The second in a series of pieces on Party Reform.
Yesterday, I suggested that the Chairman of the Board be elected in order to help solve three main Party problems – the transformation of Party Conference into a corporate event for lobbyists; CCHQ shaping candidate selections, and CCHQ becoming a branch office of Downing Street.
The Board controls the money, and how the money is spent determines what balance is struck between the Party’s short-term and longer-term aims.
I have floated before on this site the prospect of splitting CCHQ into two. This wouldn’t mean moving bits of it into different buildings or dividing the staff. But it would mean ring-fencing the money for those two sets of objectives.
- The short-term covers election-fighting: advertising, telephone canvassing, online activity, Facebook, Twitter, action days, by-elections, rapid response, opposition attack, propagating the message.
- The longer-term covers everything else: ethnic minority voters, students, membership, candidate selection, building up support in business and among the professions, in universities and throughout civil society – charities, campaign groups, unions – and building up support in “development” seats (i.e: non-target seats that might be won not at the next election but the one after that).
An elected Chairman of the Board with a mandate for building for the long-term would protect resources that should properly be spent on the latter from being concentrated almost exclusively on the former. It might be that a majority of the Board should itself be elected.
One might want a separate Party Chairman to head up the election-fighting arm, and to be the “Minister for the Today Programme”.
And some want that person to be elected, too. ConservativeHome readers supported this option in a recent survey by 55 per cent to 39 per cent. They backed splitting up CCHQ by 50 per cent to 29 per cent (see above).