Thursday, June 6, 2019

Letter to all Conservative Party Leadership candidates 28th May 2019

4th June
A polite letter received from Tom Tugendhat MP:

Dear Mr Strafford

Thank you for your letter of 28 May suggesting that I might run for leadership. I am grateful to you for your generous comments, but have decided against taking this step. There are some splendid candidates, and I have decided to support Michael Gove.

Best wishes,

Tom

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Should the No. of Conservative Leadership Candidates be Capped?

I wrote the following letter to the Party Chairman in August 2018 with a copy to Sir Graham Brady MP:
                                                                                                     20th August 2018

Rt. Hon. Brandon Lewis, MP
Chairman, The Party Board,
Conservative Campaign Headquarters,
4 Matthew Parker Street,
London
SW1H 9HQ




Re: Proposed Changes to the Election of the Conservative Party Leader

There is much speculation that there will be a Leadership Election in the Conservative Party before the end of this Parliament.  One of the reasons for people to become members of the Party is that they can then participate in a Leadership election and yet in two out of the last four Leadership contests the members did not get a vote.   The Members of Parliament arranged that only one candidate was left to fight the election in 2003.   In 2016 we ended up with only one candidate and even in 2001 when the members got to vote the front runner was eliminated by one vote by the MPs.   In a modern political Party this is not acceptable.   The 1922 Committee should now change the rules so that all candidates who have more than 20 MPs nominating them will be put to the members in a ballot conducted on the Preferential Vote system of election, so that the winner will be the first candidate to get over 50% of the vote.

             This is the fair way to proceed and one advantage is that as all members participate there can be no division between the Parliamentary Party and the rest of the members as the figures as to how each part voted would not be known.

I am aware that under the Party Constitution the 1922 Committee is obliged to put two candidates forward for the members to vote on, but the Party Board has the power under Part IV section 17 of the Constitution “to do anything which in its opinion relates to the management and administration of the Party.”   It was under this clause that the entire section of the Constitution on the selection of parliamentary candidates was ignored at the General Election in 2017 so that CCHQ could impose candidates on the constituencies.                                                     

In 2016, when David Cameron resigned as Party Leader some 10,000 people joined the Party because they thought they would be able to vote in the subsequent Leadership election.   It is said that people are now joining the Party in anticipation of being able to participate in the next Leadership election.   I fear there will be mass resignations from the Party of its members if the MPs only put forward one candidate or stop a candidate who is popular with the members of the Party from b  eing included in the ballot.

It is time for the Party to embrace democracy and allow full participation by the membership.   Could you please put this proposal to the Party Board for their approval?

Yours sincerely 

 John E. Strafford

Chairman


 Copy: Sir Graham Brady (Chairman 1922Committee)

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Letter to all Conservative Leadership Candidates

The following letter and paper is being sent to all Conservative Party Leadership Candidates.   We will let you know their responses:

                                                                                                     28th May 2019

All candidates for Leadership of
The Conservative Party


Dear Candidate,
Re: Party Reform

It has been speculated in the media that you are considering running for leadership of the Conservative Party (you might have announced already whilst this letter is on its way to you, in which case I apologise).

As you will be aware we are campaigning for greater democracy within the Conservative Party and we have a 5 point agenda, which I have attached.

You will know how divided the Party is at the moment and how we urgently need to repair the damage that has been done and we believe that ours is part of a plan that can start to bring the Party back together.

We would like you to consider adopting these points as part of your leadership bid.

We will at the same time as writing this letter publish it on our web site and in two weeks time we will announce those candidates that have indicated that they are willing to adopt them and we will advise the membership of the Conservative Party that they should consider voting for the candidates that adopt the change that is desperately needed for the Party.

Please if you can consider this and let me know your response as soon as possible.   We will also publish all responses.

Good luck with your candidacy and for the Party’s sake I hope that the best one wins.

