Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Back to the (Conservative) Future

Any follower of the internal machinations of CF politics cannot have failed to notice that the temperature has risen of late. As it always does this time of year when the national (and regional) elections take place.

CF-ers understandably get angry if their e-ballot paper doesn't arrive, but almost always this is not the fault of CCHQ (though it is easy to blame them). To qualify, the CF member has to be under 30, but this is only known if the local organiser or agent (or, in most cases, volunteer) enters the member's DoB on Merlin. Similarly, if the member doesn't supply an email address, or changes their email address and doesn't notify the office (or, in fairness, if the office fails to change it on the system) then the ballot paper will go to the wrong email address. I had one such case last year when a CF member actually threatened to 'refer this matter to the family solicitors" if I didn't take "immediate action" to resolve the "clear mismanagement of my membership which has led to me being disenfranchised from the democratic process". Oh, the sweet joy when I retrieved her membership form and found she had written instead of .com in the space for her email address. This particular member has now defected to UKIP. Our gain is their loss.

This takes me back to my younger years. I began my own political journey in Wallasey YCs back in the early 1980s. In those days, even a marginal seat such as Wallasey in the North West could muster three YC branches; when all three came together for their annual BBQ we had 50 members. Over time I rose to be chairman of my branch to Chairman of the constituency committee. In those days youth politics was ideological. The YCs were the last bastion of the old Heathite wets, bankrolled by Peter Walker and sympathetic to the TRG. I was part of the Libertarian zeitgeist - the Maggie's new Model Army marching ever forward to the Tausendjähriges Reich. For two years we built our strength by taking control of the area and regional committees and prepared for the final assault. Our Agincourt, our Culloden was Southport's Floral Hall - venue for the National YC Conference. The Right had more money than style; we also had Champagne, lobsters, rave music, dry ice, flashing lights, glowing wrist bands and posters emblazoned with "It's Time for Tinney". The Wets had a few lapel badges and a sense of entitlement. No-one asked where the Right got their money from - (probably from David Hart and his CIA / Western Goals backed Committee for a Free Britain). It was probably best we didn't know.

Needless to say the Right won and British youth politics was transformed. The old guard, with their calls for "corduroy and moderation " were replaced with campaigns in support of the Contra Freedom Fighters in Nicaragua and pride of place on our t-shirts was shared between Maggie and Jonas Savimbi. The future really did belong to us, or it did until 22 November 1990.

Where are they now, those heroes of the Right ? Well, I last spotted Andrew Tinney a few days ago on a friend's Facebook feed. He was looking very "Surrey" at a Conservative Association dinner in Weybridge. Jonathan Bullock, one of his three Vice Chairmen candidates, has vanished from my radar. Martin Callanan is MEP for North East Region, and the fourth name I cannot recall.

But that was then, and this is now, and I would like to place on the record my thanks to the current Conservative Future Chairman, Ben Howlett, who has done an outstanding job for CF and the Party.


  1. I remember the Southport conference and that election very well. if i recall was they a magazine called "Blue Dawn" floating about.:)

    Talking about Andrew Tinney - i stiil got my copy of the Wessex Area YC songbook !

  2. Jonathan Bullock defected to UKIP, he is a member of Kettering Borough Council

    1. So he has, just checked their website. What a shame.

  3. I was working with David Hart at the beginning of the '80s and knew all about what went through his personal bank accounts and I don't think anything was for spent on this. I believe that the Committee for a Free Britain came later in the decade. Mind you, David would be quite happy for you to believe that all the success was due to him. He was a very generous man! - Matthew