Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Point of Order, Mr Chairman

I learnt very early on that the Party Constitution can be your best friend. It is sufficiently flexible to allow Executive Councils and Management Committees the room they need to achieve what they want to achieve, but also sufficiently precise with regard to process, which can save a great deal of dispute and ill feeling.

Anyone who has worked with me will know that I am a strict "constitutionalist". When asked I will always give honest and transparent advice, uphold the rules fairly and equally (even when people don't wish to hear it) and act in accordance with the constitution. No-one has ever appealed and found the advice I have given, or a judgement I have made, to be wanting. Yes, some of the rules I don't particularly like or even agree with - but that is an issue above my pay grade. Each Association is a branch of the national party, and if the Party Board agree a rule, then so be it.

Notwithstanding the above, there is one phrase which is guaranteed to send a shiver down my spine. "Can you send me a copy of the constitution."  The shiver is not due to fear of being proved wrong, but because the request almost always presages a row over some matter of utmost triviality, which will act as a diversion from our overriding aim (as set out in the preamble to each Association's constitution)...

...to provide an effective campaigning organisation in the Constituency; to secure the return of Conservative Candidates at elections; and to raise the necessary funds to achieve these objectives; to contribute to the central funds of the Party.
Sadly (with a few honourable
exceptions) 'demanders of the constitution' are seldom in the same group as "knockers on doors" or "raisers of funds" or "recruiters of members". Interestingly, our latest correspondent has found the time (and the energy) to write five lengthy emails questioning some obscure sub clause of a branch committee's rules, but sadly had not found the time to respond to any of the requests to help in our marginal local government by-election this coming Thursday. 

In fact, I suspect the raison d'etre of those who "demand the constitution" is to provide the demander with all the detail they require to criticise others for not working hard enough.

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