Sunday, 31 December 2006

Happy New Year

Wishing you all the best for 2007 and not too bad a hangover for 1st January!!

Claire xx

Friday, 29 December 2006

Dates for Your New Diaries...

A number of exciting events are already set out for 2007, so ready for those diaries that Father Christmas might bring, here are some dates to fill in:

Breakfast with Ed Vaisey - exclusive breakfast for up to 20 people at No 5 Cavendish Square on Monday 22nd January. Cost £23. E-mail to sign up. First come, first served.

New Members, New MPs - COMING SOON

Portsmouth (PPC Penny Mourdaunt): 8th January @ 8pm, and 28th March @ 8pm, both at the brilliantly named "The Honest Politician" pub, Elm Grove, Southsea
Solihull (PPC Maggie Throup): 9th January @ 8pm and 12th March @ 8pm both at "The Townhouse", Warwick Road

Loughborough (PPC Nicky Morgan): 16th January @ 7.30pm at the Griffin Pub, Ashby Square.
Wirral West (PPC Esther McVey): 6th February @ 8pm at "Koi", Wirral and 21st March @ 8pm at the Conservative Club, 24 Mells Drive, Wirral

Pendle (PPC Andy Stephenson): 15th March @ 8pm - The Sparrow Hawk Pub

I am also in contact with Mike Freer in Finchely to arrange the first CF event there. For any marginal seats events, please let me know if you are interested in attending, or if you have any contacts in any of these seats, on Craig Cox is co-ordinating Solihull, Wirral, Pendle and Portsmouth, and can be reached on

Thursday, 28 December 2006

Back In London

As the title suggests, I am back in London, and back at work. With a big four week trial starting on 8th January at Luton Crown Court, I will be working pretty hard!
Any CF queries, please don't hesitate to drop me an e-mail.

Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Sleepless Nights

Meiringen has a number of interesting facts about it or reasons for being famous. Firstly, for being where Conan Doyle stayed while writing some of his Sherlock Holmes tales, and of course where Professor Moriarty pushed Sherlock Holmes off the Reichenbach Falls to his apparent death. It is also where meiringues were said to be invented by an Italian pastry chef. It also has a bizarre tradition called Trychelwoche which is basically people banging drums and ringing cow bells from midnight on Christmas Day / Boxing Day through to 30th December, all through the night. They march up and down the main street in the town coming past where we live about once an hour, all night every night!

The ringing starts with boys in the morning, and then towards the afternoon and evening, the men join in, having come home from work. They ring larger bells which make it a rolling noise, which re-echos loudly off the mountains and only dies down towards dawn, when the men have to go to work. The drums beat to bring the bells into rhythm. The processions get bigger and bigger every day, so that they reach their maximum strength on the night before New Year’s Eve, called Uebersitz.

On this evening the processions from the surrounding villages of Willigen, Hausen, Balm, Unterbach and Hasliberg come to Meiringen to join this one. Each village has ist own procession and Trychel-master. The bells are measured and are ranked according to size and sound. The faces of those carrying them are hidden behind masks or soot, and most of them are dressed up in the weirdest of costumes.

The custom is very old. Its roots probably lie in those times when, around the solstice, the people tried to drive out the spirits of the old year.

Tonight after dinner we watched the procession go by, four rows of drums, and eleven of bells, of differing sizes, and therefore pitch and volume! It is quite a sight. The men have been up on the mountain with their bells during the day and don't seem to rest! As much as it is a fantastic tradition, and a great spectacle, it is less welcome as it passes on the hour all night, even with triple glazing!

Monday, 25 December 2006

RIP James Brown

Soul legend James Brown passed away this morning according to BBC News. His music is absolutely fantastic and he has been an inspiration to millions. Although life didn't start well - he joined a gospel group after his release from jail having served time for trying to steal a car, but his career led to a repertoire of 800 songs! Interestingly he only had one top ten single in the UK.

