Saturday, March 05, 2011

Another reason why Conservative Party membership is in decline?

Mark Wallace (splendid chap, of Crash Bang Wallace) reports on a conversation he had this morning with a member of the Conservative Party's National Convention, at which the issue of the effectiveness of local associations was discussed. He writes:
A source who was at the meeting has exclusively passed me some of the most alarming information that came up. Apparently Andrew Feldman (Party Co-Chairman) reported on a study CCHQ has carried out... In a “mystery shopper” exercise, CCHQ wrote to over 300 associations under the guise of being a person who wanted to join up, and asking how to do so.

Over half of the letters received no response at all, which is bad enough. Weirdly, a handful who wrote back saying the applicant would need to pass a membership interview before they could join the Conservatives. Most worryingly, though, around 10% wrote back to the pretend applicant saying they were “closed to new members”.
And so Tim Montgomerie (another splendid chap, of ConservativeHome) chalks this up as 'another reason why Tory membership is in decline'.

We have not been given the precise methodology of the survey or the details of the results: one should be wary of appeals to confidentiality in research. Notwithstanding, His Grace has a few issues with both the data as presented and Mr Montgomerie's conclusion.

Essentially, we know that out of 300+ associations, 150+ did not respond; a 'handful' referred to a membership interview; and 15 (or fewer, depending on what they mean by 'over half'), said they were 'closed to new members'.

We are left to assume that around 150 associations responded properly and professionally to this survey. Considering the dire and impoverished state of some and the complete non-existence of others, that is laudable statistic.

Since association officers receive no training, and even fewer are supported by a professional agent, it is unsurprising that a small number are unaware of basic procedures like admitting new members. While 'closed to new members' is a bizarre response, one wonders what phrase precisely was used, or whether this was some sort of impression gained by someone at CCHQ. It is highly unlikely that 15 independent associations responded with that precise phrase, and it may be that weak associations (where there is no agent or officers, let alone an executive) simply have no administrative mechanism for dealing with new members.

It would be a great pity if this survey were to be used by anyone as justification for diminishing the independence or standing of local associations, for clearly a very great many are doing an excellent job. Before he became Prime Minister, David Cameron called for a ‘radical decentralisation’ which does not constitute some romantic attachment to the past, but one which is designed to revive civic pride by initiating ‘a massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power: from the state to citizens; from the government to parliament; from Whitehall to communities. From Brussels to Britain; from judges to the people; from bureaucracy to democracy’.

Decentralisation is contiguous with subsidiarity, which should not involve a centralised power-base determining what freedoms and competences it thinks appropriate to devolve to the lower levels: it should be ‘bottom up’, that is, the communities should decide which powers to grant to the centre. The Conservative Party might here draw on Burke’s most famous dictum:
To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed towards a love to our country, and to mankind.
And yet we observe the centralising tendencies of CCHQ on a number of levels. At the same time as the Prime Minister is talking of devolution, decentralisation and localism, it may be observed that he has done more than any Conservative leader since the nineteenth century to centralise the internal workings of his own party: many of the powers which used to be held by local associations are now exercised centrally by a ruling élite.

So, before this survey is used be that élite to diminish the independence of local associations or to denigrate the efforts of the majority by tarnishing their professionalism with the failings of a few, consideration might be given to the fact that the Party has over 100 outstanding associations; membership might be in decline because the Party in government is not pursuing policies which inspire new members; and the Party has removed so many members' rights, there is no longer any point in joining.

29 Comments:

OpenID Alex Deane said...

Some suggest that Cameron *is* a Burkean: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/edmund-burke-how-did-a-longdead-irishman-become-the-hottest-thinker-of-2010-2094434.html

5 March 2011 at 19:14  
Blogger Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...

Your Grace

If the Conservative party have morphed into Labour/Lib Dem posturing of ' nicey, hugging, I feel your pain, come here hoodie give us a cuddle and a criminal is not really a criminal just a disenfranchised citizen', why should anybody join the Conservative party?

What does being a Conservative mean anymore if they all resemble each other to a larger or lesser degree and you can't tell the difference when Cameron and Clegg are standing on a rostrum together.

The Conservatives now have their hands tied by declaring themselves 'New Conservatives' as they have re-branded the product so it looks no different than the others anymore.
Any deviation is immediately challenged with the 'reverting back to the 'bad old tory' ways' so you accomplish the will of Labour or Lib Democrats by default. Ironic?

The rebranding is the problem because if anyone is looking for a 'cuddly' party, do you think they choose Conservative? The marketplace already has two such parties.

This is not a putdown but a simple statement of fact and reason, that the people who truly voted for you, who are Conservative, will no longer continue because if they wanted this they would have voted for Brown or Clegg last year! so you get ever decreasing circles of support from your core faithful through disillusion with the Party..Not wise, is it!

