There’s been some swift success for Don Porter of Conservative Voice, following his article on ConservativeHome yesterday. In it, he called for democratic and organisational reform of the Conservative Party, and urged both leadership candidates to commit to a Party Commission to take responsibility for such changes.
Today, Boris Johnson has endorsed the proposal, saying:
“I have strong support for the kind of requests that are being made by the followers of the excellent Conservative Voice organisation. Reform of the Party Organisation is long overdue and this will be a priority if I am elected as Leader of the Party. The idea of a Party Commission with a set deadline to come back with specific reforms has my full support. I am grateful to Conservative Voice for taking the initiative on this important issue.”
This is a development on a theme that Johnson touched on when answering ConservativeHome readers’ questions at the outset of the leadership election, when he told us that:
“Electing the Chairman is one option but more important is a commitment to broadening the democratic involvement of Party members. I love our members and, more importantly, I trust them. The days where Tory leaders expected the members to be seen and not heard are definitely over – and quite right, too.”
Of course, it’s always easier to talk positively about Party democracy when seeking to be the leader than it perhaps is to actually devolve power from the centre to members once in control – and the first quote above commits to a Commission and “the kind of requests” Porter made, so it remains to be seen what such reforms a Commission would recommend, and a new leader implement, in practice. But it is better to have the door open to reform than not. This site has plenty of ideas it would happily contribute – including several from our post mortem on the 2017 General Election campaign, and our long-standing proposal to divide CCHQ into two bodies with distinct responsibility for short-term and long-term matters.
I gather that Porter and Conservative Voice have also been in touch with Jeremy Hunt’s campaign on this topic. The Foreign Secretary certainly left the door ajar to party reform in his answer to ConservativeHome’s question about electing the Party chairman – “We have a fantastic party chairman in Brandon Lewis but I’m keen to look at a number of options to expand the role that party members and activists play”. I’ll publish here any reaction from him to the more specific idea of a Party Commission, and the other proposals Porter put forward yesterday, as and when we receive one.