Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Code of Conduct for Conservative Party Representatives.

The Tory Party has issued the following Code of Conduct (see below).   I would comment as follows:
General points:
1)      Criminal behaviour should be dealt with by the police.   Any confidential hotline should be manned by a solicitor who can tell the caller whether their complaint falls into this category.   If so, the party should have no further dealings in the matter.
2)      All political parties have agreed a grievance procedure for complaints by employees of MPs.   We await the details of this.  It would not be right for two separate bodies to be looking at the same complaint so these matters should be left to the all party group.   If an employee makes a complaint against their employer the relationship has broken down.   This needs to be taken into account in the procedures.
3)      Harassment, and in particular sexual harassment is hard to define.   One person’s bad joke is another person’s harassment!   Is flirting abolished?   Douglas Hurd married his Secretary, William Hague married a civil servant in his department.   At some stage propositions were made.   If they had been turned down could a claim for sexual harassment be made?
4)      We have already seen examples of using the code for the furtherance of political ambition.
5)      No Member of Parliament should have the whip suspended unless they have been criminally charged.   It is a fundamental part of British justice that you are innocent until proved guilty.
6)      Naming someone against whom an allegation has been made, before the outcome of the process is against natural justice because much damage can be done where a person is innocent.
Detailed points:
1)      “inappropriate behaviour” is subjective so should not be included in the “Purpose
2)      Under “Integrity” should not “The Conservative Party” be added to “material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.
3)      “Honesty”   What is truth?   Experience of the referendum campaign shows that people define truth in many ways. I am afraid it is subjective so should be dropped.
4)      Complaints @conservatives .com and 020 7984 8050   Who will have access to these and how will access be controlled?
5)      Stage 2   The Party Chairman appoints a panel, but the Party Chairman is unelected and unaccountable to the members of the Party and is only accountable to the Leader.   This could produce a conflict of interest if there is criticism of the panel and its operation.
6)      Stage 3 “a complaint under the Code of Conduct will be provided with Terms of Reference and Notes on Procedure to be adopted at the hearing.   What are these Terms of Reference and Notes on Procedure?   If they are different for each case who will draw them up?
7)      Stage  3 If there is an appeal the Individual Member Review Committee…….under a process determined by it and whose decision is final.   So they determine the process!   This is hardly a situation of natural justice.
8)      ANNEX: INTERPRETATION  Harassment   The definition of harassment is subjective.   What is worse, having defined what categories are involved it then says “Harassment is unacceptable even if it does not fall within any of these categories “   This will lead to huge problems.
9)      ANNEX: “victimisation” “Victimisation may therefore occur where a person subjects another person to a detriment because either that person has acted in such a way and/or is believed to have acted in such a way, or may act in such a way.”   Believed by whom?  This is so vague the lawyers will have a field day.

10)  ANNEX: Bullying”.   This clause is subjective and seems to include criminal acts i.e. physical bullying. Dangerous!

Purpose of this Code of Conduct
 To set out the minimum standards of behaviour expected from anyone representing the Party as an elected or appointed official or office-holder.
 To support equality of opportunity, diversity and inclusion, and the absence of any and all inappropriate behaviour, in all aspects of the Party’s activities.
This Code of Conduct sets out the framework of behaviour expected of those Party representatives (listed under ‘Who is the Code of Conduct for?’ below), who are required as a strict condition of their ongoing representation of the Party, membership of, engagement with and/or (in the case of any organisation which is formally recognised by the Party) recognition by the Party, to adhere to this Code of Conduct in their activities representing the Party.
Who is the code of conduct for?
This Code of Conduct is for anyone who formally represents the Party as an elected or appointed official. This includes, but is not limited to: Members of Parliament, Peers, Members of the European Parliament, Members of the Scottish Parliament, Members of the Welsh Assembly, Members of the Greater London Assembly, Police & Crime Commissioners, elected Mayors, Councillors and Association, area, regional, and national Party officers. This Code of Conduct will be presented to the Party Board, which will consider the views of each of these categories of Party representatives, at its meeting in November 2017 with a view to its formal adoption, and will be the process followed until then.
What standards are expected of individuals covered by this Code?
They should:
 follow the Seven Principles of Public Life established by Lord Nolan and the Committee on Standards in Public Life:
1. Selflessness – Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.
2. Integrity – Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
3. Objectivity – Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
4. Accountability – Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
5. Openness – Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
6. Honesty – Holders of public office should be truthful.
7. Leadership – Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs;
 lead by example to encourage and foster respect and tolerance;
 treat others with civility, courtesy and respect;
 act with honesty and probity and in a manner which upholds the reputation and values of the Conservative Party. Such duty is fundamental. Conduct which the public may reasonably perceive as undermining a representative’s honesty and probity is likely to diminish trust and confidence placed in them, and the Party, by the public;
 not use their position to bully, abuse, victimise, harass or unlawfully discriminate against others (see further the interpretation annex);
 take reasonable steps to ensure that people who wish to raise concerns about bullying, discrimination, harassment and/or victimisation by others feel able to do so, and know how to follow the complaints procedure set out in this Code;
 co-operate fully with any process set down by the Party Board should a grievance process be instigated.
This Code will be made publicly available on the Conservative Party website.
If any individuals wish to make a formal complaint against elected representatives or officers of the Party they should email Alternatively, they can call our confidential hotline on 020 7984 8050.
There may be instances where an individual feels able to raise the problem informally with the person responsible and explain clearly to them that their behaviour is not welcome or makes them uncomfortable. If informal steps are not appropriate or have been unsuccessful, then the following formal procedure may apply.
When we receive a formal complaint, we will investigate it in a timely and confidential manner. The investigation will be conducted by someone with appropriate experience and no prior involvement in the complaint. The investigation should be thorough, impartial and objective, and carried out with sensitivity and due respect for the rights of all parties concerned.
The following process will be adopted in so far as it is reasonably practicable to do so:
Stage 1: We will obtain written statements from the complainant and notify the respondent(s) that a complaint has been made about them. The respondent will be given the opportunity to provide any evidence or details that will help to establish their position. It may be necessary to interview witnesses to any of the incidents mentioned in the complaint. If so, the importance of confidentiality will be emphasised to them.
Stage 2: A panel consisting of no fewer than three people, appointed by the Party Chairman, will examine the complaint and evidence gathered. This must include representation of both the voluntary and professional Party alongside at least one independent person. If the complaint regards a Member of Parliament, the panel must include at least one person nominated by the Chairman of the 1922 Committee.
 If there is an allegation of criminal wrongdoing, we will strongly advise the complainant to report this to the relevant authority as soon as practicable. In certain instances, we may have a duty to contact the relevant authority directly.
 The panel will collectively determine whether the complaint warrants further investigation and/or whether there is a potential breach of the Conservative Party’s Code of Conduct, or whether it is vexatious or malicious;
 If it is agreed that the Code of Conduct has not been breached, and the complaint does not warrant further investigation by the Party, then the complainant will receive written notification of this, explaining the decision.
 If it is agreed that the Code of Conduct may have been breached, the process will move to Stage 3.
 Records of meetings and decisions will be kept for a minimum of 5 years or as required by law.
Stage 3: The panel established under Stage 2 will examine further the complaint and evidence gathered.
 The panel will provide their findings to the Party Chairman, recommending the appropriate level of the Party at which the complaint should be resolved and/or dealt with according to the Party’s Constitution, and will continue to monitor the complaint to its conclusion.
 If the panel cannot agree collectively on its findings, the dissenting views must be presented as well as the majority view.
 If appropriate, the complaint may then be referred by the Chairman to the Leader and/or to the Board of the Conservative Party, who shall take such action as they see fit. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, suspension of membership or expulsion from the Party.
 Any hearing of any panel or body established to hear a complaint under the Code of Conduct will be provided with Terms of Reference and Notes on Procedure to be adopted at the hearing. The panel will be obliged to consider an application on behalf of the respondent for the matter to be dismissed on the grounds that the complainant’s case is vexatious or malicious, or for any other reason. In considering such an application for dismissal, the panel may seek qualified legal advice.
 Any removal of rights of membership will only be made after due considerations of natural justice.
 Schedule 6 (23) of the Constitution of the Conservative Party provides for an appeal process in the event of the Board of the Party determining that an individual should be suspended or expelled from membership of the Party. Any member whose membership is suspended, withdrawn or refused by the Board of the Party has 28 days to lodge an appeal to the Individual Member Review Committee which shall exist for the purpose of hearing such appeals under a process determined by it and whose decision shall be final.
 Records of meetings and decisions will be kept for a minimum of 5 years or as required by law.
In no way should anything in this Code interfere with an elected representative carrying out his or her duties and exercising his or her judgement in relation to his or her work, nor to any individual’s right to a private life within the law.
Discrimination includes victimising or harassing any other person because of race (including colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, citizenship), sex, gender re-assignment, sexual orientation, marital or civil partnership status, disability, age, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity status.
Harassment is any unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating a person's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive situation or environment for them. A single incident can amount to harassment.
Harassment may involve conduct of a sexual nature (sexual harassment), or it may be related to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. Harassment is unacceptable even if it does not fall within any of these categories.
Victimisation provisions protect certain individuals who do (or might do) acts such as bringing discrimination claims, complaining about harassment, or getting involved in some way with another complaint (such as giving evidence). Victimisation may therefore occur where a person subjects another person to a detriment because either that person has acted in such a way and/or is believed to have acted in such a way, or may act in such a way.
Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour involving the misuse of power that can make a person feel vulnerable, upset, humiliated, undermined or threatened. Power does not always mean being in a position of authority, but can include both personal strength, influence and the power to coerce through fear or intimidation. Bullying can take the form of physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

