Sunday, 7 September 2008

Catching up on emails before nap...


Sat, Sep 6, 2008 at 5:35 PM


CF Reforms

Dear Area Chairmen,

It is with great regret that I feel it necessary to write this e-mail however I feel that something needs to be said so that we can move forward from the divisions that have arisen in recent weeks. I also thought that given the criticism we have come under for failing to communicate, I should communicate my thoughts and what I intend to do at the Exec meeting to you.  I would like to state at the beginning of this that I cannot speak for any of my colleagues – I would only like to explain my position to you and why I feel that I have to take it.

My personal concerns echo much of what Adele said in her e-mail that ended up on Tory Bear. I also share many of the concerns expressed by Clare Hilley (AC for London South), Alex Agius (AC for Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire), and Paul Wells (President of UEA CF), Matt Lewis (AC for Staffordshire), Matthew Davison (AC for Norfolk and Suffolk) and many other members who have sought to contact me privately.  As most of you have read at least some of their comments and e-mails, I will not seek to repeat what they have said so well already, save to say that their arguments and my own are similar.

I would also like to recognise that the opposition to these reforms does not appear to London-centric but from all areas. The opposition to these reforms also comes not only from those who voted for Matt Richardson or Daryl Williams at the last election but many who voted for Michael as well. It would be a mistake for the opposition to these reforms to be viewed as an attack on anyone’s personality. Those that oppose it, or at least the majority of those that do, do so as a genuine matter of principle.

My reading of Michael’s e-mail is that if any reform proposal is decided at exec, it will be sent to the party board without a consultation period. I have checked with some of my NME colleagues as to whether that is their interpretation as well and it is. In my mind that is not acceptable and I intend to express this sentiment in the Executive meeting on the 13th.

When I first considered running for Exec for a second time, I spoke to the then Chairman Mark Clarke about what exactly the role involved.  Mark very kindly spent most of an hour going through how the organisation worked, putting me right on some of my more loony ideas  and explaining that in a voluntary organisation no one ever  truly has power they only have influence. It is that final point that I have continued coming back to during over the past few months.  

As an Executive we do not have the power to force our membership to do anything that they do not want to. It is important to remember that volunteers are just that- volunteers – and anytime they give to helping our campaigns is voluntary.

To push reforms through which do not have the support of a substantial majority of the membership will cause them to lose what faith they have in CF and to potentially to feel so slighted as to withhold their support, in terms of time and physical resources from the organisation. At anytime this is damaging but in the run up to a General Election it will be especially so.

If any package of reforms is agreed on the meeting of the 13th, I feel that we will be opening up a Pandora’s Box.  It at best means that this destructive debate goes on and on. At worst it means that CF gets an unnecessary and counterproductive structural overall the year before a General Election.

CF has developed an increasingly unhealthy focus on internal politics. This has to stop so that we can return to focusing on what really matters – developing new branches, empowering and supporting Area and Branch Chairmen and Campaigning in our Marginal Seats.  

I will be voting against these reforms in Executive and whilst I cannot speak for any of my colleagues I sincerely hope that they are voted down.

All the Best,

Patrick Sullivan 

And so it continues... 

Will comment on this whole saga in depth at some point but in the mean time TB can't really think straight and needs some sleep.


Nic Conner said...

I think Patrick letter was right and a well rounded and resemble argument. It show that even thou I personally agree with the reforms it should not happen with out the consultation from members. I fill direct democracy and small bureaucracies are conservative ideals. The secrets of the reforms was probably not the best way about it but the leak of them was irresponsible and stared this “storm in teacup“. I would like to think that with out the leak it would have been a more of a gradual coming to the surface of the reform via rounded debates and more personal consultation from the chairman before we engaged in a fall debate. We will never know if that would have happened because of the leeks. The way it has come about has resulted in personal attacks and what seems to be that some people are using this for there own personal agenda (under ‘Anonymous’) to attack an individual instead of the issues in hand. One of the biggest problems in CF at the moment that there is to much scribbling amongst ourselves instead of coming together to posh The Conservative Party over the winning line. Times like these shows which senior CF member and NME stand up to produce a well rounded argument and shows the signs of leadership. I am thankful that we have member like Clare Hilley and Patrick Sullivan doing just that.

