Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Area Chairman Working

Well done to the three area chairman of London who have all arranged events in London this month. Greg Stafford held drinks at what has become the CF venue of choice in the Pitcher and Piano near Trafalgar Square last Wednesday. Clare Hilley, London South's AC, is holding a drinks reception tonight in the Slug and Lettuce near Clapham Junction station. And earlier this month Gareth Thompson, London North AC organised a curry night on Brick Lane.

All of the events have attracted a mix of new and existing members. Well done to all three ACs for their work, allowing the Executive to focus on building branches in our marginal seats. It is vital that ACs take on responsibility for organising events in their area, and it is great to see this being done around the country, as well as in London.

What Will They Tax Next?

18 Doughty Street launched the first campaign yesterday with their "What Will They Tax Next?" campaign. A group of 16 activists joined Sam Coates and the Taxpayers Alliance to hand out "tax cards" to commuters in the Westminster area. The cards are those pictured in the advertisment, which hopefully can be found here.

Newsnight previewed the video on Monday night and interviewed Tim Montgomerie about the concept. It was also covered in the Times yesterday.

The campaign focusses on the increasing tax burden under Labour, and takes it to its fullest extreme with the scene finishing with a voluptuous woman and the star of the show who has had to use his tax credit card for everything else that day, wondering just what will be taxed next. People are feeling the pinch more and more as the cost of everything is rising, with the Government taking more and more, leaving us with less to deal with rising costs. And what are we getting for our money? Not improved public services.

Well done to 18 Doughty Street for highlighting this important issue. I am sure that there will be many more interesting topics over the next few weeks.

Monday, 29 January 2007

18 Doughty Street Campaign

18 Doughty Street have set up a fabulous new set of campaigns which will be launched on Tuesday with the "What will they tax next?" campaign. The campaigns will be blog led and are in 4 stages.


Stage 1: Your Ideas For The Campaign Advert. The topic will be announced and the viewers / readers will have input by suggesting a basic concept for the advertisement.

Stage 2: You Vote On Recommendations From ‘X-Factor-Style’ Judges. Three ‘Ad-factor’ judges will evaluate the ideas suggested and will each champion one idea that they think will most likely produce an effective advertisement. The website will have the videoed recommendations to allow you to watch and vote on.

Stage 3: The Result Of Your Voting - pretty obvious! For those interested in the technicalities, it will be first-past-the-post with the idea that gains the most votes winning the opportunity to be made into a campaign by the Doughty Street crew.

Stage 4: The Launch Of The Campaign Ad - this will be launched every Tuesdaywith the aim being to spread the ad through the internet. There will also be background briefing on the ad’s themes and ‘action opportunities’ for people to get involved in campaigning on the issue.
Keep a look out on 18 Doughty Street for this.

Friday, 26 January 2007

New NME Members

Welcome on board to new NME members Paul Hayes and Dan Hamilton who were co-opted onto the Executive on Sunday.

Paul will be co-ordinating social action within CF, and Dan will be looking after Regional Press. Their CF e-mail addresses should be working shortly.

I am delighted that they are both joining us and will both be excellent additions to the team. That brings this happy band of men and women up to 10.

Thursday, 25 January 2007

Finchley First Event

Last night I met up with local Finchley PPC, Mike Freer at the White Lion, near East Finchley tube station for a first CF event. Due to some spectacular work being done by Greg Stafford at exactly the same time Andy Peterkin and I were discussing this event, the event clashed with the Pitcher and Piano London North West drinks.

However, not to be deterred, I headed down for what ended up being a great night with a small but highly dedicated team of attendees, local Councillor Dan Thomas (CF member), local agent Rachel Shawcross (CF member), and two other party members (one male, one female) who are involved in Finchley. It was a great opportunity for members from different parts of the constituency to meet up and contribute to the beginnings of a great CF aged group.

The next event is just three weeks away - and we hope that the letters sent out to existing members, and those in Conservative households will have allowed a little more time for diary management, and a few more attendees. Next time we will be having a Pizza and Beer evening, meeting at... (the venue escapes me for the moment) E-mails and phone calls to existing but perhaps non-active members will be made to motivate the troops.

