Sunday, 19 November 2006

Marginal Seats Update

My role on this year's executive aside from my role as Deputy Chairman is to look after the Marginal Seats initiative. We initially pulled together a list of 11 constituencies through identifying marginal seats ourselves, making sure we had a good geographical split, and discussing with the target seats team.

Requirements and Principles

A number of requirements were identified as ideals before running with a particular seat:
Local Association fully supportive of the plan
PPC already selected
Approval by Target Seats Team (Lord Ashcroft’s office)
No CF branch in existence

In addition we wanted to assist in growing a number of other CF branches whose existence was limited, or whose set up was very new. The list of seats that were identified to begin working with were as follows: Harlow, Loughborough, Worcester, Solihull, Pendle, Torbay, Aberconwy, Portsmouth North, Wirral West, Keighley, and Finchley and Golders Green.

We also had a number of key principles:
Work with a local Association not against them
Ensure that the local Association meet with basic requirements of a CF branch / model party rules
Have a keen PPC or similar figure in place to act in a leadership role
Work hand in hand with the Target Seats team
CF Leadership team to do the dirty work where required
Ensure the sustainability of the organisation
Publicise our success
Learn, learn, learn

Progress

So, how are we doing…? Well I am pleased to announce that we have agreed the procedure for over 75% of the seats, and are in the process of agreeing the procedure and timeline in the other seats. We have found that where there is no PPC, the process is much more difficult (learning point!).

Dates

We have dates set for events in four constituencies before Christmas – please add them to your diaries, and come along if you can:
Thursday 23rd November: TORBAY, PPC Marcus Wood. Venue Devon Dumpling, 7pm
Thursday 30th November: HARLOW, PPC Rob Halfon @ Yates’, Harlow Town Centre, 7pm
WORCESTER, PPC Robin Walker @ Deco, Crown Passage, 7.30pm
Tuesday 5th December: LOUGHBOROUGH, PPC Nicky Morgan@ Venue TBC, 7pm.

If you are a member in any of the target seats that we have selected, please get in touch by e-mailing me at clairepalmer@conservativefuture.com.

We are involving Area Chairman of CF in the process, and are always grateful for offers of help in any particular constituencies.

Recruitment

Each Executive member is involved in at least one seat, and we are in the process of recruiting for one person to be co-opted onto the Executive to deal specifically with the marginal seats plan. An advert was placed on Conservative Home, amongst other places, and we received a number of high quality applications for the role. Conor Burns and I interviewed the candidates at CCHQ this afternoon. We expect to have a decision, to put to the CF Executive for approval at the next meeting on Monday 20th November.

What will National CF do in these Target Seats?
The plan is for us to identify with the help of the PPC, Association Chairman, and CF Area Chairman existing and potential members, as well as recruiting new members. We will help by contacting these individuals and encouraging them along to the events. By having a social event we hope to enable people to meet others in their local area, and build up solid friendships, so that in the run up 2009 we will have effective campaigning forces in each of these target seats.

After running 2 social events, we will help select a CF committee, and work with them to put on a third event. Finally, to ensure the sustainability of the organisation, we will offer them training, and support to develop an initial six month plan, so that the branch will continue to grow and develop.

Once a team is in place, the CF Marginal Seats team will let the committee get on with running their own branch. However, we will not abandon them and will be on hand to provide advice and support.

In February 2006 we will identify the seats to be focussed on in the second wave. If anyone has any suggestions, please do drop me a line: clairepalmer@conservativefuture.com explaining why we should focus on your seat.

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