Sunday, 30 December 2007

Social Action

I am delighted to let you know that the Social Action project undertaken by a small number of CF branches before Christmas is now open to all CF branches, and an e-mail has been sent to all CF Branch Chairmen.

Matt Richardson is running the project and says as follows:

It is with great pleasure that I invite every branch to take part in the second phase of the CF Hampers Project.

The idea is a simple one: Collect from each of your members canned and non-perishable goods put all of those goods in a hamper and donate the hamper to your local Salvation Army or local equivalent.

In order that I can track the scheme more effectively I would be very grateful if you could e-mail back to let me know:

*That your branch wishes to take part in the scheme
*The name, phone number and e-mail address of the person running the scheme
at your branch
*The name of the charity to which you will be donating the hamper or the
location of the Salvation Army branch nearest to you.

In order to spice it up a little and add that element of competition, which I hope will spur on all branches, there will be a fabulous prize for the branch which donates the most impressive hamper by the end of the scheme which will be the Friday 15th February 2008.

So CF lets see what we can really do.

Get collecting!

Friday, 28 December 2007

Missed the CF Social Action project ...

... If you didn't hear about the CF social action project of sending hampers to the Salvation Army, but wished you could have taken part, don't worry there is another great project which you can take part in. The Conservative Women's Organisation have sent details through of their current project, which is a fantastic cause. CWO, (like CF) do a fantastic job year round.

Surprise Supplies is a scheme which aims to send parcels to every single member of the Armed Forces currently serving in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. A lot of them receive little in the way of support parcels from home and they really do make all the difference. We are all aware of the disagreeable circumstances these soldiers are working in and this is a small way of our acknowledging what they do on our behalf.

The scheme is very simple and all you need to do is to put together a small parcel containing a few goodies and then send it in the post addressed with one of the attached mailing labels. It will mean such a lot to these wonderful men and women serving so far away from home to know that people are thinking about them and that we value and appreciate the sacrifices that they are making.

It would make even more of a difference if you could organise for a group of people (your friends, colleagues or staff for example) to put together as many parcels as you can. Please forward this email to all your friends and family and ask them to do the same. There are over 14,000 servicemen and women serving overseas in Afghanistan and the Middle East so the more parcels that we can send out the better.

Frequently Asked Questions:
How does it work?
All you need to do is to put together a parcel (or parcels) containing a few ‘goodies’ with a value of not more than £10, address the package with one of the attached mailing labels and then take it to the post office/put it in the post. Royal Mail will deliver the parcel free of charge to the British Forces Posting Office who will then ship it on to the relevant BFPO number.

Padded jiffy bags and old shoe boxes are the best for packing things in but any kind of old cardboard box or packet will do. Use tissue paper, newspaper, bubble wrap and anything light to stuff the package and stop things rolling around.
Postage is only free of charge if the parcel weighs less than 2kg and they are very strict about this so we recommend that you weigh your parcels before taking them to the post office.

There are lots of women serving out there too so although the mailing labels says ‘a Serviceman’ if you would like to put a parcel together for a woman please just amend the label accordingly and it will be given to a female.

What do I put inside?
One of the main elements of this scheme is to provide a bit of variety. Therefore if you can, use your imagination to the full and think of a cross between Christmas stockings and tuck boxes and you will be on the right track. It is very hot in Afghanistan so please do not send things that melt such as chocolate. Alcohol (and pornography!) are forbidden but this still leaves plenty of goodies such as:
Biscuits, cake - homemade wonderful but bought wonderful too – but think long life like fruitcake, gingerbread or malt loaf.
Anything in a tube, vacuum pack or tin to perk up their rather basic rations is great - toffee sauce, (M&S does a good range of savoury and sweet sauces in tubes) condensed milk, salsa dip and cheese straws, cream cheese, fish paste, chutneys, chorizo sausage, dried fruit and nuts, mint imperials, chewing gum and everyone loves Jelly Babies.
Suduko books and magazines – Nuts, Zoo and FHM we are reliably informed are the most popular but also the Week for current affairs and any kind of magazine will be very welcome, the more varied the better as there is lots of time for reading and magazines get swapped and shared around.
Candles (for illumination, not scent), lip salve, moisturiser, medicated talc, deodorant, toothpaste and cotton socks (M&S do a great range of cotton socks that are v. popular – black and olive green are good colours).
They also have to drink vast quantities of water so any powder flavourings in a package like Berocca, Vitamin C sachets etc. would be both light and immensely appreciated. Finally old fashioned pick ‘n mix sweets are particularly recommended but please keep the contents within £10 for the sake of equality.

Who will get my parcel?
Your parcel is being sent to one of two addresses in either Iraq or Afghanistan. From
there they will be distributed throughout theatre. You won’t know who has received your parcel but you can be sure that a deserving soldier will be very grateful. Please do write an encouraging message inside your card for your soldier but please sign with your Christian name only and do not give your address as we do not want the soldiers to feel obliged to write thank you letters.

http://www.conservativewomen.org.uk/docs/Labels_Afghanistan.pdf

http://www.conservativewomen.org.uk/docs/Labels_Iraq.pdf


What is Surprise Supplies?
Surprise Supplies came about because of an idea Lexi Douglas had whilst her son was serving in Afghanistan in 2007. She regularly sent him parcels stuffed full of cakes and other nice things and when Charlie wrote home he said how appreciated they
were but that not all of the boys received parcels from home so he would share his out with them. Lexi told her friends and they volunteered to send parcels and the idea grew from there. You can read more about it at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/portal/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/portal/2007/11/16/ftsoldier116.xml

Monday, 24 December 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all CFers and fellow Conservatives.

I am off skiing in Switzerland and will be having a (well-deserved) break. I will be back online in the new year.

Here's to a fabulous 2008!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Executive Meeting Tonight

Tonight we have a CF Executive meeting. If you have any comments or contributions, please let me know.

Last week's meeting was postponed as Michael Lunn's wife had just given birth to their second child. Many congratulations to him and his family.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

CF Christmas Party Success

Last night CF members from around the country gathered at the new Revolution bar in Leadenhall Street in the City of London. Karen Allen had organised the event getting the venue, and putting on the food, and a great job she did too. Fellow exec members, Ranil, Matt, Craig, and Mark Clarke attended. Christian sent his apologies as his work wouldn't let him leave to get there as theere were urgent matters to be done for Christmas deadlines!

It was a great opportunity for people to let their hair down and meet the Executive and other CFers. For example I was able to introduce James Morton, who is doing sterling work in Devon and Cornwall to Matt Lewis, who is doing sterling work in Staffordshire. Both James and Matt have come up through the ranks helping out their existing CF Area Chairman, and are helping to create sustainable areas, with a number of different branches.

Drinks events always give an opportunity for new members to come along and meet people in a relaxed environment, and to leave if they don't like it! Fortunately all our new members had a great time, and we were able to put them in touch with other local CFers who are able to keep them updated with what is going on.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Campaigning in Brentford and Isleworth


Yesterday I was out campaigning in Isleworth with fellow CF members and PPC Mary McLeod for Campaign Day 11. Met by Matt Richardson and local Conservatives at Hounslow Central at 10.30am we were sent off into the local pub car park to be sent out in our team for the morning, in what was a well organised and efficient operation by the local Assocation.

During the morning I was looked after by local Councillor, Brad, and went out with fellow CF attendees, Steve from CLWCF, and Nick Bennett. We ended up campaigning on the Frampton Road estate. It is comparative heaven for leafletters, as some of the flats have twelve post boxes outside, so you can do them all in one go - yippee!!!

I was only able to stay for the morning, but still managed to get in 2 1/2 hours of leafletting, and catching up with fellow CFers, and Mark Clarke over a quick lunch. Candidates for the CF election, Charlie Groome and Michael Rock were also there. There was time for a quick photograph. By lunch time there were about 20 CFers there.

The leaflets were campaigning against the further runway proposals at Heathrow, which will really affect the local residents. Additionally Mary was sending a survey to find out what local residents really thought about the issue. Mary is a fantastic candidate and she should be sat there on the green benches after the next election, and it was a real pleasure to campaign for her.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Schools Summit

Today I attended the CWO Schools Summit at the House of Commons, as a speaker. Fiona Hodgson and her team (Angela Guillaume, Pauline Lucas, Elaine Hall, Eve Burt) had pulled together this event for 100 sixth form girls to learn about Women in Politics.

Jacqui Lait MP was chairing the event, and the girls heard from Theresa May, Eleanor Laing, Anne Milton and then me!!! Thank goodness I am used to speaking in public. The event was held in Committee Room 14, the Gladstone Room, where the Finance Bill is debated in Committee each year.

There were girls there from 12 different schools, 6 private, and 6 state, from both lower and upper sixth. And my old history teacher, Mr Dukes, was one of the accompanying teachers - what a small world.

The girls were incredibly bright and encouragingly ambitious and put some difficult and probing questions to the panel of speakers about politics, working hours, prospects, and Maggie Thatcher.

The event was a great success, and I hope to be involved in many more events. It was great when one of the state schools from Beckenham were asking questions at the end and said that they had been really inspired by the day.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

NME Meeting - 3rd December

On Monday next week (3rd December) we have an Executive meeting, so if there is anything you'd like me to raise, then do let me know. We will be discussing our plans for the final four months of office and making sure we can finish this year on a flourish. It's been a while since we had an Exec meeting (apart from the two in September below), and it will be good to get a comprehensive update on what everyone has achieved over the last six months. I find that having a meeting tends to focus everyone's mind, and motivates people to finish any outstanding tasks.