The stench of compromise is a nasty smell and is soon caught onto by the party faithful irrespective of which party it is.

Go back to your ideals (Raison d'être, surely) and redress is always the correct solution or suffer the consequences!

E S Blofeld

5 March 2011 at 19:45  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Thank you for an outstanding post, Your Grace. Now that's heavy-hitting, especially in the conclusion.

I'd expand from it by raising questions: is DC in the process of destroying the Conservative Party... perhaps deliberately? Etc.

It's some time since I read Burke, but I've liked him for such ideas as the one you quote here. I especially appreciated his objections to the bloody mess over the water, and his wish to keep us free of it.

Of course I'd also keep us free to process any ideas said foreigners might have (they usually plagiarize anyway); and free to do so in our own language. One of my quarrels with word-processing, this year, is the newfangled 'default' for applying diacritics to English text. Surely we should distinguish foreign words by font - or anglicize them completely :)

Enough of incorporating mucked-up Latin into English! We don't need it. Our own Latin tradition is strong and clean. In addition, Your Grace has already contributed to the infinite superiority of English. I say: "We must hold on to that."

DC may have given the Royal Navy to our ancient enemy; the rest of us don't have to sacrifice our language to them.

5 March 2011 at 21:55  
Blogger Gnostic said...

And here was I thinking that the falling Conservative membership was because the Big Society wallahs...erm...post commonsensical Conservative party is nothing more than a progressive BS merchant...um...socialist changeling.

5 March 2011 at 22:09  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

membership might be in decline because the Party in government is not pursuing policies which inspire new members; and the Party has removed so many members' rights, there is no longer any point in joining.

I think you may be on to something there.

However, one has to ask the rather obvious question as to WHY anyone joins any political party these days?

After all, is it not becoming increasingly self-evident that parliament is just one big extremely expensive rubber stamping device?

Ok, a fine looking victorian building with a sometimes useful clock attached. Surely, selling the whole place off to the Arabs for redevelopment into an exclusive hotel or something, would be an infinitely better use of tax payers hard earned.

5 March 2011 at 22:15  
Blogger Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...

Non Mouse couiner 5 March 2011 21:55

"Pardonne-moi, ma petit non souris".

Ha-Ho-He-Ho

My best french laughter.

'I say: "We must hold on to that." 'Now that's spooky..I swear I just heard the opening stanza of our National Anthem!

Sorry that I am showing my naïveté whilst blogging, my dear lad. ;-D

Ernst..that horrid foreign chappie

5 March 2011 at 22:28  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Dear Mr. Blowfelt:

That's another thing about mucked-up Latin expressed in frog-like noises: it fails to credit you for the importance of not being Ernest!

It also sets problems veez a V grammatical gender. Or so other non mys have suggested.

It's not a petty mus matter, conserving whatever rights are not left, and reinstating the old ones!

Regardes to the kitty,
nm

5 March 2011 at 23:08  
Blogger Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...

Dear non moufe

Tiddlef fayf hi.

Thank you for your leffonf in grammar, Iust what I need
before fettling down for the night with my cvp of Oualtine.

My best Gothic Fpelling Circa 1611 AV tranflation.

"it fails to credit you for the importance of not being Ernest!" plagiarise is the correct spelling, my fine lad, it should not be the vulgar americanised z.

However you pinch Ernst's favourite joke that Oscar Wilde dedicated a novel to 'yours truly';
The Importance of Being Ernst, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People ..You Cad!
One of my favourite British comedies in which the protagonists maintain fictitious personae in order to escape burdensome obligations. How very appropriate here, Hmmmm as Not a Machine might say..

"I've now realised for the first time in my life the vital Importance of being Ernst" or better still "A handbag?". Brilliant!

Fondest regards always.

Ernst

5 March 2011 at 23:53  
Blogger Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...

Your Grace

If Ernst may offer a humble observation but whether CCHQ pay one heapeth bit of notice or care is another matter.

If you disappoint all those elderly pink rinsed ladies or blazer wearing old boys who are proud of the previous accomplishments of the Conservative party of the past that made them members but who now appear to be some sort of embarassment to HQ, how will you get new members if this hard core are cheesed off with the party's direction of travel?

Or look at it another way, I know many plumbers who will say that most of their new customers came to them solely by the verbal recommendations of existing loyal, happy customers and that they are better than any advertising through any type of media.
Loose their support and you are in deep trouble!

A parallel perhaps.

Your servant, sir

E S Blofeld

6 March 2011 at 00:18  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Develop a software package to handle membership and supply it to all large associations

6 March 2011 at 07:46  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Yes to most of the above. Conservative? Consider that the Queen's first minister today and many of his predecessors in that office spent their schooldays at "The King's College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor" (founded as a charity school as an act of piety by Henry VI). Now that lies beside the Thames, and much water has been flowing under the bridge there, and further downstream, all the way to Queen Elizabeth II Bridge at Dartford, and flowing over the tunnels of later times (no.1: Wapping—Rotherhithe 1843); and some years ago Prince Philip made mention of the noise of overflying. All this is common knowledge. May 5 and after is one of the known unknowns: Gnostic by name or irony? (AV Etc.)

