Archive 2000


Contents
Highlights:
  • Web site has gone from strength to strength, with over two thousand hits in the year and the number of hits
    increasing.
  • We published the Conservative Party accounts on the web site and no doubt this pressure made the Party publish
    the March 99 accounts on its extranet.
  • We have had an increasing number of academics interested in the site for their research in the Conservative Party.
  • The main campaign of the year was to try and get an Elected Treasurer for the Party.   At present this position 
    is appointed.   We received considerable publicity for this campaign, particularly in "The Times"    That paper's
    campaign regarding the Treasurer was specifically mentioned when it won the "Newspaper of the Year" award. 
      The Chairman of COPOV was invited to the Editor's reception at the Party conference.
  • Articles about Party democracy were produced for two separate editions of the Bow Group magazine "Crossbow", 
    and an article was published in the "Independent" newspaper.
  • The Campaign held a very successful barbecue and this helped to put the funds in a healthier position, so much so
    that we were able to put an advertisement in the latest edition of "Crossbow".
  • We acquired our own web site domain name of copov.
  • Our support is now nation-wide with the Chairman regularly receiving letters and E mails from all parts
    of the United Kingdom.
  • We have been campaigning for justice regarding Liverpool Garston and reluctantly have had to go public in order
    to increase the pressure to find a solution.   It looks as though this pressure is starting to pay off.
  • Finally I would like to thank the Treasurer Anne Egleton, Membership Secretary Molly Andoe, Secretary Steve 
    Lorton, Vice Chairman David Futcher particularly for his E mails, and all the members of the Committee for 
    their support during the year.
  • I would also like to thank Jack Clayton, Stephen Parker and Martin Ball for their articles which we published 
    on the web site and our Patron, John Wilkinson MP for his continued support. 
December 24th
An Elected House of Lords
There are many Conservative MPs that want to have an elected House of Lords.   It is time for them to stand up and be counted.    When asked, over three quarters of the electorate consistently support an elected second chamber - we must speak for them.   Labour's cynicism is our opportunity.
Tony's Cronies
Tony Bliar has appointed nearly one third of the members of the House of Lords.   Soon it will be one half.   He is treating the 92 Hereditary Peers as hostages.   We must not give in to his blackmail.
Superstate
Could someone please explain what it is that a Superstate has that the European Union does not have already?

December 17th
Leadership Election
There has been much speculation in the media about a Leadership election and in each case the assumption is made that it would be decided by the Party members.    This is not necessarily so.   In "The Times" report of 28th November "Top Tories plot Hague succession" it stated that Miss Widdecombe’s "popularity among Tory activists could see her win the leadership if she was one of the two candidates who made it through to the final round". However there is no certainty that there would be a final round.
Under the Conservative Party constitution "the rules for deciding the procedure by which the 1922 Committee selects candidates for submission for election shall be determined by the Executive Committee of the 1922 Committee".
In other words, if there are more than two candidates the Executive of the 1922 Committee can conduct its own elections. Having then determined the leading candidate it can pressurise the losers to withdraw. If there is then only one candidate "that candidate shall be declared Leader of the Party". The "grass roots" members of the Party would have had no say in the matter.
For the election of Leader to be truly democratic all candidates should be presented to the whole Party for election without the 1922 Committee intervening as a filter.
The Executive of the 1922 Committee never did want to have One Member One Vote for the Leadership election and only conceded it by doing a deal on the re-selection of MPs.   If they can avoid the decision going to the membership they will.
Eurassic ParkIs it true that in the European Parliament for a motion to be passed it has to have an absolute majority of MEPs.    In other words if 300 MEPs voted against the motion and nobody voted for it, it would be lost because with a total of 650 MEPs, 300 is not a majority.
Congratulations to Edward Heath MP
He is in favour of electing the House of Lords, the most sensible thing he has said for years.
Clever boffins at the CPFIn a recent discussion paper for the Conservative Policy forum the following question was put:
"Should the BBC continue to deliver a full range of services from the popular to the specialist and be funded by the license fee, or should it focus on distinctive services that would not be provided by commercial broadcasters?"
Answer    Yes    59%
                No     31%
You pay your money you take your choice!
December 3rdPreparation for a General election.
The accounts of the Conservative Party for the year ended 31st March 1995 are comparable to those of 31st March 200 in terms of the electoral cycle, so how are we doing.
1995 - £,000s
2000 - £,000s
Income                15,307Income                13,386
Expenditure        13,287 Expenditure        13,382
Surplus                  2,020Surplus                         4
In simple terms we raised £2 million less in 2000 than we did in 1995, but on analysis the situation is even worse.   The figures for 2000 include financial assistance paid by Parliament of £3,468,000.    Were it not for this the reduction in income would have been more than £5,000,000.   Is it any wonder that Lord Ashcroft voted for expenditure in the General Election to be limited to £13million for any one Party?
Reselection
This week there is a meeting of Ian Taylor's Constituency Association to decide whether he should be reselected as their Parliamentary candidate.   I hope he is reselected for from my limited acquaintance he is bright, intelligent and knowledgeable.   However it is the right of any Association to decide that they wish to have a new candidate and if the sitting MP cannot win the selection process then he must go.   Members of Parliament are not selected for life and although it is perfectly legitimate for colleagues to express their support it is totally wrong of the Party Chairman to intervene and when he says that it is against Tory tradition then this is one of those traditions that the Conservative party is going to have to get rid of if it wants to have any future, just like the tradition of an appointed Chairman and the tradition of having an appointed Treasurer.   It is time for the Party to join the 21st Century.

Letter from the European Parliament, November 2000
by
Caroline Jackson MEP
Dear Reader,
This was the month when the Labour government launched its attempt to turn round British opinion about the European Union. The key phrase in Tony Blair's Mansion House speech on 13 November was that Britain should pursue "engagement, not isolation". Labour's strategy is to caricature us as the isolationists, whereas our policy of "in Europe but not run by Europe" continues to sum up our desire to reform and improve the EU, and to limit its responsibilities – working from within. In fact, what happened in the weeks after Blair's speech, in the European Parliament and outside it, showed how hard it is to put across an unrelentingly positive message about the EU when events conspire to trip the messenger up.
First, foreign politicians will think aloud about the future of Europe and no Labour spin machine can stop them. Two days after Blair, the German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, called for future presidents of the European Commission to be directly elected, and invoked "a European Parliament and a European Government which really do exercise power". (Conservatives sometimes want the Commission elected, and object to its non-elected nature. The call should be resisted. Election would give the Commission far greater power). Fischer's views highlight a big difference of opinion with the French. Their Foreign Minister, Hubert Vedrine, wrote to Fischer in the summer questioning his enthusiasm for a strong federal European government, and asking what powers would then remain for the nation state. Fischer has not given an answer.
Then there are the skeletons in Europe's cupboards. A regular one is maladministration of the EU budget and this duly tumbled out, right on time, in the November report to the European Parliament by the President of the European Court of Auditors. This audits the EU budget, over half of which goes to finance agriculture. It also pays for spending in the South West under Objectives 1 (Cornwall), 2 (parts of Devon and Somerset), and 3 (everywhere else).The President, Jan Karlsson, reported to MEPs that in 1999 there was "an unacceptable incidence of error affecting the amounts or the reality or eligibility of the transactions underlying them".
Of course, 80 per cent of the EU budget is spent under the control of the Member States, and a lot goes wrong there. But the Commission is still doing an appalling job at handling the schemes it does have responsibility for. On payments they have adopted the Railtrack principle that virtual inactivity will at least guard against misfortune. Today I have received a cry for help from a firm in Cornwall which is working on a European research contract. But they are now "exasperated": the Commission is way behind with the payments to them. I will try to accelerate their payment, but someone else will have to wait. On the evidence from the Court, the Parliament is likely to provoke another crisis by withholding approval from the 1999 accounts until we have better evidence of reform.
The "Justice and Home Affairs" section ("pillar" in the jargon) of the Treaty this month provided Blair with possible extensions of EU competence which he will have to explain. The Parliament adopted, by 410 votes to 93 with 27 abstentions (most Conservatives against, Lib-Dem and Labour for), the draft Charter of Fundamental Human Rights, which many MEPs (but not the Conservatives) want explicitly referred to in the EU Treaty. The Liberal Democrat spokesman, Andrew Duff MEP, sees the Charter as only a beginning since, after its proclamation "the Union can then proceed to grant more extensive protection of European fundamental rights as European integration proceeds".
We also considered the proposal for a "Provisional Judicial Co-operation Unit ". This would be a forerunner to the eventual "Eurojust" plan for a unit of public prosecutors and magistrates in Brussels, dedicated to reinforce the fight against serious organised crime. In the British mind this development is too easily associated with continental threats to the British legal system. Conservatives would prefer to see us more actively exploring the means of intra-European judicial co-operation to fight such crimes, rather than appointing an embryo "European public prosecution service" which is what the Socialists wanted.
Meanwhile on the Environment Committee this month I followed up what had happened to the fine of £14,000 a day which the European Court of Justice levied on the Greek government from 4 July 2000 because the Greeks had failed to comply with a previous judgement of the Court ordering them to stop the dumping of military and hospital waste into a river in Crete. This was a rare case brought to the Commission's attention by a Greek environmental organisation.
I wanted to know how much of the money had been paid. I asked the Environment Commissioner, Margot Wallstrom, one October evening at a dinner. She said:"Oh we are just sending them the bill so far". That rather ruined my dinner because I had hoped that some payments system had already been set up. At the committee meeting this month the Commission official described the state of play. Greece has not paid anything. It had taken until 26 October for the Commission to work out with them a method of payment. Greece is expected to pay the fine for the first three months at the end of December. Thereafter it will pay for three months in arrears. Meanwhile the Greeks are negotiating with the Commission so that the fine will stop when they have submitted plans to show how they are going to put the Cretan situation right. To its credit, the Commission will resist such an early stop to the fine, and I will certainly help them. I will now put the item, for a "progress" report, on every agenda of the Environment Committee until the situation is dealt with and the fine really can cease.
But is everything so clean at home that we have a right to criticise the Greeks? We certainly do when they ignore the Court of Justice, but in terms of pollution controls, consider the case of the Sandhurst waste recycling plant near Gloucester. This caught fire at the end of October, and was then flooded this month. It has emerged that 6 drums of BSE-contaminated material is missing. It is amazing that our country, which prides itself on efficient regulation, could allow such a badly run and dangerous plant to continue to operate, apparently without effective action by the Environment Agency. I support the local MP, Lawrence Robertson, in his call for a public enquiry: I dread to think how many EU directives were infringed.
The Environment Committee was of course depressed by the failure of the Climate Change summit at The Hague. But I don't think we were surprised. We know Madame Voynet, the French Minister, and appreciate that, as a Minister from the Green party, she was unlikely ever to move towards the US position, even if Prescott had possessed greater sensitivity.

One final plea to you: the 4 South West Conservative MEPs want to know about instances of Euro red-tape and of local controversies that may have a European connection. We cannot connect personally everywhere in the region, and you are our eyes and ears.

Name and shame
by
Grey Owl

These are the members of the Runnymede Trust Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain:
Lord Parekh (chairman). Emeritus professor of political theory at the University of Hull. Former deputy chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality.
Lady (Kate) Gavron (vice-chairman). Trustee and research fellow, Institute of Community Studies. Wife of the publisher and New Labour benefactor Lord "Bob" Gavron.
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. Writer and broadcaster. Member of the Home Office race relations forum.
Muhammad Anwar. Research professor at the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relation at the University of Warwick.
Colin Bailey. Former chief constable of Nottinghamshire and chairman of the race relations committee of the Association of chief Police Officers.
Amina Begum. Social worker with the London borough of Tower Hamlets.
Michael Chan. Professor of ethnic health (!), University of Liverpool.
Lord Dholakia. Chairman National Association for Care and Resettlement of Offenders.
David Faulkner. Senior research associate University of Oxford centre for criminological research. Former Home Office official.
Stuart Hall. Emeritus professor of sociology, Open University.
Bob Hepple, QC. Master of Clare College and professor of law at Cambridge University.
Judith Hunt. Chairman of Camden and Islington health authority. Former equal opportunities adviser to the GLC.
Anthony Lerman. Former executive director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.
Matthew McFarlane. Chief inspector, Nottinghamshire police.
Andrew Marr. Resigned from commission in April on his appointment as political editor, BBC.
Tariq Modood (adviser). Professor of sociology, University of Bristol.
Sir Peter Newsham. Former director of the Institute of Education, London university. Chief adjudicator of school organisations and administrations.
Sir Herman Ouseley. Former chairman of Commission for Racial Equality.
Anne Owers. Director of Justice and former general secretary of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.
Trevor Phillips. Broadcaster and Labour Chairman of the Greater London Assembly.
Sarah Spencer. Director of the citizenship and governance programme, Institute for Public Policy Research.
Seamus Taylor. Head of equality and diversity policy, Haringey Council, London.
Sally Tomlinson. Emeritus professor of educational policy, Goldsmith's College, London.
Lady Hollick. Chairman of Index on Censorship and founding commissioning editor of multi-cultural programmes for Channel 4. Wife of Labour peer, Lord Hollick, owner of Express newspapers.
The first thing one notices about this list is that not one of them has a "proper job", i.e. one that creates wealth and employment. They are all members of the "quangocracy", feeding off public sector budgets, which of course come from the taxes paid by the rest of us. Where are the scientists, engineers, doctors, small businessmen, indeed anybody who lives and moves in the real world?
Is it a step too far to describe them as parasites feeding off the success of the "Britishness" they hate and despise so much? Or are they "fifth columnists", beavering away to destroy what has been achieved in the last two centuries? It should not be forgotten that 1 January 2001 is the two hundredth anniversary of the Act of Union and the Union flag, an anniversary the Government is refusing to celebrate. In that two centuries alone the Union flag has flown over Napoleon's Paris and Hitler's Berlin. It has flown from Everest's summit, from the Royal Navy ships that ended the slave trade. Denise Lewis wrapped herself in the Union flag after winning the Olympic gold medal in the women's heptathlon at the Sydney Games in September. And of course it has flown over the parliament that brought representative government to the rest of the world, but for how much longer will it do so?
This what Tony Blair's official spokesman said about Britishness when the Report was published: "Britishness to us is about issues as varied as how you manage the economy, the approach you take to issues like unemployment, your vision of society." I have read this bizarre definition several times and still don't know what it means. Since I do not agree with New Labour's "vision of society", I am presumably anti-British.
Now that these Commission members have been exposed, let's face it, how many of us had heard of them before? But these are dangerous people, they will not go away and it behoves all Conservatives to keep an eagle eye on their activities. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
View from Scotland
by
Gerry Frew

October 18th  
It is the time for a review of what has happened at our new Holyrood Parliament here in Scotland since its inception in May 1999.
The great hopes for a parliament that would be different from the Westminster version in many ways, promised, but never realised, has led to much disappointment. Since no one group of politicians had a majority, the largest group, Labour, made a deal with the Lib/dems to thwart the SNP.
Initially a great deal of time was spent discussing terms and conditions for the MSP’s themselves followed after a long holiday break, by pet items raised by some very inexperienced labour politicians. Including the disastrous and time consuming overturning of section 28, by a new cabinet minister who had no previous experience of politics at any level whatsoever A private referendum later demonstrated that a majority were against change for this particular item. Another was on the banning of fox hunting, much time being spent on this while items of more relevance to the people of Scotland were passed over.
Since the main business of Holyrood was being televised on a regular basis, the grassroots were able to judge for themselves just how well or badly our affairs were conducted by our representatives. The most recent fiasco of the failure of the Scottish Qualifying Authority, and the procrastination of the Education minister Sam Galbraith, resulted in many students here being unsure of their ability to obtain a place at the university of their choice.
It had been hoped that the normal cut and thrust of parliamentary politics while being retained, would no longer be besmirched by the rudeness often handed out by the ruling party in debate with the opposition as often seen at Westminster.. Alas that was not to be in the new Holyrood model . Only a couple of weeks ago the first minister was rightly reprimanded by Margo McDonald MSP for an aside to a question from an SNP member, Fergus Ewing.
Now we are about to be faced with an election for a new first minister and the inexperienced are once again thrusting for the position. If we are in for another year of the same from the ruling Labour group, then we will need a really strong and steadfast opposition to fight our corner.
There are so many items that affect us here in the north that are still not being addressed by our representatives the year ahead looks pretty bleak.
September 8th
With both Holyrood & Westminster up and running again there is much scope for comment on what is happening both sides of the border with respect to our Central Offices.
View from over the border.
Many Scottish grassroot Tories, ( yes we still exist up here) are apprehensive about our chances in the upcoming Westminster elections.
The 'infighting' and 'plotting' that went on before, during and after the Conference in Dundee against the Scottish leadership left a bad taste. If we carry on in this way then we do not deserve to form a government, nor will we be able to.
Unfortunately when we look to the South there is much evidence of the same thing happening there.
Until the whole Party is thoroughly democratised and existing problems thrashed out, knowing that we have a wide range of opinions, we will struggle.
The unfortunate aspect of all this is that the inner conflicts have distracted our chosen leaders, when the Governments north and south of the Border are making monumental mistakes, the opposition have failed to cash in.
Right now in Scotland we have just experienced the 'SQA' fiasco with students still not sure if they will get a place at their chosen university or even if the results they have been given are correct !
The Labour party Executive and their minister of Education have been greatly damaged in the country and the Tory MSPs failed to exploit their advantage when questioning the minister. The greatest lasting damage to the minister was inflicted by the retiring leader of the Scottish National Party .
Once we have chosen our leaders, it is madness to let loose cannons like Mr Heseltine, who has his own agenda after all as a Commissioner for the Dome, damage the our leadership to an extent that give sustenance to the Government. These people should know better.
Like the rest of us Mr Hague has his faults but once we have chosen our leadership we have to accept all fourteen pints.!!
Gerry Frew.

