The Conservative Future elections have been pushed back due to Eastleigh campaigning. Although this is frustrating, the rationale is understandable. Meanwhile one of the early contenders has dropped out of the race. This is a shame, because greater competition makes for a healthier and more interesting national debate.
Last time I used this platform to offer up my vision for the organisation. This time I want to spell out how that could be achieved.
After a series of hustings, from Epsom to Durham, many candidates have had the opportunity to speak with members about their priorities for the future. From the emails and messages I have had throughout this campaign, I am delighted that many of you share many of my ideas about the direction Conservative Future should take. For those voters who I haven't had the chance to meet, here's a quick snapshot and I look forward to hearing your feedback.
Despite being the first to say it - all candidates now seem to agree that we must focus support on the 40 most marginal seats - more base, less bus. We must also provide a voice for members on policy in the next manifesto and commit to helping candidates in both the county elections and winning the Better Together campaign. What makes the Working Better, Together plan stand out, are those commitments to: assist delivering a Conservative majority in 2015; empower the grassroots; and drive both transparency and accountability.
But what does that all mean? It means launching a social outreach programme to demonstrate to people who don't vote for us, that we share common values and that the Conservative Party should be their natural home. It means delivering accessible nationwide events with leading party and business figures for all members. Finally, it means enabling members to question the National Executive easily and regularly.
At first glance it might not sound like much, but this is just the springboard.
So what's in it for you? I've always said that it is a two-way relationship. This includes offering a mentor programme with MPs and leading Conservative think tanks; better networking events and debating opportunities at Conservative Party Conference; and recognising achievements through a National Award Scheme. The national chairman should support you, listen to you, and be your voice in CCHQ, the party and media; so this is how we start.
I joined the Conservatives because I want to spread the message of aspiration in all parts of the UK. I've done that for Conservative Future, as a councillor and for an MP. I see this role as leading by example and with a clear vision; for that we need the right people, with the right principles and the right policies to drive us onwards and upwards. This isn't the time to elect someone who will hurt our party, vote for someone who will achieve all of the above, and more, while beating Labour in the process.