Friday, 8 August 2008

The Bear Necessities - Michael Rock

Tucking into a dim sum lunch Michael Rock is looking remarkably relaxed for a man trying to juggle a full time job, what should be a full time job and his marriage. TB found his famed easy-going style lived up to its reputation, but don’t let that fool you. Beneath that Michael is articulate and astute, a man with a plan…

From a man whose interests on Facebook are “lamenting the loss of liberty” you would expect him simply to do just that – lament, but Michael is one of what he calls the “new generation” on the libertarian wing of the party. Instead of being all talk over cigars and port in the Carlton Club, Michael is adamant he will stamp his lasting influence on Conservative Future. His libertarian, small government, no nonsense outlook on life is the backbone to his intended restructuring of CF. Using Europe as a vague analogy he claims CF “needs a better structure, needs to be more independent from CCHQ, and we need to be in a position where branch chairs have more autonomy.”

Although the exact details of the restructuring cannot be released to the members until they have been approved by the Party Board, we will know by conference exactly what they are. Michael describes the reforms as “radical – we are the radicals and we will always be!” The reforms however will not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the Rock4CF manifesto – a document that is being put into action bit by bit all be it “slower than initially anticipated because of the very slow bureaucratic nature of CCHQ.”

At 29 Michael is one of the oldest active CF members, he seems to have taken to his role as the big cheese, the leader, very well. His age provides him with a certain gravitas over the younger members but unlike many of the students who make up the core of the membership Michael has a job. Despite being full-time information consultant his day is dominated by phone calls and anything up to fifty emails concerning CF and that’s just before the social events in the evenings. Friday night is Mrs Rock time though! He brushes away TB’s suggestion that it can’t all be fun and games but is clearly a hard man to faze. Despite certain blogs having emerged focusing on CF in the last few months, the nastier and darker sides of CF come in attacks that are not always meant for the public eye. Just this week Michael has had to deal with a fake document that slammed his record so far and worst of all the attacker falsely claimed it was written by Patrick Sullivan, not only a very loyal NME member but a friend. The attack backfired though,

this sophisticated fake
has failed to sway the determined Chairman - Michael is extremely thick skinned “it’s incredibly hard to insult me. I don’t take attacks personally because most of the things that are offensive are inaccurate.” He is trying to spread this attitude to his NME - “Just don’t worry about it! I guess that the younger you are less thick skinned you are.”

Though he is ambitious for his term in office, Michael is realistic. He constantly stresses his concern with the relationship and role CCHQ plays over the organisation. “We’ll be ok” for a general election if it was called post conference – “the target seats ‘issue’ wasn’t the best way to do it – we accept the fifteen target seats in the same way accept any seat – we need to win.” Michael is adamant that the relationship CF has with CCHQ has to change. Firstly CF still has no access to the data of all its members; the Chairman can not send an email to all its members in one go- “come on this is 2008!” Secondly over yet more dumplings the staffing of CF is discussed. Michael would like to see two full time staff of CF age devoting their time fully and completely to the everyday running of the organisation, something that is clearly needed -“there are members of CF that don’t know they are members of CF!”

Although he is careful not to discuss successor to a job that is not yet vacant, by far the biggest grin of the afternoon comes at the suggestion of the chances of getting David Davis to take over Justine Greenings role as CF’s MP were she to be promoted. Freedom is high up on the Rock agenda and he accepts that as it is “it’s a territory that the party can’t really go… That’s why we need get the independence. We’re the next generation; we need to plan for the next twenty years. There’s nothing worse than a Party troll!” Michael is adamant the “the next generation” is a libertarian one and the structure of CF has to reflect this. He has completely uncomplicated views on tax and government but isn’t the sort to bore you to tears with his opinions on flat tax and cutting red tap.

So what next for Michael Rock? It seems the safe seat in the shires and a couple of rug rats are not on the agenda for anytime soon. He’ll be doing the PAB – but only because the Approved Candidate list will be closing soon, “just so it’s there” he claims. “There is no way in the world I would be able to even think about a seat while I am still Chairman.” Rejecting the idea of moving to a random constituency he dreams of fighting his hometown but still genuinely thinks he is too young to be an MP. Lighting a Marlboro, forced outside by the state he so opposes, Michael looks to the future;

“You can be very influential in politics without being an MP… no kids yet - I'm not that desperate for new members!"

Watching Rock disappear back to work through the crowds of Oxford Circus TB reckons this unpretentious and perceptive man will not only go far, but leave a lasting radical impression, on what is essentially a reactionary organisation.



This calibre of this interview suggests you have more talents than just a gossipmonger. Excellent write-up with some astute observations, I see you are upping the quality of the Tory Bear content.

Anonymous said...

Why's Richard interviewing Rock as well?

Richard Lowe

Agree with the spin here, good article and write up - basically the picture I have of Rock after Spring Forum.

Nice work.

Becky said...

A little critque would have been nice. Not saying Rock is doing a bad job but this article would be better if it didn't read like you had crawled up his arse!

Anonymous said...

He's a nice guy Becky!

who would you like to see TB interview next?

Becky said...

I like Rock, and as I said don't think he is doing a bad job. No one is perfect. I feel that a little critque if not of him, the jobs that his exec are doing (FT article)would have made TB's article a little more well rounded. As it is, it reads like a mate writing about a mate and therefore loses any integrity. Personal opinon.

As to next? Dark Clarke on Rocks premiership could be good one!

Paul Nizhinsky

'Michael is adamant the “the next generation” is a libertarian one and the structure of CF has to reflect this'

amen to that!

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