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.

Sunday, 4 February 2007

England Back On Form

I particularly enjoyed the rugby yesterday when England took on Scotland at Twickenham. England are back on form, and seem to have benefitted hugely from the return of Jonny Wilkinson. For someone who has played 30 minutes of club rugby, it did not show, with an outstanding man of the match performance, contributing 27 points to help England win the game.

England beat Scotland 42-20, putting them second in the table behind France but only just on points difference. Jason Robinson scored two tries, to put England way ahead of the Scots. Also an excellent performance from Harry Ellis, who I thought was unlucky not to get man of the match.
Let's hope they carry on playing this way.

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Upcoming Events

The following events are coming up - see the Marginal Seats post for details of those events.

Mon 5th Feb: Manchester Working Life
Are you a young professional in Manchester? If so, get together with fellow young professionals at the Cotton House for their first working life event. Speakers at the event are Steven Reynolds an Associate from Kuit Steinart Levy and Rob Adlard, a violinst with the Halle Orchestra. If you would like to attend please RSVP to Claire McLauchlin at clairemclauchlin@hotmail.com for directions and further details.

Wed 7th Feb: Blue and Green Champagne Party
For those unable to afford the Black and White Ball, Tobias Ellwood MP and Mary McLeod bring you something different. With David Cameron appearing virtually, and all the money raised going to help social action projects, it is the place to be.
6.30pm - 1am at The Collection, 264 Brompton Road, London SW3
Tickets: £35 Dress: Elegant
Tel: 020 7352 0102 Email: james@kcfc.org.uk

Thurs 22nd Feb: Image Evening
Want to raise your game in 2007, and improve your image? Then come to the CWO Image Evening with leading international image coach, Carol Collins at 1a Chelsea Manor Street, SW3, from 6.30-9.30pm. Tickets are £25 and include bubbly & bites and a goody bag. Available from elaine.hall@conservatives.com.

Wed 14th March: CF Breakfast with James Arbuthnot
At 5 Cavendish Square, James will be discussing whether we should continue to invest in Trident. Cost £23 including breakfast. Places are limited.

For further details of any events please don't hesitate to drop me a line at clairepalmer@conservativefuture.com

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Arctic Challenge

On Tuesday night I attended the farewell dinner for the Arctic Challenge team at Pomegranates Restaurant near Dolphin Square, Pimlico. The Westminster Challenge is a cross-party fundraising organisation raising money for 3 fantastic causes: The Children's Society, Cancer Research, and Crimestoppers.

From 9th – 16th February 2007 a cross-party team of intrepid Members of the House of Commons take on the Arctic. The team will travel in excess of 400 kilometres across Norway, Finland and Sweden powered by Husky dog sled. They will face temperatures as low as -40 and will undertake a number of tasks along the way including igloo building and ice-fishing.

Many of the team that are heading out to the Arctic attended with guest Lord Ashcroft making the main speech of the evening. Initiatives like this are fantastic, and I wish the team the very best of luck. Well done to Richard Stephenson and the rest of the Westminster Challenge Team for all their hard work in getting this project going. I wish them all a very safe journey!

To make a donation please visit http://www.justgiving.com/westminsterchallenge2007