Friday, 10 October 2008

Guest Post - Matt Richardson

A year after the Forward Together slate launched the longest CF election campaign in the organisation's ten year history, can exclusively bring you a guest post from Matt Richardson, it's founder and Chairman candidate.

This piece will no doubt spark quite some debate...

In defence of Michael Rock or The only things that change are the names.
by Matthew Richardson

Today represents 1 year since I came up with the “brilliant idea” that was Forward Together, the concept was simple make sure that a group of people who have all been involved with CF for ages, who have lived, loved, worked for and helped the organisation for years, an get them in a position to run the organisation. It sounds like a great idea on paper and maybe it was but the true test of an idea is how these things are received by the electorate. Of course it is a matter of record that Forward Together was consigned to the dustbin of history.

Lately I have started going to young conservative events again, YBF, Salisbury Club, Students for Freedom and association organised campaign days. People have started to saying to me “We wish you had been elected instead of Rock!” They go on to tell me that CF has pulled a vanishing act, a great magic trick. Apparently, there are committees, officers, working parties, sub-committees, and titles galore but nothing seems to happen. The campaign days that CF was becoming famous for (300,000 leaflets in a year) have stopped. The visiting that Mark Clarke used to do all over the country just doesn’t happen any more and the flagship new branches scheme has vaporised. The NME are all but anonymous aside from some sniping and intrigue which appears on the blogs. Area chairman are all in rebellion and the massive budget Mark’s exec battled for seems to have been revoked.

Despite all of this I say the same thing to all of them “I don’t wish I had been elected instead of Rock, not even a little.” Here’s why: Michael and I are approximately as capable as one another, in fact, if truth be told Michael has more management skill than me. It would have been just as much of a disaster if I had been elected too, the problem isn’t the chairman and it never has been. The problem is the NME, the fact is that they are useless. Patrick Sullivan, the man with my old job has done nothing. Not one thing! “Scurvy” Steve Ricketts is nowhere to be seen. Where are they? What have they done? Christian has lost interest and is working very hard on YBF very well and frankly helping the cause much more than if he was looking after CF portfolio and although she is working hard Adele is staying in the North. Rock could be the best General in the world but the problem is the troops are useless.

Michael is a dedicated, liberal tory and an excellent manager, the problem is that his exec are morons and life might just have been better if the dedicated people of Forward Together had been elected. We need people who care about the party more than their CV. Michael Rock is one, I am not sure that any of his exec are.


Anonymous said...

I detect Matt's bidding to be the next chairman?

Christian May said...

Matt and I are great friends, but let me be amongst the first to say that his article is mostly nonsense.

- True, there have been no campaign days outside of a by-election (take note Patrick) but Sullivan has been working well in other areas - the Conservative Movement Tours are going to be a great success - taking the best figures from within the movement out to universities across the country.

- Adele being in the North doesn't mean that she isn't doing anything. From what I understand she's working well with the Northern Board.

- Owen managed the Freshers' Campaign extremely well - all credit to him.

- ABB made CF synonymous with Social Action during her brief time on the NME.

- Steve's working (albeit slowly) towards a CF councillors’ network within the Conservative Councillors Association.

- And Michael and I have been working extremely hard behind the scenes to secure CF's role in a future general election. These changes won't be immediate, but when they do come CF will notice a real difference in its management and resources.

Having been on the Exec, Matt should know that so much of the work is unseen. There's more to it than pounding the streets.

As for calling all useless morons - well, I'm not quite sure why he felt the need to do that.


Anonymous said...

What a fantastic way to piss off any voters he may think he has in the North, and a great way to re-enforce the thought that I often hear muttered that CF is too London Centric.

how is one of our NME members spending too much time in the north a bad thing? we do after all have CF members in the north, or are they all irrelevant.

Great diplomacy there from Mr Richardson, I always presumed barristers were more eloquent!

Anonymous said...

Glad someone has finally come out and said how useless Patrick Sullivan is. We havent had a single national campaign day since he took over.

Seriously if your going to go around calling yourself the 'National Campaigns Director' it might be an idea to do some campaigning.

Sort your life out.

Mark Clarke

I would just like to say that Patrick was very supportive of a recent CF campaign day that I had in Tooting.

More broadly, one of the reasons that I refused to get involved in any constitutional reform was that I knew that it would paralyse the organisation with infighting, regardless of the longer term benefits. Personally, with the prospect of an early election I didn't feel like we had that luxury.

Regretfully, campaigning and marginal seat branch creation paralysis appears to have happened to some degree this year. However, I hope and trust that the promised rewards will be worth it.

Matt's points about CF nationally organising the delivery of 300,000 leaflets last year was a good one. If the new organisation can deliver substantially more than that in the 12 months before an election then the current campaigning paralysis will have been worth it.

For certain, CF would achieve more under Michael Rock if people saw their job as helping to support him rather than undermining him and his ideas.

ABB's loss is also a sad one - she was getting some real traction on social action. She wound some people up the wrong way (me included!), but her heart was in the right place and she got on and did stuff which has helped to show that the Conservative's are a party for everyone in society.

Anonymous said...

300k yes

but over a 100k of them were done by Paul Seery so hardly an accurate target for this year given he was hounded off the scene by people's treatment of him and has now disappeared.

