web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > Party Democracy and Membership

Nabil Najjar and Luke Springthorpe: How Conservative Progress aims to revive the Tory grassroots

Nabil Najjar and Luke Springthorpe are the founders and directors of Conservative Progress.

If the Conservative Party is going to win the next election, it desperately needs to re-energise its grassroots.

Part of this is, of course, about numbers. It’s no secret that Labour now outnumber the Conservatives heavily in terms of paid up members by about 4 to 1 (c. 540,000 vs c. 124,000).

But it’s also about the existing membership feeling empowered and a part of a vibrant movement that listens to them, provides them with a platform for debate, and actually values them enough to invest in developing their skills through training.

If members don’t feel like they are an active part of the Conservative movement by having a chance to actively participate in the debate, it stands to reason that their enthusiasm to go out and campaign to help the party win will wane. What’s more, if we don’t continually train our activists and share best practice from our best campaigners, how are we going to stay one step ahead of our opponents?

Some of this can be done centrally, but it’s also clear that a lot of this needs a certain degree of freedom and absence of a filter that only a third-party organisation can bring. It’s also true that a smaller third-party organisation can be nimble and react to demand for training, as well as current affairs, in a quick and timely fashion.

Which is why we set up Conservative Progress.

It all started with a simple idea back towards the end of 2016: bridge the gap between the grassroots and the Parliamentary party and provide an open platform for Conservative grassroots to hear from the brightest and the best, as well as sharing their own ideas. We recognised an underlying urge to bring some vibrancy back to the Conservative movement and to build capacity within the grassroots through providing training in the areas where we were being left behind – specifically, digital campaigning.

But more than that, in order for Conservatism to progress as a movement, we need to have a vibrancy that facilitates an open debate of meaningful policy ideas – the big ideas that will shape the direction of the country as well as the party. There also needs to be a platform for members to step forward and get noticed, as well as to gain the skills they need to be successful if they want to go on to bigger things.

It was from this basic concept from which Conservative Progress was born. As the name suggests, we believe that Conservatism has the true claim to ‘progress’, and we believe that Conservatives should shout about our achievements from the rooftops rather than conceding that space to left-wing self proclaimed ‘progressives’, who actually leave the country in ruins whenever they get anywhere near the levers of power.

True to our mantra, the organisation has been led and guided by the grassroots. The concept of our first major events were discussed and organised in a pub with no major financial backing from a wealthy benefactor, bankrolled entirely from our own pockets and (thankfully!) recouped by the generosity of attendees and the goodwill of speakers who took a chance that our new organisation would deliver something that was worthwhile.

Two years ago, we hosted our first conference. We unpacked over a tonne of food and wine ourselves from a delivery truck as we prepared to host over two hundred guests to hear from the likes of Lord Michael Howard, Peter Lilley, Andrew Mitchell, James Cleverly, Scott Mann and Dr Ruth Lea, who presented a positive post-Brexit vision.

But we knew that what the conservative movement needed wasn’t just another event with a parade of speakers and members sitting back as passive attendees. We didn’t just want members to sit and be lectured at – there was enough of that already. Every speaker agreed to take questions from the audience, and a lively but good-hearted debate ensued after each speech. We also hosted a members debate where attendees took to the stage and presented their own thoughts, actively shaping the debate of the day.

Two years on, and our annual conference has grown spectacularly. This June we will be hosting Jeremy Hunt (our keynote speaker), Andrea Leadsom, Sajid Javid, Brandon Lewis, Priti Patel, Damian Hinds, and James Cleverly, with over 400 guests expected.

But despite the growth, we’re staying true to our original objective. Members will still get their chance to put their questions to the speakers, and we will have a Members Motion that will be specifically selected by members and chaired by Chris Philp MP, the Vice Chair for Policy.

We’ve also delivered on our promise to help train and upskill our activists. Since 2016, we have trained over 800 Conservative activists, not just in London, but also in Exeter, Plymouth and Birmingham. The Friday before our annual conference, we will be holding an activist training day, where we hope to reach even more activists.

Our Party is on the cusp of a major change, but some facts will always remain. We need to beat Labour at the next general election, and to do that, we need a team of passionate, well-trained activists who can carry our message, and we need a platform of positive policies we can campaign on.

