Monday, January 16, 2017

Why MCA?

Today or over the next few days members of the Conservative party in Cumbria should receive a ballot paper asking them to vote on whether to set up a Cumbria-Wide Conservative Association.

At the moment there are six Conservative associations in Cumbria, one for each constituency, which vary greatly in strength, numbers, and the level of resources.

It is proposed that these associations and the existing area structure should come together to form a Cumbria-wide body which would co-operate more effectively both in organising election campaigns and running events.

Members in each constituency would retain the right to pick their own council candidates and parliamentary candidates - there is no suggestion that party members in Millom should be able to tell members in Penrith who they can pick to stand to be councillors or MP, or vice versa.

The six existing Conservative Associations have been working towards greater co-operation since shortly after the 2015 general election. When the national party produced a scheme to support pilot "Multi-Constituency Association" schemes (MCAs) we recognised this as a similar idea to what we were already trying to do and applied to be a pilot MCA. This bid was endorsed by representatives of all six associations in Cumbria, it is something that we wanted to do, not something that CCHQ told us to do.

Hence the title of this post, Why MCA? (a reference to a Village People hit ...)



All the association executives of the six existing Conservative associations have voted that in principle we want to give this a try. But the final decision rests with all the individual members in the ballot which has just started. If you are a paid up member of the Conservative party in Cumbria and have not received a ballot paper by the end of this week, please contact your association chairman.

Ballot papers should be returned to the Westmorland and Lonsdale Conservative office in Kendal in the pre-paid envelope provided for the ballot by 1st February.

That should confuse Jamie Reed - one of his final columns in the Whitehaven News claimed that Copeland Conservatives are run from Carlisle.

Now he will presumably claim we are run from Kendal.

Neither is true: within the Cumbria-Wide Conservative Association individual constituencies will retain their own representatives, and keep their own funds and other assets as well as being able to select their own candidates. But making it easier for Conservatives in different parts of the county to co-operate more effectively is exactly what the proposal for a Cumbria-Wide Conservative Association is about.

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