I found it particularly unfortunate that a proposal to help constituency conservative associations which want to merge and pool their resources was misrepresented in the press as some sort of "cull of associations" designed to help a particular candidate in the next party leadership election.
For one thing the idea of "Multi-Constituency Associations" was only ever put forward as something to be tried when the existing associations involved had volunteered and their memberships had endorsed it in a ballot. Parliamentary and council candidates would still be selected by members in the relevant constituency and there would be no impact whatsoever on the election of party leader because it is members, not Conservative Associations, who have the vote: each individual member would still have one vote in the final stage of that election.
There are some excellent and constructive proposals in the Feldman review and I very much hope they will move forward.
Lord Feldman of Elstree has now published a letter explaining the status of the party review which is available on the party website here ad has written out with the following email
Subject: The Party Review:
I wanted to update you on the progress of the Conservative Party Review. As colleagues will know, this is an ongoing consultative process.
And to address Members’ growing appetite for more opportunities for political engagement, the Panel proposes creating a Members-only area on conservatives.com and establishing additional Silver and Gold levels of membership with additional benefits to enhance the membership experience.
In terms of the Party structure, we all know that our local Associations are the very bricks and mortar of the Party. We owe our success to their hard work and tireless dedication. We also owe them a responsibility to ensure that the Party’s structure works to their best interests. However, many Associations are increasingly finding that salaries and office costs are consuming an ever greater proportion of their hard-earned income, rather than campaigning activity. We owe it to our Associations to help them better fulfil all the functions of a campaigning organisation – now and for years to come.
So the Panel believes there is a need to consider options to strengthen the Party infrastructure and promote working in partnership. It proposes that we should run pilots for multi-constituency Associations (MCAs) in areas where Associations have come forward and asked to take part. There will be a vote of the Members in the proposed pilot areas to approve the MCAs. Any Associations with more than 200 Members and a fully operational structure will be able to opt out of the pilot MCA where a majority of its Members vote against the proposals; and there will also be a mechanism for MCAs to be dissolved if they do not work out.
Based on the performance of these pilots, the Board should consider extending the scheme to other areas that request them.
These recommendations and others have come about from the Party’s 10 month-long process of self-evaluation.
With best wishes,
THE RT. HON. THE LORD FELDMAN OF ELSTREEChairman of the Conservative Party
Promoted by Alan Mabbutt on behalf of the Conservative Party, both at 4 Matthew Parker Street, London, SW1H 9HQ