Grant Shapps prioritises campaigning... unlike his predecessor

In an exclusive article, Alexandra Paterson, Chair of Conservative Future, praises Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps for focussing on campaigning and breathing new life into the party’s electoral machine

On the campaign trail: Road Trip 2015 team in action
Alexandra Paterson
On 19 December 2014 18:31

Over the last 24 hours CCHQ have been purging the Candidates List of people who failed to campaign in the Rochester and Strood by-election. The truth is that prioritising those people who campaign hard is long overdue.

As National Chairman of Conservative Future I spend most weekends campaigning in marginal seats either with CF, Roadtrip2015 or Team2015. I rarely see people from the Westminster bubble out with us. With a few exceptions, Special Advisers, think tankers, even parliamentary staffers are mainly noticeable by their absence from our doorstep campaigning machine. Yet it is this group who disproportionately make up the future political leadership of our Party.

For years we have been out-campaigned by our opponents. Is it any wonder when traditionally we have prioritised those who drink in the Red Lion and the Westminster Arms over those who build their careers in the pouring rain week in week out?

It seems that the tide is turning. Having a Party Chairman in Grant Shapps who unashamedly prioritises campaigning is a refreshing change. Under the last Party Chairman, the unlamented, Israel baiting, Sayeeda Warsi, candidates with exceptional campaigning records like Annunziata Rees Mogg and Mark Clarke were booted off the candidates’ list.

To compound the distorted priorities of her era of shame this action was proudly boasted of by her people as “a purge of the right.”

In some ways this sort of purge is no more than what happens already in our best campaigning seats. In Windsor recently the Council Leader required all candidates and councillors to attend a local by-election. Those that refused to attend had their eligibility to stand revoked.

In Wandsworth, league tables are regularly published of attendees at campaigning sessions.

Those at the bottom of the list – regardless of council seniority – cannot expect to be reselected.  Hammersmith and Fulham have a similar system. It is good to see CCHQ under Grant Shapps keeping up with the very best practice in the voluntary party.

The Rochester and Strood by-election was a critical moment in this parliament. All by-elections are important but given the indignation which many volunteers felt and the personal commitment of the Prime Minister it was beholden on all to rally around and campaign.

I thought every part of our Party had done so. It turns out that some were avoiding their responsibility to the Party. By not campaigning they let down the Prime Minister and they let down the thousands of activists who campaigned there. I am pleased we have a Party Chairman who ensures that actions have consequences and campaigning is rewarded. 

Alexandra Paterson is Chairman of Conservative Future @alexhpaterson

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