The last two meetings we had were to plan CF involvements had Gordon Brown had the bottle to call an election. I couldn't make one the second of these meetings due to a previous commitment which I made known at the time the meeting date was being discussed, but it was convenient for everyone else. I gave my input to Mark in advance of that meeting, which I assume was communicated, and as I understood it was fully involved in the planning process for this eventuality.

In the event, as we all know, Brown bottled it.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Update

Since Conference, I have had a number of requests for assistance in setting up, growing and running CF branches in both marginal and other seats. In the last 2 weeks I have dealt with over 10 different CF branches. Now that the e-mail addresses are working on the CF website, enquiries submitted online are being received by Michael Lunn and I am helping dealing with them.

I tend to have an individual discussion with the CF branch. The truth of branch building and sustainability is that there is no one size fits all. It depends on the constituency, the Association, and of course the individuals involved - is it mainly student, working, graduates. All of these can make a real difference in advice offered. The general booklets include general tips on setting up a CF branch, and branch Chairman can obtain copies of these from Michael Lunn.

As I have posted before, ultimately, some key principles work everywhere. What is obvious is that hard work pays off, as does makign sure that we focus on retaining existing members.

I want to highlight one particular case - Jon Ayden and Jason Smith in Newcastle, who have done a sterling job in growing our branches (both student and working life) in Newcastle. As well as focussing on Northumbria university, they are also setting up a city wide group to bring CF members together. Well done to them for getting things moving and for getting on and doing something positive.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

CF Christmas Party @ Revolution

The annual Conservative Future Christmas Party has been announced for Monday 10th December at the new Revolution bar in the City of London.

140-144 Leadenhall Street,
London,
EC3V 4PT -
MAP
Start: 6.30pm

A cash bar will operate but the drinks are reasonably priced, we’ve checked!

If you want to attend, please e-mail Karen Allen at karenallen2@yahoo.co.uk to register.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

CF Campaign Day - Brentford and Isleworth

Join CF for the last campaign day of the year with the fabulous PPC Mary McLeod. The aim is to deliver a 'Mary Macleod' leaflet across the whole constituency. Some canvassing material will also be made available in case people finish delivering their streets early! Those who go to Chiswick Riverside in the afternoon, will be canvassing since we have a by-election there in Dec due to the death of a Councillor.

Saturday, December 1, 2007
Time: 10:00am - 4:30pm
Location: Hounslow Central Tube Station
Street: Lampton Road
City/Town: London, United Kingdom

Contact Info
Phone: 07838150180
Email: Matthew@MatthewRichardson.com

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

New CF Website Goes Live

A huge congratulations to Michael Lunn, our new CF Youth Development Manager who has - already - managed to do what many others have failed to do - sort out the CF website. I am surer that you will agree that the new site is modern and functional and an improvement on the old (and out of date at times) website.

You will be directed to it from www.conservativefuture.com.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

CF Campaign Day Pendle - Stop the BNP

Please see below for details from Matt Richardson for the next campaign day on NOVEMBER 3RD in PENDLE with the lovely and excellent PPC Andy Stephenson.

If you are able to attend - please contact Matt on Pendle@matthewrichardson.com, and register your interest - as you will see below, there is some transport arranged to help you get there.

"Pendle is the third most marginal seat in the North West of England (2,180 Labour Majority), located in Lancashire just above Burnley on the Yorkshire border. The BNP has been active in the Burnley and Pendle area for a number of years and it was in Burnley where the BNP won their first council seats for almost 10 years in 2002. By 2003 they had increased this number to 8 seats, making them the official opposition on Burnley Council. Despite polling strongly in a number of wards, the BNP did not win a council seat in Pendle until 2006. During 2007 we have successfully mounted a fight back against the BNP targeting the areas where they have polled strongly in the past. This led to a drop in their support across Pendle, and the BNP losing 3 seats in Burnley. We now hope to build on this progress by reaching even more people across Pendle with our Party’s positive message for our country, rather than the BNP’s hate filled agenda.It is really important that we show the BNP that Conervative Future, and the Conservative Party in general, will not tolerate their disgusting agenda.

In order to show that clearly I want Pendle to be the biggest campaign day yet, I will be able to provide a minibus to and from Pendle for any CF Branch who can guarantee 12 people attending. So far buses are going from:
  • Cities of London and Westminster
  • Sheffield
  • Manchester
  • Leeds
  • possibly from Essex University.

If your branch would like a minibus please get in touch on the e-mail address.

Matt Richardson CF Campaigns"

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Upcoming Events - Bristol & Gloucester / KCL

Well done to Nick Webb, Bristol and Gloucester CF and to KCL Conservatives for pulling together comprehensive events until the end of the year. Full details below.

Second Monday Socials Date: Every Second Monday of the Month
Organisation: Bristol & Gloucester CFDetails:
Location: Bristol (email for venue details)
Start: 2pm - 5pm A chance to meet, chat and network with fellow CF members
Contact: Nick WebbEmail:chairman@buca.co.uk
Website: www.buca.co.uk / www.bristolgloscf.com

An Evening with Damien Green MP
Date: 31 October 2007
Organisation: Bristol University
Spokesman: Damien Green MP
Details:Location: Brunel Suite, Bristol University SU, Clifton Start: 6pm
Contact: Chris Smith Email:chairman@buca.co.uk

Something Like Question Time
Date: 03 November 2007
Organisation: Bristol & Gloucester CF
Location: Bristol Conservative Club,5 Westfield Park,Redland,Bristol , BS6 6LT
Time: 2pm - 5pm
Guests confirmed: Jacob Rees-Mogg (PPC for North East Somerset), Jack Lopresti (PPC for Filton & Bradley Stoke), Chris Skidmore (Chairman of the Bow Group), Anastasia Beaumont-Bott (Founder of LGBTory & candidate for CF Executive), Alister Cooling ("Big Al" from the BBC's "Castaway")
Contact: Nick Webb
Email:chairman@buca.co.uk

CF goes Bowling
Date: 11 November 2007
Organisation: Bristol & Gloucester CF
Location: Ten-Pin (was Megabowl) Centre Severn Barnwood Gloucester GL4 3HR www.tenpin.co.uk
Start: 7pm Contact: Nick Smith
Email:bristolandgloucester@conservativefuture.com Website: www.bristolgloscf.com

An Evening with Boris Johnson MP
Date: 22 November 2007
Organisation: King's College Conservative Society, London .
Location: Will be announced nearer the time
Time: 7pm - 8.30pm
Ticket Price: Free for members, £6 non-members
Contact: Colin Moore - President
Email:committee@kclconservatives.com Tel: 07976 483614
Website: http://theregalis.blogspot.com

Leicester Campaign Day with Special Guest
Date: 28 November 2007
Organisation: Bristol & Gloucester CF (email for venue)
Spokesman: Mark Coote PPC
Location: Cheltenham (email for venue details)
Time: 2pm onwards (dinner 6pm - 8pm)
Campaign Action day in Leicester with dinner later on with Jeremy Hunt MP
Contact: Simon Whelband: simon.c.w@hotmail.co.uk Phone: 0775 4485783

An Evening with Chris Grayling
Date: 29 November 2007
Organisation: King's College Conservative Society, London
Location: TBC Time: TBC
Ticket Price: Free for members, £5 non-members
Contact: Colin Moore - PresidentEmail: committee@kclconservatives.com
Tel: 07976 483614 Website: http://theregalis.blogspot.com


An Evening with Jesse Norman PPC
Date: 29 November 2007
Organisation: Bristol & Gloucester CF
Location: Gloucester Conservative Club
Start: 7pm
Conservative PPC, author and policy expert, Jesse Norman is the guest speaker at this Gloucestershire CF event. Contact: Nick WebbEmail:chairman@buca.co.uk

Christmas Drinks
Date: 14 December 2007
Organisation: Bristol & Gloucester CF (email for venue)
Spokesman: Mark Coote PPC
Location: Cheltenham (email for venue details)
Start: 7pm
Mark Coote PPC joins CF members for our last Gloucestershire social of the year. Contact: Nick Webb, e-mail:chairman@buca.co.uk; Website: www.buca.co.uk / www.bristolgloscf.com

Friday, 5 October 2007

Election ... ? Help out your PPCs ...

It has been all over the news that there is a real chance of an Autumn election. Our selected PPCs are already working hard in their seats, helping their future constituents and spreading the Conservative message.

Now is the time they really need YOUR support - if you are not already involved in a target seat campagin, find out where your local seat is, and pop along to support them one evening / weekend. If you don't know where your nearest seat is, drop me an e-mail at clairepalmer@conservativefuture.com, and I will put you in contact with them.

There are a number of CF (or ex CF) PPCs including Mark Clarke in Tooting, Simon Jones in Dagenham and Rainham, and Hannah Parker in Exeter. Other CF aged PPCs include Charlotte Leslie in Bristol North West and Keely Rogers in Birmingham Northfield (who I met for the first time at Conference).

Thank you for your help!

Post Conference

We had a great conference up in what was a relatively sunny Blackpool. In particular, CF had a great time and achieved a lot. We had three events whilst up there, and engaged in some social action.