From the Grass Roots

(The following article has been written by a member of COPOV and is a personal reflection on the current political situation and does not necessarily reflect the view of other COPOV members)

The party conference season is over and it is back to business as usual. In the last eighteen or so months everything has changed and nothing, it seems, is better.  I am profoundly depressed and frightened by what the future holds.  A referendum campaign which has split the country in two setting family members against other family members,  a USA President totally out of his depth and who seems to think that shouting slogans such as ‘Rocket Man’ is going to solve anything, a tin pot dictator in a far away country threatening the world with nuclear weapons, the major opposition party in the U K now led by a group of M P s who worship the doctrines of Karl Marx and a government in office but not power led by people who voted ‘Remain’ in the referendum and who have no idea as to how to implement ‘Brexit’ effectively.  The ‘botched’ general election campaign has given the Labour leadership a spring in its step and credence to an ideology that has enslaved and murdered millions over the last hundred years.  That is unforgivable and we must take full share of the blame.  Yet our party has been dying for the last forty or so years. I would contend that the last real general election win was in 1979 when Margaret Thatcher formed her first administration. Each win since -four outright (1983, 1987, 1992, 2015) and two biggest party (2010, 2017) – is the result of special circumstances surrounding that particular general election.  The 1982 Falklands War rescued Margaret Thatcher whose economic policies the previous year had been castigated by 364 leading economists. The rise of the SDP / Liberal Alliance in both 1983 and 1987 split the parties of the left leading to easy victories for our party.  The result in 1992 after a recession was probably ‘touch and go’ with Neil Kinnock’s disastrous Sheffield Rally speech in which he looked more like a circus ringmaster than a Prime Minister in waiting tipping the balance in John Major’s favour.
The vagaries of the first past the post system however meant that John Major’s overall majority was only 21 even though the party polled 14 million votes, its highest ever. Since then it has been downhill all the way. After thirteen years in opposition so called modernisation and a financial crisis in 2008 we still could not win outright in 2010; in 2015 only the complete annihilation of our former Liberal Democrat coalition partners gave us an overall majority (we actually lost two seats overall to Labour). But nothing was more disastrous than 2017 when an unnecessary general election was called by the Prime Minister and an opinion poll lead of 15 to 20 points was needlessly thrown away.

That Jeremy Corbyn, rejected by three quarters of his parliamentary party, should increase the Labour vote by 10% is no mean achievement. But how and why did this happen?  He offered hope – an end to austerity, the writing off of student debt, more resources for the NHS.etc.  We shot our own supporters in the foot with the ‘dementia’ tax, offered nothing new and completely failed to expose Labour’s irresponsible spending commitments which would ruin the country and would make a mockery of all the difficult financial decisions taken in the last seven years. As a country we are still spending 50 billion a year more than we raise in taxes and the debt interest is enormous.

That the general election would be fought simply on which party would be the better at delivering Brexit was a non starter; other issues were bound to crop up but the complete lack of any kind of strategy was fully exposed and was fully exploited by the other political parties.
Probably our biggest failure over the last twenty years has been trying to outsmart Labour on its own natural territory. Because we were reduced to 166 seats in the House of Commons in 1997 and Tony Blair was at the time the master of all he surveyed we assumed that the only way back was to court progressiveness. Hence we readily accepted at one of our party conferences our Chairman telling us we were a ‘nasty’ party (this comment alone giving ammunition to our political opponents should have disqualified her from the highest office) and we had to do something about it. I have voted Conservative all my life and I certainly don’t regard myself as nasty; quite the opposite in fact.

