But it gets worse, and in a way that has potential effects wider than our own youth movement. As you are probably already aware, many of us had to individually register to get a vote, and even then there have been issues reported around people still not receiving their ballot, or not having votes within their region. And all the time, those CF members who have been paying their subs, campaigning in their constituency, but weren’t lucky enough to be harassed by a candidate reminding them to check they had registered for a ballot – go without. I bet there are some who don’t even know there is an election on.
This greatly concerns me. But then again I’m one of those people who gets very passionate about democracy and accountability – and I realise that’s not the most popular thing. So I’m going to frame this electoral car-crash in another way – why it doesn’t bode well for the General Election.
Anyone who has got more involved with campaigning than simply posting a few leaflets will know that elections are in many ways won and lost on data. The most important of which is the Voter Intention. If we know how people are thinking of voting, we can make sure that come May 2015, we can efficiently turn out the true blues, go and persuade the probables, and not waste any time chatting to socialists.
Collecting this data is one thing, but processing and presenting it is quite another. Our Party has a mammoth task of sourcing and collating voter intentions for all the key battlegrounds. If we mess up, we will almost certainly wake up to find Miliband in Number 10. No bacon sandwich shall be safe in Whitehalll. Oh yeh, and socialism.
So I raise the following question: If the Conservative Party is unable to look through its own membership data to identify who is under 30, and what region they live in, and assign them a vote accordingly – how can we expect them to hold and process the Voter Intention data that is so vital to our victory?
The thing is, for a Party machine that is meant to be good at this, CF Elections should be a walk in the park. We all volunteer this information, multiple times. We give it to our local associations who put it on Merlin; we sign up to Team2015; we may even hold position in CF that clearly show our eligibility to vote. Let’s be absolutely clear – for the most of us, CCHQ has the data is needs to give us a vote. For example, a week before I individually registered for a ballot, I received a CF email about doing some campaigning. That emails shows that HQ has me on a maillist of CFers.
The data is there – we either can’t process it properly, or someone can’t be bothered. On the first charge: if you can’t organise data on your best volunteers, how are you going to effectively mobilise them come election time; and do you have the skills to provide them with the Voter Intention data they need to win the battle on the doorstep? On the second charge: if you can’t be bothered to organise an election properly that is open and accessible to all members, then you are not a democrat, and you shouldn’t be in the Conservative Party.
This CF election is nearly done now, and though I have some very grave concerns about it, I also feel powerless to contest the processes and practices. Everyone has lost in this election – including all the candidates, for this has been an election controlled by outside forces (and to be clear I have no evidence that any of the candidates have anything to do with it). So to those fiddlers and the fixers, you win this time. You controlled from the centre and you took power away from the people. You are not Conservatives.
What we must do now is build a better system. One which empowers members to engage and get involved – for a member who feels they have a say in their Party, is much more likely to be a happy member. And a happy member knocks on more doors.
So whoever wins this election, let’s have a review to make sure this doesn’t happen again. To be clear; not a review that will detract from campaigning, and not one the will look to apportion blame for past events. We need a democratic review that has one thing in mind – how do we build a meritocratic Conservative Future, where every member is able to have their voice heard, and rise as far as their talents will take them.
To the new Conservative Future Executive: the ball’s in your court now.