Just two days ago he had his annual toy giveaway in Augusta, Georgia, giving hundreds of children a present this Christmas, and thinking of those less fortunate than himself.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to you all. Hope Santa brings you everything you dreamed of, and that you have a fabulous day.

Sunday, 24 December 2006

Christmas Eve in the Woods

After dinner on Christmas Eve, we headed down to the main hotel in Meiringen, Park Hotel du Savage (where Conan Doyle was supposed to have stayed), to join a group of 50 English, Dutch, American and Swiss people to go for a torchlit walk into the woods. Hotelier, Ferdie Salvera, led the march, and we had proper wax ropelike torches, with real flames! Bernard, the Barbados born Italian, who now works in Switzerland played the trumpet and we started off the carol singing on the way down.

Upon reaching the enclave in the woods, we sang carols (Good King Wencelas, Silent Night, O Come All ye Faithful), had a reading from the Bible about the birth of Christ, and then enjoyed a glass of mulled wine, before heading back. There were about 100 people in total in the woods. Being out with my family, and in such a family atmosphere, reminds you of what Christmas is all about.

On the way back to the hotel, there was another round of Jingle Bells (or Jungle Bells as the songsheet said!).


Being away means that there is not much CF stuff to write about, although there is plenty still going on with e-mails to members and planning marginal seats events for the New Year.

However, the great thing is, that I have been up on the slope(s) during the day, and on the computer when I come back down from the pistes. We only had one piste open this week, although an extra one opened yesterday, and the third open tomorrow.

Just goes to show the effects of global warming - as it seems there is a real problem with snow in Europe this year. Fingers crossed that this is a one off, and that the economies in these skiing towns continue to thrive. Fortunately the Swiss are organised and there is artificial snow, and therefore some skiing. Most of the locals haven't even put their skis on yet! But those who have (including the three year olds) are so good, and put me to shame! Mind you I have been skiing for just over a year.

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Classic FM & Hitting the Magic 40

Two bits of news grabbed my attention today on the Reform Media Summary - for those of you that don't receive it, it is a very helpful and succint summary of the key political stories from all the major newspapers with links.

Firstly the fantastic news in the Guardian that the Tories have hit the magic 40 again and are at their strongest for fourteen years. Labour remain the same, and the Lib Dems drop four points. What is great about this poll is the bits that go with it - firstly it shows that support since Cameron has become leader has increased and maintained that increase. Secondly the poll suggests that support amongst Conservative voters is increasing again, and that only 14% of our voters are likely to vote for UKIP. On the other hand, 32% of voters might vote for the Lib Dems, and 19% for the green party. Interestingly the poll puts national support for UKIP at 1% and for the Green Party at 3%.

This does seem to me to support Cameron's green agenda, as well as supporting the tone of his announcements including a focus on important issues such as social justice.

Secondly, and perhaps linked to these results is the news that Cameron has challenged Labour to call a snap election soon after Tony Blair stepped down, in an interview on Classic FM. The logic behind this is simple: Blair was elected on a mandate of serving a full third term, and the public should be able to choose between the Tories led by Cameron and Labour led by Brown or anyone else who isn't Tony Blair. He has a point!

Unless the next leader of the Labour party embraces the whole of the Labour Party manifesto from the last election, it is difficult to see how they can realistically continue to hold office and say that they have a proper mandate from the British public. It is however frustrating that despite having an 8 point lead in the polls, the fall of the vote in terms of constituencies does not mean that this is necessarily sufficient to see a Conservative victory.

That's why CF realises the importance of focussing our efforts on our marginal seats where a small swing can make a huge difference.

CF Christmas Party Success

I hear that the CF Christmas party was a great success with CF taking over the ground floor at the gherkin and approx 300 members attending from around the country, even if I did disappear to Switzerland for it.

For write ups from people that were there ... see Karen Allen's and Mark Clarke's blogs.

It was an excellent venue choice by Karen, and one that I have never been to, so one to add to my new year's resolution for a soft drink venue one night in January.