                         
With best wishes


John E. Strafford



Conservative Party Reform

Current Position
1)      Party Membership is 125-160,000.   Approx. 10-15% are Activists.   To run a National Ground campaign in a General Election you need approx. 500,000 members or 50,000 Activists.
2)      The last General Election at which we had 500,000 members was in 1992.   Since then we have had 20 Party Chairmen who have presided over a declining membership and done nothing about it.   The last National membership campaign was in 1988.
3)      Per the Feldman Review (2016), 290 Constituency Associations have fewer than 100 members.   Only 50 associations have more than 500 members.
4)      Research has shown that people join political parties for social reasons, and in order to participate in decision making, either by voting on policy or voting for those that make policy.
5)      There is a huge gap between the views of the Parliamentary Party and the Voluntary Party, e.g. 60% of Tory MPs were in favour of remaining in the European Union, whereas 70% of members wished to leave the European Union.

Objectives
1)      To increase Party membership to a minimum of 500,000.
2)      To eliminate the gap between the Parliamentary Party and the voluntary party on policy issues by encouraging debate at the Party Conference/Spring Forum.
3)      To reverse the centralisation of the Party organisation by giving power back to the members on candidate selection.
4)      To bring accountability into how the Party is organised by having elected officials accountable to the membership.
5)      To enable the Constitution of the Party to be changed without going through a lengthy process in what is now a rapidly changing world.

Five Essential Reforms
1)      The National Convention should be replaced by an Annual General Meeting to which all Party members are invited.
2)      The Chairman of the Party Board, Deputy Chairman, Treasurer, Chairman of the Candidates Committee and Chairman of the Policy Forum should be elected by and accountable to Party members and present Annual reports to the Annual General Meeting.
3)      Constituency Associations should have the right to determine who their Parliamentary Candidate should be with due process and minimum interference by CCHQ, with safeguards for Constituencies where the membership is below a certain level.
4)      Motions for debate should be re-instated at the Party Conference and/or at the Spring Forum.
5)      The Party Constitution should be capable of being changed at a General Meeting of the Party by Party members on the basis of One Member One Vote with a 60% majority. The present minor changes to the Constitution have been under discussion for four years and nothing has happened.
Administration
1)      Party members have virtually no rights or means of progressing these essential changes.   It is therefore critical for the Parliamentary Party to get involved. A group of Conservative MPs together with a group of volunteers should meet and agree the best way to pursue these reforms.  
2)      There is now a Leadership election and all the candidates for Leader will be asked to publicly endorse these proposals.
3)      The Executive of the 1922 Committee will be asked for their support.
Communication
1)      By use of the internet communication can be speeded up.
2)      Voting on line can be used for positions and for involvement of the membership in proposed policies.
3)      Social media can be used for instant communication.

Without radical reform the party will cease to exist!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Dominic Grieve MP - Special General Meeting Petition


The following Petition was submitted to the Secretary, Executive Council, Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association on 9th May 2019:


Date 8th May 2019                             
To: Chairman, Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association
      Secretary, Executive Council, Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association  
      Disraeli House, 12 Aylesbury End, Beaconsfield, HP9 1LW,

Dear Sirs
                                        Special General Meeting
Under Schedule 7, clause 10.1.2 of the Constitution of the Conservative Party
We the undersigned being members of the Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association petition you to convene a Special General Meeting of members of the Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association in order that the following business shall be conducted:
 “The Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association at its Annual General Meeting on 29th March 2019 did not express full confidence in the Rt. Hon Dominic Grieve MP. We therefore resolve that he should not be the Conservative Parliamentary candidate for the Constituency of Beaconsfield at the next General Election and the Association should immediately start the process of selecting a new candidate.
Name………………………… (signed)…………………………Membership No. …………
Name………………………… (signed)…………………………Membership No. …………
etc.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Why Dominic Grieve MP Should Go!


We are possibly witnessing the greatest betrayal of democracy in the history of the United Kingdom.
Democracy is the process by which you determine the will of a majority of the people.
The will of a majority of the people was determined in the referendum on the European Union in 2016.   The people voted to leave.

