By Tim Montgomerie
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Yesterday I travelled to Churchill College Cambridge for the ninth Annual Young Britons' Foundation Activist Training Conference. I'd never been before but was impressed with the range of speakers that YBF Director Donal Blaney and his team had gathered together for the 48 hour political extravaganza. They included…
- Steve Baker MP;
- The genius political consultant Peter Botting;
- Graham Brady MP;
- Rory Broomfield of the Freedom Association;
- Conor Burns MP;
- David Canzini, formerly campaigns director for the Conservative Party;
- Emmar Carr of Big Brother Watch;
- James Cleverly AM;
- Alex Deane;
- Matthew Elliott;
- Shane Greer;
- Robert Halfon MP and his colleague Paul Abbott;
- Jonathan Isaby of The TaxPayers' Alliance;
- Raheem Kassam of The Commentator blog;
- Christian May, formerly of YBF;
- Cllr Paul Osborn;
- Lord Parkinson;
- Eric Pickles MP;
- Cllr Greg Smith of Hammersmith and City Council;
- Lord Tebbit; and
- Andre Walker of the Trade Union Reform Campaign.
The one hundred people present were treated to a wide variety of political and ideological presentations but also, very helpfully, lots of advice and successful campaigning, presentation and grassroots mobilisation techniques. One of the themes of ConHome's Majority project is that machine matters as well as message and manifesto. Paul Abbott from Right Angle made that very clear. Tories have neglected the nuts and bolts of campaigning for far too long and the internet gives us enormous opportunities to rebuild grassroot structures that have largely decayed.
The tenth YBF training conference won't take place for another year but it holds a number of events throughout the year and I'd encourage any young readers to sign up to its newsletter (via its homepage) so you can, for example, get on the invite list for its US trip and parliamentary rally. Let me give the last word to Donal Blaney;
"YBF plays a critical role at the heart of the conservative movement. We work to develop the next generation of conservative leaders and activists. The Ninth YBF Activist Training Conference, YBF9, was a great success. 100 young conservatives had the chance to hear from heroes of the past, visionaries of today and leaders of tomorrow. They return to their campuses and constituencies tired after a long weekend of speeches, workshops and partying but highly motivated, well trained and better able to advance the conservative message".
Donal and I haven't always seen eye to eye over the years but he has created an impressive operation at YBF. Large numbers of young conservatives have benefited from what he has done and many more will do so in the future. He even allowed me yesterday to tweak the tail of libertarianism during my own talk and better still I got a round of applause from most of the audience! I hope Donal's proud of what he's built. He should be.