Ben Howlett is Chairman of ConservativeFuture.
Over the last 18 months Conservative Future has seen a radical transformation. We have seen more events, more campaigning, more social action projects and above all else a much improved reputation. We are an integral part of the Conservative Party family and a campaign machine that can motivate hundreds of activists across the country to campaign for the Party.
I would like to use this New Year message to firstly thank members and all those that have supported Conservative Future this year and second to set out CF’s wider plans for 2012. Over the last year Conservative Future has gained over 110 new branches with 310+ nationally, with a CF presence in over 90% of our universities. There have been CF events with members of the Cabinet and we even had a reception with the Prime Minister. Events not only happen in London, they happen across the UK, from Scarborough to Exeter, from Belfast to Medway. We are internationally respected, hosting a series of Conservative politicians from across the world and even looking to build CF branches in ex-pat communities across Europe. Our communications have improved massively and we look forward to a continuation of our monthly newsletter Your Voice that is sent to all CF members across the UK advertising events and bringing news to members.
I want to take this opportunity to give a special thank you to all those that have helped Conservative Future grow and transform over the last year. To the 2010-2011 National CF Executive who worked so hard to ensure that CF was doing more than it has ever before. To those at CCHQ who have provided so much support behind the scenes. To Andrew Stephenson, a brilliant local MP and a great supporter of CF within the House of Commons and in particular the Co-Chairmen Andrew Feldman and Sayeeda Warsi, who have both helped support CF in so many ways they are too long to list. Last but not least our members, who have campaigned for the successful No to AV campaign, campaigned for Boris to be returned as Mayor of London and held fantastic events across the UK. With a new executive, we look to take CF to the next level.
While Conservative Future has spent a great deal of time building its reputation over the last year, there is much more to do to ensure that we are working effectively to maximise our campaigning efforts to return Boris as the Mayor of London and to work towards achieving an overall Conservative majority in 2015. Conservative Future has a strategy underway to ensure we can motivate young people across the capital to go out and campaign for Boris. We have plans in place to ensure that all regions across the UK are working hard to empower and deliver for their grassroots by holding regular social, campaigning and social action events. We have a series of high quality events coming up in the New Year including continued ‘Meet the Cabinet’ receptions and more social action campaigns that have been so successful this year at engaging with local communities. We are extending the CF Policy Forum to ensure CF members’ views are at the heart of the creation of the 2015 manifesto.
The ultimate underlying aim for Conservative Future in 2012 will be its ability to engage with young people who are crying out for more participation and representation. We intend to spearhead a major campaign to improve the reputation of vocational education alongside higher education. Despite promises Labour failed massively to turn around this preconception. Conservative Future no longer wants to see young people forced into higher education in order to aspire to climb the societal ladder; we want to improve the status of vocational and further education encouraging young people to be empowered to choose their own futures.
Over the coming months Conservative Future will be working hard to engage with our members over a range of different issues and ideas. From the day I became National Chairman in 2010 I made it clear that we must empower grassroots activists by rewarding them for their hard work and encourage them to campaign for the Party. To a large extent this has been successful in that more people attend events as a result of being asked the question, ‘what do you want to see from CF and what events would you like organised?’ We must step this up by encouraging our Regional Chairmen to organise more events across the UK. Our membership shows we are no longer just the organisation of the South, so we need to ensure those members outside of London are given more opportunities to get involved.
Conservative Future is back at the heart of debate, campaigning, improving communities by social action and working to get Boris re-elected as Mayor of London – as well as working for an overall Conservative majority in 2015 with David Cameron as Prime Minister.
If you want to get involved with Conservative Future please sign up to the CF mailing list at: www.conservativefuture.com.