11th December 2017
George Freeman - who chairs the Conservative Policy Forum and formerly led the No 10 policy board - said the new team would be “the spearhead for Conservative grassroots renewal”.
He also mooted support for a new system of ‘direct democracy’ - allowing members to propose policy online - as he said the process had for too long been “the preserve of a small group in London”.
Since their humiliating election performance the Conservatives have been mulling how to create a grassroots movement like the one that flocked to Labour after Jeremy Corbyn became leader.
Mid Norfolk MP Mr Freeman has put together a group of members with specific policy briefs who he hopes will talk to non-members in their respective communities and come back with inspiring proposals.
“I want to create for the Prime Minister a ‘New Generation Cabinet’ of frontline Conservative champions of new thinking,” he told PoliticsHome.
“They will reach deep into communities and help them think big about how a modern Conservative party can better respond to the challenges of today and the future.”
The group includes an LGBT spokesperson (Dolly Theis), a spokesperson for entrepreneurs (Mark Davies) and spokespeople for BME men and BME women (Myles Stacey and Resham Kotecha).
Mr Freeman said he wanted some 20 members in his ‘New Generation Cabinet’ overall and explained how they would feed ideas to the CPF and even meet with the Prime Minister.
He said the plan was a bid to get Tory members more involved well as speak to people around the country “who are not well enough represented in the current party membership”.
And in a hint at his future plans for the CPF, he added: “For too long traditional politics has treated policymaking as the preserve of a small group in London.
“New technology and social media opens up new possibilities for much more digital engagement and ‘direct democracy’.”
Watch the Conservative Policy Forum video about the new team below.
For those of my constituents struggling to pay the bills, and reliant on our local public services, it’s no longer acceptable to go on cutting frontline services, whilst spending so much on the (too often) high salaries, gold-plated pensions, and duplicating back office bureaucracies which soak up vast sums of our precious public money.
As you will have seen in my ‘Protecting Frontline Services’ statement last month, and in my ‘Devolution’ statement last November, I have long been calling for urgent reform in this area.
Currently in Norfolk we have 1 County Council AND 7 District, Borough and City Councils as well as 5 NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, and multiple NHS Trusts (including the ‘inadequate’ Norfolk and Suffolk Mental Health Trust) and the East of England Ambulance Service.
Do we really need all of these different bodies?
I believe that, with better joined-up planning of housing, road, rail, broadband and public service delivery etc, we can ensure a better growth model for our area – with new funds, and which prevents the wrong sort of ‘development’ being forced upon us.
Imagine if, instead of 8 councils, multiple NHS bodies and countless quangos, we had one or two organisations which had responsibility for ALL of the local services in our area – a One Stop Shop for all your housing, benefits, training, and environmental and occupational health needs. Equally, imagine if there were just two unitary bodies - East and West - in Norfolk, unlocking huge efficiency savings that could then be reinvested in the frontline. (Norfolk County Council alone are spending £23 million on administration this financial year).
Much has been written about the future of local government in Norfolk, and the local services that they provide, in the past few days. With an increasing elderly population and more pressure on resources than ever before, we simply cannot go on like this.
The time has come for all of us in this area to come together fast and agree on a new model, one that puts our constituents first.
‘Protecting Frontline Services’: http://georgefreeman.co.uk/content/protecting-frontline-services
GEORGE'S 2017 CHRISTMAS CARD COMPETITION
I was so thrilled with the designs from last year’s Christmas Card Competition, that I have written to our local schools again to ask for the help of their youngsters to design my new Christmas card.
If you have any queries please do not hesitate to get in touch with me or Tom Fenwick in my Wymondham office on 01953 600617.
Image: Winning design from 2016, by Alex, aged 10, of Great Ellingham Primary School