A VIEW FROM THE GRASS ROOTS - After the U.S.A.elections.

BY A CONSERVATIVE


Let me begin with the situation in the United States. Thirteen days ago a new President was elected yet we still do not know who has won. In the popular vote Vice President Gore leads Governor Bush by about 200,000 votes yet the Electoral College is not complete, waiting on the result from Florida where, after hand counting part of the ballot, a final decision is likely to be taken by the courts. If Bush wins he will be the first President since the 1880’s to have won with his challenger polling more votes overall although having won over 2,000 of the 3,000 counties that make up the United States, his base will be broader. If Gore wins, it will be because of his strength in the main "Democrat" cities and among special interest groups such as Jews, blacks and union members. Gore would also have to work with a Republican Congress and Senate. For either it will be a poisoned chalice. Situations where the eventual winner polls fewer votes than his main challenger are not new and it has happened in this country in the last 50 years. In 1951, Attlee’s Labour Party polled 200,000 more votes than Churchill’s Conservatives yet the latter had an overall majority. In 1974, Labour under Harold Wilson polled 500,000 votes less in the February election than Edward Heath and the Conservatives, yet had five more seats in the House of Commons (although in a minority). But you can hardly knock the electoral system when, under most circumstances, the winner (or leader) in the popular vote will have the most seats.
The present Government has been talking recently about changing the way we vote (i.e. over a longer period, in the supermarket or on Internet etc.) but America must surely have some lessons for us:-
The simple hand-written "X" by your favoured candidate’s name must be the best. (no chance or a voting machine breaking down).
The fixed voting hours, 7am – 10pm on a particular day can only be good (none of this York votes from 6am – 6pm with Southampton votes from 8am – 8pm nonsense).
No declaration of a winner with only 96% of the vote counted (Bush’s Florida lead of 50,000 votes was down to 1,000 within the space of two hours).
No disincentive to vote for your favoured candidate because you have been told his or her opponent has won.
The presence at the count of scrutineers from the different political parties to ensure that the votes are being counted correctly must, surely, be a good thing.
I do not believe we need to make it easier for people to vote. If they are interested in the composition of the next government they will make the effort to get to a polling booth. Ninety per cent of the population has cars and even those in the most outlying districts can get to a polling station.
In my view those who don’t vote feel that no Party has anything to offer them or are just not interested.
You can be suite sure that if we do change our present system, it will be complete confusion and chaos – even more so if we adopt proportional representation. The present system is well tried and tested and simple to operate.
Turning to the political situation at home, I see that the present Cabinet feuding over the "Euro" is set to continue. The Government’s difficulties are as great as those that John Major had but are camouflaged because of its huge majority in the House of Commons. We know (despite protestations to the contrary) that this new European defence force is part of a step towards a European "super state". Why else would Lords Healey and Owen (Defence and Foreign Secretaries in past Labour Governments) combine with Lord Carrington and Sir Malcolm Rifkind (both Defence and Foreign Secretaries in past Conservative governments) and write to the "Daily Telegraph"? The Government, so desirous of getting a full second term, is unable to tell the truth and wants to face both ways until after the General Election. But we do know that Gordon Brown is concerned only with the economic arguments regarding entry into the Euro and has little time for the constitutional issues involved. For me these are all important. As soon as we hand over to the bankers of Frankfurt, we have lost all control over taxation and setting of levels of public expenditure. You can also forget a thousand years of history – Plantagenets, Tudors, Stuarts, Hanoverians and Windsors etc. Queen Elizabeth II will be the United Kingdom’s last Head of State. You will have as President somebody voted in by 300 million people as different in their language, culture and outlook as it is possible to be, and under a system of proportional representation. The tragedy is that no leading politician is prepared to stand up and say so for fear of either rocking the boat or of being accused of adopting a selfish "Little Englander" position. But 65% of the British public, whichever way they vote, are not fooled. But make no mistake if we are to prevent this continued slide into the "super state" it will need a concerted effort with all (and I meal all) Party support. That is why the letter which included the signatures of Lords Healey and Owen is a good thing.
On the domestic front I note that the House of Lords is still sitting and doing its job as required by the constitution. I see that it has for the third time rejected repeal of Section 28 and that the Government is now determined to "ram" the legislation through the House of Commons despite it not being in the Labour Party’s manifesto at the last election. In this matter the Government is totally and completely out of touch with its own working class supporters and seems to be totally enthralled by what can only be described as a "metropolitan liberal elite". As I understand it, the only act criminally punishable would be either active or passive anal intercourse, buggery to use the correct word) when practised by or upon a 16 year old boy even if he had consented. What kind of message is being sent out by the Government to our young people many of whom at this formative age are confused about their sexuality? Are they not concerned about the possible spread of sexually transmitted diseases? Have they not seen the pictures of those who have lost their immune system? The emaciated faces of young men and the senile dementia and loss of body function which accompanies it? Do they ignore the advice of the medical profession? If a youngster stops and says: "No, I won’t do it; it’s against the law" then it will be a good thing. As a society, generally, we have lost all sense of moral values – the difference between right and wrong. But we have to face the fact:MANY IN THIS COUNTRY DON’T WANT AN AGE OF CONSENT AT ALL. The Government sees the House of Lords as a nuisance, an anachronism from the past and would like to see it abolished – as would many left wing Labour MPs. Why else would it ask for applications from the general public regarding membership thereof? The House of Lords may have been Mr. Balfour’s poodle but it is certainly not Mr. Blair’s – and we should be thankful for that. Particularly as a number of Labour, Liberal and Crossbench Members supported Lady (Janet) Young. In questions of social conscience it is always difficult to get the balance right but Lord Tebbit is probably correct in saying that in trying to be "all inclusive" the Party will probably not gain many more votes and probably lose many of our natural supporters.
Writing before the three Parliamentary by-elections at West Bromwich, Preston and Glasgow, Anniesland it will be interesting to see whether the Conservative urban vote is still holding up percentage wise at lease. The two English seats will tell us if we are falling behind, particularly the Liberal Democrats, who beat us into second place in the Leeds Central and Tottenham by elections. We learn that Gordon Brown has£35billion, yes billion, surplus (the largest in the country’s history) to distribute. "Prudence" has gone out of the window and hospitals, schools and pensioners will be the main beneficiaries. What is the Conservative reaction to all this going to be? One of muted amazement at such largess, to judge by the reaction of Michael Portillo. We should be bold, please. Tell the electorate that you would prefer less spending and more tax cuts. Labour believes in high public spending and redistribution through the tax system (stealth taxes included). It thinks that schools and hospitals can improve by simply giving them money – a billion here, two billion there. Its social security bill is massive (over £100billion) and when Frank Field thought the unthinkable he was sacked – and the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer were so arrogant that neither stayed in the House of Commons to hear Field’s resignation speech.  As for the Liberal Democrats, why vote for them? Their 50% higher rate on incomes over £100,000 is chicken feed to what Labour is promising.
We have some good ideas on health and education but these need to be thought out in greater detail. The Government knows it is going to face a Winter beds crisis in the NHS (probably because it got it wrong in the first place) and is now prepared to use the private sector to help it out. The Health Secretary, Alan Milburn, had his usual dig at the Conservatives, saying that we would do it as part of a general policy, whereas Labour were only doing it out of necessity – but everyone knew he was just "nit picking" and when the medical professions says that it cannot guarantee everyone will see a GP within 48 hours by 2004, Giselda Stuart, the Minister in charge, cannot understand why. Has she not heard of a situation in which there are different size waiting lists in different areas? Or where there might possibly be a down turn in the economy? Or does she regard the spending plans of Gordon Brown as sacrosanct no matter what the economic position? By that time there might even be an EU edict saying: You may have to wait a week before seeing a GP unless your case is considered very urgent. Predicting the future four years hence is extremely hazardous to say the least. We need to restore Parliamentary democracy and give more power to the House of Commons to check the Executive. Margaret Thatcher found some of her Cabinet Ministers irksome to say the least (not one of us) and preferred to work with small groups of Ministers (which were of the "Yes, Ma’am" type) and, judging by the remarks of some ex Ministers always liked to have her own way. John Major behaved more as a "primus inter pares" (first among equals) but even he was stabbed in the back by his "bastards". This Government has a Prime Minister who behaves like a President (who else but Tony Blair would wave to the crowds at the same time as the Queen?) and a Chancellor of the Exchequer who together hold all the levels of power. We know that no-one likes Robin Cook and that Mandy wants his job. We know that Gordon and Mandy dislike each other and that Gordon has never forgiven Mandy for not supporting him in the 1994 leadership contest. So there is concealed in-fighting which we know little about. The Government is no different from any of its predecessors and Cabinet meets only for about an hour a week, if that. What is new is that the so-called honeymoon has lasted for so long and, although the petrol crisis threw the Government, it now seems to have regained the lead in the opinion polls (and a substantial one at that).
The Conservatives do not appear ready for Government (as the fiasco that surrounded Ann Widdecombe at the Party Conference showed). We are still not liked very much (although fewer people are actively hostile and people are not convinced we would do any better. This is not to say we cannot increase our share of the vote at the next election. Returning to the Untied States for a moment – in spite of a booming economy and massive prosperity Al Gore was only 0.2% ahead of George Bush in the popular vote. And Bush was supposed to be "dumb" compared to Gore.
Labour is very difficult to beat these days because it is a chameleon – it’s certainly not "old Labour" in the accepted sense of the word. It calls itself "new Labour" (whatever that may mean) and talks about a "third way". Tony Blair even talks about "one nation" which he has pinched form an early 1950’s Tory Group. And in Tony Blair we have a Prime Minister who cannot understand why anyone in the world could possibly disagree with him.
The Conservatives can put up a good fight by pointing out the Government’s shortcoming, its "cronyism" and dependency on "spin doctors" and "focus groups".
And William Hague would be better to play on what strengths he has, his own judgement and instincts, than to rely on people who will tell him what he wants to hear and who will, when the going gets really tough in the heat of a general election, prove to be "fair weathered" friends.
26th November
Advance Britannia! Long live the cause of freedom!
Winston Churchill, VE Day, 8 May 1945
The first "enemy within" has got to be the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, for his assertion that Britain must give up its veto over more areas of EU decision making in order to remain a key player in Europe.
One shudders to think what Robin Cook's illustrious predecessors, Anthony Eden (Conservative) and Ernest Bevin (Labour) must be making of this blatant toadying to an unrepresentative and undemocratic European farrago.
David Futcher
The first thing that strikes you when reading the Report and Accounts is how much the information included in them has been cut down from previous years.   What happened to "Openness" and "Transparency" or have these concepts now been quietly dropped?
The Chairman's statement from The Rt. Hon. Michael Ancram QC MP is a typical piece of gung ho, which could have been given to any Conservative audience at any time in any place.   There was no information or comment about the state of the Party organisation.   For the first time ever not a word was said about finance or membership.   Not a single word of thanks to anybody anywhere in the Party.   This is not the way to motivate the workers.
There has been a subtle change between the accounts for 1999 and 2000.   In 1999 Michael Ashcroft is described as "Chairman of the Board of Treasurers".   In 2000 Sir Michael Ashcroft has become "The Party Treasurer".   This distinction perhaps explains why in 1999 all transactions of the Treasurers were treated as related transactions but not in 2000, unless of course there were no transactions, which would be a first!
Update: There are now 21 Party Treasurers.    No wonder they have stopped showing related transactions.
For the first time at the Party Conference the amount paid as quota by the constituencies was not shown in the Conference Year book.   It is now not shown in the Annual Accounts.   Is this because it is now so small as to be insignificant?   The total income from constituencies has dropped by almost £150,000 and although there is probably a small drop in payments for Agents ( 58 employed now compared to 65) it would seem unlikely that this would account for the full amount of the shortfall.
Sadly no analysis of expenditure is given by type of activity.   In this regime of tough budgetary control do they no longer know or is it that they do not want to tell us.   So we do not know what was spent on Research (Is this because of the "Short" money?), The voluntary Party, Campaigning, Office expenditure or the cost of raising donations and sundry income.    What is clear is that Regional staff have been cut by 20% from 30 to 24, just at the time when we should be building up our organisation or is it a case that more and more power moves to Central Office?.   We are moving inexorably towards American style politics.
What is clear from the Accounts is that the Party has become dependant on State funding and to lose this funding now would be devastating.   The total income of the Party for the year ended 31st March 2000 was £13m including £3.5m subsidy.   Even with this subsidy the Party only managed to break even and at 31st March there was still a negative net asset position of over £5m.   Creditors at 31st March which were payable within one year amounted to the staggering total of £13.9m.   This was £0.5m more than the entire income for the year then ended.   Clearly the loss of the £3.5m subsidy would raise serious questions about the financial viability of the Party.
Perhaps it is time to grasp the nettle of State funding and ask the State to pay a per capita amount to each political Party dependant on the audited members of the Party and subject to the Parties having democratic Constitutions.   By doing this we would know the true number of members of the Parties.   It would encourage them to build up their membership, and to be democratic.   The subsidy would only last for a specified period to prevent them from becoming dependant on the subsidy - which is what has now happened to the Conservative Party. 
Next Week - A comparison between the financial position now and that in 1995(the comparable point before a General Election)
There have been the following incidents since the "Peace Agreement" was signed in Northern Ireland:
Terrorist murders                                                                   60
Shootings                                                                               235
Assaults                                                                                  352
Bombing incidents(not including petrol bombs)        278
When will the Conservative Party scrap the ridiculous bi- partisan approach and begin to campaign for a democratic Northern Ireland?
P.S. Congratulations to John Cope for persuading the House of Lords to throw out the proposal for Sinn Fein to sit in Dublin Belfast and London.

November 19th
The Conservative Party published its Accounts for the year ending 31st March 2000 on October 27th.   Why did it wait so long when the Chairman and the Auditors signed off the Accounts on 24th July?    Why, also does the Party's extranet site even now still show the Accounts for the year ended 31st March 1999?  
Why is it that the Conservative Party continuously loses Northern Ireland?   On the front page of the Party's web site, under Parliamentary candidates we have a map showing England, Scotland and Wales only.   On the Party's extranet site we have the same.   How can we claim to be the Party of the United Kingdom when we continuously ignore Northern Ireland?
Tony Bliar WB01361_.gif (611 bytes)has appointed almost one third of the members of the House of Lords.   At this rate by the next General election he will have appointed Half the members.   And this is a democracy?

November 12th
Democracy is the process by which you determine the will of the majority with each vote having equal value. It is, therefore, of concern to see that the United States, the most powerful nation in the world, is acting in an undemocratic manner in the election of their President.
The electoral college system by which the President is elected means that a candidate could win a majority of votes of the people and yet not be elected President. It means that a few hundred votes of an electorate of over 100 million will determine almost 5% of the total needed to win (Florida has 25 votes out of a total 538). Electoral colleges are an affront to democracy and are shorthand for "political stitch up".
When on top of this undemocratic process there is a layer of dollar democracy in which the wallet is king -  $3billion was spent on the election - and vast sums are spent by the candidates on advertising which inevitably excludes candidates that are not multi millionaires.   In such circumstances we have to ask ourselves what message does all this send to undemocratic nations in the rest of the world?
The first priority for the new President should be democratic reform, for without it the people’s disillusion with politicians will inevitably increase.
Majorities
If 168,000 more people had voted Conservative in the most marginal seats in the 1997 General Election Labour's majority in Parliament would have been wiped out.   Makes you think doesn't it?
A long time in politics
In 1948 Henry Brooke MP presented a report on Conservative Party finance as part of the Maxwell Fyfe report.   In presenting the report he stated "the most crucial part of our report was  a greater openness about the Party's financial position."   "We have recommended and the Treasurers did not flinch when we told them, that an annual statement of accounts should be issued."   It was 45 years before this was done. 

November 5th
Property
There are persistent rumours that after the next General Election Central Office will acquire all the property of Constituency Associations to support their overdraft.   They are already doing this in Constituency Associations where they are supported.   In addition Constituency Agents will be abolished and Agents will be employed in Campaign Centres directly by Central Office.   All membership will be controlled by Central Office (they believe the Constituencies do not know how to get the maximum amount of money out of members).   These actions will complete the take-over of the Party and effectively eliminate the voluntary Party.   We will be just like the Republican Party in the United States.   Thus is democracy destroyed!
Presidential Election
It looks as though the turnout in the Presidential elections in the United States will be the lowest ever.   Is this a surprise?   Not when you realise that the whole system of election is undemocratic.   It is not enough to be a millionaire to be a candidate in the States, you have to be a multi millionaire.   In Michigan alone the presidential candidates have spent £20,000,000.   On top of this the system for electing a President uses the discredited Electoral College, with each State being a separate part of the College, so it is possible that the person elected President will have obtained less votes than the defeated candidate.   Where else do Electoral Colleges exist?    Why, in the Conservative Party and the Labour Party.   That is part of the reason why voters in both nations have become disillusioned with their politicians.    Electoral Colleges are undemocratic and should be eliminated.
Tatton
In the Tatton General Election campaign the Independant candidate Martin Bell imposed a limit of £100.00 on the amount that any individual could give to the campaign by way of a donation, yet they still raised more than twice as much money as they were allowed to spend on the campaign.   When will the Conservative Party realise that the way forward is to attract the "little " people ,not the "fat cats"
Kosovo Plane5.wmf (2428 bytes)
Since the military intervention was over the unexploded bomblets from Natos cluster bombs  have claimed more lives and limbs lost than Serb laid land mines.
October 29th
What is Politics?
"What is Politics?" the little boy asked his Father.   "Well" said Father, "Consider our family"
I am the breadwinner, so call me 'Capitalism.'
Mother is the administrator so call her 'Government.'
We both look after you, so we will call you "The People"
Your baby brother is 'The Future', and
The au-pair works hard for little money so we will call her 'The Workers.'
The boy goes to bed thinking about it.
In the night the baby is crying - wet bed
Boy goes to parent's room, Mother is fast asleep.
Boy goes to au-pair's room - Father is there.
Boy goes back to bed.
In the morning he tells his Father "I understand it all now"
"Whilst 'Capitalism' is exploiting 'The Workers' the 'Government' is fast asleep, the 'People' are being ignored and the 'Future' is in deep dodo".
Baby Bonuses
The Government is considering paying "baby bonuses" to employers to encourage them to take on women returning to work after maternity leave.   One more step down the road to the "Nanny" state.
Ethnic Minorities
In the General Election of 1997 only 11% of Ethnic minorities voted Conservative.   If the Conservative Party wants to have more Conservative members of the Ethnic minorities in Parliament it will have to improve its share of the Ethnic minority vote.
Irish Government
Why does the Irish Government not support the banning of the Real I.R.A. in the United States?
Peace?
In July the Assistant Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary said that two thirds of Belfast was now controlled by "Mafias"

October 22nd
A Democratic Europe
Tony Blair said a series of far-reaching democratic reforms had to be agreed because the "citizens of Europe must feel that they own Europe, not that Europe owns them" He could start that reform process by changing the system by which we elect Members of the European Parliament.
The present system using a "Party closed list" on a regional basis strikes at the heart of democratic accountability. Without constituency representation the electorate is too remote for those elected to be accountable.
The "party list" means that those at the top of the lists produced by the Labour and Conservative Parties are virtually incapable of being thrown out by the electorate.
Because there are no by-elections when membership of the European Parliament ceases by death or resignation the next person on the list, who failed to secure the vote from the electorate, automatically replaces them.
So come on Mr. Blair, practise what you preach and put our own house in order before telling others in Europe what should be done.
Media event
Commenting on the fact that the television coverage of the Democratic and Republican Conventions was very low, the American commentator - Dan Rather said that "they had become pure media events.    If they do not make news we will ignore them"   The Conservative Party should remember this for next years Conference.

