Archive 2010

Archive 2010
December 26th No2AV Campaign - Do as I say and not as I do.
December 19th Questions to members of the Conservative Party
December 12th Northern Ireland - Parliamentary Candidates - Elected Party Chairman - Leader under First Past The Post - And Finally
December 5th COPOV Forum 4th December - Conservative Policy Forum - Our Future - David and Goliatha - Next week - What is happening to the Parliamentary Candidate's List 
November 28th Party Reform - Tony Blair - Part Timers - More Interference! - IPSA
November 21st 
The Conservative Party, Where is it going? - How will Adams stand down?
November 14th Chairman of the National Convention - David and Goliatha
November 7th European Budget - Prisoner Voting
NO2AV Campaign
Over the last ten days I have tried to contact the NO2AV Campaign.    Their web site only has a Tel. No. for media enquiries.   I tried and left a message.   No reply.   I phoned Stephen Parkinson the Campaign National Director, left a message on his phone.   No Reply.    Look up Charlotte Vere, the Conservative Organiser and what do you find?    Web site under construction.   NO2 AV may be slick at doing press conferences where it can introduce all the old has-been politicians but when it comes to the grass roots they are also rans.   Still, maybe they are just getting used to that position in anticipation of the Referendum result.

Do as I say and not as I do? Decentralisation and the Conservative party.

By Owen Polley
As I intimated below the modern Conservative party spends a great deal of time emphasising its commitment to decentralisation.
It’s ironic then that a great many members are becoming disillusioned with the Tory apparatus precisely because it is so centralised.  One prominent campaigner, John Strafford, has highlighted how the party lost members hand over fist since local associations were deprived off power, in a document called 'Where is the party going?'.
It’s a startling figure, but it is claimed that there are 105,000 fewer paid up Conservatives since David Cameron became leader.  Strafford ascribes the exodus to the lack of input afforded to members and the marginalisation of the ’volunteer party’.
It’s a thesis that will chime rather resonantly with many Northern Ireland Tories.  Although Tim Lewis argues in yesterday’s News Letter that rumours of its demise are grossly exaggerated, the local party has effectively been wound up by a dictat of central office.
That’s a rather poor display of faith in the judgement of people on the ground.  Indeed, if the rumours are true, Andrew Feldman capitulated in the face of a threat to withdraw Jim Nicholson from the Conservative group in the European Parliament.
As I understand it, Irwin Armstrong remains as chairman of the party in Northern Ireland, until the exact nature of the arrangement with the UUP is resolved.
For the record, here are Strafford’s proposals to reinvigorate democracy within the Tory party.
  The Conservative Party constitution should be capable of being altered by the members of the Party on the basis of one member, one vote, if 66%+ vote in favour of change.
There should be an Annual General Meeting of the Party to which all members are invited.
The Chairman of the Party should be responsible for the Party Organisation.
The Chairman and Treasurer of the Party should be elected by the members of the Party.
The Chairman of the Party should present an Annual Report on the Party organisation at the Annual General Meeting of the Party for adoption by the members.
The Treasurer of the Party should present the Annual Accounts of the Party to the Annual General Meeting for adoption by the members.
The Chairman of the Committee on Candidates should be elected by the members of the Party and should present a report on candidate selection at the Annual General Meeting of the Party.
The Chairman of the Council of the Conservative Policy Forum should be elected by the members of the Party and should present a report on the workings of the Forum at the Annual General Meeting of the Party.
Regional meetings of the Party, to which all members of the Party in the Region are invited, should be resurrected and meetings should be held at least twice a year.
Regional Chairmen should be elected by all members in their Region.
As part of the formal structure of the Party the Areas should be scrapped, although some Regions may wish to keep their Areas and can do so.
Motions for debate on policy should be allowed at the Party Conference.
Clause 17 of the current Party Constitution should be abolished.
The infamous clause 17 of the constitution states: “The Board shall have power to do anything which in its opinion relates to the management and administration of the Party

19th December
Questions to members of the Conservative Party
By Paul Goodman of
at the COPOV Forum on December 4th we answered Paul Goodman's questions as follow:
  • Should the traditional model of local Associations be continued - and if not, what should replace it?
  • Yes, it should be continued.
  • If it's not to be continued, how would the selection of candidates for local, national and Euro elections be co-ordinated (if at all)?
  • See above.
  • Regardless of whether or not it's to be continued, what rights and benefits should members have?
  • The most important rights are the ability to change the Constitution of the Party on the basis of One Member One Vote and the selection of candidates
  • Should they be able to elect the leader, and select candidates for local, Westminster and European elections?  If so in the last three cases, how do local primaries fit in, if at all?  What restrictions, if any, should the Party leadership/CCHQ be able to exercise in relation to such selections - in other words, should there be approved Westminster and European lists, and if so how should they work?
  • Yes, they should be able to elect the Leader and select candidates for local, Westminster and European elections.   Local primaries only fit in if the electors are Conservative Party members, or registered Conservative supporters.    Registration would be a nominal amount of say £1.   There should be approved lists of candidates for Westminster and European elections.   The lists would be open to any Conservative Party member.   Central Office's function would be to check the applications to eliminate people with criminal convictions, mentally ill and bankrupts.   There should also be a minimum period as a member of the Party.
  • What rights, if any, should Party members have in relation to the formation of Party Policy?
  • Members should have the right to determine Party policy, but the Leader should determine what priority policy should have.
  • Does the Party's Constitution need revision?
  • Yes
  • Should Party members be entitled to elect, say, the Party Chairman, or a Vice-Chairman?
  • Yes, Party members should elect the Party Chairman.
  • Should there be an Office of the Voluntary Party in CCHQ, as proposed by Jeremy Middleton, and if so how should it work?
  • Yes, there should be an office with a member of the voluntary Party in control.
  • What control, if any, should Party members have over how the money that they raise is spent?  Should the Party, for example, be required to publish more detailed accounts?  (See Tim's account  of here on how £300,000 was blown on adverts which were never used.)
  • Party members should elect the Treasurer of the Party who would present the Accounts of the Party to an Annual General Meeting of the Party for approval by the members.
  • Should there be a two-way means of communication between the Party and its individual members, and if so what should it be?
  • Yes, by email.
  • Should the Party actively seek to develop more active networks - for example, of business professionals?
  • Yes
  • Should it provide a training programme for Association Officers?
  • Yes
  • Should it seek to develop a summer school or college?
  • Yes
  • Is it right to place its present strong stress on social action?
  • No
  • Would it be practicable for the Party to seek to establish a British equivalent of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, as suggested recently on Platform by Francis Davis?
  • No.

Northern Ireland
The following email was sent by the Co-Chairman of the Party (Andrew Feldman) to the Chairman of the Northern Ireland Conservatives:
Dear Irwin,

We would like to issue the following joint press release with the UUP tomorrow:

“After a meeting today, it has been agreed that the Conservative Party and the Ulster Unionist Party will continue to engage in a serious and constructive dialogue about an on-going political and electoral relationship between the two parties as we look ahead to the next European and General Elections. The UUP intend to put forward proposals for approval by their Executive committee in January 2011 which will then be considered by the Board of the Conservative Party.  These proposals will include the understanding that any future UUP MP’s and current and future MEP’s will take the Conservative Party Whip.

In the meantime, both parties are conscious of the forthcoming District Council and Assembly elections in May 2011. In this regard, it has been agreed that:

1.       Both parties will put up candidates in the District Council Elections, with a view to elected councillors co-operating in Local Government, as rules currently permit this to happen.

2.       In the Assembly elections only the UUP will put up candidates. This is because under the current rules parties are unable to fight elections in coalition and once the elections have taken place are unable to enter a post election coalition within the Assembly.”

This has been cleared by Stephen Gilbert, Owen and Jonathan Caine. Tom Elliott of the UUP is also content.

I have highlighted the most contentious point.   First of all this is a breach of the Party's constitution which states in the objects of Constituency Associations that they will "secure the return of Conservative Candidates at elections".   Secondly, has the decision been taken by the Party Board which is the only authority which can overrule this provision?   Thirdly, Stephen Gilbert, Owen Patterson and Jonathan Caine, let alone a member of another party, Tom Elliot have no standing in this matter  whatsoever, so why have they been asked to clear it?.   Have Central Office gone barmy or is the control freak   tendency getting worse?   This is a disgrace and puts back the Conservative cause in Northern Ireland.

Parliamentary Candidates
Each of the candidates on the Parliamentary candidates list will have received by now a form for their Application to be considered for the Approved list 2010-2015 together with a description of the process to be used to assess the candidates.    Each candidate has to agree to the process and has to agree to abide by the decision of the Candidates Committee.   I set out below the Process to be followed:
The Assessment Panel will take the form of a competency-based interview, in London, conducted by a senior Party volunteer and a Party professional.   We will try wherever possible to ensure that you are interviewed by individuals who you do not know.   In addition, the panellists will have sight of your latest Application Form together with any other assessments taken from the General Election period or other relevant supporting evidence as appropriate.
The panellists will be trained to assess you in key competencies required to be a successful candidate and MP; namely:
  • Energy and Commitment
  • Campaign leadership and motivation.
  • Conviction.
  • Manner and attitude.
  • Depth and intellect.
  • Communication and ability to relate to people.
  • Commitment to inclusion and diversity.
Each interview will be based on the same framework of questions and your answers should seek to demonstrate evidence of these competencies.   In addition we will ask about your campaigning experiences either as a Candidate or as someone supporting a target Seat as appropriate.    (We realise that some of you will have been Council candidates in May etc).
Once the interviews have been completed, a Main assessment Panel will review the Assessment Panel's recommendations within the context of the entire applicant pool and the assessment process as a whole to ensure overall consistency, and will then make a recommendation to the Candidates Committee.    You will be notified of the outcome by the end of May 2011 at the latest.
Isn't it up to the people to decide what qualities they want in their MP?   Who is it that has the arrogance to determine their choice?    The most important requirement per Jefferson was judgement and yet this isn't even looked at.   As one candidate said:
1)      There is no appeal: this is a fundamental transgression of natural justice. This is not an application to join, but to rejoin the Approved List. In that sense, as far as the Party’s constitution is concerned, a ‘privilege’ once bestowed may be removed at the behest of a ‘committee’ of two. When a privilege is withdrawn, natural justice demands some sort of appeal.   
2)     The first two of the listed ‘competencies’ (energy, commitment, campaigning) ought to be reassessed: we don’t want a list made up of dead wood.
3)      The remaining ‘competencies’ have already been assessed at a PAB, for which candidates have paid to undergo (c£200) and paid to remain approved (£80/year). It is inconceivable that a candidate can have (eg) ‘depth and intellect’ one year but be found by a new committee of two to be lacking in either or both.
4)      Conviction – conviction to what? The Coalition? Conservative policies? Conservative principles? Who defines the object(s) of conviction?
5)      Manner and attitude – this will deter candidates from articulating anything which the ‘committee’ may find contentious: it is wholly subjective – basically a charter for the ‘committee’ to decide whether or not they like you.
6)      Depth and intellect – already dealt with. But it might be observed we could have CCHQ 20-somethings passing judgement on men and women of considerable depth and insight.
7)      Communication and ability to relate – already PAB assessed. Empathy is important, but not necessarily something that may be accurately gauged in an interview.
8)      Commitment to inclusion and diversity – of whom? It is not remotely likely that any candidate might be on the list who would discriminate against people on the grounds of gender, disability, race, sexuality etc. But this could easily be used to removed from the list people like Philip Lardner, who happened to say that he believes homosexuality is a sin. Is that statement of Christian (or Muslim/Jewish) orthodoxy evidence of a lack of commitment to inclusion and diversity? This is a very slippery slope.
We agree entirely with these sentiments.    This is why the Chairman of the Candidates Committee should be elected by and accountable to the membership of the Party.

Tory members want an elected Chairman

Tim Montgomerie
There is strong support for a move back to the seaside for Tory Conferences (where prices are much lower), transparency of party accounts and more mergers of Tory Associations to pool resources.
The most controversial finding is that two-thirds of members want a directly-elected Chairman. 23% oppose this idea, perhaps fearing that the post could be used by a rival to the party leader as an alternative source of power. That is, indeed, a real danger.
Leader under First Past the Post

Below are the results of  every Tory leadership election from 1997. If they had been held under First Past the Post (FPTP), the result in every case would have been different. So why are they not held under FPTP? Is it because Tory MPs insist upon having a leader that speaks for at least half of them?  That’s fair enough, yet those same people are, for the most part, campaigning against British voters having the right to vote in the same manner. Why? 

First Ballot: 4 May 1997
Kenneth Clarke4929.9
William Hague4125.0
John Redwood2716.5
Peter Lilley2414.6
Michael Howard2314.0
First Ballot: 8 June 2001
Michael Portillo4929.5
Iain Duncan Smith3923.5
Kenneth Clarke3621.6
Michael Ancram2112.7
David Davis2112.7
First Ballot: 18 October 2005
David Davis6231.3
David Cameron5628.3
Liam Fox4221.2
Kenneth Clarke3819.2
And Finally
Dear Sir

The following are all sentences taken from real letters sent to Local

1 It's the dogs' mess that I find hard to swallow

2 I want some repairs done to my cooker as it has backfired and burnt my knob off.

3 I wish to complain that my father burnt his ankle very badly when he put his foot in the hole in his back passage..

4 And their 18 year old son is continually banging his balls against my fence.

5 I wish to report that tiles are missing from the outside toilet roof.
I think it was bad wind the other day that blew them off.

6 My lavatory seat is cracked, where do I stand?

7 I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is coming away from the wall.

8 Will you please send someone to mend the garden path. My wife tripped and fell on it yesterday and now she is pregnant.

9 I request permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen.

10 50% of the walls are damp, 50% have crumbling plaster, and 50% are Plain filthy.

11 I am still having problems with smoke in my new drawers.

12 The toilet is blocked and we cannot bath the children until it is cleared.

13 Will you please send a man to look at my water, it is a funny colour and not fit to drink.

14 Our lavatory seat is broken in half and now is in three pieces.

15 I want to complain about the farmer across the road..every morning at 6am his cock wakes me up and it's now getting too much for me.

16 The man next door has a large erection in the back garden, which is unsightly and dangerous.

17 Our kitchen floor is damp. We have two children and would like a third So please send someone round to do something about it.

18 I am a single woman living in a downstairs flat and would you please do something about the noise made by the man on top of me every night.

19 Please send a man with the right tool to finish the job and satisfy my wife.

20 I have had the clerk of works down on the floor six times but I still have no satisfaction.

21 This is to let you know that our lavatory seat is broke and we can't get BBC2.

22 My bush is really overgrown round the front and my back passage has fungus growing in it.

23 He's got this huge tool that vibrates the whole house and I just can't take it anymore.

COPOV Forum 4th December
At the meeting the following motion was debated:
"Whilst recognising the present financial difficulties, COPOV members deplore the cuts in the funding for the nation's armed forces and petitions the Chancellor of the Exchequer to provide sufficient funding for this country to defend itself against all foes."
The motion was carried with 41% in favour, 29% against and 30% abstentions.
Conservative Policy Forum
The meeting also discussed the Conservative Policy Forum brief.   The answers to the questions posed were as follow:
Which are the three most persuasive arguments against adopting AV for Westminster elections?
    1     AV leads to hung parliaments
    2     AV is complicated and expensive
Which are the three most persuasive arguments for adopting the Alternative Vote?
    1     A chance for more honest, positive politics
    2     MPs need your support
    3     A fair system
If AV were adopted for Westminster Elections, do you think that you would need to campaign differently in your constituency and how would campaigning differ?
    Yes we would need to campaign differently.
    We would have to appeal to a wider section of the community than just Conservative supporters.
Which of the measures outlined for reforming British politics do you believe would do most to restore trust in politics?
    The reduction in the number of MPs.
    Equalising the size of constituencies.
Apart from the measures outlined are there any other ways of reforming British politics you would like to see the Party put in place?
    We would like legislation be introduced so that:
    "No political Party should be registered with the Electoral Commission unless it has a democratic constitution which can be changed by a majority of its members on the basis of one member one vote."
Next Week
What is happening to the Parliamentary Candidates List?
Our Future
At the COPOV Forum in September we responded to the consultation on the future of the voluntary Party.   We rejected the proposals as a whole, although we did approve of the localism point.   The Chairman of the Convention responded as follows:
Thank you for responding to the on-line consultation on the proposed “Our Future” documents.
The result of the consultation with the National Convention was overwhelming support – 74% voted in favour, less than 9% against.   The National Convention is clear that it wants Volunteers to have more responsibility and authority and it wants our Party to grow again.
With the endorsement of the National Convention these proposals have become your proposals.   They have also now been endorsed by the full Party Board and they have the full support of the Leader of our Party.
You raised a number of concerns and I thought it would be helpful if I responded directly to them personally.
I note what you say about localism and understand why you say it.  I certainly don’t think it has been practised by the Party in the recent past.  However, we have been making a case for localism and these proposals do assume that many of the powers currently held and used by the Party Chairman will be delegated to local elected Volunteers at Area or Regional levels if not at Local Association level.  Will we succeed in this?  Well, we have made the case, and the Board and the Party Leader have agreed.  In my view, it’s now down to us to try.
You are also right that to get our Party growing again after all this time is a very demanding objective.  I certainly agree that to do this we will need to find new people which is, in itself, quite a task.  However, for the first time in many years we will be trying to focus our entire Membership, the resources of Headquarters and, indeed, our Parliamentarians on attracting new people and this will be an important underlying message in all our programmes that we put together, including what we do in Social Action and through the Policy Forum.  With the full support of David Cameron I am optimistic we really will make progress.
On the 2 October 2010 the Convention had a special conference in Birmingham to start our programme of change.  Our objective is to become an even more effective election winning machine and to reinforce the central role of the Volunteers at the heart of our Party.
There is a short video that summarises our plans featuring the Prime Minister which we showed at the conference.  This is available for you to see on
I have asked several senior Volunteers to lead projects to provide help and assistance so if you would like to ask for support or to offer your assistance to them please contact them directly:
Best Practice:           Janice Lavery 
Policy Forum:            Fiona Hodgson
                      or    Natalie Elphicke
Membership :           Paul Swaddle   
Social Action:         Wendy Morton   
 I can’t expect to fully reassure everyone about the “Our Future” plans through one email.  However, I hope this note at least provides some clarity on the plans we have agreed.
 You helped us put David Cameron into Downing Street .  I am now hoping that you will support these plans which are designed to ensure that he stays there.
 Thank you once again for your response.
 Kind regards
 Jeremy Middleton
David and Goliatha
Mike Buchanan has now published his book.   It is available at     The Goliatha in the title is Harriet Harman.   Mike is scathing about women only short lists.   To give you a flavour of his views I quote "The gender pay gap isn't scandalous, nor has it anything to do with discrimination against women.   It results from the different choices men and women make in their lives, which reflect their different natures".

Party Reform
  • The campaign for Party reform is making good progress.   If you agree with our Points for Action (See below) bring then to the notice of your Constituency Chairman and your MP.   Write to the Party Chairman and demand action.  We must continue to keep the pressure on
  • I sent a copy of my article to Baroness Warsi (Party Chairman), together with a covering letter. Her office responded as follows:
    "We appreciate you taking time to write and for bringing your views about the structure, organisation and strategic direction of the Party to our attention. We do appreciate all the feedback and comments that we receive."
    Gone are the days when the Party Chairman would address the points you make. Now you just get a standard reply, as your letter is swept under the carpet. Just one more reason why we need a Chairman accountable to Party members.
  • Excellent article by James Elles MEP
  • Democracy in the Labour Party
        Are we starting to see the Labour Party go down the democratic route?   If so, the Conservative Party will be under threat if it doesn't follow suite.
        Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer 21 November
        Tony Blair made a big, early impact as leader of the opposition with his campaign to rewrite Clause 4 of the Labour constitution. That defined him as a bold, decisive and different kind of Labour leader. Ed Miliband plans to make a commitment to party reform when he addresses Labour's national policy forum this coming Saturday. If that is to be taken seriously, he will have to include reform of the system by which he himself was elected. That could sound the death knell for the archaic electoral college which handed him the job thanks to trade union votes on a pathetic turn-out even though his brother had won among MPs and party members.
       Some in his circle are nervous. They are fearful of the internal furies that might be unleashed. They are also apprehensive that to challenge the electoral college might delegitimise him as          leader. Yet it is surely long past time that Labour embraced the democracy of one member, one vote. Union hostility might be somewhat assuaged by mechanisms to convert trade          unionists into full Labour members. A bigger reform – one which would be true to Ed Miliband's stated desire to reawaken mass participation in politics – would be to open up the          party much more widely.
Tony Blair
I have heard that Jonathan Sumption QC, lawyer to Tony Blair, was paid £1 million for representing him at the "Hutton" inquiry.   Is this true?   Was it legal aid?   Did Blair pay for it?   I think we should be told.
Part Timers
At a meeting this week a Chairman of a Select Committee of the House of Commons complained that "most MPs leave Westminster after Prime Minister's Question Time at Wednesday lunch time".  Silly me.   I thought they were paid to be full time MPs.
More Interference!
I heard this week of interference in a local Association's selection/re-selection of Council candidates. Until we have a Party Chairman elected by and accountable to members the onslaught on our rights will continue. We desperately need someone who will stand up and fight for the voluntary party.
Sir Ian Kennedy
7th floor
Portland House
Bressenden Place
London, SW1E 5BH
Dear Sir Ian,
Following your recent decision not to publish online the receipts submitted for MPs expenses, I urge you to reconsider your decision, drawing your attention to the following section of your website.
“In all it does, IPSA will keep at the front of its mind its main duty – to serve the interests of the public.”
Please could you explain to me, and millions of others, how your decision NOT to publish receipts for claims fulfils this criteria? 
Publishing expenses and receipts was the reason IPSA was created in the first place – to clear up the secrecy behind MPs expenses.  This secrecy was one of the key reasons behind the public’s anger and led to a long and ultimately successful Freedom of Information campaign.  The only way to restore trust is for full transparency.  As proven in the High Court, the public have a right to know!
Let us not forget that the Committee on Standards in Public Life recommended that any new regulator "should continue to publish individual claims for reimbursement made by MPs with accompanying receipts or documentary evidence.”  All parties pledged to implement these proposals.
“IPSA wants to contribute to restoring the public’s confidence in Parliament...”
Have you forgotten about the past two years?  Your decision to ignore this key recommendation effectively brings us back to square one!  This decision mirrors the position of the then Labour Government back in January 2009.  As well as consigning transparency to the scrap heap you have brought the independence of IPSA into question.  The public will see this as the establishment carrying on business as usual. 
Your claim it would cost too much money to do so does not stand scrutiny.  This is the very thing IPSA was set up to do and the last six months should have been used to develop low cost systems to ensure all expenses were all properly correct, scanned and accounted for. 
There is still time to reverse your decision.
I am sure after consultation with market leaders in the private sector, IPSA could dramatically reduce the one million pound figure you claim it would cost to implement this key recommendation.  In the meantime this is a small price to pay to ensure that public confidence in the system and further scandals never ever happen again.   
I eagerly await your reply and possible change of heart.
John E. Strafford