The first event was with GirlGuiding UK and a very interesting launch of analysis into self esteem issues in the under 10s, on Sunday evening.

Monday afternoon saw the MTV event whcih had Jeremy Hunt MP and CF Chairman Mark Clarke amongst others.

Monday night was the CF party with about 200 attendees throughout the course of the evening, with a speech from Mark Clarke, and a short one from me!

And finally, but not at all least, on Monday afternoon we took a number of attendees down to the Grange Estate social action project, where CF was largely involved in dealing with the entrance to the project - there was a lot of digging - some might say no change for politicians!!! As well as a group of CFers that afternoon, other people went down to help during the course of the week for what was an excellent initiative.

Friday, 28 September 2007

More Details on CF Events at Conference

Shamelessly largely copied from the CF bulletin as I am off first thing tomorrow!

Invitation to Conservative Future Evening Reception
We are very pleased to announce that this year's Conservative Future Evening Reception at the Party Conference will be held on 1 October at the Paramount Imperial Hotel Blackpool starting at 9.30pm.
The evening reception is your opportunity to meet and network with other Conservative Future Members from around the Country, and also your opportunity to meet the CF Executive; other Area Chairman, and Justine Greening MP . We also have Caroline Spelman MP – Chairman of Conservative Party dropping by.
To be held at: Louis Room, Paramount Imperial Hotel Blackpool
On: Monday 1 October 2007
At: 21.30 – 01.00
Alcholic refreshements provided.

Conservative Future called to help Social Action Project during Conservative Party Conference
Location: Grange Park, Blackpool
This year’s Conference Social Action Project is to reclaim a derelict garden in the Grange Park Estate which is attracting anti-social behaviour, drug users and fly-tipping.
During Conference we will be working with an award winning garden designer to transform the land into a sustainable community garden where local people of all ages will be able to grow fruit and vegetables and other plants.
This project is being led by the local PPCs Ron Bell and Paul Maynard and we will be joined on the project by local residents and community leaders, kids from the neighbouring school and youth club and the local PCSO.

Conservative Future Members are encouraged to attend on Monday 1 st October 2.00 – 5pm to join the Rt Hon. Peter Ainsworth MP – Shadow Secretary of State who will be present for photos and to meet Conservative Future Members in person. Those that do attend will be eligible for some complimentary Champagne at the Conservative Future Evening reception later that evening – see link for more details.
Where?Grange Park is 8 minutes drive from the Winter Gardens. A shuttle between the main Conference area and Chepstow Gardens will be provided. Please note shuttle has a capacity of 15 people.

Alternative Bus directions: Bus no 6 from stops W3 on Church St across from Winter Gardens or C1 on Corporation St to get to Grange Park. Bus goes round a big roundabout, then turns right into Chepstow Rd and they should get off by the shops.
Any Questions?Contact Nicola Blackwood at nicola.blackwood@conservatives.com or 07733 262436

Under 10 and Under Pressure? Girl Guiding UK
When: Sunday 30 September
Time: 19:30
Venue: Winter Gardens: Opera House, Circle Bar
Under 10 and Under Pressure? Girls Speak Out About Self-Esteem
Speakers: Eleanor Laing MP; Claire Palmer – Conservative Future; Angela Milln – Girl Guiding UK; Susan Ringwood – BEAT; Jo Hillier – Opinion Leader
(Refreshments available)

Are you listening?
Date: Monday 1st October
Time: 17.45
Venue: Opera House, Winter Gardens, Blackpool
MTV and the Electoral Reform Society present a debate where a panel of young people take politicians to task
This year, MTV will attend party conference for the first time and is therefore seeking to break from the norm with its main event. MTV will be bringing six 16-24 year olds who are not particularly engaged with politics to conference on Monday 1st October and will encourage them to attend fringe events, visit the plenary and get a general feel for how conference works.
This same group of 16-24 year olds will then participate in a debate on the Monday evening where they will be able to put the questions on issues that concern them to one senior and one backbench politician plus a representative from the party's youth arm. This event will be jointly hosted with the Electoral Reform Society.
Speakers include:
Shadow Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt MP
Chair of the Culture, Media and Spor t Select Committee John Whittingdale MP
Chair of Conservative Future, Mark Clarke

Sunday, 16 September 2007

CF @ Conference

You may well have received your Conference pass and booklet by now with details of events at Conference.

CF have 2 events on - on Sunday night, at the Winter Gardens, we are supporting an event run by GirlGuiding UK - about the pressure on young girls. I will be speaking at this event. Full details in the brochure.

Also, on Monday night from 9.30pm we have the CF drinks party which is in the Imperial - room to be announced in due course.

There is another Social Action project at Conference, and CF will be helping out all through Conference, but in particular on Monday afternoon, so please come and join us.

Look forward to seeing you there.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Bluelist Launch

There is a launch of the Bluelist political online system on the 12th September 2007. This web based system has taken a year to develop and they are confident that we will be delivering something of real value to our Bluelisters and candidates. We will be marking the event with a reception at the National Liberal Club. We hope that many of you are able to join us to mark the occasion. Below are the details of the event:

Date: Wednesday 12th September, 2007, 6:30pm to 8pm
Venue: The National Liberal Club - The David Lloyd George room
Dress code: The rules of the club state that Gentlemen are expected to wear a
jacket and tie, for ladies smart town wear is appropriate

The address for the venue is:

Whitehall Place
London
SW1A 2HE

The event is also to help raise funds to support campaigning in two key parliamentary seats - Loughborough (where the PPC is Nicky Morgan) and Dagenham & Rainham (whose PPC is Simon Jones). Both Nicky and Simon have been early and active supporters of Bluelist. We will be selling raffle tickets at the event at £10 a ticket to help raise funds for their campaigns.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Devon and Cornwall

Just a quick note to highlight the work that James Morton is doing in Cornwall, as Devon and Cornwall Conservative Future Area Chairman. We have been speaking today at length about how to develop the branch further, and to grow the membership.

A flagship event is being organised for November. James has worked hard to get sponsorship, as well as helping out the new Chairman for the Truro branch, in setting up and running the branch.

If you are based in Cornwall and want to get more involved, please e-mail James on james.morton@devonandcornwallconservativefuture.com.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Fresher's Fayre

Following weeks of hard work by Harry Cole, Fresher's Fayre packs are nearly ready to go, and nearly all the addresses to post them to have been obtained.

This Saturday (1st September) we will be packing boxes to make sure that they are all sent out, to the right people, with the right number of items, and we would be grateful for any help.

If you have a couple of hours to spare on Saturday, around lunchtime / the afternoon, then please drop Harry an e-mail: harry.cole@conservatives.com, or e-mail me on clairepalmer@conservativefuture.com.

If you are yet to contact Harry, or hear from him, but would like a Fresher's Fayre packs for your university or FE college, then please do so ASAP.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Holiday

I am away until 30th August. Please direct any enquiries to another member of the Executive.

Happy summer bank holiday!

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Meeting Area Chairman

Last night I met up with Bristol and Gloucestershire AC, Nick Webb, who was in London for a few days. We caught up for a drink. and invariably talk turned to CF matters, amongst other topics.

Nick is a brilliant Area Chairman and has worked incredibly hard this year, growing CF branches in his area, and becoming fully involved at all levels of the Party. This has made sure that CF is respected in the local area, and there is excellent communication between the Senior Party and CF.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Setting Up CF Branches

Tody I spent about an hour on the phone to Derbyshire CFer, Neelam Cartmell, who is keen to continue developing the CF branch there. Her and Helen Walker are doing a fantastic job, and have already made significant progress, using Facebook, Bluechip and existing Conservatives in office in the area to identify potential members.

We discussed ways to grow the CF branch, as well as what has worked elsewhere, and what hasn't! For anyone based there, do get in touch with Neelam via Facebook, or drop me an e-mail and I'll pass you her details. They have a bowling event this Sunday at Derby Megabowl from 4pm to 8pm.

I regularly deal with such calls from keen CFers wanting to either set up or grow CF branches, which enables me to give tailored advice to particular areas, and individuals, and help them with the areas they are struggling with. I also get to gain tips of what has worked for them!

Consequently I am pulling together a document to be available for those who are setting up CF branches with do's and don't's, tips and hints. For those of you with experience of setting up CF branches, please do e-mail me with your comments and contributions.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Roll on the World Cup

I am glad to see England are back on winning form, having thrashed Wales yesterday. I can't wait for the World Cup to start in October.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Conservative Mayoral Candidate

Have your say ... if you are already a Conservative party member, you are automatically registeed to vote in the ballot. If you are not, but are an elector in Greater London as at 1 July 2007, you can register to vote using the following details.

The Telephone Number will be manned:
Mon-Fri 8am to 9 pm
Sat 9am to 5pm
Sun 10am to 4pm
The number is 0906 555 5050
Calls cost £1.00p per minute from a BT Landline, other operators & networks may vary. iTouch (UK) Ltd. EC2A 4PF

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Fresher's Fayre

Fresher's Fayre packs are now being produced, and details collected and finalised for who to send them too.

Hopefully if you have a CF branch at your university, they will have been contacted, but it is just possible we don't have your e-mail address correct, or you might be checking a different one over the summer, and might want your Fresher's packs sent somewhere else.