October 15th
Are we being told?
On Friday 13th October the Chairman of COPOV was sitting in a traffic jam in Waterloo, just over the river from Whitehall listening to the radio traffic report.   It said that Whitehall was closed and there had been a controlled explosion.   I listened to the News in the evening and I looked at the newspapers but not a mention was made of this incident.   Is the Government censoring the news?   Do "D" notices still get issued?   Are they terrified that in reality the so called "Peace Agreement" has broken down.    We know it has in Northern Ireland, but has it also on the Mainland, and we are not being told?Democracy in Northern Ireland
The people of Northern Ireland now know that the "Peace Agreement" was a confidence trick and that a totally undemocratic institution has been imposed upon them.   Why then does the Conservative Party persist in supporting the minority of Unionists that support it?   Why is the Party insisting that any parliamentary candidates for the General Election have to support it when they know that the Northern Ireland Conservatives almost unanimously oppose it?
Jeffrey Donaldson MP
It is reported that Jeffrey Donaldson said that he might be the "first Conservative MP from Northern Ireland."    If the Ulster Unionist Party made him their Leader and adopted his policies and scrapped the sectarian elements in their constitution we could well see a Conservative and Unionist Party in Northern Ireland once again.   Andrew Mackay MP would have to change his attitude for this to happen.
Party Conference
Has it occurred to anybody that if genuine issues were debated at the Conference gaffes like those from Ann Widdecombe just might have been avoided?   Why won't the Party Hierarchy trust the members?    This conference did not have a single debate or a single motion for debate.    How long will members put up with this dumbing down?
Speech at the Conference
The following is the speech (One Minute only allowed) made to the Party Conference by the Chairman of COPOV:

Democracy

Freedom is the ability of a people to govern themselves.
Democracy is the process by which you determine the will of the majority.
You do not determine the majority by:
Scottish MPs voting on English matters when English MPs cannot vote on Scottish matters;
You do not determine the majority by:
Having a House of Lords full of Tony’s cronies;
You do not determine the majority by:
Having terrorists in government in Northern Ireland when not a single armalite has been decommissioned;
You do not determine the majority by:
Having Members of the European Parliament elected from a Party closed list.
Labour is distorting our democracy and destroying our freedom.
It is time for the British people to fightback.

October 1st
Fuel Tax
The Fuel Tax protest is not just a protest against higher taxation. It is a symptom of something much more significant. Our democracy is under threat. To the politician representative democracy has come to mean on election day only but to the people representative democracy means all of the time.. The result of this is that the people have become deeply cynical about politicians.

Freedom is the ability of a people to govern themselves with protection for the rights of minorities. Democracy is the process by which the will of the majority is determined. Under this Labour Government democracy has become distorted. In three years we have seen Local Government forced to adopt structures which devalue the role of the Councillor; Regional Assemblies introduced by stealth with no democratic accountability; the House of Lords almost wholly appointed; devolution in different ways in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland upsetting the constitutional balance; the European Union taking more power yet because of the Party list system members of the European Parliament are unaccountable to the electorate.

When people find that democracy no longer determines the will of the majority they stop voting and turnout at elections drops – well illustrated by the low turn out in the European elections last year. The next stage in the process of alienation from the democratic process is to take to the streets. We are now at that point. Who can restore democracy? We cannot look to our politicians for they are controlled by political parties which themselves are undemocratic. The Trade Unions still dominate the Labour Party and in the Conservative Party the Chairman, Vice Chairmen and Treasurer are all appointed positions. Both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party are controlled by cabals, cliques and wealthy donors.

The Fuel Tax protest is the beginning of many such protests which will continue until the people’s faith in democracy is restored. The first thing the politicians should do is to put their own houses in order by creating democratic political parties. Then they can address the task of creating a truly democratic and free society. Who has the vision and leadership to put their trust in the people?


THOUGHTS FROM THE GRASS ROOTS - After the Conference
By A Conservative
How stands our Party now after the Conference?
Confident and in far better shape than would have seemed possible six months ago. Whatever else William Hague does, or does not do, he has at least give the Party hope – hope that it came make a comeback after the most shattering and demoralising defeat since all women as well as men were given the vote in 1928.
I never cease to be amazed at the pundits who say we must broaden our appeal to this faction or that faction. The Conservative Party has always had a broad appeal – how else could it have been returned to office so often in the last century? It has always picked up about 30% of the ‘working class’ (for want of a better word) vote and many trade unionists support us. Of course, the terms ‘working class’ or ‘middle class’ are becoming less and less relevant these days, particularly with the decline of heavy industries like coal, steel and shipbuilding.
Many derided and despised Lady Thatcher saying that she made a ‘god’ out of greed. But the very people who were saying this already had themselves many material possessions (including second homes in the country) and, in some cases, the benefits of private education and private medical treatment. What is wrong with trying to give people a stake in society? The problem comes when you over commit yourself as was the case with people who took out mortgages and found themselves trapped in ‘negative equity’. Three years into a Labour government with the economy in good shape we are given to understand that there are 100,000 more people in poverty than was the case in May 1997. But nobody, and certainly not our London metropolitan elite seems to be worrying about it.
The one great asset the Party has is that it is not bound by any fixed ideology (we were not called the stupid party for nothing). Of course, we believe in the free enterprise system and have general unshakeable principles but we are always ready to adapt to changing circumstances. In the past, Tories initially opposed the setting up of the N.H.S. but when they returned to power in the early nineteen fifties did not attempt to turn the clock back and reverse what had been set up. It was never starved of money (but like every other institution always wanted more). The problem now is that more and more diseases are becoming treatable (and naturally require a lot more money). Everybody, particularly those on the left, talks about Aneurin Bevan and the debt we all owe to him. I’m sure he would be amazed at the kind of medical advances that have been made in the last 30 years – heart and lung transplants, cures for some cancers and so on – were he to come back today.
In my own patch, we opposed the setting up on the National Assembly claiming that it was not really needed (and a 50% turn out with a 50.3% ‘Yes’ vote was hardly a ringing endorsement) but now it is here, we want it to work and are determined to make it so. Our nine members come from all walks of life and area making a valuable contribution to discussion and debate.
But to return to our Conference. We had our usual array of star speakers; William Hague, himself; Ann Widdecombe (who unfortunately got carried away by her own rhetoric) and Michael Portillo. I had thought that Neil Kinnock’s remarkable conversion to be a pro European in extremis was the greatest since St. Paul on the road to Damascus but Michael Portillo runs Kinnock a close second. We have a new look, touchy feely, I’m the friend of minority groups, Portillo, telling us all about his experiences during the two and a half years he was away from the House of Commons. Many think it was a "Look, I’m available if anything should happen to William" speech and it did not dwell much on the economy or taxation but any politician who aspires to high office has to fire up his own troops so I would not blame him for that. When he was selected for Kensington & Chelsea last year, I wrote to him wishing him well and I received a short reply from him in his own hand thanking me for my good wishes. Gestures like this always go down well with the Party faithful and I was pleased that with so many other commitments he had taken the trouble to write.
For me, the best part of the Conference was William Hague’s question and answer session held late on the Tuesday morning. He was witty and displayed a depth and breadth of knowledge which I found quite remarkable. Long gone are the days when the Leader descended on the Conference, like Moses coming down from Mount Sinai, on the Friday or Saturday afternoon, made an hour long speech and this disappeared.
Many commentators have written William Hague off comparing him with Neil Kinnock. I have said before that I do not think the analogy is apt. I always thought that Kinnock’s problem was that he was trying to be something he really was not. If you passionately believe in nationalising the commanding heights of the economy and think unilateral disarmament is a good policy, you cannot suddenly change your beliefs overnight – the electorate simply won’t wear it and you will be accused of political expediency. William Hague has never changed his beliefs.
So how can we sell Hague to the electorate at large and convince them he has the ability to become Prime Minister? It is going to be difficult – baseball caps and heavy drinking when a youth do leave a lasting impression – but it is not impossible. He is a down to earth Yorkshire man who has never forgotten his roots, he has a brilliant academic record (a first in PPE from Magdalen College, Oxford) he went to the local comprehensive (after a terrible first term in Ripon Grammar School), he uses the National Health Service, he believes in the supremacy of Parliament, he wants government to be more accountable, he has a stable marriage and is a family man through and through. He is always on top of his brief, enjoys argument and debate in the House of Commons. He has held ministerial jobs in Social Security and entered the Cabinet, at 34, as Secretary of State for Wales – the youngest Cabinet Minister since Harold Wilson forty five years earlier
He must, surely be buoyed up by the victories to date. We have many more councillors than three years ago and, thanks to a well-run campaign in June 1999, have the largest number of MEPs. Many sneer at this achievement saying that the poll was only 25% - but at the end of the day it was a real poll with real people voting not something dreamt up by the opinion polls.
It is because of people like William Hague that I am a member of our Party and for the first time in nine General Elections I shall offer to help our local constituency out by delivering leaflets or acting as a teller on General Election day. William Hague has time on his side – he won’t be 40 until next year – and it is up to all our members, supporters and friends to deliver a good result for him. And, surprise, surprise, I will have a woman candidate to vote for.
One final word about minorities – we hear a lot about them. I would have thought that minority groups, e.g. gays, single parents, ethnics, etc. seldom vote on a single issue. We have a lot of policies which can make a broad appeal to them.
A single mother is more likely to ask what are we going to do about the failing comprehensive in the inner city which her teenage daughter attends rather than whether we think her (the mother) particular life style is appropriate.
William Hague has brought the Conservative Party back to life when every commentator had written us off. He has had to endure the scorn of the London metropolitan elite who despise his values and what he stands for while at the same time having an "I’m all right Jack" attitude. (No wonder the so called socialist "I can’t vote for any other Party" Lady Penny Mortimer sends her children to private school.)
He may never gain the keys to Number 10 Downing Street. But even if he doesn’t he will be held in great affection by the Party and in the country. Sir Alec Douglas Home served as Edward Heath’s Foreign Secretary after standing down from the leadership in 1965 and afterwards returned to the House of Lords as Lord Home of the Hirsel. He always received a rapturous reception at Conference.
Every one of us will be willing Hague to become the next Prime Minister. Every Conservative Leader since 19232 has eventually become Prime Minister. William Hague is surely as good as the present incumbent who believes in nothing in particular and who would rather listen to his spin-doctors than visit his own supporters in the inner cities or the failing industrial towns.
So whenever the General Election comes, in May or October next year, let us all go out and give it our best shot. We owe it to William Hague, if no-one else.

THOUGHTS FROM THE GRASS ROOTS - Before the Conference
By a Conservative
The holiday season has come and gone and we approach the Party Conference season with a possible General Election less than a year away. How stands our party after three and a half years in opposition? We certainly made the headlines in August for all the wrong reasons.
We now know that in his youth William Hague consumed 14 pints of beer a day when working for his father’s company. What was the point in revealing this fact? Of course it showed that he was one of the lads and enjoyed the ordinary things in life. But it also raised the question of whether he could ever have drunk so much without becoming ill and gave the impression that he lacked ‘gravitas’ and displayed immaturity.
It is good to know that some comedians such as Jim Davidson back the Conservatives. He does have the common touch but whether his wooing of the blue rinsed ladies in the shires with his brand of humour and innuendo will bring rewards is open to question.
And what of Dr. Liam Fox with his suggestion of literacy tests for overseas doctors? Why confine it to them? The writing of our own British doctors leaves much to be desired if you look at the handwriting on many of the prescriptions issued. And on that criteria you wonder how many of them managed to pass their exams – did the examiner think to himself "Well I can’t really read this but I hope he (or she) is right?’
And finally the loss of Ivan Massow. I’m sorry he finds our party so intolerant (‘plain nasty’ was what, I think he said) but he has joined one which he finds will be at least as bad and probably much worse. Ivan’s passions are making money (which made him a millionaire) and fox hunting – both of which are disliked and, in some cases positively reviled, by certain sections of the Labour Party. As for his sexuality – this may be acceptable at the Islington dinner tables for the champagne socialists but in the South Wales Valleys, which I know well, he would be regarded by many (including Neil Kinnock in his younger days) as a raging poofter. How ironic it was for him to be feted by Mo Mowlam when he left us – she herself is leaving active politics because of malicious rumours and back biting from the top Labour hierarchy.
I’ve received my copy of the ‘Believing in Britain’ document on which the manifesto will be based and also the party’s magazine ‘Conservative Heartland’. I am continually asking myself why are we still 16% behind Labour in the opinion polls and I think I have part of the answer form an article in it by Ann Widdecombe. I always think it is fatal for a politician to reconcile his or her views by a reference to Christianity or religion. Ann has, I’m afraid, fallen into that trap. She says and I quote: "The point about the Good Samaritan was that he head wealth." I don’t think that is true and I would challenge the assumption. The point surely is that here was a man (the Samaritan) who had compassion for another fellow human being who had been stripped and robbed of his possessions and left for dead. Nowhere in the parable does Jesus says that the Samaritan found favour with God because he was able to give two silver coins to the inn-keeper for looking after the sick man. It must also be remembered that in those days, Samaritans had no dealings with Jews – the two races hated each other. I always remember an "Any Questions?" programme on the radio which featured the late Malcolm Muggeridge and the late Eric Heffer MP. Heffer, although on the far left of his party, was brought up as an Anglican. A religious question was asked and an argument ensued during the course of which Muggeridge said to Heffer: "I do wish you would stop treating Jesus as the Hon. Member for Galilee South".
Ann Widdecombe gave the impression that all we were concerned about, as Conservatives, was making money and gaining as many material possessions as possible. There are, of course, other reasons for our failure to make a greater impact. I suggest as follows:
When we left the ERM in September 1992 it was a traumatic experience for John Major and the Cabinet. We had a period of painful readjustment with higher taxes but at the end Kenneth Clarke, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, got it about right and passed on a good legacy to Gordon Brown who immediately handed over control of interest rates to the Bank of England. There has been no serious economic crises which plagued previous Labour governments. There is a period of contentment.
The mixed (and mainly capitalist) economy and the free enterprise system has won the battle and provides a better opportunity for giving us all the material benefits we would like, i.e. Conservatives have won the argument.
The complete emasculation of the Trade Unions thanks to the Trade Union reforms of the 1980’s. Trade Unions are now, quite rightly, engaged in trying to get better conditions and higher living standards for their members. They are not, thank goodness, engaged in trying to govern the country as part of some sort of ‘triumvirate’. Twenty five or thirty years ago, nothing could be done without the blessing or Jack Jones and Hugh Scanlon.
Writing during the week of the Trade Union Congress conference, one would be hard pressed to name more than three Union leaders.
(4) Conservative policies are not distinctive enough (and that does not mean being more right wing). If, for example, we are going to spend as much on the National Health service as the Labour Party, why bother to change your vote? People, generally, are not interested in the economic arguments. It would be far better if we did not enter into an auction with the Labour Party who are about to embark on an irresponsible spending spree ratcheting up public expenditure to what might be an unsustainable level.
We have, sadly, a presidential system in which the party leaders are subject to special scrutiny. Blair already has ‘charisma’ (a quality which William Hague seemingly lacks) and is Prime Minister – Blair with his publicity conscious wife and four lovely children, including baby Leo, will be portrayed as a man with family values at heart, and pro marriage. And here is the paradox – he is head of a Cabinet whose membership includes many who are either themselves on their second marriage or their spouse is, many who are not married or are simply ‘gay’. Was it not the late Jimmy Thomas who once memorably said: "If you can’t ride two horses at once, you don’t deserve to be in the bloody circus"?
The next General election is going to be very difficult for the party. Our local government successes in early may concealed the disastrous loss of Romsey on the same day, a fact glossed over by Central Office. We were caught in a classic ‘pincer’ movement where the anti Conservative vote was transferred to one of the other candidates in this case the Liberal Democrats. The Labour vote in Romsey just collapsed and went to the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative vote fell by 3% because we completely failed to get our maximum vote out.
Last Wednesday’s ‘Daily Telegraph’ with its list of marginal seats illustrated the problem. On a uniform 4% swing (that achieved by Michael Portillo in Kensington & Chelsea last year but nowhere near matched in the other by-elections of this Parliament) we would gain about 70 seats taking us from 165 to 235 seats.
Labour’s overall majority would be cut but Tony Blair would still won comfortably and have a working majority adequate for the full term of another Parliament.
Let us take a constituency example. Torbay in South Devon. Safely Conservative for 60 years, it fell to the Liberal Democrats in 1997 by a margin of 12 votes – Liberals 21,000, Conservatives 21,000, Labour 9,500. Between 1983 and 1997 the Conservatives polled between 26,000 and 28,000 votes winning each time by between 6,000 and 9,000 votes over the Liberal Democrats. Because of the ‘pincer’ movement described above Labour could lose 6,000 (all going to the Liberal Democrats) and the situation would then be: Liberal Democrats 27,000, Conservatives 21,000 (static) and Labour 3,500. So the party has to increase its vote by at least 6,000 to have any chance of regaining the seat. Of course, last time some Conservatives may have voted Liberal Democrat and others may have just stayed at home. But the Liberal Democrats do have a staying power and once in are very difficult to dislodge. Our party ignores them at its peril. The Liberal Democrats will always prefer Labour (they are both parties of the left) and in Charles Kennedy have a leader who was once in the Labour Party.
The ‘Daily Telegraph’ article also told us what swing and how many seats would be needed if William Hague were to survive as leader after a defeat. But the article was selective and did not compare like with like. Much will, of course, depend on how William Hague conducts the election campaign but far too many are too eager to blame the leader if things go wrong. Any idea that Michael Portillo would be able to take up the mantle and suddenly gain all those extra seats is in my view sheer moonshine. Michael has many excellent qualities but he would repel as many voters as he would gain. We would be unable to broaden the church, were that required. Arthur Balfour continued to lead the Conservatives for nearly six years after the heavy defeat of 1905. So is it not about time that our leaders looked to the long term? We have only to look at what Ken Follett, Tony Wright and Derek ‘Dolly’ Draper say about New Labour to know that it stands for nothing in particular and that the wheels of that particular chariot will eventually come off.
Writing before the Party Conference I hope it will not, as last year, be a looking back to the 1980’s and the premiership of Lady Thatcher. That would simply be an exercise in ‘sycophantic mush’ and would not concentrate on the real problem which is how to reduce considerably, if not completely eliminate, the majority of arrogant, bossy, overbearing government whose sole purpose is to win a second term in office. It has destroyed the Constitution, emasculated the House of Lords, released convicted terrorists who have maimed and murdered innocent people in Northern Ireland in a so-called peace agreement. It tacks on to other bills, other important pieces of legislation and blames a now non-existent Conservative majority in the House of Lords for its failure to get its business through. On a bill to outlaw fox hunting the Prime Minister states publicly on television that it is because of the Conservative majority in the House of Lords that the Bill has not been passed when it fact it was ‘talked out’ in the House of Commons. It has raised taxes by stealth and no one seems to notice. It has penalised thrift and savings are at an all time low. It wants and will eventually take us into a single currency in Europe and allow this once great country to become a mere province in a Greater Europe. The great constitutional issues leading to this super state will be suppressed and the country will have finally given up what remaining independence it has. Those of us who point this out are regarded as Little Englanders, clinging on to an age long gone by, and not part of the Cool Britannia so beloved of our present leaders.
The tragedy, as I have pointed out before, is that the Conservative Party is in no fit state to challenge our new elite.
But the writer will, at least, be able to say:
"Don’t blame me: in 1997 I voted Conservative".