The Conservative Party – Where is the Party Going?
John Strafford

In all the 45 years that I have been a member of the Conservative Party I have never known it to be more centrally controlled than it is today. Members have virtually no rights and a small group of people dominate the Party.   The old checks and balances within the Party have been eliminated.    In order to answer the question of Where is the Party Going we need to look at what has happened in the past in order to create a base line for the future.
 The end of World War II was a political watershed with the Conservative Party suffering its greatest electoral defeat.   A desire for more equality and change helped bring  the Labour Party to power.   The Conservative Party responded to the challenge by bringing in Lord Woolton as Party Chairman.    Woolton was to serve nine years as Party Chairman and was the most successful Chairman in the history of the Conservative Party.   With party membership at about 250,000 in 1945, Woolton realised that he had to build up membership in order once again to create a mass membership Party.   He believed that one of the reasons for the defeat in the General Election had been that the Party had forgotten the “little people”.  
            A membership campaign was launched in 1947 and by the summer of 1948, overall membership had increased to two and a quarter million.   Woolton took on over 150 paid “missioners” who worked mainly in the marginals at Central Office’s expense, and visited over a million homes.   The official membership campaign ended at the Party Conference in October 1948.    By 1952, party membership had risen to a staggering 2.8 million.
The young were not forgotten.   In the summer of 1945 there were only 50 Young Conservative branches in the country.    By 1948 this had increased to 2,129 branches with no less than 150,000 members.  
Participation was the key to this success.   Swinton College was opened in 1947.   Its role was to educate activists, train agents and volunteers and arrange lectures.   The Conservative Political Centre encouraged local discussion groups and by 1947 there were 557 of them, meeting regularly in a member’s house and all putting forward ideas and views on policy.   Their views were taken seriously by Central Office and by Shadow Ministers.    A letter sent to a member of the Shadow Cabinet often elicited a personal reply.  
         The revival of Party membership was not to last.   After the General Election of 1951 promises of further accountability, such as the publication of the Party’s accounts, were quietly dropped and the decline in membership began.   There were attempts to reform the Party in the late 1960s and early 1970s but promised reforms were quietly dropped after the 1974 defeat.   By 1979 membership had fallen to 1,350,000.   It continued to fall throughout the 1980s and 1990s and was down to 400,000 by 1997.   A million members simply evaporated.  
The Conservative Party suffered another great electoral defeat in the General Election of 1997.   William Hague became Leader and immediately set in train a reorganisation of the Party.   At that time it didn’t even have a constitution.    Initially, he set out a vision of a democratic Party.   He spoke of giving power to the members, but by the time his proposals were finalised his vision had been watered down by the vested interests within the Party.   The Parliamentary Party was determined to retain its power and if possible increase it.   In the end the only concession the voluntary party got was a say in future Leadership elections.    The Party got a constitution.    We were now one party, but the voluntary part of the party paid a heavy price.
 Although the Party now had a constitution that constitution cannot be changed without the agreement of an Electoral College consisting of Members of Parliament and the National Convention, which consists mainly of Constituency Chairmen.    In this Electoral College an MP’s vote is worth three times that of a Constituency Chairman.   The real power resides with the Parliamentary Party.   The Chairman and Treasurer of the Party are appointed by the Leader so are unaccountable to the membership.   There is no Annual General Meeting of members so there is no formal forum for members to raise questions about the Party’s organisation or policies.      The Annual Accounts of the Party are not tabled for approval at an AGM.    The selection of parliamentary candidates of the Party is controlled centrally.   The Party Board can and does take control of any Constituency Association, which does not toe the line.    The infamous clause 17 of the constitution states: “The Board shall have power to do anything which in its opinion relates to the management and administration of the Party”, and this makes the rest of the constitution meaningless.
              The interference in the constituencies started with Michael Howard’s intervention in  Arundel when Howard Flight MP was deselected just before the 2005 General Election.   It has escalated since.   There was a massive interference in constituencies in selection of candidates for the last General Election – Westminster North being one example, but do not forget the “A” list.    Many constituencies were threatened with support status if they did not comply with Central Office rulings.
              What does a Party member get for being a member of the Conservative Party?   Prior to the Party reforms of 1998 there were a number of reasons to be a member.   There were meetings at area and national level where you could raise issues of policy or organisation.   Social gatherings emphasised the tribal feeling and sense of belonging.    The Party conference was run by the voluntary party.   It had motions for debate.   Constituency Associations were for all intents and purposes autonomous.   The Party had three distinct sections - the parliamentary party, the voluntary party and the professional organisation.   There were checks and balances in the distribution of power.    All of these were swept away in 1998, but the members held onto one last right – that of selecting their parliamentary candidate.
              This has now gone.   At the Party Board meeting in July 2009 new rules were brought in for the selection of Conservative Party candidates.    Candidates can now effectively be imposed by Central Office.   Due to the Boundaries Commission review, it is unlikely that candidates will be selected in the next two years other than for by-elections.   Significantly, these will be on the basis of open primaries with a list produced by Central Office.    The ordinary Party member will have no more say in this than a member of any other Party.
              There are no longer any reasons why one should be a member of the Conservative Party.   Does this matter?
 After the 1998 reorganisation of the Party, membership picked up a little, but by nowhere near as much as the Tories hoped.  The total had fallen to 320,000 by 2003.   When David Cameron became Leader it was 258,239.   Today in 2010 Party membership is 177,000, so we have lost 80,000 members since he became Leader.    The loss of 80,000 members is a net loss after taking into account new members joining the party.   Assuming that the party got say 5,000 new members each year, then the loss of old members is over 105,000.   On this basis only 153,000 of the 258,239 members at the time of Cameron’s election are still members of the Party.  Put another way, approx. 105,000 members have either died or allowed their membership to lapse since David Cameron became Leader.   That means that over 40% of members that participated in his election have now left the Party.    The average age of a Party member is 68. 
 In the period just prior to the Labour Party taking office their membership went up from 250,000 in 1994 to 400,000 in 1997.
 The decline in membership matters   Of the approx. 177,000 Party members about 10% or approx. 18,000 are activists.   Today those activists consist primarily of 10,000 Councillors, their family and friends.
              Because of the dire state of the economy some very tough and very unpopular decisions are being taken.   Next year, at the time when we are likely to be most unpopular there will be local elections and many of our councillors will lose their seats, not because they have performed badly, but because of the national position.   The effect on Party membership will be catastrophic impacting on membership and campaigning.    We can expect to see more demonstrations on the streets like the National Union of Students demonstration.   In these circumstances members loyal to the Party are essential to see us through these difficult times.
            Since the General Election Labour Party membership has risen by 40,000, Liberal Democrat membership has risen by 6,000.   
            The reason for their success lies in participation.    People will join a political party if they can participate.   In Labour's case they joined to participate in the election for Leader.   A similar situation happened when One Member One Vote (OMOV) was first introduced in the Labour Party.   When it was announced 10,000 joined within the first week.   The Liberal Democrats are the most democratic of our political parties.   Before the Coalition Agreement with the Conservative Party could be signed the members of the Liberal Democrat Party had their say.   At their conference they had real debates.    There was genuine participation by the members in determining official policy.   What happened at the immediate past Tory conference?
            There was no Agenda in the published programme – just a series of blank spaces.   Nobody knew beforehand what sessions were to be held or who would be replying to them on behalf of the government.   Until you arrived at the conference you were unaware of which sessions would take contributions from the floor or for how long you could speak.     In addition you had to fill in a "Contribution Card" showing what your contribution would be.   This had to be submitted beforehand.     No wonder the hierarchy did not receive many requests from members to speak.     Even in those sessions which had been starred showing that there would be contributions from the floor this didn't always happen.   For example the session on the economy was starred, yet there were no contributions from the floor.   
            There were 400 fringe meetings at the conference but these were nearly all sponsored events with the sponsors providing many of the audience, by way of their lobbyists and employees, so even the question sessions were often slanted.   As a result of all this we now have a "fringe to the fringe" and thank goodness for the Freedom Association for putting this "fringe of the fringe" on over Monday and Tuesday.   At last we got some real debate and the events put on by the Freedom Association were packed out.   In the event at which I spoke on the Alternative Vote organised by Conservative Action for Electoral Reform the hall was full with standing in the aisles and at the back.   The platform included several MPs and an MEP.
            Unless the Conservative Party addresses the problems regarding membership, by the time we get to the next election our membership will be about the same size as the Liberal Democrats.    We know that this means that we will be unable to mount an efficient national campaign and will have to rely on targeting particular areas of the country.    What will happen to the Labour Party in the mean time?   If they are smart they will democratise the Labour Party so that their membership will continue to increase.   If they do, they will be a formidable force at the next General Election.   If the Tories do nothing we will witness the gradual destruction of the voluntary side of the Conservative Party.    It will cease to exist.   Because of their age members are dying faster than they can be replaced.
              In the General Election we lost 27 seats by less than 2,000 votes.    In spite of all the money spent on national advertising, which research has shown does not affect the result, in spite of the national television debates, the most important factor in the election was “feet on the ground”.   At the margin it was the canvassing and the knocking up that counted most.   For that you need volunteers and the most committed volunteers are members.   So how do we set about increasing our membership?
              It is no good re-launching the institutions that have failed to prevent the decline in membership.   If they have failed before, they will fail again.   The National Convention has become a meaningless rubber stamp.   This is recognised by the fact that attendance at its meetings is never more than 50%.   It is fundamentally flawed.   Its main component is Constituency Chairmen who serve a term of three years.   On becoming Chairmen many have never heard of the Convention so they have little incentive to participate.   By the time they have understood what it is supposed to be about they are in their last year as Chairmen so about to vacate the post.   The Convention has no continuity.   There are no real debates at the Convention – the audience is talked at.    Reports are given, but there is no real participation.
              The Conservative Policy Forum has virtually disappeared without trace.    Its role within the Party’s constitution has been totally ignored.   Resurrect it on the same basis and in time it will fail again.   Yet this is what appears to be about to happen.
              Pyramid voting in the Conservative Party should be abolished.   After all it was a Conservative government that made it illegal in the Trade Unions on the grounds that it distorted democracy.   Currently Party members elect a Constituency Chairmen, who elect Area officers, who elect Regional officers.   This is nonsense.
              Research on party membership, done in the 1990s, showed two main reasons why people joined the Conservative Party.  The first reason was for social purposes.   People like to be with others of a like mind.   They feel more comfortable.   There is a tribal instinct.
They like to be led, but they like to know that the Leader has listened to them before he or she takes a decision.   The second reason is participation.   This has to be meaningful participation i.e. they either vote on decisions or vote for the people taking the decisions.    It is this latter reason which has not been met by the Conservative Party.   Effectively large numbers of people join the Party each year wanting to participate.   When they find that they have no voice they leave, usually after a couple of years.   Only by adopting a radical approach will we break this cycle of decline.   I set out below the measures that need to be taken:
·          The Conservative Party constitution should be capable of being altered by the members of the Party on the basis of one member, one vote, if 66%+ vote in favour of change.
·          There should be an Annual General Meeting of the Party to which all members are invited.
·          The Chairman of the Party should be responsible for the Party Organisation.
·          The Chairman and Treasurer of the Party should be elected by the members of the Party.
·          The Chairman of the Party should present an Annual Report on the Party organisation at the Annual General Meeting of the Party for adoption by the members.
·          The Treasurer of the Party should present the Annual Accounts of the Party to the Annual General Meeting for adoption by the members.
·          The Chairman of the Committee on Candidates should be elected by the members of the Party and should present a report on candidate selection at the Annual General Meeting of the Party.
·          The Chairman of the Council of the Conservative Policy Forum should be elected by the members of the Party and should present a report on the workings of the Forum at the Annual General Meeting of the Party.
·          Regional meetings of the Party, to which all members of the Party in the Region are invited, should be resurrected and meetings should be held at least twice a year.
·          Regional Chairmen should be elected by all members in their Region.
·          As part of the formal structure of the Party the Areas should be scrapped, although some Regions may wish to keep their Areas and can do so.
·          Motions for debate on policy should be allowed at the Party Conference.
·          Clause 17 of the current Party Constitution should be abolished.
              It is not inevitable that we have a shrinking membership.    We can and must do something about it.    At present there is little, if any value in being a Party member.   This has to change.
              Without members the ability to fight elections will be impeded.    Active politics will be left to an ever less representative rump.   The Party will be ill equipped to engage with the people so making it more detached.   It will leave the Party vulnerable to capture by extreme elements.
              Today, the Conservative Party is controlled by a small group of wealthy individuals.   The Labour party is controlled by a small group of trade union barons.   Both parties are now vulnerable to an insurgent movement which rises up and engages with the public.   William Hague said that the Conservative Party “was like an absolute monarchy moderated by regicide”.   The Nation abolished absolute monarchy and regicide 350 years ago.   It is time for the Conservative Party to follow suit.
              I hope that every Conservative Party member will support the proposals I have set out in this paper.   In November 1941 Franklin D Roosevelt said “Liberty freedom and democracy are prizes awarded only to those peoples who fight to win them and then keep fighting eternally to hold them”.   It is time for Party members to come out fighting.

How will Adams stand down?

Michael Crick | 19:27 UK time, Sunday, 14 November 2010
So Gerry Adams plans to stand down as a Westminster MP so that he can stand for the constituency of Louth in the Irish Parliament.
I am curious as to how Mr Adams plans to do this, as it is quite tricky to resign as an MP.
The traditional route is a procedural device whereby the resigning MP applies either to be Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds of Buckinghamshire, or of the Manor of Northstead.
Both are deemed to be "offices of profit under the Crown" and holding either post then disqualifies somebody from being an MP.
The jobs are given out alternately, and Northstead is next in line. The appointment has to be conferred by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which is just a formality.
All very silly, but that's how it works.
But hang on.
How could a staunch Irish republican like Adams, who has steadfastly refused even to take his seat at Westminster, possibly apply for a job under the British Crown?

Chairman of the National Convention responds to COPOV views on Reform
 Thank you for responding to the on-line consultation on the proposed “Our Future” documents.
 The result of the consultation with the National Convention was overwhelming support – 74% voted in favour, less than 9% against.  The National Convention is clear that it wants Volunteers to have more responsibility and authority and it wants our Party to grow again.
 With the endorsement of the National Convention these proposals have become your proposals.   They have also now been endorsed by the full Party Board and they have the full support of the Leader of our Party.
 You raised a number of concerns and I thought it would be helpful if I responded directly to them personally.
 I note what you say about localism and understand why you say it.  I certainly don’t think it has been practised by the Party in the recent past.  However, we have been making a case for localism and these proposals do assume that many of the powers currently held and used by the Party Chairman will be delegated to local elected Volunteers at Area or Regional levels if not at Local Association level.  Will we succeed in this?  Well, we have made the case, and the Board and the Party Leader have agreed.  In my view, it’s now down to us to try.
 You are also right that to get our Party growing again after all this time is a very demanding objective.  I certainly agree that to do this we will need to find new people which is, in itself, quite a task.   However, for the first time in many years we will be trying to focus our entire Membership, the resources of Headquarters and, indeed, our Parliamentarians on attracting new people and this will be an important underlying message in all our programmes that we put together, including what we do in Social Action and through the Policy Forum.   With the full support of David Cameron I am optimistic we really will make progress.
 On the 2 October 2010 the Convention had a special conference in Birmingham to start our programme of change.  Our objective is to become an even more effective election winning machine and to reinforce the central role of the Volunteers at the heart of our Party.
 There is a short video that summarises our plans featuring the Prime Minister which we showed at the conference.  This is available for you to see on
 I have asked several senior Volunteers to lead projects to provide help and assistance so if you would like to ask for support or to offer your assistance to them please contact them directly:
 Best Practice:           Janice Lavery 
Policy Forum:            Fiona Hodgson
                      or    Natalie Elphicke
Membership :           Paul Swaddle
Social Action:         Wendy Morton 
 I can’t expect to fully reassure everyone about the “Our Future” plans through one email.  However, I hope this note at least provides some clarity on the plans we have agreed.
 You helped us put David Cameron into Downing Street .  I am now hoping that you will support these plans which are designed to ensure that he stays there.
 Thank you once again for your response.
 Kind regards
 Jeremy Middleton
 David and Goliatha

Mike Buchanan is a writer and a former businessman who worked for the Conservatives over 2006-2008. In his latest book David and Goliatha – a paperback due to be published on 13 December 2010 – he disagrees strongly with the prime minister. The gender pay gap is not scandalous: it is the consequence of the education and employment choices men and women freely make, choices which reflect their different natures. Women are more inclined than men to seek work which gives a sense of emotional fulfilment, even if it doesn’t pay well. Men are more inclined then women to seek work which pays well, and they are more attracted to higher-paid senior roles. These realities explain the gender pay gap: the gap isn’t a problem that requires a solution.

Radical feminists with firmly left-wing persuasions beg to differ. They don’t just want equality of opportunity for women, they demand equality of outcome regardless of men’s and women’s choices in life, and individuals’ merit. They portray women as a group forever discriminated against and requiring special treatment, and campaign for ‘gender pay equality’ and ‘gender balance in the boardroom’. With the introduction of The Equality Act 2010, almost unchanged from the Bill drafted by Harriet Harman (‘Goliatha’), feminists will be able to promote ‘positive action’ – primarily, positive discrimination for women – within public sector organisations. If positive action achieves its stated objectives, these organisations will inevitably become even less efficient and effective.

European Budget
If the budget increase goes ahead as planned by the European Commission then the EU will be spending a staggering £7 billion on administration alone.    What areas will the EU spend this additional funding on? Well among others there will be greater contributions to such worthwhile causes as “Entertainment and representation expenses” which will receive an 85% increase. There will also be: a 440% increase in ‘Miscellaneous expenditure on the organisation of Euromed Parliamentary Assembly meetings’, a 43% increase to €19.6 million on ‘Expenditure on publication, information and participation in public events’, a 23.6% increase in ‘Contributions to European political parties’, a 24.7% increase in ‘Contributions to European political foundations’, and an extra 18 MEPs racking up a cost of €9.4 million.
This cannot continue.
Prisoner Voting
The question of prisoners gaining the right to vote has been in the news following the government's announcement that it is going to abolish the blanket ban on prisoners voting in general elections. However, although in today's media coverage the ban is widely dated to the 1870 Forfeiture Act, it has been overlooked that the ban in fact was removed for a couple of years during the 1960s.
The 1870 Act stated that those convicted of a felony could not vote in elections for Parliament, and covered England, Wales and what became Northern Ireland, but not Scotland due to its different legal system and where the ban has different legal roots.
The Criminal Law Act 1967 and the Criminal Law Act (Northern Ireland ) 1967 abolished the division between felonies and misdemeanours and, as a result, removed that ban on voting in Parliamentary elections. This was not an accidental oversight but followed a specific recommendation from the Criminal Law Review Committee in the mid-1960s that the specific penalties for felonies, such as being banned from voting for Parliament, did not need to be continued via other means.
The ban was however restored by the Representation of the People Act 1969. Oddly, it did not restore the ban on prisoners standing for election, which had also been rescinded in 1967; that was to become a political hot issue in the 1980s with the IRA.
I wonder if any prisoners took up the opportunity of voting between the 1967 and 1969 acts in Parliamentary by-elections.
October 31st COPOV Meeting - The Alternative Vote - We are survivors - Care for the elderley
October 24th Those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad - William Hague and Europe
October 17th Party Conference Participation! - Expenditure Cuts?
October 3rd European Referendum - Waste of Money - Reverse Majorities - EU Antidote - Candidate Selection
COPOV Meeting 30th October
Very interesting meeting.   There was a good debate on the motion "This meeting is in favour of the Alternative Vote.   The motion was lost by 14 votes to 9.  John Strafford proposed the motion and Adrian Hilton opposed.   The debate was chaired by Derek Tipp.   John Strafford's speech is set out below.
Government Cuts in expenditure - Are they right? - Are they fair?    The meeting unanimously said Yes to both questions.   The meeting also felt that the devil is in the detail and the government should pay more attention to the presentation of policies and have all the answers rather than having the answers dragged out over time.
Defence - Are we spending the right amount on the right items.    The meeting unanimously said No.   We seem to have got ourselves into a bit of a mess on this, particularly over the two new aircraft carriers.
    We are Survivors
(for those born Before 1945)
We were born before television, before penicillin, polio shots, frozen foods, Xerox, contact lenses, videos, and the pill.   We were before radar, credit cards, split atoms, laser beams and ballpoint pens, before dish-washers, tumble driers, electric blankets, air conditioners, drip dry clothes ... and before men walked on the moon.
We got married first and then lived together (how quaint can you be?).   We thought ‘fast food’ was what you ate in Lent, a ‘Big Mac’ was an oversized raincoat and ‘crumpet’ we had for tea.   We existed before house husbands, computer dating and ‘sheltered accommodation’ was where you waited for a bus.
  We were before day care centres, group homes and disposable nappies.   We never heard of FM radio, tape decks, artificial hearts, word processors, or young men wearing earrings.   For us ‘time sharing’ meant togetherness, a ‘chip’ was a piece of wood or fried potato, ‘hardware’ meant nuts and bolts and ‘software’ wasn’t a word.
  Before 1940 ‘Made in Japan’ meant junk, the term ‘making out’ referred to how you did in your exams, ‘stud’ was something that fastened a collar to a shirt and ‘going all the way’ meant staying on a double-decker bus to the terminus.   In our day cigarette smoking was fashionable, ‘grass’ was mown, ‘coke’ was kept in the coalhouse, a ‘joint’ was a piece of meat you ate on Sundays and ‘pot’ was something you cooked in.   ‘Rock Music’ was a fond mother’s lullaby, ‘Eldorado’ was an ice-cream, a ‘gay’ person was the life and soul of the party, while ‘aids’ just meant beauty treatment or help for someone in trouble.

  We who were born before 1945 must be a hardy bunch when you think of the way in which the world has changed and the adjustments we have had to make.    No wonder there is a generation gap today ... BUT

  By the grace of God ... we have survived!

The solution to Care for the Elderly
Let's put the senior citizens in jail and the criminals in a nursing home.  
This way the "seniors" would have access to showers, hobbies and walks.
They'd receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs etc and they'd receive money instead of paying it out.
They would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly, if they fell, or needed assistance.
Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them. A guard would check on them every 20
minutes and bring their meals and snacks to their room.  They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.
They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counselling, pool and education.
 Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, PJ's and legal aid would be free, on request.
 Private, secure rooms for all, with an  exercise outdoor yard, with  gardens.
 Each senior citizen could have a PC, a TV, radio, and daily phone calls.
 There would be a board of directors to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct that would be strictly adhered to. 
 The "criminals" would get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised.
 Lights off at 8pm, and showers once a week.
 They would live in a tiny room and pay £
2000.00 per month and have no hope of ever getting out.
 Justice for all we say.
Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amazing that during the mad cow epidemic our government could track a
single cow, born in Devon almost three years ago, right to the stall where she slept in the county of Lincolnshire?
And, they even tracked her calves to their stalls.
 But they are unable to locate 125,000 illegal immigrants wandering around our country. Maybe we should give each of them a cow!.

The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments posted in a courthouse or Parliament, is this -
You cannot post 'Thou Shalt Not Steal', 'Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery' and 'Thou Shall Not Lie' in a building full of
lawyers, judges and politicians ..... It creates a hostile work environment. 

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad
The Coalition government is doing a superb job acting in the National interest.   This weeks spending review was no exception.   Overall it was brilliant.   There were a few minor quibbles but generally it went well, and the people understand how necessary it is to get expenditure under control, in spite of the attempts by the BBC to stir up problems.   However, one part of the review was a disaster - Defence.
We have a perfectly good aircraft carrier with usable planes, which can be used in an emergency, so what are we going to do - scrap it.   Why?    Because a decision has been taken to continue with building two new aircraft carriers.   We are told that they will not have any aircraft available to use them for ten years, at which time the Joint Fighter will come on stream, but suppose the Joint Fighter has the same problems as the Euro fighter which ended up being 15 years late in its commissioning?   We could end up with two aircraft carriers with no planes for another 15 years on top; i.e aircraft carriers with no planes for 25 years in total.   This is barmy, so why are we doing it?   We are told that the Defence Review was done without finance being a priority, and yet we are going ahead with the aircraft carriers because Gordon Brown signed a contract in which it would be more expensive to cancel the contract than to go ahead with it.   This cynical exercise was done in order to save the jobs of those building the carriers.   No less, no more.   The government have swallowed this hook line and sinker.    Sadly this is what happens when Ministers do not have commercial experience.    So what should have been done.   The Prime Minister should have sat down with The Chairman of BAE Systems (the company building the aircraft carriers and said to him " If we cancel this contract it is going to cost us more than if we proceed with it.   This is totally unreasonable.   We are going to cancel the contract and we want you to let us know what reasonable amount you are going to charge for cancellation.   If you come up with an unreasonable amount I can say now that BAE Systems will get no further contracts from this government in the next five years.   Now, what are the cancellation charges?"
End of story.   This situation is so bizarre people would not have believed it if it had been an episode from Yes Minister.    There is still time to retrieve the situation, but the Government has to act quickly.
William Hague and Europe
As always, William Hague made a great speech at the Party Conference, but there were two points he made which at the time got a big cheer from the audience, but on reflection are slightly worrying.   The first point was when he said that " there would be no transfer of new areas of power to the European Union without a referendum."   What does he mean by "new areas of power"?   First of all we were told that there would be a referendum if there was any transfer of power.   Then we were told that this did not apply if new states were admitted to the European Union.   Now we are told that it only applies if there are transfers of "new areas" of power.    Is this a weakening of the position?   I think we should be told.
The other point came when he said that we were going to have a Sovereignty Act.   On the face of it this sound good, but the question could be raised - Why do we need a Sovereignty Act?   We are sovereign.    Having an Act implies that we are not sovereign, and once we have the Act it becomes justiciable.   In other words the lawyers can argue what sovereignty means.   If we need an Act to become sovereign what happens if a future government repeals the Act?   Do we then lose our sovereignty?   This is shaping up to be a minefield.   Dangerous!