So the upshot is, if you want to make sure you've got Fresher's packs, packed full of Boris goodies, e-mail harry.cole@conservatives.com, who will add you onto the list, and make sure he knows where you want it sent, and how many you want.

Harry has been doing a stirling job in CCHQ over the last few weeks, and we even had a favourable piece in the Guardian, about him!

Monday, 23 July 2007

Conference

Don't forget to sign up to come to Blackpool for Conservative Party Conference, the cheap tickets are available until 31st July 2006, and thereafter at an increased rate. Don't worry if you have never been before, there are always plenty of fellow CFers around, and after one night in the Bar, you'll feel like you know a number of people.

CF will be having a party, one evening, so look out for details coming soon.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Working Life Conference Cancelled

I am sorry to announce that a decision has been taken to cancel the Working Life conference. Those of you that have signed up, if your cheques have been cashed, we will be contacting you shortly with a refund. To all the speakers who kindly offered to give up their weekends, thank you for your offer of support.

For those of you free this Saturday (14th July), don't forget that we have a campaign day in Ealing Southall. All the help that we can get is gratefully required, so we can burst the Brown bubble, and work to ensure that Tony Lit, is the next MP for the constituency. After the news of 5 defections locally from Conservatives to Labour, we are in an excellent position to seriously dent Labour's majority, and hopefully to take the seat from them. For more details see the Facebook group, or e-mail me at clairepalmer@conservativefuture.com.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Ealing Southall Success

Today a large number of CF members descended on Ealing Southall to help out the by-election candidate, Tony Lit, delivering huge numbers of leaflets across the constituency. Numbers of leaflets and attendees are to be confirmed.

It was great to meet Tony who will make a fantastic MP, and clearly has a lot of local connections, and respect. It was a sight and a half when 5 identical cars covered in stickers, and loudspeakers arrived at the station to pick up the first wave of volunteers. "Vote Tony Lit to change Ealing for good; vote Tony Lit for unity, vote Tony Lit".

If you couldn't make it today ... don't worry, we are back there next Saturday (14th July) - exact details to follow.

Please join the Facebook group to get updates on the campaign. If you have any spare time in the week, a day off in the week, or a free evening, please do contact the team there. If you would prefer to telephone canvass because you can't make it to the constituency, again your help will be much appreciated.

Well done to Mark Clarke and Matt Richardson for their organisation of today, as well as to the many others who seem to have moved to Ealing permanently for the by-election. Thank you to everyone who attended.

See you next week... !

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Working Life Conference - LAST FEW PLACES

After last year's hugely successful working life conference, this year's looks set to follow suit. Being held on Saturday 21st July and overnight into Sunday 22nd July in Birmingham, places are nearly sold out.

Please look at the full details on www.cfwlconference.co.uk and sign up quickly to save your place.

If you have applied for this conference, but not heard from us, please e-mail karenallen2@yahoo.co.uk, and she will ensure you are signed up. Unfortunately with a lack of Central Office organiser at the moment there is a possibility of a form or two going astray. Hopefully they have all made it too us.

Look forward to seeing you there.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Ealing Southall By-Election

CF are to help with the upcoming by-election in Ealing Southall following the sad death of the former MP. The election is due to take place on 19th July, the same day as the Sedgfield by-election.

If you have any time to spare, please do let the team there know. In particular CF is helping with the following:
  • Daily campaigning - contact Patrick Sullivan on 07801 233 852
  • Action Days on the next two Saturdays (July 7th and 14th)
  • Mid week evening campaigning on the next two Wednesdays (July 11th and 18th)
  • As many as people as possible there on the day (July 19th)

Email Ealing@MatthewRichardson.com for more info and also check out the Party's CampaignTogether website to sign-up for updates on by-elections.

Please do come out and help, and let's put Labour and Gordon Brown to the test, in what on the face of it is a difficult seat for us. I have heard great things about our candidate, local businessman Tony Lit, although have not had the pleasure of meeting him, as yet.

I shall be out on both weekends, and hope to see you there too.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Britain's Got Talent

I was really quite taken by this week's Britain's Got Talent show. It has been inspiring to see so many great talents showcased on ITV, and the stories behind them have been fascinating. Before the show started, I was a bit sceptical, but actually I really think it worked.

Who would think that a show would be a great success with a 6 year old, two bar tenders, and a monkey called Bubbles!? But actually, I am happy to say I really enjoyed it, and really enjoyed the variety. What was great was that it modernised "variety".

As I write this it has just been announced that the show has raised over £300,000 for the Royal Variety Show's chairty, which makes it even more worthwhile.

Finally well done Paul Potts, the winner of Britain's Got Talent. As a current mobile phone salesman for Carphone Warehouse, he walked into the auditions, and sang an incredibly amazing rendition of Nessum Dorma. Breathtaking.

CF Jobs on Offer

The Conservative Party is now advertising for the new CF organiser's posts on the National website.

The 2 posts advertised are:
General Manager & Organiser for the South of England:
Organiser for the North of England:

The closing date for applications is 9th July. The key responsibilities are:
  • securing funding for CF and youth vote activities;
  • developing relationships with sponsors;
  • formulating and delivering an annual CF business plan;
  • creating a formula for younger voter campaigning and messaging throughout the country, particularly focussing on target seats
  • planning specific CF campaign days;
  • fielding telephone calls from the media on youth matters;
  • planning CF and first time voter events;
  • CF website;
  • Organisation of Freshers' Fayres.
Developing relationships with our international sister parties, conducting CF elections, guiding and assisting the work of the CF Executive will also be key responsibilities. The role also includes responsibility for CF organisation and campaigning in the North and South of England respectively.

This is a really exciting development for CF and means that we should have dedicated employees in both the North and South of England to work with our Area Chairman, CF Area Chairman, the National Executive, and our Branch Chairman. I look forward to working with whoever the successful applicants are.

Finally, the roles request candidates to have a driving licence, as the role requires travelling across the North / South of England and visiting associations and CF branches, and associations. I fully support this requirement, and know that our CF members will appreciate someone who is willing to get their hands dirty.

Monday, 11 June 2007

CF Update

We are now able to announce two pieces of information relating to the running of CF.

Firstly, Sarah Southern, the CF National Organiser has resigned her job, and leaves to take up another post in CCHQ. There will be two replacements for her, and hopefully we will have one full time employee based out of London, and one in CCHQ. Advertisments will be sent out in due course. I would like to thank Sarah for all the work she has done over the last few years for CF. I have worked with her for nearly two years now, and I have appreciated her input and help on a number of projects. I wish her the best of luck for the future.

Secondly, CF elections have been delayed. There is no definitive date for when elections will take place although it is anticipated they will be in the Autumn. It had been intended for this term to be a nine month term to move the dates to earlier in the year. Understandably CF Executive members are considering whether they are happy to carry on, as they had only committed to running until June, and stood on this basis.

I can confirm that I intend to continue in my role as Deputy Chairman until the next CF elections later this year.

I am currently seeking confirmation as to when the Board propose to have the Area Chairman elections, whether at the same time as the National Executive elections, or some different time.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

CFI / CF Success

Last night we had a joint event with CFI held at the fabulous Doon Bar, at the Albannach in Trafalgar Square. The fabulous Michael Gove was the guest speaker, who did an excellent job fielding questions from the 150 attendees for over an hour. After that there was a great opportunity for attendees to find out more about both organisations, network, and enjoy a few drinks!

Many thanks to CFI who were instrumental in getting the event together. Also, well done to CF Exec member Ranil who worked very hard with CFI to make the event a great success. Hopefully this will be the first of many national events with other Conservative organisations. If you are interested in running an event with CF, please let us know.

As promised the first 50 to attend received a copy of Michael Gove's book Celsisus 7/7. As a super keenie to get there, that included me. So far, fascinating. When work calms down, I might get to finish it.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

CF Candidate in St Andrews By-Election

Today I went out to St Andrews over in Hornchurch to help out former HCF Chairman, Gary Murphy, the candidate for the by-election in that ward.


It was great to catch up with HCF members, and friends, who are as ever working hard for the Conservative cause. Also out helping were Angela Watkinson MP, and Syed Kamal MEP.


The by-election is a week on Thursday - I wish Gary the very best of luck for the count.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Upcoming Events

There are a number of events coming up, details of which are below.

Monday 4th June
Nick Boles, potential candidate for London Mayor, speaking at the Goldsmiths Tavern, 316 New Cross Road, Lewisham SE14. Starting at 7pm.

Tuesday 5th June
CF / CFI reception at Doon Bar, Albannach by Trafalgar Square
Guest speaker is the excellent Michael Gove MP
Phone: CFI 0207 262 2493 to book your ticket. Just £5 in advance, or £7 on the door.
Places are limited and tickets are nearly sold out.

Saturday 16th June
GMCF Ball, Manchester
Venue: The Arora International Hotel, Manchester. Dress for dinner!
Guest speaker- Den Dover MEP
7.30 for 8pm. Champagne or cocktails first, and then a 3-course dinner. Afterwards, we have the private area of the bar reserved for us, and one of Sankey's resident DJ's is playing. At £35 (£30 for students) it really is the bargain of the century!!
RSVP to gmconfuture@hotmail.co.uk


Saturday 23rd June
Worcester CF Summer BBQ from 6:00pm - 11:00pm
Tickets £5.
Guest Speaker: Peter Luff
E-mail Anne-Marie Bray on info@ambray.co.uk for tickets and details of the exact venue.