200k leaflets must have nearly been reached with boris, crewe, henley and the behind the scenes work cfers do up and down the country.

Matthew Richardson

Oh, and just for clarity, I am not (now that Patrick has ruled himself out) running for Chairman of CF.

Another TB exclusive.


Matthew Richardson

Also that 300k is from national campaign days only, Paul Seery's work in Tooting is not counted in that total. We would be closer to 500,000 is we counted that and non-national campaign days.

Anonymous said...

Christian, don't buy your own rhetoric, you have listed 5 things that it has taken 7 people 9 months to do when in reality a trained monkey could have done 4 times as much in a quarter of the time.

Ben Howlett said...

This all sounds like utter faf to me, just get on with what your all supposed to be getting on with.

Our ultimate role is getting on and winning the next General Election, lets get our heads down and get on with it. Let's have a good time while doing so.

I believe in unification and debate, but we should not get side tracked from our ultimate purpose.

Lets get on with the job chaps.

Matt Doy said...

All the AC's no one asked my opinion. Far as Im concerned Im just doing all I can to get my county on the rails again.

Muheed Jeeran said...

Come on people, this is not the time to increase CF's internal problems. I have attended some CF campaign day with Patrick. If he has some weakness of running national campaign days, it is our duty to support him by sugesting some creative ideas. He is a good listner. I have spoken to him about my ideas and he has worked on that. I was really impressed on him. We need to deafeat the bloody labour. This is our main intention. Therefore we need to work togather rather to spliting the CF.

Muheed Jeeran said...

Come on people, I have been involved in CF campaign days with Patrick. If he has some weakeness in campaign. It is our duty to suggest him some creative ideas. He is a good listner. I have suggested in the past and he has worked on that. I was really impressed. Our main intention to beat the bloody labour. Therefore we need to work togather rather to split the CF. It is the time to put off these silly differences and work forward.

Nick Vaughan said...

Mark said: "one of the reasons that I refused to get involved in any constitutional reform was that I knew that it would paralyse the organisation with infighting, regardless of the longer term benefits"

As a former Chairman myself, I could not agree more. Infighting will always exist, but reforms so close to an election is risque to say the least - especially if the Party Board say no and all you have left is an organisation split in half and nothing to show for itself.

Though if it comes off, well done CF.

But keep an eye on the things that you can do easily, and to great effect: campaigning (which admittedly our NME did not do enough of in 05/06) and some good events to put the fun back into the organisation (which we did do a bit of).

Work hard, play hard.

Nick Vaughan said...

And also, Mark left a great legacy in terms of highlighting the importance of CF amongst those on the Convention and Party Board.

Further bickering will erode the reputation of CF as a serious, hard-working organisation.


Very disappointed when I met up with Lord Ashcroft, who, walking around the ICC was unaware that CF's 10th anniversary Party was taking place upstairs.

This is utterly disgusting after everything he had done for CF.

Andrew Young said...

I have noticed that recent success for the party nationally has led to a reappearance of the 'Social Tory'. Usually, pretentious nonsense-talking windbags who believe that they are important when in fact despite titles galore they have neither status nor the ability to achieve anything of any consequence.

They used to be a fringe group, but are now becoming a majority.

As a result CF has well and truly sidelined itself to irrelvance, where even the national organiser doesn't want to have anything to do with them (quite right too).

CF could be the single most successful part of the voluntary party, but it won't be for the same old reasons. Pity.

Starbuck Coleman said...

The vast majority of young Conservatives are going out campaigning and holding events whilst this tripe is going on.

Close your laptops, grab a drink and deliver some leaflets.

Much Love

Michael Rock

I am more than happy to accept constructive criticism and I take heed of the points Matt makes. Quite frankly, I don't see it as my role to
manage the NME but to integrate CF better with the main Party and the wider conservative movement and to make sure we can support the Party

It isn't true to say there is campaigning paralysis, under this Executive we have played a vital role in delivering the first ever Conservative Mayor of London and three barnstorming by-election
victories, alongside the enormous support we deliver at a local level.

We have co-ordinated national days, with multiple campaign days being promoted across the country, to maximise the effectiveness of CF the length and breadth of the country and we will have another
day in November.

I have always argued that a 'national campaign day' is a misnomer: shifting people from one place to another isn't helping the long term electoral chances, particularly when we need to win more than 100 additional seats at the next general election. The real impact we make
is at a local level, which is what our branches are there for: to provide direct support to our MP's and PPC's, which is what the majority of dedicated CF members do week in, week out.

There is no major fallout because of the reforms, just a bit of noise and navel-gazing. Doubling the national representation of CF is a positive and necessary development that will put us in a much stronger position to help deliver a
Conservative government, which should be our main focus. I think there is little doubt that having Regional Chairmen will better facilitate
direct action, as they will have a much tighter focus and more influence than the present NME role.

We're gearing up for a general election: recognising our failings is a part of that process and CF will soon be ready and better equipped
than ever before.

Voice from the South West said...

Hmmmmm, methinks that if half of this stuff is true then isn’t it time just to rip up CF and simply start again? Lets face it, its never really worked from the start has it?

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