I hope that the P&P night went well - it's great to have events being organised even if they do clash - shows the strength of CF.

Finally, Finchley have asked me to remind you that there is a by-election in East Barnet at the moment and they are campaigning on Saturday 2nd February. Enfield Southgate CF and Peter Smallwood and team are heading up to help, so if you are from that neck of the woods, and have a spare hour, they will really appreciate it.

Monday, 22 January 2007

Development!

It's not too late to sign up for one of 2 fantastic events going on tomorrow night (Tuesday) - firstly the CWO / CF policy forum on International Development.

Secondly, the Life Coaching Event with Jenny Ungless, which is being held at CCHQ from 6.30pm - £8 including refreshments. Jenny features in this month's Cosmopolitan and is a great person and incredibly interesting to talk to. She will be offering life coaching, and depending on the interest of the attendees this will either focus exclusiviely on work related life coaching, but can have a political bent if necessary.

If you are interested in attending either event, please e-mail karenallen2@yahoo.co.uk I will be in court during the day and not on my e-mails until after the event(s). I will be attending the Life Coaching event - some might say I need it more than others! ;-)

Sunday, 21 January 2007

Hammersmith Success


Yesterday CF Exec members Karen Allen, Matt Richardson, Christian Walker, James Dinsdale, Mark Clarke and myself descended upon the new Hammermsith constituency for the third, and most successful, CF Action day this year.

We had 50 CF activists out alongwith Hammersmith association members and covered a large majoirty of the constituency. Initial estimates put the total number of leaflets delivered at 20,000, which is obviously a fantastic achievement.

Thanks particularly to Christian Walker who got a 7am train from Gloucestershire to be with us, James Dinsdale travelled from Bury St Edmunds and the Essex university team, led by Area Chairman, George Askew who braved a 6 hour round trip to offer their support. Thanks also to Greg Smith, and the team at Hammersmith for having the most organised action day I have seen so far with ready printed maps with phone numbers, and Hammersmith members to lead teams into the four corners of the constituency.

Well done also to Matt Richardson for organising this, and cajoling the attendees to attend! Look out for details of the next campaign day in Ribble South in early March. As we are often told to get out of London, we are hoping that many members will join us there.

Update: Matt Richardson has reported at the Exec meeting today that the 55 attendees to Hammersmith delivered 27,000 leaflets. Fantastic achievement and shows what CF can do en masse!
Join us in Ribble South on 3rd March for the next campaign day. Details to follow.

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

18 Doughty Street

Either I wasn't too bad the first time I went on 18 DS, or they are desperate for people to come on the show, as I am back on from 10pm tonight. Joanne Nadler is hosting the show, which should make it good fun. I have had the pleasure of meeting Joanne a couple of times, firstly at a fantastic event run by Munish Chopra in Cities of London and Westminster, and then at the recent CWF journalists question time.

I have discovered upon returning from court that I we will be reviewing blogs, so I am currently spending a few manic moments catching up on blog postings from today and the news for the last couple of weeks. I can tell you great details of the going ons in Luton Crown court, but I feel a little cut off from the outside world!

The link to 18DS is here.

Sporting Chance for Loughborough CF

Last night I joined PPC Nicky Morgan in The Griffin to help set up a CF branch in Loughborough, another one of our key target seats. We had fifteen people attend in total, with everybody except myself, James Dinsdale, and Lydia Smith (Area Chairman) being from the constituency. This was one of the most promising events we have had so far, with there being a real mix of people: National / Area CF; local members who hadn't met each other; new members who had no involvement prior to yesterday; as well as people from both the university and the town.

We will be following up with a second event on Tuesday 13th March (which is the week of Spring Forum), back in the Griffin Pub, Ashby Square. In the meantime we will be contacting those individuals who have responded to the Lord Ashcroft youth survey, and encouraging them to come along. Whilst we had e-mailed many of them, we had not had enough time to respond to all of their queries. Also, in my experience, you need to contact people 3-4 times before you can get them along to an event. With university, work, outside commitments, and a potential fear factor of coming along for the first time to an event, as well as the event clashing, it does take a little time.