Wednesday 4th July
CWF Summer Reception at the St Stephen's Club, 34 Queen Anne's Gate, Westminster SW1H 9AB from 6.45pm to 9pm.
Visit http://conwayfor.org/events/summer_reception_2007.pdf to download the ticket application form
Dress code: Business attire

Thursday 5th July
London West CF Summer Drinks
Venue: The Ship, 68 Borough Road, London
Nearest tubes: Borough, Elephant and Castle
A perfect event for non-party members, and new members, as well as existing members.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Tooting Campaign Day Success

On Saturday a large number of CF activists turned out to support CF Chairman, Mark Clarke, in his role as PPC for Tooting. We delivered crime surveys to local residents, a hot topic in the local area.

Matt Richardson organised the campaign day, and Karen Allen and myself from the CF Exec attended, as well as a number of new members at their first campaign day. Particularly good to see were the number of people who had come to the CF Women's Training Day, who are now coming into their own in the Association and gaining confidence at each event.


The Association were incredibly welcoming, and had a fleet of drivers to move us effectively around the constituency.


Look out for details of the next campaign day coming soon.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Tooting - 19th May

Just a quick post to say that the next CF campaign day is for our current CF Chairman, in Tooting. For further details, drop me a line.

See you on 19th. We hope!

Monday, 7 May 2007

Congratulations...

.. to all successful Conservative candidates in the recent elections.

My particular congratulations to our new CF aged Councillors, and particularly to my former colleague from last year's executive, Jonathon Ash-Edwards.

Best of luck to all of you.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Local Elections

As everyone knows tonight or rather tomorrow we shall see how well th Conservatives will do. There are many CF members who are standing as council candidates, including in a number of winnable seats.

CF members were out in force at Charing Cross station tonight delivering leaflets to commuters to remind them to vote when getting back home. I also know that huge numbers of CF members have been campaigning incredibly hard across the country for well deserved results for the Party in these elections.

Conservative Home is doing a fantastic election special, and all the results will be up there. There is also a good piece on 18 year old candidates in the CF diary section.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Help the Whales

It was announced yesterday that Lord Ashcroft has commissioned an unprecedented television advertising campaign which he hopes will persuade the inhabitants of six small Caribbean nations not to back Japanese-inspired plans to overturn the ban on commercial whale hunting.

Ashcroft has devised and funded the US$500,000 campaign - Tell Japan We'll Keep The Ban - which will be shown in each of the six islands whose votes he hopes to gain in favour of sustaining the current whaling ban. The vote takes place at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting which begins in Anchorage, Alaska at the end of May.

The six islands are Antigua & Barbuda; Dominica; Grenada; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent & the Grenadines. I wish Lord Ashcroft the best of luck with his campaign.

Monday, 23 April 2007

St George...

Happy St George's Day to all CF members.

I am off to meet fellow CFers in the Pitcher and Piano, Trafalgar Square. I am delighted that this venue that I found as a Bristol Alumni is now the centre of London CF events!!

As Kenneth Brannagh once said: Thank God for Harry, England and St George!

Friday, 20 April 2007

Simon Jones PPC for D&R

I have just got back from the Open Primary for Dagenham and Rainham, and alas, for me, it wasn't my turn or time. I am however delighted that Simon Jones was selected this evening. Simon and I became great friends during the course of the general election campaigning for James Brokenshire, and he knows and loves this seat and the local area, and has good strong local connections.

I have no doubt that he will be an excellent PPC, and whilst I am obviously disappointed, I know that they have a good experienced candidate who will give it his all. And I am sure that I will be out campaigning for him to ensure that D&R is Con gain.

As my first attempt at selection, I was delighted to get this far. I wish Jane Archer and Paul Bristow the best of luck for their selections in the future. They were both very able candidates.

Open Primary Tonight

The Open Primary for Dagenham and Rainham takes place tonight at Dagenham Parish Church Hall, Church Lane, Dagenham from 7.30pm (doors open at 7pm).

To say that I am excited is an understatement. Thank you to all of you that have sent supportive messages. I suspect that the result will be on Conservative Home before I get a chance to update my blog.

Directions from the station (Dagenham East) - turn right out of the station, walk to Vauxhall Car Garage, and turn right into Crown Street, follow the footpath around the flats, and you will see the Church. The hall is to the right of the Church if you are facing its entrance. If you are driving from the A112, take the second (last) exit from the roundabout, turn right into Church Lane, and first right into what is also called Church Lane. The hall and Church are on the right.

I wish all of the candidates the best of luck, and may the best person win!

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Hornchurch Round Table Dinner

Last night, I was delighted to be invited along by my friend Danny Gearing to the Hornchurch Round Table AGM (Part 2)! This was a great opportunity to hear about the great work that this organisation does, and to meet with old friends and new. I was surpised how many local people that attended I already knew (including 2 instructing solitictors and a witness from a case I did).

The Round Table offers the chance for young men to get involved locally, network, and to offer something back to their community. This organisation raises approximately £10,000 each year for local causes, and does a fantastic job in working with local charities and community groups. My fondest memory of the Hornchurch Round Table is as a young child being woken up to see Santa in the run up to Christmas, with their local Santa sleighs.

I was not the only Conservative there, and was delighted to see that they are also keen to engage with local politicians as James Brokenshire MP, and The Mayor of Havering, Cllr Wendy Brice-Thompson were special guests. In fact one speaker even took to comparing the organisation to the Conservative party, and the renewal process that has been on-going for us both over the last year.

The organisation covers all of Hornchurch and the surrounding areas (including Rainham, Elm Park, and South Hornchurch).

If I was the candidate for Dagenham and Rainham, I would continue to meet with such organisations and support their aims and objectives. Working with and in the local community is absolutely vital to ensure a cohesive and happy society.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

On the subject of prisons ...

Whilst I am in favour of building more prisons, the suggestion of building one in Rainham on the Beam Reach 5 Business Park site, is not one I support. The proposal is for a category B prison (holding those prisoners for whom escape needs to be made very difficult including rapists, murderers and robbers) for 1500 inmates, making it one of the biggest prisons in the country.

On Saturday 14th April, 6,000 local residents marched through the streets of Rainham to demonstrate their disgust with the Goverment's plans. James Brokenshire MP kicked off the campaign several weeks ago, and is (amongst other things) collating a petition to provide to Gerry Sutcliffe, Labour's prisons minister.

The proposal is non-sensical and would fly in the face of promises to regenerate the local area through providing high skilled jobs. The site has been earmarked as part of the Thames Gateway development as an area for high specification industrial and business space. Once again, it seems that Rainham is being used as a dumping ground.

I would continue to fully support the campaign if I was the Conservative candidate for Dagenham and Rainham. In March I attended the public meeting at which over 200 local residents had their say on the issue.

Previous posts can be found here and here.

Monday, 16 April 2007

Cutting Crime in Dagenham and Rainham

One of the biggest issues that concerns residents in Dagenham and Rainham is crime, and on a day to day basis particularly low level anti-social behaviour. However there is nothing low level about its effects on the local community. Graffiti, flytipping, problem families and local vehicle crime are particularly common problems, that impact greatly on the day to day quality of life for residents in the Borough.

On Friday I met with Sgt John Goodwin who leads the Safer Neighbourhoods Team in the Heath ward of the constituency. The team there appears to have had a positive impact since its introduction and they have been working hard with the local community to deal with these issues.

The Police are keen to encourage young people to get involved in the local community such as joining the local Army and Air Cadets. Four Dagenham wards are trying to get a youth club up and running to give local kids somewhere to go particularly on Friday evenings.

However, as with all of our Police officers not dedicated to such teams, much of their time is taken up with form filling, and jumping through hoops, and not enough time out on the beat. Whilst Safer Neighbourhood Teams have helped to return police officers to the street, the hours that they work do not always fit in with the hours when crime is at its worst, and no account is taken of the need for different resourcing levels in different areas.

If I was the Conservative candidate for Dagenham and Rainham I would work closely with local police, and local residents, to help address these problems. My day to day experience as a barrister working in the criminal justice system has provided me with a valuable insight into the problems and pitfalls.

A Conservative government have pledged to be both tough on crime, but also addressing some of the issues behind criminal behaviour. We will provide more prison places to ensure that the most dangerous offendors can be locked up and the public protected, but also more drug rehabilitation places to address underlying issues.

Thank you to Sgt Goodwin and PCSO Lauren Adams for allowing me this opportunity.

Dagenham and Rainham Selection

As you may have seen from Iain Dale's diary, the Dagenham and Rainham selection for a candidate is underway, with four candidates being put through to the open primary yesterday. I am delighted to be one of the candidates gunning for the seat.

The seat covers 6 wards of the current Dagenham constituency: Chadwell Heath, Whalebone, Heath, Village, Eastbrook and River; and takes in 3 wards from Hornchurch constituency: Elm Park, South Hornchurch and Rainham and Wennington. After boundary changes Hornchurch will no longer be at Parliamentary seat at the next election. The open primary takes place this Friday at Dagenham Parish Hall, Church Lane, and the closest station is Dagenham East. All residents in the constituency, whether they are Conservative members or not, are entitled to attend, and you should register in advance. Details of how to register will be advertised in the Barking and Dagenham Post, and the Romford Recorder.

