28th May 2019
All candidates for Leadership of
The Conservative Party
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
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.
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.
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.
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!