Let me begin with a quotation:
"Firstly, a beautifully effective and time honoured brain washing technique was being applied. If there is some sweeping change which certain interest people are anxious to bring about, the first thing to do is to spread the idea abroad that everything is inevitably changing and that the particular change they have in mind is bound to come anyway. After a while, people become resigned to this, for those in power are so powerful and there is nothing anyone can do about anything. This feeling of resignation is then seized on by the reformers as proof that there is a growing body of opinion in favour of the reform they want. They then, for example, talk confidently about the year 2000 when all will have come inexorably to pass. History is on their side: just as Karl Marx said it was on his".
This is part of an editorial in my old school magazine dated 14th May 1966 – thirty four years ago. It was in response to a call for a fully state comprehensive school system given by the main guest at that year’s Speech Day.
How apt is that editorial in respect as to whether Britain should or should not have the euro as its currency in the future.
I have said previously that I first became interested in politics in 1963 and this was just after the first Macmillan /Heath attempt to enter the then Common Market which was aborted by General Charles de Gaulle. Having studied both French and Latin in school and having an interest in French history I was (and still am) pro European. I supported the second attempt at entry by the 1966-1970 Wilson Government (again a failure) and was pleased when the Heath Government of 1970 – 1974 finally gained entry. I voted "yes" in the 1975 referendum during Harold Wilson’s final year as Prime Minister.
What I thought I was voting for was a ‘common market’ – that is a group of countries who wanted favourable trade with each other is a free enterprise economy. I had no idea that this would eventually lead to full economic, monetary and political union. For me, this has never been on the cards. So for want of a better word(s) I am a pro European euro sceptic.
I am surprised to read that those of us who oppose the ‘euro’ are regarded as on the extreme right (which in my case is certainly not the case) or are regarded as "Little Englanders". What is deplorable is that the British public is not being allowed a serious and sensible debate as to the merits and demerits of joining the euro. The press is full of news about splits in the present Cabinet over the issue (and let’s be quite clear the Labour Party is as divided as the Conservatives over the issue: the left of that (Labour) party is keeping quiet for the moment). But the public should be in no doubt about what is being proposed if we do get rid of the pound. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer (of whatever party) will be beholden to the unelected bankers of Europe based in Frankfurt. The British Chancellor would no longer be responsible for setting taxation or public expenditure levels and would become simply another tax gatherer. And once we are in, there is no going back or getting out (as former Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke, has courageously pointed out).
The consequent political union is also of great significance. I do not see how a group of thirty or so countries with such diverse histories over thousands of years, with different languages, can ever be wielded together to create a ‘super’ state on the lines of the United States of America.
Whether we like it nor not, Elizabeth II is a constitutional monarch and our Head of State. By her Coronation oath, The Queen has promised to govern the "Peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland etc." The Queen would have to sign any Act of Parliament regarding transfer of powers to a ‘super state’ and would be, I would have thought, in violation of that oath. Of course, many among the ‘great and the good’ will say "So what?" because they neither believe in the Coronation oath or in God.
But there are serious constitutional issues which must be fully debated and resolved.
It seems to me that the European Commission is a retiring place for failed British politicians. When Lord Jenkins of Hillhead failed to gain the leadership of the Labour Party in 1976, he took off for Brussels and became President of the European Commission. On his return in 1981, he joined the S.D.P. (reeking havoc in the Labour Party) and in 1988 on the merger of the S.D.P. and Liberal Party, became a Liberal Democrat with a seat in the House of Lords. Neil Kinnock, having twice failed to become Prime Minister, became a European Commissioner and is now Vice President of the Commission. Having been fervently anti-Common Market for the first forty years of his political life, he is now pro European (in extremis), giving us the greatest conversion since St. Paul on the road to Damascus.
The Conservatives are no better. Sir Leon Brittain blotted his copy book at the time of the Westland affair and was soon despatched to Europe, eventually become a Vice President of the Commission. Our present Commissioner, Chris Patten, lost his seat in Bath in 1992 (against an unknown Liberal Democrat and at a time when John Major was polling the highest Conservative vote last century) and holds his position simply be reason of Tony Blair’s patronage (a Tony Tory).
Yet these failed politicians have the nerve to say what the British public must and must not accept.
When the Common Market was established by the Treaty of Rome in 1957, Britain had not, at that time, divested herself of her remaining colonies – Africa being the prime example. The Common Market was primarily designed for the benefit of France and Germany and to prevent them from going to war against each other again. After all France had borne the brunt of the German invader in both 1914 and 1939. Britain has not been invaded since 1066.
In my history lessons, I was always taught that Britain was a sea power with a strong navy. France and Germany, both with large armies were ‘land’ powers.
In any event, with the development of the atomic bomb and later the hydrogen bomb, conventional war was, in future, unlikely. Western Europe would depend on American nuclear protection and on N.A.T.O. – designed to keep America in Western Europe, the U.S.S.R. out of Western Europe and to prevent German aggression.
Many small businesses with under twenty employees do not want the euro and we still do a lot of trade with countries outside Europe. Those who are pro euro say jobs and prosperity will be at risk if we don’t join but I’m not convinced. The economy seems pretty sound at the moment (that’s probably why Gordon Brown is not backing the pro euro drum more vigorously) and I see no reason why it should not continue to be so.
When Britain first applied to join the Common Market forty years ago, those who opposed it were in the main either Tory grandees on the right such as Sir Derek Walker Smith or Sir Robin Turton (both now dead) or left wingers such as Michael Foot or the late Emanuel Shinwell. They were joined by the late Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell (remember how he was mocked by Macmillan in 1962 – "she didn’t say yes, she didn’t say no").
But they have been proved right. We are on the road to a European "super state" in which great Britain becomes a province of a greater Europe. Our present Queen may well be the last monarch of the United Kingdom.
We have been promised a referendum on the euro. It is up to those who vote Conservative, together with the masses of Liberals and Socialists who don’t want to become enmeshed in a ‘greater Europe’ to hate Tony Blair and his cronies in their tracks.
At times of great crisis, people do come together. In 1939, just after Germany invaded Poland, Leo Amery (a Conservative) called across the Chamber of the House of Common to Arthur Greenwood (a Socialist): "Speak for England, Arthur!"
Who can give us such leadership now?
The following article appeared in   "Crossbow" magazine published by The Bow Group.

by
John E. Strafford
In 1938 a British Prime Minister spoke of "Peace in our time". A year later we were at War.
In 1998 a British Prime Minister said that the "Good Friday Peace Agreement" was the "best hope for peace". Tony Blair went on to say "I feel the hand of destiny on my shoulder." We saw that in the bloody tragedy of Omagh the hand still had the stench of Semtex and the odour of the armalite on it. Let there be no more appeasement by a British Prime Minister.
The Conservative Party is rightly proud of the stand it has taken in the fight against terrorism and has often paid the highest price for that stand. Airey Neave, Ian Gow, and the victims of the Brighton Hotel paid with their lives.
Under the "Good Friday" agreement terrorists that committed various crimes have been released from prison before their sentences were completed. The Shankhill Road bomber has only served eight months for each of the 10 deaths he caused – and has been awarded more money for resettlement than the daughter of two of his victims received in compensation. All terrorist prisoners receive £3,500 resettlement grant. Once you start to bend justice for political purposes you undermine all justice.
Has the agreement provided peace? We were promised decommissioning:
Before talks,
In parallel with talks,
At the end of talks,
After the signing of the "Good Friday" agreement,
When the Assembly was set up,
but it has not happened.
In the two years since the "Peace Agreement" was signed 49 people have been killed by terrorists in Northern Ireland and 2,422 maimed or injured.
In the year since the "Peace Agreement" was signed there were 140 bomb attacks in Northern Ireland – double the number in the year before the "Agreement" was signed.
In the six months after signing there were:
69 Terrorist punishment beatings
31 Terrorist punishment shootings
98 Other Terrorist shootings
On Election night last year over 100 petrol bombs were thrown at the police as they escorted the ballot boxes to the count in Belfast.
The one thing the "Peace Agreement" has not done is to bring peace. There will only be Peace when it is demonstrated clearly and unequivocally that violence has no part to play in the politics of Northern Ireland.
Can the "Peace Agreement" work? The clear and unequivocal answer is NO. There are democratic fault lines in the Agreement.
The Assembly institutionalises sectarianism, dividing members into Unionist and Nationalist blocs, but in order to influence the outcome of any vote a member can change blocs – and back again – by giving one week’s notice.
The Assembly has a set life of five years with no by-elections. If a member dies or resigns the vacancy is filled by a nominee from the same party.
The Assembly is designed to provide an All-Party Coalition – in effect a One Party Government – with no official Opposition to form an alternative administration.
Once the Cross Border Bodies are up and running the Secretary of State can dissolve the Assembly and allow the Cross Border Bodies to take over the functions of government. In effect Joint Authority.
20% of those elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly were unemployed when elected. The reason for this is that it contains a significant number of ex para militaries and yet these are the people that under power sharing will govern Northern Ireland. Is it any wonder that one of the first things the Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly did was to vote themselves a 30% pay rise to £38,036 per annum?
The Labour Party’s official policy until recently was for a United Ireland. Their hidden agenda still is for a United Ireland. If you live in Northern Ireland you cannot join the Labour Party although it continues to collect £124,000 per annum from affiliated trade unions in Northern Ireland. You can join the Labour Party if you live in Bangkok but not if you live in Belfast.
Freedom is the ability of a people to govern themselves, balanced by the protection of the rights of minorities. When people cannot change the way they are governed then they no longer live in a free society. In more ways than one the "Peace Agreement" has taken freedom away. When people find that democracy is distorted and their views are no longer represented they will take to the streets. The "Peace Agreement" is fatally flawed.
The Sinn Fein member Martin Mcguinness was Minister for Education in the Northern Ireland Executive. When the people of Northern Ireland realise that this is just one thing amongst many that cannot be changed they will realise that they no longer live in a democracy. Ministers cannot be held to account by voting them out of office.
So is there an alternative?
In 1920 when the Irish Free State left the United Kingdom, Sir Edward Carson asked the British Prime Minister to govern Northern Ireland in the same manner as the rest of the United Kingdom.
His request was rejected and for 70 years a devolved political solution has been imposed on Northern Ireland and has clearly failed.
From Whitelaw’s Power Sharing Executive in 1973 through the Sunningdale Agreement to Merlyn Rees’ Constitutional Convention in 1975, Humphrey Atkins’ Stormont Conference of 1979, Jim Prior’s Devolution Bill of 1982 and the Anglo Irish Agreement of 1985 – every single one has ended in ignominious failure.
It is time that Northern Ireland was governed like other parts of the United Kingdom. The following steps should be taken: -
The present arrangements for the Assembly should be scrapped.
Legislation covering Northern Ireland should be enacted by Parliament at Westminster and not by Order in Council.
Local Government should be built up in Northern Ireland with the same responsibilities as local authorities on the mainland. This means that they should cover housing, education, highways, planning, recreation and social services. Democracy can be built from the ground up rather than imposed top down. Already the different parties work with each other at a local level. At present they have few responsibilities but these can and should be increased. Let us build on this.
We should work on the basis of one community. This means sweeping away legislation, which entrenches sectarianism, i.e. the "Fair Employer" legislation: this type of legislation is divisive.
Finally we want to develop the maximum administrative, economic and political co-operation between the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic, but there is no good reason why Irish citizens should have any more rights in United Kingdom elections than other European nationals. Their right to vote in U.K. Parliamentary Elections should be abolished.
By adopting the above proposals we can create constitutional certainty, build democracy and restore freedom to the people of Northern Ireland. This should be Conservative policy.

September 24th
Immigration
Is it true that in the U.K. immigration figures only include the heads of families, whereas in other countries their figures count each individual?
Prospective Parliamentary candidate
At a disciplinary tribunal of the National Association of Estate Agents held on 9th December 1999 Mr. K.D. Hall refused access to the Association's accountants despite a number of requests.   These requests were as a result of a complaint forwarded to the Association's Compliance Department.    Fines and costs amounting to £417 were imposed.
Is this the same K.D. Hall that is the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Peterborough?   Update.   Yes it is, and we understand that he has now resigned, although he is still shown as a candidate on the Party's web site.
Consultation
In a message to Constituency Chairmen the Party Chairman states that over 250 Associations will be holding meetings to discuss the Pre Manifesto document.   What has happened to the other 400 constituencies?    Do they exist?   Do they have such contempt for members that they cannot be bothered to hold meetings?   Is this indicative of the state of the Party?   Even Beaconsfield (one of the top ten constituencies has not held a meeting)   Thankfully Wessex Area CPC did and very successful it was too.
Conservatives in Northern Ireland
At the General Election the Conservative Party hopes to have a Conservative candidate for every constituency in Northern Ireland.    Why then, did Central Office not ensure that there was a Conservative candidate for the Antrim South by-election?   The Conservatives in Northern Ireland wanted to put up a candidate.
The Party is running a fairly successful campaign to "Keep the Pound" using a van with the slogan on it.   The Northern Ireland Conservatives had arranged for it to visit Northern Ireland.    At the last moment it was stopped by Lord Sebastian Coe "for political reasons"   What is going on?   Could it be anything to do with the fact that Jonathan Cane who has always been friendly to the Ulster Unionists has been promoted from being an advisor to Andrew Mackay MP to being a member of William Hague's office, the head of which is Lord Sebastion Coe?
For 10 years the "grass roots" of the Conservative Party have supported their colleagues in Northern Ireland.   We must increase that support.   There are two specific ways we can do this: (a) Attend the fringe meeting organised by the Northern Ireland Conservatives at the Party conference, and (b) If you are able to help financially ensure that the N.I. Conservatives have sufficient funds to fight every seat at the General Election.   COPOV will put any potential donors in touch with the Northern Ireland Conservatives.
P.S In recent canvassing in Northern Ireland the Conservative Party is getting good support from all sections of the community.
UPDATE : We understand that the reason that the Conservative Party did not put up a candidate in the Bye-election is because they thought he would take votes from the Ulster Unionist!   Fat lot of good that was.   The Ulster Unionist lost anyway.   It is time the Party started listening to its members in Northern Ireland, then we might be on the winning side.
September 17th
Human Rights Act
The Labour Party refuses to organise in Northern Ireland.   This means that the people of the Province are unable to vote for or against the Party which forms the Government of the United Kingdom.
This is a clear breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.   Either the Labour Government should resign or the Labour Party should allow the people of Northern Ireland the opportunity to join it.    Why if you live in Bangkok you can join the Labour Party but not if you live in Belfast?
2Ms
We understand that when Martin Mcguiness meets Peter Mandelson the air turns blue.  That is when you can see it through the smoke emanating from the increasing numbers of incendiary devices being found in Belfast's stores.
RUC
Pressure on the Government is growing in Northern Ireland due to the small number of members of the RUC to take voluntary redundancy.   What will the Government do?

