these amendments completely "undermine the direct and frank and honest commitment that we wish to make to the British people...I really would suggest that the public can be trusted to determine what is in their own interest."
As we've noted before, there is a certain irony in the fact that it is an unelected body, the House of Lords, which is displaying such great suspicion and hostility to giving people a greater say over their country’s relationship with the EU - and peers have given us some unintentionally hilarious quotes during the often bizarre debates on the Bill (we'll give you a few samples shortly). But the fact that it is being allowed to do so completely under the political radar is probably even more worrying.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Lord Tebbit urges Conservatives to mutiny against CCHQ
And he usually knows what he’s talking about.
But the above quotation comes at the end of a post which is essentially a criticism of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
It is a curious addendum; almost an afterthought; tangential if not irrelevant to the subject matter of the post. It could almost be missed (indeed, it has been by all but His Grace). It is cannily sneaked in right at the end, so the Conservative-supporting, bishop-bashing blogs will freely link, tweet and re-tweet Lord Tebbit’s essential thesis that the bearded lefty Dr Rowan Williams is a whole mitre short of a bishopric. And yet when the Archbishop refers to the Conservative Party implementing policy without democratic legitimacy, Lord Tebbit exposes an inconvenient truth: the Party has long ceased being democratic, and under David Cameron it is manifesting decidedly anti-democratic tendencies.
And perhaps this is evident nowhere more than in the stranglehold exerted by Conservative Campaign Headquarters over candidate selection. The ‘Approved List’ used to consist of intelligent, discerning, loyal and true Tories with real experience in the world who wanted to bring their expertise into Parliament. So important were these qualities that if an aspiring candidate had dared to stand against the Party, they could not become ‘approved’ for at least the succeeding period of government – up to five years of ‘cooling off’, during which suitability could be assessed. When a seat became vacant, a local association would be sent the CVs of as many who had applied – sometimes hundreds – and it was for the local association to whittle them down to a long-list, then produce a short-list, and then to vote on a winner. The process was very open, democratic and fair.
Over the past decade, the emphasis has been more on gender than intelligence; more on ethnicity than loyalty; more on sexuality than a grasp of philosophy; and more on an appreciation of diversity than political discernment. And to ensure the ‘right sort’ of candidate succeeded, CCHQ embarked on a process of limiting candidate selection in its ‘plum seats’ to just six good men and true, three of which must be women. It was not unheard of for the three men to be black, Asian or gay. There was even candidate selection byreligion.
As His Grace wrote at the time, candidates are:
...hand-picked for each Conservative Association by two of the most powerful people in CCHQ – John Maples MP and
It is telling that in 2009 His Grace pointedly crossed out ‘Baroness’, yet just a year later she had indeed become Baroness Ritchie of Brompton, just as Patricia Morris before her went on to become Baroness Morris of Bolton. Both of their Wikipedia entries refer to their ‘efforts of diversity’, including ‘women2win’ and the formation of ‘Priority List’ (A-List) candidates.
This is a curious centralisation, which effectively exempts the internal workings of the Conservative Party from David Cameron’s commitment to localism, devolution, subsidiarity and democracy. While the Party Leader is preaching the gospel of demos, the party practises kratos. Before the election, he promised to shift power:
From the state to citizens; from the government to parliament; from Whitehall to communities. From Brussels to Britain; from judges to the people; from bureaucracy to democracy. Through decentralisation, transparency and accountability we must take power away from the political elite and hand it to the man and woman in the street.Yet while he preaches parliament, communities, Britain, people and democracy, we still get government, Whitehall, Brussels, judges and bureaucracy. Okay, the Conservative Party didn’t win the election. But there is absolutely nothing preventing the Prime Minister from practising what he preaches within the party he leads. Why talk of shifting power from the state to the citizens and from Whitehall to town halls while centralising your own bureaucracy?
If the intelligent, discerning, loyal and responsible local Conservative associations are not ready for democracy, what makes Mr Cameron believe the town halls are? How can one persuade the electorate that one stands for something out of conviction if one’s instinct is to practise the contrary. Is a man not best judged by what he does in his own home?
It is puzzling in the extreme that the Conservative Party has learnt nothing from the electorate’s reaction to the controlling and centralising tendencies of Labour. When the people of Wales wanted Rhodri Morgan, Labour imposed Alun Michael; when the people of London wanted Ken Livingstone, Labour imposed Frank Dobson; when the people of Blaenau Gwent wanted to select their own candidate, Labour imposed an all-women shortlist. And when Harriet Harman wanted her husband elected to Parliament, the all-women shortlists were conveniently set aside and, lo and behold, Jack Dromey was elected. It is the Socialist way.