Party Conference participation!
We now know that Conservative Party membership is down to 177,000.   When David Cameron became Leader it was 258,239.   So we have lost 80,000 members since he became Leader.    The average age of a Party member is 68.   Out of 14,000 people attending the conference, 4,000 were Party members.
Since the General Election Labour Party membership has risen by 35,000, Liberal Democrat membership has risen by 6,000.    Why the different results?
The answer lies in participation.    People will join a political party if they can participate.   In Labour's case they joined to participate in the election for Leader.   A similar situation happened when OMOV was first introduced in the Labour Party.   When this was done 10,000 joined in the first week.   The Liberal Democrats are the most democratic of our political parties.   At their conference they had real debates.   There was genuine participation by the members in determining official policy.   What happened at the Tory conference?
There was no Agenda.   Nobody knew beforehand what sessions were to be held or who would be replying to them on behalf of the government.   Until you arrived at the conference you were unaware of which sessions would take contributions from the floor or how long you could speak for.    In addition you had to fill in a "Contribution Card" showing what your contribution would be.   This had to be submitted beforehand.    No wonder the hierarchy did not receive many requests from speakers.     Even in those sessions starred showing that there would be contributions from the floor they didn't always happen.   For example the session on the economy was starred, yet there were no contributions from the floor.    I did not attend all sessions but during the whole conference I did not see any spontaneous contribution from the floor.
There were 400 fringe meetings at the conference but these were nearly all sponsored events with the sponsors providing many of the audience, by way of their lobbyists and employees, so even the question sessions were often slanted.   As a result of all this we now have a "fringe to the fringe" and thank goodness for the Freedom Association for putting this "fringe of the fringe" on over Monday and Tuesday.   At last we got some real debate and the events put on by the Freedom Association were packed out.   In the event at which I spoke on the Alternative Vote organised by Conservative Action for Electoral Reform the hall was full with standing in the aisles and at the back.
Unless the Conservative Party addresses the problems regarding membership, by the time we get to the next election our membership will be about the same size as the Liberal Democrats.   We know that this means that we will be unable to properly mount a national campaign and will have to rely on targeting particular areas of the country.   What will happen to the Labour Party in the mean time?   If they are smart they will democratise the Labour Party so that their membership will continue to increase.   If they do and the Tories do nothing we will witness the gradual destruction of the voluntary side of the Conservative Party.   It will cease to exist.   Conservative Party it is time for action.   Time is running out.
Expenditure Cuts?
From John Redwood's web site
We now know the broad shape of the public spending decisions to be unveiled this week. They are:
Health spending – up in cash and real terms
Schools spending – up in cash and probably in real terms
Contributions to the EU – substantially up thanks to loss of part of the rebate
Overseas Aid – up in cash and real terms
Benefits spending – all benefits to be increased in line with inflation
Pensions – to be increased by more under a new system which includes an earnings link
Equitable Life holders – £1.5 billion of compensation not in previous budgets
Debt interest – up substantially, as this government plans to add £450 billion to the public debt over the five years of this Parliament.

European Referendum
"The EU has many faults: it interferes too much, and the Lisbon Treaty has left it beset by rivalries in Brussels, as indeed we warned. And we cannot forget that its democratic legitimacy was undermined by Labour's disgraceful failure to hold a referendum [on the Lisbon Treaty]".
Foreign Secretary William Hague speaking at the Conservative Party Conference, 6 October
So how about the Conservative Party giving us a referendum?
How to waste money in one easy step!    Haven't they got better things to do?   Like saving money!
This is a message from the Amersham Watch Office sent on behalf of the South Bucks Partnership.
The South Bucks and Chiltern Carbon Contest
We all know that we need to cut the amount we pollute the environment. One of the biggest sources of pollution over which we have control comes from the Carbon Dioxide generated in running our homes. Whether we are running the central heating, using the washing machine or simply powering the lights, we are producing CO2 pollution that accelerates Climate Change.

In South Bucks, we have the dubious honour of actually having the highest per capita CO2 polluting District in the country and South Bucks Partnership is keen to urgently do something about this.

Together with partners in Bucks-based ZapCarbon, we have a devised a Carbon Contest that will help engage hundreds of new households in cutting their Carbon emissions. With your help we want to make this the biggest Carbon contest in the UK.


Starting in January 2010, hundreds of people will start competing against each other to see how much energy and carbon they can save. There are dozens of ways we can all lower the Carbon footprint of our homes, and this contest will help people to drive these measures to make a real difference.

For home owners to see their Carbon-cutting progress, people enter their readings from their electricity meter (and gas if available) into the contest website, and it calculates their consumption and how it has changed. League tables soon show who have saved the most, and people’s natural competitive instinct makes this whole process great fun. There is a lot of interaction and it is as much a community initiative as Carbon reduction.

There will be prizes for the winning community. Additionally, all households will benefit from both lowering their Carbon footprint and their energy bills, it may even lever some out of fuel poverty.


We urgently need to establish community teams. A team can come from a village, a street, a faith group, interest group, sports team, parish council etc – basically anywhere where there’s a group of people who would like to partake in doing something positive.

Within each team we will need to establish a point of contact. This person will be the contest leader in their community whose main responsibility is to recruit households to take part in the contest.


If you are interested in forming a team, please send your details (telephone and email) of which groups / communities you see as interested (or possibly interested) in forming a team by Wednesday 13th October – sooner if possible to:

Jo Faul
Planning and Sustainability
South Bucks District Council

Reverse Majorities!
Herman Van Rompuy, the President of Europe, wants a new mechanism to enforce sanctions against member states which borrow too much. Fair enough, you might say: of the 27 member states, only three currently meet the EU’s debt and deficit rules. What’s alarming is the mechanism Mr Van Rompuy intends to use:
Whenever possible, decision-making rules on sanctions should be more automatic and based on a reverse majority rule, implying a Commission proposal is adopted unless rejected by the Council.
So here is an innovation which would substantially shift power from the national capitals to the Commission, and which concerns an issue of major importance (levying fines), but which seems to have no legal basis.

The EU is an antidote to democratic governments, argues President Barroso

"Democratic institutions get things wrong"
The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durrão Barroso, has offered one of the few utterly honest arguments for European integration. The reason we need the EU, he suggests, is precisely because it’s not democratic. Left to themselves, elected governments might do all sorts of things simply to humour their voters:
Governments are not always right. If governments were always right we would not have the situation that we have today. Decisions taken by the most democratic institutions in the world are very often wrong.
This was, in large measure, the original rationale for European unification. The founding fathers had come through the Second World War with – perhaps understandably – a jaded view of democracy. They fretted that, left to themselves, electorates might fall for demagogues. So they deliberately designed a system in which supreme power was wielded by appointed Commissioners who didn’t need to worry about public opinion. It would be going too far to describe the Euro-patriarchs as anti-democratic: Robert Schuman had a sincere commitment to the ballot box, even if Jean Monnet hadn’t. But it is fair to say that they believed that the democratic process sometimes needed to be guided, tempered, constrained.
There are still plenty of people who think this way. Whenever I make the case for referendums, someone in the audience objects that the issues are too difficult for the man in the street, that the experts should be allowed to get on, that we are quietly relieved when politicians do what they think is best for us. As Tony Blair once put it:
The British people are sensible enough to know that, even if they have a certain prejudice about Europe, they don’t expect their government necessarily to share it or act upon it.
In other words, we tell ministers that we want powers back from the EU, but we’re secretly hoping they ignore us. The gentlemen in Whitehall and Brussels know best.
So why not do away with elections altogether? Yes, the European question can be made to sound complicated; but how much more complicated is a general election, in which, as well as weighing up the various parties’ attitudes to the EU, voters must also factor in their policies on housing, education and so on? As Vernon Bogdanor puts it: “Arguments against referendums are, in the final analysis, arguments against democracy”.
And if not democracy, what? Anarchy? Dictatorship of the proletariat? Absolute monarchy? Most Barrosistas want a kind of moderated democracy, where voters are ultimately in charge, but where experts also have their place. Yet this has been the argument of every tyrant in history: Bonaparte, Mussolini, Salazar, Lenin. It is, mutatis mutandis, the justification of the ayatollahs in Teheran, who allow elections, but empower an unelected commission to step in when people get the result wrong. It is the argument you hear in private from Chinese Communists: yes, people should be free to elect candidates for certain offices, but a country like this would fall apart without the expertise concentrated in our party.
There is, of course, a huge difference between arguing that, say, the Bank of England should determine interest rates, and arguing that the Communist Party should run China. But it is, when you think about it, a difference of degree. Both propositions come down to mistrust of the electorate.
Voters, being human, can make mistakes. But it doesn’t follow that a class of experts would have made a better decision. Just think about some of the positions that “the experts” have taken down the ages. In the 1920s, they were for returning to gold at the pre-war rate. In the 1930s, they were for appeasement. In the 1940s, they were for nationalisation. In the 1950s they were for state planning. In the 1960s, they were for mixed-ability, child-centred teaching. In the 1970s, they were for price controls. In the 1980s, they were for the ERM. In the 1990s they were for the euro. In our own decade, they were for the bail-outs and stimulus packages.
A random cross-section of the population will almost always have more collective wisdom than a group of self-selected and necessarily self-interested experts.
Candidate Selection
Dear Colleague,
As you may know The Board of the Party has reconstituted the Candidates Committee and has appointed Baroness Browning and Carlyn Chisholm as Co-Chairmen.  We look forward to working with them and the new Committee during the years ahead.
At its first meeting this month the Candidates Committee agreed to invite all those candidates on the old Parliamentary List to apply to be considered for the new Parliamentary List.
As in previous years, the Approved List ceases to exist after Polling Day and everyone who was previously included, and who wishes to apply for seats during the new Parliament, is required to apply for admission to the new List.  All applications will be considered on their individual merits and we will take into account your activities during the General Election Campaign and your conduct whilst on the List.  Reports from either the Association Chairman/Election Agent, and the Field Staff on your performance, either as a Candidate or someone who helped in the campaign, will form part of the process.
I enclose an application form which I ask you to return as hard copy to me at Conservative Campaign Headquarters, as soon as possible, and by no later than 15th November 2010. After your application has been considered, you will be invited to attend a Panel during the first quarter of 2011. If you are not seeking to join the new List please let us know.   If we do not hear from you by 15th November, it will be assumed that you do not wish to be on the List and it will not be possible for you to re-apply later in this Parliament. 
If you are attending Conference there may be an opportunity for you to meet us - I know that Carlyn is interested in meeting as many of you as possible. We will be available on Tuesday between 12 noon and 5.00 pm and Wednesday between 10.00 am and 11.30 am.  If you would like to take up this offer please email XXXXX by no later than Monday 4th October. If you wish to speak to Carlyn, before Conference, please contact her on her mobile XXXXX.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours sincerely

Head of Candidates"
Why have they made a stipulation that if a candidate does not wish to be on the list now they are barred from applying later in the parliament?    After all, this parliament is due to last five years and a lot can happen in five years.   It is time the Chairman of the Candidates Committee was elected and therefore accountable to Party members.   If they were we would not have to put up with this nonsense
September 26th Referendum Threshold - The Blankety-Blank Tory Conference
September 19th Points to think about - Foreign Voters
September 12th National Convention Survey - EU Referendum - Trade Union bill - Social Mobility - AV Referendum vote
September 5th Referendum - Electoral Reform Bill - Kicking the B*stards out
September 26th
Referendum Threshold
It has been suggested that there should be a turnout threshold for the referendum on the Alternative Vote.   It is argued that unless the vote in favour is 40% of the electorate then the result should not count.   On the face of it this might seem a reasonable idea.   So good in fact that perhaps it should be extended to parliamentary elections.    So, if it applied to the last General Election precisely 35 MPs would have been elected.   Apply it to the European Election and none would have been elected.   What would we do then?
The Blankety-Blank Tory Conference
Two weeks ago the Conference hand book was published showing the Conference Agenda.   All that was shown were the start times and finish times of each session.   It was with great excitement that this weekend I saw that the Agenda had now been published.   However all we have now are the subjects of each session.   We do not know who is speaking.   What we do know is that some sessions are advertised as having member involvement, but if you want to speak you have to email Central Office.   The days of spontaneous speeches are over.    Baroness Warsi asks where the Party is going.   On the basis of this performance I would say the voluntary party is going down the tubes, and fast.

Points to think about
  • The highest turnout in the 2010 General Election was lower than the average turnout in the 1992 General Election.
  • The two main parties, Labour and Conservative got together 65% of the vote in 2010, lower than at any time since 1922.
  • In the late 1950s there were 166 marginal seats i.e. seats where less than a 10% swing would change the seat.   Today there are 85.
  • The Conservative Party did well in any seat Labour were defending. (so much for the marginal seats campaign)
  • Out of the seven seats where the Liberal Democrat MP was retiring 5 of them were lost.
  • When Gordon Brown was Prime Minister it was recommended that 17-18 year olds should be put on the Electoral Register whilst they were still at school.    Gordon Brown turned down the suggestion.   I wonder why?

Foreigners to have a say on voting reform: Commonwealth citizens to take part in referendumBy Daily Mail Reporter
Hundreds of thousands of foreigners could help decide the future of Britain's electoral system in next year's referendum on voting reform.

More than half a million Commonwealth citizens in the UK will have a right to vote on whether Britain swaps first-past-the-post elections for an alternate-vote system, data released under freedom of information laws reveals.
Ministers have confirmed that anyone eligible to vote in Westminster elections can also have their say in next May's vote.
That includes citizens from 53 Commonwealth countries, just 14 of which give Britons any say in their elections.

Voting rights for Commonwealth citizens stem from the days of colonial rule.
Dame Marion Roe, former Tory MP and voting rights campaigner said: 'I believe very strongly that only British citizens should have a vote in any referendum that is proposing to change the democratic infrastructure of the UK.'

Senior Tory backbencher Graham Brady is proposing an amendment to the referendum Bill that would restrict voting rights to Britons.
Mark Harper, Constitutional Affairs Minister, said: 'The Government has no plans to restrict the franchise for referendums.' 
It is scandalous that people  who have no allegiance to this country should have a say in the way we are governed.   It is time this anomaly was abolished, not just for the referendum but for General Elections also.

National Convention Survey
At the National Convention proposals to develop the voluntary Party will be debated.   At the COPOV Forum we debated these proposals.   Each proposal got a little support but only the second proposal got majority support.   The meeting view on the proposals as a whole was no support whatsoever.   Not a single vote was in favour.   See what you think by clicking on the link below and let the National Convention have your views.
Incidentally, I understand that this document was put together by professional experts.   Maybe that is what is wrong with it.   Frothy jargon.   The meeting continuously said "What does that mean".   When will the Party learn that if you want change you build it from the grass roots.   Then they will take ownership of the change.    At the meeting only two members of the audience had even heard of these proposals.
Yougov web site
by Natalie Hart
Almost half of the British public would vote for Britain to leave the European Union (EU) if there were a referendum on British membership, our poll reveals. 47% would want Britain to leave the EU compared to 33% who say they would vote for Britain to retain its membership.
The older generation appear particularly keen for Britain to leave its EU days behind. A substantial 57% of those over 60 say they would vote to remain in the EU, compared to 31% of the younger 18-24 age group.
This comes as Conservative European MP Daniel Hannan launches a cross-party campaign to demand a referendum on Britain’s EUmembership, the promise of which has made and broken by multiple prime ministers during election campaigns.
TPA Bulletin - 10th September 2010
£85m Trade Union bill
As public sector trade unions are preparing to fight spending cuts and threatening strikes, our latest research released last Sunday revealed that they are doing so with the help of a hefty chunk of taxpayers' cash. Here at the TPA we have, for the first time, calculated the value of the direct grants and paid time off that unions are receiving and found the bill is in excess of £85m.  
Our key findings:
- Trade unions received £85.8 million from public sector organisations in 2009-10
- This sum is made up of £18.3 million in direct payments from public sector organisations and an estimated £67.5 million in paid staff time.
- The total is up 14 per cent from 2008-09, when trade unions received £76.1 million from public sector organisations.
2,493 full time equivalent public sector employees worked for trade unions at the taxpayers' expense in 2009-10. 
Social Mobility
Nick Clegg MP recently made a speech about social mobility and the devolution of powers to a local level.
The engines for social mobility in the past were the grammar schools, so if local people want a grammar school will the coalition let them have one?    If not the speech is all rhetoric, not reality.   I think we should be told.

Ten Tory MPs vote against AV Referendum Bill

By Tim Montgomerie
Yesterday the Commons returned much earlier than it did under Labour governments for the beginning of a two week September session. MPs passed the Second Reading of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill by 347 to 254 votes.
  1. Brian Binley (Northampton South)                 40.84%
  2. Peter Bone (Wellingborough)                         48.23%
  3. Bill Cash (Stone)                                             50.58%
  4. Christopher Chope (Christchurch)                 56.44%
  5. Philip Davies (Shipley)                                   48.56%
  6. Philip Hollobone (Kettering)                          49.12%
  7. David Nuttall (Bury North)                           40.19%
  8. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills)     59.31%
  9. Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth and Horncastle)    49.64%
  10. Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight).                   46.7%
In future votes the Coalition won't have it so easy as backbench Tory MPs may join with Labour to seek a different date for the AV referendum.
Interesting that seven of the above ten got less than 50% of the votes in their constituency so if the Alternative Vote is accepted they will have a fight on their hands.   Perhaps they have a vested interest in keeping First Past the Post!

Bernard Jenkins MP complains that the proposed date for the referendum on the Alternative Vote will produce a biased result because it will be on the same day as local elections and election to the Scottish Parliament.   What he ignores is that London will have no elections but it is where there is strong support for the Alternative Vote.
UKIP oppose the Alternative Vote, but are in favour of the Alternative Vote plus, i.e. proportional representation.   If they were sensible they would support the Alternative Vote knowing that it was at least half way towards their goal.

Why I'm seeking to amend the Electoral Reform Bill tomorrow

Douglas Carswell MP
It seems odd that we are to have a referendum on changing the electoral system, but without allowing voters a real choice between the range of different possibilities. 
If the Bill on electoral reform passes the Commons unchanged, millions of people will be allowed a say, using millions of ballot papers, at a cost of £ millions. Yet they'll only being allowed to choose between the First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) system we have now, and the Alternative Vote (AV) system.
Whatever you might think about AV v FPTP, what is not in doubt is that neither of the governing parties – Liberal or Conservative – proposed AV at the last election. On the contrary, they both specifically ruled it out.
The deal on offering us a referendum on AV was cooked up by politicians seeking to cobble together a coalition to gain them power. Hardly new politics. The plebiscite is not being offered to us on the basis of high principle, or as a consequence of careful consideration on what is best to renew our democracy. No wonder the "no" campaign seems to be gaining momentum.
I have drafted a series of amendments to the Bill, which I intend on tabling tomorrow to ensure that any referendum on electoral reform includes a full range of options. The ballot paper would look much like the one below.  Not so difficult, is it?  
Perhaps you are a staunch First-Past-the-Post traditionalist. Maybe you do want AV. Perhaps you prefer the Irish-style system of multi-member seats. Whatever your own preference, surely we can all agree that it is the people – not politicians – who should be making the decision? 
Referendum on the voting system for Parliamentary elections
             Vote (X) once for question 1
1.    Do you want to change the current “first past the post” system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons?
Then vote (x) once for question 2
2.    If there was a change, do you want the United Kingdom to adopt
(a)    The “alternative vote” system or
(b)    The “single transferable vote” system with three member constituencies?

Posted on 5 September 2010 by Douglas Carswell
Kicking the B*stards out
by Electoral Reform Society on August 31st, 2010
We hear time and again of the way First Past the Post lets voters ‘kick the b*stards out’ – a colourful reference to the perceived ease with which voters can turf out one government and neatly replace it with another.
It’s a view that goes almost unquestioned, including by many reformers, so we thought we’d have a closer look.
It’s obvious that the 2010 election was unusual – not because of the coalition – but that it actually produced a transfer of power. The previous occasion was of course Labour’s win in 1997, but other than in the turbulent 1970s that produced three switches of power there have only been two other occasions since the end of the war – 1951 and 1964.
Even then, 2010 came tantalisingly close to an outcome where a reconfiguration of the government as a Labour-led coalition, rather than a full transfer of power, might have been possible: Labour fell a few seats short of this possibility.
While causing a power shift, the 2010 election confirmed another surprising fact about British government – that the classical picture of a majority government of one party cleanly replacing a majority of the other main party (the basis of the argument that FPTP enables voters to kick out a government) is a very rare event.
Since the mass franchise in 1885, there has only been one such occasion – Edward Heath’s singular victory in 1970. All others without exception have involved coalitions, minority government or parliaments with too narrow a majority to allow government for a full term.
Transfers of power in British government
Outgoing government
Incoming government
Working majority
Nat Lib-Con
Working majority
Working majority
Working majority
Con-Lib-Nat Lab
Working majority
Coalition/ caretaker
Working majority
Inadequate majority
Working majority
Working majority
Inadequate majority
Working majority
Working majority
Working majority
Working majority
Working majority
Working majority
* Transfer of power took place without an election. Elections followed shortly afterwards in 1905-06, 1922 and 1931 which ratified the new governments. The first transfer in 1924 followed a little after an election; arguably 1974 and 2010, when incumbent governments stayed on for a few days, are comparable.
August 29th Conservative Party Accounts
August 22nd Ashcroft for Party Chairman - TheAlternative Vote - The Referendum, the case for the Alternative Vote
August 15th Transparency - Alternative Vote
August 8th Recall of MPs - Labour Democracy? - Constituency Chairmen
August 1st Northern Ireland Conservatives - End of Constituency Chairmen? - Can't make up their minds - Secretary of State
Conservative Party Accounts
The Conservative Party accounts for the year ending 31st December 2009 show a very interesting point about membership.    Now that a fixed amount per member is paid to Central Office we can work out the approximate membership figures.   In 2008 the membership income was £1.229 million.   In 2009 it dropped to £1.085 million.   At £5 per head this means that membership in 2008 was 245,800.   In 2009 it was 217,000, a drop of 11.8%.   Normally in the year before an election membership goes up.    This is therefore a serious decline.   The chances are that real membership will drop to 150,000 this year.   The Conservative Party has some big problems ahead, particularly if the membership of the Labour Party is starting to go up as the Labour Party is now saying.
Also in the accounts we can see that during the year we had no fewer than 14 Deputy and Vice Chairmen of the Party.     At the current rate of decline in membership we shall soon all be Deputy Chairman, or I am being too pessinistic?
Do come to the COPOV Forum next Saturday.   It should be interesting

August 22nd
Ashcroft for Party Chairman.
It is reported that Lord Ashcroft is in discussions with David Cameron about his future role.   I suggest that he beecome the first elected Party Chairman.   I would even propose him for that position.
Alternative Vote
There are an inreasing number of polls showing what the results of the last election would have been if they had been fought under the Alternative Vote system and with the number of constituencies reduced to 600.   Think about it.    Nobody knows what the constituencies will be until after the Boundaries Commission reports.   Nobody knows how people would have used their second preferences.   Nobody knows how many people did not vote knowing that their vote would not count.   Nobody knows how many people voted for a candidate of a Party because their own choice did not have a chance.   With all these unknowns any so called result is absolutely meaningless and those that put their name to these speculations should hang their heads in shame.
The National Executive Committee of the Labour Party has to be congratulated on its transparency.   A detailed record of it's last meeting was put on the labourlist web site for all to see.   The record was written by Ann Black, the Vice Chairman of the NEC.   Not only did it show the results of votes it also showed how individual members voted.   What a contrast to the Conservative Party Board.   Valiantly Don Porter used to give us a short precis of its activities but we have never had the kind of detail shown by Ann Black.    Come on Conservatives if you have nothing to hide lets know what goes on in the Board meetings.
Alternative Vote
Last week (7th August) Bernard Jenkins wrote an article in the Evening Standard supporting First Past The Post.   I respond as follows:

Jenkins is incorrect when he says that our present system has lasted 300 years.   Prior to 1884 we had multi-member seats in the House of Commons.   Now that system did last for 600 years.   Perhaps we should return to it.   As recently as 1950 we had some seats determined by proportional representation, so Bernard needs to brush up on his history.   Perhaps he might read my book on the history of democracy in the United Kingdom - "Our Fight for Democracy".   Jenkins is also wrong when he says that FPTP is the most widely used system in the World.
Bernard Jenkin's arguments about the timing of a referendum on electoral reform are just guerilla tactics in his attempt to squash the whole idea. It is sensible to hold the vote on the same day as other elections to make it convenient for people, and there's no chance people will get mixed up over their vote for a candidate when asked an entirely separate question about the voting system.
Like Conservative MP Douglas Carswell I back a return to multi-member constituencies, but the Alternative Vote is what is on offer and there's no question it is better and fairer than our current system. Under first past the post, the parties are purely focused on the one per cent of the adult population who are the floating voters in marginal constituencies.   In
campaigning the Parties are able to avoid issues that concern large sections of the public - a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and subsidies for measures to combat man-made climate change were barely discussed in the run up to the election.   It's foolish to speculate how proportional a result AV will produce because no-one knows how people's voting behaviour will change; certainly voting will be more transparent, and tactical voting and ludicrous situations whereby a candidate can be elected by just 18 per cent of eligible voters will be consigned to the past.

