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

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Changes to the Conservative Party Constitution - What is going on?

 

Changes to the Conservative Party Constitution – What is going on?

On 17 November the ballot closed on the proposed changes to the Conservative Party Constitution, so what was the result?   Do not know!   Why, because CCHQ have decided to extend the ballot to 14 December.

Under the Constitution,  the Constitution may only be amended if approved by

·         Not less than 50% of those members of the Constitutional College eligible to vote; and

·         Not less than 66% of Members of Parliament voting; and

·         Not less than 66% of Members of the National Conservative Convention voting

So why was the date extended?   No explanation has been given.   Did CCHQ know how many people had voted at 17 November and realise that the motions to amend had failed because of lack of support and hope to get more votes by 14 December to meet the above criteria?   If so this is a disgraceful abuse of democracy.

If they did not know the figures then why did they extend the period for voting?

This whole situation has a rather nasty smell about it.   Perhaps the new slogan for the Party should be “If at first you do not win, vote, vote and vote again.” – until you get the result you want!

As ever the ordinary Party members know nothing of this charade that is being played out in their Party.   Pass the sick bag!

Friday, November 13, 2020

Conservative Party Constitution - Reforms needed now!

 

Conservative Party Reform

On 17th November the ballot will close on amendments to the Conservative Party Constitution.   The amendments are mainly on minor matters although increasing the centralisation of power to the Establishment and CCHQ.   The changes have been discussed for five years!   What a tragedy that the opportunity was not taken for radical reform of the Party.   These reforms will not help to increase the membership of the Party in any way.   At the time of the Leadership election a similar paper as follows below was sent to Boris Johnson and in response he promised radical reform of the Party.   It has not happened.

Recommendation: Members of the National Convention should either not vote or vote against these amendments as a protest that radical reform has been ignored!.

Incidentally, no information has been given as to how this ballot will be monitored or counted.   In the past the Electoral Reform Society has been employed to either conduct the ballot or monitor it. Is there an independent body checking this ballot?

 Current Position

1)      Party Membership is 125-150,000.   Approx. 10-15% are activists.   To run a National Ground campaign in a General Election you need approx. 500,000 members or 50,000 activists.

2)      The last General Election at which we had 500,000 members was in 1992.   Since then we have had 21 Party Chairmen who have presided over a declining membership and done nothing about it.   The last National membership campaign was in 1988.

3)      Per the Feldman Review (2016), 290 Constituency Associations have fewer than 100 members.   Only 50 associations have more than 500 members.

4)      Research has shown that people join political parties for social reasons, and in order to participate in decision making, either by voting on policy or voting for those that make policy.

5)      There is  huge gap between the views of the Voluntary Party and the actions of this Conservative Government.

 

Objectives

1)      To increase Party membership to a minimum of 500,000.

2)      To eliminate the gap between Government action and the voluntary party on policy issues by encouraging debate at the Party Conference/Spring Forum.

3)      To reverse the centralisation of the Party organisation by giving power back to the members on candidate selection.

4)      To bring accountability into how the Party is organised by having elected officials accountable to the membership.

5)      To enable the Constitution of the Party to be changed without going through a lengthy process in what is now a rapidly changing world.

Five Essential Reforms

1)      The National Convention should be replaced by an Annual General Meeting to which all Party members are invited.

2)      The Chairman of the Party Board, Deputy Chairman, Treasurer, Chairman of the Candidates Committee and Chairman of the Policy Forum should be elected by and accountable to Party members and present Annual reports to the Annual General Meeting.

3)      Constituency Associations should have the right to determine who their Parliamentary Candidate should be with minimum interference by CCHQ, with safeguards for Constituencies where the membership is below a certain level.

4)      Motions for debate should be re-instated at the Party Conference and/or at the Spring Forum.

5)      The Party Constitution should be capable of being changed at a General Meeting of the Party by Party members on the basis of One Member One Vote with a 60% majority. The present minor changes to the Constitution have been under discussion for four years and nothing has happened.

Administration

1)      Party members have virtually no rights or means of progressing these essential changes.   It is therefore critical for the Parliamentary Party to get involved. A group of Conservative MPs together with a group of volunteers should meet and agree the best way to pursue these reforms.  