Conservative philosophy is quite different. We believe that the State should enable, not control. And in order to fulfil the Conservative aspiration to shrink the State, policies must be introduced to encourage individual responsibility and strengthen the ‘little platoons’. If David Cameron cannot achieve this even amongst his own faithful, it is highly questionable that he is committed at all to ‘decentralisation, transparency and accountability’.
It is worth considering that had the Conservative Party exercised central control over its MPs throughout its history, it would doubtless have removed Churchill, Eden and Macmillan from its approved list. And it is highly likely that they would have become more than a little exasperated by a shrill candidate called Margaret Thatcher who complained numerous times to Central Office of her inability to get selected.
His Grace mused two years ago:
It is not entirely beyond the realms of possibility that proud and independently-minded Conservative associations, increasingly exasperated by an autocratic centralised power antithetical to all that is being preached about localism, might eventually stick two fingers up to this ultra-Approved List, which is essentially the resurrected ‘A-List’, and begin to field their own ‘democratic’ or ‘independent’ Conservative candidates.
But he never expected such a distinguished Conservative as Lord Tebbit to foment the rebellion.
This tantalising intervention comes at a time of acute embarrassment for the Candidates’ Department, having just dismissed (‘right-wing’, ‘eurosceptic’) Annunziata Rees-Mogg (along with reportedly 200 other formerly-approved candidates).
Louise Mensch (née Bagshaw) MP called the decision 'hugely unfair'. She accused CCHQ of ‘pushing forward young female candidates such as Ms Rees-Mogg as part of a PR drive to present a fresh image for the party, only to then drop them abruptly after Election day’.
Jacob Rees Mogg MP has gone further. He called the decision ‘contemptible’, adding: ‘The attitude of Central Office is shameful... I think my sister has been treated disgracefully by an unjust procedure that brings the party into disrepute. Traditionally the Candidates’ department was well run by an experienced MP and senior members of the voluntary party. It is now run by arrogant, discourteous apparatchiks.’
Mr Rees-Mogg also condemned the ‘poor manners’ of
Indeed it is not. But Party Co-Chairman Andrew Feldman has responded defiantly, insisting that the Candidates’ Department is ‘determined not to be influenced by the friends of candidates' and that he intends to 'take the small "p" politics out of candidate selection'.
His Grace doesn’t have a clue what Mr Feldman means by taking the small ‘p’ politics out of candidate selection (it is oxymoronic and humanly impossible). But when you consider the number of Shadow Cabinet senior aides and chiefs of staff who went on to be selected for ‘plum seats’, the assertion that the influence of ‘friends’ has been eradicated is laughable.
But back to Lord Tebbit’s solution. It is unfortunate that he does not explain what he means by ‘take over’. If he means ‘assume control’ (OED), he is fomenting a fruitless discord and appears to be alarmingly ignorant of the Conservative Party Constitution which has changed somewhat since he was chairman.
Under the Hague reforms in the wake of the Neil Hamilton affair, the Conservative Party became an unincorporated association. Prior to that it had no official legal status: it was essentially the private office of the Leader, and local associations were autonomous. As far as candidate selection was concerned, they could simply ignore Conservative Central Office (as it was then) by having the candidate run as an independent Conservative. Although there was an ‘Approved List’, CCO had no way of enforcing their preference for an ‘approved’ candidate. In 1997, CCO threatened to remove Neil Hamilton from the list but were told by his Association that he would run anyway without their support. CCO was impotent to do anything about it.
After that general election, the Constitution was codified and previously autonomous associations dutifully signed up to it (some with a little ‘persuasion’). As a result, associations surrendered their sovereignty and became subject to an omnipotent and unaccountable bureaucracy. CCHQ (as it became) acquired the power to appropriate constituency property and cash. If a local constituency association ever again refused to comply with a central directive, they could be put it into ‘support status’ (ie sacked en masse and administered centrally). CCHQ has not only threatened a number of ‘troublesome’ associations with this humiliating treatment, they have done it.
Lord Tebbit appears not to know that an oligarchical CCHQ is now omnipotent over both candidate selection and the internal workings of all local associations: they can appoint and dismiss as they see fit, in accordance with the will of the Party Board. And that Board is empowered by an ‘enabling clause’ which permits it to do whatever is necessary ‘in the interests of the Party’.
