Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Conservatism! Is the Conservative Party compliant?

 Conservatism

by John Strafford


Inherent in and at the core of the Conservatism is a belief in:

An economy based on:
Free markets and trade
Private ownership and enterprise
Monetary and fiscal probity
Gainful employment
Minimum intervention by the State
Low taxation

A society based on:
Patriotism and duty in defence of the realm.
Reciprocal rights and responsibilities
Respect for law and order
Equal educational opportunities

Conservatism:
Accommodates the view that each human being is an individual, answerable to and for him or herself and also a responsible citizen of the community
Allows that there are bound to be social and economic inequalities in life and that the strong have a duty to help the weak and encourage them to help themselves
Leads to policies that are justified by common-sense rather than doctrinaire theory

Objectives
Conservatism is more a statement of belief in the nature of things than one of intent or action which, respectively, are the foundations of strategy and policy.   The perceived aim of the Conservative Party is to build a democratic society that is both prosperous and at ease with itself.   To achieve this aim the following objectives must be pursued by the Party:
Maintain itself as a democratic national organisation supported by a broad section of the population from all walks of life
Uphold the rule of law and order and the concept of equality of all before the law
Create favourable conditions for the creation of wealth and thereby to sustain high levels of employment and living standards
Promote free enterprise, maximise choice and minimise regulation
Provide or enable the provision of high quality services in fields where the State must provide them
Control public expenditure within a balanced budget and with low levels of taxation
A foreign policy which is conducive to our National interest.
 Ensure the integrity and security of the realm.

   Ensure a fair democracy based on the principle of One Person, One Vote.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

"Time for the Conservative Party to be Conservative"

 

NHS hires army of "200,000 bureaucrats 
In today's "The Daily Telegraph", 9 September 2021, John Strafford is quoted on the front page regarding the above headline: 
"There were signs of disquiet about the move yesterday at all levels of the Tory party in comments to "The Daily Telegraph", John Strafford, the chairman of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy, which represents grassroots activists, said party members had begun to resign.
He said the tax rise was "a complete departure from Conservative values" and will now organise a fringe event at the party conference next month titled "Time for the Conservative Party to be Conservative".

The fringe event will be at 2.45pm to 4pm at the Museum of Science and Industry, Liverpool Road, M3 4FP



Friday, August 6, 2021

COPOV Barbecue 21st August

 Do come and join us at the COPOV Barbecue on 21st August.   Tickets are limited so it is first come, first served.   For further details see EVENTS

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

COPOV Forum and AGM 31 July 2021

 Do come and join us at the COPOV Forum for Discussion and Debate.   For further details see: Events 31 July 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Election of the Conservative Party Treasurer

  Every few years there is a row about how Party funds are spent.   When will we learn? The Treasurer of the Party should be elected by and accountable to the members of the Party at an Annual General Meeting of the Party to which every member is invited. At the AGM the Treasurer should present the Accounts of the Party for Adoption by the members.

This is the way nearly all normal organisations work. It is time the Conservative Party did the same.   The following article is published. today.   It quotes what I said ten years ago.   It was right then.   It is right now.

Published: by conservativehome.com  April 27, 2021

Conservative Party Board members “raising questions about Party funds and the Prime Minister.”

By Paul Goodman

For the record, ConservativeHome takes a relaxed view of Party funds being paid to the Party leader – to cover, say, entertaining Tory MPs for party purposes; or travel costs; or, perhaps, legal fees.

Until Simon Case’s inquiry reports, and perhaps not even then, it won’t be clear who originally put up the money for the contested Downing Street flat wallpaper.

Reports suggest that Party funds weren’t used for this purpose straighforwardly, because Lord Brownlow was due to make a donation in October last year of £58,000 to cover part of the costs of the project.

This site leaves aside for the moment questions about whether and when any such gift will be declared, and who would be due to pay how much tax on it.

We want to focus instead on part of the purpose for which ConservativeHome was originally created: providing a forum for the views of Party members, and campaigning for their rights – present and future.

A donation that goes into Party funds and is then passed on to the Leader is, well, one that comes from those funds, even if the money concerned has been raised for a special purpose.

It may be that Lord Brownlow’s gift was passed onto Johnson and then duly returned to the Party, and perhaps to him; it may also be that it was never sent on to him at all.

