Katherine Bramson, a Parliamentary caseworker and student at Oxford Brookes University, asks why Conservative Future can't put on the sort of training programmes for better councillors offered by the Young Briton's Foundation
The last local elections highlight one key factor for the local councils through England; not only did we lose over 328 councillors, but overall lost control of 10 councils. This leaves the other problem of our remaining councils, with contracting budgets and fewer staff, we appear to struggle in the face of what is biggest problem facing our future economic success, and current fiscal strategy; the deficit.
I have spent most of this year replying to constituents about the issues surrounding deficit reduction and the impact on their lives, there is still public support for the fiscal strategy of eliminating the deficit which will ensure central government’s stronghold on parliamentary seats: a more pressing issue facing the party is how local Government can contribute to the national effort, given the lack of experienced candidates. This year, I came across many new candidates, some who were young CF members, and some who had towed the party throughout their lives – the problem is the quality of candidates we are sending out.
There were some who I came across who genuinely knew the local area and the problems their ward faced, but had had little or no training on what councillors do. There were also those who thought they were Conservative but lacked their own ideological integrity, including one individual who wanted to bulldoze my University (which for any indicative Conservative member is a bad attitude towards social
mobility). Therefore, in the face of adversity we need candidates who can fiscally manage a budget whilst ensuring that key services remain, and our potential in local elections can be restored.
Having witnessed for the past couple of years the growth of Conservative Future, we now have the opportunity to invest in their future and the Conservative Party as a whole, by offering programmes and conferences throughout the country in order to produce better councillors; offering a breadth of opportunity to understand local services and improve the quality of service people receive- this is about localism rather than flagging off the blame to central government.
The Young Briton’s Foundation currently offer these sorts of programmes, one of which I attended in 2010, diluted by ideological tangents, but nonetheless harnessed enthusiasm with tutoring on vocational and effective strategies for young conservatives.
We must also ensure diversity is promoted throughout our councils – let's see the local trader, the local businessman contribute to their community and promote good governance- because better local government ensures better central government. I do not dispute that many councillors are hard working individuals, but if we are able to harness individuals with the better understanding and integrity to improve their local areas, we could be fast approaching a new age of governance and application of our core values.