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
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
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.)