Pamela Hall: Why I’m seeking election as Chairman of the National Conservative Convention

24 Jul

Pamela Hall OBE is a former President and Vice President of the National Conservative Convention and now Candidate for Chairman. She is currently President of the North West Conservative Women’s Organisation (CWO).

For Conservatives to win elections right across the country we need a strong, active, and vibrant voluntary party with the right professional support from CCHQ. I’m seeking election as Chairman of the National Conservative Convention, which is the link between being the voice of the voluntary members, to the party leadership and CCHQ.

Voting opened earlier this week and I’ve been asked a lot – what does the National Convention do?

There are five volunteers elected as officers of the National Convention and these become members of the party board. The officers represent associations and their members on committees such as membership, finances, candidates, disciplinary procedures and much more.

They also take responsibility for different regions and, having been elected to roles for three years, I have travelled the UK attending conferences, beach cleans, campaign days, quiz nights other events to meet volunteers and area and regional teams to listen and understand their different needs. “Zooming” around the UK over the past year made it even easier to maintain those vital links, though nothing beats meeting together in person.

The Convention roles shape how the voluntary party works and over recent years have brought about the revival of CPF led by Andrew Sharpe. I further developed the Association Incentive Scheme as a way of connecting volunteers with CCHQ, sharing ideas and support, as well as valued rewards and competition. The Convention officers also host events, training webinars and most importantly make sure the voluntary party’s needs, concerns and frustrations are voiced and heard within CCHQ and our party’s leadership.

The electorate for the National Convention is All Association Chairmen, Area and Regional Chairman and the CWO National and Regional Officers.

I’ve also been asked – what’s the main issue in this election?

The only way to completely ensure we build back better is to win the next general election and all other local elections before then. If elected I will work with CCHQ and our members to support the right campaigning resources in the right places, across the UK – I have already made inroads previously working closely with chairmen and area teams when, as vice president, we rolled out the original Campaign Manager programme in 2017. There is no doubt we need more resources everywhere, and that is my priority.

And then the next question – what will you do?

It’s vital we bring more people in the party together, members must feel included, involved and appreciated and have opportunities to use their skills – as a voluntary organisation we need them all alongside the following:

  • The right policies from Government which align to our values and our manifesto, ensuring the CPF is at the heart of future policy making.
  • The right support from CCHQ for campaigning – against any opposition, right across the country, involving and including local councillors, candidates and associations as we develop messaging and policies.
  • More training for chairmen and more teams to share ideas, tips and successes.
  • Continuous support for the CWO, YCs and CPF representation in all our association, area and regional officer teams.

I understand our party’s structures, with three year’s experience on the National Convention. Having successfully served our party over the past 25 years, from YC chairman, association, area and regional officer to councillor and parliamentary candidate, I know our volunteers, and how to get things done.

I’m standing as it’s an opportunity to do the right thing for the voluntary party – and Convention roles are absolutely the best roles in the politics! The vice president roles weren’t contested at all this year and that needs to change in the future – everyone needs to know about all the different opportunities to get involved in politics at all levels.

I have spoken at many CWO and Association Scheme events, encouraging others to get involved, developing mentoring schemes around the country, and I would do much more of this to support more women, more young people, and everyone to look for opportunities in our party.

If elected, I and the other board members along with the regional and area teams need to be much more visible and accessible to associations. Future Convention elections need a level playing field for people to stand on. These roles take a lot of time, shoe leather and petrol to do well, but it’s fabulous to meet so many other people passionate about politics and help them find roles to thrive and enjoy.

Our party must do more to connect with all members and all voters if we are to continue to win and get our values and messages across all over the UK. If you have a vote, please vote for me to improve those connections, enable more resources in the right places, so we can all have opportunities to win together.

Please contact me to discuss further or for more information: pamelahall.uk

Tom Spiller: Why I’m standing to be Chairman of the National Convention

3 Jul

Tom Spiller is the former President of the Conservative National Convention and chaired the 2017 party conference.

I am honoured to have been nominated as a candidate to be Chairman of the National Convention. There is a problem though – too few people have even heard of the Convention. This has long been an issue, so last summer, I produced a webinar to try to raise awareness of the institution, its history and its work.

Let me tell you a bit about my background and why I want to serve in this important role.

I caught the politics bug back home in Nottingham when I was 16 and have been hooked ever since. I have done pretty much every voluntary job but never put myself forward for election to Parliament, and do not want to be an MP. For the last two decades I have immersed myself in political campaigning because I believe in the cause.

I served as Vice-President and President of the National Convention during the critical Brexit years from 2016 to 2019. It was certainly an interesting time! I am no child of summer – I have experience of operating at that level in a challenging environment.