I am not surprised Bernard Jenkins wants to retain First Past The Post.   In the General Election he got 23,000 votes out of an electorate of 70,000 and became the MP.   Who knows how many UKIP or BNP supporters voted for him knowing that if they voted for their preferred Party their votes would not count.   Under the Alternative Vote Jenkins seat would become a marginal like two thirds of the seats in the House of Commons.   Then to be elected the politicians really would have to listen to the people.
August 8th
Zac Goldsmith accuses the Coalition of watering down the promise to 'recall' MPs
"What we’re being offered falls far short of true Recall. Instead of handing the power of Recall down to the voters, the measure will pass it up to MPs on the Standards and Privileges Committee. Its members alone will decide if an MP has behaved badly enough to warrant being ‘recalled’.  The terms of reference are to be restricted to ‘serious wrongdoing’. This is emphatically not a true Recall mechanism and nor is it worthy of the name. Ironically, it could actually aggregate even more power at the top by handing this tiny group at Westminster the power to rid Parliament of troublesome MPs." - Zac Goldsmith MP in the Mail on Sunday
And we thought we were getting more democracy!
Labour's democracy?
One of the aspects of Labour’s leadership election that has not really been questioned is the system itself. For unlike what has become the norm in other parties the choice of Labour leader is not determined by a membership ballot in which all votes have equal value.
Instead different values are attached to each vote depending on whether you are an ordinary member, an MP/MEP, or you pay the political levy to your trade union.
For just like in George Orwell’s Animal Farm with the Labour party “all animals are equal except that some animals are more equal than others”.
For in terms of electoral power an ordinary Labour member has just one third the impact of a Lib Dem, Tory or other UK party member. And an individual Labour MP’s vote is equivalent to the views of several hundred ordinary party members.
This is because, unlike the other parties, the members are allocated just a third of the electoral college - the same as the 270 MPs and MEPs.
For the trade unionists who’ll get ballots their influence is even further reduced. If a million of them vote then it will take nearly 4,000 of them to equate to one MP.
On top of that MPs also have votes as party members, and as trade unionists - so multi-voting is widespread.
Given the power that MPs have in controlling who is nominated I wonder whether they’ve got far too much influence on the process.
The Tory system involves MPs staging a series of ballot to decide which two names shall go forward to the membership ballot and it is this that is sovereign. Lib Dem leaders are elected by the membership alone but the nominations are controlled by MPs and there’s a minimum number that are needed.

Mike Smithson from

Because labour operate an electoral college for the election of their Party Leader it is possible that the candidate that gets the highest number of individual votes does not become Leader.   I wonder what would happen in that case?   Calls for democracy?
End of Constituency Chairmen - A Reply to the Daily Mail - see last week

Dear Sirs
                   I note that David Cameron is reported to be wanting to get rid of local constituency chairmen and run the party as the American parties are run.   I belong to a group and I am in fact on the committee of C O P O V the Campaign for Conservative Democracy One Person One Vote.  This group is chaired by John Strafford a well known Tory and we are trying to connect the grass roots of the party to the party higher echelons because British Politic needs FEED BACK from members.
In Britain we have Parish , Town , District, and County Councils and all need to have good representatives on them to run them cost effectively, also the local councillors should report local and country wide concerns to the central party to help form policies.
It is apparent that we often get very good Prime Ministers who after a while lose touch with the people, this is because they do not listen to their members who are often talking to voters on council matters.
The best M P,s I have met have risen through the ranks of Councillor to M P but kept their communications open.
The USA is welcome to its system of government just look what it has given them, Reagan ,   Carter,   Clinton   all very rich and not in touch with the needs of working people.
How could an M P who has been to university then straight into politics know how a chap who digs ditches for a living spends his hard earned cash as he probably would not know any one like that.
The party needs updating and communications need improving but we need all types to give input not just the well educated rich.  Let's face it most of us were not born with money but strive to make our lives as comfortable as we can, we deserve a voice.
Cllr Allan Glass.  M.C.M.I.   M.I.Q.A.

Northern Ireland Conservatives
I hear that the Conservatives in Northern Ireland have been told not to put up any candidates in next years elections.    If true this would set back the Conservatives for twenty years.    It would be a triumph for the Ulster Unionists.   Who is Jonathan Cane working for?   Is it the Ulster Unionists or Owen Patterson?
End of Constituency Chairmen?
If it hasn’t already hit your radar:
 Can't they make up their minds?
The Conservative Party has Co Chairmen.    The three main committees of the Party Board -  Candidates, Membership and Conference also have Co Chairmen.   Can't they make up their minds as to who should be top dog?   Of course, if these positions were elected we would not have this nonsense.   Incidentally, I hear whispers that the hierarchy walked all over Jeremy Middleton (Chairman of the National Convention) in deciding who gets what.
Secretary of State
Secretary of State. 
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), 
Nobel House 
17 Smith Square 
London SW1P 3JR 

Dear Secretary of State, 

My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs. I would now like to join the "not rearing pigs" business. 
In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy. 
I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these? 
As I see it, the hardest part of this programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven't reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this? 
My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is - until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any. 
If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100? I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department. Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases? 
Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don't rear? I am also considering the "not milking cows" business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current Defra advice on set aside fields? Can this be done on an e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)? 
In view of the above you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits. 
I shall of course be voting for your party at the next general election. 

Yours faithfully, 
July 25th Party Policy and Members - European Commission Spending
July 11th Coalition Government - Government - Copov meeting report
July 4th The Cost of a Conservative Vote - Peers, nice work if you can get it.
The following article was on
On the face of it this is a move in the right direction, but Paul Goodman raises some interesting points.   In addition we would point out that the CPF has been in breach of the Party Constitution for some years.   Will this be put right or will it just be resurrected?   If the latter what will prevent it going the same way again.   The real test for party members is (a) accountability.   Will those running this new Forum be elected and accountable to Party members? (b) Will party members have a vote on the policies?   Who chooses the Think Tanks?   Will they consist solely of party members?
I suspect that we will see a flashy presentation at the National Convention.   It will be put out that this is a real opportunity for members to get involved with policy.   Unless members are given real power as above it will disappear from site within a couple of years just as the current CPF has done.    Of course, those presenting it will have also disappeared.
Board moves to give Party members a say in policy
By Paul Goodman
There's a policy unit in Downing Street - containing three Conservatives and three Liberal Democrats - to help shape future policy for the Coalition.  But there's no equivalent in CCHQ to form future policy for the Party.  So how will Conservative policy be drawn up for the next election?  I wrote last month that there are three main options-
  • David Cameron could set up a Policy Unit in CCHQ (as I've suggested).
  • The 1922 Executive could raise some money, and use its backbench committees as policy development bodies (as Tim has recommended).
  • The Party Board could set up its own new policy development process.
I can disclose today that the Board is considering a plan that would change Party policy-making significantly.  Under its terms -
  • Every Conservative Cabinet member would work with a think-tank made up of Party members.
  • Each think-tank would draw up policy proposals to which, in turn, the Cabinet Minister would respond.
  • Party members would thus have a say in the Party policy - both before the next election and manifesto.
This plan is set out in a paper called "Conservative Policy Forum - proposal to reinvigorate, restructure, relaunch", which ConservativeHome has seen.  The paper has been drawn up by a steering group appointed directly by the Board and chaired by Fiona Hodgson, a Board member and Vice-President of the National Convention.
It sees a revived Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) as the means of delivering the plan described above, and is drawn from responses to a survey sent to existing CPF groups, and Deputy Chairmen Political in each Association.  730 or so CPF groups were canvassed for their views.  The steering group received almost 300 responses.  97 per cent said that members should be able to influence Party policy through the CPF.
Under the plan, Ministers and think-tanks would work together roughly as follows.  Each think-tank would -
  • Appoint a Chairman and a Rapporteur.
  • Consult local CPF Groups to select topics for policy formation.
  • Draw up proposals based on those topics, which would be posted on-line for local CPF group feed-back.
  • Put these amended proposals to the Minister, who would post his views and comments on-line.
I'm told that the Board is due to consider the paper during a meeting in September, and that its ideas may in turn be considered and debated during the Convention meeting that takes place during October's Party Conference.  Oliver Letwin, who has overall responsibility for the CPF in his capacity as Chairman of the Policy Review and of the Conservative Research Department, met Steering Group members earlier this week, and his response to the paper was described to me as "sympathetic".
I've five main thoughts about the paper, and the issues that it raises.
  • The plan's a good idea, but the devil's in the detail.  It's reasonable for members to be involved in making policy for their own Party, and the proposal's structure is sensible.  But it raises a number of questions.  For example, who's to select the Chairmen and Rapporteurs?  What's to be done with Departments headed by a Liberal Democrat?  And if the Party leadership's to take the think-tank recommendations seriously, how are they to be integrated into the process of drawing up the next manifesto?
  • The Party leadership's likely to be wary about the plan.  Although David Cameron's localist in theory, he's often centralist in practice - at least as far as the Party's concerned. Consider the imposition of shortlists on local parties in Parliamentary selections, or control of the order of party lists for the 2008 European elections, or the vetting of candidates' literature at the last election.  The Party leadership's likely to worry, not wholly unreasonably, about controversial proposals being floated on-line, available to Labour and its media allies to distort and exploit.
  • However, the plan raises the question: whose Party is it anyway?  In Party terms, I'm not an extreme democrat.  That's to say, I don't agree with proposals, for example, to elect the Party Chairman - perhaps because I remember what extreme party democracy did for Labour during the 1980s.  But I believe that the pendulum's swung too far towards central control.  Party members have the right to elect the Party leader, but are otherwise losing power - to open primaries, for example, in candidate selection (about which I was critical on this blog when an MP).  There's a bigger, wider question about the future of membership and Associations, which Tim, Jonathan and I will return to in due course.  But in relation to the steering group's plan, it's reasonable for members to have a formal say in their own Party's policy.
  • The Board and the 1922 Committee need to work together.  There are three newly-elected MPs on the Board: Brian Binley, Priti Patel and Charles Walker, all of whom are members of the '22 Executive.  They're in a good position to dovetail whatever the Board decides to do in terms of policy formation with whatever the '22 decides to do.  Perhaps the two processes should be merged altogether - ConservativeHome readers will have their own ideas.  What's certain is that with the Party governing in Coalition, the '22 has a new role to play in policy development.
  • Sooner or later, David Cameron will respond positively to the steering group's ideas - if the Board endorses them.  I suspect that the leadership's instinct is to keep control of policy development and the manifesto process (for good as well as bad reasons, as I've suggested).  But if the CPF and the '22 set up means of developing policy, either together or separately, it will have little choice but to accommodate them.  In any event, the Party's policy-making gap must be filled sooner or later.  Whether a policy unit's set up in CCHQ or not, there'll have to be some central means of drawing these threads together.

"The construction of a federal Europe has never relied on democratic support, merely on acquiescence and the force of habit. The creation of a viable single currency, backed by a European federal budget, will merely be the next stage of this non-democratic process."
 Economics commentator Anatole Kaletsky, writing in the Times, 14 July 2010
From the Open Europe web site:
Meanwhile, figures published by the Commission reveal that, in the last three years, the EU has given out £400m in grants to 727 projects marked "confidential". A Commission spokeswoman defended the spending, saying, "This is a very small amount of money and I am sure there are reasons why this is confidential." (Express, 10 July)
Where details were available, some of the projects receiving funding included "The Flying Gorillas" dance troupe, who received £160,000 to perform "spectacular belching" and "smelly foot" jigs. In addition, nearly £147,000 has been spent on creating 736 postcards - one for each MEP in the European Parliament. Each cost the taxpayer £200. (Sun, 10 July)

Coalition Government
This coalition government is getting better all the time.    It is to be congratulated on its initiative on asking the civil servants and the public for ideas on ways to save money.   Already 65,000 suggestions have been made.   This is a brilliant exercise in participation.   With such demonstrable success why doesn't the Conservative Party learn from this exercise?    Give people real power and participation and they will respond.    Isn't it time to create a democratic Party in which each member has one vote and has the power to change the Party's constitution?   Then see membership go up.
One of the sad aspects of the General Election was the fact that few of our new MPs have any experience of running a big organisation.   Michael Gove, who will make a great Minister, is learning on the job.   He needs to understand that when you are the boss of a large organisation you check and re-check everything you say or put in the public domain.   Better to delay and get it right than rush and get it wrong.   Michael will learn - a stretch of silence from him will do no harm.
COPOV MEETING at Colbury, Hampshire
Saturday, 3rd July 2010

Conservative Party NewsIt was reported from Newbury that Richard  Benyon MP thought the Coalition was working out well.   Conservative Home website said that of 1800 people responding 80% thought coalition working and 60% agreed it was in the interest of the Conservative Party.   Membership nationally is continuing to fall and difficulty was experienced in selling tickets for branch and constituency events.   Some candidates who narrowly lost at last election wanted to be re-selected for next election, but it was pointed out that boundaries are to be revised and constituencies made smaller which will create keen competition from sitting members.
Coalition:  Is it Working?:  Chairman thought it was.   It had been impossible to obtain an overall majority because of the unusually high swing that would have been needed for outright victory.   Cameron had been brave and sensible.   After latest Budget Conservative Home had done survey on budget and majority were happy with it, but did not want NHS or overseas aid ring fenced.   If the Government turned out to be unpopular at next election Labour would find it hard to aim their guns at two enemies!
Alternative Vote:  First Past The Post (FPTP) had been effective for 2 party government.   In 1951 Conservative and Labour had 98% of vote.   At last election the figure was 65% with 35% going to other parties.      In 2005 Canning Town and Poplar only 18% of electorate had voted to elect the Labour MP.   Just 3 MPs at last election had over 40% of electorate voting for them, and these included Sinn Fein.   Ladbrokes were giving 6/4 that referendum would support AV.   Australia brought in AV in 1918 and had since had 9 changes of Government.    We have had 12.   Average size of 600 new constituencies is to be 77,000 electors.    This country is one of the most heavily represented legislatures.   Western Isles have 25,000 electorate and Isle of Wight 110,000 currently.   Wales is in peculiar position and got smaller seats that UK average of 68,000.   Average figure for Wales is 55,000. Labour will be uptight to lose 10 Welsh seats.   Labour seats also have lowest electorate.   Changes could give 25/30 more seats to Conservative Party.    Boundaries Commission last time took 6 years to report and this will have to be reduced to two years this time which might mean not having public meetings and written representations from the Parties.  In the past the Conservative Party did not make effective representation in consultation period but Labour did.  AV will change way in which Parties work at election.   Currently the political parties only target the 10%  swing voters in the constituencies which are marginal.(1% of total voters)   The big issues, like Lisbon Treaty, war in Afghanistan, climate change have been avoided by the political parties.   All this will change with AV when 2nd and 3rd preferences come into play.   In future policies will have to appeal to the majority of the electorate as we shall have 450 marginal seats.   Some people are worried that 2nd preference vote has same weighting as first.   Historically from the 1832 Reform Act onwards, political parties had to make sure people were on the electoral register.   This role is about to be resurrected as 3 ½ million electors are NOT on electoral roll.
Proposed Constitutional Reform:  Major issues are:
·          the Power of Recall when 10% of electorate sign a petition,
·          having  individual voter registration,
·          having an 80% elected House of Lords with single 15 year term of office, with grandfathering arrangement Voting system will be PR.   Conservatives had proposed 3 member seats based on counties.  Numbers should be reduced to 350 from current over 750.    It was also proposed as an interim arrangement that the House of Lords should now have representation equal to share of votes secured by political parties at the general election which would mean BNP getting 14 peers!   
·          It is proposed Peers will now get £300 per day tax free allowance.
·          Chairman pointed out fiasco over Europe allowing 18 observer MEPs to be voted for at last election.   Europe now wants these observers to have the right to vote as currently they are paid but cannot vote – UK has one of these 18 observers who is a Conservative.   This change has been agreed by the intergovernment conference and now has to be ratified by the 27 states.   It will be put through parliament without a referendum as promised.
·          Westminster Parliament is to have a fixed 5 year term and dissolution only possible if 66.6% of MPs so vote for dissolution.
·          Petitions from voters will be allowed and if 100,000 signatures collected this will be noted, and over 100,000 signatures matter has to be considered by Parliament.
·          Finally the new Coalition has agreed that 200 all-postal primaries will be allowed before next election, targeting seats which have not changed party for last 20 years.   NB cost of postal primary in Totnes was £40,000.
Future of the Conservative Party:  Concern was expressed about Conservative Policy Forums (CPF).   Currently the Party is in breach of its own constitution with CPF.   Fiona Hodgson is thought to be having a glossy professional launch of CPF at Party Conference but we need to know if Party is going to take any notice or will it just be froth.   NB Liberal Democrats had taken Coalition Agreement to its members and MPs before final agreement was effective – unlike the Conservative Party.  Conservative Party now very short of money and we are no longer as Government eligible for so-called “Short” money of between £4-5million a year.   Some professional staff being made redundant and all regional directors asked to reapply for four positions – NE, NW, SW, and SE (which takes in Southern, Eastern area, and London).   Campaign directors will be appointed to help out at by-elections.   We know membership is declining.   Of 150,000 members only 10% active, and of this 15,000, 10,000 are councillors and rest are their families.   If Party does badly at next council elections when Party is likely to be unpopular with budget cuts, the Party will be in a bad way.   The question was does Cameron understand this?  Could this be part of his plan to just have supporters (like the Republican Party in the States) and not worry about members.   At election times supporters will be asked to help but not be paid  (unlike the States where they are paid).   If other political parties understand the need for members and have massive recruitment, Tory position would be terrible.  Cameron had tried to take over the 1922 Committee but failed.   Lack of finance, and deteriorating political popularity could be a devastating explosive mixture for the Tories at the next election.   And members have no input on policy.   The Party used to have a Lib Dem unit which had done a fantastic job and monitored what the Lib Dems did round the country, but this has been culled.   Conservative Home website was very influential before the General Election, but appears less so nowadays.   It is funded by Ashcroft who does not appear to be exerting any political view, and Paul Goodman (former Wycombe MP) is now editing the pages.
History of Democracy:  George I (1714-1727) had been appointed by Parliament.   He was German, could not speak English, and left Parliament to its own devices.   Effectively this was how the role of Prime Minister came into being and Walpole led the Cabinet, exerted patronage and became First Lord of the Admiralty.   This was the time when elections were bought in the rotten boroughs, and the electorate was very small.    The King had power to appoint Ministers.   558 MPs sat in the House of Commons.    60 of them were in the Army or Navy and voted for promotions.   Newspapers began to take an interest in parliamentary proceedings and there was a Parliament Report.    This was the beginning of public interest in the activities of the House
Any Other Business:  COPOV barbecue would be held in Beaconsfield on Saturday, 21st August 2010.   Tickets cost £10.
Next Meeting Saturday, 11th September 2010 at All Saints Church Hall, Gerrards Cross, and it was planned to put on the agenda – Role of an MP.

July 4th

Cameron spent £111 getting every extra Conservative vote

The Times' Guide to the House of Commons has just been published. It's well worth buying. As well as profiles of every MP it includes a number of interesting essays on the state of politics and the election campaign.
One snippet that interested me was Sam Coates' calculation of the cost of the Tory campaign:
"In [David Cameron's] four years as Leader of the Opposition, from January 2006 to May 6, 2010, a record £122 million went through Tory coffers, by any international political yardstick an extraordinary amount.  Barack Obama’s presidential campaign committee in 2008 raised £450 million.  That was to fund a campaign that won decisively in a country where campaigns hinge on TV advertising and with an electorate five times the size.  In domestic terms this figure is also striking;  Labour’s income was £71 million over the same period, although £22 million of this came while Tony Blair was still in office.  It also beats sums raised in previous Parliaments; the Tories’ income was £49 million and Labour’s £61 million between 2001 and 2005.
Perhaps more intriguing is the limited impact that this vast spending appeared to have.  By Mr Cameron’s own yardstick, set in a Spectator interview shortly before polling day, his own campaign was a failure.  The Conservative vote increased by 3.8 percentage points on its 2005 vote; an increase of 2 million votes net, or, taking in account the higher number of votes received by rival parties, 1.1 million more than last time.  In other words, every additional vote cost the Tories £111.
What is more, for the shrewd financial investor, the archetype of the modern Tory donor, the way the Conservative Party operated under the stewardship of Andy Coulson, Steve Hilton and ultimately George Osborne as general election co-ordinator, must have seemed horrific.  At a national level, half a million pounds was gambled on cinema advertisements that were never shown, £400,000 on a January 2010 “cut the deficit not the NHS” poster campaign later disowned by some senior figures.   About half a million was spent on a much–ridiculed “don’t be a tosser” campaign on the national debt and the same sum again on a national newspaper campaign to recruit internet “friends of the Conservatives”, which was never mentioned again by the leadership."
Tim Montgomerie

Peers with London property claimed overnight allowance.

Nice work if you can get it!   £1500 per week, tax free for Peers.