Thanks to Francis Maude for taking the time to come and meet with the CF members, and thank them for all the hard work we put in.

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Enjoy the CF Christmas Party

Tonight is the time for festive fun with CF at the Sterling Bar in the Gherkin. Well done to Karen Allen and Sarah Southern for organising this.

Have a great night, and have a drink for me! From the last I heard there are over 200 CF members signed up for the event with a great mix of students and working life attendees.

Watch out for that mistletoe!

Epping Forest Council Goes Blue

A rather delayed write up of the results from last Thursday in the Epping Forest Grange Hill by-election, to which CF made a last minute vital contribution ...

Last Thursday night, the count went the Conservatives way with us winning by 23 votes, meaning Epping forest council is Conservative controlled for the first time in fifteen years! Congratulations to Kewal Chana on his election. With the vote being that close, it just shows what CF can do with a boost of legs, leafletting hands, and general morale.

Councillor Bob Church commented about the CF presence:
"As promised The Conservative Future led by its National Deputy Chair Claire Palmer put the “Plus” in our “Team Twenty” with a jolly good attendance. I really can say that CF provided a welcome contribution to our campaign which was not only timely and professional but with the fillip of a notable enthusiastic dedication to political betterment.

Ben Murphy Chair of the Epping Forest CF proved the catalyst here for organising the support of the Conservative Future. Well done to Ben because he actively joined in the action with his peers even though he was sporting a strapped arm. We outnumbered all others, Lib Dem, Labour, and BNP with our large group."
Well done Ben, and thank you to Bob for giving us plenty of leaflets to deliver and making best use of us.

Monday, 18 December 2006

Havering CF Christmas Dinner

Following campaigning in Battersea, it was time to head back via my flat and a quick spruce up, and onto Romford for the Havering CF Dinner. We started with drinks at Number Ten, the bar of the Romford bowling alley, but also with a political name (Havering CF like to aim high!). And then onto dinner in the Outback Steak House with the lovely Lisa looking after us (much to the boys delight!).

We were joined by a political guest, who turned out to be none other than local MP and Havering CF legend James Brokenshire MP.

Mark Clarke also joined us, albeit having travelled via Chelmsford, although nothing to do with the CF branch there, and everything to do with getting on a non-stopping train! Oops. But he did bring blue santa hats with him!

Alas, no longer living in Upminster meant I had to leave to catch the last train back into town. But I hear the night continued long into the following morning, with no doubt some excellent dancing from GK.

Well done to Havering CF on a vibrant, successful Christmas dinner, with a great attendance, as well as to all their hard work through 2006.

Saturday, 16 December 2006

CF Campaigning In Battersea

I joined Matt Richardson, Mark Clarke and Karen Allen at the Peabody Hall, Peabody Estate for training on how to run an effective campaign, and how to win a parliamentary seat, with Justine Greening. Following Justine, Nick Boles, who intends to put himself forward as a candidate for the London Mayoral Conservative primary, spoke about the London elections, and what he believed was required for the Conservatives to boot out Mr Livingstone.

After tucking into a hearty lunch we were ready to take to the streets of Battersea, blue santa hats at the ready! There were approx 25 CF members as well as a few 'locals', and between us we delivered over 9,000 leaflets, as well as letters to some houses on top of that. All in all a successful campaign day showing what CF can do when it mobilises, and offering our members training to take back to their areas, and to deploy for their own campaigns.

Given it was a Saturday so close to Christmas, and that many people had clearly had a big night the night before, it was great to see the numbers we had.

Come and join us for Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush on 20th January, burn off those calories you've put on over Christmas, and catch up with old and new CF friends alike. Please put the date in your diary, and look out for more details in due course.

Thursday, 14 December 2006

Working Life Committee

Last night I attended the first meeting in relation to the working life conference we hope to hold next year. Karen Allen has pulled together a team with old and new faces to help pull off an even more successful conference than last year. I will be helping out, and attending some of the meetings, but Karen will be leading the project. Details of date and venue will be released in the new year.