This is the only seat that I have applied for, and the seat that I applied to get on the candidate's list for. Having grown up in neighbouring Upminster where my parents have lived in the same house for 26 years, and spent many years in different parts in the constituency, I have a great affinity and love for the area. I spent several weekends in Goresbrook Leisure centre competing in Karate tournaments, and achieved my black belt in 1999 in nearby Barking park. My second rugby team (after London based Saracens) is Barking RFC, and I have several fond memories of watching games there.

In the 2005 general election I campaigned for James Brokenshire, and spent many days in the Hornchurch parts of the constituency. In the local elections in 2006 I campaigned almost exclusively in Elm Park, Rainham and South Hornchurch, listening to resident's concerns, and working hard for them.

Like so many voters, I want to see a return to fairness, where those who work hard and abide by the law are not penalised, families are encouraged to stay together, there are tough measures on crime, but also to deal with the causes of crime. I want to get rid of this Labour government, which has failed so many people. I want to encourage aspiration and hard work, and a sense of community and society. But I want an end to the never-ending regulation and interference, new laws, new forms, new paperwork that prevents our professionals from doing their jobs, such as our teachers, the police on the streets (in the station), and our doctors and nurses.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Local Elections and Marginal Seats

With the forthcoming local elections, the marginal seats programme has slowed down, to allow all our activists to focus on winning our target Council seats, and retaining our existing Conservative councillors.

A number of new events will be announced shortly including in Finchley, Great Yarmouth, and Pendle. We have achieved success in Harlow, Worcester and Loughborough, and those new CF branches and members are working directly with the PPC. I am continuing to support them by being available to advise and suggest ways forward, but we have handed over responsibility to the members in those seats.

Please do contact your local association if you have local elections, and find out where you can help best. May 3rd looks like it could be a very successful result for the Conservatives, and Labour are falling further and further behind in the polls and in public opinion. A list of target council seats was published in the most recent CF bulletin.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to all CF members.

I shall be away in Switzerland skiing and shall not be updating my blog until I return.

Have a great time.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

April Fool

There have been some great blogging April fools on the internet today. My two favourites are

Iain Dale's announcement that he will stand for London Mayor - not such a silly suggestion, but apparently an April Fool;

and

Conservative Home's announcement of the policy unit in CCHQ drawing up plans to abolish the monarchy. This one becomes utterly obvious at the stage where Charles Windsor is to be offered a Cabinet role as Secretary of State for the Natural and Built Environment, and Prince Harry's taskforce into the deregulation of pub opening hours.

Friday, 30 March 2007

Politics in Schools

Yesterday I gave a politics session to 20 schoolchildren from a grammar school from Oldham. The A-level students' teacher had written to CCHQ to ask if we could arrange a day for them. They joined me after a trip around the Houses of Parliament, and the chance to see the workings of Parliament.

We discussed how political parties recruit members, how people can join, as well as what the process is to become an MP. They also had a tour of the new CCHQ - as did I - and heard that you can work for a political party without being a politician - including as a graphic designer or press officer. And finished up with a question and answer session. Of course, no talk would be complete without mentioning the Boris Johnson ID cards campaign.

You may not know this but CF sends out mock election packs to schools which are a great way of engaging young people in politics when they are not yet quite old enough to vote. And more often than not the Conservatives do very well in the mock elections!

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Whipping It Up

Last night, and for my mum's birthday, I went to see Whipping it Up at the New Ambassador's Theatre - right by the Mousetrap and opposite the Ivy.

The play is set in the Whip's office post the next general election which the Conservatives have won with a majority of 3, and David Cameron is Prime Minister. Richard Wilson puts in an excellent and hilarious performance as the Chief Whip, and the young addition to the whip's office reminded me more of a barrister's clerk than anything else!

Very enjoyable performance - made even better by the setting of a Conservative Government!

According to the latest prediction from Electoral Calculus, the Conservatives will have the lead, but be one short of an overall majority! Con 325 Lab 272, LibDem 18.

Monday, 26 March 2007

Sustainable Communities Rally - TONIGHT

Don't forget to attend the Sustainable Communities Rally at the Methodist Central Hall, Storey's Gate, Westminster from 7:00pm - 9:00pm.

Sir Menzies Campbell and David Cameron will be going head to head talking on this important issue.

Also if you haven't already - sign up for the ID card campaign on www.joinboris.com - let's show this Government that ID cards should not be introduced, are unpopular, are illiberal, and will be useless at fighting crime and immigration. Oh yes - and they'll cost you and I a packet!

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Out with Manchester CF

This week I have been up in Manchester for an employment tribunal, so I took the opportunity to meet up with our Manchester CFers. On Tuesday I met up with Working Life organiser, Claire McLochlin, and chatted through her CF plans, and achievements, and then last night met up with Area Chairman Adele Douglas and Stuart Penketh. We were joined by about 10 other CFers including local Council candidats, and some university students. There were also 2 new members there.

Manchester stand a real chance of getting some more Conservative Councillors, and I hope that all members based in and near Manchester will offer them their full support.

Many thanks to Adele and Stuart for arranging the event for me while I was up there.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Join Boris ...

CF has today launched its ID card campaign with all the information available on www.joinboris.com. You can also sign the position online.

Thanks particularly to James Cutts and Mark Clarke from CF who have worked had with our Westminster colleagues to ensure this happens.

Further details to follow.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

CF @ Spring Forum

I have not yet actually returned from Spring Forum in Nottingham as I have come straight to Manchester for a 5 day trial - so apologies if you don't hear straight back from me this week.

We had a great time at Spring Forum with Craig Cox having organised an excellent CF reception on Friday night, and a good crowd of CFers watching the rugby (even if the score was unfortunate), with a few people braving the 80s club of Reflex on Saturday night.

The politics was good too. We heard from all of the policy review groups as to what progress they are making and some hints as to direction and general scope of the reveiw. Cameron announced that these reports will be debated at this year's Party Conference, and formulated into more detailed policies next year.

As ever Hague gave an excellent speech, and received a lenghty standing ovation, and there was a focus on campaigning locally and our continuing work for the upcoming local elections.

On Sunday the Conference was closed by a speech from David Cameron who explained that in the same way that economic stability was what Margaret Thatcher realised was the problem of the 1970s and that was what she achieved, that today's problem is social stability. It truly is worrying with the increase in fatal stabbings and shootings particularly amongst the young, and any political party with a desire to do what is right for Great Britain must tackle head on this issue. And that is what Cameron is doing.

The weekend also focussed heavily on the NHS (and the Conservatives' NH Yes campaign). Cameron gave the NHS his full backing and promised to improve and build on. This followed the excellent decision of his to attend the march in London of the 12,000 junior doctors.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Eleven CF aged PPCs

Conservative Home have an excellent piece here about eleven CF aged PPCs who have been selected - all of them to fight seats in the top 150 seats we have to win!

Congratulations to all of them. And the very best of luck! They, of course, include CF Chairman Mark Clarke.

Update from Solihull and Loughborough marginal seats events to follow.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Upcoming Events

This week we are back to having marginal seats events. Please do support them if you live in / near the consituency. More events are to be announced shortly.

Monday 12th March: Solihull CF @ The Townhouse, Warwick Road with PPC Maggie Throup from 8pm.

Tuesday 13th March: Loughborough CF @ The Griffin, Ashby Square with PPC Nicky Morgan from 7.30pm.


ALSO COMING UP ....

CF @ Spring Forum
Friday 16th March 2007 in the Pitcher and Piano, High Pavement, Nottingham. Come and join the CF Executive and fellow CFers to kick off the Spring Forum weekend from 8pm to 11.30pm. Over 18s only, conference pass required for entry. A limited free bar is available, and then a cash bar into the night!

Sustainable Communities Rally with Sir Menzies Campbell MP and David Cameron MP - what a great opportunity to see these two together on the stage - and see who gets your vote in the next election on an issue that the Tories have driven to the forefront of the political agenda.
Date: Monday, March 26, 2007
Time: 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: Methodist Central Hall, Storey’s Gate, Westminster

Spring Drinks: London West Area Event @ B1B Bar, Covent Garden
Join London West AC, Greg Stafford, on Wednesday March 28th from 6pm to 11pm, at this stylish Central London bar in Wellington Street.

Havering / London North East CF London Mayoral Hustings
Friday 20th April - join East London CFers at the first confirmed London Mayoral Conservative Candidates Husting at St Michael's Hall, Main Road, Romford from 7.30pm.
E-mail chairman@haveringconservativefuture.com for further details.

PARTY TIME!!

Happy Birthday to loyal CF supporters Kelly Ostler and Laura Clark, who had a fabulous party last night in Ruby Lo, just behind Selfridges. A number of CF members attended to help them celebrate and a great night was had by all.


Notable CF attendees included Mark Clarke, Karen Allen, Paul Bristow, Melissa Bean, Dan Large, Gemma Townsend, Lucy Bostick, Graeme Brown, Anthony Downie and many other lovely lovely people.

Many happy returns to these fabulous two girls. And we are sorry that Laura is now no longer CF age. ;-)


Saturday, 10 March 2007

Rainham Campaigning

Last night I attended a public meeting with James Brokenshire MP to enable the local community to have their say on the proposed Rainham Jail. There were over 150 attendees to the event, including James and the Leader of the Council, Michael White, and the mood of the evening was definitely AGAINST the proposals.