This site is told that the Conservative Party Board isn’t due to meet until late May, but that Board members “are asking questions about what happened”.

It has also been reported that the Party helped the Prime Minister with legal bills when he was contesting claims that, when Mayor of London, he used his position to “benefit and reward” Jennifer Arcuri, who has claimed they had an affair.

One member of the Board told this site that “I know nothing about that at all”.  What would be right course for the Board to take in such circumstances?

Party members will be well aware that their control over its spending is so limited as scarcely to exist.  To some extent, it rests with the Treasurer of the Party, currently Sir Ehud Sheleg. 

The Party’s website tells readers that each Association has a Deputy Chairman for Membership and Finance, but says nothing about the Party’s own Finance Committee, which makes reports to the Board.

Finance Committee members say that they have no recollection of payments to cover costs associated with the Prime Minister’s legal bills being discussed at any time.

The Committee does review the Party’s legal costs but, according to one member, “what tends to get discussed are unbelievably boring cases of why Person A is suing Person B”.

A senior backbencher said: “while there would be no legal requirement for the Finance Committee to approve such payments, I think that, were the Acuri costs covered, it would have been appropriate for the committee to approve them in advance”.

All in all, it is hard to argue with the proposal floated ten years ago on this site by John Strafford that “the Treasurer of the Party should present the Annual Accounts of the Party to the Annual General Meeting for adoption by the members”.

But as we say, ConservativeHome takes a relaxed view of Party funds being paid to the Party leader for the purposes we described earlier.  We will see from our forthcoming monthly survey whether or not our Survey Panel members agree.

 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Conservative Party Membership - a 60% increase - true or false!

 At the Spring Forum  the Party Co Chairman announced that "membership has soared 60% to over 200,000", implying that this was all due to Boris.

Boris Johnson went on to say "having grown our membership by 60% over the last few years to over 200,000."

If these figures are correct they would demonstrate a remarkable achievement, so are they accurate?   A 60% increase to 200,000 means a base figure of 125,000, i.e 125,000 plus 60% equals 200,000.

In July 2019 we had accurate membership figures because of the Leadership election.   Boris got 92,153 votes and Jeremy Hunt got 46,656 votes, giving total votes of 138,809 but the turnout was 87.4 % so 138,809 is 87.4% of the total membership, which means that the total membership was 158,820.   A bit different to 125,000!

So if the total membership in July 2019 was 158,820 it has increased by 41,180 to arrive at 200,000, i.e.it has grown by 25.9% not 60%, a creditable performance.

Of course if the Party was transparent with its membership figures we would be able to see on a yearly basis how membership was going, but that will not happen until we have a Party Chairman elected by and accountable to the Party membership.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Conservatives take lessons from the Communist Party?

 

Conservatives take lessons from the Communist Party?

 

The Ballot on the proposed changes to the Conservative Party Constitution closed on 14 December.   The following email was sent to members of the Convention on 21 December by the Chairman of the National Conservative Convention.   It raises a number of questions:

·         Why did it take seven days to announce the results?

·         Why was the original date of  17 November when the ballot should have closed,      extended to 14 December?

·         Why have we not been given the results of the ballot showing for each part of the Convention the total number of votes cast and the percentages for and against.?   We have always received this information on previous occasions.

·         Was the Ballot independently monitored?   Previous ballots were monitored by the Electoral Reform Society.

·         The email states that the proposed changes have been approved by “between” 92% and 98% of those voting so why have we not been given the exact percentage for each change?

When you see that the changes have been approved by between 92% and 98% does it remind you of ballots in the Communist Party of Russia?

 Email to members:

 

Dear Colleague, 

 After four and a half years, countless consultations and meetings and many delays the Constitutional College was finally convened in October. The College was quorate, the ballot has concluded and the votes have been counted. All of the proposed changes have been approved by between 92% and 98% of those voting and most will take effect from January 1st 2021.

 We are preparing a copy of the new version of the Constitution which we will distribute as soon as possible and we will run some webinars and provide assistance to Associations on amending their rules, but as a reminder the two key headline changes that may affect your plans in the short term relate to terms of office and timing of AGMs.

       ·    5 year terms for elected Association Officers. If you are in your last year you may                now serve for an extra two, subject to successful annual election at your AGM, and              so on - this change does not allow an additional five years!