We are also working hard to ensure that the student life conference is equally successful and are currently looking to pull a team together for that. If you are interested in getting involved on that please drop me an e-mail.

Speaking of events... Manchester is having its first working life event organised by the lovely Claire McLoughlin, in conjunction with Karen. The event is being held on Monday 15th January at Atlas Bar, 376 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 4LY, 7pm-9pm.

If you would like to confirm you attendance or require further details please e-mail

With numbers signing up to CF branches in our universities increasing, it is vital that there is a vibrant working life CF branch to keep our members on graduation, and for those who choose (quite sensibly with all this student debt nowadays) to go straight into the workplace.

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Holiday - Skiing I hope...

I will be going away from Sunday 17th December until 28th December to Switzerland. I will have access to my e-mails and my blog while I am away, but will not be answering my phone. If there is anything urgent before I go please let me know in the next couple of days.

I am away skiing, and spending Christmas away with my family. However, at the moment none of the pistes appear to be open. Which is rather worrying. :-(

Consequently I will not be at the Christmas party (see post below).

CF Christmas @ Gherkin

The CF Christmas Party is taking place on Tuesday 19th December in the Gherkin, or rather in the Sterling Bar, in the basement of 30 St Mary Axe, EC3. Closest tube stations are Bank and Liverpool Street. Festivities kick off at 6pm, and Francis Maude will be in attendance.

I understand that over 100 people have registered to attend including a number of CFers from around the country. If you have yet to register, please e-mail There will be a cash bar in operation, and the event is free to attend.
Many of the Exec will be there, and it will be a great opportunity to meet the rest of the team. Alas I will not be there, as I am off skiing on Sunday - a holiday that was booked from at least August! I suddenly see the numbers rocketing. Apparently Francis Maude is more important than me, and it was the only date we could get him there. Fantastic news that the Senior Party is keen to support us and attend.

Monday, 11 December 2006

Epping Forest Campaigning

On Saturday I went out to Epping Forest to help out in a campaign day organised by Epping Forest Council for an upcoming by-election, caused by a Lib Dem resignation.
CF Chairman, Ben Murphy, had helped out the Council / local Association by bringing along a number of his CF members to see over 20 activists out on the streets, and the campaigning finished much quicker than the Association anticipated, and us in the pub much earlier than expected! Here are some of the CFers pictured in the pub!
I wish Mr Chana, the candidate, all the best for the by-election this Thursday. We were also joined by members of the Harlow and Chelmsford Assocations and Simon Jones with his Essex area hat on (metaphorical hat!). Photos to follow.

This weekend Matt Richardson is organising a National CF Official Action day in Battersea. The brief outline of the day is:
10am Meet at Clapham Junction station (10 mins from Waterloo / Victoria)
10.15am Welcome at Peabody Hall, Peabody Estate - with coffee and biscuits
10.30am - 12 noon Training with Justine Greening MP
LUNCH - sandwiches, crisps and drinks provided
12.45pm Delivery briefing
1pm Santa Hats distributed and CAMPAIGNING
4/5pm Thank you drinks in Slug and Lettuce, right by Clapham Junction station

Jane Ellison, the PPC, Rob, the agent, and Justine will be about during the day to galvanise and organise the troops. If you haven't already done so, please reply to Matt at to sign up. This is a great opportunity to meet / chat with the CF Exec and other CF members from throughout the country, and to make a real difference. Jane Ellison has just a 163 majority to overcome and we could make that difference in one day. Please do come along, even if you can just make the afternoon. And you get a blue santa hat!

Friday, 8 December 2006


As you will see I have updated and increased the number of links that I have. I don't have the time at the moment to find each and every branch and its web address so can I ask you to do the work please.

If you have a blog that you would like to be added, or know of a CF branch (student or otherwise) that you would like to be added, could you please e-mail me at with the link(s). Also, if you have your own blog I would be very grateful for a link from your site. Thank you very much to Caroline Hunt and Ross Cowling for recently adding me as a link.