September 10th
UNICE
This body is the Employers representative in Brussels.   They are directly involved in the drafting of social legislation.    They cannot be second guessed by the European Parliament.   They can only be turned down by the Council of Ministers.   So much for democracy and accountability!
Real Power
I understand that the real power in the European Union lies with the committees and working parties of the Council of Ministers.    These permanent civil servants and others draft the documents for the Council Of Ministers.   Who are they accountable to?   Isn't it time we found out?
NATOjetplane.wmf (7414 bytes)
Jamie Shea is the spokesman for Nato but I hear that he is also a consultant for a couple of American firms.   Is this true and if it is, is it right that a public servant should also be a consultant?
From Steve Norris Tue Sep 05
Where on earth did you get the idea I was in favour of women-only short lists? You really can't be stupid enough to rely on a newspaper without taking the elementary
step of checking first. I'd always been fairly sympathetic to your
campaign, but anyone who distorts the facts to reinforce their own
prejudices in the way your unpleasant piece did doesn't really deserve to be
taken seriously by anyone.
Oh, and as you are interested, I'm not and never have been in favour of
w-o-s/l's. Nor is it an issue in my role at CCO.
Pip, pip.
(For God's sake don't end up like all the other single issue lot.- I thought
you had more sense )

We are delighted to set the record straight and unreservedly apologise to Steve Norris. We wish him well in his new position.

From David Futcher  September 6th
You saw it here first (6)
Back in July we questioned the Blessed St Mo of Mowlem's judgement over
her remarks concerning the re-location of the Royal Family to a new
palace representative of modern architecture. Well, barely two months
later St Mo herself has decided to quit politics. You may wish to think
that here at COPOV we have influence beyond our numbers, but I could not
possibly comment.

As for her tenure as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the less
said the better. Her thinly veiled affinity for Irish republicanism
coupled with her failure to visit a single army or RUC base during her
time in the Province did not go down a bundle with the Unionists. As Ian
Paisley Jnr, a Democratic Unionist Assemblyman said "It is just a pity
it did not happen when she was Secretary of State. It is a case of
goodbye and good riddance."

David Futcher
Wally of the Week October 22nd
Lady Kate Gavron. Yes, its her again, the well-heeled, well-educated whacky vice-chairman of the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain. She qualifies with honours summa cum laude this week for suggesting that the Prince of Wales should have married a black woman (Why not Indian or Chinese?).
The Daily Telegraph says that Lady Gavron's other day-time activities include being a member of the Runnymede Trust's Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia and chairman of Carcanet Press, a poetry imprint. Since none of this seems to constitute a "proper job", Lady Gavron presumably has plenty of time to busy herself dreaming up bonkers ideas to annoy the rest of us.
Of course, like the rest of her ilk, Lady Gavron runs on 100 octane hypocrisy. She says that "it is anachronistic and illogical" to hold a title that is passed on from your forebears, but not so when the title is passed on from your husband, who got it for giving £500,000 to the Labour Party. In effect, Lady Gavron is saying that the Prince of Wales should marry somebody chosen for him by a committee, focus group or politically correct organisation. Is she prepared to allow her children's spouses to be selected in the same way?
Nominated by David Futcher
Wally of the Week October 15th
Its got to be joint honours this week to Stephen (Bozo) Byers and Prof. Lord Parekh.
"Bozo" Byers deserves to be hit over the head with all 1,200 pages of the Competition Commission report on supermarkets which came to the amazing conclusion, after two years, that "Excessive prices are not being charged nor excessive profits earned." A quick trip round Tesco's, Sainsbury's and Waitrose etc on a Friday morning would have told the worthies of the Commission as much. All the supermarket chains apart from Tesco and Morrison has had profit warnings in the last year and Asda is having a tough time. The report is a damp squib and waste of time. Perhaps Bozo has learnt the price of scoring a cheap political point.
Now we come to what must be the biggest load of twaddle to hit the streets since the forged diaries of Adolf Hitler. The Runnymede Trust document The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, written under the chairmanship of Prof. Bhikhu Parekh, is both offensive and arrogant. It is offensive to both blacks and whites and arrogant in its desire to re-write British history and "jettison" whole chapters of it because so much it is about white people. This sub-Marxist gibberish with its rambling and confused text should be consigned to the dustbin of history asap, but no doubt Tony (the anti-British history man) and Cherie (Mrs Human rights lawyer) will find it compelling bedside reading.
The most distressing element of this farce is that an organisation, which shows nothing but contempt for British history, has the brass neck to call itself the Runnymede Trust.
David Futcher

PS Congratulations to William Hague for his vigorous rebuttal of the Runnymede report in The Daily Telegraph, 13/10/00. An advance on the Opposition's supine response to the equally objectionable Macpherson Report.
August 27th
All Women Short lists
Steve Norris - (Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party) has called for all women short lists and quotas for ethnic minorities in the selection of Parliamentary candidates.   Only an appointed, unelected unaccountable Vice Chairman would ask for the democratic process to be so distorted.    We clearly need more women candidates and candidates from the ethnic minorities for the Party to be more representative of the people but the way to do it is to make the Party democratic and thus attractive to young people.   A good start would be to have the Vice Chairmen of the Party elected by the members of the Party and accountable to the membership.
Steve Norris has denied the above -   COPOV unreservedly apologise for getting it wrong and are delighted to set the record straight.
Membership
In 1950 the membership of South East Area( Kent,Sussex, and Surrey) was 437,407 members.   Today Southern Region (Kent Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire, and Buckinghamshire together) has a membership of 110,000.   When is the Party going to wake up to the fact that it can form £5,000 clubs and £1,000 clubs to its hearts content, but these will only paper over the cracks in the spiral downwards.   There will always be a few people that will pay for access to Shadow Cabinet Ministers.   The Labour Party does the same for Cabinet Ministers.  Unless they do something about membership both Parties are doomed and the only way they can be turned round is to make them more democratic.
Meetings
In 1948 Eastern Area turned out 50,000 people to hear Churchill speak at Luton Hoo.   Come back Areas, all is forgiven.    Where are today's visionaries?

August 20th
NATO - the truth will out!
 BS00900A.gif (904 bytes)Fewer than 50% of RAF bombs met with their targets in the Kosovo conflict.   Some bombs had a successful hit rate of just 2%.
The Republic
Sinn Fein is calling for reform of the Irish constitution to allow MPs from Northern Ireland to attend debates held in the Dail.    One more step towards a Republic.   Will no one stand up to them?
Party Political Democracy
On the first day of their Party Conference the Liberal Democrats have a 2 hour session on "Party Democracy".    Will the Conservative Party do the same?   And we wonder why they have been gaining ground.

13th August
Decommissioningdynamite.wmf (15318 bytes)
In May 1993 Albert Reynolds sent a message to John Major defining "arms and equipment" as one of the issues to be dealt with expeditiously once public confidence in the peace process had been established.    How many arms have been decommissioned since then?    Zero!
Money to cut taxes
In April 1981, 574,000 people had been claiming sickness or invalidity benefit for more than six months.   By 1998 including those claiming Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance the figure was just over 2.5 million.   In some places such as the Welsh valleys over 20% of the male population are claiming these benefits!   Are we a sick nation?

August 6th
European PresidentMichael Bernier, the man in charge of reform at the European Commission(all appointed) wants the Commission to have the power to dissolve the European Parliament(all elected, even if it was by the discredited list system).   Are we moving towards a European Dictatorship?.
Bloody SundayThe breakdown of the responsibility for violent deaths in Northern Ireland is as follows: Republicans 58.8%; Loyalist terrorists 28.9%; the Army 6.6%; RUC 1.4%.   So what does a Labour Government do?   At a potential cost of £60,000,000 it holds an inquiry into the Army's actions.
REPORT ON CPF POLICY FORUM
held at Central Hall, Westminster, 8 July 2000
A viewpoint from the grass roots!
 There were at least a hundred or more members present, unfortunately biased towards the upper age groups; most of the younger ones later transpired to have had a purpose in their presence.
Angela Harvey, CPF Council - 'We here today are inputting to the next General Election manifesto'. She suggested there would be a straight yes/no ballot on the manifesto when it is produced but the audience vociferously wanted it item by item. This seemed to be a surprise to her. (We will not lie down and toe the line, particularly as many of us had seen the leaked report that policy debate is to be banned at the Party Conference.)
Michael Portillo - Apparently politicians are now seeing the political, rather than the economic, aspects of Euro-membership. 'It is clear to everyone that more money needs to be spent on health'. He has obviously benefited from a spell of unemployment - the surgeons did not recognise him as a hospital porter, but one patient, semi-dead, sat bolt upright - 'Good God, what are you doing here Mr Portillo?!'
Transport - both speakers had been told to talk about London, but the audience came from all over the SE and refused to be constrained.
Bob Neill (leader of Conservatives on GLA) said people do not actually care about ownership of public transport systems, only if buses and trains arrive on time and are reliable. He also stated that only the little people would be caught by congestion charges
'Question Time' - Ms Villiers demonstrated very clearly that the Conservative Party is following Tony Blair by controlling all its MP's and MEP's, whether elected as individuals or as a list. She saw her 'job' as an kind of whip. (I sat speechless.)
Nicky Griffiths spoke about 'campaigning' but did not see the problem of getting something to sell.
John Wilkinson spoke on tackling government (hooray!) and BUDGETS! - and to changing Euro-legislation! He really cheered me up after the plethora of boys and girls who were not only too young for the elected positions but were also very bad at basic speaking.
The Conservative PPC's on the platform, plus the abysmal MEP, were appalling - and this is not just my opinion. They were not only young but they were not up to any job at all. All were absolutely incompetent speakers - repeated calls to 'speak up' from the back of the hall were ignored - they looked awful, were talking parrot-fashion to CCO briefs and fawned too often on the (absent) Willy Hague. We know they have to creep a bit, but so much? If I have to appear in such a public situation I at least comb my hair beforehand, if not get it sensibly cut, while the boys would make all but the most rabid Tory vote for any other candidate available.
I did not have time to take up Kate Jenkins' invitation to send in material that could not be covered at the meeting, such as my guide for aspiring candidates that proposes a minimum age of 35 and no bleating about childcare. It is no use responding to Blair's Babes by putting up our own!
Hazel Prowse
July 30th
Bad news for Taxpayers
The South Essex Society of Chartered Accountants tells us that "The Government agreed in February 2000 that the U.K. will not enjoy any more tax cuts(!) from 2001 onwards unless first agreed with the E.U.   Why isn't the Conservative Party shouting this from the roof tops?   Why is Labour giving away our freedom?   Who will stand up and fight for the United Kingdom?
July 23rd
Antrim South By-election.
The Ulster Unionists have already chosen their candidate for the Antrim South By-election.   He is David Burnside.   Is this the same David Burnside that is a member of the City of Westminster Conservative Association?   Is the Conservative Party going to field a candidate in the By-election?   After all, the intention is to fight every seat in the General Election.   If they do put up a candidate to fight the By-election then David Burnished will automatically be expelled from the Conservative Party,   Is this why Central office are reluctant to field a candidate?   I think we should be told.
From David Futcher  Fri Jul 07
You saw it here first (4)
"Hard pounding this, gentlemen; let's see who will pound the longest." The Duke of Wellington, at the Battle of Waterloo.
We have in recent weeks referred to John Redwood's ability to ask questions of the Government Front Bench that are the parliamentary equivalent of "hard pounding". This was in spite of being sacked from the shadow cabinet six months ago for no apparent reason. It was reported in The Daily Telegraph (03/07/00) that "William Haguehas appointed John Redwood to run a new Parliamentary Campaigns Unit - a team of MPs charged with harrying the Government during parliamentary questions, debates and statements." 
John is reported as saying that the first campaigns would be to attack the cost of petrol and "stealth taxes".
Perhaps it is time for John to give those Opposition Front Bench under-achievers that we have been drawing attention to in "Flop of the Week", i.e. Sir George Young, Archie Norman, Caroline Spelman and Angela Browning, some intense and sharp after-school lessons in "hard pounding".
Welcome back John and go to it! We Conservatives in the grass roots and "Middle England" will be watching with interest.
Conservative Past
by
Grey Owl

An occasional column for all Conservatives over 45, whether paid up, fed up or just lapsed.
Money
"The spirit of self-help is the root of all genuine growth in the individual."
Samuel Smiles, Self-Help (1859) Ch. 1.
"There are few ways in which a man can be more innocently employed than in getting money."
Dr Samuel Johnson, 27 March 1775 in Boswell Life, vol. 2.
For those of us brought up on that sound Conservative principle of self-help, this Government's stealthy attack on our finances is proving very costly. Gordon Brown, with his ever-longer Finance Acts and ever more desperate efforts to plug loop-holes, is rapidly becoming the Chancellor from Hell. I wonder if all those Middle England voters who flirted with Blairism on 1st. May 1997 thought it would turn out like this? Here is a list of stealth taxes so far:
The removal of mortgage interest tax relief.
The abolition of the married couples allowance.
The removal of the age-related married couples allowance where neither of the married couple were aged 65 before April 6, 2000.
The abolition of reclaimable dividend tax credits for non-taxpayers.
The reduction in the level of tax-free savings that can be made each year. Under PEPS and TESSAS it was £12,000. Under ISAS it is £7,000, reducing to £5,000 on April 6, 2001.
The removal of tax credits on UK dividends for pension funds meaning that pension contributions will need to be increased to provide the same level of benefits.
The removal of the dividend tax credit after April 5, 2004 for PEPS and ISAS (it has already been reduced to 10% from 20%).
The gradual increase in taxation of company car fuel.
The increased levels of stamp duty on house purchases.
The failure of the higher-rate tax threshold to increase at the same rate as earnings. Since 1997, an extra 220,000 people have to pay tax at the top rate.
The failure of the inheritance tax nil-rate band to increase by the rate of inflation meaning more inheritance tax is payable – especially on the death of property owners.
The National Insurance burden on employers has increased due to the increase in both rates of NIC and the threshold at which it stops.
The removal of tax relief on all maintenance payments except for older people.
The proposed removal of the facility to carry forward unused relief for personal pension.
It should be noted that many of these stealth taxes are directed at families and older people, the very "forces of conservatism" that Tony Bliar so reviles. We are being stealthily parted from our money gained in "innocent employment" and having it redistributed in some politically correct agenda which was not in the manifesto. And of course, I have not mentioned the eco-terrorist led tax attack on fuel prices. John Redwood recently drew attention to this when he famously asked Gordon Brown the price of a litre of petrol and how much of that went in tax. Gordon didn't know the answer and neither did anyone else on the Government Front Bench. But then, why should they? Neither Gordon nor Stephen "Bozo" Byers (Minister responsible for the car industry) can drive. And as for John "Two Jags, Four Homes" Prescott, enough said!
The problem I have with all of this is that the rot was started by two Conservative Chancellors: Norman Lamont and Ken Clarke. For example, the Conservatives were first to reduce the real value of mortgage interest relief and married couples allowance by restricting these allowances. Whatever did John Major and his "complicating Chancellors" think they were playing at? No wonder they lost the confidence of Middle England and the 1997 election.
Will Michael Portillo turn into a great reforming and simplifying Conservative Chancellor like Nigel Lawson?
Will he attempt to turn the Lamont/Clarke/Brown tax ratchet back a good few notches? The evidence sofar is not encouraging. Perhaps we should club together to buy Michael a copy of "A Guide to the Simplification of the British tax system"*. The next general election is probably less than a year away. So lets start to hear it from the Conservatives that low taxation is back on the agenda. Lets hear it that supporting your family, buying your own home, saving for your old age, passing wealth to your children and those other thrifty Conservative values are what make us different from the trendy Islington Mafia of Tony Bliar. Less PC and more WI, please!

Grey Owl
"A Guide to the Simplification of the British tax system". Jacob Braestrup. Adam Smith Institute.
August
"The Week In Westminster"
Interviewed for "The Week in Westminster" former Party Chairman - Brian Mawhinney MP said that he was not impressed by "Focus Groups".   In February 1997 Charles Lewington told the National Union Executive Committee that the Party's focus groups had shown that the public perception of the Conservative Party was one of "Sleaze, incompetence and inefficiency".    Nobody in Central Office did anything about this with the resulting debacle in May 1997.   Now we know why!