Loughborough CF seems one that we can really develop. Thanks to James and Lydia for coming along and supporting the event, and also to Nicky Morgan and Hilary Fryer, the Association Chairman for hosting us. We will be contacting the attendees to arrange the next steps in the next couple of days. I am sure that everyone who attended will agree what a great time was had by all, and the venue was an excellent choice!

There are some photos, but they are still on James' camera phone - but I will post them as soon as I receive them.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Hug a Hoodie

Some interesting announcements from David Cameron and Justine Greening on youth crime figures, earlier this week, which might make the case for hugging a hoodie! The figures deal with situations where young people are the victims. The data is particularly interesting as it is the first time that I know that the figures have been collated, and the announcement is the result of weeks and months of hard work from Justine, in particular through Freedom of Information requests of various police forces nationwide.

Currently the Government doesn't collect this data as it doesn't talk to young people about their experiences with the criminal justice system, or where they have been a victim of crime. Additionally with a fairly low reporting rate, much of this is going undetected.

Reports of the announcements were made on the BBC, as well as in a number of papers, including the Sun. These figures suggest that 600 kids are mugged each school day, considering that (on Government figures) 8 out of 10 robberies are never reported.

Young people are an easy target for robberies as they are likely to have I-Pods, mobile phones and other computer games and valuable items. With a high chance of becoming a victim, many children respond by blending into the background - wearing a hoody - and saying "you don't know if I am a potential victim or a potential attacker", and hoping that they won't become the vitcim of crime. Unfortunately for adults, this leads to an increased fear of crime when passing large groups of kids, and a demonisation of children.

As someone who sees first hand the consequences and effects of youth crime in my role as a barrister, this is an area that I find particularly interesting. It is however vital that perpetrators are brought to justice, but without criminalising childish behaviour. I recently had a kid charged with robbery - of pokemon cards - when he had failed to return the cards to another child in the playground having snatched them off him. Robbery is a serious charge with life imprisonment as the ultimate punishment. Let's make sure that our response to youth crime is balanced and measured.

Many people may not know that the guideline for a mobile phone robbery, even where a first time offendor aged 15 has pleaded guilty is 18 months custody. When the property is recovered, and the force used is minimal this can be particularly harsh, especially when the child is at school. Putting young people into prisons should be avoided at all costs, and used where it is necessary and proportionate. Sometimes that does mean hugging a hoodie - after all they may well be the victim in all this!

I wish the Government would spend more time telling people that if they rob mobile phones, they will go to prison, rather than telling the public not to use their phones in public places, and to hide it away.

Havering Conservative Councillor, Gary Adams, (where I started out with CF, and where I was brought up) has recently written to Commander Sultan Taylor, who has responsibility for policing in Havering on this very issue. I am sure any response will be posted on his blog.

CF @ The Weekend

This weekend is a CF extravaganza for me. On Saturday I will be heading out in Hammersmith for what looks set to be our best campaign day yet. As I have posted earlier, we are off to try and help secure 3 Tory seats from 2 that exist at the moment, and CF will no doubt make a valued contribution to that cause on Saturday. To give something back to our CF attendees, there will also be a training session from key campaigner Greg Smith, and MP Greg Hands, in the morning. For details see earlier post.

If you can't decide whether to come along or not, then perhaps the fact that some documentary makers for Channel 4 will be attending might spur you into attending ... And as we've said before, you don't need to join us for the whole day, although we would love to see as much of you as possible (in a time sense!).

On Saturday evening I will be heading over to Brick Lane for a curry with our London North East members, as well as no doubt a few hardened campaigners. We will probably head to the Standard Balti (about half way up brick lane). If you are interested in coming along please drop me an e-mail and we will add you to the list. We are trying to book a table in advance as there will be a fairly big group of us, so please let me know if you wish to attend. Bookings on the night are fine, but it may require some reorganising.