One of the leaders of the greatest betrayal was Dominic Grieve MP.
He stood for election in the General Election of 2017 on a Conservative manifesto that said we would leave the European Union.   That manifesto said we would honour the decision of the people.  
Dominic Grieve voted in favour of Article 50 of the Withdrawal Agreement which gave a date for withdrawal from the European Union of 29th March 2019.
Ever since, he has obstructed the implementation of the will of the people.

He has called for a second referendum.
He has voted in favour of the revocation of Article 50.
He has colluded with Labour MPs to take on the government of this nation.

And the reason he gives for these broken promises is that he is speaking in the National Interest, but who is Dominic Grieve to determine what is the National Interest?   Does he not accept that the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the European Union were speaking in the National Interest?

In view of his actions I have no faith in Dominic Grieve, I have no trust in him.
In view of his broken promises I cannot ever vote for him again.

I call on Dominic Grieve MP not to stand as the Conservative Parliamentary candidate for the Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association at the next General Election and
I call on the Association to immediately start the process of selecting a new parliamentary candidate for the constituency. 

In the words of Oliver Cromwell: “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you.   In the name of God, go!”

Monday, April 1, 2019

COPOV Forum and Annual General Meeting

Do come to our Forum and Annual General Meeting on 13th April See EVENTS for the Agenda.which includes "The Future of the Conservative Party".

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Grieve Faces Backlash From Party Faithful


Press Release:

                                  GRIEVE FACES BACKLASH FROM PARTY FAITHFUL
Tory rebel Dominic Grieve is facing a massive backlash and potential de-selection from angry Conservative members in his "safe" seat in Beaconsfield.
Grieve,  the former attorney general,  left many party supporters outraged by his comments to fellow MP’s that he “ …never felt more ashamed to be a member of the Conservative Party or to be asked to lend her (The Prime Minister) support.”
Now after growing discontent from many of his constituents, enough signatures have been raised to force the local association to call for a vote of confidence in the MP at the annual general meeting – ironically on March 29 when the UK was meant to be leaving the European Community.
Local party member Ernie Cochrane said: “We are ashamed to be represented by someone who we feel has been duplicitous, disloyal and not representing our interests.”
The 100 strong group calls itself the Bccademocracy and their mood is best summed up by former European Healthcare finance director, Richard Jenkins who said: “We respect Grieve’s opinion on Europe, whilst disagreeing vehemently with his unfounded predictions of gloom over leaving.
“It is the fact that he stood on a platform to support the government and respect the referendum result. He then voted to trigger Article 50, but all his subsequent actions have been directed to obstructing Brexit and making things difficult for Theresa May and the Conservative government.”
Bruce Goodwin has been frustrated by Grieve’s constant media appearances, whilst allegedly ignoring and not engaging with his constituents.
Another local constituent Catherine Francoise wants to challenge why he has kept secret the minutes of a taxpayer-funded trip to Brussels to meet the EU’s Brexit chief negotiator Michel Barnier last year, with Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry. She is also concerned the minutes of last year's Beaconsfield AGM did not reflect the heated opposition to Grieve.
Many believe local chairman Santokh Chhokar is not listening to the groundswell of local opinion and he has been accused of attempting to ignore the discontent and also tried to claim that John Strafford, a former local chairman and member for forty years was not entitled to bring the vote of ‘ confidence’ in the MP.
Grieve believes that 'entryism’ has taken place in the local party, but only former UKIP candidate for Beaconsfield Jon Conway is the sole activist from another party to join the local Tories.
Conway said: “I’m hardly a tidal wave of one ‘entryist’ and it’s ironic he persuaded me to believe his pledges to honour the referendum, but is now ashamed of the party he convinced me to rejoin.
“I am hearing time and again, it is not because of his extreme views on the EU, it is because he has gone back on his word and been disloyal to the party and the Prime Minister, that people don’t want him as their MP. I hope he does the honourable thing and resigns.”
Tory member and businesswoman Beryl Dite feels Theresa May should be respected for trying her best. She says: “Grieve is the rebel, not us, we support our party leader and PM, we represent the 17 million who voted to Leave. No-one voted for him to disrupt and delay the way he has.”


