By Tim Montgomerie
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One of the Conservative Party's most important and under-used assets is its MPs. Within the parliamentary party there are a range of brilliant thinkers and campaigners. In the party's past there were elaborate and sophisticated backbench and other voluntary party structures that made good use of them. In today's heavily-centralised operation that is not the case.
The Tory leadership should change this by creating a range of new mechanisms for Tory MPs to help the party and advance their careers.
- I suggest a brains trust of say half-a-dozen or so of the party's brightest and best could help Oliver Letwin prepare the next manifesto. The trust could include the likes of Nick Boles, Charlie Elphicke, Mark Field, John Glen, Jesse Norman, Dom Raab, John Redwood, Chris Skidmore and Liz Truss.
- A group of regional campaign and sectoral chairman could also be appointed so that MPs can take responsibility for coordinating campaigns in the South West, South Wales or in seaside towns or among ethnic communities.
- Others could be appointed to the role of internet campaign co-ordinators to undertake the range of party restructuring that I outlined here.
As well as increasing the party's work capacity and tackle a growing problem of boredom amongst some MPs it would also increase the PM's reshuffle options. He may only have 6 to 8 ministerial slots to fill when the likely September reshuffle arrives. By restructuring the party organisation in similar ways to those I suggest here he will create twenty to thirty extra slots for career progression. It might also be easier to rehabilitate some of the EU and Lords rebels by giving them important party positions – one step short of rewarding their rebelliousness with a frontbench job. It will also, of course, give future rebels new positions from which they can resign!