On the eve of Conservative Party Conference, Bow Group calls for Grassroots Revolution

Home Affairs
Sunday, October 1, 2017
Benjamin Harris-Quinney

1st October 2017

PRESS RELEASE

On the eve of Conservative Party Conference, Bow Group calls for Grassroots Revolution

"The only way to regain momentum and achieve majority government is to reinvigorate the party from within with democratic reform. The Bow Group joins a growing number of organisations: The Campaign for Conservative Democracy, COPOV, Conservative Voice, The Bruges Group, Conservative Progress, Parliament Street, Generation Conservative and Conservative Grassroots in support of a rally for the full democratisation of the Conservative Party on Monday morning"
Cllr Ben Harris-Quinney, Chairman, The Bow Group

 
Since 2010, Britain's oldest conservative think tank, the Bow Group, has called for significant reform in the Conservative Party. That necessity for painful reconstruction into a genuinely popular movement has not occurred however. The Conservative Party has failed to revitalize its grassroots membership and build a genuine movement, and has struggled to defeat three of the weakest Labour leaders in British history. The movement for democratisation of the Conservative Party is growing rapidly with conservative organisations joining in support of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy now including: The Bow Group, COPOV, Conservative Voice, The Bruges Group, Conservative Progress, Parliament Street, Generation Conservative and Conservative Grassroots. A rally will be held in support of the full democratisation of the Conservative Party on Monday morning, the first day of Conservative Party Conference"
  • There has not been a Conservative Party leadership election since 2005
  • Since then Conservative Party membership has fallen by two thirds
  • Average age of a party member is currently 72 years old
  • Labour members now outnumber Conservatives by 7 to 1
  • Members lack the ability to freely select candidates, intervene on policy issues and select leaders without central party interference
  • The Bow Group joins a growing coalition of The Campaign for Conservative Democracy, COPOV, Conservative Voice, The Bruges Group, Conservative Progress, Parliament Street, Generation Conservative and Conservative Grassroots in support of a protest rally for the democratisation of the Conservative Party on Monday morning.
  • The Bow Group has not taken part in the main Conservative Party Conference since 2013 in protest at the disenfranchisement of ordinary party members
The Bow Group recommends urgent reform party rules to ensure the following:
  1. The election of the Party Leader by the membership at least every five years
  2. The election of a Party Chairman annually
  3. Free primary selection process for all candidates
  4. The ability for members to vote on policy at Conservative Party Conference
  5. The restoration of the role of members to speak from the floor at Conservative Party Conference
Quotes:
 
"The Bow Group has long seen the issue of declining Conservative Party membership and enthusiasm for the Conservative vision as symptom of lacking party democracy and a rigid adherence to centrist values. What Jeremy Corbyn has achieved in the Labour Party initially looked a folly, however Labour have gone through the necessary and painful transition from centrist politics first, and have emerged stronger.

The Conservative Party must urgently follow suite, or risk losing the political narrative and momentum for the foreseeable future.

The Bow Group has not taken part in the main Conservative Party Conference since 2013, in protest at the disenfranchisement of ordinary Party members. We will not return until reforms are made. 

What is required is nothing short of internal revolution. The only way to regain momentum and achieve majority government is to reinvigorate the party from within with democratic reform. The Bow Group joins a growing number of organisations: The Campaign for Conservative Democracy, COPOV, Conservative Voice, The Bruges Group, Conservative Progress, Parliament Street, Generation Conservative and Conservative Grassroots in support of a rally for the full democratisation of the Conservative Party on Monday morning"

Cllr Ben Harris-Quinney, Chairman, The Bow Group

"The tin ear to the wishes of ordinary Conservative voters on issues like Social Care was disgraceful and needless. We warned the dementia tax would be horrendous to the core vote. The inability to respond to a flashing red light reflects how detached and presidential CCHQ and Number 10 now is. The party must return to manifesto by consensus and conference, and not be so suspicious and dismissive of its members. We have not hit the bottom yet and 2022 could level the party without radical surgery now."
Dr Jon Stanley, Bow Group Senior Research Fellow