Then on Sunday, the NME will be holding its first meeting of 2007, and discussing numerous issues including updates from the Exec and the remaining 2 co-options. This is likely to take about 3 hours!

Monday, 15 January 2007

Loughborough Marginal Seat Event - TONIGHT

Tonight (Tuesday 16th) following court I am off to the marginal seat inaugaral event in Loughborough with PPC Nicky Morgan. If anyone is interested in attending, please do just turn up to the Griffin pub in Ashby Square, Loughborough, any time from 7.30pm, although we will no doubt be there for the rest of the night.

New exec member James Dinsdale has stepped in and assisted with the final preparations for the event, including e-mailing those who have responded to the Youth survery and included their e-mail addresses.

The survey is a fantastic way of getting the views of the younger members in the relevant constituency, and also identifies potential members. Nicky is in the process of collating all of the data, and will be writing to those who have responded, with the results, as well as what her next steps are to try and deal with those issues she can. It is vital to engage with young people, and to let them have their say. It is amazing how many good ideas come out of exercises such as this!

Since 8th January I have been doing a 3-4 week trial in Luton Crown Court which has meant a number of late nights as I have had to head back to the office about 6.30pm where I have stayed for a number of hours producing schedules! Apologies if I have not responded to your e-mails during this time but I only have evening access.

UPDATE: See here for how the event went.

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Campaigning Update

Well done Karen for organising the Harlow Campaign day yesterday. It is vital that we campaign in our target seats, and particularly those where we are trying to get CF branches built up. It does no end of good to see a group of young people on the streets interested and passionate about politics.

As well as canvassing 95% of the ward, the campaigners led by Karen, and joined by new exec member James Dinsdale, as well as Area Chairman George Askew, delivered leaflets which amongst other hot local topics published the new CF branch and the second event to be held on 20th February. Karen wrote about the event here (and you'll see who I nicked the photo from!).

Speaking of campaigning, the Hammersmith campaign day is this Saturday - for those of you that have yet to burn off the mince pies and Christmas pudding, this is the ideal way to shed some pounds. However it is also a great way to learn about campaigning techniques from highly succesful campaigner (Greg Smith) who ran the successful Greg Hands MP campaign, who my predecessor used to work for. In the afternoon, after a pub lunch, we will continue campaigning, which is a perfect opportunity to catch up with friends, and meet new people whilst hopefully delivering a triple blue success in Hammersmith, Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea whenever the next election is.
The day kicks off at 10am, but we are able to cater for arrivals at various points in the day. If you have something you desperately need to do, then make sure you come and join us for the afternoon, or, join us for the morning and skive off at lunchtime. Whilst we'd love you to stay with us for the full day, each CF man / woman hour counts!

In the evening, London North East are holding a Brick Lane curry night. Gareth Thompson, along with Havering CF members, as well as Ilford and Epping CF members have signed up for a night to remember. And being a 5 minute walk from my house is rather convenient! If you are interested in either the Hammersmith Campaign day, or Brick Lane curry, drop me an e-mail at clairepalmer@conservativefuture.com.

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Solihull Success

I have just had an update from Craig Cox who has attended the first Solihull CF branch event tonight, which was a fantastic success. We had fifteen local people attend the Townhouse alongwith Maggie Throup, the PPC, who is very pleased. The majority of these were new people (only 2 or 3 had met her before), and a lot of people had brought a friend with them.

Well done to Craig to travelling up and supporting the event, as well as organising it. With a second event already in the diary, we hope to have even more attendees next time.

See Mark's blog for details of the success of the Portsmouth event yesterday.

Sunday, 7 January 2007

CF Hammersmith Campaign Day

It's... Tory constituency mitosis!Hammersmith and Fulham was one of most stunning gains in 2005. Now the seat's boundaries have been changed, and at the next general election the area will have two MPs. The Fulham side of the constituency will be joined to parts of Chelsea , making it a strongly Conservative seat. But we want to hold on to Hammersmith, too - giving us two Tory MPs out of one.

