I returned home from work on Sunday, sat down with a much needed hot cup of black coffee, then read Andrew Kennedy’s article on ConHome, which focused on forming Conservative area Groupings. I think he has a point but one size does not always fit or suit all.
This is essentially about winning is it not?
There needs to be a clear structure and plan of actions. One that motivates the continuation of activists and that will bring out the vote in masses for 2020. Team2015 and our other Conservative supporter teams such as CWF and CF have achieved fantastic results bringing out the supporters and volunteers, and in so doing, helped to facilitate a majority in the last election. However, London is a different kettle of fish. We will need a totally different plan especially with the boundary changes. Many of the Conservative seats will spill over into Labour strong hold territories so we need to respond to those changes and sooner rather than later.
Although Labour is at war with the leadership contest you can guarantee they are still campaigning now for 2020 regardless. Ask yourself what are we doing?
In London, in less affluent areas such as the East End, the issues are membership fees. It is not affordable for people on low incomes to pay an annual fee of £25. A far more realistic approach in generating more activists and widening our support base, and political participation in these areas, is for local associations to reduce the cost of their annual membership payment.
I believe, like many people have already mentioned, that membership fees should be paid directly to CCHQ with a new department created to take care of the financing of Association’s memberships with reduced subscription fees of between £5 - £10 and with a percentage to be given back to associations.
If there is to be groupings of London I believe it should reflect the London Assembly area structure with main hubs in each area or a borough. This could be accompanied by sub groupings of Councillors and Prospective Parliamentary candidates who are selected by CCHQ’s Candidates Department, with the groups constantly communicating with each other on a regular basis on key local issues, ideas and strategies.
Most associations are territorial regardless of which party they are affiliated to and have set ways of operating that works for some with others struggling to survive. In London I believe we need to be more visual and eclectic and that requires groupings even if it is for just set periods throughout the year.
Adding to the area hubs; I would add community ward representatives and ambassadors. Residents are far more likely to be rejuvenated and more supportive of their politicians if they’ve developed a relationship with their local reps or candidates. In my opinion, this is where labour has the edge in most parts of London; it’s one of the rational why they dominate in terms of seats. People want someone who is there throughout the year rather than just a few moments or months prior to a major election. Labour’s candidates are selected a whole year in advance. Until we address this it will be hard for reps and candidates to penetrate that breakable strong hold the opposition has in some parts of the capital.
In the 2015 general election Labour increased their seats from 38 to 45, the Conservatives seats went from 28 to 27, and the Lib Dems from holding 7 seats to 1 in comparison to the 2010 election. This reads like a bet but it does not take bags of money to overturn those results, just a team of dedicated reps which we already have.
My thoughts are not pejorative or directed at any individual or group it is just merely an afterthought of how we could build wider pools of followers volunteers reps and candidate force to expand and attract more members for the 2020 general election in the run-up to the closure of the Conservative party’s review.
Molly Samuel-Leport is the Conservative Party PPC for Walthamstow 2015
Follow her on Twitter