Francis Maude has always been ‘the modernisers’ moderniser’. On many previous occasions – as a backbencher – he has called for the Conservative Party to look less white and less male. He has called for policy changes that show much greater respect for gay people. He has encouraged more co-operation with Liberal Democrats. That modernising reputation took a battering during the summer months when he attempted to pass Michael Howard’s disenfranchisement of party members in the leadership election. Since then, however, he has been writing his own ConservativeHome.com blog about a more open Conservative Party.
As David Cameron’s Party Chairman Mr Maude has his opportunity to deliver on some of the changes he has always wanted the Conservatives to make.
In today’s Telegraph he points the way to three significant changes:
- The replacement of the annual party conference with two weekend mini-conferences in citoies such as Bath, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle (taking on an idea originally proposed by David Davis). Mr Maude: "Party conferences should be more accessible for young working people." It is not clear if 2006’s autumn conference will go ahead. I’ll try and establish that later today.
- The creation of a new disciplinary panel for MPs and candidates.
- "An A-list of 120 approved candidates, split 50-50 between men and women, for winnable seats… We need a significantly larger number of women in the seats we’re going to win… We’re not going to solve it all in one day but we need to signal it’s a main priority."
Given the news of this ‘A-list’, ConservativeHome has brought forward the launch of its GoldList blog for today. Click here to find out more about this new internet exercise in membership empowerment.