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 email@example.com.
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.