2)      The Executive of the 1922 Committee should  be asked for their support.

Communication

1)      By use of the internet communication can be speeded up.

2)      Voting on-line can be used for positions and for involvement of the membership in proposed policies with independent monitoring of the results.

3)      Social media can be used for instant communication.

Without radical reform the party will cease to exist!

Monday, November 9, 2020

Changes to the Conservative Party Constitution - Constituency Chairmen!

 

 Changes to the Conservative Party Constitution – Other changes

·         “Schedule 6 Article 14 If an Association officer is removed by the Board, the replacement does not have to be a member of the Association  or the Area Management Executive if the Board so decides.”

More power to the centre!

·         Present Constitution states:

“Schedule 1 Article 1.2

“the 1922 Committee” means a committee comprising all Members of Parliament;”

This is to be changed to:

“the 1922 Committee means The Conservative Private Members (1922) Committee a committee comprising all Members of Parliament as defined by the Committee Rules.

As the 1922 Committee has considerable powers, particularly in relation to a Leadership contest should not the members of the Party know what the Committee Rules are.?   The Rules could be changed, and ordinary Party members would not know anything about the change!   Dangerous territory!

·         Sensible change:   It is proposed that the term of office of the Officers of an Association should be five years.   This is what it used to be, and it was a mistake to change it.   One of the consequences of this is that the Chairman of an Association could now be a member of the National Convention for five years!

 

 

 

Monday, November 2, 2020

CHANGES TO THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY CONSTITUTION - DEMOCRACY AND THE CONSERVATIVE POLICY FORUM

 

Changes to the Conservative Party Constitution – Democracy and the Conservative Policy Forum

 

The Conservative Policy Forum

Under the present Constitution it states:

The Conservative Policy Forum shall be managed by a Council constituted annually which shall consist of

Various appointments plus

66.3 Three representatives elected by the Political Deputy Chairman of the Area Management Executives in accordance with the provisions of Schedule 5.

 

This has not happened for some time and the Party Board has comtinually ignored this provision in the Constitution so what is the proposed amendment to the Constitution say:

 

Part VIII Article 66.3 Remove as now obsolete in CPF as currently functioning.

 

New clause:

66.7 Formalises the current practise and strengthens the role of volunteers in the CPF.   A Vice-Chairman to be appointed by the Board on the recommendation of the Chairman of the National Convention whose responsibilities shall include reporting to the board on the work of the CPF.

 

So, once again we see a power grab by the Chairman of the National Convention.   How do you strengthen the role of volunteers in the CPF by giving power to one person and getting rid of the few who were elected to their positions?    Democracy destroyed in one easy move!   Why does the Chairman of the Convention want more power?.   When did you ever hear a Chairman of the Convention publicly stand up for ordinary members rights?

The Chairman of the Conservative Policy Forum should be elected by and accountable to ordinary Party members at an Annual General Meeting to which all Party members are invited.

 

 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Changes to the Conservative Party Constitution - More grabs for Power!

 

     Changes to the Conservative Party Constitution - more grabs for power

Under the present Constitution it states:

“Any nominee for any such office or post referred to in Paragraph 2.2 herein shall have been a Member of the National Convention for not less than two years.”

It is proposed to change this to:

“Nominees for officers of the National Convention to have been Convention members for the two preceding years.”

So if you have previously been a member of the Convention for two years, ceased to be a member and the returned at a later date you would then have to wait a further two years before you could stand as an officer!

***

Under the present Constitution it states:

“Any nominee for the office of President shall have been an elected member of the Board for one year.”

It is proposed to change this to:

“Nominees for President must have been a current member of the Board at the time of nomination.”

So, if you were a member of the Board for a year, then ceased to be, you could not stand for President until you had stood as an officer again.

I am always wary when an elite propose a restriction on who can be a candidate for their position.   Is it because they do not trust the members of the Convention to exercise their own judgement or is it because they fear that they may be kicked out?   Whatever, it is certainly a distortion of democracy and once more a power grab by the elite!