Summary of Sustaining Democracy discussion

In response to the CPF discussion on Sustaining Democracy, we received submissions from 98 CPF groups, representing 114 constituencies plus two Conservatives Abroad groups and at least 839 members. This is 10% lower than the average response rate during the past year, although comparable to the response seen at the equivalent pre-election period last spring.

What follows is an overview of the key points raised by CPF groups. A more detailed collation of policy suggestions has been sent to the Director of the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit, the Minister for the Constitution, the CPF Chairman and the Party Chairman. As usual, we look forward to publishing a formal response to members’ ideas in due course.

Overview of Key Points

More than 1-in-8 CPF Groups (13%) explicitly called for the West Lothian question to be resolved. Many thought that the process of devolution had in fact weakened, rather than strengthened, the Union. 1-in-9 (11%) emphasised the principle of subsidiarity.

About 1-in-10 CPF Groups (10%) asked whether we need a written constitution.

9-in-10 CPF Groups (90%) cited the damage caused by the Brexit process. 2-in-5 (39%) explicitly highlighted the need for elected representatives to keep their promises. About 1-in-9 (11%) stressed the need for honesty and 1-in-12 (8%) the need for competence.

1-in-3 CPF Groups (34%) called for reform of the House of Lords.

1-in-12 (8%) insisted the recommendations of the boundary review be implemented without further delay so that all areas of the country are given equal representation.

1-in-6 CPF Groups (16%) want to see the idea of the “Big Society” revived.

Other top suggestions in the various sections include:

  • Enhance the authority of and devolve power to county councils. This must come with greater transparency and accountability, so they have a greater say in local governance.
  • Directly elected mayors should be supported with appropriate powers such as the fire/policing as in the GLA in London. Mayoral powers should be consistent.
  • There should be a Public Pay Commission to set all salaries over £100,000.
  • Review the role and practices of the Civil Service, its support of democracy and open government, with a focus on serving the minister, facilitating rather than guiding policy, and recommitting to independence from politics.
  • Local government suffers from inflexibility on spending choices; reform the system to provide maximum delegated authority to local government at city and county level.
  • Improve two-way communications between the community and Parish/Local Councils.
  • Ensure that British history, politics and “citizenship” is taught in schools in an objective and patriotic way.
  • Promote greater inclusion. Simplify voter registration and the voting process.
  • Move back to the system of councillors acting as a board of directors dealing with direction of travel and holding their officers to account. This would require the enlargement of the professional officers to manage the council.
  • Test the idea of setting up local/district/parish Youth Councils/Parliaments.
  • Formalise a system by which parish councils devolve specific types of activity and responsibility to working groups which could actively seek to include non-councillors.
  • More thorough consultation by MPs, councillors and the Party.
  • Better communication: Party political broadcasts should be aimed at young people.
  • Promote integration and embrace all those who share our Conservative values.
  • Tell our Party’s story better.
  • We need more democracy in the Party. Conference is too formulaic and we need to invigorate debate, with voting and speeches from the floor. Create platforms for the electorate to scrutinise and have a say.