Sunday, October 28, 2007

Training Conservative Leaders of the Future

This weekend I did some media training in Berkshire for an organisation called The Young Britons' Foundation. I like to call it a ‘Conservative Madrassa’, as it seeks to radicalise young Conservatives to become more political, and not treat their membership of the Conservative Party as some sort of social deal. It’s interesting that Conservative Future now has far more members than the Labour and LibDem youth organisations put together. This sort of training course teaches them debating skills, media skills and how to campaign. It may sound dull to those not involved in the political process, but this sort of thing is vital for young people from all parties if they are to acquire the skillset to become our politicians of the future. Some people believe we’d be better off without political parties at all, but whenever I speak at these sort of events I leave feeling very optimistic about our political future.

The YBF is run by my two colleagues at 18 Doughty Street, Donal Blaney and Shane Greer. They put on a terrific conference with a lineup of speakers the like I have never seen before. The seventy-odd under 30s who attended can count themselves very lucky indeed.

Donal’s work with the YBF is vital in building a wider conservative movement in the UK and has now decided that’s where he wants to concentrate his efforts. He’s leaving 18Ds at the end of the month to concentrate more on expanding the YBF and I really wish him well in his efforts. If this weekend’s conference is anything to go by, he’ll be amply rewarded by the future political success of YBF graduates.

32 comments:

Newmania said...

I`m not sure I like the sound of radicalised Conservatives. This sounds excatly like the sort of bubble into which you were como-plaining politicians disappear and emerge 60 years later having never had a life or even a normal conversation( The exccellent Oborne interview)

I regard with utter horror nhe thought of 70 brilliantined little prigs opining away and imagining themnsleves to be young Winston.

They would be far better off concerntrating on their social lives if not , perish the thought , learning some useful skill outside the media , conference organising and other intermediate occupations .

You might be suprised at just how obnoxious the general public finds chirupping fledgling elitists .A recording of their smug certainties about the state of the country would be enough to re contamniate the brand for another ten years.


Why can they not get back to wet tee shirt contests at Butlins ( Young Conservatives had one in the 50s). They would be less odious and more useful

Haarrrumph !

Iain Dale said...

Your analysis is warped, partly because you weren't there. If you had been, you would see it rather differently.

Ethelred the Unhinged said...

I hope they were all shown a video of Wild Billy Hague's address to the Party when he was 16.

Ruined for life.

Anonymous said...

Did Nadine Dorries attend ?

Anonymous said...

THANKS FOR MOORE ANTI ENGLISH PROPOGNDA FROM YOUR COMMON PURPOSE eussr FRONT

verity said...

Newmania - That was terribly funny but it didn't put me off. It sounds OK and the two chaps running it don't strike me as chirpy, opinionated prig enablers.

Is there anything similar in the US or Oz, does anyone know? It would be interesting.

Margaret on the Guillotine said...

Nice idea but it should surely be done within the Party's internal structures ie CF, in a "non-ideological" fashion.

Indoctrinating them in American-style conservatism (which certainly ain't Toryism) only hampers the Tory Party in the future, once all these wannabe Rosindells grow up.

Anonymous said...

Donal's leaving 18DS???? This is terrible. He was a great presenter and his Upfront prog had really turned the corner and was looking professional.

Matt Pain said...

As far as I can tell, although the formal Conservative youth associations have greater membership than the Lab or LibDem, overall sympathies within the age group unfortunately still lie with the left. The battle for the minds of the young generation is just about to begin, and it's an uphill struggle.

strapworld said...

In the late 50's I belonged to the Young Britons. We met each week in the Conservative Association Offices in Middlesbrough.
Apart from the usual table tennis and orange squash,We had many interesting people talking to us. went on many interesting visits to Newcastle. Sunderland. York. etc.

Politics did not enter any of the discussions etc. we sang the National Anthem at the end.

It was run by the Conservative Party and all the events were presumably paid for by them as we did not pay anything ourselves.

It was a nice way to make new friends.

This, Iain, does seem rather sinister I have to say. I have been concerned about the influence and growth of Common Purpose and it does appear to be built along similar lines.

Iain Dale said...

Strapworld, how exactly is it sinister? I mean for God's sake, you weren;t even there. Speakers included Peter Lilley, Freddie Forsyth, David Trimble, Louise Bagshawe, Guido, me, David Davis, IDS. Yup, sinister indeed,

Arnie said...

Matt, I wouldn't be too sure of that. As one of the younger generation myself, the vast majority of young people I speak to are really annoyed with this Labour government, I sense a real dislike for it. I can only assume (hope?) that it is similar to the set of voters educated in the 80's and early 90's, and how a lot of them feel towards the Conservatives.

From non political younger people, I also see a great deal of rejection of left wing policies in general, people moaning about high benefits, high tax, all of that sort of stuff. This is all from young people from West Yorkshire too, hardly the most Conservative of places, I am sure you can imagine.

I just hope the Tories can turn that dislike of Labour into a like of the Conservatives.

Snafu said...

Newmania, spot on! I can think of nothing worse than future MPs who have lived in a political bubble remote from the hum drum realities of everyday life that most people experience...