At Conservative Progress, we are doing our part to make that happen.

The 2019 Conservative Progress Conference will be held in London on June 21-22. Tickets available here.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The list of Conservative Associations which passed the pro-Brexit AGM motion

Here is a list of the Conservative Associations which have passed the National Convention’s pro-Brexit motion at their Annual General Meetings:

Barking

Birmingham Hall Green

Canterbury

Chingford and Woodford Green

Clwyd South

Corby and East Northamptonshire

East Ham

Esher and Walton

Fylde

Guildford

Hertford and Stortford

Mid Bedfordshire

North East Somerset

North Tyneside

Nuneaton

Oxford

Peterborough

Rayleigh and Wickford

Rochester and Strood

South East Cornwall

Stratford-on-Avon

Torridge and West Devon

Wealden

In addition, tweaked versions of the motion have been passed in:

Gedling

Midlothian

Tunbridge Wells

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Priti Patel: It’s time to stand up for Britain and to trust our members

Priti Patel is MP for Witham, and a former Secretary of State for International Development.

Our Party is the greatest and most successful political Party in history. Nowhere in the world is there a political party with a better record of success at being democratically elected and running Government.

There’s a reason for that. It is because our values chime with those of the British people. Therefore, as someone who is first and foremost a Conservative activist, I like many others feel the anger and frustration of our members and supporters with what is now happening over Brexit.   Having come together to support the referendum that we promised in our 2015 Manifesto, we then outlined a clear vision for our future outside the EU while having a close and equal partnership. We took it to the people in 2017 and, while we suffered a difficult and bruising result as we lost our majority, we polled more votes and secured the highest vote share in a generation.

Even after that shock, we still pulled together and performed well for a governing party in last year’s local elections. We were buoyed by what we saw as the Government’s determination to fulfil its promise to the people and take us out of the EU on 29 March -with a deal agreed with the EU or without.

Like others, I believed from what the Government said that the national interest would be defended and the referendum result delivered. Acting in the national interest is fundamental to our DNA as a Party, and when a Conservative Government is standing up for the national interest it motivates and inspires all of us activists to knock on more doors, deliver more leaflets and raise more money.

However, since the deal with the EU was agreed, the attempts by the Government to impose it on our country have caused a level of anger that I have not seen in my 30 years as an activist. And the more Ministers become entrenched in their positions, the more our members are becoming dissatisfied and despondent. I believe that the capitulation to Brussels of the Government and the lack of faith in our democracy, freedom and country displayed by others has caused huge damage to our grassroots alongside the political games in Westminster which have sought to undermine the referendum result.

While Ministers get questioned by journalists in the comfort of TV and radio studios under a tight time limit, with a series of lines they can reel off, our volunteers and activists bear the brunt on the doorstep. On cold and wet mornings and evening they are out there knocking on doors relentlessly campaigning to get the Conservative message across and candidates elected in crucial council elections. And, on the doorsteps, wherever I have been, the state of Brexit has been just about the only subject voters want to speak about. Our activists want to persuade the public to vote in vital local elections to help us win councils and deliver good quality local services. But instead they are left to pick up the pieces of the great betrayal taking place in Westminster.

This week, the Government’s effort to do a deal with Jeremy Corbyn has made their mood even worse. Those of us who were angered by the feeble negotiation with the EU are now livid because the Government is trusting a man who sides with the terrorists who attack our national interest, has let anti-Semitism run rife in the Labour Party, allows Labour supporters to launch vile attacks on us and would wreck our economy. This does not serve the national interest, and it is a huge political error to give Corbyn a voice and credibility when he has consistently flip-flopped on the EU and on Brexit.

We should never forget that while our country suffered the horrors of terror caused by the IRA, including the attack on our Party Conference in 1984 and the brutal murders of Conservative MPs, Corbyn was a terrorist sympathiser.   Our members, volunteers and activists are doing all they can to keep this dangerous man and his vile allies out of power only to now see the Government start a love-in with him. The fact that the Government has fallen so out of touch with the mood of our own members is astonishing.  

Now is the time to fulfil our promise to the people and leave the EU. We can and should do this on Friday – no more excuses, no more tricks – just Brexit and the unlocking of our country’s freedom and our democracy. Leaving the EU on Friday would help us to bring the country together as well as galvanise our activists. We would deliver our promise on the biggest political issue we face. We can then the focus on the many other issues where Conservative policies are needed and which excite and animate our activists.