Thoughts on the Current Debate about our Children’s Education
A Plea for a Return to an Age Long Gone
BY
A CONSERVATIVE

I write over the week-end when the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, condemned Magdalen College, Oxford for refusing to give a place to Laura Spence from Tyneside and claimed that the ‘old boy’ and ‘old school tie’ still operated in our oldest University. As a result of this outburst Magdalen College was virtually forced to release confidential documents as to why Miss Spence, like 16 other candidates, had been rejected. Brown, of course, wishes to be the next leader of the Labour Party and still to this day cannot understand why he was rejected in 1994 in favour of Tony Blair – so not only was it naked opportunism on his part but an attempt to display his ‘socialist’ credentials which, despite all attempts at concealment, are based on envy, jealousy and a dislike of ‘elitism’. ‘New’ Labour’s efforts have been designed to ‘con’ everybody into thinking the Labour Party has changed but it is still socialist in tooth and claw.
As a grammar school boy who had an opportunity to take up a place in one of our ‘red brick’ universities (I achieved reasonably good grades in both my ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels), I was unable, due to illness, to pursue my aim of gaining a degree. Of course, I would have liked to have gone to either Oxford or Cambridge (and my school had close historical ties with Jesus College, Oxford) but I was told that I simply was not good enough. I could have tried the entrance exam to either Oxford or Cambridge but I decided against it. My headmaster was himself a Cambridge graduate but only after doing his first degree at University College, Swansea. After recovering from illness I took up accountancy and although I did not pass my final exams, I have a good job as a self employed accountant living in the Vale of Glamorgan. With the help of my parents and my own savings, built up over the years (thanks largely to Lady Thatcher and John Major), I have just bought a flat in picturesque Cowbridge. Happiness in your chosen field is what is most important but you must make the most of what opportunities come your way.
As I have said I had the disappointment of not going to University at 19, but I passed the ‘eleven plus’. I am, thus, not in a position to say how I would have felt at 11 had I not won a place at the local grammar school. I think I would probably have cried and felt rejected – but whether it would have led me to condemn the whole ‘grammar’/’secondary modern’ system, I simply do not know. What I can say, looking back over the last 40 years, is that I have many friends who did not pass the ‘eleven plus’ or even go to University. Many have good, well paid jobs and can do things that I would not wish to do or simply cannot do. But when we meet, I never think to myself "I went to grammar school but you didn’t; lucky me". Friendship is one of the most valuable things to have and where would we all be without our friends? That can never be bought through any old boy or old school tie network.
You will understand that I deplore the loss of the old grammar/secondary school split from 30 to 40 years ago. I feel that the comprehensive system was set up for social and not educational reasons. The grammar school provided a means for many children from the working classes to obtain an academic as opposed to a practical qualification. A knowledge of say Latin was useful if you wanted to be a lawyer; chemistry and biology if you wanted to do medicine. These subjects would have been of little value if you were destined to be a painter or a plumber. More practical training would have been required for the latter specialist skills – which I might add are of much value in a decent, civilised society.
Over the last 40 years successive governments have poured billions and billions into education, yet there are still complaints of massive underfunding and where have we not heard all that before? Yet there are still students who cannot write a literate paragraph or think logically. Some cannot do simple division without using a calculator. My own god-daughter, on her own admission, was not particularly bright in school and did comparatively little work for her GCSE exams, cramming a lot into the last three months. Yet she gained six ‘A’ grades out of the 10 subjects she sat. I passed my ‘O’ level in English Language in 1963 with a mark of 55% and that was after having to do a precis and an English Language essay every third week as part of weekend homework. After the first two years, I was never out of the top three in the ‘A’ stream in my class yet I managed to obtain 70%+ in only four subjects out of ten at ‘O’ level. It was a case of blood, toil, tears and sweat. I believe standards have gone down – I don’t care what anyone says.
Successive governments both Labour and Conservative have allowed this to happen. It is a fact that two Labour public school education Secretaries – Tony Crosland (Highgate) and Shirley Williams (St. Pauls Girls) together with the Grantham High School educated Margaret Thatcher presided over, in the 1960’s and 1970’s, what I think has turned out to be an unmitigated disaster – all in the name of equality.
The University degree has been devalued (all the old polytechnics are now Universities). In my day, you already had four types of University – Oxbridge, London and Durham, other ‘red brick’ (e.g. Bristol, Manchester, Leeds etc.) and the newer ones (e.g. Lancaster, Kent, Bradford). To gain admission to some of these you had to pass a special examination (which I failed) known as the ‘Use of English’. So even 30 years ago the authorities were concerned with standards. Yet we are now producing what Melanie Phillips calls in today’s Sunday Times a ‘homogenised mediocrity’. When I was studying Latin for an ‘A’ level, we read Virgil’s Aeneid in which there was a competition race. At the very end of the race one of the judges (was it Anchises?) says this: "ALL HAVE WON AND ALL MUST HAVE PRIZES". And that, sadly, is the state of Britain’s education at the beginning of the 21st Century.
Even though the writer has had many problems with illness over the years, he is still able to speak fairly well ‘ex tempore’. He used to participate in school debates, enjoyed acting in school and house plays and was in his final year ‘dux scholae’. When asked these days how he is so confident (sadly not possessing a University degree) he replies thus:
"Because I was taught Latin in school. It was a discipline with its odd conjugations and declensions. It taught you to think logically and properly." Within two hours of joining the Grammar School, he was learning "Amo, amas, amat"; "Mensa, mensa, mensam". Latin has virtually disappeared from the curriculum in Comprehensive schools and is no longer a requirement at ‘O’ (GCSE) level for entrance into either Oxford or Cambridge.
The Government will continue to pour billions into education as though throwing money at everything will solve all the problems.
The writer believes we are on a continuing downward slope. At the moment Labour is moaning that not enough pupils from the state sector obtain a University degree. But you will never appease the left – they always want more. I predict that the next thing will be that as 93% of children are educated in the state sector, 93% should be going to University. The private sector (i.e. the public and prep. Schools) will eventually be abolished (there are already rumours about such schools losing their charitable status) and the remaining Grammar schools will be dismantled. (Even now, many don’t accept the result of the recent Ripon Grammar School poll.)
We have slipped into the ‘all have won, so all must have prizes’ mentality in which tradition and old values have no place. Sadly, the Conservative Party is in no fit state to challenge our new masters.
1984 has arrived just 52 years after it was predicted and is just 16 years late.


A View from the Grass Roots
by
A Conservative
Let me declare my interest straightaway. I am a Welsh (yes, Welsh) Conservative. I always have been Conservative (in attitude as much as anything else) and always will be. I have been interested in politics ever since I was sixteen in 1963 at the height of the Profumo affair which eventually destroyed Harold MacMillan’s government. I first voted in the 1970 General Election in a rock solid Labour seat and I have voted Conservative in every subsequent General Election, including 1997. Yet I have never canvassed for the Party, never held any office in any constituency Party and never been a councillor. I’v only been a member of the Party for the last two years – since William Hague became leader – and I am sad to see it languishing at just 30% in the polls.
Even sadder is the fact that in the ‘personality’ stakes, William Hague is no match for Tony Blair and is only supported by 50% of our own voters and supporters.
People tend to write off Hague as another Neil Kinnock. They would, in my opinion, be foolish to do so. Kinnock was a Welsh ‘windbag’ who supported every nostrum dear to the far left – nationalisation of the banks, building societies and the other ‘commanding heights of the economy’, high, punitive taxation, unilateral disarmament, abolition of the House of Lords and withdrawal from the then Common Market. (In the case of the last, has there ever been such a conversion since St. Paul on the road to Damascus?) When these proved unpopular with the electorate at large they were all – with the exception of the abolition of the House of Lords – discarded one by one. And that is the problem for the Conservatives – Labour is no longer a ‘socialist’ party in the accepted sense of the word. Kinnock was regularly floored at Question Time by Margaret Thatcher and made some disastrous speeches – notably at the time of the Westland affair in 1986.
Hague more than holds his own with Blair at Question Time and is a good Commons debater. Moreover he has never compromised on his beliefs and principles which have remained the same ever since he was 16. Unfortunately, thanks largely to the present government we live in the age of ‘spin doctors’ and ‘focus groups’ and Hague does not come over very well on television (a bit like Edward Heath). When he was elected leader three years ago, I thought that his common sense, down to earth Yorkshire approach (like that of Harold Wilson, 35 years ago) would pay dividends. Sadly it has not. My advice would be to say to Hague’s ‘spin doctors’ "A plague on both your houses. I’ll be myself." He should then consult some of the Party’s elder statesmen such as Lord Carrington or Lord Blake who, knowing what makes the Party ‘tick’ would give him sound and sensible advice.
Writing before the local elections – it seems that the Party will do reasonably well and poll about 35% of the vote in a low turnout. We are making progress and must continue to rebuild our local government base. The good sense of the British people will ensure this – they like to have local affairs conducted by the Party not in government nationally – although there are, of course, exceptions. We are told that the Party is in terminal decline and appeals mainly to the elderly. It is thus pleasing to know that in 21 year old Caroline Lawson, we have one of the youngest councillors in Great Britain – elected for the Abbey Ward in Rushcliffe six weeks after her birthday. There is the 33 year old entrepreneur Ivan Massow (what a fine candidate he would be for Mayor of London in 2004), the young huntsman (whose name I forget) who rides to hounds in the New Forest and 38 year Mohammed Khamisa who has given 20 years service to the Party since fleeing from Uganda in 1972 and who surely must soon be given a safe Parliamentary seat. In my own area, we have two excellent members in the Assembly – 25 year old Jonathan Morgan on the left and 29 year old David Davies on the right - who surely will fight each other for the leadership of the Conservative group in a few years time. So all is by no means lost. But one thing is certain – we must give this generation power – or we will surely be in persistent downfall. They are also the people we should be using in our Party political broadcasts – real people solving ordinary people’s problems. If ever there was a ‘turn off’ it was using a fictitious couple prattling on about being deceived by Tony Blair. You don’t promote Ariel by saying how bad Daz is for your wash. The Labour Party, four times losers of elections between 1979 and 1997, was written off by many as an effective force (particularly after the formation of the SDP in 1981 – and how long did that last? -) yet three years ago gained its largest ever majority in a General Election.
At the beginning of this article I said that I had always voted in a safe Labour constituency – Pontypridd in my case. Yet my home village is in part of what is known as the Border Vale of Glamorgan. Recently I moved to Cowbridge in the Vale proper and, hence, to a much more marginal constituency and one which has voted Conservative in part General Elections. Even in 1997 the Conservatives polled 18,500 votes (as opposed to just under 6,000 in Pontypridd). The port of Barry ‘skewers’ the Vale towards Labour and in John Smith we have a good Labour MP who will be difficult to dislodge and which I don’t expect to happen in a 2001 or 2002 election. Cowbridge, with its old Grammar School (now sadly defunct but which I attended in the 1960’s) is a typical market town similar to those found in England. It is now a commuter base for those working in Swansea to the west and Cardiff to the east. You can even commute over the Severn Bridge to Bristol and beyond in less than an hour. In a good year, Cowbridge will always return three Conservative councillors to the Vale of Glamorgan Borough Council (it did so in 1999) where strange alliances are being formed. The Tories are the largest Party but are still in a minority overall and are dependent on the Welsh Nationalist Party, Plaid Cymru, for support. For all its talk of being ‘whiter than white’ Labour had control until 1999 and provided a Council Leader who abused his position and corruptly used credit cards. At present, there is a by election pending in a safe Labour ward in Barry because the Labour councillor there, a local solicitor, has been jailed for 15 months for defrauding his clients out of their money. In neighbouring Cardiff, where the once proud Conservative Party has now been reduced to only five councillors, the Labour council leader, Russell Goodway (Goodwage, as one Labour MP has quipped) has combined his role with that of Lord Mayor and has accepted a salary of £58,000 a year for a four day week – the highest in Great Britain. Why Cardiff has to pay such a large salary – when council services are being cut, streets left unclean and workers made redundant – I do not know. We also hear constant moans about how much national government (of whatever Party) has taken over the functions of local government. Why then do we have to have so many councillors and at what a cost! But it is all part of the agenda of asking local government not something done as a part time voluntary service to the community but a full time professional job. How some of our former Council leaders (both Conservative and Labour) would be turning in their graves. So don’t let Labour kid you that it is ‘purity’ itself and everyone else is ‘sleazy’. Many of us in South Wales have experienced Labour domination of councils for over 70 years. Here an apprenticeship as secretary of treasurer of the local labour Party stood you in good stead for a position in the teaching professions or in local government.
It seems to me that the danger for the Conservative at the next election is that it will offer nothing different from Labour to the general public – the disease of what I call ‘me tooism’. I note that Hague has given five guarantees (too similar to the five Labour pledges of 1997) and has promised to spend as much as Labour on the NHS and on education. This, in my view, is not sensible. If both Parties are going to increase spending by £20 billion, why bother to change your vote? The NHS is never going to be a Conservative vote winner (partly because it was Labour who set it up in 1948). Why not go for save £5 billion and restore, or perhaps even give more, tax incentives to those taking out private medical insurance? Incidentally, when the writer was ill nine years ago, he was forced to go to the (private) Priory Hospital in Roehampton and he went as an NHS patient paid for by the (Labour) controlled Mid Glamorgan Area Health Authority. So there is plenty of scope for the public/private provision of health care. Labour is caught in a ‘time warp’ dating from the late ‘40s/early 50’s and we need radical and new ideas. The working man complains about paying too much tax – so how else are we to provide a health service other than by considering other methods of funding? If we have any extra money, we should consider spending it on the pensioners, many of who support the Party. We should relate pension rises to earnings and not prices and don the ‘hair’ shirt saying we were wrong to alter it in the first place. Labour can perform an about turn of 180 degrees and our present Foreign Secretary now believes in multilateral disarmament, as opposed to his unilateral stance of 20 years ago –so why can’t we?
I understand our policy on schools is to give governors and parents more control, (and after this week’s shenanigans at the NUT who can blame us? For who, in his right mind, would want a child educated by one of that scruffy lot?) But I give you these facts: the sister of a friend of mine does supply teaching and one week she was called to an inner city comprehensive in Cardiff which caters for 1,500 pupils and 30 or so ethnic groups. Many of the children were unruly and misbehaved with a lot of swearing and four letter words aimed directly at her. In reprimanding one of the children, she asked this question – "What would your mother say if she could hear you speaking to me like that?" This was the reply she received – "She won’t do nothing miss. She swears at me all the time." So I pose this question – "Is such a mother a fit person to have a say in the teaching methods of the school or who the teacher should be?" On things such as taxation we need to be radical and to overhaul the whole system. A friend of mine, aged 35 with a non working wife and three children under seven, has a three bedroom semi detached house, on mortgage, which he has extended. He works as a fitter for an American owned company based in South Wales, making aircraft engines. Working both day and night shifts and at weekends, his earnings last tax year were £35,000 and he has consequently been dragged into the 40% tax bracket. I don’t think anyone earning under £10,000 per annum should be taxed at all (admittedly, this would benefit me) and that my friend should be taxed at a maximum of 25 – 30%. But we should be honest with the electorate and say that you can’t have it both ways – low taxation and exceptionally high spending on the public services. In the case of ‘inheritance tax’ we should ask the question – Does it serve any useful purpose? If not, why not abolish it altogether? If, as the Labour Party claim, they are no longer the party of envy, then they will support it. All the money over the years collected from death duties, capital transfer tax and inheritance tax has only marginally improved the position for those less well off in society. You only have to go to the Rhondda Valley or Blaenau Gwent (Ebbw Vale) where there is still a lot of bad housing and much deprivation. All the extra money is likely to do is to pay for a few more bureaucrats and advisers in 10 Downing Street or more salaried, local councillors.
At present, the Conservatives re too engrossed in the past to mount a serious challenge to New Labour and William Hague is blamed for everything that is going wrong. Yet we have plenty of ammunition. This is a government that believes that the more advisers you appoint and the more committees you set up the better things will be. It is an interfering government full of busy bodies and confuses activity with action. The Prime Minister likes to be everywhere – everywhere except the House of Commons – and likes to be seen to be doing things – Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Education, BMW, Rover, the Health Service, Europe – he’s there. Where there is glory to be had or a crisis brewing, Tony Blair likes to be involved. Margaret Thatcher had presidential tendencies but she, at least, was ‘breaking the mould of politics’. Gordon Brown has cleverly disguised his tax changes and has redistributed wealth – much of so called ‘middle England’ is worse off but seems oblivious to the fact and taxes (on Alistair Campbell’s admission) are higher. But the economic crises which plagued previous Labour Governments have not happened so there is a feeling of "It’s good to be British" and a feeling of competence.
On Europe, the Conservatives ‘wait and see’ policy on the Euro is surely right. People are reluctant to give up the £ until the Euro has been tried in both good times and bad. I am amazed how many see this as a lurch to the right or a ‘little Englander’ approach. The British people should be in no doubt about what is being proposed. If we do get rid of the £, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer (whether Labour or Conservative) will be beholden to the unelected bankers of Europe based in Frankfurt. He or she would no longer be responsible for setting taxation or public expenditure levels and would become just another tax gatherer. There would be nothing to stop reduction in levels of expenditure on (say) the NHS (and in most Western European countries there is, at present, a bigger public/private mix than in Britain). Any consequent political union will mean Great Britain just becomes a province of a Greater Europe. In recent weeks BMW and Ford have been threatened with cuts, job losses and closures. This will become the ‘norm’ if we give up what little power we have left. It never ceases to amaze me how simply pointing this fact out is regarded as extreme.
The worrying aspect for many of us on the left of the Party (and with the late Iain Macleod as my hero, where else could I be?) is that we are at present not a broad enough church. At last year’s Conference in Blackpool, we seemed to be harking back to a past age – the 1980’s. For all the faults and failings of his administration (and, pace, Lord Tebbit, I have always been proud to be a Conservative) and the humiliating exit from the ERM in September 1992, John Major was a decent, likeable man, who served his country well. We adore Margaret Thatcher because she managed to win three General Elections, the two latter during which the Labour and Liberal Democrat vote was almost evenly split, and had huge majorities. We are too ready to forget that John Major polled the highest Conservative vote last century over 14 million in 1992. Is it not ironic that Tony Blair in 1997 polled 13.7 million yet has a majority of 180 compared with Major’s 20? Also Major’s poll ratings among the general public (and not just Conservative voters) was much higher than his two predecessors or his successor.
The Party has not been taken over by the right, in my view. Hague has had to be seen to be doing something different. The left of our Party has allowed Tony Blair to spout his ‘one nation’ rhetoric and not made a murmur. Too many of them are infatuated by the Prime Minister and have become Tony’s Tories. The fact that leading members of the Shadow Cabinet are on the right is hardly their fault. The left, in the shape of people like Stephen Dorrell and David Curry, voluntarily left the Shadow Cabinet (largely over the stance on Europe) and have continued to snipe from the side lines. Ken Clarke’s absence is more understandable (after all he was defeated by Hague in the leadership election) but having held both the Chancellorship and Home Secretaryship it is not surprising that he would not want to knuckle down to produce new policies.
Hague, to his credit, realises that it is going to be a long haul against a government in which presentation is everything If he can cut Labour’s majority to 80 or so in 2001/2002, he will have done well and something he can take credit for. But we must all be singing from the same hymn sheet. We forget that 1997 saw the greatest defeat since 1906 and universal suffrage. We would do well not to play the 'race' card more the ‘family’ card or the 'pensioner' card’ At the same time in matters like Section 28 and the age of consent we should have a policy which Middle England will be content with but show tolerance of those who we do not agree with because of their life style. The present Government will pander to any group in the hope that a rainbow coalition of minorities will form a majority.
In a recent poll, when asked which Party had contributed most to the events of the 20th century, 45% said the Conservative and 32% opted for Labour. Labour scored heavily on health because a Labour Government set up the NHS, regarded by over 80% as the most beloved institution. The Conservatives had, of course, been in power much longer either alone or in coalition.
Great Parties never die (although Labour overtook the Liberals as the main Party of the centre left in the 1920’s) and the Conservatives were out of power completely from 1906 to 1916. There is always room in any democracy for a Party of the centre right. The Conservative Party once the home of the aristocracy, the landed gentry and the church, has existed for nearly 300 years (Tories in Queen Anne’s day) and there is no reason for it not to exist in the future. When the Blair chariot comes off the wheels (as it eventually will) then the Party will again be called upon to serve the people of this country. As my hero, the late Iain Macleod, once said in a brave conference speech over 30 years ago: "Let the faint hearts go their way; we have no room for them. The Conservative Party is like dry timber and a spark will set it ablaze!" Let us all make sure Macleod is right.
June 25th                                                                                                                    
Party Conference Motions                                                                                                           
As is usual at this time of year many constituencies have debated and put forward motions for the Party Conference.   The only problem is, they will not be debated.   In a letter to Constituency Chairmen the Chairman of the Party (Michael Ancram MP) and the President of the National Convention ( Raymond Monbiot) have jointly said "We will not this year, be asking for the normal range of motions for Conference to be submitted"
The reason for this is the Pre Manifesto.    This "will be drawn up by the Shadow Cabinet by the end of July following extensive consultations with the Party, in the eight weeks preceding, through comprehensive Policy Forums around the country".   "the main elements of the Manifesto are to be published at the end of August"
"All Party members will then be invited to ballot on proposals during the second half of September".   We will announce at the Conference the result of the promised Ballot of members on the main elements of our eventual Manifesto which will be published in what will be called the Pre-Manifesto".
"rather than debating three month old motions it would be sensible if the Conference used the opportunity to discuss the key aspects of the draft Manifesto."
Have I missed something?   The Conference is going to debate a document which has already been sent to Party members and on which a ballot has already taken place.   Would it not have been more sensible to debate the document at Conference and amend it if necessary and then to put the amended document to a ballot of members?   But that would be democratic.   Heaven forbid, we cannot expect that in a Party where the Chairman is appointed so unaccountable to the members, so democracy is squashed again.
Constituency Report                                                                                                                            
Under the Conservative Party constitution:  
5.10 Not less than one month prior to the Annual General meeting of the Association each year, Officers of the Association shall:
5.10.2  produce a Constituency report which shall be available for all members of the Association and shall be sent to the Area Management Executive immediately following the Annual General Meeting of the Association and shall include the following information:
5.10.2.1   the number of members in the Association and the change in membership over the previous year;
5.10.2.2   the number of active Branches including details of new or closed Branches over the year;
5.10.2.3   details and activity of Association Committees;
5.10.2.4   details of campaigning and political activity during the year, including details of Local Government Candidates and the results of elections;
5.10.2.5   names and addresses of the Association's Trustees;
5.10.2.6   a summary of the activities of any Branch of the Association.