  •        Association AGMs must now be held by the end of June. There is nothing to stop you having   them earlier if you wish and this does not change the legal requirement to submit accounts by   the  end of March. 

I am very pleased to be able to deliver this news and it only remains for me to wish you and your families a very Happy Christmas and a Healthy, Prosperous and Electorally Successful New Year!

 Best wishes

Andrew

Lord Sharpe of Epsom OBE
Chairman | National Conservative Convention

 

 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Tribute to the Last of the Conservative Party Constituency Agents

 

Tribute to the Last of the Conservative Party Constituency Agents!

By

John Strafford

In 1963 when I joined the Conservative Party there were 550 Conservative Party Constituency Agents.   Today there are less than 30.

Philip Dumville, the Agent for the Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association has just retired as Agent after 40 years service with the Conservative Party.

On Thursday evening at a Zoom meeting tributes were paid to Philip by:

·        Carl Jackson, Chairman of Chesham & Amersham Association

·        Baroness Emma Pidding

·        Joy Morrissey MP

·        Dame Cheryl Gillan MP

·        Theresa May MP

·        Earl Howe

·        Rhiannon Rowsell, Chairman of the Beaconsfield Association and

·        John Strafford

I was Treasurer and then Chairman of the Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association between 1980 and 1990.   I chaired the first two meetings of the National Conservative Draws Society and was on its Management Committee for 25 years from its inception in 1994.   Here is the speech I made at the Zoom meeting in tribute to Philip Dumville O.B.E.:

 

My Lord, Ladies and Gentlemen, I became Chairman of BCCA in March 1985.   The Association at that time had approximately 6,000 members with 500 Young Conservatives and a strong Women’s Organisation.

Let me briefly remind you what office life was like then:

·        Mass communication had to be done by printed letter and then stuffed in envelopes and stamped by volunteers and in some cases then delivered by volunteers.

·        Smaller numbers were done by stencil and then rolled off.

·        Personal computers were relatively new and expensive.

·        There was no email or Internet or mobile phones or Whatsapp groups.

The office in London End was not as efficient as it should have been and I was unimpressed by the organisation of the campaign for the County Council election in May 1985, so after consultation with the Officers, President and Vice Presidents the then Agent’s Contract of Employment was terminated.

For six months we manned the office with volunteers and disposed of all the old worn-out furniture and equipment and replaced them with new.   Volunteers redecorated the building during which time we found it had dry rot.

We spent six months looking for a new Agent who would be able to implement the changes we needed to make.   By November 1985 we had a short list of candidates.   We gave them psychometric tests and invited them to an interview with the Executive Council of the Association.   The Executive Council had over 100 members.   We voted on the candidates and Philip came second.   Fortunately for us the winner dropped out and the job was offered to Philip who accepted it and joined us in early 1986.

Mention has been made of Philip’s fund raising and membership abilities.   We included within his Contract of Employment an incentive scheme based on Fund Raising and Membership.   When Norman Tebbitt heard about this he almost burst a blood vessel!

Philip’s first campaign  for BCCA was the District Council elections in May 1986.   Part of his responsibilities were to ensure we got all our nominations in on time.   Unfortunately, the Leader of the Council was ten minutes late in getting in his nomination,  so we started the campaign one seat down!   John Brown of CCHQ telephoned me because he thought I might fire Philip.   I explained that everyone is entitled to make one mistake.   It was the first and last mistake that Philip made whilst I was Chairman.

So, with Philip at the hub of the organisation what did we achieve?

·        We computerised the membership

·        We pioneered the use of Direct Mail techniques for use with fund raising and membership..

·        We formed the Churchill Club to cater for the wealthier members.

·        We formed the Supper Club to attract people into membership who were not so wealthy, and it was to be non-profit making.   It reported quarterly to the Political Committee on its activities.

·        We campaigned for the people of Northern Ireland to be accepted as members of the Conservative Party.   This was agreed in 1989.

·        We paid for a full time Agent in Slough and in 1987 and 1992 took on the full responsibility for running the General Election campaigns in different Wards of Slough.   As a result, John Watts was elected as their Conservative MP.