A renewed focus would also mean that the Party centrally ends the distain shown to our members. I have in previous articles on this site given my views on how the Party nationally should renew and trust the grassroots through genuine reform of the membership, electing the Party Chairman, hosting policy forums and holding a members day at Party conference.

Our members, like the British public, want to see a Conservative Government standing up for our country. They also want to see a it stand up for the values which we believe in – freedom, enterprise and opportunity. Those values are shared widely by the British people and resonate with them. We must enshrine them into the policies we pursue at a national and local level.   Over the last eight years, we have introduced many reforms to help people to succeed. Raising the tax-free threshold to cut tax bills for millions, cutting taxes on business, keeping fuel duty down and supporting investment in businesses has helped our country establish a record number of businesses, supporting record numbers of people in work.

That record has never been more important than in the current political climate, when our country faces the threat posed by militant left-wingers. Socialism would reverse everything this country has gained from the 1980s on. The Conservative achievements of the last eight years, including record levels of employment, and the number of business and enterprise created, would be driven away – our defences shredded, our pride diminished and our country bankrupted.

We would instead go back to an era of anti-capitalist slogans and placards which might grab headlines but do not transform lives, create jobs, provide better public services or raise Britain’s standing in the world.   The upcoming electoral cycle should provide a strong platform to remind people of the very real dangers of the alternatives and to champion the cause of freedom in deeds as well as in words.

With our great country facing the threat of hard-left socialism from Corbyn’s Labour Party, we need to give the public powerful and strong reasons to vote Conservative and support the Party that backs freedom, enterprise and opportunity.  We must believe in our activists and get behind our members and supporters. Let’s get Britain out of the EU on Friday, and energise our members with the Conservative values we share, to secure a better future for Britain.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Exclusive: “We will be contesting the European Elections on 23rd May 2019”, CCHQ writes to Tory candidates

ConservativeHome can exclusively reveal that, in a letter to candidates sent this afternoon, the Conservative Party has conceded that “we will be contesting the European Elections on 23rd May 2019”.

Inviting applications to stand in the elections, Gareth Fox, CCHQ’s Director of Candidates, requests CVs “by no later than 5pm tomorrow (Tuesday 9 April 2019)”, in order to select candidates in time for the 24th April deadline for formal nominations.

The prospect raises several practical questions – how many candidates will apply for a race which was never meant to happen, and which the government still hopes to cancel; how candidates will be selected democratically in a short space of time; whether the Party has the money to fight such elections; and, if it does, what proportion of the heavily Leave-supporting membership base will actually campaign in them.

To underscore that uncertainty, Fox’s email concludes with the line: “Nevertheless we might find we do not need to proceed with these elections.” Make of that what you will.

Here’s the full email:

Dear Candidate

Due to the current situation we will be contesting the European Elections on 23rd May 2019 and the closing date for Nominations is 24th April.

Whilst I have been contacted by some members of the Approved Parliamentary List expressing an interest in being considered, I am keen that everyone on the List who may be interested in standing as a European Candidate has an opportunity to apply.

If you wish to be considered for the European Elections please could I ask you to complete and return the attached Seat CV to [REDACTED]@conservatives.com by no later than 5pm tomorrow (Tuesday 9 April 2019). Please ensure you include the Region in which you wish to stand on the Seat CV and include the Region in the subject line of your email.

Due to the short timescale I am sorry that we will not be able to consider your application if received after the deadline.

Nevertheless we might find we do not need to proceed with these elections.

With best wishes.

Gareth Fox

Director of Candidates

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

LISTEN: “There are pressing problems within the Conservative grassroots” – Wallace on the Week in Westminster

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Conservative Association schedules emergency motion of No Confidence in the Prime Minister

If you needed further signs of the extraordinary levels of discontent inside the Conservative Party at the moment, check out this tweet from the Chairman of Clwyd South Conservative Association:

Westlake Legal Group Clwyd-South Conservative Association schedules emergency motion of No Confidence in the Prime Minister Theresa May MP Party Members and Organisation Party Democracy and Membership MPs ETC Grassroots Clwyd South Campaigning

I can’t think of the last time something like this was proposed at grassroots level. Conservative Associations are not naturally rebellious, but unhappiness with the Prime Minister is provoking remarkable responses. This motion, publicly backed by an association chairman, is one such response.