Paul said...

thank you for making your views clear Patrick. I just hope enough of the NME are wise enough to vote these reforms down.

Anonymous said...

It should be noted that all of this is set against a back drop of ZERO campaigning activity from central CF. In fact Rock himself wrote the campaign's director an abusive e-mail telling him NOT to go campaigning in Tooting with CF.

Anonymous said...

a response finally:

Dear All,

Christian's post on Tory Bear, which I only hastily read before I left for
holidays, appears to be the source of much of the discontent. I completely
hold my hands up to not ruthlessly checking that post as it does imply,
having just re-read it, that the direct replacement of AC's with Regional
Chairman is the main driver of the reforms we have so far discussed.

This isn't entirely accurate. The three main elements that ultimately have
to change, by whatever means, are:

a) Improving the National Management structure
b) Improving and increasing accountability
c) Returning power back to a local level

On that basis, which was the backbone of much of my election campaign, I
instigated a conversation with all of the Executive and laid out my ideas
that had germinated throughout the election campaign and the first few
months of my Chairmanship. The greatest failing so far of this executive,
in my opinion, is the low level of communication with AC's, which I tried
to address by allocating 6 or 7 AC's to each of the NME at the very start
of our term. I believe this will continue if we do not change the structure
of CF.

We also have the additional pressure of a looming General Election and a
short term of office all set against a painfully long and expensive CF
election campaign. The focus of Conservative Future should always be on
building branches, offering support for PPC's and MP's and increasing
membership and engagement at branch level. The proposals I have thus far
suggested, address the continuing issue of over-representation in the South
East (we now only have two NME members outside of the London region) and
how I believe the next Executive can better serve and represent the

The role of the National Chairman fluctuates with each individual, all of
us have had a different interpretation of what the role should be and the
focus of CF. I have always been committed to improving the structure of CF,
decentralising 'power' and making sure we have representation all
the country. All of my teens and early twenties were completely missed by
CF, as I didn't live in traditionally Conservative areas: we should now be
bold and confident enough to genuinely aim for CF presence in every area of
the country, as many of you already do.

My outline proposals were simple:

1) Replace the NME with a board of Regional Chairman
Logic: closer to their smaller members base, more continuity in function as
the role of each individual would be defined by their region, providing
better links for the National Chairman

2) Allow provisions for greater flexibility with each Region
Logic: the massive variance in strength and depth of membership across the
country means that there needs to be diversity in local structure. The
focus towards regionalising representation for the newly structured
national body will bring CF closer to the main voluntary party and allow us
more influence and access to the existing support networks

3) Increase autonomy of the regions to strengthen CF in the long term
Logic: to increase engagement of Conservatives under thirty, convert
non-Conservatives to Party members and retain those CFers already active,
there needs to be a local flavour to activities and style. Allowing for
different formats and structures allow for these regional variations.

I do not feel comfortable forwarding any more details purely because
nothing is yet agreed amongst the NME, as you will have seen by the
responses from two of the NME. Unfortunately, I feel both of their
responses grossly misrepresent the discussions we have had so far and,
indeed, their declared positions at the last NME meeting. I think this
episode entirely reflects and justifies my reasoning that a wider
consultation is not yet worthwhile. I maintain that the changes proposed to
the NME so far do not affect your positions, as I hope I have clarified.

I will endeavour to keep you all posted of any further developments.

Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

Great post by rock do you think you could put it on your mane blog page TB so it not mist by any one?


Anonymous said...

"I think this episode entirely reflects and justifies my reasoning that a wider consultation is not yet worthwhile."

Still doesn't want to consult- shame on him.

Anonymous said...

This debate is all academic when we consider that it's not going to go through the constitutional committee. Rock should give up now, really. .

Matt said...

Sorry but if you're going to post, at least have the decency to be able to spellchecking before posting. Also to the AC who posted the email that Michael sent at least have the decency to put a name by it. Why are you remaining snonymous in something that is an open debate. Utterly pointless

Nic Conner said...

