Four out of five party members want a bigger say at the annual Party Conference, a new poll for ConservativeHome has revealed. Asked whether conference representatives should be able to vote on motions and speak to them, an emphatic 78 per cent replied that they should.
Almost two-thirds of respondents – 65 per cent – said that the annual conference should be held at less expensive venues. The finding will contribute to the continuing debate about the future of party conferences – and whether they’re now aimed primarily at members or lobbyists.
A majority of members, 52 per cent said that the conference should be held over a weekend, but only 28 per cent said that they want it to be shorter. Significantly more said that they come to attend fringe meetings than the conference sessions at which Ministers speak – 86 per cent compared to 61 per cent.
But while four out of five members want a bigger say, just over one in four want the results to be binding on the Party leadership – 26 per cent. A higher proportion attending the conference think that party members have no real say than those not attending. (78 per cent compared to 67 per cent.)
About a third said that they are dissatisfied with the Party leadership (33 per cent), but among those attending this week’s conference that proportion fell to just over a fifth (22 per cent). Over 800 party members responded to the ConservativeHome Survey, which was issued last week.
Douglas Carswell, MP for Clacton, said: “These findings both support the case for democracy and show the good sense of the members. They don’t want to tell the leadership what to do. They just want to have a say. If they had more of one, more members would surely come.”
Writing in today’s ConservativeHome Daily, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, describes his history of involvement in the Party. “This isn’t a working relationship – it’s a friendship based on common Conservative values,” he says, promising “tributes through the week” in memory of Margaret Thatcher.