After the putsch against Margaret Thatcher in
November 1990, a small group of committed Thatcherites resolved to protect the
Iron Lady’s legacy within the Conservative Party. Conservative Way Forward was
born a few months later, led initially by Lord Parkinson and eagerly supported
by the now sadly missed Sir George Gardiner MP as the first editor of Forward
and the redoubtable Mark Allatt as its General Secretary.
Over the last 21 years, CWF has achieved
great success thanks in large part to its volunteer Executive Committee and its
succession of Chairmen: the redoubtable Lord Parkinson, the late, great Eric
Forth, Thatcherite favourite Chris Chope and the energetic Don Porter. It
remains “the largest and most effective pressure group within the Conservative
Party” (according to no less an authority than David Cameron) and many of its
supporters are now prominent MPs, MEPs and councillors. CWF has helped to shape
European, tax and defence policy and its networking and social events are
spectacularly attended (could you get into the Midnight Drinks Reception at the
Lady Thatcher has been President of CWF
since its formation: the only Conservative group on which she has bestowed this
honour. She has closely followed its fortunes and continues to do so. Her key
advisers, led by her ever-loyal Private Secretary, Mark Worthington, and her de
facto PPS, Conor Burns MP, have been intimately involved in CWF’s activities
and Lady Thatcher has attended dozens of CWF events since 1991.
Lady Thatcher even committed to paper what
she called her “Nine Principles” for CWF to follow: democracy, capitalism,
deregulation, freedom, community, enterprise, nationhood, security and choice.
The Nine Principles were endorsed by the Prime Minister when he said, “Your
nine principles are right: indeed I believe that they are the common ground of
the Conservative Party today”.
The urgent need to promote and extend
Thatcherite principles which represent the soul of the Conservative Party, and
to adapt them to the challenges of a changing world, means that those of us who
believe in Lady Thatcher’s “Nine Principles” need to work ever more closely
together. Lady Thatcher’s legacy is
being shaped by her political enemies and few in schools or overseas truly now
understand how she came to be such a transformative Prime Minister.
That is why I am delighted to announce that
I have taken over responsibility as Chief Executive of Conservative Way
Having been involved in CWF since 1993, I
have served on the CWF Executive Committee and have also founded and run the
Young Britons' Foundation. My colleagues and I intend to deliver an exciting
programme of conferences, seminars, workshops, research, publications and
events, to ensure our principles have the political and media profile they
We will be busier than ever before. CWF
should truly be at the heart of the conservative movement, fusing the research
of think-tanks such as the Centre for Policy Studies, the campaigning savvy of
the TaxPayers' Alliance, the vision of the Adam Smith Institute, the dynamism
of the Freedom Association and the intellectual coherence of the Institute of
When Conservative Way Forward was launched
in 1991, Margaret Thatcher said that she wanted it to be "at the forefront
in shaping a clear vision for your country".
Her great friend, Ronald Reagan, memorably
once said that "freedom is never more than one generation away from
extinction". As ever, the Gipper was right.
As we enter 2013 together I hope those of
you who shared Lady Thatcher's vision for Britain in the 1980s and who remain
true to her nine principles today continue to support us in this quest.