A first career as a policy wonk or in media relations should preclude you from ever becoming an MP!

All I can hope is that as 50% of the younger generation graduate from University with £30,000 of debt on average, this will automatically turn them off voting Labour when their Scottish and Welsh counterparts aren't burdened to the same extent!

Alex said...

As newmania says, this goes against what you were saying about MP's who spend their whole lives in politics. As for being taught how to campaign, that shouldn't be necessary for anyone who wants to be an MP. It should be a skill acquired from experience, not something learned in a classroom.

verity said...

Snafu - "All I can hope is that as 50% of the younger generation graduate from University with £30,000 of debt on average...".

So what? Didn't they choose to go? Yes, I hope it turns them off Labour, too, but not because the Scots are getting something for free that the English arent't getting.

Many clearly unqualified individuals are going to "university" to give themselves a leg-up on the career ladder.

Why should people running debit cards through computers at Tesco's checkouts and office cleaners who work through the early hours of dawn, and people who work on airline and bank helplines feel relaxed about subsiding students' ambitions to hit the heights?

Doesn't work for me.

That you want to go on to scale the heights of learning that lead to a high-earning career is not the business of the taxpayer.

Why shouldn't these people have a debt for their further education?

This expectation sheds light on the socialist worm that still burrows away into people's brains in Britain which decrees: " everyone owes everyone else something free."

My response is, privatise everything except our Armed Forces. That means education, roads, motorways, police, the dreaded NHS ... And, yes, Whitehall. Let them be directly accountable to their paymasters, the taxpayers. Then, guaranteed, they will do what the taxpayers want.

No free human being owes any other anything for free.

beachhutman said...

"The seventy-odd under 30s who attended" seldom have I seen a better justification for the hyphen.

I don't say I'd have put one there, though!

beachhutman said...

>The seventy-odd under 30s who attended<

Do we need the hyphen ?

Prague said...

Arnie - speaking as someone educated in the 80s and early 90s the dislike for the government amongst my contemporaries for the Tories seemed fairly mooted - I think that this "everyone hated the Tories" meme is a bit of a myth. For example, when I stood in the school election in 1992 the Labour candidate only got about 40 votes.

Anonymous said...

Not sure it can be claimed that CF has more members than labour and lib dem combined, when none of the groups release their membership figures.

What can be said though is that published turnout in internal CF elections is generally about the same as that in LDYS.

Newmania said...

Beach hut -

I `m a commited Conservative member , but I know what you mean .Its a peculiar paradox that the sort of people who rush of to be filled up to the gills with Hayek , Ann Coulter and Redwood are in many ways not natural Conservatives and have little chance of being able to impress ordinary people.

Conservatism is characterised by a gentle scepticism about all doctrine and an amused disinterst in political posturing.


Having said that , if you are going to prattle about your big book of answers I`d rather it was John Redwood than the arcane and indecipherable faux intellectual leftist gibberish they love to ornament in dave Spartist enclaves of the Labour Party.Now that is more than odd it positively depraved.

Odd yes ...but there are much odder.

Mike Rouse said...

We'll miss Donal!!

And as somebody who was at the conference I can assure you that it was not full of "brilliantined little prigs opining away"

I had more fun at the YBF conference than I did at the Tory party conference in Blackpool. It was intimate, friendly, and everybody was able to get to know each other a bit more than they would have been able to at a bigger conference. Put simply, it was great.

I wan to be next tory leader said...

We need to train tories how to speak in an articulate and educated manner. Too many olf new breed are difficult to differentiate from labour oiks.

don't go Donal! said...

The loss of Mr Blaney is very sad. Iain you gotta get him to stay!
As we say in Ireland he's a real 'karakter'.
And he's right dammit! (99.99% of the time)

verity said...

Forgive the O/T, but I see Miliband has trendily adopted a kid (I hope it is from some African hellhole) and is going to put the great state of office of Foreign Secretary on hold while he takes "paternity leave".

It would be impossible to loathe anyone on planet Earth, more than I do the British socialists. They are the scum of the earth.

Anonymous said...

Verity - you ask whether there's anything similar in the US or Oz ... err, how about the far-right neo-con Young Americans Foundation ?

I agree with Newmania, this is inducing a further breach with voters (and making the kids involved think they're God's gifts).

Yuch.

verity said...

Anonymous 1:01 - Do they term themselves "neo-con" or is that your judgement?

Hannibal said...

I have attended 1 YBF conference and a few other meetings of theirs. The caricature of them offered here appears more informed by ignorance than by experience. People are too quick to dismiss cynically efforts by people to make the Conservative Party a stronger campaigning body, efforts endorsed by senior party members themselves. Anyway, here are my replies to a few of the comments above:

“I regard with utter horror the thought of 70 brilliantined little prigs opining away and imagining themsleves to be young Winston.” – quite right, which is why YBF helps train people in how to get their messages across to the public in the written and spoken word across all media. The point is to help them understand WHY they are conservatives and how, although there is no better party of which to be a member, with certain policies that may differ from being a Conservative.