It may be edifying to recall: " When Henry VI founded the school, he granted it a large number of endowments, including much valuable land, a plan for formidable buildings (Henry intended the nave of the College Chapel to be the longest in Europe) and several religious relics, supposedly including a part of the True Cross and the Crown of Thorns. He persuaded the then Pope, Eugene IV, to grant him a privilege unparalleled anywhere in England: the right to grant Indulgences to penitents on the Feast of the Assumption." (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eton_College#cite_ref-0 )

6 March 2011 at 08:16  
Anonymous Voyager said...

including much valuable land

did that include Clarence House or was it St James Palace ?

6 March 2011 at 13:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Judging by the Barnsley election it looks as if they are jumping ship to UKIP.

6 March 2011 at 14:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Mr. J --- Gnostic is right about the socialist changeling! Brilliant remark.

Until the changeling changers started to destroy our education it was a pillar of light for the world. Then they set about it...

The formation of schools, the patronage and Conservation of education has been a tradition of the royal family. E.g. King's College Cambridge was also founded by Henry VI. Women participated in the family tradition: noticeably Philippa of Hainault, Margaret of Anjou, and Margaret Beaufort.

It's common knowledge that education in the island declined after the Romans withdrew, but revived in Canterbury once Augustine arrived, and soon began in English.
Some (not the school itself, though*) claim that King's Canterbury is the longest surviving school in the world.

Maybe those who want the tradition to survive, aren't prepared to give it all over to DC and the changelings. Maybe, they also, will find a way to replace the fake conservatives.


http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/about/index.html
http://www.kings-school.co.uk/document_1.aspx?id=1:31887&id=1:31658&id=1:31637
http://www.queens.ox.ac.uk/about-queens/history
http://www.quns.cam.ac.uk/page-239

http://www.joh.cam.ac.uk/about/

6 March 2011 at 16:39  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Anonymous @14:39:

I don't know about ''jumping ship'' ... more a case of the so-called 'Conservative Party' 'sailing under false colours'.

6 March 2011 at 19:27  
Anonymous Sage said...

The Labour Party was lucky to have lost the last General Election. It meant that they would not be in power having to make the difficult and unpopular decisions that the Government is having to make now. Decreased perty membership is a symptom of the cuts that the Tories are having to make. My worry is that this will eventually result in a Tory defeat in 2015 with Ed Miliband becoming Prime Minister; a tragedy.

6 March 2011 at 21:57  
Anonymous not a machine said...

It is probebely right that a number of conservatives were , how shall I put it , more than a little outraged at how the Lisbon treaty unfolded , however the big 3 all seemed to lose people in the great disolustionment , when it came to light that all was not well with hon members spending abilities . As all 3 tribes had there colours tarnished , together with the dark arts machnery of labours politbereau and largesse of some civil servants , it was pretty obvious that a anger and tarring and feathering were the only solution to being a member .

The constituancy partys perhaps fell victim to the centralisation and the two streams of inputs and outputs . perhaps some membership will return when some belief returns that politics is of use to keeping the country from the wiles of toxic ideas .

7 March 2011 at 01:19  
Blogger Manfarang said...

Membership falling?
Well there is no longer an Empire.
Post WW2 young people joined the YCs to find their true love.
Now there is Facebook.
A member has little influence and right wing parties tend to have small memberships.

7 March 2011 at 02:51  
Anonymous not a machine said...

No longer an empire ? I think there is they just thought it was only composed of those who have money and so revised populations to be involved in poltics downward.:)

7 March 2011 at 03:30  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

"The Labour Party was lucky to have lost the last General Election."

Yes, I bet the parliamentary party were rather pleased below cabinet level. I was glad to see them gone too, being a libertarian-oriented liberal, along with their ID card system etc.

The tories need to turn the economy around before the next election, and that is a very tall order now, or I think they'll be out of power for a long time afterwards.

7 March 2011 at 06:57  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Anon. (6 March 2011 16:39)_ If that comment means that a root problem has been and will continue to be the education of the people, including those who by whatever process come to have power or authority over or among them, MrJ would say Yes to that.

7 March 2011 at 09:22  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Catching up with Atlas shrugged (5 March 2011 22:15)__

Too many of the people referred to in Representation of the People Acts (1832 ... 2000) feel themselves compelled, too much of the time, to look on Parliament as too much of a sham.