Peers do not get salaries but are entitled to various allowances
More than 150 peers have been claiming a £174 tax-free overnight allowance for staying in London, despite owning a property there, a report says.
The detail is published in a report on implementing changes to the Lords expenses system.
It says 326 members who replied to a survey claim the "overnight subsistence allowance".
Of those 167 own accommodation in London and 113 own their properties outright - making them mortgage-free.
None of the peers were breaking the rules, which until recently did not specify which property was a "main home".
The findings come as the government has outlined plans to pay peers a flat rate of £300 a day to attend the House of Lords.
The regime, due to take effect in October, compares with a current maximum daily limit of £334.
Under the plans, backed by Labour, the subsistence payment of £174 a night for peers living outside London would be abolished.
June 27th Revision of Constituency Boundaries - The New Boy - Efficient House of Commons? - House of Lords - How Lisbon was revised in 15 minutes - Strafford's Law.
June 20th The Sovereignty Act - the War in Afghanistan - House of Commons Standing Orders
June 13th The Alternative Vote - The Payroll vote
June 6th Prime Minister Cameron

Revision of Constituency Boundaries
Jack Straw made a big fuss this week about the reduction in the number of constituencies, which has been proposed by the Coalition Government.   His complaint was that there were 3.5 million people that were not on the electoral register and they should be taken into account.   May I remind him of the origins of political parties by quoting a passage from my book " Our Fight for Democracy":
    The real impetus to political parties sprang from the Reform Act 1832.   Although bribery continued, it was now practically speaking impossible to buy sufficient electors to ensure a majority in Parliament.   Thus it became necessary to organise support at the poll, and the parties extended their activities to the country.   Through a seemingly minor requirement of the Reform Act, a person’s name had to be on the electoral register before he could vote.   This was not always easy, especially where an illiterate person had to establish a voting qualification.    This seemingly minor requirement had a significant impact.   Hence the parties organised local “registration societies”, which compiled and revised electoral lists.  
     Making sure the electoral register was up to date and accurate used to be one of the major functions of political parties.   I remember thirty years ago, as soon as the draft register was published we went through it to ensure that all our members were on it.    At that time the register was published once a year in December and could be altered for errors by the following February when it was finalised.   In those days the Conservative Party had 1.5 million members, so this was quite a big job.    Now that we have only one tenth of that number it should not be so difficult.    Perhaps the Parties should re-adopt their original role and take over responsibility for making sure the Register was accurate.   The only problem is that the members might want more say in the way in which the parties are run.    Party hierarchies its up to you!
The New Boy
A new Conservative MP walked into his Constituency Association office this week and asked "What does the Association do?"   That just about sums up the state of the voluntary Party today.
Efficient House of Commons?
As at last weekend, some seven weeks after the General Election, no less than 100 MPs still had not been allocated an office.   Who is responsible for this mess?   I think we should be told.   I hear that there is also a problem regarding getting carpets laid.   This shambles needs sorting out, and quick.   Maybe efficiency cuts should start at home.
One area where the House of Commons should make money is on catering for the public - we know MPs are subsidised.   This week I went to a reception in the House, tickets £25.00 each, for which I got 1 drink of wine and two nibbles.   To obtain a second glass of wine I had to pay £6.60.
Organisations are not allowed to make a profit on events at the House so someone somewhere is making a lot of profit or is it those old spanish practices which are adding to the cost?. 
One of the pleasures of drinks at the House used to be having a smoke with your drink on the terrace.   No more, I was told by a little bureaucrat that the terrace is now a no smoking area.   One more liberty lost to the politically correct brigade, or was the bureaucrat just being bossy?
The House of Lords
We are told that the composition of the House of Lords is to be altered to reflect the number of vote cast for each Party in the General Election as per the Coalition Agreement.   This may mean up to 100 Lords being created.    Where will they all sit?   What is more important, does this mean that the BNP will get 14 members appointed to the House of Lords?

How the Lisbon Treaty Was Revised in 15 MinutesEU member states opened and closed an Intergovernmental Council within 15 minutes.    The IGC was attended by ambassadors only and all member states agreed to the December 2008 decision to increase the number of MEPs.  This was an amendment to a protocol of the Lisbon Treaty, and not to the Treaty itself.  However, all member states will have to ratify the decision in their own Parliaments.   This should mean a debate in Parliament and as it is transferring power to others (The UK only has one extra MEP out of 18) we should have a referendum as promised by David Cameron.    We shall see! 

"The more you pay the worse they are." Strafford's Law
The more you pay a manager the worse they are.   Look at the fat cat bankers - Fred the Shed Goodwin of Royal Bank of Scotland, Mark Thompson of the BBC and Capello of the England football team and topping the list is Tony Hayward of BP.

The Sovereignty Act.
Hopefully soon the Coalition government will publish and pass through parliament the Sovereignty Act.   They could do no better than use the words of the Levellers in the 17th century.
"That the supreme authority of England and territories therewith incorporate shall be and reside henceforth in a representative of the people consisting of four hundred persons but no more..."
The War in Afghanistan
We heard yesterday that the number of I.E.D. attacks in   Afghanistan is up by 94% this year compared to the same period last year.    There are now three suicide bomb attacks every week.   Kabul is under constant attack.(during the Russian occupation Kabul was never attacked.)    Tragically, we will soon announce the 300th death of a British soldier in this war, but this war is a war against terror.   How do you know when you have won a War on Terror?   You know only when your Government tells you that we have won.   The only evidence you will see is the evidence they offer.    What is the objective of this war?   How long will it be before the Prime Minister stands up in the House of Commons and tells us that we have now achieved our objective and we can now withdraw our brave troops and in the mean time how many of our brave troops will have sacrificed their lives in fighting this war without end?    
House of Commons Standing Orders
Under Standing Order 14.1 the power over the business of the Commons is in the hands of the Government.   This Standing Order was passed in 1963.   It also give power to the Government to prevent amendment of Standing Order 14.1.   Under the proposed arrangements for the House of Commons business will this Standing Order be repealed or will it just be left in position like the Sword of Damocleswaiting to drop if the Government does not like the way things are turning out?

The Alternative Vote
Australia uses the same Alternative vote system as is proposed for the UK.   Since AV was introduced in 1918, Australia has had fewer changes of Government than the UK by a count of 9 to 12.    Furthermore, the Conservatives have been in government there for 65 of those 92 years, so why does the Conservative Party oppose the Alternative Vote?
The Payroll vote
Geoffrey Wheatcroft writes in The Independent:
In 1900 a Commons of 670 included no more than 33 MPs in salaried government posts.   This was 68 by 1950, and 80 by 1990, while there was also a huge increase in the number of parliamentary private secretaries, the bag carriers who aren't paid but are expected to vote loyally, from nine to 47 over the course of the century.   Our new ministry of some of the talents comprises in the Commons, 76 cabinet ministers and junior ministers, and 17 whips and assistant whips(if I've counted the number correctly).   With the two law officers, thats a total of 95 out of 650 MPs who will be on the salaried payroll, even before they begin to appoint another ridiculous number of Principal Private Secretaries.

Prime Minister Cameron
David Cameron is demonstrating excellent qualities as Prime Minister.   He is acting in the National interest.   Already this Parliament is beginning to show the signs of becoming a historic Parliament.    Cameron's leadership so far can hardly be faulted.   He has had some very difficult decisions to take since he became Prime Minister, but in each case he has acted correctly in the National interest.   The decisions that are coming up will test him to the limit.   Unfortunately there has to be a downside, and the downside is that in the process of him becoming Prime Minister he has destroyed the voluntary side of the Tory Party.   He may be taking a huge gamble that in five years time the voluntary parts of all political parties will have disappeared and political parties as we have known them will have totally changed.   The risk is that other parties will see a gap.   The Green Party last week took out a full page advertisement in "The Independent" inviting people to become members.   The Labour Party leadership candidates can see that they have to involve their members more and are proposing that the Labour Party Chairman should be elected by the membership.   If these and other moves like them are successful Cameron will find himself and the Conservative Party in trouble.   We shall see!
May 23rd 1922 Committee, Dictatorship advances - Political Reform, Coalition proposals - General Election Result - From the grass roots, General Election
May 16th David Cameron - Party members - The EU is now a religion - Fair Votes Now
May 9th David Cameron - Hackney Council - Oliver Cromwell
May 2nd The Big Society - The Unanswered Questions - 18 MEPs with no powers

May 23rd
1922 Committee - Dictatorship advances
The manner in which the change has been sprung tells you everything you need to know about the contempt David Cameron holds for his parliamentary party.  The MPs were summoned to a meeting at 4.30pm yesterday.  They assumed they were going to be told the details of the coalition agreement with the Lib Dems.  Instead, they assembled to find Cameron telling them it was time to change their procedures to admit government members.  There was no warning that this plan was afoot.  It was not discussed beforehand with the Executive of the ’22.  Heaven forefend that they should be consulted about the composition of their own committee!
Let us be clear that the members of the ’22 did not vote for this change.   For a start, the vote on the composition of the ’22 was not restricted to its members.  Rather, it was declared a party matter so that all ministers on the payroll were entitled to vote on whether they were to be admitted to the committee of which, since forming a government, they had ceased to belong.  Since when do people who are not members of a club get to vote on whether they should be made its members?  Those who resent their committee being taken over in this highly questionable way may like to take legal advice.  For, if this is acceptable, how can any similarly constituted institution restrict who determines its actions and procedures?
The vote showed 168 in favour of the change and 118 against.  But, if we subtract the 76 members of the payroll who ought to have been excluded from voting from the ‘yes’ tally (it may be reasonably assumed that almost all of these self-interested 76 did vote ‘yes’), then it will be seen that the vote to change the rules would have been defeated by 118 to 92.
And let us not comfort ourselves that the vote was held fairly.  Because it was announced as a party matter, the ballot boxes were manned not by executive officers of the ’22 but by government whips.  MPs either had to fill in their ballot slip on the same table upon which the eager-eyed whips were sitting or stand up, turn their back to the whips, and mark their paper in so furtive a fashion as to identify themselves as certain opponents of the measure.  At a time when the courts are forcing the Unite union to comply with minute levels of detail in order for its strike ballot for British Airways cabin staff to be declared legal, the Conservative Party high command thinks it can get away from procedures of voter intimidation worthy of Mr Mugable’s Zimbabwe. 
24. POLITICAL REFORM - Coalition Proposals
The Government believes that our political system is broken. We urgently need fundamental political reform, including a referendum on electoral reform, much greater co-operation across party lines, and changes to our political

system to make it far more transparent and accountable.

• We will establish five-year fixed-term Parliaments. We will put a binding motion before the House of Commons stating that the next general election will be held on the first Thursday of May 2015. Following this
motion, we will legislate to make provision for fixed-term Parliaments of five years. This legislation will also provide for dissolution if 55% or more of the House votes in favour.

We will bring forward a Referendum Bill on electoral reform, which includes provision for the introduction of the Alternative Vote in the event of a positive result in the referendum, as well as for the creation of fewer and more

equal sized constituencies. We will whip both Parliamentary parties in both Houses to support a simple majority referendum on the Alternative Vote, without prejudice to the positions parties will take during such a referendum.

• We will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by-election
signed by 10% of his or her constituents.
• We will establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation. The committee will come forward with a draft motion by December 2010. It is likely that this will advocate single long terms of office. It is also likely that there will be a grandfathering system for current Peers. In the interim, Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber that
is reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election.

• We will bring forward the proposals of the Wright Committee for reform to the House of Commons in full – starting with the proposed committee for management of backbench business. A House Business Committee, to consider government business, will be established by the third year of the Parliament.
• We will reduce electoral fraud by speeding up the implementation of individual voter registration.
• We will establish a commission to consider the ‘West Lothian question’.
• We will prevent the possible misuse of Parliamentary privilege by MPs accused of serious wrongdoing.
We will cut the perks and bureaucracy associated with Parliament.

• We will consult with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority on how to move away from the generous final-salary pension system for MPs.
• We will fund 200 all-postal primaries over this Parliament, targeted at seats which have not changed hands for many years. These funds will be allocated to all political parties with seats in Parliament that they take up, in proportion to their share of the total vote in the last general election.
• We will ensure that any petition that secures 100,000 signatures will be eligible for formal debate in Parliament. The petition with the most signatures will enable members of the public to table a bill eligible to be voted on in
• We will introduce a new ‘public reading stage’ for bills to give the public an opportunity to comment on proposed legislation online, and a dedicated ‘public reading day’ within a bill’s committee stage where those comments will
be debated by the committee scrutinising the bill.

• We will improve the civil service, and make it easier to reward the best civil servants and remove the least effective.
• We will reform the Civil Service Compensation Scheme to bring it into line with practice in the private sector.
• We will put a limit on the number on Special Advisers.
• We will introduce extra support for people with disabilities who want to become MPs, councillors or other elected officials.
• We will open up Whitehall recruitment by publishing central government job vacancies online.
• We will publish details of every UK project that receives over £25,000 of EU funds.
• We will give residents the power to instigate local referendums on any local issue.
• We will stop plans to impose supplementary business rates on firms if a majority of the firms affected do not give their consent.
• We will give residents the power to veto excessive council tax increases.
• We will continue to promote peace, stability and economic prosperity in Northern Ireland, standing firmly behind the agreements negotiated and institutions they establish. We will work to bring Northern Ireland back  into the mainstream of UK politics, including producing a government paper examining potential mechanisms for changing the corporation tax rate in Northern Ireland.
• We will implement the proposals of the Calman Commission and introduce a referendum on further Welsh devolution.
• We will review the control and use of accumulated and future revenues from the Fossil Fuel Levy in Scotland.
• We recognise the concerns expressed by the Holtham Commission on the system of devolution funding. However, at this time, the priority must be to reduce the deficit and therefore any change to the system must await the stabilisation of the public finances. Depending on the outcome of the forthcoming referendum, we will establish a process similar to the Calman Commission for the Welsh Assembly. We will take forward the Sustainable Homes Legislative Competence Order.
• We will make the running of government more efficient by introducing enhanced Departmental Boards which will form collective operational leadership of government departments.
General Election Result
When political parties spend their time and energy on concentrating on 1% of the electorate – the 1% swing voters in marginal constituencies – voters feel democracy has died.   The remaining 99% of the electorate have been and continue to be mainly ignored.    THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED IN THE GENERAL WITH FIRST PAST THE POST.   We are continually told FPTP means decisive results.   Last Thursday showed this voting system is in terminal decline.
Our political system is broken
It is bankrupt
It is not fair
It is not right
It is not just
The time has come when it must be changed.
At general elections each voter must feel and know that their vote counts, and is of equal import - whether they live in Chelsea (a safe seat) or Battersea (a marginal constituency).   At the moment candidates, and more importantly parties, spend their time, energy, and canvassing techniques on the swing voters needed to hold or change a constituency.    No political meetings are held in safe seats, but just the one election address is posted to electors.   Constituents immediately know the candidate doesn’t need to canvass their opinion, hear their worries, or explain the future Government’s plans.    This cannot be right.
To make votes count, I suggest three things
(      (1) Bring back the multi member constituencies  which surprisingly this country had for over 600 years, only ending in 1884  Then every elector could make a proper choice with each vote being of equal import.  
 (2)    Have three member seat constituencies.   It would be possible for a constituent to vote three times for the same party, BUT, and this is the vital difference, votes could be split between the parties if a voter was not satisfied.   This would keep would be candidates on their toes, and there would be no safe seats for life, unless the electors specifically wished to have this.   Thus Euro sceptics or fanatics could get their views represented
 (3)    It is for us the electors to determine how we are governed, and how we elect our representatives.   It is not for Parliament to tell us how we may vote, it for us, THE ORDINARY PEOPLE, to decide how Parliament should be constituted and elected. 
 Abraham Lincoln said those immortal words “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”.    Let us prove today the democracy is alive, listening, and in good heart.

The article below has been written by a COPOV Member but does not necessarily represent the views of the Chairman or the Management Committee.
The Election result on the 6th May should have come as no surprise. It had long been predicted that there might be a ‘Hung Parliament’ and the Civil Service had been preparing for such an eventuality. Cast your minds back to May 2005 when Tony (or was it Tory ?) Blair won his third term. Virtually all the commentators were saying that it would still be very difficult for the Conservatives to win in 2009/2010 for not only were we still starting from an historically low number of M.P. s (198 actual but possibly 210 with the boundary changes) but the electoral arithmetic was still against us. To gain parity with Labour we would need to poll 5% more in the popular vote and for a working majority between 9% and 10% more. And so it proved.
The 2005 and 2010 Elections show how distorted the pattern can be even under First Past the Post.
2005 Blair 36% nationally Majority 60 plus overall other parties
    1. Cameron 36% nationally 19 seats short of a majority of just 1
overall other parties.
The last time the Conservatives took over from Labour was in 1979 when Margaret Thatcher achieved a ‘swing’ of 5% and an overall majority of 43. David Cameron had a slightly larger ‘swing’ but is shorn of an overall majority.Why ? The comparison with 1979 makes bitter reading for in that year the Celtic fringes produced 32 Conservative M P s (21 in Scotland, 11 in Wales). In 2010 just 9 M P s (1 in Scotland, 8 in Wales).
In 1979 the Liberal Party (as it then was) held only 14 seats and its gains from the Conservatives were few and far between. Orpington had been won back in 1970 and the Conservative majority there on 6th May for Boris Johnson’s brother was over 17,000 – the highest for 50 years.
But everything changed with the formation in the late eighties of the Liberal Democratic Party. By 1997 John Major’s government was so unpopular that we lost seats not only to the Labour Party (as was to be expected) but also to the Liberal Democrats. Previous strongholds such as Kingston upon Thames, Torbay and Winchester were lost as the ‘yellow peril’ picked up at least thirty former Conservative seats. Having gained these seats (under an electoral system which they do not favour) they have squeezed the Labour vote to a minimum,got stuck in . been good constituency M P s, and held onto the seat. There are at least 20 seats from Westmorland in the north west to St. Ives in the south west where this has happened.
The rot had set in in Scotland long before Margaret Thatcher. In 1974 the Scottish National Party virtually wiped out the Conservatives in rural north Scotland. Fifteen years later the introduction of the ‘poll tax’ a year earlier in Scotland than in England and Wales led to bitterness and resentment so it was hardly surprising that when John Major went to the country in 1992 he was left with only ten Scottish M P s. By 1997 both Scotland and Wales were Conservative free zones.
There appears to be little or no recovery in Scotland (although in the Scottish Parliament we hold 4 seats under First Past the Post and the rest by proportional representation) and even though we polled 400,000 votes on 6th May we have only one M P . In Wales, the situation is a little better with 8 Members of Parliament and a good representation in the Welsh Assembly. In Wales the nationalist cause is not such a potent force as in Scotland but our seats are still in the mainly English speaking rural areas. Although the win in Montgomeryshire was a surprise with a huge ‘swing’ of over 13%, our candidate,Glyn Davies,was a well known farmer who lived in the area and had represented it in the Assembly as an ‘additional member’ – that is one who was not directly elected but came in under proportional representation as a member for Mid and West Wales.
Although we are a party of the Union, like it or not, many still see us as a party of rural and suburban England which in a very good year such as 2010 is capable of winning many of the smaller towns in the Midlands (e.g. Tamworth) and the North (e,g, Keighley). But compared with thirty years ago we have little or no representation at either parliamentary or local level in many of the big cities – Manchester,Liverpool,Newcastle and Sheffield. It is hard to believe that for over seventy years Nick Clegg’s seat at Hallam was the safest Conservative seat in Sheffield. He now has a 15,000 majority. In Birmingham we are in coalition with the Liberal Democrats at local government level but have no parliamentary representation other than for Sutton Coldfield which was until comparatively recently a borough in its own right. And our failure to win Birmingham Edgbaston (until 1997 the safest Conservative seat in Birmingham) which needed a swing of only 2% was one of the major disappointments on election night.
For all the blood,toil,tears and sweat put in by David Cameron,the then Shadow Cabinet,the top advisers – Hilton, Coulson et al., and Conservative Central Office, an increase in only 3% of the popular vote on 2005 against one of the most discredited governments of recent times was a meagre reward. Maybe we should thank our lucky stars that Gordon Brown was leading the Labour Party. David Miliband – banana or no banana – might have proved a much more difficult opponent. And even with Gordon Brown the Labour Party shored up its core vote and deprived us of many winnable marginals. The same thing happened in 1992 when John Major polled the highest ever Conservative vote – over 14 million – but had a majority of only 21. Who says history does not repeat itself ? For it was obvious that,as the returns came in,massive swings in some parts of the country were being offset by the missing of much easier target seats on much smaller swings. Scotland remains solidly Labour and the Scottish Nationalist Party will never make a break through in central industrial Scotland. The Scots prefer being subsidised by the English under the Barnett formula than having total independence and a break up of the United Kingdom.
Once it was clear that we would have only about 300 seats our whole strategy had to be revised and,in the writer’s view, a co alition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats was the only sensible option. I felt that in his speech on the Friday afternoon (7th May) David Cameron,although he must have been bitterly disappointed by the result,acted with great courage and perception. He acknowledged his own,and the party’s failure to gain an overall majority and reached out,as far as was practically possible,to the Liberal Democrats.
It is easy to see why some Liberal Democrat M.P.s were apprehensive ; after all many of them hold their seats due to having successfully squeezed the Labour vote to a minimum. Their Deputy Leader,Vince Cable,was once an unsuccessful Labour candidate in Glasgow Hillhead (who,it now transpires,had been having fire side chats with Gordon Brown) and they are.and always have been,a party of the left.But a realignment of the left (the dream of some such as Paddy Ashdown) is unlikely to come until the Labour Party severs its ties with the Trade Unions – a thing unlikely to happen. And,despite its local government successes, the Liberal Democrats failed to win any more seats in Newcastle,Liverpool,Manchester,or Sheffield- although it came very close in Sheffield Central and held Manchester Withingdon,a former Conservative seat where the Conservative vote has collapsed.
A Conservative Liberal Democrat co alition will,hopefully,provide stability at a time of great economic uncertainty and the deepest recession for seventy years. Another good reason for having Liberal Democrats in the Cabinet is that they can reach out to certain parts of the country where we cannot reach. David Laws has said today that spending cuts will be necessary and that they will be painful. Power brings responsibility and it will be up to the Liberal Democrats to explain to their councillors and party members why such action is being taken. Thanks to Blair, Brown and thirteen years of Labour government some parts of northern England have been ‘sovietised’ to such an extent that over 70% of the population is dependent on government for either work or benefits – the ‘state clientele’ as Simon Heffer might put it. The attitude in much of the public sector is : ‘if the money which the government has given is there, spend all of it otherwise next year.s grant may be cut’..
Although there has not been a peace time coalition in this country for eighty years, who is to say it will not work ? And it is noticeable that ,at Cabinet level at least,the Chancellor,Foreign Secretary,Home Secretary,Defence and Justice Secretaryships are all in the hands of the Conservatives,as are Education and Work and Pensions.
A possible Labour Liberal Democrat coalition was never really on the cards. Not only did it not have a majority in Parliament in itself but would be dependent on the support of the nationalist parties .It also had all the makings of a ‘fix’ by unelected politicians – notably Lord Mandelson and Alistair Campbell. Some people never know when to leave the stage. It was rightly dismissed by senior Labour politicians including John Reid and David Blunkett as well as by many Labour M P s. It could also have resurrected the ‘West Lothian’ question,which has never been properly resolved, namely why should Scottish and Welsh members of Parliament vote on matters affecting only England,the same matters having being devolved to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly. It is easy to say that there is a progressive majority in the country as a whole but many of those who voted Liberal Democrat would baulk at the prospect of propping up a Labour government which had lost a hundred seats.
One thing,at any rate,is certain. This election proved that money alone can’t win you a seat. Of our candidates on the ‘A’ list only 38 of the 100 got elected – good but not great. I was sorry to see that of our ethnic minority candidates two especially just missed out - Wilfred Emmanuel Jones lost to the :Liberal Democrats in Chippenham and Shaun Bailey in Hammersmith. I had heard both at Conference and found them impressive so I hope they will both eventually find safe seats. They are a big asset to our party and must be given every encouragement. In my own area,the Vale of Glamorgan,our candidate Alun Cairns gained a 4,000 majority on a 6.1 % swing.
I was a little disappointed as I thought the majority would have been about 6,000 . Alun was well known and had worked hard in the Cnnstituency for the last seven years. There was a new relatively unknown Labour candidate from an all women short list and the Liberal Democrats,with seemingly little effort,increased their vote by over 1000 on 2005.
The campaign messages I was being e mailed from Central Office were far too optimistic about our chances and I was not too impressed by George Osborne.Not only was he trying to run the show from Millbank and at the same time defend his Cheshire seat, he was as the then Shadow Chancellor trying to explain our economic policies to a sceptical British electorate. And none of the parties was completely straight with the electorate about the pain that is to come.
I did not see any of the T.V. debates between the three party leaders. From what I ve read and heard David Cameron didn t really hit form until the final debate ; Nick Clegg outshone the other two at the very beginning but floundered when his party’s policies were given greater scrutiny (particularly on defence and immigration). Gordon Brown was Gordon Brown saying nothing new but asking for a mandate to clear up an economic mess which he had partially created. The sad thing,from the
writer’s point of view,is that it has turned the British General Election where we elect Members of Parliament to represent us,into a Presidential one , U. S. style. It would be a great shame if,in future leadership elections, a candidate was chosen simply because he looked the part on television. Those in our party,mainly the P R men, who thought that David Cameron would win hands down soon had egg on their faces particularly after the first debate when,it is generally agreed, he under performed.
David Cameron,to his credit,fully recognises that he did not ‘seal the deal’ with the British Electorate. Governments run out of steam and lose elections. Enoch Powell once said ‘All governments end in failure ‘ and a look at the history of the last fifty years proves him right. Eden (Suez), MacMillan (Profumo),Wilson(Devaluation), Heath (Miners),Callaghan (Winter of Discontent), Thatcher (Poll Tax), Major (ERM and Europe),Blair (Iraq) and Brown (Recession). Only Sir Alec Douglas Home,beaten by Harold Wilson in 1964, was glad to leave a job he never really wanted and after less than a year as Prime Minister emerges relatively unscathed .
These are exciting times. The old two party system is dead and we now have a multi party system in the United Kingdom. A majority of voters no longer have a tribal loyalty to any one particular party. Those on the right of our party surely recognise this and that calling for more robust Conservative policies is just not on.
We have a duty to try and make this coalition work. Everyone accepts that it is not going to be easy and that there are pitfalls ahead. But we must bring down the huge budget deficit and ,as a country, start living within our means.
There is no sensible alternative.