My wife and I have two young children, aged 3 and 1. I have always believed we need a range of representation in our Party and have (I hope) successfully managed a happy family life, career and my role as an activist. I am part of that hard-to-reach demographic which is so often in short supply in our Associations. I know first-hand the struggles that working men and women of my generation face.

I am a lawyer by trade and work in the City. It is a job that requires advocacy skills, high levels of organisation, the ability to operate under pressure, diplomacy and the ability to assimilate large amounts of information about new topics on a daily basis. I hope these qualities stand me in good stead.

So what do I want to do as Convention Chairman?

Our party is made up of three parts – publicly elected, professional and voluntary.

The voluntary part is vital, it is the lifeblood that drives the heart of our party. Goodwill is the fuel that keeps us going and motivates us to give our free time to this cause in return for nothing other than the satisfaction of doing what we feel is right.

I want to establish a stand-alone annual event which thanks rank-and-file activists for their hard work to nurture goodwill. It will be called the Activist Awards and will also serve as a showcase for best campaigning practice.

A key ingredient of the vital goodwill I refer to is respect. We must restore respect so that all three parts of the party remain in balance during these politically turbulent times.

One sphere in which I want to restore respect is in relation to Parliamentary selection. We must now see an expansion of the selection rights of members. There can be no side-lining of members in selection processes, or railroading them into making choices that they haven’t been properly consulted on.

Now is the time to make these changes because, as we all know, a significant amount of goodwill is necessary to navigate the upcoming Parliamentary boundary changes, and to get match fit for the next general election, whenever that may come.

To get match fit we also need a proper, rigorous focus on training.

This is something I was passionate about during my time on the Board; I ran the regular, over-subscribed, ‘Behind the Scenes’ events series at CCHQ. Training is something that I have stayed focussed on through my work at Conservative Progress in recent years. One of the events I am particularly proud of was my first-of-its-kind, peer-to-peer familiarisation webinar for first-time Association Chairs that I produced last year.

If you elect me I will re-double my efforts on this front so that our activists will always have the support they need.

To be clear, I don’t want to put just on any old, bland events! They must be practical in focus, easy to understand, and above all they must feature a mix of expertise from the professional and voluntary party alike. One past event I am particularly proud of is the webinar that I produced shortly before the May 2021 local elections, which featured advice from, amongst others, grass roots hero Mayor Ben Houchen, who I am pleased to say has endorsed my candidacy.

How will I set the training agenda?

By asking you what you need, as I did in my Covid support survey at the start of this year. I want to keep on undertaking exercises like these, but on a much larger scale!

It is not just the sphere of training where I will ask your views before making decisions. I will do it whenever a matter of significance arises.

The voluntary party needs the Chairman of the National Convention to be its champion. I believe I have the experience and skills to do this. I have shown in my time on the Board that I am committed to the party and our shared beliefs.

I hope Convention members will consider giving me their support and look forward to speaking to as many as possible over the coming weeks. If you would like to get in touch with me to arrange a time to speak please fill out the form on my website: www.tomspiller.co.uk.

Peter Booth: Why I’m standing to be Chairman of the National Convention

26 Jun

Peter Booth is Vice President of the National Convention, and Vice Chairman of Conservative Policy Forum. He served for three years as South West Regional Chairman.

I am a nominated candidate to be Chairman of the Conservative National Convention. Our National Convention is about to elect a new chairman and we owe Lord Sharpe a huge debt of gratitude for his leadership.

I am privileged to have served on his national officer team for the past two years, and was re-elected last year leading the Vice President ballot.

We have all been constrained this past year by what we can do, and our volunteers have responded magnificently during the crisis. Thank you to our members for keeping our party afloat.

Why am I running?

I want to offer the leadership our volunteers need.I have been there during the crisis when we have by necessity done things differently. I have been part of the existing team who have kept our volunteers engaged, and I am the only current officer seeking to be chairman.

I want to enhance the digital training opportunities given prior to the May elections and use online training techniques adapted to every individual to put members on a training escalator, so that we combine conversations on the doorstep with the new ideas learnt. I want to continue to work with my colleagues on the national team – they are an established and successful unit, and we work well together.

If elected, I guarantee that I will work full-time as chairman. I ran my own successful small businesses and as a result was able to give up my paid working career early. I have the experience needed to take on the role. I served seven years as a constituency chairman, both in the South East and then Cornwall. I have been an area DCP, and was Chairman of South West Region prior to the past two years as Vice President and on the Party Board.

My experience runs from being a branch committee member to being a Party Board member and that invaluable experience of partaking in, of building and of leading teams is crucial.I have been in active service for our party from university onwards and my enthusiasm for our party and our core beliefs and values is firm.

What I want to achieve?

The next election is likely to be in 2024 and our party must be prepared and engaged to fight this battle after 14 years in Office. This is essential for our country, as only we fully support our union against those who seek to break up our United Kingdom.