Residents left the meeting buoyed and confident that their local representatives were doing everything they can to prevent this from being built, in an area that is earmarked for highly skilled workers to create jobs, and encourage aspirations for Rainham residents, including investment in new businesses, and creating the opportunity for people to live and work in Rainham.

A number of good ideas came out of the event, and it was clear that representatives from the Council from all parties are working closely with James on this, and helping the residents with their campaign. Cllr John Clark who represents the constituents of South Hornchurch also attended (pictured).

This morning I was out with John Moss (who would love to still be CF age!) in Dagenham helping Havering CF with some of the delivery there.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Sutton & Cheam CF

Last night I joined members of Sutton & Cheam CF branch alongwith the PPC Philippa Stroud in the Harrow pub in the lovely Cheam Village, in Cheam. There were a good number of members there with a couple of people who are researchers in Parliament, with their finger on the pulse, as well as others keen to get involved.

They are looking to expand their branch and we talked about some of the ways they could do that. The Association seems very supportive, and in fact a couple of Executive members of the Assocation supported the event. Two local Councillors joined us later in the evening (1 CF aged).

I wish them the best of luck in growing their branch.

Philippa seems to have made strong progress in the early stages of her campaign, and had some exciting ideas of how to run the campaign. With her Centre for Social Justice background, she was able to offer exciting opportunities to those who attended in terms of work experience and volunteering.

It was however a slightly frustrating journey home - having missed the last direct train by a matter of seconds (at 10.43pm so not late) I had to change twice - including a taxi between West and East Croydon - and it took me 2 1/2 hours to get home! Thank you to National Rail Information for giving me incorrect information that there was a later train, or rather failing to tell me it was not a direct train!

If you have a CF event you want a member of the Executive to attend, please e-mail us and just ask.

Monday, 5 March 2007

Working Life Conference: Save the Date

This year's working life conference has been booked in the SAS Raddisson in Birmingham on the weekend of 21st / 22nd July.

* * * SAVE THE DATE* * *

There will be a variety of sessions, including media training, getting selected and campaigning tips. There will also be an opportunity to get stuck in campaigning and putting new and brushed up skills into practice with campaigning in the city.

The cost is likely to be approx £115. Further details will follow in due course.

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Ribble South Success

Yesterday Matt Richardson pulled off the most successful CF campaign day ever when he grouped together 52 CF attendees from all over the country including Lancaster, Preston, Wirral, Chorley, Sheffield, London, Oxford and Manchester and bussed them in to South Ribble. A total of 72 people were out campaigning.

The team delivered over 20,000 leaflets, and canvassed 750 households. Mark Clarke and Paul Hayes from the CF executive also attended. I had never been able to attend (and sent my apologies) as I had a pre-existing Charity dinner that had been in my diary for 14 months when the date was announced at our last Executive meeting.

I understand that Lorraine Fulbrook PPC is over the moon!

This campaign day has shown a number of things - that we have strong CF branches in the north, and that they are keen to attend our campaign days. Next year perhaps we should have a campaign day in the north (or some distance from London) three times during the year, with minibuses organised to bus in our members, as well as campaign days every two months within an hour of London in our target seats.

That would be 9 National CF campaign days country wide within a 12 month period, and commensurate with what Matt Richardson has delivered this year in 9 months.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Friday with Boris

I attended the classy Palms Hotel for Angela Watkinson MP's Westminster Dining Club event with the fabulous Boris Johnson MP as the guest speaker on Friday night. There were over 150 attendees with a mix of local businessmen, association and Party members, and a large number of CFers including a number of us that travelled out from the City, with the interest generated by the guest speaker.

Boris gave an excellent speech with a mix of humour and messy hair (as expected) but also some real focus on why he thinks the Conservatives will win the next election, and why we should! When he lef straight after his speech we weren't sure if he had headed back to London, or gone off to join Essex's finest disco, on which he seemed quite keen!

Councillor Gary Adams was on great form, delivering grace, and a number of HCF members attended - they have written up the event here.


Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Swiss Embassy Climate Change Event

Last night I joined representatives form Labour Students, Young Fabian Society, Lib Dem Students as well as Conservative and Labour MPs at the Swiss Embassy hosted Young Politicians Debate and Dinner 2007.

The Swiss were there in full force with representatives of their political parties: the Swiss People's Party, The Liberal Democrats (actually a centre / centre-right party - more libertarian), Social Democratic Party, Christian Demobcatic People's Party and the Swiss Green Party.

The evening started with a short introduction from Ambassador Lautenberg, and was chaired by Tom Levitt MP, the Chairman of the All Party Group on Switzerland. The debate covered the fascinating area of climate change and what we as politicians should and could be doing. Giving us his acadmeic views Dr Cameron Hepburn from the University of Oxford educated us with many of the areas that we could agree from.

My favourite part of the evening was the Chair of the Young Fabians starting his comments with "AS CAMERON SAID" - brilliant thinking to get a speaker called Cameron! The key part of the debate centred around the balance of intervention / action from local, national, and international levels. Jeremy Hunt MP did his best to convince a slightly hostile audience not to put all our faith in international organisations including the EU.

After a stimulating debate we headed upstairs for a wonderful 3 course dinner where we were reunited with like minded politicians. Jeremy Hunt MP, Graham Brady MP, Doublas Carswell MP and Andrew Rosindell MP all attended the dinner, although had to leave for a 3 line whip vote in the House of Commons at 10pm.

Many thanks to the Ambassador, and his staff, for pulling together a fantastic event. We are hoping that the Ambassador will host a CF reception over the next few months, and I will be working to pull this together.

Monday, 26 February 2007

Saturday Campaigning - Sign Up Now

Join us for a campaign day in Ribble South on Saturday 3rd March. If you are interested in attending please e-mail matthew@matthewrichardson.com to register your interest.

There will be free coaches going from London, as well as from any other place that can garner the support of at least 10 people (including Manchester, Liverpool, Staffordshire probably). Matthew has some exciting surprises up his sleeve which should make this one of the most fun campaign days. Please do come along and support this marginal seat, and the CF Executive in delivering a successful campaign day out of London.

I know that Manchester have taken on the challenge and are looking like being the CF branch to bring the most number of attendees. Can your branch beat them?

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Stop Rainham Jail

Today I joined James Brokenshire MP, Cllr Roger Evans AM and activists including members of Havering CF to launch the campaign to stop Rainham jail. We delivered a number of leaflets to local residents with posters and petitions, as well as visiting the site to briefly protest there.

Whilst we need more prisons, the National Offendors Management Office has not thought through this choice of site. The Beam Reach site has already been earmarked as part of the regeneration of Rainham as part of the Thames Gateway development. The area needs high tech manufacturing jobs and skilled business opportunities, which will not be brought with the building of a new prison.

James reports the launch of the campaign here.


There will be a public meeting on Friday 9th March at La Salette Parish Hall between 7-9pm.

Thursday, 22 February 2007

New Members New MPs

Last night was a great turnout for the Pitcher and Piano event in Trafalgar Square. It was a Ronseal event - it did exactly what it said on the tin - New Members AND New MPs as well as a good sprinkling of existing members.

Many thanks to Syed Kamall, James Brokenshire, and Douglas Carswell for coming along and supporting the event.

Well done to Karen Allen for organising the event. Mark Clarke and Matt Richardson also attended.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Westminster Challenge @ Lithuanian Embassy

Last night I attended the welcome back reception for those who had completed the exhausting and cold trek across the Arctic. The Chairman of the Westminster Challenge, Richard Stephenson, has done a fantastic job in pulling the event and initiative together and in getting 5 MPs to agree to do this during recess!

Richard gave a witty and entertaining speech last night with a few anecdotes about the trip, including the tiring and lengthy (8 hours) igloo building. It sounded like an amazing experience, albeit a very cold one. At the end of the trip Richard and the rest of the team met some of the Swedish MPs including the Swedish MP for that region - amazingly he hadn't been there, and he was even more amazed that the Westminster Challenge had, and that 5 UK MPs had done so too!

Representatives from the three main charities attended, Crimestoppers, Cancer Research, and the Children's Society. As Richard reminded us (a number of times) they are a charity and do now have charitable status. You can still donate through the Just Giving website

Saturday, 17 February 2007

London Mayor Hustings

Havering CF have organised the first hustings for London Mayoral Conservative Candidates for Friday 20th April from 7.30pm at St Michael's Hall, Main Road, Romford. The nearest station is Gidea Park, which can be reached via Liverpool Street. The evening will be chaired by Cllr Roger Evans, AM, and we have the following attendees confirmed:


Richard Barnes AM
Nick Boles
Victoria Borwick



Lurline Champagnie
Cllr Simon Fawthrop
Lee Rotherham
The event will be a great opportunity to find out why these individuals want to be London Mayor and why you should vote for them.

If you want to attend please register for the event by e-mailing Sarah Mackintosh on chairman@haveringconservativefuture.com.

Well done to Sarah Mackintosh and Gareth Thompson (London North AC) for organising the event.



Friday, 16 February 2007

Finchley Success

Last night I attended the second Finchley event, but the first we'd really publicised. It was a great night, and real progress. We had two new members - who bizarrely had the same surname but were not related! In addition there were a number of positive responses to e-mails and phone calls of interested people who couldn't make Thursday night. Additionally 3 more CF aged councillors came along meeting other CF members.