Thursday, March 14, 2019

Conservative Party – Dirty Tricks or Cock-Up Update 2


Conservative Party – Dirty Tricks or Cock-Up Update 2
          On 27th February I submitted a motion to the Chairman of “No Confidence in Dominic Grieve MP” for the Annual General Meeting of Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association.
On 2nd March I raised with the Agent of the Association that I had received no notification of the renewal of my membership subscription from CCHQ.
On 4th March I was told the motion was rejected because my membership of the Party had lapsed.   On being told this, that day, I and my wife Caroline went to the BCCA office and each of us gave a cheque for £25 in payment of our subscriptions.   I had not received any Notification of Renewal, or Reminder, from the BCCA office, but I had been told in April 2018 that in future CCHQ would be contacting me regarding renewal.
            Today 13th March 2019 I received a letter from Natalie Crosby-Jones, Head of Membership at CCHQ.     Her letter was dated March 2019.   She writes:
Dear Mr Strafford,
Thank you for the support you’ve provided to the Conservatives in the past year.   As a Member, you are a crucial part of our Party, and we are grateful for all the work that you’ve done for us.
She goes on to say that my membership is now overdue and would I renew it today.   Having received the letter I checked my Bank statements to see whether my cheque for £25 had been banked.   It had not.   It is ironic that when I became Chairman of BCCA, one of the first things I had to do was to dismiss the then Agent for incompetence. Top of the list of incompetence was not banking cheques expeditiously.   How standards fall!
If, as per Ms Natalie Crosby-Jones I am still a Member, then why was my motion rejected and who took that decision?
The question now is: Do I cancel my cheque to BCCA and issue a new cheque to CCHQ as requested, or do I wait and see what happens?   You tell me!   I have never known such a shambolic state of affairs, or could it be “Dirty Tricks” to stop the motion going on the Agenda?

Friday, March 8, 2019

Conservative Party - Dirty Tricks or Cock - Up - Update


Conservative Party – Dirty Tricks or Cock-up – Update  


1)      I am told by a journalist who made inquiries about my status, that both Caroline and I are now “continuous members” and will be able to vote at the Annual General Meeting on March 29th.   That is the good news.   The bad news is that we have not yet received receipts for our membership subscriptions or any emails either from the Local Association or CCHQ.   Will we be updated with what we have missed?   The following second notice has now gone out to Association members.   Guess what?   I have not received it!

"Second email

From: Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association
Sent: 08 March 2019 15:22
Subject: Official notice of the BCCA AGM
Correction:  Members whose subscriptions lapse before 29th March are NOT eligible to vote unless they renew between now and the 29th.  But if they do renew then their eligibility is confirmed.
Philip Dumville
Agent

IMPORTANT
It is obvious that there is a greater than normal interest from members to attend this meeting.
My advice to you is:-
Plan to arrive early  - the car park will fill up
Bring your current membership card.  Those of you who paid Jan-July 2018 will have received a card from Disraeli House. Those who paid August 2018 - March 2019 will have received a card from Party HQ.
There will be lists at the door identifying current members for checking but if there is a late last minute rush of arrivals, then there will be queues.
Philip Dumville
Agent"

It is now clear that the action taken against me was a sordid move to stop me putting a motion to the Constituency AGM.   However, the pressure was such that we have got a motion on the Agenda and I hope all Constituency Party members will oppose it.

2)      Last week the Party Chairman (Brandon Lewis) was quoted in the Daily Mail saying that there had been an increase in the number of members paying £25.00.   He refused to give the total number of members.   I understand that members who were paying their subscription by standing order are now being treated as non members if the standing order was less than £25.00.   Constituency Associations are being asked to contact these members to change their standing orders and increase them.   You can guess what may happen – a further loss of members?

3)      Jackson Ng, one of the Deputy Chairmen of the Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association, telephoned me to say that he was not consulted and there was no discussion by the officers of the action to be taken against me (see original report).   He was just told it was happening.   In that case who issued the orders?

4)      I am assured by a procedural expert that the President of the Association could refuse to take my proposed amendments as they negate the motion.   In which case we need to think again as to what amendments to put or just to oppose the motion.   Any comments will be welcome.