Have you asked for your Constituency Report?   Why is it that they are not available?   Are Central Office changing it?   Do they not want a check on membership?   Why is the Constitution being ignored.   It is time we were told what is happening.    


 by
Hazel Prowse
Does anyone care about democracy in Europe, must we riot or should we all adopt the Gallic shrug? After last June's elections, had proportional representation helped or hindered contact with the Parliament, let alone the Commission? Already the departure of one elected member for another party has caused turmoil, for there is no procedure to restore the politically correct balance, while after another’s departure the next in line on the list has changed his mind.
Unforeseen circumstances meant none of the candidates would know me so as an ordinary voter I wrote to all those elected, once I had discovered who they were. Window posters of the losers are traditionally taken down as the results are announced, leaving the smiling faces of the winners on public display. Under PR it is neither so quick nor so simple and random sampling of voters showed they did not know their new MEP's and even political enthusiasts from the major parties struggled to recall the names at the tops of their lists. I had the luck to be handed them in a committee room of the House of Commons, but without voting figures, and it is still rumoured that Spoilt Papers qualified for two seats in the Welsh Assembly.
I wrote to each of my eleven, care of the address on the election leaflet. I asked simple questions, grumbled about Brussels bureaucracy and requested action on various points. What was the total annual budget? What would my new members do about openness, evicting the old Commissioners, auditing members' expense claims and ending the silly monthly office moves between Strasbourg and Brussels?
Our various regulators require utilities to respond to customers' letters within three weeks at the most, with dire penalties for lateness. My first reply came after two weeks, the second after three, the sixth in August and the Green after five months; I have given up on the rest. Perhaps their secretaries are long over-due to a revision of their job specifications. Or perhaps the ultimate gravy-train has arrived, matching fantastic expenses with no requirement to work and no check of either.
The Liberals and the Independent did not reply at all. Was I being deliberately ignored or were the addresses on their election literature temporary, or even false, in which case the validity of their candidature may be dubious. One of the two Labour members promised a full answer, for which I am still waiting.
The Conservatives on the other hand were quickest off the mark and every one responded. I already knew of their plans to divide the region among those elected, but the Tory MEP's themselves either did not know or could not agree on who would take me. How are other electors supposed to make contact – with whom, and where?
Every candidate should have known most of the answers before standing and opinions are easily produced. Whoever heard of a politician who could not give his views off the cuff - the problem has always been how to stop him.
The Budget replies were most disappointing. I had hoped for a one-page summary of income and expenditure but I received just one figure from one man - that of Britain's contribution for 1998. My initial reaction to this ignorance is not printable. Coincidentally, the June issue of 'European Parliament News' gave a high-level pie chart showing the budget for 1999 to be 86 billion euros. I, who hold no particular political office, regularly receive copies in the post.
For detailed information some MEP's referred me to the Internet website and the offices of the European Commission and European Parliament in London. I was also sent seven pages of addresses for EU information in the South East region, all in towns that I seldom if ever visit. These 'Information Relays' are of six types, depending on the category of the person seeking the information, though why university students might want different material from the academic community or the general public I do not understand. I have visions of a future Euro-Directive requiring public libraries to re-arrange the books according to hair-colour of readers and of denying those on gardening to cyclists or teachers.
Visits later made to the London offices were less than helpful, as the public are not welcome at the Commission and the Parliament library has limited hours. Such leaflets that were available were out of date, half were useless and one entitled 'The Amsterdam Treaty' did not contain the Amsterdam Treaty at all. Is this misleading advertising? One urged women to vote but gave neither reason nor recommendation, leaving me to conclude that the paper wasted on the leaflet would exceed that used in ballot papers.
I was not surprised to find little support for some basic criteria for MEP candidates, and it was suggested that people wanting a say in selecting candidates must join a political party, but even then there is no universal suffrage or postal vote for members; no-one seemed remotely interested in the views of outsiders. Are we expected to trust a handful of senior party officials to rule over busy-body civil servants with no direct input from the electorate? How are we to make our voices heard when we are merely permitted to tick box A, B or C every few years and are denied the satisfaction of curtailing the careers of individual politicians who are out of step with popular opinion? Where is the public input to debate and discussion on our futures? Who decides what is important for us, and what irrelevant?
My complaint about pork-barrels was treated as amusing and even produced an offer of help to get a share myself!
Only the Ten Commandments and the laws of physics are immutable - all others, including the different European treaties, are open to revision or repeal in the light of experience and greater knowledge.
I read my replies in despair. I can visualise earlier mandarins shouting 'In the name of the Emperor', 'In the name of the 'King', 'In the name of the F├╝hrer' and 'In the name of the State' without challenge. Surely we do not have to go through a revolution to get some accountability and a proper management structure? The Americans fought a bloody civil war over states’ rights and the limits of the union but two centuries later not only are we the people kept in the dark but our representatives at Westminster cannot keep pace with the paperwork emanating from Brussels.
Small pressure groups are now calling themselves political parties and exercising more power than they deserve. The RSPB has more members than any, we know its aims, but we do not ask its opinion on railways, social services or defence. In the European Parliament the smaller 'parties' are out of their depth; when their few policies are examined they are found to be either compatible with those of a major party, or so way out as to be unacceptable. Some openly ask Conservative colleagues which way to vote. If one of these new 'parties' is unable to recruit sufficient members to make it financially viable in its own right it is clearly just a single issue club and should not seek election to bodies with wider remits.
Whatever the thoughts of readers on Herr Haider in Austria, it is PR that has given his little group publicity beyond his dreams. Despite setting up PR in the London elections next month (May) the Labour Party now contains a large majority against the principle and a First-Past-the -Post campaign is increasingly active; paid-up members should contact Stuart Bell MP. Meanwhile, the LibDems and Independents who had most to gain from PR have demonstrated that they are not the slightest bit interested in a possible recruit.
No, it is time to ensure only individual voters vote for individual candidates from parties that can not just support themselves financially but also have sufficient room inside for all the members to debate topics freely. I personally support many 'green' issues but see the best way forward in arguing for them within a government without doing deals.
PR has only served to increase the remoteness of MEP's and should be abandoned forthwith, now that it has been proved half of them do not care for us once they have landed their plum jobs. I will be spoiling my ballot paper in increasingly spectacular ways until the electorate are given their rights to chose direct the man for the job and a name to whom they can send complaints, questions, proposals and (hopefully) praise.
Hazel Prowse

Conservative Past
by
Grey Owl
An occasional column for all Conservatives over 45, whether paid up, fed up or just lapsed.
June 2000
Dates
Monday, 8th May. So what? you might ask. For those of us of a certain age it was of course VE Day, the 55th anniversary the British Army's greatest victory, the defeat of the German forces in North West Europe and the end of Nazism. A victory gained with the support of our allies, particularly the Canadians and the Poles. Who cares nowadays? Well, the Danish seem to. On that day, as every year since 1945, representatives of the Danish resistance travelled to London to lay wreaths at the Cenotaph and at Winston Churchill's grave in Oxfordshire.
Fortunately, by the time the Danes arrived, the disgraceful graffiti scrawled on the Cenotaph had been removed.
On the previous Monday, 1st May, Labour Day, James Matthews, 25, a student, who told magistrates that he had been a British soldier, was photographed defacing Winston Churchill's statue. His knowledge of history seemed to be slight to say the least as he told magistrates on 9th May: "If some people have been offended by my graffiti, many others have been offended by such a reactionary politician who was imperialist and anti-semitic. …….. it was acceptable to challenge an icon of the British establishment." Perhaps Mr Matthews should arrange to meet the members of the Danish resistance and learn some real history.
As to the statement by Scotland Yard that the policing of the May Day riots was "a reasonable success" and "a proportionate and professional response", I would strongly disagree, preferring to see it as a national disgrace. It seems the Metropolitan Police have gone soft on anarchy, preferring to defend McDonalds than two of the nation's most emotionally charged monuments.
We are supposed to have a Government that is "tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime". As William Hague said during Prime Minister's questions on 4th May: "He (Tony Bliar) is the one that went out to the Cenotaph yesterday, peeled an onion and said it can never happen again". Well done, William.

1st January 2000. Well, what is it this time? Only the 200th birthday of the United Kingdom, the anniversary of the Act of Union and the creation of the Union flag. Lord Laird, a Unionist crossbencher, has been waging a single-handed battle to get our modernising Government to pay some recognition to the occasion. David Futcher drew attention to Lord Laird's attempts in a previous e-mail. Lord Laird's campaign has had some effect. The Cabinet Office Minister, Lord Falconer, in reply to a question from Lord Laird in the Chamber on 9th May, said that while there were no plans for a "formal" celebration "at present", he would listen to suggestions. So come on Conservative and Unionist Party, lets hear it for the United Kingdom and give Lord Laird some support. In addition to giving Tony Bliar another poke in the eye, it will reassure us "Conservatives Past" that all is not lost.
It looks as though the Labour Party is going to scrap the Party list system used in the European Election and the Greater London Assembly election.   They are also going to scrap the Electoral College system for choosing candidates.   They are beginning to understand that the people want democracy.   Will the Conservative Party also learn the lesson and scrap the Electoral College system for changing its constitution and if it is really intelligent will it create a democratic Party before the Labour Party is forced to do so?.
The Labour Party used the Electoral College to select the candidates for Mayor in London and for Leader of the Welsh Assembly.    The Conservative Party has an Electoral College for changing its constitution and for electing the Leader.   What is the origin of this discredited system?
In France the people were divided into three estates; the nobility, the clergy and the common people.   This ceased in 1789 with the French revolution.   Have we not learnt any lessons from history?

The Following article was published in the Winter edition of "Crossbow", - The Bow Group Magazine.
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Members of COPOV handing out flyers advertising the fringe meeting "Democracy Under Threat"   Who is this taking a leaflet?Why, it is Lord Ashcroft of Belize.
      
The Chairman of COPOV met Michael Ashcroft twice during the Spring Forum.   On the first occasion in front of the media smiles prevailed.   The second occasion was not so friendly.   Lord Ashcroft told the Chairman that he had a videotape of every TV appearance the Chairman had made.   "Make sure you do not go over the top" he said.   I wonder  what he means!
March 26th
"After the Landslide" by David Willetts MP and Richard Forsdyke
In their book published by the Centre for Policy Studies they say "Woolton understood that he could use money-raising as a positive device to help change the image of the Party: Labour and their supporters had attacked Tory sleaze, particularly identifying the commercial interests of many Tory MPs.    Woolton realised that by asking for money from a as broad a range of people as possible he would solve two problems at once by not just bringing the funds in but Also by helping to change the image of the Party"
Is there not a lesson in this for us today?.
Since 1997, 343 Councillors have been appointed to NHS Trusts and health authorities of which 284 were Labour Party members, 23 Conservatives and 36 Liberal Democrats.   Tonies Cronies are not only in the House of Lords, they are now running our Health Service.   No wonder it is deteriorating.

An audit of the Conservative Party’s ‘democratisation’ process.
by
Martin Ball and John Strafford

    Despite its very name implying an inherent philosophical preference for maintaining the status quo, the Conservative Party has, during its long existence, proved itself quite adept at altering its structures to meet the challenge of changing social circumstances and thereby maximised the potential for electoral success.
   The most important of these ‘updates’ occurred in the aftermath of the Second World War and the Labour landslide victory in the 1945 General Election, when the then Party Chairman Lord Woolton transformed the organisation and created a structure that remained in place until the late 1990s.   Crucial innovations included the creation of a youth wing, the Young Conservatives, to involve young people, and a policy consultation programme, the Conservative Political Centre, engaging the politically conscious.   Since Woolton there have been regular modernisations of the various elements in the Conservative movement.   The Maxwell-Fyfe reforms prevented candidates from buying a seat by limiting the amount of money they were able to give to their local constituency Associations.
     In the early 1970s Lord Chelmer headed a review committee considering how the non-parliamentary elements of the Party could be made more democratic. In the early 1990s the Fowler and Feldman reforms introduced changes to both the professional and voluntary wings of the ‘Party’. The fact that there were two sets of reforms to distinctly different organisations illustrated the fractured nature of the Conservative family.
    These periodic reforms failed to satisfy the long-standing demand from grassroots members that they have a greater say in the running of the Party.   In the late 1960s a group of London Young Conservatives published a pamphlet called ‘Set the Party Free’ which called for greater accountability to the membership.   Many of its figures went on to form the Charter Movement,
the long-standing
 advocate of party members having a greater say in the internal running of the Party.  In recent years the Campaign for Conservative Democracy has come to the fore in championing the cause of internal democracy within the Conservative Party.
    The demand for democracy was given impetus by the increased agitation in the early 1990s from ordinary rank and file members who felt that their views were being dis-enfranchised, especially on the issue of the European policy being pursued by Prime Minister John Major.    Any fundamental reform was staved off by the survival of the Conservative government until 1997, since no governing party, especially a weak one, could afford the luxury of exhaustive internal navel gazing.

   The defeat in May 1997 provided the space for a thorough re-examination of the way in which the Conservative family of voluntary activists, paid professionals and elected politician ordered
their affairs.
    Senior figures had heightened the expectation of reforms after a General Election and the reformist zeal of the candidates was a salient issue in the 1997 Leadership contest.   Indeed, eventual winner William Hague placed a reform of the way the party does business as a central plank of his manifesto. Hague’s call for a ‘Fresh Start’ meant there could be no ambiguity about the far-reaching designs of the reforms.    William Hague forthrightly declared that never again shall the party be run a by small clique, and the stated aim became the creation of the most effective volunteer political movement possible.

William Hague’s six principles for reform of the Conservative Party.
    In July 1997 William Hague spelt out the six principles on which reform of the structure of the Conservative Party would be based.   These principles - Unity; Democracy; Involvement; Decentralisation; Integrity; and Openness - provide yardsticks by which the progress and success of the Conservative Party reform process must be judged.

