Congratulations to the five respondents who said that Party members have too much power over how much Party money is spent. For either their sense of humour, or willingness to go against the flow, or possibly both.
The most startling element of the replies is that as many as 35 per cent, essentially one in three of the panel, are satisfied with the status quo, under which they have only the most indirect say in how they money they raise is spent.
Then again, perhaps this result isn’t all that startling, after all. It may simply reflect a long, gradual and under-reported shift in the outlook and temperament of activists.
Thirty or so years ago, the annual Party conference was full of badges: members wore them to advertise their support for causes – euroscepticism being one of the most prominent.
The temper of debate could be fractious and angry. Many members pursued politics with an ideological flavour – a product of the Thatcher experience. Social conservatives were noisier.
A social scientist might be able to establish whether today’s members are more representative of the general public than yesterday’s were: in all likelihood, there’s not much difference.
The mood of Party members is now harder to discern each October, because of the proliferation of the interest groups who now attend. But their flavour is undoubtedly less rough, more smooth.
The main cause of dispute among the last generation, EU membership, was settled among activists a while ago: during the referendum, they were mainly for Leave.
There will be fissures to come about issues unknown, at least if history repeats itself, rather than the present, containable divisions – most notably over the size of the state; to some degree, over culture.
ConservativeHome was struck during the leadership election by the quality of the questions to the two candidates during the national hustings: it was sober, polite, uncompromising – and noted by other journalists who, unlike us, can’t be accused of having fish to fry.
In some ways, this lack of noise shows a weakness: it’s a bad thing that over a third of members are happy to let the absence of proper checks and balances on Party spending and governance to continue.
In others, it’s a strength: it’s a good thing to have Tory members who not in a state of permanent conflict with Tory MPs, and that the Conservatives are a now united party – moderate in tone and broad in appeal as they prepare for next week’s local elections.