It has long seemed axiomatic to MrJ (perhaps as aged as Atlas s.) that One person's truism may be another's blind spot. (This is connected with arguing from different premises, category mistakes, rules of debate and so on). If we are able to enter into conversation, the burdens of blind-spottery may be ameliorated and better things given some freedom to evolve. That used to be called a civilising influence, and the Parliament at Westminster for a while was extolled for this at home and abroad.

Now instead, as some consolation, there are blogsites such as this of Cranmer's, for the encouragement of that civilising influence, exemplified and sorely tried in the life and times of the 16c. precursor.

7 March 2011 at 10:26  
Blogger Simon Harley said...

Your Grace,

I was at the meeting in question, and was also somewhat surprised at the gist of Mr. Feldman's remarks. I am very glad that you have given them your usual thoughtful and erudite attention.

7 March 2011 at 16:21  
Anonymous John Thomas said...

Yes, a distinction has to be made between the Conservative Party as it was (you know, as, say, Mrs. T. might recognise) and the Modern Conservative Party (you also know: homosexuality-promoting, anti-Christian, totally subservient to the EUSSR). Yes, I think the suggestion, above, that the H of P be sold off to make an Arab-owned hotel is a good one - as long as there are no longer any pocket liners (politicians) in existence, fiddling their expenses.

7 March 2011 at 16:49  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Re Mr. J: 7.3.11@09:22.
Sir: If you believe education to lie at the root of the problem, then perhaps you draw us closer to the truth within Genesis 2.17. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Since our elders first ate, those who garnered tribal lore and literacy held power by controlling law and education. Whether their knowledge was oral or written, 'twas thus from druids and scops to whatever now poses as our witan.

So perhaps you mean that the problem lies less in the Tree itself than in serpents and creeping things that huddle at its root. Those who seek to be as gods are especially vulnerable to the corruption.

Which returns me to the establishment of education in Britain. Romans used literacy mainly to enforce administration, military or not. The Christians of 597ff applied other dimensions to the formula. They included a Godly motive; they incorporated higher education into the vernacular; and they educated the people in that language - they thus shared power by bringing some democracy to literacy.

They couldn't destroy Old Nick at the root, but their doctrine sought to minimize his effect and to conserve our relationship with God.

In contrast, our masters treat snakes (old and young) as pets. Which is why Dave's words are so deadly: so very far from the Word.

7 March 2011 at 21:22  
Anonymous MrJ said...

non mouse (7 March 2011 16:49)_If he understands you aright, MrJ says Yes to that (with reservations about using "our masters" even with the usual irony--or does it here refer to schoolmasters?)

7 March 2011 at 23:07  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Mr. J: both schoolmasters and those who play puppet/master, I think. The game was always there; that's why it's such an insult to presume we can't see it now.

However, even though Vitalian sent Theodore, Hadrian, and Benedict Biscop, the three brought with them belief in vernacular preaching, and they used us to help preserve Greek scholarship (which the Romans were neglecting). In addition, even though Vitalian encouraged Oswyu (Northumbria ) to reject Irish ways, they didn't go far away. We still incorporated some insular rhetorical practice into English literacy. So that set of 'masters' brought us enormous cultural benefit in every way, despite the 'debates' of the time. At both Canterbury and Lindisfarne/Monkwearmouth, these men enabled a gathering of cultures to the Glory of God. Now, instead, we have an imposition of division and destruction that provides fodder for the serpent; HG's post today is about one level of that dynamic.

Even back then, old creepy-crawley sailed up soon enough, of course, as many images attest!

8 March 2011 at 01:50  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Perhaps it is not too late to remark (in a plodding sort of way) that 'non mouse' seems to be reminding us here of the frailty of human understanding (not to say wisdom), and that part of the common problem is that the documentary (written) evidence that is available to historians and others is itself dependent on the author's knowledge and truthfulness (Herodatus, Plutarch, J.Caesar, Tacitus, Bede, AS Chronicles, Gibbon, Macaulay et al. ...) and another part is that archival documents (of the Vatican and the like) may be intentionally false (such the False Decretals); and further that corroborative evidence (ruins, Viking or Saxon artefacts etc...) may be lacking or misleading; coupled with the subjective problem that all and any one may at any moment be too weak to discern truthfulness or otherwise (in ways that poets, such as Milton, to name but one, have endeavoured to present).

9 March 2011 at 09:12  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Yes, Mr. J.

In our case, there's still a lot of stuff, littered about; great repositories are meticulously archived. And some special (very brilliant) people do work diligently and carefully by study, cross-referencing, etc. Our best scholars know a lot - and they take their place in the heritage of a continuous insular tradition.

Then, as you suggest, there are the others.

You're right. The trick is to know the sinuous tricksters and shape-changers; and to distinguish them from the ones who seek the truth - and who have the brain for it.

And, of course, we have our duty to CONSERVE the best of it all, beset as we presently are.

9 March 2011 at 09:57  

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