And remember: Clwyd South is considered a target seat by CCHQ, with Labour majorities below 3,000 in 2010 and 2015. If this motion passes, it is a serious message from the very activists the Conservative Party needs on board in order to win a majority.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Tim Bale: Johnson and Rees-Mogg are still in with a shout in the race to succeed May

Tim Bale is Professor of Politics at Queen Mary, University of London. He is the author of The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron, and co-runs the ESRC Party Members Project (PMP), which aims to study party membership in the six largest British parties.

In order to stay in office, the Prime Minister had to promise her party that she would be gone before the next election.  But there’s little agreement among Conservative members – and even less agreement among Conservative voters – as to who should replace her.

The ESRC-funded Party Members Project, run out of Queen Mary University of London and Sussex University, surveyed 1215 Conservative Party members between 17th and 22nd December, and a total of 1675 voters between 18-19 December, including 473 individuals who were intending to vote Conservative. The fieldwork was conducted by YouGov.

Respondents were asked the following question: Theresa May has said she will stand down as Conservative Party leader before the next scheduled general election in 2022.  Who would you most like to see replace her as Conservative Leader?  Neither group was presented with a pre-determined list of candidates but was instead asked to write in a name, and they were of course free to say that they didn’t know or weren’t sure, et cetera.

The table below gives the results, leaving out all those names that received only a handful or so of mentions – a group of people which included some relatively high-profile figures who are sometimes mentioned as potential candidates: Esther McVey is one example, since her name was suggested by only four Tory members (out of the 1162 who answered the leadership question) and no Tory voters. The table also contains a column allowing comparison with the results published by ConservativeHome on 31 December 2018, although their survey, unlike ours, gives respondents a list of names to choose from.

Tory Voters

(per cent)

Tory Members

(per cent)

ConHome

(per cent)

Boris Johnson 15 20 27
Jacob Rees-Mogg 7 15 4
Don’t Know 38 12 N/A
David Davis 4 8 7
Sajid Javid 2 8 13
Dominic Raab 3 7 12
Jeremy Hunt 2 6 9
Amber Rudd 4 5 5
Michael Gove 2 4 3
Penny Mordaunt 0 1 4

 

The results of the survey provide an insight into why Theresa May survived the confidence vote she was subjected to by some of her MPs just before Christmas. Right now, it’s anyone’s guess as to who might replace her – and that very uncertainty is bound to have worked to the PM’s advantage.

Clearly, Johnson and Rees-Mogg, both of them Brexiteers with high name-recognition, currently have the edge over other potential candidates to succeed May. Indeed, all the other candidates are beaten by ‘Don’t know’, even among Tory members. That said, when it comes to Tory voters, the same is true even of Johnson and Rees-Mogg.

Importantly, neither Johnson nor Rees-Mogg is so far ahead of the rest of the field as to be impossible to catch.  In any case, both are likely to find it hard to make it through the parliamentary round of voting that, according to the party’s rules, narrows the field to two candidates before grassroots members are given the final say.

Also striking is the dominance of men over women: at the moment it looks unlikely that the Conservatives will replace their second female leader with a third. Amber Rudd is almost certainly too much of a Remainer for a membership dominated not just by Brexiteers but by hard Brexiteers. Meanwhile Penny Mordaunt (mentioned by just 14 out of 1162 Tory members and by no Tory voters) clearly still has an awful lot to do.

The same looks to be true, however, of the three or four men likely to throw their hats into the ring – Sajid Javid, Dominic Raab, and Jeremy Hunt, whose recent trip to Singapore has been widely interpreted as part of his ongoing leadership bid. And Michael Gove is not so far behind as to make a second crack at the top job a complete fool’s errand, in spite of the mess he made of the last leadership contest.

Perhaps the bookies are right in marking Gove at 10/1. This isn’t far off the 9/1 you’d get if you put your money on Hunt and the 8/1 you’d get on Raab, but still some way off the 6/1 offered for Johnson and, interestingly, Javid – who, like Hunt, many claim has been very much ‘on manoeuvres’ recently.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com