ConservativeHome blogger Tim Montgomerie posted a damning article over the weekend, condemning ‘waste, over-spending and poor revenue strategies’ at Conservative central office. One particular remark jumps out: ‘The Tory leadership did not fix the party’s finances during the good economic times and are now facing very difficult decisions as a consequence.’ Sound familiar?
Tim’s piece provides some inside intelligence about the success, or otherwise, of the big ‘be our friend‘ campaign earlier this year. ‘£500,000 was spent on newspaper and internet adverts earlier this year to launch a ‘Friends of the Conservatives’ scheme. Few Friends have been recruited and many believe that that money could have been much better spent. […] CCHQ are repressing the publication of membership data but it is feared that numbers have fallen by at least 17,000. I’ve tried raising these issues privately,’ he says subsequently in the comments, ‘but to zero effect.’
Elsewhere in the comments, one newly recruited supporter tells of his unpleasant experience when he tried to get involved locally; and when he signed up for the ‘friend’ scheme: ‘I got an email in reply thanking me for volunteering. Since then, nothing, zip, zilch, b*gger all. Not even an invitation to contribute to party funds.’
I’ve been trying to think of a clever conclusion – but, not for the first time, I can’t get past the big number. Half a million quid spent midway between general elections, ‘few recruits’, and a continuing overall fall in membership… at a time when forming the next government seemed (past tense, perhaps) a certainty?
Oh yeah… and it probably would have been wise for the Tories to ensure the various links to the Friendship campaign were properly redirected when they launched their new website. All the links I graciously gave them, even to key pages like ‘Get involved’, are now returning 404 errors.