If, therefore, local members were to attempt a democratic ‘take over’ of their CCHQ-compliant association, or if they were to ‘decline to support’ the CCHQ-approved candidate, as Lord Tebbit advocates, they could be individually disciplined and expelled from the Party, or the whole association put into ‘support status’. A local association cannot be ‘taken over’ by democratically-minded Conservatives: if an attempt were to be made, it would be ‘taken over’ by the Board. And this could be threatened (and implemented) over a fairly minor dispute or for (undefined) ‘poor performance’. The assessment of the seriousness of a misdeamanour is wholely subjective and carried out by CCHQ (ie the Board). There are no checks and balances; just a series of rigged appeals.
So, Lord Tebbit, would you care to elucidate, as a few of your your own commenters have requested? Are you suggesting that the loyal Conservatives of Somerton and Frome re-adopt Annunziata Rees-Mogg in defiance of CCHQ? Are you proposing that they volunteer for certain ‘support status’? Are you suggesting that they reject the next ‘clone dummy’ candidate CCHQ decides to impose? Having been party chairman, how do you think Baroness Warsi might react to your suggestion? Could you please elucidate either in the thread below or upon your own august blog? Or (if you prefer), you may email His Grace in confidence directly (address top right of his blog). Bless you.
And Lord Tebbitt replys:
Is Lord Tebbit about to be suspended or expelled from the Conservative Party?
His Grace asked:
Are you suggesting that the loyal Conservatives of Somerton and Frome re-adopt Annunziata Rees-Mogg in defiance of CCHQ, who have just removed her from the 'Approved List'? Are you proposing that they volunteer for certain ‘support status’? Are you suggesting that they reject the next ‘clone dummy’ candidate CCHQ decides to impose? Having been party chairman, how do you think Baroness Warsi might react to your suggestion?The Noble Lord has responded upon his blog:
Sally Roberts questioned what I would have said to ‘entryism’ when I was Party Chairman. Well, I always did and still do encourage Conservatives to join the Conservative Party and to fight for conservative policies and to select and elect Conservative Members of the Commons. Of course, in my day local Conservative Associations were autonomous bodies over which I did not have control, whereas today they are more like branches of the central Party, a point well made by Cranmer.
My message is that local Conservatives should control constituency associations and insist on selecting Conservative candidates who they like, not Central Office nominees. It could be called the Big Society politics. As Wuffothe Wonderdog says, Central Office might not like it, but faced with Conservatives willing to run independent Conservative candidates against imposed ones, they would probably think again.
This is both refreshingly forthright and very interesting indeed, not least because Lord Tebbit - who takes the Party Whip on the House of Lords and is a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party - is suggesting that local Conservative associations should threaten to run independent Conservative candidates against those imposed centrally. Of course, CCHQ will insist that they never impose anyone, but the facts of history rather negate such an assertion. Lord Tebbit urges this rebellion knowing full well that in the past it has led to associations being threatened with 'support status' (ie, 'taken over' by CCHQ) and, in one case, a whole association being dismissed for expressing support for an 'un-approved' candidate.
Lord Tebbit has clarified that 'local Conservatives should control constituency associations and insist on selecting Conservative candidates who they like, not Central Office nominees'. This can only be achieved by rejecting 'Central Office clone dummies', as he calls them. There are those who will view this as a direct challenge to the authority of the Conservative Party Board, which is omnipotent on all matters relating to the conduct of members.
Shedule 7, article 3.5 of the Conservative Party’s constitution states:
‘The Officers of the Association may move before the Executive Council the suspension or termination of membership of the Association of any member whose declared opinions or conduct shall, in their judgement, be inconsistent with the objects or financial well-being of the Association or be likely to bring the Party into disrepute. Similarly, the Officers may move the refusal of membership of the Association for the same reasons. Following such a motion, the Executive Council may by a majority vote suspend, terminate or refuse membership for the same reason.’
By exhorting Conservative Party members to reject CCHQ-approved candidates in favour of independents, Lord Tebbit is indeed declaring opinions and conducting himself in a manner that is inconsistent with the objects (and financial well-being) of his local association and the Conservative Party nationally.
Is CCHQ about to suspend or terminate Lord Tebbit's membership of the Conservative Party?
The much heralded White Paper on public service reform, which we were promised would “signal the decisive end of the old-fashioned, top-down, take-what-you’re-given model of public services” seems to have been abandoned. Far from revolutionising choice over who provides state-funded services, we learn that the process of public procurement within the public sector is actually being centralised around the Cabinet Office.
Lord Turnbull publishes devastating critique of the Coalition's climate change policies
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Scepticism about climate change takes at least four forms:
- Some sceptics don't believe that the climate is changing.