Unity. ‘The historic division between our parliamentary party, our voluntary party and Central Office will become a thing of the past.   A single Governing Board working under a single constitution will manage the whole party. And a majority of the Board will be chosen by Party members.   Never again will your voice go unheard.’
    Yes, an identifiable Conservative Party now exists, but that is largely a legal nicety.   What exists on paper has still to be made an operational reality.   There are, to illustrate, still a number of problems with the new ‘unified’ organisation.
    The goal of ‘One Party’ has not been achieved when some sections of the Party are allowed to conduct their affairs independent of input from other sections.   For example, you have a National Convention consisting of volunteers and in which MPs take little interest, while the Parliamentary Party’s 1922 Committee consists entirely of MPs.    The only body bringing together elected councillors, MPs, MEPs, voluntary members and professional staff is the Party Board.   But, even that is far from perfect.   The new assemblies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not represented, and some members are there by appointment.   This two-tier system must be replaced by the automatic entitlement of various office-holders, the Leader of the MEPs for one, to be present, together with a majority of the Board directly elected by Party members.
    There is a need for greater integration and collaboration between members and elected politicians, especially over the matter of party policy formation.
    Take also the case of the ‘phantom’ National Convention Executive.   A body referred to in the new constitution and which has been given responsibility for administering the arrangements for the meeting of the National Convention.   The only problem with this is that the "National Convention Executive" does not exist.    National Convention Chairman Robin Hodgson confirmed this at the last meeting of ... the Convention!   It was dreamed about before the Party's Constitution existed, and now we will have to have a rule change to bring it into being.
    Another concern is that any change to the Party constitution can only be brought about through the discredited Electoral College process, which gives separate votes to MPs and to the voluntary section. Therefore it is impossible for ordinary members to change the Party’s constitution without agreement from Westminster MPs, who hold a veto over the Party.   The voice of the grassroots will go unheeded if that is the wish of the MPs.

Democracy. Every paid-up member of our party will get a vote in future leadership contests. Members will also be able to vote on the choice of our candidates for Westminster and the European Parliament, and our candidate for the new Mayor of London.   The Conservative Party will become the most democratic party in British politics today.’
    Yes, the entire London membership has had the opportunity to participate, twice, in the choice of the London Mayoral candidate, and every party member had the opportunity to attend regional hustings to select candidates for the 1999 European Election.   That not everybody voted or bothered to attend doesn’t distract from the fact that there was an equality of opportunity to participate, but why did the Party not allow a postal ballot?    Southern Region alone has 110,000 members.   Of these only 1,500 were present at the final meeting, so 108,500 were dis-enfranchised.
    The concern about the election for the London mayoral candidate is that the guidelines on the level of spending permissible, a maximum of £80,000, were not enough to prevent one candidate from employing full time assistance and enabling him to establish a huge advantage over potential rivals. Lord Archer is reported to have spent £1million in the two years prior to the selection process beginning on his campaign.   Without the enforcement of a clearly stated date from which spending ‘counts’, as is the case for public elections, then the possibility exists for one candidate to effectively win before the official contest begins.   If such a state of affairs is allowed to re-occur, then the likely outcome is that only ‘fat cats’ or those backed by wealthy benefactors will be in a position to meaningfully participate.   £80,000 was far too high a figure to be spent on an internal Party election. There are about 38,000 members in London and if a similar amount had been allowed to be spent as an MP can spend in a General Election the figure would have been about £5,000.   Perhaps more candidates would have come forward if this had been the case.
    In defiance of the spirit of democracy has been the deplorable effort of some MPs to have themselves re-adopted as prospective candidates before rule changes prevented them from facing a genuine challenge.   At the National Convention in March 1999 it was decided that votes on the re-selection of MPs should be by secret ballot and the rule which allowed a sitting MP to sit in the meeting whilst a vote by a show of hands was taken was abolished.   It is worth noting that a Conservative Government made such intimidation illegal in the Trade Unions.   To pre-empt such changes the Chairman of the "1922 Committee" - Sir Archie Hamilton MP wrote to all Conservative MPs saying that if they got their re-selection over before the Conference then it could be done on the old basis with all the intimidation that that involved.
    The Party Board subsequently changed the Constitution so all Re-adoption meetings now have to comply with the new rules.  Progress, however, came at a price and a new rule was introduced enabling ‘a sitting Member of Parliament not securing the assent of the Executive Council to his re-adoption will have the right to request a postal ballot of all the members of the Association’.
There would be no communication to Association members other than the ballot paper and relevant instructions in connection therewith; and any communication by the sitting MP (on no more than a single A4 sheet of paper).

    The effect of all this is that if the sitting MP loses the support of his Executive Council he can then appeal to the entire membership of his Association, but the membership are not allowed to be told why he has lost the support of his Executive or even that he has lost its support.    This is ridiculous and undemocratic and bears all the hallmarks of the Executive of the 1922 Committee.   If this procedure is to be adopted then another sheet of A4 paper should also be sent out listing out the reasons why the MP has lost the support of his Executive Council.
    One way in which internal democracy would be substantially advanced is to allow the membership to vote directly for the most senior positions in the Party, as is the case in the Liberal Democrat Party. Equally important is that this choice must not be from a pool of pre-determined options.   It is imperative, also, that a democratic political organisation allows the opportunity for participants to chose the Party Chairman and other senior figures such as the Party Treasurer.   Furthermore, the Party Leadership can’t claim to be giving a greater say to members when the appointment of Party Vice-Chairmanships is done without consulting them.
    A democratic culture wouldn’t place extra requirements on candidates.   For example, nominations to stand for the Party Board require ‘not less than twelve members of the Convention of whom eight must be Chairman of Constituency Associations’.   Why the need to distinguish between different members of the National Convention?    Obviously, some are more equal than others.   Why not remove these requirements and simply ask than nominations are required from not less than twelve members of the Convention.   That would ensure equality of membership of the Convention.

Involvement. Thanks to national membership, we will be able to communicate directly with all of our members.    You will be kept informed of what’s going on in your Party and you will be asked for your views on Party policy.   I intend to put the policies upon which we will fight the next election to a vote of all party members.’
    Has the concept of national membership been established?   The first membership bulletin has been produced and quite good it is too except for two points.   The letter, which it suggests should be sent to members, looks and feels as though a committee has produced it.    It reads like propaganda grunge. Have any test mailings been done with this letter?   If this is the best the
Membership Committee can do, then help us.    Other initiatives, such as the national magazine,have yet to create any sense of cohesion amongst the membership.   In fact, the magazine failed to be printed and circulated to all members in advance of the 1999 Annual Conference.

    Prior to the Hague reforms the Conservative Political Centre successfully organised participation in political discussion, albeit without any direct role in policy-making.   The new policy structures were supposed to change this, but the Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) has not been fantastically successful in involving the membership in the policy-making process of the Party.   For example, when regional CPF meetings were organised in September 1999 to discuss ‘Agenda for Britain’ it would have been helpful if the members knew about them so that they might attend, or even the Regional Co-ordinators (political) might have been told so they could have communicated this information to members.   Such a muddled state of affairs would be ended by the election of the CPF Chairman by the members and the establishment of a National Policy Forum.
    To enthuse people to become active in political parties, rather than single issue groups the Conservative Party must involve party members in the formulation of policy and that involvement must be seen to matter.   By involving all the Party in the formulation of policy, whilst allowing the Leader and the Shadow Cabinet to determine priorities, we can bring the Party together into a cohesive whole. At the same time involvement brings about Commitment and thus strengthens the
Party.

    The decline in meetings and the inability of the central bureaucracy to inform members about activities has created a void of communication at all levels of the Party.   A solution may involve the use of the Internet for votes, or even telephone-conferencing for regional and national meetings.

Decentralisation. ‘Decision-making in our Party will be handed down to a more streamlined area structure.   Our areas will reflect local identities and in many cases follow local government boundaries.    Constituency associations will be the building blocks of our new constitution.’
    The decentralisation process has resulted in a net loss of power for the grassroots.   The Area Executives, elected by Constituency Chairman and Deputy Chairman, remain unrepresentative small bodies consisting of no more than half a dozen people.   This was all too apparent when Steve Norris was prevented from going forward as a candidate by a small number of London Mayoral selectors.
    The Regions effectively have been shut out of the Party structure.   Their only role was in the European elections.   They should either be abolished or given real power and influence.    Both Regional and Area Officers should be elected on a One Member One Vote basis.
    Devolving power to the grassroots has, unfortunately, been negated by the creation of new groups such as Conservative Network which are outside of the official structures.   The Network doesn’t have to obey the requirements that members pay a subscription nor be members of the Party itself.   While such groupings are permitted to exist without being integrated, then the fear is that they are designed to get around the inconveniences of democratisation.   So long as Conservative Central Office operates pet projects such as the Network, then the claim that the party has adopted democracy is all propaganda.

Integrity. We will establish a tough disciplinary and ethics committee.   Never again will we allow the behaviour of a single individual or group of individuals to blacken the good name of the whole Conservative Party.   Thanks to our reforms our Party will have the powers it needs to protect its reputation.’
    These words are fine sentiments but the Ethics committee only held its first meeting very recently. That means either Conservative Party members are in the main saints - something very unlikely in a political party - or that there is a reluctance to bring wayward members to account.    The committee must hold regular meetings, if only to review the situation and give thought to future activities.   It has got to be pro-active and less reliance on referrals.   Furthermore, it has got to be ‘open’ about its deliberations and the criteria for its decisions.
    The five-year suspension of Jeffrey Archer’s party membership demonstrates that the committee is at least prepared to act, but wouldn’t the Archer fiasco have been avoided if it had been more pro-active.   Maybe if the advisor on candidates was answerable to the Party at large, then some of  the obvious concerns about Archer could have been dealt with earlier.   Perhaps a fondness for those infamous Krug and Shepherd’s Pie gatherings prevented those with the power to do so stopping him being a contender in the first place.
    There is also unrest about the expulsion of a number of former MPs after they publicly supported the breakaway Pro-European Conservatives in the 1999 European Parliament Elections.   If persons are to be expelled then there must be a procedure that at some juncture involves consideration by people democratically accountable and the possibility of appeal against their decision.
    There has been much unwelcome publicity surrounding the Treasurer Michael Ashcroft.   Yet, he remains in position.   The suspicion, therefore, arises that he is safe because the Party is dependent upon his financial contribution.   There should be a "Chinese Wall" between those giving substantial donations to the Party and those who determine how the funds raised are spent.

Openness. ‘I am determined to ensure that there is public confidence in the funding of at least one of Britain’s major political parties.   Therefore, following my speech on party reform in July, the Conservative Party will disclose all donations it receives over £5,000 and will no longer accept foreign money.’
    The aim of openness quite simply hasn’t been achieved.   Previously you could collect a copy of the Party accounts at the Annual Conference, but now the powers that be are slow at publishing the Balance Sheet and Accounts.   Discussion of the accounts at the March 1999 National Convention didn’t take place because they were not distributed to Constituency Chairmen.   The reason put forward for this was that the cost of printing was said to be prohibitively high at £10,000.   Why did they not put them on the Internet?   At least this year the accounts have been put on the internal "Extranet".
    The scrapping of the Conservative Board of Finance in March 1999 removed the only body where elected volunteers had any say, however minimal, in the Party’s finances.   It was replaced by Regional ‘Income Generation and Marketing Boards’ which report to the ‘National Board of Income Generation and Marketing, which in turn reports to the Board of Treasurers, of whom all are appointed by the Party Leader.
    Take the matter of quota payments.   A report showing the Quota position for each Constituency would have made more sense if it had provided totals by region as well as nationally.    It would be more meaningful if a distinction was made between cash payments and Quota credits (credits for interest free loans).   This might then raise the question why, as we are "One Party" many Constituencies are sitting on substantial funds when the Party is desperate for funds.   The interest free loan scheme was started in 1980 by the Beaconsfield Association as a way in which Constituencies with temporary surplus funds could use them for the Party's benefit.    Many of these Surplus funds now appear to be permanent!   Could it be that until there is democratic accountability for the use of funds given to Central Office money will remain in the Constituencies?
    External measures will force change upon the Party in how it organises its financial affairs.   The Labour Government’s proposals for legislation on "The Funding of Political Parties in the United Kingdom" requires a registered party to have a registered Treasurer.   The registered Treasurer of a party will be responsible not just for the reporting of disclosable donations, but also the keeping of the party's accounts and compliance with the requirements on election expenditure.   The registered Treasurer will be under a duty to ensure that proper accounting records are kept in respect of the whole party (clause 36) and will be required to prepare an annual statement of accounts in respect of the party (clause 37).   There are detailed requirements on the disclosure of donations and on the control of election expenditure, not only at National level but also at constituency level.   A report on donations has to be made quarterly and in a General Election campaign, weekly.
    What are the ramifications of all this for the Conservative Party?   First of all it is quite clear that the responsibilities of the Treasurer are now quite onerous and the Treasurer is accountable to the Electoral Commission.   What is missing is democratic accountability.   The Treasurer should be an elected position.    Fund-raisers will have to report to the Treasurer.   Secondly the Regional structure of the Party will have to be re-examined.   There should be Elected Regional Treasurers.   Thirdly every Constituency Association should have an elected Treasurer.
    Why doesn’t the Party introduce the recommendations of the Neil Report before the others?   Thus beginning the process of restoring public faith in the probity of Conservative Party finances.

Verdict on the six principles of the Fresh Future reform.
    There is no doubting that the process of reform has been begun, but there remains a lot still to do to ensure that the Conservative Party is the most democratic in the United Kingdom.   In all of the six areas identified by William Hague, the reality has not yet matched the intention.   The Party is not organisationally cohesive, nor properly involving the membership in its management.   It continues to be secretive about its financing, remains enthralled to a small band of generous financial backers, and continues to allow the behaviour of individuals to blacken its public reputation.   In addition, far too much arbitrary decision-making by Conservative Central Office illustrates that some still believe the Conservative Party to be their plaything, which they can run without consulting the wider membership.
    Alongside the necessary structural change there has to be a revolution in attitudes amongst the Party’s elite.   What the dinosaurs in the Party need to understand is that unless the culture of the Party changes it has not got a hope of winning the next General Election.    Democracy benefits the whole Party.   A lack of it is of benefit only to that small group of people that wish to hold on to power whatever the cost to the Party.   While rules are changed on whim, while meetings are poorly notified and while timings and location are inconvenient for ordinary members, then the suspicion is that a small elite are still operating the Party as a private club.    The Fresh Future isn’t simply a technical exercise, but must entail a sea change in the culture of those at the highest echelons of the Party.
    Many excuses have been made for voter apathy, but the truth of the matter is that the British people have become increasingly disillusioned with their politicians.   Both Labour and Conservative Parties are failing in the first instance to connect with their members, and both Parties are inherently undemocratic.   The first Party to plug this democratic deficit will reap the benefit.   The Conservative Party can be that Party.
    In his actions, as well as words, William Hague must demonstrate that he remains determined to make the Conservative Party a fully-participatory democracy with the membership having a meaningful say in the running of the organisation to which they voluntarily give much time and money.    Is that too much to expect?

March 19th
William Hague promised in "The Fresh Future" that the Conserfative Party would involve members more.   They would be able to participate and would be listened to on policy.  There was to be a Spring Forum at which every member of the Party would be invited.   What is the reality?
The Conserfative Spring Forum starts at 2.30pm on Saturday 1st April and closes at !PM on Sunday 2nd April. 
The Forum will be in session for 6.5 hours.   Of this time ordinary Party members will be able to speak for a total of approximately 2 hours.   Each contribution from the floor will not last more than 1 minute.   There is not a single motion for debate, so there will be no votes.    Thus democracy in the Conserfative Party is destroyed.   No involvement, no participation, no say, no vote.    Who are responsible for this? - The Committee on Conferences, the members of which are all appointed.   They are not accountable to the membership so they safely ignore them.   This is not the way for the Party to attract new members.    Will we ever learn?

In the recent presidential primary in Arizona 80,000 people voted.    Four years ago just 12,000 voted.   The difference was that this time the Internet was used.   43% of those voting used the Internet to vote on line.   It is time the UK Government took this on board, and while we are at it why not the Conservative Party also?   No more excuses about the cost of elections!
February 27th
At the last National Convention, the Chairman Robin Hodgson put forward the idea that in future the Constituency Associations would pay for the Party on the country, i.e. for the Area offices, or as they will soon be known "Campaign Centres.   It was thought that £2,000,000 would be required to do this.   Having lent on the Constituencies, pledges have been received for £1.1m.   The scheme will be put to the next National Convention.  
Of course the hidden agenda for this is that Central Office will revert back to being the office of the Leader of the Conservative Party, a situation that the Inland Revenue views as never to have been changed in spite of the party reforms.    They saw through the charade.   Whatever happened to William Hague's "One Party"?
Update 5th March
It has been announced that "The Quota System will be abolished after the 31 March 2000"
"Campaign Subscriptions will be ring-fenced to pay for campaigning and field operations of the Party and each Association's payment is being individually negotiated and hopefully every Association will be able to pay their agreed figure for the year."
They could not be bothered to wait for the National Convention before implementing it.   So much for democracy within the Party - more like "Diktat"
PricewaterhouseCoopers have been appointed to recruit members of the Appointment Commission for the House of Lords.   The head-hunters will be paid £52,000 plus expenses and a further £30,000 for advertising.    Nice work if you can get it!   Applicants are asked to send with their CV declarations on conflicts of interest, political activity, gender, race and disability and 75 words on reasons "why you would be a suitable candidate".    Why should race, gender or disability have anything to do with whether you are the right person to decide who should be a member of the House of Lords?

The following letter has been sent out by Mrs. Jean Searle - a member of the Board of the Party.   It is no doubt a worthy idea, but it does raise the question - Can any individual change the rules of the Party?
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