Caroline Spelman MP is Chairman of the Conservative Party. In this article she responds to ConservativeHome’s concerns at CCHQ’s financial strategy.
In the current economic climate, any responsible organisation, particularly one that asks the public for donations, has a duty to look at where it can tighten its spending belt.
Undeniably that’s always going to be painful for the people who are caught up in the process and it would be entirely wrong of anyone to suppose that the changes we are making at CCHQ are a personal reflection on any individual. In fact, it is the dedication, commitment and diligence of our staff that makes these changes so difficult, but the truth is that these changes have to be made.
They are about making sure the resources entrusted to us by all those people who are desperate for a change in government are used to maximum effect when it comes to winning the next general election.
As such, they form part of a series of measures implemented by David Cameron since he became leader, to put in place the structure to ensure that CCHQ is fully focussed on fighting and winning the next election.
If we want to form the next Government, we need to lead by example and unlike Labour our first priority has been to get our finances in order.
When David Cameron became leader, the party’s debt was £20 million. That debt has now been reduced to £8 million and the party is actually running responsible budget surpluses – £4.2 million in 2006 and £1.6 million in 2007.
We have also ensured that we have a broad base of donors to the party.
In the last quarter, £5.8 million of Labour’s donations came from just
eight donors giving more than £250,000. Over £2 million came from large
donors writing off existing loans. By contrast, just one Conservative
donor gave more than £250,000.
Equally, while Labour’s donations came from just 77 donors, ours came from 260 different private individuals and companies.
This money has been used to fund a range of initiatives, including
setting up three campaign centres in the North of England – in the
North-West; Yorkshire & Humber; and the North-East. A further
campaign centre is operational in the Midlands.
In addition, we budgeted this year for £250,000 to ensure that the
Conservative Party continues to have the most up to date website of any
political party in the UK, recognising that for a lot of people our
website is their first point of contact with the Party and as such
plays a crucial role in informing prospective voters.
The fruits of these changes are being seen in our electoral successes.
Under David Cameron, we have won every local election, as well as the
London Mayoral election and the Crewe and Nantwich by-election. I am
confident that these successes will also be reflected in the
forthcoming general election.
We have a duty to our members and supporters to be ready for whenever
Gordon Brown has the courage to call that election, and the role that
everyone who has worked for our Party – whether paid or unpaid – is
something the Party values beyond measure.