David Cameron
I have criticised David Cameron and his policies in the past, but this week he had the most important decision of his life.   He made the right decision to have a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.   It was the only solution to get a stable government in order to face the economic adversity which has to be dealt with.   In the process he has also got a progressive government.   There are two issues that will cause problems - they are man made climate change and Europe.   They will have to be dealt with in due course, but for the moment let us celebrate the magnificent way in which David Cameron came up trumps in his leadership of the Conservative Party.    Everything else pales into insignificance.
Party members
This week members of the Liberal Democrat Party held meetings within their constituency associations to express a view about the coalition of the Liberal Democrats with the Conservatives.   This weekend the Liberal Democrats held a special conference to discuss the issue and they then went on to approve the coalition.    What has happened in the Conservative Party?   Nothing - no meetings, no discussion, as usual the members are treated with contempt.   When this government starts taking the measures to put the economy right David Cameron will need all the support he can get - that means from the Party members.   He needs to institute now a complete reorganisation of the party introducing one member one vote for changes to the Party's constitution.   Perhaps the Conservative Party can learn from the Liberal Democrats when it comes to party democracy.

The EU really is a new religion

For as long as they are foolish enough to leave it online, here is the Order of Service for the "Service for Europe Day" held at Westminster Abbey on Sunday.
You have to read it. You would think otherwise that I am making this up.
(If you have just eaten, or are of a fragile disposition, look away now.)
- Those assembled stood as the flag of the European Union was presented at the Altar.
- An extract from the Schuman Declaration was read from the Pulpit (no, seriously).
- They congregation's amended Act of Penitence read "Let us bring before God our failures and weaknesses... the opposition seculaire which has hindered our unity..."
- The congregation prayed, "Giving thanks for the vision, courage, and example of Robert Schuman, let us pray for the European Union..." and then they prayed for the President of the EU. For the Parliament. For the Commission. For the Council. For the Court of Justice. For the ECHR.
- And then they stood and pledged an "Act of Commitment", beginning "Lord God Our Father, we affirm our commitment to the European Union..."(no, SERIOUSLY).
- And then they remained standing for "The Anthem of the European Union" and the processing out of the EU flag. Poor Beethoven did nothing to deserve this.
Cameron has his work cut out for him, mais non?

Fair votes now!

A coalition of democracy campaigners, political activists and ordinary voters gathered in central London today to demand a fair and representative voting system. As Nick Clegg met with his colleagues to discuss a possible deal with the Conservatives, we were seeking to keep voting reform right at the top of his agenda.

Dressed in purple and holding signs such as "fair votes now" and "votes not moats" around a thousand campaigners gathered in order to "Take back Parliament" for the voters.

As we waited for the event to start, Unlock Democracy's Deputy Director Alexander Runswick told me:
"In the last week of the election there was a lot of scare-mongering about what would happen in a hung parliament and as a result people didn't really feel that they could vote for who they wanted. And I think that's why you see a lot of people here frustrated about the situation we find ourselves in."
Amongst those frustrated with the result was John Strafford, a 67 year old democracy campaigner and long time member of the Conservative Party. Smartly dressed with a peaked cap, and a dab of purple ink on his finger, John told me that the time was finally right for change:
"The current system is totally bankrupt and unfair. You cannot justify a situation where in the last parliament only 22 per cent of the electorate voted for Labour and yet they were still able to form a government with a large majority. We need a system where everybody's vote counts not just those small percentage of floating voters who happen to live within the marginal seats."

David Cameron
David Cameron has the opportunity this week to embrace electoral reform and become the 21st century Disraeli or end up as a footnote in history.    The Conservatives have nothing to fear in coalition government.    For 33 of the last 100 years we have had in this country either minority or coalition government.   We had coalition governments during the times of our greatest crises - the two World Wars and the economic depression of the thirties.    Do not fear the financial markets.   Of the 16 countries with AAA status on their debt 10 of them have coalition governments .- 12 of them have governments elected by proportional representation.
We face great economic adversity.   We will only overcome that adversity by working together as a nation, by uniting the people.   This can be done by ensuring that every vote counts - that means a change to our electoral system.
First Past the Post has worked in the past in the Conservative Party's interest.   In multi party democracy it no longer does.   This General Election did not produce a clear decisive result.   In the National interest David Cameron must change the system.   The people are sovereign and should determine how they are governed.   They should be given a referendum on what system of election they want.   This is the right thing to do and if David Cameron does it he will make history.   David the ball is in your court.    This is the most important decision of your life.

Hackney Council tells voters: "There is no Conservative candidate."

First we had the outrageous decision from Hackney Council that they would not print the election address from Conservative candidate for Mayor of Hackney, Andrew Boff, in their booklet sent out to voters.
Now they have compounded their offence. When puzzled voters rang up to query this omission they were told, quite falsely, that there was no Conservative candidate. Andrew rang up himself anonymously to check and recorded the conversation.
Listen to it via this site.
Andrew says:
“The council call centre staff member went to talk to the election office staff to get advice and at the end confirmed that there I am not standing.
“Not happy with banning my election address for mentioning how much the Mayor and Cabinet are paid, the resources of the Council are now being used to peddle mis-truths, telling people that they can’t vote for me.”

Oliver Cromwell's Speech on the Dissolution of the Long Parliament
Given to the House of Commons

 20 April 1653
It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your
contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and
enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell
your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.
Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have
no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience
for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?
Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den
of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the
whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd, are yourselves gone!
So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!
 It would seem that not a lot has changed over the years then!

The Big Society
David Cameron wants people to take control at a local level.   Great idea, so why not let local constituency associations take back control of the selection of their parliamentary candidates.   An announcement to this effect would be a good start to the creation of the Big Society.
The Unanswered Questions
Why is it that during this General Election campaign there are some big questions which none of the political parties are prepared to answer?
We know that whichever party takes power there will have to be cuts in expenditure or increases in taxes of £30 billion.   No Party will spell out what they will do.   We have a budget deficit of £167 billion.    In this year 2010/11 what will the Parties do to cover it?   If I were the nation's bank manager I would be saying "You have exceeded your overdraft by £167 billion.   Tell me how you are going to pay it off and do not ask me to increase the overdraft by £450 billion over the next five years before you start to reduce it".
All Parties are signed up to spending £100 billion between now and 2020 to meet their commitment to deal with man made climate change.    The people do not believe that there is man made climate change so why is this money being spent?   Not a word has been said about it during the campaign.
The war in Afghanistan cannot be won so when will our brave troops be brought home?   No answer from any Party.
No Party will say specifically how many immigrants we will allow into the country this year.
With major questions like these unanswered during the campaign is it any wonder that the people do not trust any politicians?    "A plague on all your houses" could be the inevitable end result.
18 MEPs with no powers to cost taxpayers €30m.
The 18 'ghost MEPs' created by the Lisbon Treaty have entered the European Parliament and been given 'observer' status, although they will not officially be allowed to start work until June 2014, after the next European elections. Despite not being able to work as MEPs, they will be entitled to annual salaries, plus tax-free allowances for every day of their time 'in limbo' in Brussels. They are also able to claim back business class travel and staff and office allowances. The total cost to taxpayers by 2014 is likely to be in the region of €30m. (The Parliament, 15 April)

April 25th Do Not Be Afraid - Imagine it is the afternoon of May 7th
April 18th Labour's Manifesto - Hackney Council
April 11th Lisbon Treaty Change - Too True to be Funny
April 4th Reflections of a Tory Activist
Do Not Be Afraid
With all the concern about a hung parliament it was refreshing to read the following from Hamish Mcrae in theIndependent:
"Sixteen countries currently enjoy a triple A rating - awarded to nations deemed to have close to zero risk on their debts - from the main credit ratings agencies.   Ten, including Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland, currently have coalition governments and 12 use a form of proportional representation for elections.
History also suggests that having large majorities in government does not prevent crises of sterling.   The 1949 and the 1967 devaluations both took place when Labour had a clear majority.   In 1985 sterling fell to just over $1 when Margaret Thatcher had a landslide majority, while in 1992 the Tories had a working majority when Britain fell out of the Exchange Rate mechanism.
In contrast, the last time there was cross-party co-operation in a hung parliament situation - the Lib-Lab pact of 1977-78 - it delivered lower inflation and lower unemployment, a recovery in the value of sterling and the IMF was paid off from the 1976 crisis.   The deal saw through painful cuts to public spending."
One other thing, Germany has had coalition government since its foundation after the war.   Who devised the German Constitution?    Why, the British.   Makes you think!
Imagine it is the afternoon of May 7…
by Guido Fawkes
The Tories have received 33% of the popular vote, LibDems 29% and Labour 24%, a strong 6% showing by the BNP concentrated in Labour heartlands has shocked the political system and given the party its first Westminster MP in Stoke, where Labour’s vote split. UKIP’s Nigel Farage has taken Buckingham, after two recounts, by 7 votes.  Ed Balls has lost his Morley and Outwood seat to the Tory hero of election night, Antony Calvert.  The SNP has made strong gains strengthening Alex Salmond’s claims for Scotland to be granted more self determination.
Due to the iniquities of the electoral system Labour is still the largest party in Westminster, just.  Harriet Harman has demanded Gordon Brown resigns and announced her intention to seek the leadership, Miliband hasn’t been seen. Charlie Whelan publicly tweets blame on Mandelson’s electoral strategy and “corrupt Blairites” for Labour’s defeat.  Alastair Campbell is bailed at West London Magistrates’ Court after his live on-screen 3 a.m. drunken assault on Nick Robinson.
After unofficial back-channel communications between Samantha Cameron and her third-cousin at Buckingham Palace all morning, the Queen’s Private Secretary calls the leader of the Conservative Party and asks him to come to the palace.  The Private Secretary then calls Nick Clegg and asks him to come to the palace as well.
In what is the iconic picture of the election, Cameron walks out of his Millbank headquarters along the Thames embankment to 4 Cowley Street where Nick Clegg greets him and together they walk purposefully towards the Mall surrounded by photographers and cameramen as crowds cheer and many ask “which one is which?”
In what were reportedly good natured discussions all morning the terms of a “Change Coalition” had been agreed by 3 pm.  Clegg as expected is Home Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister, Cable is Chancellor, Osborne takes his old sparring partner’s job at Business. Phil Hammond and David Laws are tasked with cutting spending and reforming taxation at the Treasury.  Lord Adonis remains as the government’s Transport Minister, Frank Field returns to the Department for Work and Pensions, both take the Liberal whip. Chris Huhne, ominously for the coalition, chooses to go to the backbench rather than accept cabinet collective responsibility as Defence Minister.
The most difficult horse-trading over the coalition was of course over Europe and electoral reform. Hague went to the FCO much to the relief of the Tory base and Ed Davey becomes the cabinet’s Minister for Constitutional Reform (Douglas Carswell gets a promotion as his deputy with special responsiblity for localism).    The leaders realised that they could not take their respective parties with them if they compromised on either of these two issues.
The average age of the cabinet is now 44, the centre-piece of the Queen’s speech is to be a Great Repeal Bill, undoing 13 years of authoritarian legislation and strengthening civil liberties, restricting the growth of the surveillance and database society. The Big Society reform programme promises to fundamentally re-balance state and society in favour of a smaller more open government.  Cable promises an emergency budget within 30 days signalling tough action on the deficit.  The gilt market hits a 3 year high and the pound rallies 12% on the close.
Norman Tebbit, who was by her bedside, blogs the sad news that Baroness Thatcher has passed away.  Her last words were“Norman, they buried the Labour Party before me.”

Labour's Manifesto
Labour's Manifesto talks of a future "Fair for All".    Shouldn't it have been "A Future Fair for all MPs who have got away with it on their expenses."   150 of them that are retiring are laughing all the way to the bank with their big fat pay-off cheques and their fat cat pension schemes.   Those that are left will still be able to employ their spouses.   We might just hear the pillow talk in the homes of 200 MPs.    It will go like this:
"Darling, the secretary down the corridor has just been given a £5,000 pay rise.   I work just as hard.   Shouldn't I have one?"
"Dear, she turns up at Portcullis House each day at 8am whilst you are still in bed".
"Darling you can sleep in the spare bedroom tonight and we can talk about this in the morning."
"Dear, I thought tonight we might..."
"Darling I would feel more like... if I knew I would be getting a £5,000 pay rise."
"Dear, oh alright then, after all its the taxpayer that will be paying for it.   I am sure they won't miss it.

Hackney Council bans Conservative election address

"Very disturbing news for all democrats in the conduct of Hackney Council over elections in the borough for a directly elected Mayor. The election address of the Conservative candidate for Mayor, Andrew Boff, has been excluded from the booklet being sent out by the Council to all residents.
Criticism of other candidates is not permitted in the election addresses. Andrew included the following reference in his draft:
“The Mayor and his cabinet pay themselves £335,000 a year."
Andrew himself asked if the reference was acceptable and initially the Interim Electoral Services Manager told him that, as the passage referred to the post rather than to the person, that it was. Then, last Friday, Andrew was asked to attend another meeting to discuss "typographical corrections." In fact they also raised the offending sentence they had earlier approved. Andrew suggested changing the wording to:
“Along with the pay of the Cabinet, the position of Mayor costs £335,000."
This amendment was rejected. Yet this is one of Andrew's key messages in his campaign. The election address was banned. On Monday , Andrew was sent the following email:
“The election address submitted by yourself on Thursday 8 April is invalid and is rejected…The payment of £750 is forfeited and can only be returned if you should withdraw your candidature by the last time allowed for the withdrawal of candidature.”
Andrew comments:
“How fair is Hackney’s election going to be if they are denying the right of a candidate to state how much the Mayor and his cabinet are costing taxpayers?
“First of all they banned the author Iain Sinclair from Council properties for daring to say something that the Mayor found uncomfortable, now my right to freedom of expression is being taken away by these control freaks.
“It seems like it’s a 'future fair for all' – but not if you disagree with them." 
Doesn't this story illustrate the insidious loss of freedom when the state takes over party political activity? We might find it rather convenient not to have to bother delivering the leaflets for ourselves. But here we see the price of the alternative."
This is scandalous.   Andrew Boff deserves all our support in fighting this.

MEPs seek change to Lisbon Treaty to accommodate new colleagues

Keen to see 18 new brethren join their parliamentary flock, the European Parliament's constitutional affairs committee has given member states the nod to push ahead with changes to the EU's Lisbon Treaty, just months after it was finally ratified.
Voting on two reports by centre-right Spanish MEP Inigo Mendez de Vigo on Wednesday (7 April), committee members supported a member state proposal to alter the EU rulebook, adding that an Intergovernmental Conference rather than a time-consuming Convention would be sufficient to discuss the necessary changes.
"The European Council now has a green light to take the decision next June in a brief Intergovernmental Conference," said Mr Mendez de Vigo. "We are not going to call for a Convention beforehand as this is a transitional and exceptional measure that will not constitute, in any way, a precedent for the future."
Elections to the European chamber were held last June under the EU's old rulebook, the Nice Treaty, which sets the number of MEPs at 736. But the eventual completion by member states of a hugely drawn out ratification process late last year ushered in Lisbon Treaty rules on 1 December 2009, allowing for 751 MEPs.
With the next European elections not until 2014, an EU Treaty change is necessary to allow the additional deputies to join beforehand.
Set to gain four new members in the increasingly powerful European legislature, the Spanish government, current holders of the EU's rotating presidency, is particularly keen to see the number of MEPs quickly increased.
Austria, France and Sweden are set to get two extra seats, while Bulgaria, Italy, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia and the United Kingdom will all receive one more.
Germany is the only country set to lose seats, but the pruning of three of its MEPs will not take place before the next European elections, meaning the number of MEPs will temporary swell to 754, once all the legal hurdles have been overcome.
MEPs sitting in plenary this May are expected to endorse the constitutional committee's decision, but any treaty changes agreed at an Intergovernmental Conference would still need to be ratified in each of the EU's 27 member states, a process that could potentially take several years.
With a UK general election scheduled for 6 May, the country's Conservatives have pledged to hold a referendum on any future EU treaty changes.
A reopening of EU rules would also allow for additional changes at the same time, with Germany's Angela Merkel recently indicating her desire to toughen up the bloc's laws on budgetary spending.
Changes to allow the extra 18 deputies to join the chamber might also be combined with those needed to enable Croatia to join the EU, scheduled for 2012.
In the intervening period however, it is unclear what the fate the incoming lawmakers will be, with observer status in the European Parliament one possible option.
The above poses an interesting dilemma for the Conservative Party if it forms the government after the General Election.   The Conservatives would be at the inter-government conference.   Would they veto the alteration or would they accept it on the grounds that it was not substantive?   Would the European Union use the passerelle clause to push the changes through?   David Cameron has promised a referendum to the British people if there are any changes to the Treaties or if there is a new Treaty.   Will he keep his promise?   We live in interesting times and they could become even more interesting after the General Election.
April 4th



Why, this spring have I forsaken garden and golf course, trudging the streets instead in marginal constituencies, knocking on doors and distributing piles of Conservative literature ? I have not reacted so intensively at previous elections nor do I know, in any great detail, the policies for which I am campaigning. But when I open a newspaper or switch on the Today programme, I understand perfectly what impels me. As Greg Clarke, Shadow Energy Secretary, stated recently, this may prove to be the most important election since the Second World War. This government is second to none in its lack of integrity. Its record, as set out below, demonstrates that a further term for Labour would be catastrophic for the social fabric of Britain as well its economy.

  • Britain is a less democratic country than in 1997.

  • Labour’s economic mismanagement has raised Britain’s public debt to levels unparalleled since World War Two, with high inflation and/or steep falls in living standards and impoverishment in prospect.

  • Labour’s rigid insistence on bureaucracy, targets and centralized control has corrupted professionalism in the main public services – health, education, social services and the police – to the detriment of their ability to meet the needs of the public.

  • Labour’s ideological pursuit of social engineering in education, in particular its enforcement of ‘equality’ and ‘dumbing down’ of standards preventing students from attaining skills essential to Britain’s needs.

  • Labour’s neglect of the prisons has resulted in the early release of dangerous criminals into the Community, whilst its introduction of many petty or politically correct regulations has resulted in the ‘criminalisation’ of ordinary people for ‘offences’ which did not exist before 1997.

  • Labour’s energy policies have been negligent and indecisive, creating a real possibility that the lights will go out around 2017.

  • Labour has placed the onus of Britain’s response to climate change on individual households without taking action within government’s own sphere of responsibility or cutting its own favoured polluting projects.

  • Britain is becoming the most densely populated country in Europe as a result of Labour’s open door policy on immigration and asylum. This is unsustainable in terms of housing, congestion and strains on public services and will result in breakdowns of community cohesion.

