Renewing Conservativism, Activism and Party Democracy│ Fred Kearey
The Conservative party has, for many years, operated in a paternalistic way towards its members. Labour under Corbyn has put us on the back foot to win over the younger generation. We should try to embrace them with solid One Nation policies, helping reduce the cost of living and stay grounded with the political and social realities of modern Britain. Meanwhile we must also be courageous and steadfast to British values of nationhood, democracy, English common law and respect for our brave Armed Forces.
Ensuring a decisive influence for party members on policy would have meant that ill-advised decisions like the 0.7% Foreign Aid pledge made by David Cameron would not have been made and imposed by party elites in the Bubble of Westminster – all in an attempt to seem like we are not the ‘Nasty Party’. Grassroots conservatism would have a voice and true representation, instead of top down Blairite liberalism. Instead, a boost of Defence spending to 3% GDP policy on that would enable Great Britain to truly represent its interests on the world stage – especially now Brexit is upon us.
Party democracy is fundamental of a larger democratic need for Conservative views to be represented at the top table of our country; we must not be cowed when what we believe is right for our country and communities across our country. A fundamental way of achieving this is by ensuring decisive policy influence from party members at the annual conference, which could be a system of votes by party members that could lead to a concrete influence on party policy. It could result in the rational logic that those who support the Conservatives could have an influence on government policy to shape the lives of themselves and their communities through workable and effective polices. The Conservative Policy Forum is well meaning – but what does it offer to those who want to shape policy and invigorate younger party members to progress meaningful policy change? If the CPF provided decisive policy making powers to the local members to put forward ideas, it could give them a greater sense of ownership of the party that they belong to.
The constituency association link must remain intact, and local councillors and candidates must be organic to the area that they seek to represent, rather than the imposition of candidates from CCHQ that has overridden the wishes of local Constituency associations on the choice of their Candidate for election. Furthermore, during the last election there was no official youth party organisation after Conservative Future became defunct. This was a mistake; it ceded ground to the idea of us as a party in retreat. When the youth organisation is reinvigorated, in whatever shape or form, it will strengthen Conservative political activism among younger people.
The greater sense of democratic voice within the party could help to ensure a substantial increase in the size of the party membership, providing the party with canvassers, activists, councillors etc. Are our suggestions being listened to and will they become concrete policy initiatives in the future? This is a definitive issue for the party unless something truly transformative occurs within the party structure to grow the activist and grassroots democratic sense of spirit and hope for the parties’ activist future and for enabling political and economic change for the benefit of Great Britain in years and decades to come.