Nastiness is not confined to any one particular party as the recent Labour Party conference in Brighton showed. But we took it as gospel and alienated a lot of voters who would you believe are conservatives with a small ‘c’.  Brexit happened partly because millions of Labour voters in the north of England and the Midlands were unwilling to be part of a European super state whose leaders appear to be accountable to no one but themselves, wanted control over who comes into this country and the problems excess immigration can cause in the fields of housing, education and health, and laws made in the United Kingdom Parliament and interpreted by U. K. Judges.  And instead of being called patriots they are labelled racists, out of touch etc. Yet we were warned fifty years ago as to what might happen by a politician now long dead; a politician who changed parties and whose name is, simply due to political correctness, unmentionable and erased from history .Yet he was one of the most brilliant scholars of his time, was a Cambridge don, rose to the rank of Brigadier in the Second World War, and was for one year a Member of the Cabinet. We have allowed what is known as ‘cultural Marxism’ - the idea that the white population- in particular white males- are oppressors of other races, that heterosexual marriage and the procreation of children is not to be encouraged, and that religion and in particular the Christian religion is as Karl Marx said the opiate of the people – to manifest itself in various ways and have done little or nothing to combat it.  The left has had a field day but like everything else the left is never satisfied. You could spend 200 billion on the NHS and the left would still want more.   In 1987 Neil Kinnock thought he had seen off the Militant Tendency in the Labour Party yet it was only sleeping and in 2017 has reared its ugly head in the form of Momentum. It says something about the current state of the party that Tony Blair the most successful Labour leader at winning elections in its 117 year history is now regarded as a pariah and a traitorous war mongerer by the  members of the party he led for thirteen years.

         Europe has been the cancer at the heart of our party for nearly sixty years. If you read the history books it was only with great reluctance that Harold Macmillan’s 1961 Cabinet agreed to consider entry into what was then the Common Market. To facilitate this Macmillan could have chosen no greater believer in the European super state that his  chief negotiator Edward Heath who when he became Prime Minister in 1970 made sure by every means he could that Great Britain would eventually lose its sovereignty and become simply a province in a greater Europe. This was concealed from the general public but one only had to read the Treaty of Rome to see that this together with complete economic and monetary union was the plan. And every Conservative Prime Minister from Margaret Thatcher through to Theresa May has fallen on the European sword. It has nearly destroyed us. How can two former Chancellors, John Major and Kenneth Clarke, who want to remain in the European Union and two, Lords Lawson and Lamont, who want to leave the European Union, be in the same party?  No:  the decision to hold a Referendum however desirable was a way of papering over the cracks; a device to stop more Conservative voters deserting to UKIP. And when in the course of time the referendum was held and Leave won there was no adequate preparation for the outcome as the Establishment and the Civil Service were for Remain. And that is why we are in the current mess ; a minority government trying to negotiate its way out of a bureaucratic nightmare with a Prime Minister who refuses to say which way she would vote if the referendum were held now, a First Secretary and a Chancellor of the Exchequer who are at heart both Remainers, and  a Foreign Secretary whose ambition knows no bounds but who judging by his speech at the party conference, at least seemed to believe that there could be a bright future ahead outside the E. U.. And what kind of Brexit?  No one seems sure.  The European negotiators who know that when we leave there will be a financial hole to fill are determined to squeeze as much cash out of us as they can  They are placing all sorts of obstacles in our way and deliberately making life difficult.  I voted ‘Remain’ but with no real conviction (better to hold on to nurse for fear of something worse) but having seen what is going on and the intransigence from the Europeans I would vote Leave were there to be another referendum.  Of course having never dreamt that any country would be so foolish as to leave they are now being vindictive and petty and against a country which from May 1940 to June 1941 stood alone with its then Empire and American allies as a beacon of hope and freedom in a continent over run by one of the vilest tyrannies ever known to mankind.

I said at the beginning of this article that our party is dying. What then of the future? What is the point of being a Conservative if it is only to mimic the Labour party in the extension of state control over each and every one of us?  Who is making the case for lower taxes, free markets and dare I say it capitalism?  We seem more intent on not offending this group of people or that group of people than of making any attempt to build a property owning democracy based on conservative principles. And because we seem unable to do this we have lost a generation of younger people who out of desperation look upon Jeremy Corbyn as their saviour.  We have to find solutions and fast.   We need to use what young talent we have in the party to its fullest potential. It means giving a bigger say to people like Ben Houchen the new mayor of Teesside and to our younger Members of Parliament. It means less centralised control from Central Office; it means that local associations are given the right to choose their parliamentary candidates. It means that more people like Kemi Badenoch, the new Member of Parliament for Saffron Walden, are encouraged to join the party, to participate in policy discussion and formation... And to say why they support the Conservative Party.

We need to nail the lie that we are a party only for the rich. We have voters from all creeds and classes; our M P s are far more representative of the population as a whole than it has ever been. The Labour Party’s slogan ‘For the Many not the Few’ implies that our party is exactly the opposite. We never ever seem to question that assumption. We are too timid in defending our values. Too afraid to say what we believe.  The Corbynite luminary Laura Pidcock is filled with hatred for the Tories and our policies and made particular reference to the food banks in her constituency. Why has nobody taken her up on this? For everybody knows that a Corbyn government would be such a disaster that there would be plenty of banks with no food in them at all. And how many millions starved to death under Joseph Stalin in the USSR, a country so loved by the Pidcocks of this world.?

The clock is ticking and time is short.  Brexit will probably happen in some form or other. Hopefully the Remainers in our party would come on board and try to make it a success. The prospect of a Corbyn government should concentrate our minds wonderfully. The Labour Party policies would have far more scrutiny and surely we could not run such an abysmal election campaign as in 2017.

I cannot even bear to contemplate Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister leading the nation’s mourning at the Cenotaph in Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday morning. Yet that could possibly happen if our party cannot get its act together and quickly. Courage and vision seem in short supply but they are sorely needed now.  Who in our party can rise up to the challenge? Who is our new Winston Churchill?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Party Reform by Don Porter

The following speech was given by Don Porter on October 2nd at a fringe meeting at the Tory Party conference in Manchester Town Hall:

I am here today as someone who has given 48 years of my life to the Party.  Starting as a branch treasurer in Macclesfield, rising to National Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Board.  I have continued to work tirelessly for our Party co-founding Conservative Voice five years ago.  This is not a disruptive organisation.  I am not here today to disrupt.  It is in this spirit of service and loyalty that I am here today.

