"I welcome the advent of this website as the place that the Conservative family meets to chat, but like all family gatherings, there are occasional misunderstandings. Like the recent poll placing our chairman last in the shadow cabinet rankings (another great idea Tim – thank goodness it wasn’t around when I was in it!)
There are only a handful of politicians at Westminster for whom I would die in a ditch. Francis Maude is one of them.
Do we come from the same ideological perspective? No. Do I agree with everything thing he says and does? No.
But do I think he is one of the shrewdest people we have got, with sound judgment, an incisive intellect and integrity? Yes.
We should not be fooled by current opinion polls. The next election is not won. A working majority for Gordon Brown is still my personal prediction unless…
Unless we change and become positively attractive. If not, the still strong economy and the “change” from Blair to Brown threaten to get Labour out of jail.
And this is essentially the Maude mission: to make us look and feel and sound different, to change the way we campaign and the nature of our candidates. In short, to make us electable once again.
Francis has taken tough decisions recently, some of them hurting friends of mine. I have no idea if he has done the right thing in his reshaping of CCHQ. But I know he has a first class mind, loves the party and has done what he thinks to be best for the party, having carefully considered all options. I trust his judgment. Thank goodness we have got a chairman who is prepared to take tough decisions to knock us into shape, rather than court short term popularity. It has not always been thus.
He surrounds himself with good people and lets them get on with it. He requires regular reports and holds people to account. Example: he gave Eric Pickles the freedom to run the recent local election campaign and look at the result.
He has been relentless in the pursuit of inclusivity; essential if we are to win again. His appointments of vice-chairmen from different background demonstrates this. We are for the first time in years making headway with different communities.
It was a mystery to me why the party of enterprise had not embraced modern managerial techniques for as long as I can remember. But now Francis has brought in senior managers to manage CCHQ in a modern and effective way. He has seen the crucial role of technology in future elections and is seeking to harness this for our party.
He has changed the party campaign structure so campaign directors will now concentrate on target seats rather then a specific geographic areas (or get caught up in admin). He is focusing ruthlessly on what it takes to win. Good.
David Cameron is leading the party brilliantly and he is right to be positive in the media, wherever possible. But we still need a regular attack dog, and the chairman bites the government’s legs to good effect when necessary.
Will all his reforms work? Probably not. Is every decision correct? No, he is a human being. But is he the right man, at the right time, in the right place. Of that, I have absolutely no doubt."
commentwarning: Let’s use this thread to debate what Francis is doing at CCHQ – whether it’s right and whether it’s working. I’m going to take a very dim view of people who post personal attacks on our Party Chairman. My finger will be hovering close to the delete button although mayhem will probably go unnoticed from about 2pm until 4pm!