- Others believe that climate is changing but it isn't 'man-made'.
- Some believe that climate change is happening but they don't believe government action can make a difference.
- Some believe that government might be able to make a difference but it's too expensive or risky to try.
Britain should NOT act unilaterally: "Our Climate Change Act imposes legal duties, regardless of what ever else other countries do, or do not do. The UK, producing only 2-3 percent of world CO2 emissions, can have only a minimal effect on the global warming outcome. If we push too hard on decarbonisation by raising the price of carbon through a range of instruments we will suffer double jeopardy. Energy-using industries will migrate and, if the climate pessimists are right, we will still have to pay to adapt, e.g. by raising our flood defences."
Are we right to try and stop global warming or should scarce resources be invested in adaption? "Policy has been based on a preponderantly warmist view of the world. Many such as the Institution of Civil Engineers think that too little attention has been paid to adaptation, i.e. being more resilient whichever way the sum of natural forces and CO2 takes us, up or down."
Expensive wind power enjoys favoured status in EU energy policy: "The logical economist’s approach is to rank policy responses according to the cost per tonne of CO2 abated and then work through the merit order, starting with the most effective. Or, what amounts to the same thing, set a price on carbon and then let the various technologies – gas, coal with CCS, nuclear, wind, tidal, energy efficiency etc, fight it out for market share. But the EU Renewables Obligation is the denial of this logic. One particular set of technologies, and especially wind, has been given a guaranteed market share and a guaranteed indexed price, regardless of how competitive it is. The current pursuit of wind power is folly. Its cost per kWh substantially exceeds that of other low carbon sources such as nuclear when account is taken of intermittency and the cost of extending the grid far from where consumers are located."
The Liberal Democrats' objections to nuclear power are inconsistent: "The Secretary of State at Department of Energy and Climate Change has called nuclear a tried, tested and failed technology. It may be that in the UK historically it has not been as successful as it might have been but it has for 50 years provided around 20 percent of our electricity reliably, competitively and safely. Just 20 miles from our coast France has produced over 2/3rds of its electricity from nuclear and regards this as a great success... There is something profoundly illogical in Nick Clegg’s demand that nuclear power can only go ahead in the UK if it receives no public subsidy whatsoever, while at the same time promoting huge subsidies for renewables."
Current subsidies for solar power generation involve a transfer of power from the poor to the rich: "The feed-in tariff mechanism is fast becoming a scandal. Those lucky enough to own buildings large enough on which to install solar panels, or enough land for a wind farm, have been receiving 30-40p per kwh, for electricity, which is retailed at only 11p. The loss is paid for by a levy on businesses and households. It is astonishing that the Liberals who attach such importance to fairness turn a blind eye to this transfer from poor to rich, running to £billions a year. If you live in a council tower block in Lambeth you don’t have much opportunity to get your nose into this trough. The good news is that, at last, the government is beginning to cut back on subsidies to large solar operators, following the trend set in Germany and Spain."
The shale revolution: "There is a major new development which fits the description of a disruptive technology, that is the introduction of new drilling techniques which make it possible to extract gas from shale. This has dramatically widened the geographic availability of gas, has produced a massive upgrading of gas reserves and is decoupling gas prices from oil. There is no peak in hydrocarbons. Gas has the advantage that it produces less than half the CO2 that coal produces. So we face a happy prospect that we can replace a lot of coal burning with gas, reduce energy prices, and make a big reduction in CO2 emissions, albeit not the complete decarbonisation sought by some, achieving in effect a dash for gas at the global level."
The Green Jobs Con: "My view is simple. If a technology can justify itself without massive subsidy we should build up our research and our skills. But if a technology exists only by virtue of subsidy we only impoverish ourselves by trying to build jobs on such shaky foundations."
Then she stops zooming in on headlines with the party’s name in it. Soon it happens: An opinion poll comes out, and she doesn’t care how the party is doing. She surprises even herself with her lack of interest.
Sitting out the election feels weird, as she’ll have received phone calls from party officers who have finally noticed that she’s not turning up, and she’ll feel embarrassed, and will almost promise to turn up at the next meeting, but resists, and says “she’ll see what she can do”. They both know that means she’s gone. The party official will wonder why the sane people always leave whilst the mouth-breathers and the one-issue obsessives “how will the banking crisis affect the ramps on the bottom of Lea Road, which is a major issue in the area?” never do.
She misses the energy of the election, but not hugely, seeing it for the first time the way non-political people see it, as important, but not the most important thing in her life. On the door, she is polite to the canvassers, having been that soldier, and resists the urge to demonstrate that she actually knows more about their policies than they do.
