After long and careful consideration, last September, I took the decision to resign from the Welsh Conservatives. For those who are interested, (and a number of people have asked me), here’s why:
Politically speaking, it would be fair to say that I shall always espouse the politics of the centre- right, however, it won’t have been any secret to those who know me well that within the Welsh Conservatives, I was very concerned about the way the party is run and more particularly, about how the membership is treated. There were a number of members who shared my views and many friends and former colleagues urged me to either 'bite the bullet', or to try to change things from within. However, I discovered that sadly, there is very little appetite from within the party to bring about positive change to this effect, and last September I made up my mind. To rather crudely mix my metaphors, I arrived at this conclusion: if a horse doesn’t want to be led to water, then there ain’t no point flogging it until it’s dead!
Whilst it cannot be denied that Welsh Conservatives have done well in recent elections, it’s my belief that the way the party is run may not augur well for sustaining these good results and more importantly, for recruiting new members and appealing to people from all walks of life. No one individual is to blame for these problems, but as was evidenced by the party’s poor communication problems over the recent cancellation of their Welsh Conference, there really does need to be radical root and branch reform.
I think that most people would agree that the progress of any organisation is dependent on its reputation. In my opinion, in order to improve this, the Welsh Conservatives need to get their marketing right and to properly serve their members, (the people who are after all, the ‘shareholders’ in the company).
• Members need to see evidence that the professional party in Wales (the salaried arm of the party charged with administration) is properly performance managed.
• There needs to be better communication from the Party’s Management Board to the Party members.
It is a pity that it always seems to have been a struggle to find volunteers who are willing to stand for election to the Management Board, to such an extent that within the Party over the last few years, members have seen the same old suspects from the voluntary party hierarchy being ‘recycled’ back onto the Board. This is not good for party democracy or for introducing new ideas.
• There needs to be better communication with Party members overall.
Members want and need to feel a sense of belonging and inclusion and that their opinions are valued – this means making regular contact and not just asking them to deliver leaflets at election time!
Over the past twelve years that I was a member, I made many friends within the party and I was privileged to have served in the Assembly with a group who were for the most part talented and hard-working. I am very grateful to have experienced all of this and trust that the many friendships will remain, but I feel sure that those who know me well will understand that in order to remain true to myself, I now need to plough my own furrow.