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Two candidates have declared their bids to be elected Chairman of the National Conservative Convention, the head of the voluntary party.

For those unfamiliar with the internal structure of the party Emma Pidding, the outgoing Chairman, describes it on her website as “effectively the Parliament of the voluntary party.”

Comprised of Association Chairmen, area and regional representatives and delegations from Conservative Future and the Conservative Women’s Organisation, it meets biannually and is broadly intended to “set the direction” for the voluntary party.

At the head of this body sits a team of executive officers comprising a Chairman, a President and three vice-presidents, of whom the Chairman is the most senior.

The two candidates in the running to succeed Pidding are Robert Semple OBE, currently the President of the National Convention, and Charles Heslop OBE, a former President and long-term vice president of the same.

Both have long histories in the Conservative Party and, interestingly, roots in the North: Semple is a member of the party’s Northern Board and a former regional chairman for Yorkshire and the Humber, whilst Heslop has served as regional chairman for the North East.

Regarding their plans for the role, the ‘Vision’ sections of their websites suggest slightly different priorities, with Heslop focusing on member engagement whilst Semple gives a little more detail on his plans for renovating the party’s campaigning infrastructure and resource management.

The National Convention elects its officers, and this year the vote is being held online. Polls close at 2pm on Saturday 11 July, following a hustings in London.

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