Let me at the outset declare my 100% support and loyalty to our Leader and Prime Minister.  When I chaired the Party Conference in Blackpool in 2002, Theresa May was Party Chairman.  I worked very closely with her and saw at first-hand her many qualities of hard work, commitment and saw her totally principled approach to all issues of the day.  It is time for the team to work together to help her win with the challenges that lie ahead. 

BUT: It is because I want to see her remain in Downing Street and not be replaced by Jeremy Corbyn that I strongly believe that the organisation around her is not fit for purpose and has to change.  Our leader deserves a far superior organisation.

We have to reverse the erosion of engagement in our Party.  Members and activists feel undervalued, ignored and under-utilised.  It is ironic that after years of privatising industry, pushing down decision-making within the NHS, creating free schools and giving parents choice and strongly supporting elected mayors that this engagement never extended to the running of our own Party.  We run the Party in a command and control style.  Trusting the electorate to make decisions locally must be matched by trusting our members to have a greater say in the running of our Party.

It is 30 years since we won a General Election with a real working majority.  Yet, we have continued to behave and organise as if our election machine and structure is the gold standard of campaigning.  Can you imagine if we were shareholders in a listed company where the dividend and share price had been going down for some time that those shareholders would have just passively observed the deterioration?

Real engagement is essential: I still remember with pride many years ago, as Constituency Chairman in Woking, being chosen to propose a Conference motion.  The Constituency spent weeks engaged in discussing motions for submission.  You saw them printed in the handbook.  You reported back after Conference on the reaction to the session.  This all made it worthwhile.  There was real interest and ownership.

Modernisation – During recent previous regimes, I never quite understood what this meant in terms of benefit to the Party organisation or to its performance.  One thing is certain, it is strange that it did not include increasing the influence of activists or members or in developing an external audience interested in politics.  Those activists and members raise money for both the National Party and keep the Party running year-round locally.  It is a na├»ve belief that a Party can be run entirely from the Centre.

What a tragedy when the Party destroyed the high quality professional agents.  Throughout the Country, they were a force for stability and action in the most difficult times.

In my view, the head office of any organisation be it a business, charity or political party, is also there to serve its internal customers. We are not there to be told what to do, when to do it, when it suits the Party administration.  CCHQ should treat activists and indeed Members of Parliament, as their customers, not its resource.

So, what are the priorities as far as I’m concerned? 

  • We need an elected Chairman of the Board of the Party. I think it is perfectly appropriate for the Leader of the day to select their own Political Party Chairman but the Board of the Party should be more about the future direction and strategy of the Party.  Over the 9 years that I served on the Party Board, I worked with nine Party Chairmen.  Many of those former Chairmen are amongst my closest political friends.  But, no-one can make long term decisions with such frequent changes

  • The members should have an involvement in how the Party spends the money that we contribute to the Party nationally.  All too often, some people choose to forget that we keep the Party running at a local level which requires around £30 million each year.

  • I fully support an AGM for the whole Party with real powers of decision-making.

  • The way that the candidates’ selection is undertaken needs to change radically and I look to an elected Chairman of the Candidates’ Committee.

  • All Board Committees should be led by an elected volunteer.

  • Membership should be made meaningful.  Why should anyone contribute £25 only to have access to the occasional selection of candidates?

  • We should be looking for greater autonomy for local associations, not to conform to what the Centre expects us to deliver.  On previous occasions, I have suggested a franchise approach for the structure of the Party.  Branches and Associations working and performing within a set of core parameters but with healthy local autonomy.

  • It would be good to return to a robust and effective awards and recognition programme for all parts of our Party to recognise achievement.

If we are THE Party of aspiration for our Country then we should be the organisation providing aspirations for our members and potential followers.

Trusting the electorate to make decisions about local issues must be matched by trusting our members and activists to have a greater say in the running of our Party. 

Let me close by referring to quotes from my work with organisations and businesses which I believe are relevant to our Party from leading business people:

·         “The real dampener on engagement is the soggy, cold blanket of centralised authority.”

·         “People want to know they matter and they want to be treated as people.  That’s the new talent contract”.

·         “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace”.

Ladies and gentlemen, to win the next election we must first and now win inside our own Party.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Tory Party and the General Election

The following is the speech given by John Strafford at the fringe meeting at the Tory Party conference on 2nd October 2017 organised by the Bruges Group and the Campaign for Conservative Democracy.  The meeting was held in the Great Hall of Manchester Town Hall:

