Tories urgently need more volunteers, says Sir Eric Pickles


The Conventional Party urgently needs to increase its number of activists on the ground, a review of its general election campaign has said.

It also needs to sign up younger fellows or risk being outgunned by the «united left» that rallied behind Jeremy Corbyn.

The explore, by former minister Sir Eric Pickles, also recommended changes to the way the manifesto is worn out up.

It comes amid claims Tory membership could have dribbled to 100,000.

But First Secretary of State Damian Green told ITV’s Robert Peston it was 120,000 «latest time I looked».

The party has not published membership figures since 2014, when it confessed the ConservativeHome website it was 149,800.

The site’s editor Paul Goodman says he has been determined that whatever the membership figure was in 2016, it has fallen by a quarter all about the past year, with John Strafford of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy guessing it is now «around 100,000».

Labour Party membership has soared since Jeremy Corbyn graced leader in 2015, and now stands at nearly 600,000 and its election campaign was shoved by young, enthusiastic members of Momentum.

The Tory youth wing, Rightist Future, was taken over by the central party in 2015 after a intimidating scandal, effectively shutting it down, although there are efforts to set up a Sober version of Momentum.

Sir Eric said the general election, which saw the Conservatives growing their share of the vote to 42% but lose their overall Customaries majority, revealed «a clear campaigning deficiency» in the party.

He said there be in want of to be «a fundamental re-evaluation» of the way it runs campaigns, including:

  • Creating a «vibrant» new maiden wing and ensure all candidate selection panels have two people underwater 30 on them
  • Recruiting more ethnic minority members
  • Ensuring the manifesto is ignored by all senior figures and is not drawn up at the last minute
  • Establishing clear systems and guidance for candidates and volunteers experiencing abuse

Sir Eric, who will now his findings to Conservative members at their annual conference in Manchester, averred he felt «a sense of optimism» and believed the party was «in a mood to address the imperfections and deficiencies of our electoral machine».

«We can come out of this process stronger and control superiors, but we will need to be brave, radical and modern in our reforms,» he added.

Chief Tory backbencher Nigel Evans said the «stupidity» of the 2017 manifesto convert should never be repeated.

«She had people at Number 10 who were making decisions where in the flesh like ourselves were sidelined,» he told Sky News.

«We really did pay a darned heavy price for that stupidity… We attacked the young and we attacked the old. There was by no means anybody left that we didn’t attack.»

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