“They would be far better off concentrating on their social lives if not, perish the thought, learning some useful skill outside the media, conference organising and other intermediate occupations.” – hence why the YBF also runs career days which look at the professions, the City, education etc.


“I hope they were all shown a video of Wild Billy Hague's address to the Party when he was 16. Ruined for life.” – indeed, see above.


“Nice idea but it should surely be done within the Party's internal structures i.e. CF, in a "non-ideological" fashion.” – the Party has to spend its money on more directly appropriate things, namely policy generation and campaigning. Rightly or wrongly younger Conservatives are a valuable resource during elections but a distraction at other times. Also members could begin to believe that a conservative policy or idea is one on Conservative Party headed paper, which is not necessarily true! It is for this reason that successive chairmen of Conservative Future have worked hand in hand with YBF.


“Indoctrinating them in American-style conservatism (which certainly ain't Toryism) only hampers the Tory Party in the future, once all these wannabe Rosindells grow up.” – Rosindell is no fan of American conservatives, and the likes of Lilley, Trimble, Davis and Duncan-Smith are all Tories (yes, Trimble included).


“I have been concerned about the influence and growth of Common Purpose and it does appear to be built along similar lines.” – what is Common Purpose?


“Newmania, spot on! I can think of nothing worse than future MPs who have lived in a political bubble remote from the hum drum realities of everyday life that most people experience... A first career as a policy wonk or in media relations should preclude you from ever becoming an MP!” – see above about non-political career symposia run by the YBF.


“As for being taught how to campaign, that shouldn't be necessary for anyone who wants to be an MP. It should be a skill acquired from experience, not something learned in a classroom.” – that’s just balls. Why can’t you learn from other people’s experience? What is the benefit in repeating the mistakes of others through ignorance when that information can be taught, and the resulting lessons practiced in a friendly forum?


“"The seventy-odd under 30s who attended" seldom have I seen a better justification for the hyphen.” – you were there then were you, I mean I assume you were otherwise how are you writing off the delegates?


“Conservatism is characterised by a gentle scepticism about all doctrine and an amused disinterst in political posturing.” – something which is spoken about at YBF discussions on philosophy.


“We need to train tories how to speak in an articulate and educated manner. Too many of new breed are difficult to differentiate from labour oiks.” – exactly, YBF offers this.

Anonymous said...

"It’s interesting that Conservative Future now has far more members than the Labour and LibDem youth organisations put together."

I'm willing to bet you have absolutely no evidence for this claim.

Does Conservative Future have more members than the equivalent of Young Labour and Labour Students combined?

If you had the evidence with which to give an accurate reply I think you'd find there wasn't much in it. But you don't.

What's more we're comparing apples with oranges - Con Future is 30 and under and Young Labour is 26 and under.

Membership of all political parties is a bell curve with fewer 18 year olds than 26 year olds, fewer 26 year olds than 30 year olds to a peak in the mid 50s. So if you increase the range from 15-26 to 15-30 you create a massive bias in favour of the latter group being the "bigger" in the great "my youth organisation is bigger than yours" game.

If you want evidence of strong numbers of young people in a political party you need to go to where they congregate - the best parties at conferences, byelections, university campuses and so on.

Labour wins hands down on all of these.

M. Hristov said...

I believe that this year's event was held at Wellington College, Crowthorne, Berkshire. I think it is unfortunate to call it “The Conservative Madrassa”, even in jest. A madrassa bring an Islamic religious school. I do not think that you would call it “The Conservative Yeshiva”. In any case, George W. and his friends (which seem to include Verity) might think you are a dangerous terrorist. What the Conservative Party needs is more talent not more apparatchiks. I hope that the event was skewed towards finding that talent and not indoctrination.

Newmania said...

WHY they are conservatives and how, although there is no better party of which to be a member, with certain policies that may differ from being a Conservative.


What does that mean I wonder...

Newmania said...

Labour wins hands down on all of these.


Oh yes indeed dull spotty bores bother Harriet Harmanite women in potato sacks with their excessive feminism.Your version of a good Party is obviously very different to mine.Can you imagine it? What can we ban , who can we tax , what can we stop ?" IS HE SMOKING!" You can gather as many tedious creeps together as you like they just make one big yawn.

tory boys never grow up said...

Surprisingly this is something I agree with Newmania on this is a bad thing - and the same applies to any other parties which do the same thing.

I have no problem with getting young people involved with politics - and there is a lot to be said in getting politicians to talk to kids in school, subject to there being proper balance. But teaching them "debating skills, media skills and how to campaign" should come after developing an understanding of political issues.

All the parties are being increasingly peopled by politicians who have debating, media and campaigning skills but whose political thought processes and understanding of issues is primitive to say the least. There are a lot of politicians hwo have next to no experience outside politics (e.g Cameron - and spin doctoring at Carlton counts as politics for this purpose).

Quite frankly there is a lot to be said fro politicians who are rubbish at presentation but who do have some substance - which one's are most likley to make the right decisions and ensure that they are properly implemented - and which ones will look at PMQs?