Good morning Conservative Party members.   Today you are the rocks on which we will start to build a democratic Conservative Party fit for the 21st century.
A party based on Conservative values of Freedom, Liberty, Democracy and Justice.
A party that believes in the rule of law
A party that believes in defence of the realm, sovereignty of the nation and free trade.
A party for the people!
For a political party to win a General Election it has to have the right policies which appeal to the electorate and it has to have the right presentation of those policies.
In the fifty years I have been a member of the Conservative Party I do not recall a more abysmal set of policies put before the electorate.
WHERE was the hope?
WHERE were the opportunities for young people?
WHERE was the vision for the future?
No wonder the result was disappointing.
The manifesto said we would “means test” the winter fuel allowance.
The  Manifesto announced a new policy on Social care.
Issues which affected our core voters.   Yet no details were given.
This calamity arose because just a few people drew up the manifesto.   Even the Cabinet didn’t see it.
Oh for the days of the party conferences when we had motions for debate and  a vote at the end of them, when Executive Councils debated those motions before submitting them to the conference. When all motions submitted were printed in the conference hand book.  When the media televised the debates in an open way.   Where were the joint meetings with the voluntary party and the parliamentary party working together to develop policy?    Why was the old CPC emasculated?   It is only through discussion and debate that policy can be developed and daft errors eliminated.   It involves party members.   They feel included in influencing the policies of their party.   It is time to bring them back.
Who took the decision to make this a personal campaign as though we were ashamed of the Conservative brand?   In my constituency of Beaconsfield I received an official party document which didn’t have the word “Conservative” on it anywhere!
But quite often the great British public cannot decide which party has the most attractive policies and it is in these circumstances that party organisation becomes critical.   In my fifty years membership of the Conservative Party I cannot recall a General Election that was so badly organised.   The party Chairman is responsible for organisation but where was he in the election?   I am told he was side lined.   Can you imagine Chris Patten in 1992 being side lined?   He probably forfeited his seat because he spent so much time on the National campaign.   Can you imagine Cecil Parkinson or Lord Tebbitt or Lord Thorneycroft being side lined?   No, the problem we face in this 21st century is that the Party Chairman is unelected and unaccountable to the membership of the Party.
WHO  took the decision to spend £4.5 million with an Australian consultant rather than spend it on the training and employment of professional agents in marginal seats?
WHO  took the decision to use algorithms to get out the votes out on Election Day which meant we were getting socialists out to vote?
WHO did not stand up for the voluntary Party when the decision was taken by the Party Board to ignore the Party’s constitution and impose candidates on the constituencies using the clause in the constitution which says that they can take any decision if they believe it is in the best interest of the Conservative Party, which incidentally makes the rest of the Party’s constitution not worth the paper it is written on.
And finally WHO took the decision to use a canvass return so long and complicated that most people abandoned it very quickly - a return devised by those with no knowledge of the strength of the Party in the constituencies?   At the Spring Forum we were told by these clever clots at Central Office that the traditional way of canvassing was useless.   How did we employ such people with so little knowledge of the Party?
Which brings me on to the membership of the Party?    When I joined the Party we had 2.5 million members.   Today it is about 100,000 and falling.   There are 300 constituencies with less than 100 members including some with Conservative MPs.   You cannot fight a National Campaign on the ground with that number of members and get out the vote.
The last national membership campaign was in 1988 which was the “Bulldog” campaign under Peter Brooke as Chairman.   By 1992 we had approximately half a million members.   This was the last General Election at which we were capable of fighting a ground campaign.   Every single Party Chairman since 1992 has seen our membership decline and done nothing about it.    If only they had been elected by and accountable to party members it is inconceivable that this would not have been a major issue. That is why we have to have an Annual General Meeting of all Party members at which the Party Chairman is elected.
To those that have said over the years that people were no longer interested in joining political parties just look at what the Labour Party has done. Their membership has increased to 600,000.   The income they have received from their membership is £14.5 million. Compare that to the Tory Party income from membership of £1.5 million or adding in constituency membership fees perhaps £3 million.
On Election Day volunteers were directed to help out in Slough which was a CCO target seat.   It had a Labour majority of 7,000.   This went up to 17,000 while in Oxford West and Abingdon a Conservative MP was losing her seat because volunteers were instructed not to go there.  North Oxford, a safe conservative seat next door to Oxford West and Abingdon were instructed to send all their volunteers to help in Coventry where you guessed it the Labour majority went up.   How can CCO have got it so wrong?
We have to radically change the way the Party is organised.   We have to increase our membership.   This can only be done by giving the members of the Party some power, a sense of involvement, let their views count, let them have some say in the development of policy, that those who are running the Party are elected by and accountable to the members of the Party.
Party organisation should be the responsibility of the Party Chairman.   He or she should control the campaign.   All consultants, special advisers etc should report to the Chairman and he or she should be answerable at an Annual General Meeting.   The Leader determines policy and priorities. He or she should take responsibility for the political aspects of the campaign.
One final thought. Anything can happen in politics.   We could have a General Election within the next couple of months.   The Labour Party have spent the summer campaigning. They are putting candidates into all their seats which have not got an MP, so what is the Conservative Party’s position?   We have the same Party Chairman who presided over this last debacle.   We have no candidates in position.  We have not set out a coherent vision of the future.   Lord help us if there is an election.

So it is time for us to trust our members.   Let us seize this moment.   Let the grass roots grow, the swallows soar; let us ride this rainbow of opportunity.   Out of the jaws of defeat we can ensure victory at the next General Election.   The alternative is oblivion!   Join with me and let us change the Conservative Party so that once again we can say that the Conservative Party is the best organised political party in the democratic world.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Questions for the Tory Party

Watch an extract from John Strafford's speech at the COPOV fringe meeting at the Tory Party conference on 2nd October held in Manchester's Great Hall.   CLICK HERE 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

COPOV Forum 21st October 2017

Do come to this Forum.   The time for Party reform is now.   For further details see EVENTS For TICKETS CLICK HERE 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Its time to bring democracy to the Tory Party.

The following article  by Robert Halfon MP was posted on the conservativehome web site today 27th September 2017

Robert Halfon is MP for Harlow, a former Conservative Party Deputy Chairman, Chair of the Education Select Committee and President of Conservative Workers and Trade Unionists.

I remember growing up as a younger Tory member, going to various events, and hearing someone called John Strafford going on about democratising the Conservative Party. I used to think: “who is this crazy guy, this political obsessive, rabbiting on about obscure party mechanics, which few are interested in?’”
In recent times, I began to realise that, far from being a lunatic, John was quite sane…and it was perhaps us who closed our ears to what he was saying who were the crazy ones. For many years, he rightly predicted that a lack of democracy would lead to a loss of membership. He was right.
You don’t have to agree with every one of his prescriptions – and I don’t. I still think that a Prime Minister should be able to choose his or her own Party Chairman, for example. However, a little bit of common sense will tell you that in an age of ever-increasing consumer choice, if people join organisations, they want to be involved and have an active part in shaping that organisation.
Unfortunately for the Conservatives, Jeremy Corbyn understands this in terms of the Labour Party. The 600,000 plus members that Labour now has are not all from the far left, (although those make a significant contingent), but also include people who are both attracted by a romantic view of socialism, and also know that, when they join their party, they can vote on party motions, vote for their representatives and have serious votes on policy. To those on the centre-left who argue that this just gives those on the hard-left a platform to take-over the party, that is somewhat defeatist. Are there really not a few hundred thousand, moderate social democrats – who could be persuaded to be involved and influence their party, with the right leadership and motivations?
In a similar way, a truly democratic, membership-based Conservative Party would be an important step in galvanising current members, and persuading existing members to join.
In practice, this would mean the whole of the Party Board, including the Chair of the National Convention elected by the membership, not the current system in which they are chosen by just a few senior people from each association. The same would apply to the directly-affiliated organisations such as the Conservative Policy Forum. The Board could produce an annual report, just as companies do to their shareholders, which would be adopted or rejected annually by all the members through a vote.
Conference too, should be radically democratised. Our party must move away from just the Politburo-style announcements (“tractor production in the Soviet Union has gone up by 50 per cent this year”). I remember going to conference during the time of Margaret Thatcher, when motions for conference would be selected by associations and debated. The Government of the day was still able to get their core messages across – and win elections.
Why not do the same now, with members voting online as to which ones are chosen for debate at both the Spring and Winter Conferences? In terms of selecting parliamentary candidates, this could continue to be done by primaries (although this can offer an unfair advantage to a well connected local candidate) – or an electoral college consisting of the local association members (60 per cent), the public (20 per cent) and CCHQ representation (20 per cent).
Of course, the first objection to democratisation is to point at Corbyn’s Labour and express concerns about ‘infiltration’, or about ‘undesirables’ elected to positions etc. As explained above, not only does this show a misunderstanding of what the 600,000 Labour members are all about, but even so, can be dealt with.
The answer is simple: paying a full membership fee of £25 would give a member full participatory rights, whilst less expensive fees could be charged for non-voting membership. There would of course be concession rates for certain groups on lower incomes, as there are at the moment. As a final check and balance, if it was felt that despite the financial safety net, infiltration, malpractice, reputational damage et al had occurred, the Prime Minister, Party Chairman, or the Board could have a final veto.
Democratisation of the Tory party is not the only solution to increasing our membership base. A proper national membership offering, rocket-boosting candidate bursaries, expenses for lower income members to get involved at senior level, a radical and simplified message and symbol (yes – the ladder of opportunity) that all Conservatives can unite behind, are just a few other things that could be done. But what is the point if, when Conservatives do finally get people to join, the latter realise they have no real say in making their new party one that really works for everyone?  They won’t remain members for long.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Conservative Party Democracy: what lessons from the General Election?