How can you help?

Join us on Saturday 20 January from 10.30 am. We'll start with some coffee to help you shake off the previous night's excesses, meet sitting MP Greg Hands, then head north to leaflet as many homes as possible. We'll stop for a local pub lunch and still let you out before the evening.

Hammersmith is even better connected to most parts of London than Battersea.Head for Shepherds Bush (Central Line), Shepherds Bush (Hammersmith & CityLine) or Goldhawk Road (Hammersmith & City Line). We'll meet at St. Simons Church Hall on Rockley Road ( http://www.streetmap.co.uk/newmap.srf?x=523661 ) but sign up with Matthew Richardson, by sending him an email now to let him know you're coming at cf@matthewrichardson.com.

If you can only come for part of the day, please also send me an email and we'll make separate arrangements for you to join us. Every hour counts towards us gaining another new Tory seat at the next general election.

I look forward to seeing you on 20th January.

Claire

Saturday, 6 January 2007

Marginal Seats Update

The CF Leadership has prioritised dealing with building branches in marginal seats. So far we have had events in 4 marginal seats: Torbay, Worcester, Pendle and Harlow, with all the PPCs being pleased with the turnouts, and everyone enjoying themselves. In addition we have events organised, so by the end of January we will have had an event in 7 constituencies.

The first event of the New Year is tomorrow: Monday 8th January in Portsmouth. Details of all the events organised to date are:

Portsmouth (PPC Penny Mourdaunt): Monday 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 RoadLoughborough (PPC Nicky Morgan): 16th January @ 7.30pm at the Griffin Pub, Ashby Square.

Finchley & Golders Green (PPC Mike Freer): 24th January @ 7.30pm and 15th February @ 7.30pm, venue to be advised.

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

Thank you to all the Executive members for all their hard work in looking after their seats. Craig Cox is looking after Pendle, Solihull, Portsmouth and Wirral West, and for organising two events in most of those. Karen Allen is the main contact for Harlow, and is holding an Action Day on 13th January to help promote the new CF branch initiative there. Matt Richardson has been working with Anne-Marie Bray to deliver results in Worcester, Christian Walker is responsible for Torbay, and Ranil Jayawardena is helping deliver in Finchley and Golders Green. I am delighted that James Dinsdale has joined the team, and he will be looking after Aberconwy and Loughborough, as well as continuing his involvement in Harlow.

If you are interested in attending any of the events, or have contacts in those constituencies, please contact the relevant executive member, or clairepalmer@conservativefuture.com.

Friday, 5 January 2007

James Dinsdale Co-opted to NME

Welcome to James Dinsdale to the CF Leadership Team. James has already been doing some excellent work in Harlow with Karen Allen and myself. He is an excellent addition to our team.

I have already introduced him by e-mail to the key players in Aberconwy and Loughborough, which are the two inital seats that he will be looking after, and he is coming to Loughborough on 16th January. A marginal seats update will be posted in the next fortnight.

I would like to thank Greig Baker for his work on the marginal seats programme and his ideas on this, and I am sure he will continue to be involved informally when the time allows.

Thursday, 4 January 2007

Finchley and Loughborough

Tonight I am meeting with Mike Freer, the PPC for Finchley and Golders Green for a discussion on setting up a CF branch there, and hopefully helping him get into Westminster. We will be agreeing dates for the first two events tonight, and I will report those as soon as possible.

I spent part of yesterday discussing plans for the Loughborough event on 16th January with PPC, Nicky Morgan. The association are due to send out a letter to potential Conservative voters, as well as using the results of the Youth Survey to identify potential supporters to invite to the event. The Loughborough event is on Tuesday 16th January at the Griffin Pub.

If you live in Finchley or Loughborough, please drop me an e-mail: clairepalmer@conservativefuture.com

UPDATE (12.45pm) Due to changing commitments I will not be meeting Mike this evening. We have however 2 dates for your diary, venue TBC: Wednesday 24th January and Thursday 15th February, both from 7.30pm.