Matt I fully agree with you that people should have the courage of putting there name down in an open debate. I also like to appliges to you for what much be a deep insults to you; that being my spelling. Even thou I put through all my posting and infect any thing I wright (apart from text but some thing tells me I don’t think we be exchanging text any time soon) through word’s spell check and Google spell check, which takes me three times as long to wright any thing to most people. The problem I have is that I am the top end of the dyslexic scale and word normal spell check has no idea what I am trying to say so I take it over to Google which work better if you put it in a sentence. Unforchently what ever I wright will never be 100%, unless some ones prove read what I write (as my reading not up you standards ever) I will not know the mistakes. So Matt I am sorry I do not live up to your high intellect I will strive to have your perfect spelling (Ow between you and I you got a typeo in your posting I think anonymous is not spelt snonymous I guess you should of put it though a spell check, hay what do I know).

Anonymous said...

I don't see why Anonymous 07 September 2008 21:55 it is a shame.

Michael clearly states that the NME hasn't grasped the full extent of the proposals.

Do you think any leader in the history of anything has had an idea, presented it to the masses, THEN gone to the group that will be helping instigate it and say it is the plan.

No, of course not, Michael quite rightly is thrashing out his ideas with the Exec allowing them time to appreciate and understand it, discuss the pros and cons THEN opening up to the rest of us.

There does seem to be a communication break down on the Exec, that or some rather intelligent member/s that have seen a probable way to 'stand up for the members of CF' and maybe bag themselves a Nationa Chairman position.

The most telling comment Michael makes is "indeed, their declared positions at the last NME meeting."

At the very end of the day, there is NO power in CF.

From what I here there is little in the way of respect for CF from within other Conservative organisations, the people who do have a bright political future tend to stay away from the posturing that goes on.

I mean lets be honest. On Tuesday at the CLWCF, the flagship CF group, if you go, have a look around and ask yourself, of this merry bunch, who is a great face for the Conservative Party?

Yes, I will be there and I DO include myself in that - hence the reason I have no interest in any kind of Political career what so ever.

Anonymous said...

I am confused!!!!!!!!!. are the members of CF are primary school kids?

Come on people, just keep the orgarnization as it was. We dont need these reform. This is deviding the CF very badly. Lets implement some good ideas to increase the membership and political campaigns. Micheal and NME's are elected officers and we should respect and work with them.

Also CF Chairman should respect the members interest and willing consult with its members about any major decisions becuase all members are volunteering their self to CF.


Self indulgent kids!

Anonymous said...

clwcf is hardly a flagship cf group- it was rigged by hallam and when rock was asked about it instead of a competant chairman asking for a re-election as he would have done to any other branch he simply said that it was fine. we must remember the hallam wrote his manifesto so the two of them are very close indeed.
cf has never been this badly run ever and even though some of the exec abb, sullivan and may are working hard in their respective areas that were given to them, with a useless chairman what chance does this organisation have?
as a chairman you sort out disputes amongst the exec internally so they must be seriously hacked off to send e-mails into a public domain.
rock has shown how incompetant he is and it is such a shame that at the last cf election between the chairman candidates, members had a choice; experience v change and unfortunately all of the new members who hadn't quite grasped what cf is about listened to Rock about his ideas and thought 'wow he comes across well' and voted for him. a chairman candidate should at least have experience of running a branch before he takes up the top job and rock's ineptitude shows this.

ed said...

"From what I here there is little in the way of respect for CF from within other Conservative organisations, the people who do have a bright political future tend to stay away from the posturing that goes on.

I mean lets be honest. On Tuesday at the CLWCF, the flagship CF group, if you go, have a look around and ask yourself, of this merry bunch, who is a great face for the Conservative Party?

Yes, I will be there and I DO include myself in that - hence the reason I have no interest in any kind of Political career what so ever."

ummmm so that's why you slate people who write anonymously yet you do yourself. so pathetic.

if you want to be chairman then at least have to guts to name yourself.

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