  • British foreign policy has been moralistic and belligerent. The armed forces have been denied the equipment needed to fight Labour’s wars, resulting in unnecessary casualties.
So this is our Britain, close to bankruptcy and in social and moral decline through economic mismanagement, war, bureaucracy and political correctness. It beggars belief that a party with such a record in Government is not facing extinction at the polls. Labour spokesmen will paint a very different picture but we should be sceptical. Their current campaign is masterminded by Blair’s arch-spinmasters, Peter Mandelson and Alistair Campbell, as well as Brown’s own press thug, Charlie Whelan, who have perfected the practice of smear and news manipulation. Through their art, we saw Brown portrayed earlier this year as the international statesman and more recently as a sensitive soft-hearted human being. Now T Blair, the greatest charlatan of them all, is joining in. Are we really going to let this crew fool us yet again ?
In 1997, Labour inherited a sound economy. Their first moves were to impose an exceptional levy on pension funds and to sell a substantial proportion of Britain’s gold reserves.. The result was the virtual disappearance of occupational pensions, creating a perpetual pensions crisis, and a massive loss to the reserves as the gold price quadrupled (from $ 275 dollars per ounce to $ 1100 ) over the ensuing twelve years. During the period up to 2007, years of global economic growth fuelled by Far Eastern industrialisation, Brown, as Chancellor, boasted that boom and bust had been abolished, raised public spending astronomically, and created an economy based on massive public and private debt. The ‘bust’ when it finally occurred was global and responsibility for it cannot be laid solely at the British Government’s door. However, Labour’s reckless spending policies during the good years meant that we were amongst the least prepared countries when the crash came. The government deserves credit for its policy of ‘quantitative easing, which has temporarily shielded the public from the harshest effects of recession, but how long can this policy last? ‘Quantitative easing’ is nothing more than printing money, a policy pursued, inter alia, by Mugabe’s Government in Zimbabwe. Sterling has fallen by 25%. Public debt has risen to almost £800bn this year to over £1.4 trillion in 2014/15. These levels are higher proportionate to GDP than our foreign debt at the end of World War II which we only recently finished repaying. The Chancellor’s response in his latest budget has been to increase public spending still further (by £30bn, to a total of £804bn). Sooner or later, runaway inflation or a massive fall in living standards has to be the result of such irresponsibility.
Labour’s democratic credentials have also proved to be nonexistent. Our second chamber, the House of Lords, is largely appointed. (Brown’s death-bed conversion to an elected second chamber echoes a similar pledge by Blair in 1997 and can be dismissed as short-term electioneering). Following devolution, the only say English MPs have in Scottish domestic affairs is on tax levels which apply to the whole of the United Kingdom., However Scots MPs continue to vote every week on purely English affairs. Postal voting has been extended in a manner calculated to increase Labour’s vote and which has led directly to election fraud. A new layer of Government in England, the Regional Assemblies which contain no elected members, has been inserted between central and local government with responsibility for producing and executing Regional Plans. Local Councils, already vulnerable to central pressure due to their reliance on central funding for three quarters of their expenditure, are assessed by a politicised Audit Commission on the basis of their fulfilment of government policies, not their constituents’ wishes. In effect, Councils are now little more than the Government’s instruments in its programme of controlling the lives of the public and imposing an ever-tightening strait-jacket through their equality laws. Labour can take credit for granting independence to the Bank of England, the Freedom of Information Act and the institution of an independent statistical service, changes which have not always operated to their political advantage. However, these improvements are counterbalanced by the creation of a bloated bureaucracy throughout Government, including a monstrous array of quangos, accountable to no one but with substantial powers. (These include extensive rights, shared with Council officers, to enter and search private homes).
Labour’s ‘ethical’ foreign policy has consisted largely of preaching to other countries, often to the detriment of our relations and hence our interests. In Europe, they gave away a large proportion of our rebate in return for worthless promises. They also broke a firm pledge to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty on the totally dishonest pretext that the Treaty was purely technical and contained no substantive changes. As for the special relationship with the US, they interpreted this to require a posture of utter servility to whoever happened to occupy the White House at the time. (The current lack of US support for our position on the Falklands demonstrates the futility of this subservience ). This policy led us into the Iraq war, justified by a dishonestly exaggerated threat from Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction which proved to be non-existent . Labour’s lavish spending priorities did not extend to providing adequate equipment for our troops, either in Iraq or Afghanistan), causing continuing and unnecessary loss of life to our armed forces.
‘Education, education and education’, intoned T Blair at the start of his premiership, and education expenditure rose from £38bn in 1998 to £82 bn , totalling £680bn in all. This spending has improved schools infrastructure but achieved little else. For example, it has not resulted in any perceptible reduction in class sizes. The number of teachers rose from 399,200 to 432,800, teaching assistants from 60,600 to 181,600 and other administrative staff from 72,900 to 157,300. Productivity declined (the 2003 workforce agreement saw a reduction in time spent in the classroom by teachers, considerable pay increases and a massive expansion in the number of teaching assistants) as did academic standards. At the primary stage, only 2% of pupils leave at the age of 11 having attained ‘Level 4’ (the level at which they are deemed capable of succeeding at secondary school) in all three key subjects, English, Maths and Science. 25% leave without having attained this level in both English and Maths, At secondary level, 1 in 6 school leavers failed to obtain a single worthwhile qualification in 2008. The past 12 years have been marked by a continuous process of Government inspired ‘dumbing down’ – lowering of pass marks in national school tests (to allow ministers to point to ‘improvement’) easing of A-level standards, fostering subjects of little intellectual ballast, explosion of third-rate universities with high drop-out rates (attributable to Blair’s target of sending 50% of leavers to universities), crude pressure on elite institutions to lower bar for pupils from failing state schools. Classroom disruption through indiscipline remains widespread, not helped by Labour’s requirement that for every pupil expelled, another disruptive pupil has to be admitted. There have also been spiteful attempts to remove independent schools’ charitable status and clear hostility to home education. Many schools have been overwhelmed by Labour’s culture of targets and social engineering, and by a flood of incoherent initiatives (16 between September 09 and January 10). OFSTED, once a guarantor of academic excellence, has become an instrument of oppression across- the-board. According to the Public Accounts Committee, more than 5m people were illiterate and nearly 7m innumerate in 2009.
Labour’s strong tendency towards social engineering has been most marked in its policies towards children and parental responsibility for their upbringing. Lessons on ‘social’ subjects, such as ‘relationships’ and sex education are to be introduced. The latter, for which there is to be no parental opt-out, will start at four, with more intensive sexualisation introduced at seven. The removal of children from their parents and their placement for adoption has also become more dictatorial under Labour. Social workers active in this area have always been unaccountable but bullying intrusions into family life on the flimsiest of grounds are on the increase. One of these, of recent origin, is ‘emotional abuse’, a term which apparently means ‘any conduct on the part of a parent of which a social worker may disapprove.’ Where adoption is involved, family ties apparently count for very little with social services, who may give children to strangers before grandparents’ claims are even considered. Jack Straw has made a laudable attempt to open up adoption hearings in the family courts to greater public scrutiny but the outcome has been feeble. On the other side of the coin, social services often seem to miss appalling cases of child abuse where physical evidence and witness testimony is available. Here, however, some justification for their errors exists. There is a confusing nexus of Agencies involved in such cases, and lines of responsibility are often blurred. According to their Association, social workers spend 80% of their time on paperwork to satisfy government requirements. The responsible minister, Ed Balls, however, refuses to cut bureaucracy and targets.
The NHS received increased funding (£70 bn in 2007) comparable to that for education. At the same time it was subjected to a regime of targets, notably on waiting times. These have improved, but at a dire cost to the humanitarian ethic of the service and to patient care. Recently revealed reports by independent consultants, delivered in 2008 but suppressed by the Government, claim that the new GP and consultant contracts have simultaneously enriched and demoralised doctors, causing loss of volition work and encouraging them to work to rule. Managers fear the consequences of not meeting expectations from above far more than failure to meet the needs of patients and families. The result has been widespread patient neglect, particularly at Basildon, S Staffs and Maidstone hospitals where hundreds of deaths resulted from non-observance of basic hygiene standards. Wasteful re-structuring, pointless new structures and chaotic lines of responsibility were also identified. The quality and integrity of NHS performance data was considered suspect. Administration costs rose from 7% to 18% of the NHS budget.
As for Labour’s pledge to introduce free care for the elderly, this is an irresponsible election con trick. It is unaffordable for the foreseeable future, thanks to the economic shambles which Labour tries hard to conceal.
One of Labour’s most vaunted ‘achievements’ is the Human Rights Act. This Act has generated a whole industry of lawyers, quangos and activists who have successfully persuaded the courts not to deport terrorist suspects, or to intern them, or to keep them under house arrests or to freeze their assets. The resultant increased burden on the security services increases the risk of new terrorist atrocities and may indeed have contributed to their failure to anticipate the 2005 London bombings. Jack Straw himself once complained that the Act was perceived as a Charter for criminals, terrorists and illegal immigrants. We have found no case in which any ordinary citizen going about his lawful business has benefited from the Act’s existence; and the ‘perception’ mentioned by Straw therefore, seems 100% accurate. Labour has also neglected to expand prison capacity despite the rise in population and over-crowded urban conditions which generate crime. The resultant prison over-crowding and the effects of the Human Rights Act have induced the authorities to release dangerous criminals well before the end of their sentences, with predictable results. Between 2007 and 2009, criminals on probation committed 121 murders, 44 manslaughters, 103 rapes and 80 kidnappings. Meanwhile, police efficiency has been inhibited by the imposition of stultifying bureaucratic procedures and a system of targets which, in the words of one Chief Constable, "get in the way of officers doing their jobs and tackling issues that mattered to local people." Labour have tended to answer such charges by producing figures allegedly showing falls in crime. However, their past misuse of official statistics in this and other fields, means that little or no credibility can be attached to such statements.
Labour’s energy policy in the face of climate change has veered between dithering inaction and eccentricity. Faced with the growing possibility of the lights going out in 2017, Labour has delayed the decision to replace our ageing nuclear power stations (which will not now be ready in time) and failed to press for new coal-fired stations despite the existence of ‘clean coal’ technology. They have placed their faith in a vast programme of windmill-building whose cost effectiveness is entirely uncertain. However, having trumpeted the opportunities for British business from new, green technologies, they stood by whilst Britain’s only windmill factory was closed by its foreign owner and the skilled labour force dispersed. All machinery for the programme will therefore be imported. On the environment front, Labour has indulged in much international grandstanding over climate change. Domestically, however, it has done very little apart from degrading our refuse collection service to a level far below that of our continental neighbours and imposing bureaucratic and expensive procedures on house sales. Decisions which it has taken or envisages such as the third Heathrow runway and further rural building, including on the Green Belt, will actually increase the UK’s carbon footprint. (The Heathrow runway is estimated, by some ecologists, to increase UK emissions by as much as the total produced by Kenya !). Labour’s "green’ credentials merit no credibility, either at home or abroad.
Immigration into the UK has continued virtually unchecked throughout Labour’s period of office. As a result England is now said to be the most densely populated country in Europe, with a population forecast to rise to 70 million in the relatively near future. As a result, the Government is now proposing to cover large areas of the rural South East and East Anglia with huge housing estates, against the wishes of their inhabitants. This policy has been justified primarily by the (dubious) economic benefits deriving from immigrant labour. However, a former No 10 aide has revealed that T Blair’s policy staff also covertly promoted immigration as a means of increasing ‘diversity’ and extending multiculturalism. It is strange indeed that an administration which disliked the British character and culture to the point of trying to destroy them should have won three successive elections !
There are numerous other instances symptomatic of the dysfunctional society in which we live. If you resist a violent intruder who has broken into your own home, you are likely to be prosecuted unless you have first calculated what constitutes disproportionate force. (By the time you have done this, of course, you may well have been murdered). If you have handicapped children and are tormented by local thugs, the police will not respond to your complaints unless you finally decide to commit suicide; even then, their main reaction will be to place a police guard on your tormentors in case outraged vigilantes try to avenge you. If you confront them in the street instead, do not prod a thug in the chest, even if you are an old lady with a zimmer; you will be prosecuted for assault and obtain a criminal record. If a thug calls you an ‘effing German cow’, that’s OK, but if you tell your Scottish neighbour to go back to Scotland once too often, you will be sent to jail. Don’t complain to your local authority about a planned march in your town; you may be accused of committing a ‘hate crime’. If you fall into a pond or down a disused mineshaft, don’t expect the emergency services to rescue you; Health and Safety forbid it and your rescuers will be disciplined if they try. Remember, if you wish to have even fleeting contact with schoolchildren, the Government regards you as a paedophile unless proved otherwise – at a cost to you of £65. If you are a teenage hooligan and are bitten by a police dog, rejoice – you may receive £42,000 compensation. All these are genuine cases and there are many more that could be cited. Ministers appear largely impervious to the nonsensical and unjust consequences of the culture of government which they themselves have created.

March 28th Party Finance - March 26th 2000
March 21st The Alternative Vote - Vote Tory for higher electricity bills - Union Modernisation Fund - Selection of Parliamentary candidates - Ten Years ago
March 14th European Union Latest - Party Democracy - Trade Unions - House of Lords
March 7th Was Cameron's Speech Good Enough? - Labour and the Unions
Party Finance
There has been much discussion about sleaze over the last few weeks.   Lobbygate is just the latest episode.   Parliament has become a political cess pit and our politicians are now so deep in the sewage that all we can see are the bubbles popping up through the surface.   The greatest scandal is the Unions Modernisation Fund whereby £4.5 million has been given by the Labour government to the Unite Union who have turned it around and donated it to the Labour Party.    This is taxpayer's hard earned money.   What should be done?    The following would be a good start:
1)    A cap on donations to a political party whether they are from an individual, a business or a trade union.
2)     No non domiciles in Parliament.    Why should we have non domiciles anyway?   The United States doesn't.
30    A wholly elected House of Lords.
4)     Internal Party democracy with the officers of the party elected by the members including the Party Treasurer.
5)     The communications allowance for sitting MPs should be scrapped.
6)     The old rule in the Conservative Party that no candidate or MP should be allowed to give more than £100 to his or her Constituency Association should be resurrected.
7)     Free postage for political Parties at a General election should be scrapped saving some £20 million.   This could then be used to subsidise political parties on the basis of their audited membership - the scheme to be fazed out over a period of five years.   This would bring about a saving to the taxpayer.
This would start to clean up politics.   Will it happen?   I doubt it, the politicians have still not learnt,  but they will.   Public anger is not abating.
This site ten years ago - March 21st 2000
Openness. ‘I am determined to ensure that there is public confidence in the funding of at least one of Britain’s major political parties.   Therefore, following my speech on party reform in July, the Conservative Party will disclose all donations it receives over £5,000 and will no longer accept foreign money.’
    The aim of openness quite simply hasn’t been achieved.   Previously you could collect a copy of the Party accounts at the Annual Conference, but now the powers that be are slow at publishing the Balance Sheet and Accounts.   Discussion of the accounts at the March 1999 National Convention didn’t take place because they were not distributed to Constituency Chairmen.    The reason put forward for this was that the cost of printing was said to be prohibitively high at £10,000.   Why did
they not put them on the Internet?   At least this year the accounts have been put on the internal "Extranet".

    The scrapping of the Conservative Board of Finance in March 1999 removed the only body where elected volunteers had any say, however minimal, in the Party’s finances.   It was replaced by Regional ‘Income Generation and Marketing Boards’ which report to the ‘National Board of Income Generation and Marketing, which in turn reports to the Board of Treasurers, of whom all are appointed by the Party Leader.
    Take the matter of quota payments.   A report showing the Quota position for each Constituency would have made more sense if it had provided totals by region as well as nationally.    It would be more meaningful if a distinction was made between cash payments and Quota credits (credits for interest free loans).    This might then raise the question why, as we are "One Party" many Constituencies are sitting on substantial funds when the Party is desperate for funds.    The interest free loan scheme was started in 1980 by the Beaconsfield Association as a way in which Constituencies with temporary surplus funds could use them for the Party's benefit.    Many of these Surplus funds now appear to be permanent!   Could it be that until there is democratic accountability for the use of funds given to Central Office money will remain in the Constituencies?
    External measures will force change upon the Party in how it organises its financial affairs.    The Labour Government’s proposals for legislation on "The Funding of Political Parties in the United Kingdom" requires a registered party to have a registered Treasurer.   The registered Treasurer of a party will be responsible not just for the reporting of disclosable donations, but also the keeping of the party's accounts and compliance with the requirements on election expenditure.   The registered Treasurer will be under a duty to ensure that proper accounting records are kept in respect of the whole party (clause 36) and will be required to prepare an annual statement of accounts in respect of the party (clause 37).   There are detailed requirements on the disclosure of donations and on the control of election expenditure, not only at National level but also at constituency level.   A report on donations has to be made quarterly and in a General Election campaign, weekly.
    What are the ramifications of all this for the Conservative Party?   First of all it is quite clear that the responsibilities of the Treasurer are now quite onerous and the Treasurer is accountable to the Electoral Commission.   What is missing is democratic accountability.    The Treasurer should be an elected position.    Fund-raisers will have to report to the Treasurer.   Secondly the Regional structure of the Party will have to be re-examined.   There should be Elected Regional Treasurers.   Thirdly every Constituency Association should have an elected Treasurer.
    Why doesn’t the Party introduce the recommendations of the Neil Report before the others?  Thus beginning the process of restoring public faith in the probity of Conservative Party finances.

The Alternative Vote
The Conservatives will not let the people have a referendum on the Alternative Vote as proposed by the Labour Party, but we will give the people a referendum if Croatia joins the European Union (this would require a new Treaty).    The thinking behind this is that when it comes to the sovereignty of the people the Conservatives know best, but if we are talking about the sovereignty of the country then the people can decide.   What is the most important?    What about the slogan of Power to the People?   Isn't there some inconsistency here?   I believe that it is the people that should decide how they are governed, not a little clique in a political Party.
Vote Tory for higher electricity Bills
This week the Tory Party announced that it will set a minimum price level for carbon in the carbon trading scheme.   This will push up our electricity costs.   Not only that but the carbon trading scheme is a scandal waiting to happen.    When the scandal breaks it will make the scandals like derivatives small beer.   Why, oh why have the Conservatives fallen for this scam?   I sometimes despair.

Union Modernisation Fund

by Iain Dale

Since the Union Modernisation Fund was established, UNITE has received nearly £4.5 million according to figures published in this morning's Guardian. This is £4.5 million of taxpayers' money, going straight into Union coffers. And then out again direct into Labour Party coffers.

In any other sector this would be known as laundering. Oh no, UNITE, will no doubt bleat. There is no link between the two things. Of course not. Never let it be said. What do they think we are? Idiots?

This is why trade unions give money to Labour. They expect something in return, and the Union Modernisation Fund is one of those things.

If trade unions wish to "modernise", why is it that they don't just do it, and pay for it themselves without fleecing the taxpayer?

Everyone in politics knows the UMF is a vile little quid pro quo - you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours - between Labour and the Unions. I have no doubt that if the UMF had not existed, UNITE's donations to Labour would have been £4.5 million lighter.

This scandalous fund should be abolished within months of the Conservatives coming to office.

I understand that DfID also gives shedloads of money to the Unions. I wonder if other departments do too. 
Selection of Parliamentary candidates
Listen to this.
On This Site Ten Years ago:
March 19th 2000
The Conserfative Spring Forum
William Hague promised in "The Fresh Future" that the Conserfative Party would involve members more.   They would be able to participate and would be listened to on policy.  There was to be a Spring Forum at which every member of the Party would be invited.   What is the reality?
The Conserfative Spring Forum starts at 2.30pm on Saturday 1st April and closes at !PM on Sunday 2nd April.
The Forum will be in session for 6.5 hours.   Of this time ordinary Party members will be able to speak for a total of approximately 2 hours.   Each contribution from the floor will not last more than 1 minute.   There is not a single motion for debate, so there will be no votes.    Thus democracy in the Conserfative Party is destroyed.   No involvement, no participation, no say, no vote.    Who are responsible for this? - The Committee on Conferences, the members of which are all appointed.   They are not accountable to the membership so they safely ignore them.   This is not the way for the Party to attract new members.    Will we ever learn?

European Union Latest
Catherine Ashton is the highest paid female politician in the world. EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton's salary package of £328,000 a year makes her the highest paid female politician in the world, ahead of US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. If she survives for a five-year term, she will be entitled to a gold-plated £64,000 pension and a £464,000 'transition allowance'. Meanwhile, Baroness Ashton has complained to the press that a lack of resources, is holding her back in her work. (Mail: Pierce, 8 March)
 European Parliament hands out cash in envelopes while MEPs vote for increased allowances. In a committee debate between MEPs, it has been revealed that the European Parliament's expenditure in 2008 included more than £70,000 spent on ski holidays for families of Parliament officials, as well as hundreds of pounds handed out in brown envelopes to visitors to cover their food and travel, with no receipts needed. Separately, MEPs have awarded themselves £12 million in extra allowances including an additional £1,300 a month each to pay staff plus money to hire another 150 aides to cope with the increased workload created by the Lisbon Treaty. The increase will come on top of the £15,447-a-month they get to pay assistants, a 'general allowance' worth over £44,000 a year, and a £265-a-day 'subsistence allowance' for each day they attend Parliament. (NOTW  1 March)
 Party Democracy
The British National Party was banned on Friday from admitting new members until it complies with race equality laws, after a judge ruled its constitution was likely to discriminate against non-white people.
Last month, the far-right group scrapped its whites-only policy in an attempt to avoid legal sanctions from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
But judge Paul Collins ruled its new rules, which still require new members to sign up to its principles, remain discriminatory.
"The BNP are likely to commit unlawful acts of discrimination within section 1b Race Relations Act 1976 in the terms on which they are prepared to admit persons to membership ..," he said.
He issued an injunction ordering the BNP to comply with race equality laws.
"The membership list will have to be closed until then," he told the hearing at Central London County Court.
Under the injunction, prospective BNP members will not in future have to be vetted at home before they are accepted.
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Steve Addison)
Isn't it time that all political parties that are registered with the Electoral Commission should have democratic constitutions which can be altered by their members on the basis of one member one vote?   Vote for our petition on the Downing St web site:
Trade Unions

Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun shares some interesting statistics:
  • 59 Labour candidates are members of Unite*, whilst there are eight further PPCs who are current or former Unite staff. Unite has given Labour £11 million in the last three years;
  • 26 candidates belong to the GMB, which has given £6.3 million to Labour since 2005;
  • 18 candidates belong to Unison, which has contributed £8.3 million to Labour coffers.
That the unions would appear to be buying influence is clear and an obvious matter of concern; but even more relevant right now is that some of these same unions have been behind strikes which cause chaos for the public, whether it be British Airways staff or Royal Mail workers, to cite just two examples.
Voters should not be allowed to forget this.
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the only private members club where you are paid to belong rather than paying to enjoy the facilities.    All they need now is a golf course.

Was Cameron's speech good enough?
and on the Jeremy Vine Show - 7 minutes in:
and on Radio 5 Live with Nicky Campbell - 2hours 40 mins in:
The Reaction:
I lay slumbering in my bed listening to the Today programme on Monday
morning, getting myself ready for another day of retirement having been
a teacher all my adult life. When your little interview came along, my
spirits were lifted by listening to a politician who was not afraid to
say clearly what, I am sure, most people in the UK feel.

Your points on Afghanistan,Lisbon,Immigration,Bankers,Climate Change
and most importantly Grammar Schools (I was NOT a grammar school
teacher) were so correct.
I expect Cameron and co. are simply afraid to say these things. My
friends and I all believe that Political Correctness has gone too far
and that the "Court of Human Rights" serves only to skew justice

Well said sir and I wish you every success. If only this country had
more of you. I write from the betrayed country of N. Ireland.

Well done - I popped into the local for a quick pint and everybody thinks that you told it how it is - you have single handledly restored faith in the system .
How can we help ?
You were absolutely brilliant on radio two today. We agree wholeheartedly with everything you said and so do many Conservative supporters. Keep up the good work and lets get out of the EU.
I heard most of your interview on Today this morning & was surprised to find that you seemed to represent most of my views - surprised because I have never voted Tory in my life. 
It has been for some months my firm intention to deliberately spoil my ballot paper so that no one can accuse me of apathy, while also registering my disgust with all main political parties & MPs in general.  You have made me think that perhaps I should, as it were, hold my nose & vote Tory, but for me that means voting for James Gray.  I absolutely cannot vote for a man capable of the actions he has committed in his private life - to me his behaviour is less excusable than that of the footballer John Terry, who was deemed unworthy to captain England. At least he could plead the arrogance of youth and high testosterone. 
I recognise the terrible economic dangers resulting from a hung parliament, equal to those of another five years of Gordon Brown.  So, what do I do?  
If it isn't impertinent to ask - do you & your group represent mainstream Conservatism or are you the 21st century equivalent of the Levellers.
I heard you dealing with Frazer Nelson (the man who apparently manages the pr for Cameron's election campaign at the tired old Spectator) and was relieved to hear for the first time someone with a Tory provenance actually talking some sense. I'd given up long ago ever expecting to hear any common sense from any ambitious Tory hoping to be in government (should the party by some fluke be in a position to form one) and to hear it on that thought-control channel called the BBC made my porridge even more delectable.
 To paraphrase Yeats,  since Heseltine and his ilk cannot hold the centre... things fall apart. So you're right when you forecast that worse is yet to come. The $64,000 question is if there's a national government who's in the driving seat?
Labour and the Unions
This from Ian Kirby, the News of the World's Political Editor:
"A highly confidential operation being run by Britain’s biggest trade union, Unite, is far bigger than the Tories’ own £3m marginal seats campaign. The union is using it’s own massive datatbase of members in a bid to persuade dithering former Labour voters they must get out and vote during the General Election. The swing voters are being called by activists working for the Union...
...The operation is being masterminded by Charlie Whelan, Unite’s Political Director and a close friend of Prime Minister Gordon Brown... the moment Labour have about £8m to spend at the election, half of the Tories’ own General Election Budget. But Unite are likely to spend up to £5m on their own campaign before the General Election starts. The trade unions have sent a staggering £88.5million to the Labour Party HQ in the last eight years. This amounts to 63 per cent of all funding the Labour Party has received since official records of donations began in 2001. They are also providing teams of drivers across the country to transport the elderly to polling stations, they are organizing postal votes, and sending 200 campaign officials to the marginal seats....
...To reinforce the direct calls, letters and leaflets, the Labour Party is also planning poster campaigns that will highlight claims about cuts under a Tory Government. For the past six months, Labour MPs have bombarded government departments such as the Home Office, Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department of Health. They have been asking about the effect of budget cuts on their constituencies. Those answers will be used on posters which will claim the Tories will cut hundreds of front line police jobs, thousands of nurses and teachers. Labour strategists believe the campaign will be particularly effective in the North West, where a far higher proportion of potential labour voters are in public sector jobs."
February 28th The Spring Forum - European Union - EU Biofuels
February 21st "The Observer" - Spring Forum - COPOV Petition - 10 Reasons to vote Conservative - Who is the odd man out? - Little Johnny
February 14th The Cost of Politics - Missing Deadlines - Internal Elections - Eric Pickles - N.I. Conservatives - Michael Crick - Cranmer's Creed 
February 7th The Alternative Vote - President Eisenhower - Northern Ireland, latest 
   The Spring Forum
  I have just had a very enjoyable weekend at the Conservative Spring Forum.    I met many old friends and the fringe meetings were excellent.    Unfortunately I also witnessed the terminal decline of the voluntary party.    There were no motions for debate, not even a question and answer session from the floor.   The whole thing was one vast presentation.   The party members might as well not have existed.   What an appalling way to treat members, and yet we all have to gird our loins for the General Election campaign.    There were no rousing speeches, just the platform talking at us.    Sad.   I have to also admit that I feel very uncomfortable about the way everything has become so personalised.   Not a single speech can be made without some reference to Dave or David, or David Cameron and I felt uncomfortable when David Cameron said in his speech that he was going to tell us something about himself.    Can you imagine Margaret Thatcher saying that!   I didn't like the personal attacks on Gordon Brown either.   Maybe I am just old fashioned, but I was longing to hear a speech in depth about policy issues, with a little wit thrown in.    At similar points in the past I remember Chris Patten in 1991, William Hague in 2001 and dare I say it Ian Mcleod in 1969.   Oh for a bit of nostalgia.    Somehow I think the electorate might just feel the same.
The European Union 
"The issue is not the failure to match economic and monetary ­union with political union. It is the naked disregard for democratic engagement in the entire system that in no small part ­explains why voter turnout in EU elections has plummeted by more than 30% in the last 30 years. Whenever people vote no to a phase of integration - as they did in Ireland two years ago - the EU simply orders them to vote again until they produce the right result."
  Gary Younge, writing in the Guardian, 15 February 2010
EU biofuel targets accused of "driving global human tragedy".
A new report from Action Aid has warned that the EU's target to obtain 10% of all transport fuels from biofuels by 2020 is disastrous for poor countries and could put up to 100 million more people at risk of famine, increased food prices and landlessness. The report also found that the EU biofuel industry has received €4.4bn in incentives, subsidies and tax relief to date, which could triple to over €13.7bn if the EU meets its 2020 target. (Guardian, 15 February)

February 21st
Read this article in "The Observer" February 14th
Spring Forum
This week we got the Agenda for the Spring Forum.    What can we look forward to?   David Cameron and who else?    Don't know, no other speakers are mentioned.   Maybe they are having joint sessions? Er no, no subjects are mentioned either.   So now we know the whole show is a media presentation.   Sad, how a once great Party has been diminished and its members ignored, but then we now know from the Memo that Michael Gove did six years ago that this has been the intention all along.   So welcome to the ultimate insult, it might be the last one.
Opendemocracy gives support to the COPOV petition:
Ten reasons to vote Conservative
Listen to BBC Radio 5 live, 2.5 hours in after 8.300am
WHO IS THE ODD MAN OUT - and more importantly - WHY??
Lord Stevenson: former chairman, HBOS
Sir Fred Goodwin: former chief executive, RBS
Andy Hornby: former chief executive, HBOS
Sir Tom McKillop: former chairman, RBS
John McFall MP: chairman of Treasury Select Committee
Alastair Darling: Chancellor of the Exchequer
Gordon Brown: Prime Minister and former Chancellor
Sir Terry Wogan: ex-presenter of Radio 2's Breakfast Show

You're probably thinking Terry Wogan.
You're right.
However, the reason may surprise you...........

