Jim Cooper is West Midlands Regional Chairman and a candidate for Vice President of the National Convention.

Every year I watch the National Vice President elections and the constant slogan is “more democracy, more transparency, change the Party structure, etc etc”.

There is nothing wrong with these sentiments – but just now they are a distraction. I would use the analogy “rearranging the deckchairs…” except I know we will avoid the iceberg!

For this year our absolute priorities must be to unite behind our new Prime Minister, deliver Brexit, and win a general election. We must be outward-looking – not focused on our own structures. That, whilst important, can wait.

We can’t afford to be self-obsessed – the voters won’t care whether we elect our Party Chairman or the Chairman of a Party Board. They just want us to propose and deliver great policies for the UK.

Our Party members have taken on a massive task since 2015 – two general elections, a referendum, mayoral elections, police and crime commissioner elections, regular local elections, the futile 2019 Euro elections… and now a leadership election.

I talk to members every day – they want to be appreciated and they want to be rewarded. They want decisive leadership nationally and locally, opportunities to meet Cabinet Ministers outside London – just see the popularity of the hustings! They want regular updates on regional activities (we have a bulletin sent to every member each Friday), to work together as part of a united team, and the support of an effective network to discuss and promote policies – starting now.

They don’t want division and disunity, nor to be taken for granted.

Remember that for every hundred people who voted Conservative in 2017, only one is a Party member. We don’t have all the answers. We need more members and more incentive for them to join.