Join us at a fringe meeting at 9am on Monday 2nd October at The Great Hall, Town Hall, Albert Square, Manchester, M60 2LA.
David Campbell-Bannerman, MEP (Former Chairman, Conservatives for Britain)
John Strafford Chairman (COPOV)
Don Porter ( Former Chairman National Convention and Chairman of Conservative Voice)

There will be a vote at the meeting for a Party Chairman

Question & Answer session after the speeches

Come along and have your say!

Time for the Conservative Party to embrace democracy or face oblivion.


1. STRONGER  ASSOCIATIONS, AND ONLY VOLUNTARY FEDERATIONS: That Associations and their members are the rock bed of the Conservative Party – they are the volunteers who devote huge time, resources and devotion to the party, through fair weather and foul, delivering leaflets, knocking on doors and supporting fundraising events.
Associations should be supported, strengthened, listened to and expanded; not be undermined, overruled, ignored or destroyed by an over centralised or autocratic party structure, or any forced immersion into more remote ‘federations’ or ‘super associations’ just to make up for falling membership, but only on a voluntary basis. We need to put individual members back at the centre of the party, and provide better reasons for members to join the party, which will make it easier to recruit and retain member, of all age groups - but particularly younger members.
The Party Constitution should be amended to put associations back at the centre of the party (before the 1998 Hague Constitution, the Conservative Party did not exist – it was associations). As the academic Bale notes, ‘the reforms also granted unprecedented rights to the centre to intervene in the affairs of associations deemed to be failing to meet specified ‘minimum criteria’ on membership, fund-raising and campaigning’.
The confusion over the roles of regional and area party officers and representatives should be resolved by scrapping regional party structures, which were a by-product of the 12 MEP (Member of the European Parliament) regions, which will cease to be relevant post Brexit in 2019. Instead Area organisations should be strengthened but not through Central Office place men, but by representatives of associations and by professional agents shared with or provided by associations in a bottom up rather than a top down approach.
On the youth side, the party has been beset by problems with its youth organisations over many years: notable was Party Chairman Lord Tebbit having to close down the FCS – the Federation of Conservative Students - in 1986 for an alleged ‘riot’ and article condemning Macmillan for war crimes, and the recent closure of the national executive of Conservative Future (CF) - which was founded in 1998 at the time of Hague’s constitutional reforms and which controversially blended the Young Conservatives, Conservative Collegiate Forum (which replaced FCS) and the National Association of Conservative Graduates together - after CF’s tragic suicide and bullying allegations.
It is suggested that young people be a vital part of strengthening local associations instead, with a return to the ‘Young Conservatives’ label and a rich social as well as political programme, but within local associations, with an age limit of 30 not the proposed 26 for CF, with officer positions at association or even branch level, an opportunity to be elected for a Board position(s), and also the establishment of a national ‘Conservative graduates and professionals’ organisation for networking and candidate recruitment with some party budget support.
2. AN ELECTED PARTY LEADER: The central right of party members under the 1998 Hague Constitution directly to elect the Leader of the Party must be restored and revamped. This in itself would help reenergise the Party, and give members a rationale for membership. A vote should always be held to appoint a new Leader.
The Leader of the Party should retain the responsibility for political campaigns, as this involves political decision making, though this should still be channeled via Conservative Campaign Headquarters in consultation with the elected Party Chairman as the voice of the members on campaigning. 
3. AN ELECTED PARTY CHAIRMAN: That the Party Chairman or Chairperson must be a representative of Conservative members and activists to the Prime Minister and Government, not be merely a representative or mouthpiece of the Prime Minister and Government to the party and its members. They should be elected on an annual basis by the whole membership, and should be accountable to members and not politicians.
They should be the voice of the membership and its views, not that of the Government, and they should have a decisive voice on whether a General Election is held or not. The elected Party Chairman would sit in Cabinet, but not be a Parliamentarian, preside over the Party Conference and be a key element in the Party’s Campaigns, for the General Election, local and other elections such as Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners. The elected Chairman post would take the place of the Chairman of the National Convention, whilst covering many of those important representative functions. They and their (elected) deputies would chair the Spring and October Party Conferences.
4. AN APPOINTED CHIEF EXECUTIVE (CEO): The Party’s political, and its executive and administrative functions should be split up, with the political functions overseen by the elected Party Chairman and the non-political by an appointed CEO. The CEO should be appointed on a professional basis with a CV to back it up, and not be just a party activist or volunteer. But they should be approved by a vote of the whole Board. The CEO should oversee functions such as funding, accounts, membership records and support for Campaigns and be selected on the basis of managerial and administrative ability, and conduct a thorough review of the functions and personnel of CCHQ. They would report to the Party Leader on a day to day basis, and to the entire membership on these functions at every Spring Conference, but not be elected as they are primarily a professional functionary
5. DIRECT ELECTIONS FOR DEPUTY/CO-CHAIRMEN OF THE PARTY AND BOARD MEMBERS: At present, too many individuals are appointed as Deputy or Vice Chairmen on the basis of personal contacts and favours, and later offered honours for their work. This is undemocratic, unaccountable, and is mysterious and untrustworthy to the membership, as well as those on the outside looking in.
Existing position holders should lose their titles, and all such appointments or re-appointments in future be made subject to a direct vote of the membership, possibly using e-voting, with the results being announced at Spring Conference. The Party Board should have 3 or 4 members delegated to the Board and be elected by the membership, with one being reserved for a youth representative. The representatives for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should normally be the Chairman of the national party but be subject also to election by the national membership.
6. REFORM OF PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE SELECTION AND A DIRECTLY ELECTED HEAD OF CANDIDATES ELECTED ANNUALLY: That the methods of candidate selection to date overseen by the central party have been wholly unacceptable: undemocratic, unaccountable, dictatorial, London centric and contemptuous of the associations.
Conservative Home’s analysis of candidate selection in 2017 by Mark Wallace concluded: “I have heard deep unhappiness from people whom I have never heard complain once in years of hard work and unfulfilled ambitions.  Put simply, a lot of candidates are angry – particularly, but not exclusively, those who were passed over. Time and again, I’ve heard the same argument: the process “makes a mockery of meritocracy”, it “has left me and many other Conservative activists doubting the very foundations of the organisation we have supported for decades”, “I feel sick and betrayed”, “what really kills is the kids [selected] who haven’t fought seats before…unproven ones”, CCHQ has exhibited “a lack of meritocracy and they have favourites”, and so on.”
Recently we have seen the Party centrally imposing candidates on local associations with no real discussion or consultation accompanied by threats to impose candidates unwanted by local associations and the threat of ‘special measures’ if these instructions are not followed.
