Ben Howlett has been chairman of Conservative Future for 100 days.
Over the last 100 days since our election, my National Executive and I have worked tirelessly to rebuild the reputation of an organisation for which we care passionately. We can now say we have a professional national campaigning organisation which campaigns, runs social action, fundraises and holds really fun social events.
While campaigning to win the National Chairmanship I travelled the length and breadth of the country meeting CF members and supporting their events and since elected I have been doing exactly the same. On a personal level it has changed my life, but the position is extraordinary on so many levels. I have addressed the Scottish CF Conference, campaigned in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election and supported social action projects across the country.
Over the last 100 days, rebuilding our reputation as an effective campaigning machine has been my number one priority. The brilliant support given by CCHQ has produced brilliant returns. Andrew Stephenson MP, Vice Chairman of the Party, has explained to MPs that CF is an effective campaigning resource and that there is no coincidence those MPs who won their seats in May mostly had a strong CF presence in their constituency. I also want to mention Fiona Hodgson and the Party Board who have ensured our organisation will have access to the National Excellence Awards, the Conservative Policy Forum and other membership and campaigning tools.
Before being elected, I never imagined CF could be at the centre of the student fees debate. By our professional and sensible approach to the debate we have shown that CF can communicate the truths behind the myths that have been produced by the Labour Party. I won't lie in saying it is easy to stand in front of student unions and explain the coalition's position, but the reason we’re having to make the difficult decisions is because Labour took us to the brink of bankruptcy. The coalition’s plans are fair and progressive and CF will continue to make the facts clear in the months ahead.
It is great to see that the National Executive are a united group aiming to change the CF for the better, but we have been working with CF members nationally to produce a style of management that involves everyone, improves communication at all levels and provides training to regions, areas and branches across the country. These management changes have resulted in a transformation in the activities of our organisation. Every region across the country holds a Super Saturday campaign day each month as a minimum. This has resulted in over 3,000 man-hours of CF campaigning resource in just 2 months given to local by-elections and marginal target seats. This is the first time CF has operated as an effective National operation.
We also hosted the IYDU Conference, hosting young conservatives from across the world. We held a very successful National Training Day that was open to all Branch, Area and Regional Executives with around 70 attendees despite the snow and the first National CF Christmas Party to have made over £1,000 to be spent on National campaigning and training.
But there is still more to do.
This month we have the CF National Careers week working with Conservative Women's Organisation and other groups designed to launch the CF internship programme. As well as the NO2AV campaign, which we are already planning for, we also have Boris Day that will give support to the campaigning efforts of the London Mayor’s re-election campaign. This will link in with our current recruitment drive to find a member of CF staff to work on their campaign to work on youth development. We have the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election on January 13th so we are campaigning there as well. A special mention must go to the issue of membership for which we are meeting imminently with the Chairman's Office to confirm a set of radical changes to the way CF will be organised on everything from data collection to recruitment drives and elections.
We have had a remarkable turnaround of fortunes in just 100 days and this is thanks to the support of local members, associations and CCHQ. It is now time to implement further our hard work, by supporting local associations in their campaigning efforts, social action, fundraising, Boris2012, NO2AV, Welsh Assembly elections and creating a professional membership that reflects the 21st Century. On behalf of the National Executive we look forward to working with many of you in 2011 and if you want any support do not hesitate to contact me via email or visit conservativefuture.com for more information.