Terry Wogan is the only one who actually holds any formal banking qualification.

Worrying, isn't it!
Little Johnny
A teacher asked her class how many of them were Gordon Brown fans. Not really knowing what a Gordon Brown fan is, but wanting to be liked by the teacher, all the kids raised their hands except for Little Johnny.
The teacher asked Little Johnny why he has decided to be different...again.
Little Johnny said, 'Because I'm not a Gordon Brown fan.'
The teacher asked, 'Why aren't you a Gordon Brown fan?'
Johnny said, 'Because I'm a Conservative.'
The teacher asked him why he's a Conservative.
Little Johnny answered, 'Well, my Mum's a Conservative and my Dad's a Conservative, so I'm a Conservative.'
Annoyed by this answer, the teacher asked, 'If your Mum was a moron and your Dad was an idiot, what would that make you?'
Little Johnny replied, 'A Gordon Brown fan.

February 14th
 The Cost of Politics!
MEPs to cost taxpayers an extra €13.3 million a year. The European Parliament's Budget Committee has now approved plans to hire 150 extra staff and boost MEPs' monthly allowances for assistants by €1,500. MEPs already had a generous budget of £360,000 a year in pay and allowances however the extra allowances will cost taxpayers a further €13.3 million a year, sending the European Parliament's total annual budget past the €1.6 billion mark. (Open Europe blog, 29 January;European Voice, 11 February)

Missing Deadlines - Friday, February 12. 2010

Missing deadlines, by James O'Fee

Watch Eric Pickles explain why Labour want to change how you vote
In the video Eric Pickles attacks the Alternative vote.   He says that in the last General Election the Conservatives got 8,115,000 votes to Labour's 8,050,400.    Actually these are the votes in England only.   What he doesn't say is that in England under First Past The Post Labour ended up with 286 seats and the Conservatives 194, so does he think that is fair?   The total votes in the General Election were Labour 9,562,122 votes, Conservatives 8,772,598 votes.    Can't we get anything right?
Northern Ireland Conservatives - The Beginning
Michael Crick's blog 9th February
Conservative MPs today, Tuesday, will stick by the "first past the post" system for Parliamentary elections, as the Commons votes on the government's plans to hold a referendum on whether to introduce the Alternative Vote (AV), in which voters state their preferences - 1,2,3 etc.
But John Strafford, of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy, points out that the Tories actually use a similar preferential voting system, a variation on AV, for all their candidate selections and elections of party leaders.
Mischievously, I looked up the voting figures for the Conservative leadership election last time round, in 2005.
Lo and behold, the votes from MPs in the first round were:
David Davis - 62
David Cameron - 56
Liam Fox - 42
Ken Clarke - 38

It was only in subsequent ballots, after the weaker candidates, Mr Clarke and Mr Fox, were eliminated, and David Cameron picked up many of their supporters' second or third preferences, that he won through.
If the Conservatives had used "first past the post" in 2005, then David Davis would have won.

Cranmer’s Conservative Creed

I believe in one Party,
Preserver of all that is good in our Constitution,
And of Individual Freedom, Limited Government, National Defence and the Rule of Law:
And in one Party Leader, the only-begotten of the entire Membership,
Chosen democratically by the whole Party,
Centre-Forward, Darling of Conference,
Pre-eminent Parliamentarian of Parliament,
Elected, not appointed,
Being of one philosophy with the Party,
By whom Conservatism is articulated and maintained;
Who for us Members, and for our earthly salvation came down from CCHQ,
And was invited by Her Majesty to form a Government,
And was made Prime Minister,
And was vilified also for us under the BBC.
He was airbrushed and scorned,
And day after day he shrugs it off because that’s his job,
And steps up to the Dispatch Box,
And sitteth on the right hand of the Speaker.
And he shall come again with a larger majority to annihilate the Socialists and the Liberals:
And his Government shall have no end.
And I believe in the Voluntary Party,
The giver of life to the Parliamentary Party,
Which precedeth the Party and the Leader,
Which with the Party and the Leader together should be acknowledged and appreciated,
Because they do all the donkey work.
And I believe in one Conservatism, though it be severally termed 'One-Nation', 'Compassionate' and 'Progressive'.
I acknowledge one Membership for the right to select candidates.
And I look for victory at the General Election,
And for the realisation of the policies to come.

February 7th
The Alternative Vote
This week David Cameron will be making a speech about fixing our broken politics.   His approach in favour of implementing Tony Wright's proposals is to be commended, but why oh why was he so scathing about the proposal of Gordon Brown for a referendum on the Alternative Vote.   If Cameron really believes in democracy he must accept the sovereignty of the people.   It is up to the people how they wish to be governed.   Why therefore deny them the opportunity to decide in a referendum how they wish to elect the House of Commons?
There are some strong arguments in favour of the Alternative Vote.   It is fairer to start with.
It means that an MP has to get over 50% of the votes in a constituency to be elected.   Under First Past The Post very few MPs get over 50%.   The MP for Poplar and Canning Town was elected by only 18% of the electorate voting for him.   Is that fair?
It would mean that the political parties would have to appeal to all the voters.   At the moment under First Past The Post they only appeal to 1%of voters, that 1% being those electors in 10% of the seats which are marginal and within those seats the 10% who are floating voters.   Which is best?
Finally if preferential voting is so bad why do the Tory Party use it in the voting for the Leadership election and why do they use it in the selection of parliamentary candidates?   If David Cameron so dislikes preferential voting will he scrap the results of all those votes taken in the Tory Party under this system and start again?   I think not.   Perhaps in that case he might explain why preferential voting is good for the Tory Party but bad for the electorate.   I think we should be told.
President Eisenhower
In President Eisenhower's last speech as President he warned of the dangers of the "military-industrial complex taking a stranglehold over public policy and funding".   He also referred to the ever rising cost of research pointing out how a steadily increasing share of it was conducted for, by, or at the direction of the federal government.   The power of money he warned is gravely to be regarded.   As  Christopher Booker says in his "The Real Global Warming Disaster" - "Little could Eisenhower have imagined how, 30 years later, the power of the federal government would be used to persuade thousands of his country's academics that their prime duty should not be to establish scientific truth but essentially to come up with findings which supported one particular, officially prescribed theory".   That of man made climate change. 
Northern Ireland - Latest
We still have not got any candidates selected in Northern Ireland.   If we do badly, we will know who to blame.   It is a disgrace.   For further comment see below:

Sir Christopher Kelly – MPs Expenses and Allowances
Wednesday, 20h January 2010

Speaking at the Constitution Unit, Tavistock Square, Sir Christopher Kelly bluntly said there had been two years of missed opportunities.   The Daily Telegraph revelations had showed the systemic failings and pointed out very clearly that self regulation does not usually work.   There had been some major inherent faults. Firstly the system was basically dishonest and seen by MPs as compensation for inadequate salaries.    Sir Christopher had been told that he did not understand the Freedom of Information Act.   The MPs had thought if expenses were certified by MPs an honourable member’s word or signature was sufficient.   Sir Christopher said the new Speaker, John Bercow, was giving a strong lead to reform.    He continued that the Party leaders had clearly felt they had to accept his committee’s recommendations.   He did not think Sir Ian Kennedy sought to change the basic concept though on some things he was tougher, and on others less tough.   Major differences were that with the proposals being rushed through there was no time for any transition period.
Sir Christopher’s general observations included the importance of the process in undertaking the enquiry.   He had been pressured for speed but resisted this and had completed his report in half the normal time.   It had been done thoroughly, and had been evidenced based.   The report had taken seven months consultation, 76 witnesses and two from the Constitution Unit itself, and the three members of the committee who were appointed by political people had withdrawn from this particular report.  Sir Christopher continued that the views were not very radical, and his committee were only applying to MPs the same principles that applied to anyone else.   Redundancy,   employment of existing wives on staff had been considered but MPs are public office holders and employing relations was seen as nepotism.    As a result of this some MPs were unhappy about the impression given of their work.   Sir Christopher said the important matter was a framework in which expenses are fair and transparent.   It was necessary to have more effective scrutiny via the media, the audit, and removal of the right of MPs to set their own expenses.   So IPSA was required.   It was sensible he said to have the same body setting MPs pay.   Sir Christopher thought that these matters should be properly enshrined in a new body with new legislation.
The most important point, Sir Christopher thought, was to reinforce the high standards of leadership and his seven rules should be enforced.  It was possible to have all the rules but they must be supported by the public and the MPs, and he said what could then go wrong.   The current position had been deeply damaging in the public trust of those who govern us.
January 31stThree Questions on Climate Change - Northern Ireland Update - March of Officialdom
January 24th What is going on in Northern Ireland? - From The Guardian - Man Made Climate Change
January 17th Party Democracy - Man made Climate Change - European Union President - Stop and Search
January 10th The Class War - Mein Kampf - Control of the Land
January 3rd 2010 Power to the People - Referendums

January 31st
Three Questions on Climate Change
1) Carbon Dioxide levels have increased since 1998 by 5%, while temperatures have cooled.   If so how can human CO2 emissions be blamed for causing dangerous warming?
2) The rate of warming between 1979 and 1998 was not unusual in the light of previous warmings in the World's history, so why was CO2 perceived to have been just the cause of this latest warming and why was warming seen to be such a problem if the planet has survived similar episodes in the past?
3) The IPCC's computer models predicted continuous warming between 1990 and 2008.   In reality, temperatures have shown eight years of warming followed by nine years of cooling.   Why then, was it suitable that long term climate projections by the same models should be used for public policy making?
Northern Ireland Update
The Joint Force of the Conservatives and Ulster Unionists is descending into farce.   We now know that Reg Empey met with Peter Robinson of the DUP and the Orange Order in December.   The Conservative Party cannot afford to get involved with sectarianism in Northern Ireland.   It is time to do its own thing.   We still have not got any candidates in place to fight the General Election.    Why is the Ulster Unionist Party delaying matters?
Listen to John Strafford's interview with BBC Radio Ulster by clicking on the link below.   The interview is 36 minutes in and the Ulster Unionist response from Mark Cosgrove is after 1hour 19 minutes.

Alex Deane: How the march of officialdom is destroying cherished ways of life

A man in Ayr is facing a criminal trial after he was "caught" blowing his nose behind the wheel of his car.
Michael Mancini was given a £60 fixed penalty notice after a policeman decided he was "not in control of his vehicle" when he wiped his nose with a tissue. Mancini maintains that he was in stationary traffic and had put his handbrake on. He refused to pay the fine, and will now face a trial later this year.
This isn't a one-off, by any means (indeed, the policeman who gave Mancini his ticket was PC Stuart Gray – who recently issued a £50 fixed penalty to a man who accidentally dropped a £10 note in the street). It's symptomatic of life in this country today, which is fast becoming so illiberal that it's almost as if normal life is unlawful. From councils conducting covert surveillance of residents to check their catchment area to bureaucrats fining families for the contents of their bins, this culture of overbearing bossiness is changing our national life, with a "chilling effect" on social interaction – it's destroying traditional, harmless activities, and driving down outgoing natures, volunteerism, clubbable spirit – things we ought to cherish.
You may remember that in November, a young woman in Sandwell named Vanessa Kelly was stopped by a warden and given a £75 fixed penalty notice for throwing bread to the ducks in her local park. The fine was for "littering".
She refused to pay, she told her local press. Big Brother Watch leant a hand lining up media appearances, and – like most bullies when confronted – the council backed down. Not because they admitted they were in the wrong –but because they didn't want the fight.
I draw from this a lesson that you probably appreciate already – media criticism is all our masters care about. Well, I accept their terms. Using those tools, we can and must turn that fear around – so that in a few years' time, when the jobsworth is on the verge of handing out that illiberal fine, he feels the chilling effect himself.
Donning the uniform of office doesn't – or shouldn't – entail unlimited power to exact petty bureaucracy. It ought to come with discretion, with common sense. Failing that, let's try to bully them back.
By Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch
Reproduced from today's Independent

January 24th
What is going on in Northern Ireland?
"The Conservatives and the leaderships of the Ulster Unionists and the Democratic Unionist Party held secret talks in England last weekend, aimed at realising Unionist unity and getting maximum Unionist support for a future Conservative government, should there be a hung parliament.   Owen Paterson held private talks with a number of senior Unionist politicians in England.
The Conservatives have an electoral pact with the Ulster Unionists, but the involvement of the Democratic Unionists comes as a surprise. They were represented at the talks by no less than Peter Robinson, Nigel Dodds and Sammy Wilson.
And it gets worse.   Three new Tory candidates (for South and East Belfast and Lagan Valley) were reported on the BBC as ‘standing down’.    With the exception of Ballymena councillor Deirdre Nelson, all were relative newcomers to politics… two were women and two were Catholic.   They won’t be the only unhappy people if Cameron’s promise that he would run candidates in all 18 constituencies proves not to have been worth the paper it was written on… unless of course the DUP is planning a merger before May.
It looks as if Sir Reg Empey (Leader of the Ulster Unionists) is prepared to sacrifice two prominent Catholics on the altar of getting a clear run from the DUP in contesting two seats. The Conservative spokesman makes it worse. Confirming that the Conservatives and Unionists will stand in all 18 constituencies can only mean that under the circumstances, Sir Reg Empey and Owen Patterson knew the Conservative Catholics would pull out in disgust at talk of an understanding with the DUP, to be replaced by Protestant Unionists.     The de facto ousting of two Catholics from the Unionist mix is a disaster and leaves the party open to a hugely damaging charge of naked sectarianism."
The above has been taken from Slugger O'Toole's web site.   The facts are clear:
Three Conservative candidates resigned on Friday.   We were promised that the candidates for the joint Ulster Unionists and Conservative would be in place by the end of November, then it became by Christmas.   Still no candidates have been put into place and still no date has been given when it will happen.   The General Election is looming but we have no candidates in place in Northern Ireland.    This is a complete and utter disaster.   The Ulster Unionists are running rings around Owen Patterson.   Why is this being done?
If the three parties are united, the Conservatives get support in a hung Parliament.    The Ulster Unionists get three parliamentary seats at least.   The Democratic Unionists get support for the devolution of policing and justice at Stormont.    At the moment the DUP are hopelessly split on this.   The only problem is that this manipulating will put Northern Irish politics back by 50 years.    Ironically, the talks were held at Lord Salisbury's home at Hatfield House.    Remember Lord Salisbury!   He was the one who did the deal behind William Hague's back with Tony Blair about the hereditary peerages.
Does David Cameron know what is going on?   He is in danger of destroying Conservative Party membership.   He is out of touch with the ordinary members on man made climate change, on a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, on the selection of parliamentary candidates with the discredited "A" list and all women short lists.   Perhaps he needs some new advisors!   He should not take victory in a General Election for granted.   He will need the members more than ever.
From "The Guardian!"
The UN's climate science body has admitted that a claim made in its 2007 report - that Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035 - was unfounded.
The admission today followed a New Scientist article last week that revealed the source of the claim made in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was not peer-reviewed scientific literature – but a media interview with a scientist conducted in 1999. Several senior scientists have now said the claim was unrealistic and that the large Himalayan glaciers could not melt in a few decades.
In a statement (pdf), the IPCC said the paragraph "refers to poorly substantiated estimates of rate of recession and date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers. In drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly."
Climate Change
BRUSSELS bureaucrats gave climate change groups more than £1.5million of taxpayers’ money last year to promote the theory that human activity is causing global warming, it emerged yesterday.
The European Commission handed out huge cash sums to Climate Action Network, Friends of the Earth and the World Wildlife Fund. In one case, British and other European taxpayers paid out more than £700,000 to Friends of the Earth Europe – more than half the pressure group’s 2009 budget.
The payouts came to light after questions by UKIP Euro MP Godfrey Bloom. He said the cash was perpetuating unfounded claims about global warming.”

MEPs are supposed to scrutinise the commissioners

January 17th
Party Democracy
Pam Giddy of Power2010 wrote:
Thanks to your participation, we had 4,500 idea submissions for the POWER2010 Pledge - far more than we hoped for, and a sure sign that we are ready for change.

This past weekend people from all over the UK met and discussed your ideas. They deliberated and selected the ones they thought Britain needed most.

Now we need you to choose which ideas are taken forward - and will change politics. For good. 
I am delighted to inform you that the COPOV proposal for democratic political parties was chosen as one of the proposals people thought Britain needed most.   Please use the link below to vote in favour of our proposal.
Man made Climate Change?
Janet Daley wrote in the Telegraph
"ConservativeHome has conducted a poll of Tory party members which shows that 76 per cent of them believe that the price of energy will be a bigger political issue by 2015 than climate change. I have only one reservation about this finding: we don’t need to wait until 2015.
Even before Britain was buried under a small mountain of snow, the tide was turning (forgive the pun) on global warming. Now that the population is digging itself out from under the avalanche while being forced to consume hugely expensive amounts of heating fuel, the climate change lobby and its portfolio of punitive green taxes are more likely to evoke fury than ridicule.
So where does this leave the Cameron flagship modernisation policy – the issue that was, more than any other, supposed to symbolise the party’s new cool (sorry, the puns will keep coming) image? There is no pretending that this will be easy: there will simply have to be tactical, almost imperceptible playing-down of one position accompanied by a gradual escalation of the other (excessive energy costs). However it is done, it had better start soon. Voters are in no mood, after the Great Freeze,  for quixotic obsessions which seem irrelevant to their actual problems."
So where does this leave Conservative policy?   Under a pile of steaming manure!
European Union President
EU President will cost taxpayers over £20m a year. The EU's new full-time President Herman Van Rompuy is due to cost taxpayers nearly £300 million. The total annual cost to EU taxpayers for Mr. Van Rompuy will be £22.5 million, including £2.1 million for security, £2.3 million for equipment, £6.2 million for summits and £5.2 million for 22 staff. In addition, the EU is spending another £252 million building a new facility to house the President's office. His salary is £273,814 a year - meaning he will earn more than US President Barack Obama, who earns £250,000. (News of the World, 4 January)

Stop and search

January 10th
The Class War
This is frightening.   Harriet Harman is the most pernicious Minister in the most pernicious Government for over a century.   What is happening to our country?
Harman’s law to cut fire cover for middle England’s homes
Fire stations and engines to be deployed away from middle income areas in Labour class war

Homes and firms in middle England face a new wave of cuts to fire services, it was revealed today, as a consequence of Harriet Harman’s new Equality Bill. A new duty will force fire authorities to tackle "socio-economic disadvantage" when drawing up fire plans. The so-called "socialism in one clause" will force fire chiefs to downgrade fire station and fire engine in middle income areas.
  • Harman’s class war law: The Equality Bill, currently before Parliament, will impose a new legal duty on public authorities to ‘tackle socio-economic disadvantage’ when making decisions on "spending and service delivery". The Government has justified the change on the grounds that "social class still holds a powerful grip over people’s lives". Polly Toynbee has praised how the duty will "permeate every aspect of government policy." Cabinet Ministers have described the new Clause 1 of the Equality Bill as "socialism in one clause". Local government expert Professor Tony Travers has warned: "the Harman doctrine would have significant impacts... resources could be redistributed between and within councils... some people might have to lose services." Fire authorities are funded by a levy on council tax – so middle income homes already pay more for their fire cover.
  • Fire service to be distorted by Harman’s law: In answers to Parliamentary Questions, Ministers have admitted that new duty will also apply to the targeting of fire resources. Fire authorities in shire areas with county councils will automatically be bound by the new duty. Ministers are now actively planning to extend it to all fire authorities - after lobbying by Liberal Democrats who want fire cover to be redrawn to reflect 'social inequality'. The changes can be made by Ministers without recourse to primary legislation in Parliament.
  • Fewer fire stations and engines for middle England – and the Queen: Following laws passed by John Prescott, Labour have already rigged fire cover rules leading to fire station closures in rural and middle England and he made it easier to close fire stations as part of Labours "modernisation" process. When drawing up their fire cover arrangements, fire chiefs must also now undertake 'equality impact assessments'. Whitehall instructions call for priority to be based on "socio-economic and geo-demographic data" which can justify "reducing fire cover locally". Fire resources to be focused on "private renters", "local authority and housing association" properties, "single parent families" and "drug abusers". As an example of the effect of the fiddled guidance, the Queen’s local fire station at Windsor is now being closed at night – despite the devastating 1992 Windsor Castle fire. Harriet Harman’s Equality Bill will compound this trend when fire plans are next updated.
Caroline Spelman, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said:
"The public will be shocked that Harriet Harman’s new law may force cuts to local fire stations and fire protection for certain homes just because they don't tick the right box for Labour Ministers. It is already the case that local fire stations have been axed thanks to Whitehall rules imposed by Labour.
"These proposals have nothing to do with fairness and everything to do with Labour’s obsessive class war. Given fire coverage is paid for by a levy on council tax, every home deserves fair and proper coverage to keep families safe whatever their background. The public want to see fair play, not special treatment for narrow partisan advantage."
Local government expert, Professor Tony Travers, has warned: "The proposed new law would require public services, including those provided locally, to shift resources towards the achievement of greater equality... Rural and suburban councils are likely to be particularly hard hit. But even within authorities, the Harman doctrine would have significant impacts... it will lead to major impacts on local authorities. Resources could be redistributed between and within councils. At a time of tight spending settlements, some people might have to lose services so that others can receive them. Councils need to work through the implications of the government’s latest bright idea and explain the consequences to Whitehall departments. The government should know what it is embarking on before it rushes to legislation" (Local Government Chronicle, 22 January 2009).
Mein Kampf
"Democracy inevitably leads to Marxism." - Adolf Hitler
Reading the above you would think Hitler had a point, but it could only be true if democrats allowed it to happen.   We must all fight for a true democracy.   That means changes to our rotten system.     This week we saw that Alistair Campbell's friend, Sir Ian Kennedy, is already watering down Sir Christopher Kelly's proposals on MPs expenses.   We must not let it happen.
Control of the Land
"When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land.   They said "Let us pray."    We closed our eyes and when we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land."   - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

3rd January 2010
Power to the People
Check out the following:
Who will speak for England?
Whenever referendums are proposed as a means of empowering the people, opposition often quote the mess which California have got themselves into as a result of the referendums which they have held.
California provides stark lessons in how direct democracy can be abused.    For instance there are no proper limits on pre-election expenditure which means that referendums in California, cost millions of dollars and are beyond the reach of the people the system was designed to serve.   As a result, referendums have become just another avenue for vested interest groups.   Indeed a specialised industry has grown up around the process, with companies providing expensive services such as signature gathering and campaigning.   The situation is compounded in California by laws requiring two thirds of both houses of the legislature to approve budgets and tax increases.   The effect of this is that minority parties have veto power at budget time, and there is often a stalemate.   Direct Democracy is hugely popular in California, but there is general recognition that the system needs reform. - Zac Goldsmith "The Constant Economy".

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