This takes away a fundamental right for members of local associations to determine themselves which candidates they select – one of the most important rights members have and one that has a great bearing how much support a successful candidate obtains if activists are left angry or demoralised.
This will end. Under the new rules, a strict criteria for invoking ‘special measures’ will ensure that legally CCHQ is unable to abuse its use.
On timing as well, because of CCHQ’s centralist control, many associations have also wanted to select early but have been unable to do so. Greater member control will mean this can be done according to the local association’s desired timetable.
The Party Candidates Committee and its supporting Department must be closed in its entirety, and officials such as Amanda Slater, Party Deputy Chairman and Co-Chairman of the Candidates Committee and Head of Candidates, Gareth Fox, be dismissed with immediate effect, with any honours such as MBEs or Baroness/Dame positions vetoed by the Party. Questions need to be asked at the alleged role of the Party Treasurer in Candidate Selection.
A new Candidates Department should be established separately and independently from CCHQ, importantly in a different office location such as Manchester, and be under the control of associations and the elected Chairman and elected Head of Candidates.
The new Head of Candidates should not be an obscure, unknown individual or be a Deputy/Vice Chairman of the Party and be elected annually. They should be elected on the basis of management ability, political judgement and professional experience, and conduct selections in a straightforward and transparent manner. The aim of Candidate Selection must no longer be to fill quotas or to promote personally favoured candidates or to keep the list to a small elite, but be simply to ensure that candidates are talented, well qualified and have no serious issues such as criminal records, unacceptable conduct or financial bankruptcy.
Parliamentary Assessment Boards (PABs) must be conducted professionally and transparently to clearly agreed and understood criteria, published publicly well in advance, and recognise merit by a simple scoring system. For example, points being awarded for fighting ‘no hope’ seats well, local council work, charity or voluntary work, media performance, speech performance. Instead of Pass and Fail for PABs, grades should be issued as Pass, Fail with chance to reapply following courses and further work in weaker areas, and Fail owing to serious criteria (such as the uncovering of unacceptable past conduct or personality issues separate to or in confirmation of other professional vetting processes).
Those failing PABs should have a right of appeal, be clearly shown how they can improve and be offered suitable remedial training in weaker areas, and the right to apply for one further PAB. Local Candidates for selection for their local seats only may be allowed with quick PABs held just for that purpose - but not over the telephone or Skype, but face to face in a proper manner.
It should also be the case that local associations should have more powers and a clearer mechanism to remove MPs who are not performing at all satisfactorily, or whose relationship with the association has seriously broken down (this does not refer to inevitable minor or character or policy differences but to major recurrent problems or seriously unacceptable behaviour to detriment of party or association).
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should draw from this central register of names but continue to operate their own independent lists mindful of national sensitivity and their appeal to national voters, but have a commonality of UK quality and very similar procedures to the UK, overseen by the nationally elected Party Chairman and Head of Candidates.
Local Associations should also be able to select their choice of local candidates for Parliamentary selection (With CCHQ vetting) and to go onto the selection shortlist for just that seat, rather than a central list of imposed candidates only for short listing. That would give local Associations a say and give local candidates a chance, as the PAB process and central list is inaccessible to some.
As regarding selecting local rather than Parliamentary candidates – for local council elections (district, borough, unitary), mayoral, Police & Crime Commissioner, assembly elections, there must be a wider involvement of whole associations, who should have the right to stand and to all vote on candidates, instead of a more insular and limited approach of association officers choosing local candidates. This again will help revitalise local associations and their branches.
7. MEMBERS TO BE ALLOWED TO INPUT MORE INTO POLICY MANIFESTO THROUGH A REVAMPED AND EXPANDED SPRING PARTY CONFERENCE,WITH AN ELECTED HEAD OF PARTY POLICY ELECTED ANNUALLY TO COLLATE AND REPRESENT MEMBERS’ VIEWS: The October Party Conference has become too remote from the members and activists, and too expensive for them to attend, leading in turn to very poor attendance by MPs, but is a proven money spinner for the party and a professional presentation platform, whilst Conservative Policy Forums are not as supported as well in the past
It is therefore proposed the Spring Conference, which has become a ‘grudge’ mandatory event with faltering attendance, be reinvigorated and expanded in importance and function to mirror ‘old style’ Party Conferences
Conservative activists should be encouraged to have proper debates, as used to happen at October Party Conferences, and be encouraged to put forward policy manifesto proposals here, including through motions agreed at association level and also through Conservative Policy Centre initiatives.
A proposed Head of Party Policy should be elected annually with the job of collating and representing the policy opinions of members but NOT to write election manifestos, but to be a key part of that manifesto team to help avoid the disastrous manifesto mistakes in the recent General Election, backed by the Party Chairman.
Unusually, Ministers would be here to listen and respond to members’ views, including impromptu speeches from the floor, and not be there to promote their own policies. Ministers would then take from the Spring Conference to propose their own policy platforms at the October Party Conference, which will remain primarily to sell party policies to the media, interest and business groups, similar to now.
The Spring Conference should be cheaper in terms of pass prices and accommodation for attendees, returning to venues such as Bournemouth and Harrogate, to encourage as much participation as possible by members of all ages and incomes.
8. PROFESSIONAL SERVICES SUPPORT: The associations must be offered professional support to market their events, meetings and activities, and to improve the membership ‘product offering’ – members need to see a point to paying their membership fees, and being able to choose the MP, help influence policies, attend party conferences at a reasonable cost, have a fair chance of candidate selection, and be involved in interesting political and social events for example, much of which has been lost.
The onus must be on building up associations through promoting and incentivising extra membership, more appealing events and more successful fundraising. Whilst most of this Declaration’s initiatives promote decentralisation of functions, it is suggested that membership be centralised along the lines of the National Trust for example, with efficient central records and administration of members, but with far better interaction with local associations.
9. WORKING FOR ALL UK PARTY CONSTITUTIONS TO BE DEMOCRATISED: It is unacceptable that all UK political party constitutions are so weak and limited as to be on a par legally with a golf club. This allows too much control at the centre and leads to frequent unjust treatment of members. We pledge to work with other parties on legislation for party constitutional changes and requirements to help democratise all parties and head off infiltration and takeovers from within such as by Momentum or by Militant in Labour.
10. IMPROVE THE MAKING AND DISSEMINATION OF PARTY RULES: Local associations are too often made subject to rules passed down from the centre from the Party Board without any true consultation, often leading to misunderstandings of what the rules are. Instead a framework of rules should be handed to each Association and each executive should be allowed to decide whether the rules are appropriate for them. This would help to make each Association or grouping autonomous, giving a real sense of ownership and belonging.


