Monday, 24 September 2012

CF Chairmanship: Northern Bred and Northern Based

Before I start, I ought to make it absolutely clear that I am not in any way pre-empting the departure of our current CF Chairman early and nor am I making the case for an all-out assault on his position. I firmly believe that Ben should serve the full of his remaining term of office and that we're all the better for it. Just to be clear.

A surge of recent discussions on the future of the CF Chairmanship, from alleged platform launches of potential candidates, right through to parodies of our beloved Chairman on Twitter, has caused me to make this plea to our membership regarding the future of our party's youth wing.

As most people are undoubtedly aware, the deadline is creeping closer. The deadline I refer to, of course, isn't a nomination period or the opening of a ballot. It's much more serious. This November we will be closer to the next election (2015) than we are to the last (2010). It is at this pivotal moment that our party's youth must make a choice. We can stay the course and keep the status quo or we can make the case for a youth-led assault on the Labour and Liberal heartlands.

2015 will be an election that is won in Yorkshire, the Midlands, the North West and the North East of England. The next CF Chairmanship election will give CFers the choice to elect a leader who is going to lead the charge. As it stands, the Conservative Party is still polling poorly in these regions. The Coalition is deemed out of touch and the product of southern dominance. However whether you are a young person in rural Northumberland, central Birmingham or in the South East blue heartlands, an understanding and consensus must be reached that if we are going to win and form a full Conservative majority in 2015, then a new focus on the North is essential.

Despite the myths, this Government is doing a lot for the North and Midlands. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, himself an MP for Cheshire, has been working to boost productivity and it's working. Output is up and for the first time since 1976, Britain is once more a net exporter of cars. This is due, in part, to the effective expansion of the Nissan Plant in the North East. However, whilst manufacturing is up, employment figures don't seem to reflect this in the localities near the plant. Why? Because in a modern, high-tech marketplace, more efficient, effective and productive plants often involve less staff. Investment in robotics, automated machinery and new technologies mean that often whilst the economy is growing in these regions, jobs are not being created as fast as they once would have been.

This is the type of issue that the Conservatives need to be talking about. This is the sort of issue that our Chairman needs to be highlighting and helping with. By linking this issue with the rise in apprenticeships, Conservatives can start to win the trust of the North back by saying; Yes, we do understand and this is what we're doing about it..

Northern Conservatism is a unique brand. Typically Northern Conservatives are less concerned about free market ideology and more concerned with jobs and training. We have a unique social conservatism about immigration and welfare and we have a concern about our public services. The North is disproportionately reliant on the public sector and so if we ignore it as a party, we're throwing the election away. You don't need to convince me that we're doing the right thing or that we're making public service more efficient. However our message needs to be stronger, clearer and more vocal.

My challenge for the next CF election is this: If you are a member, think about where you want your Chairman to be bred and based. Having a Northern-bred Chairman would be a nice start but I challenge the next Chairman, hopefully from the Midlands, North West, Yorkshire or North East, to base him or herself in the North.

If our Chairman was so determined to take the fight north that they would be prepared to base themselves in the North instead of in a London-centric office near Party HQ, if they would stand up for the unique brand of Northern Conservatism that we need to fight for to win, if they would lead the charge even if the rest of the Party-proper does not follow, then we will have done everything we can as a youth wing to help our Party and our country.

So at the next CF elections, take a moment to reflect. Northern bred and Northern based; that's the target.

(Edit: Quick note to say that I am aware the recommendation is overly simple here. It is deliberately so in order to spark debate and discussion on the issue.)

1 comment:

  1. Decided to respond with a blog post of my own;