Friday, December 8, 2017

Eric Pickles General Election Review

At the Conservative Party Conference whenever criticism was raised about the Tories performance in the General Election we were told “Don’t worry it is all covered in the “Pickles Review”.   So was it?
First of all the review did not go into any deep analysis as to the conduct of the election unlike the Conservativehome review.   It came up with 126 recommendations 90% of which were froth and hope.   Who will take responsibility for seeing the implementation of these recommendations?   In response to this question by a member of the Party Board, Pickles answer was “The Party Board”   Don’t hold your breath when you see the entire review kicked into the long grass.  So what were the most important recommendations?
3          A Manifesto Committee should be established and, in Government, consist of the Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Party Chairman/Chief Executive, Chief Whip and up to three others appointed by the Prime Minister.   In opposition it should consist of the equivalent office holders.
This is an improvement on what happened in the Election but where is the input from the 1922 Committee or the voluntary party?   They can make suggestions but no say in the final draft.
29        As is the usual practice, the Prime Minister/Leader shall appoint the Party Chairman and the Party Board shall appoint the Party’s Chief Executive/Chief Operating Officer.
In a modern democratic Party fit for the 21st Century the Party Chairman should be elected by and accountable to the Party membership.
30        The Party Chairman shall be in charge of all election campaigns.   Part of that function can be delegated (e.g. local government elections, the day to day conduct of a General Election campaign and by elections).
Until this last election we always thought the Chairman was in charge including the day to day conduct of the campaign.
31        The Party Chairman may appoint, after consulting the Party’s Chief Executive, a Party professional(s)/consultant(s) to run any part or the whole of the campaign.   Notice of the appointment shall be given in writing by the Party Chairman to the Prime Minister/Leader of the Party, the Chairman of the 1922 committee and the elected Chairman of the National Convention.
If Conservative Campaign Headquarters is incapable of running a campaign what is the point of it?   Consultants walk away with a fat fee and are totally unaccountable for the result.   The £4.5 million spent on consultants in the 2017 General Election would have been better spent on the training and employment of professional agents in the constituencies.  
52        The Party should appoint a Vice-Chairman for Diverse Communities, and should consider that person being represented on the Party Board.   The Vice-Chairman for diverse Communities should work with the Outreach Department to contact the different communities that will keep the Party nationally and locally in touch.
Who is “The Party” which is going to do the appointing?   Who is this Vice-Chairman accountable to?   How long is the appointment?   Why should they be on the Party Board?
56        The Party should actively encourage parliamentary and council candidates from diverse communities, and ensure through our training programmes that such potential candidates get priority.
Why should these candidates get priority and who decides on the priority?   Merit should be the criteria for candidate selection.
66        Training and development should become a key function of CCHQ.   The Head of Training should be a Director level appointment, and supported by a team to deliver on training along with the Vice-Chairman of Training.
Who is the Vice-Chairman of Training?   Who is he/she accountable to?   Why do we need all these unelected, unaccountable Vice-Chairmen?   Are these just jobs for the boys?
70        The Party will establish a career path for long-term field employment within the Conservative Party, which will include a professional qualification in electoral law, regular training, and programmes in campaigning and personal development.
At last a sensible proposal, but didn’t we use to have this?   Should this not be part of the remit of the Head of Training?
The General Election showed that there is a clear campaigning deficiency in many parts of the country which needs to be urgently addressed.   Put simply the Party needs to rapidly upscale its presence on the ground with more members and volunteers involved in campaigning both between and at election time.   Priority should be given to target seats, both attack and defence.
To be a viable campaigning force our activist base must become more balanced in age grouping, attracting new and younger members who are both engaged and trained in election activity.
So what are they going to do about this?   Let’s see!
105      The Party needs to better value volunteers, and a successor to Team 2015 needs to be developed by CCHQ and put in place by 2018 local elections.   This should include Head of Volunteer Mobilisation with authority to implement the research on what drives people to join, get and stay involved with the party.
What does “better value volunteers” mean?    We need a successor to Team 2015, but this is just a sticking plaster rather than a cure for the problem.   The 2018 local elections are in 6 months time so what has been done to get this implemented?
106      CCHQ in conjunction with the Voluntary Party, to launch a volunteer and membership drive, backed up with research, on what drives people to join, get and stay involved in Party politics.
Absolutely necessary, but what are you going to offer to new members – no rights, no involvement in the running of the Party organisation, no involvement in determining policy, no democratic accountability – just the same old deference that has failed abysmally.
107      Associations to be offered a capacity assessment by the Head of Volunteer Mobilisation appointed under recommendation 105, and to jointly agree phased and realistic targets for volunteer and activist recruitment.   An incentive scheme should be agreed to strengthen the partnership between CCHQ and local Associations.
With over 300 Constituency Associations with less than 100 members and less than 10 activists what kind of target are you going to set?   What kind of “incentive scheme” to “strengthen the partnership between CCHQ and local Associations”?   The only one that would work is to make those responsible for CCHQ democratically accountable to the party members.
108      The Party Board should commission an annual report from every seat on the levels of volunteers, activists and resources.   The Board shall receive support from CCHQ to produce this report where it is needed.
The question is “What will they do about it?
109      The implementation of central administration of party membership must remain a priority and this must be supported by a sufficiently resourced Membership Department at CCHQ.
We have been talking about this for years.   When will it happen and will it be properly linked with the Constituency Associations?

So there we are.   NERO fiddles at CCHQ whilst the Party flows down the Thames.   What a tragedy!

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