New composition of the Board: A Party Board for the 21st Century
The Board is the ultimate decision-making body of the Conservative Party. It is responsible for all operational matters including; fundraising, membership and candidates. It is made up of representatives from each section of the Party - the voluntary, political and professional.
It is proposed to amend the composition of the Party Board to provide a more streamlined and efficient method of decision-making. The Board will consist of:

Leader of the Conservative Party
Chairman of the Conservative Party (and Chairman of the Party Board) (elected)
Chief Executive of the Conservative Party (appointed)
Treasurer of the Conservative Party
Chairman of the Conservative Councillors’ Association
Chairman of the Scottish & Unionist Conservative Party
Chairman of the Welsh Conservative Party
Chairman of the Northern Ireland Conservative Party
Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament (until Brexit in 2019)                                                      
Chairman of the Association of Conservative Peers
Chairman of the 1922 Committee
Secretary to the Board
Head of Candidates (elected)
3 or 4 delegates representing the membership (elected) – one of which should be a youth representative
Co-opted members in attendance – 3-4 MPs
All other current positions will be closed.

New composition of the Candidates Committee
Recommended for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Elected Head of Candidates – Chairman of Candidates Committee
•           The Head of Candidates and Candidates Committee Chairman shall be the ultimate authority on the Candidates Committee; working closely with the Party Chairman (below), who should have overall responsibility for candidates. Their role will not be to grandstand or monitor candidates themselves, but will be to attract high quality candidates for associations based on merit not on social engineering of personal favouritism, to manage the administration and communications process efficiently, to oversee independent vetting agencies who vet candidates for criminal records, fraud, bankruptcy or other unsuitability, oversee fair and balanced Parliamentary Assessment Boards (PABs), and support associations fairly and without prejudice respecting the independence of their selections;
•           Only serving or past Chairmen of a parliamentary constituency Association are entitled to stand for this position;
•           Each candidate for the position of Chairman of the Candidates Committee must have a minimum of three years’ experience as an Association Chairman before they are eligible to stand;
•           Each candidate should also be able to demonstrate suitable professional skills in administration, human resources or management functions.
•           The Head of Candidates shall be responsible for establishing and disseminating fair, transparent and clear rules on candidate selection and criteria. The intention will be to find a rich variety of well qualified candidates with many different skills and experience and range of backgrounds, but built always on merit not on quotas or any form of discrimination;;

•           The Head of Candidates/Chairman will be elected by secret ballot at a meeting of all members at the Spring Conference, based on their plan for attracting, vetting and training candidates, and on hustings;
•           The election for this position will take place every two years, at the Spring  Conference, and must coincide with the drawing up of the new style Approved Candidates List;
•           The successful candidate must serve the full two year term, but in the event that he/she is unable to serve a full term, a by-election will take place, and the same process will be followed;
•           No person can serve for more than three terms;

Party Chairman
•           The Party Chairman will be directly elected by the entire registered membership every two years at the Spring Conference based on their manifestos sent at least a month in advance, and on hustings. Though attending Cabinet, they will represent the party membership to the Government and not the Government or Prime Minister to party members, and must be consulted on whether to hold a General Election or not;
•           He/she sits on the Candidate Committee to convey the views and criteria required by the Party members, particularly those of association Chairmen, officers and activists and not that of the Government of HM Opposition;
•           Whether in Government or Opposition, the Party must be supported by the best available talent who can act as Government or Shadow Ministers, and it is the Chairman’s responsibility to work with the Head of Candidates to find it.

Chairman of the 1922 Committee
•           He/she will represent the Party in the House of Commons in the selection of candidates;
•           Candidates successfully elected to the House will be expected to work with their new colleagues in the Parliamentary Party, so it is right that backbenchers are represented in the search for the right candidate.

Chairman of the Association of Conservative Peers
•           He/she will represent the Party in the House of Lords in the selection of candidates;
•           His/her previous experience in politics will help the Committee identify the standard required of candidates to maintain a high calibre of Lords, MPs and candidates across the country.

Head of Candidates Support staff
•           The Head of Candidates/Chairman will be supported by two full time paid staff who are not members of the Committee, but employed to execute its wishes. They are answerable to him/her. As an important statement of independence from the central office, these staff will work from their own separate office outside of London, doubling up at an area office such as Manchester or Birmingham.
•           Ideally, they will be employed owing to a professional career in the recruitment sector to improve the vetting and development of candidates selected to join the list.