·        We sold the premises at London End and our President Lord Burnham sold us the land at Aylesbury End and then we signed a Building Contract with his Company to erect the present offices.   I project managed the contract and it came in on budget and on time.   The concept was for the building to house the offices for four constituencies but initially this did not happen so the top floor was rented out.

·      We raised approx. £175,000 which with the proceeds of £175,000 from the sale of London End paid for the building.   Philip organised the move to the new premises.

Why do I tell you all this?   It is to illustrate how busy the organisation was, and at the hub of that organisation was the Agent, Philip.

It was his enthusiasm, experience, expertise and energy which kept the show on the road.   Without him it couldn’t have been achieved.   It could not have been done without him.   We took the annual income of BCCA from £30,000 a year when I started as Treasurer to £100,000 a year when I finished as Chairman.

Philip, when you joined the Association I said to you “stay 10 years, and then move on for you will need something new”.   You ignored my advice, but you did start something new.

In 1994 you created the National Conservative Draws Society.   I remember the first two meetings at my house in Gerrards Cross.   There was just you, me, and Chris Poole.   No one else wanted to know until the Christmas Draw brought in £750,000.   You are the biggest fund raiser in the history of the Conservative Party.   Over the years you have raised, almost wholly by your own efforts, some £30 million and I do not think you have ever been given sufficient credit for it, so I wanted to put this on the record.

Philip, it was a pleasure working with you.   Y our loyalty to the Conservative Party was total and now you are winding down your activities you deserve the highest praise for what you have achieved.   I wish you and Sara all the best for the future.

  

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Ever wondered who determined Conservative Party policy?

 Last week Boris Johnson announced that Neil O'Brien MP was to chair the Party Policy Board and be a Vice Chairman of the Party.   What he forgot was that the Party Policy Board already had a Chairman, Alan Mak MP, also a Vice Chairman of the Party.   So now we have Co-Chairmen!

Also on the Board is:

John Penrose MP - Chairman, un-elected of the Conservative Policy Forum.

Munira Mirza - Head of the No. 10 Policy Unit.

Joel Winton - Deputy Head of the No.10 Policy Unit.

Iain Carter - Head of the Conservative Research Department.

Some MPs yet to be defined who are members of the 1922 Policy Committee.

Have you noticed anything.   Not a single representative of the voluntary Party.   As usual they are ignored!


Monday, November 23, 2020

Conservative Party - Terms & Conditions of Membership?

 

Changes to the Conservative Party Constitution – Terms and Conditions of Membership

Proposed changes have been made to the Conservative Party Constitution.   These are to be voted upon by 14 December, but now we discover that the Party Board has already brought in Terms and Conditions of membership as set out below.   The Party Board can do anything it likes, making the Party Constitution not worth the paper it is written on, but could they not have included these changes in the proposed amendments?

Are the Terms and Conditions clear?

In Para 4 it states: “To do nothing, including declaring opinions, which is in conflict with the purpose, objects and values of the Conservative Party.

Should not that read: “To do anything, including declaring opinions, which is in conflict with the purpose, objects and values of the Conservative Party.?”

In para 7 it states: “To be a member or supporter of no other UK-registered political party… nor a supporter of any candidate of such a party.”

Should that not be: “To be a supporter of any other UK-registered political party nor a

supporter of any candidate of such a party.”?

 

Perhaps the Party Board needs to take lessons in clear English?

 

General Terms and Conditions of Membership of the

Conservative Party

1.To pay the membership fee.

2.To be bound by and abide by the Party Constitution and the Rules of your

Association.

3.To sustain and promote the objects and values of the Conservative Party and

the stated objects of your Association.

4.To do nothing, including declaring opinions, which is in conflict with the

purpose, objects, and values of the Conservative Party. Expressing disagreement

with the policies of the Party shall not constitute conduct which brings or is likely

to bring the Party into disrepute.

 5.To engage in no conduct which brings or is likely to bring the Party or any

Conservative Association into disrepute.

 6.Not to use social media in an abusive way or abuse any person on social

media.

 7.To be a member or supporter of no other UK-registered political party nor a

supporter of any candidate of such a party.

 8.In addition to the above terms and conditions, to abide by all codes of conduct

which may exist from time to time (however they are called) which regulate the

conduct of Party members.

Approved by the Board of the Conservative Party

October 2020