We must embark on more targeted training so that we improve the skills of our volunteers. Communication is paramount to the success of any organisation, and I will enhance communication across our voluntary party.

During my two years as Vice President I have built a 250+ WhatsApp team. Through this daily contact with approximately one third of the National Convention I am able to listen to the concerns and to take the ‘pulse’ of convention members.

I learnt from the group that one of the biggest concerns around the country is our disciplinary proceedings. One of the recommendations of the now accepted Singh Investigation is for a complete overhaul to our disciplinary process. I am determined that volunteer input is given at every step so we provide clear new disciplinary procedures, and that my team working in cooperation with CCHQ will establish a process ‘fit for purpose’.

As a collaborative person, I know from my life experience that you get more done when you work with people, and this is always my start point.Whilst I always rigorously defend our voluntary party, I recognise that all the parts of our party can achieve more when we work in harmony.

The Conservative Party must reflect the look of our country, and I want our voluntary party to be an open and inclusive ‘party for all’.

I was born and raised in a small mining town in the North East of England – and I recognise that we must welcome these new voters from places like my home town, as we must welcome voters from every background and community. My start point is not where you are from, but where you are heading!

The chairman of the National Convention has to be above partisan politics, however the core values we all share are for freedom, free enterprise, fairness, and a love of our United Kingdom. These are the beliefs that drive me to work assiduously for our party. I have also served during the past year as Vice Chairman of the Conservative Policy Forum and I actively seek debate and ideas from our membership.We must expand our use of CPF, CWO and the Young Conservatives to bring in and develop new activists.

My offer is to work full time for our volunteers. My guarantee is to stand up for our voluntary party. My ambition is to keep winning. My vision is that our nation remains united and prosperous – with our party at the helm.

Dinah Glover: Why I’m standing for Vice President of the National Convention – and why it matters.

17 Aug

Dinah Glover is Chairman of London East Area Conservatives and of Bethnal Green and Bow Conservative Association.

Listening to a dedicated and well tuned-in Party activist the other day, I was struck by something he said. Despite his activity, he had barely heard of the National Convention and its officers, let alone what they did. It is highly probable that many of you reading this now would be in the same position. That, to me, signals a problem.

So what is happening? The National Convention is made up of all the association chairmen and other area, regional and CWO officers across the country. Every year they get to elect a chairman, president and three vice presidents. These people sit on the Party board and can have a significant impact on the Party. But still barely half of the electorate participates in the election. This is local association chairmen remember, not disinterested voters. So why is this?

In my view this is down to a fundamental disconnect between the officers and the voluntary Party. Tom Spiller (former president) provided a very powerful insight recently when he said that it did not really know what it is for. We need to be clear about what the National Convention represents and that is why I am standing.

Politics for me has always been about democracy from the grassroots up. It is so important we empower our members so they are enthused to help us build a better future for our local communities. It was, after all, the idea behind David Cameron’s Big Society.

I am standing on a platform calling for empowerment, transparency, accountability and democracy. Not for its own sake, but because this allows greater engagement by all and will deliver a political offering that is even more attractive to the public. Look at what was delivered last December when we were in tune with people. The breakthrough in the Red Wall seats was because we were in touch with what voters wanted. We connected.

The Party needs to provide more engagement for its members. When it does it succeeds. We saw this in action last year when we had an unusual opportunity for the members to choose the next Prime Minister of the UK. The Party managed a fantastic nationwide leadership contest with packed out hustings held around the country. That was a credit to Andrew Sharpe and CCHQ. It was thanks to the two excellent candidates that we had an intelligent and respectful debate that really engaged the members and opened up genuine discussion. This demonstrates what can be achieved when the members are involved. I wonder why we can’t do similar for the National Convention? With this in mind I will host a zoom Q&A for those interested.

I want to serve on the board of the National Convention because I believe in this Party; it runs through my very veins. We have so many talented activists and I am not sure we always use them to their best advantage. I believe every process should be measured in terms of whether it is empowering, accountable, democratic and transparent for members and associations.

Certain processes do need to change and be improved. We should have consultation periods from the ground up through associations to seek their ideas. Ultimately the board has to decide – we can’t function by committee, but we need to be open to ideas.

There are several CCHQ committees that need to be opened up to have a two-way conversation. I would like to see members of these committees reporting to the regions. Why not have the regions voting for their own representatives on these committees, which would mean there is a ready made communication channel?

I do not want to fix what is not broken and I know the team under Sharpe’s leadership have been making improvements where they can but much more needs to be done. If we fail to make this change then that disconnect will impact on our ability to deliver for our new and old voters. That is why I want to play my part to ensure that does not happen. So if you have a vote, please use it and please vote for me.