She still watches the election count all day on the telly, and enjoys it, but other things fill her life. Family, work, and whilst she still maintains an interest in politics it tends to be at a higher level, with more interest in other countries or history. She finds herself shutting out day-to-day politics, developing an interest in running or cycling or painting or learning the piano. And here’s the scary thing: She doesn’t regret her time spent in politics, because she met some great people. But as she finishes her first painting, or finishes her first novel, or passes her first piano exam, she can’t help thinking that she could’ve put her time to much more rewarding use.
- The Yes campaign was to be a people’s campaign driven by the people and not by politicians.
- Detailed research by ICM had shown that in an opinion poll the Alternative Vote had a 60% to 40% lead over First Past The Post. The majority in favour was highest amongst young people, diminishing with age until at the age of 65 the majority switched to First Past The Post. 40% of Conservative voters were in favour of the Alternative Vote.
- The campaign was to be an all party campaign.
The key elements which flowed from this information were that:
- Conservative votes were a critical element in the campaign particularly as the Labour Party was split.
- Conservative Party members were barren ground as the average age of a party member was 68.
- Voters over 65 were more likely to vote so it was essential to get out the young people to vote. Social media would be critical in this.
It became apparent early in the campaign that the Liberal Democrats were taking the lead, particularly due to their connections with the Joseph Rowntree Trust, which was to be a major funder of the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign. The other major funder was the Electoral Reform Society. At this stage it seemed as though the referendum would be won and the Liberal Democrats wanted to get the political advantage which would arise from winning.
- To provide a focal point for the Conservatives who supported Yes.
- To identify supporters, and channel their names to Yes To Fairer Votes.
- To be spokesmen for the Conservatives.
- To speak at local and national events.
- To disseminate information and rebut the Conservative No campaign.
- Ed Milliband wouldn’t share a platform with Nick Clegge
- UKIP were excluded until the final phase of the campaign.
- The Green Party only had a minor role.
- Someone has to be in overall charge.
- There must be a Management Team with clear lines of responsibility.
- A Council should be set up on which all the different organisations including the political parties are represented. This Council will be responsible for co-ordinating the different groups. The Management team should report to it and it should meet at least once per month during the campaign. Budgets and income and expenditure should be agreed with the Management Team.
- If you are to run a people’s campaign you need to demonstrate that ordinary people are supporting you. There should have been at least two mass rallies of supporters during the campaign fronted by ordinary people, not politicians.
"1. A chance for more honest, positive politics
2. MPs need your support
3. A fair system."
What happened to the Conservative Yes Campaign?
Why is it bad that 90% of mechanical engineering graduates are male but not alright if 90% of psychology graduates are female?
- For those with Conservative MPs, the target for Membership is 5% of the local Conservative vote at the 2010 General Election.
- For those without Conservative MPs, the target is 3% of the local Conservative vote at the 2010 General Election.
Can a third placed candidate win under AV?
It has never happened in New South Wales, nor in Queensland since AV was re-introduced in 1992. I will stand corrected if someone can find a Queensland example under the supplementary vote rules used between 1892 and 1940, but as far as I know, my claim stands.
No candidate has ever won from third place in Australia under AV rules.
So why is my view at odds with the opinion piece written by Lord Ashcroft at Conservative Home last week? (See article here)
The answer is that Lord Ashcroft's example was not AV. His example was the full preferential system used at Australian Federal elections.
The alternative vote system has so often been misrepresented, that I feel a few words may help clarify and not come amiss. The official instructions are good, but a real example with real numbers may help to see it clearly. For simplicity’s sake, I'm using an example I gave my 13 year old grandson.
Party co-chairman Lord Feldman (pictured above) has this week written to all Conservative MPs and Conservative associations, setting them ambitious membership targets:
Feldman says that increasing the membership now will be "the bedrock of our campaigning success in future elections" and that all associations will shortly have access to a new "membership toolkit" both online and in booklet form to assist them in this drive over the coming months.
- For those with Conservative MPs, the target for Membership is 5% of the local Conservative vote at the 2010 General Election.
- For those without Conservative MPs, the target is 3% of the local Conservative vote at the 2010 General Election."
He also highlights that the party is improving communication with members through a new Members First newsletter to be sent via email every two months and is giving them "a stronger voice" on policy development through the re-launched Conservative Policy Forum.
Will they ever learn? It is no good setting targets, without tackling the fundamental problem. Why should anyone become a Party member? They have no say in anything other than the election of the Leader. Even then their choice is restricted to two candidates.