As ever any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to e-mail me.

Thursday, 7 December 2006

Question Time - CWF style

Last night I attended the CWF Forthright event at Wallacespace in Covent Garden, a delightful venue, even if a little difficult to find even as a 'local'.

CWF are arranging a seris of debates in honour and memory of the late Eric Forth MP, and therefore named the Forthright Debate Series. This event got together five leading political commentators for a Question Time style event. Hosted by Gary Mond, the panellists were Camilla Cavendish (leader writer, The Times), Janet Daley (The Daily Telegraph), Jo-Anne Nadler (broadcaster, writer & author of 'Too Nice to be a Tory'), Patrick O’Flynn (Chief Political correspondent, Daily Express); and Peter Oborne (Daily Mail & Evening Standard), a formidable and diverse panel.

The debate was lively and Gary did well to encourage contributions from all attendees, and not just the three or four keenest! Discussions focussed on the influence / power of the media, ideologies of newspapers, unruly children as well as difficult questions for Brown. I thought that the event was incredibly well thought through and excellent to attend, and very much hope that this will become a regular feature in the CWF calendar.

Greg Hands MP, in his vote of thanks, picked up on comments about whether or not the public would prefer to see journalists in Westminster, rather than politicians, given that they are better (allegedly) at saying what they think. Personally, I think it is somewhat easier for journalists as they do not have to be consistent, toe the party line, worry about their political career, or worry about their comments being misinterpreted by the media. Although I do think that sometimes our politicians are a little to wary of making comments on moral matters or making their views known, but I can understand why it is so difficult.

Monday, 4 December 2006

Campaigning - Battersea

Come and join Matt Richardson and some of the executive in Battersea to celebrate Christmas with a hearty dose of leafletting and canvassing. Selected as being a marginal seat (163 majority to overcome), and therefore the ideal place to campaign, we will be out and about on Saturday 16th December. So come and make a real difference, where it matters, and get a blue santa hat for your troubles!

We also have a training session in the morning from Justine Greening, and will no doubt go on to some hostelry in the local area to have a beer or three later that evening. Further details to follow in due course.

For those of you that can't make it but would like to get some campaigning in before Christmas I am off to Epping Forest this Saturday (9th December) to help CF Chairman Ben Murphy campaign in the local council by-election. The Conservatives do not currently have control of the council, and (as I understand it) this could tip the balance. Although Epping Forest as a seat is pretty safe (Eleanor Laing is the MP), it is right next door to ultra marginal Harlow, and so gaining Conservative support in that area should help in the next general election too.

If you are interested in attending either campaign day, please e-mail me at:

Saturday, 2 December 2006

Marginal Seats Update

On Thursday night I headed to Harlow for the first CF event under the marginal seats programme. We had about 25 CFers present, although it would be fair to say that not many people there were from Harlow constituency itself. However, it was a great opportunity for the PPC to meet the 2 Area Chairman for London North East and for Essex and to encourage them to take some of their members out to help where we need it most.

Worcester had more attendees, and more local people, which just goes to show how well splitting Worcestershire and Warwickshire into 2 much more manageable areas, and having a keen Area Chairman who knows that area very well can have a real impact.

There are certainly some learning points as well. We sent out a number of letters to encourage people to attend, but as is the case with the takeaway leaflet that comes through the door ... it is not until the third time that you see it that you might just have a look. We are always open to ideas as to how to attract our new members. So if you have a strategy that worked well in your area, or there was something that got you involved, please do send me an e-mail.

On a separate note I am pleased to announce dates for a number of other CF events:
Pendle: 18th December
Wirral West: 5th January
Portsmouth: 8th January
Solihull: 9th January

Further details to follow. A huge thank you to Craig Cox for all the hard work that he has been doing getting these four events in place. I know that Craig will be publishing an update / report in due course, on Conservative Home, so look out for that.