Many thanks to London West AC Greg Stafford who came along to support the event, and also to Peter Smallwood from Hillingdon Conservatives, who has written up the event here. Thanks also to Mike Freer, the PPC for his good humour and generosity. Finally thanks to Jo Vos who tried her best to attend but got in her car, and got to Finchley, only to discover she couldn't remember where it was we were meeting and had noone's number! Brilliant!

We will be looking to run another event in Finchley as well as a reception in the House of Commons during Easter recess. Mike is looking to have an Action Day one Sunday in March, and would appreciate local support. Let me know if you are interested.

I am sure that Worcester will have go excellently under the fantastic leadership of Anne-Marie Bray. Karen Allen and James Dinsdale will be in Harlow on Saturday for an action day and social event.

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Finchley tonight, Worcester tomorrow

Please don't forget that we are holding a drinks event in Finchley tonight for anyone who is keen to meet Mike Freer the PPC. Even if you don't live in the constituency but live nearby - if you are keen to find out more about CF and to help out in a marginal seat, then come and join us.
We will be at the Autumn House, North Finchley High Road, very near 'Tally Ho' from 7.30pm. The nearest tube stations are Woodside Park and West Finchley. After a couple of drinks we may head on to Pizza Express.

Tomorrow night, Worcester CF are putting on another event (PPC Robin Walker): from 8pm at Three Pears Pub, Worcester with special guest Jonathan Isaby. The topic for the evening is Politics and the Media. For more details e-mail Anne-Marie Bray at info@ambray.co.uk.

Please do support these events.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Mark Clarke PPC for Tooting!!

I am delighted to announce that Mark Clarke, CF Chairman, has just been selected as the PPC for Tooting. This is fantastic news. I will no doubt be doing some campaigning in Tooting in the near future.

Mark has worked incredibly hard for this selection (as he has for CF this year) as has can be seen by his updated website including a U-tube video and showing a pdf of the literature that he has created. Mark has real potential to win this seat and see Tooting turn blue in 2009!
Good luck and well done!
The story has already made it onto Conservative Home!

18 Doughty Street Attack Ken

I can't wait! With the upcoming London Mayor Conservative Candidate selections, but no candidate as yet, it is fantastic that we are already keeping him on his toes. Look out on 18 Doughty Street tomorrow.

Monday, 12 February 2007

New Members New MPs

Come and join us at the first New Members New MPs event of the year at the Pitcher and Piano, William IV Street, near Trafalgar Square on Wednesday 21st February from 6.30pm.

An excellent event with an opportunity to meet fellow CFers from around the country, a great event for new members, and there will be some new MPs there too - James Brokenshire and Syed Kamall are confirmed, with other MPs also attending.

The event is free to attend, and there will be a cash bar in operation. Please bring your business cards in case we do a business card draw!

If you are interested in attending please e-mail karenallen2@yahoo.co.uk.

A map to the venue can be found here.

Dinner with Boris Johnson

Upminster and Hornchurch Conservative Association is holding its annual dinner on Friday 2nd March 2007 at 7.30pm at the Upminster Golf Club. Upminster is the final station on the District Line, fast trains come from Fenchurch Street.

The guest speaker is Boris Johnson MP, and both Angela Watkinson MP and James Brokenshire MP will be in attendance. It looks set to be a fantastic night.

Tickets are £40. For further details, please e-mail me. I will send details of where to send your cheques to. Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis (upon receipts of cheques).


Friday, 9 February 2007

Marginal Seat Success - Westminster North

Last night I attended the fabulously successful launch event for Westminster North CF. PPC Joanne Cash and Lindsey Hall had done an excellent job in rallying attendees for their first CF event for this new seat. The event was held in the Houses of Parliament with Brooks Newmark hosting.

There were over 60 attendees with ages ranging from 17 to 30. There were also a large proportion of female and ethnic minority attendees, which was great to see. A number of people expressed their interest in joining the Party as a result of the evening.

When all of the guests had arrived, there were short speeches from Brooks Newmark, and also from Joanne Cash, who were both more than capably introduced by Lindsey Hall. The attendees were also subjected to a short speech from me!

Some people were there for their first political event and there was definitely a positive feeling in the room with an air of inspiration and motivation. I believe that there will be an excellent and active CF branch in Westminster North, which will see many friendships made, many leaflets delivered, many houses canvassed, and, hopefully, one Conservative MP delivered!

Well done and thank you to Lindsey Hall, Joanne Cash and Brooks Newmark for their work in pulling off a great event. I look forward to supporting many more Westminster North CF events. If you are interested in getting involved in Westminster North, or any other marginal seats, please e-mail me at clairepalmer@conservativefuture.com, and I will put you in touch.

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Good Luck Mark

Mark Clarke is down to the final five and is at the second round this evening trying to make it into the final three and the open primary for Tooting.

I wish him the very best of luck.

Update (Sat 10th): Mark is through to the final three. Open primary - Tuesday evening. Good luck!

Blue and Green Champagne Party

Last night I attended the rival to the Black and White Ball - the Blue and Green Champagne Party, which was at a fabulous venue, The Collection, on the Brompton Road.

Tickets for the Black and White Ball were £275, and out of the price range of many party members, particularly CFers. Unfortunately, unlike last year there were no discounted after dinner tickets within a price range, so we were glad to hear that Tobias Ellwood and Mary McLeod were putting on a party for a mere £35 with all the profits raised going to social action projects around the country.

There was a great turnout for the event, with a number of MPs, including Angela Watkinson, Tobias Ellwood, and Robert Goodwill attending. The CF Exec was out in force with James Dinsdale, Mark Clarke, Matt Richardson and Karen Allen attending.

I am sure there were some rather sore heads this morning!

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Campaigning - Ribble South

Join us for a campaign day in Ribble South on Saturday 3rd March. If you are interested in attending please e-mail matthew@matthewrichardson.com to register your interest. There will be coaches going from London, as well as from any other place that can garner the support of at least 10 people.

Matthew has some exciting surprises up his sleeve which should make this one of the most fun campaign days. Please do come along and support this marginal seat, and the CF Executive in delivering a successful campaign day out of London.

Monday, 5 February 2007

Marginal Seats Update

At the recent CF Executive meeting we have decided to add two more marginal seats for National CF to help set up branches: Ribble South and Great Yarmouth. New Executive member, James Dinsdale will be working with me to help progress these branches for PPCs Lorraine Fulbrook and Brandon Lewis.

Since my last Marginal Seats update, we have had events in Finchley, Solihull, Portsmouth and Loughborough. All had new members that hadn't been involved in the Party before, and most saw existing unorganised members get together and meet for the first time.

If you know anyone is any of our marginal seats please do let them know about upcoming events, and encourage them to come along and get involved. Some dates for the diary, for the next set of events:

Wirral West (PPC Esther McVey): Friday 9th February @ 8pm at "Koi", Wirral and 21st March @ 8pm at the Conservative Club, 24 Mells Drive, Wirral

Finchley and Golders Green (PPC Mike Freer): Thursday 15th February @ 7.30pm at Autumn House, North Finchley High Road, very near 'Tally Ho'. The nearest tube stations are Woodhouse and West Finchley. Join us for a Beer and Pizza evening and a chance to informally meet the candidate in this target seat. After a couple of drinks we will head on to Pizza Express.

Worcester (PPC Robin Walker): Friday 16th February @ 8pm at Three Pears Pub, Worcester with special guest Jonathan Isaby. The topic for the evening is Politics and the Media.
For more details e-mail Anne-Marie Bray at info@ambray.co.uk.

Harlow (PPC Rob Halfon): Saturday 17th February @ Yates' Wine Lodge, Harlow
Karen Allen will be hosting the second New Members Reception in Harlow, with PPC Rob Halfon. If you are free during the day Karen and a team of volunteers will be delivering and canvassing in the constituency. Don't worry if you have never been out before - help will be at hand.


Solihull (PPC Maggie Throup): Monday 12th March @ 8pm at The Townhouse, Warwick Road.



Loughborough (PPC Nicky Morgan): Tuesday 13th March @ 7.30pm at Griffin pub, Ashby Square. Join us at this lovely venue for drinks and nibbles with candidate Nicky Morgan. The last event was a relaxed and fun evening, and the venue is excellent.

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

Portsmouth (PPC Penny Mourdaunt): Wednesday 28th March @ 8pm, at the brilliantly named "The Honest Politician" pub, Elm Grove, Southsea


Thank you to all the Associations and PPCs for their support so far on this venture. They have been incredibly keen to make this work. Whilst many of our branches have had a slow start, we always expected that. The crunch will come after the second event.

Some of the key things we have learnt so far are:
1. Having someone on the ground that is keen and effective makes a real difference. Somewhere like Worcester has really benefitted from having a great Area Chairman like Anne-Marie Bray.

2. Publicity in all forms is key. We have been trying to promote the events in as many ways as possible - through press releases, leaflets, word of mouth, as well as good old letters and e-mails.
3. Try, try and try again: sometimes people can't make the first event but are interested. Sometimes they just don't pick up on the message first time.

4. The best way of growing branches is organically - we are working on getting each attendee to bring a friend to the next event. By building branches based on friendship, the branch is more likely to stay effective and be there for the longterm.