Conservative Technology Forum

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The Conservative Technology Forum is a United Kingdom think tank and policy advisory body that consults industry, academia and other key figures on important (often emerging) technological and societal issues and puts these into mainstream political context.[1]

It grew out of the Conservative Computer Forum (founded in 1978), was relaunched in May 2011 and is affiliated to the Conservative Party. Its mandate is to research key technology subjects, how these impact society and to inform Conservative Party policy in UK and European contexts.[2]

Governance[edit]

The Conservative Technology Forum exists as a platform for those who wish to assist in the preparation of policy for the Conservative Party, to help Conservative MPs with well-informed inputs to debates on technology-related issues in Parliament and to advance the use of technology to aid well-informed, democratic, decision-taking.

Its predecessor, the Conservative Computer Forum, formed from a merger of the party contact list with senior members of the computer and communications industries and a Bow Group team looking at policy towards the computer industry, was active from 1978 to 1986. During this time it was the source of policies such as Telecoms Liberalisation and Privatisation, the Micros in Schools Programme and IT Year. The publications authored by its members, usually published via CPC or the Bow Group included "Cashing in on the Chips" (CPC), "The Big Steal (Bow Group), "Learning for Change" (Bow Group), "No End of Jobs" (CPC) and "Training for jobs not just jobs for Trainers".

After it was relaunched as the Conservative Technology Forum, with a remit to cover advanced technologies in general, a centre-right, policy "think tank", 'Aediles', chaired by Malcolm Harbour MEP and directed by Simon Moores, was also formed, in 2002. Its main publication to date is "Computerising the Chinese Army" (on the state of computing in the NHS), using expertise from both ICT and Health Care industries.

The Forum has also produced a public "manifesto" in advance of each general election, alongside private submissions to those working on the main party manifesto.

The Forum was restructured after the 2010 election and the formation of a coalition, in the light of lessons learned after the 1979 General Election, when policy work within the party atrophied because those involved were elected or became special advisors and the consequent focus was on influencing or defend short-term "government policy", as opposed to longer-term "party policy". The current focus is on generating ideas and material for the Conservative Manifesto for 2015, on helping the Forum's parliamentary members to get re-elected and on providing expert speakers, bloggers and other inputs to advance and inform political debate. That entails putting technology issues, such as broadband, successful systems delivery, professionalism and skills, smart metering, smart grid, privacy and surveillance, into mainstream political context, including industry and economic policy.

As at May 2012 the President is Adam Afriyie MP. The Deputy Presidents are Therese Coffey MP (Westminster Parliamentary Chairman), Malcolm Harbour MEP (Brussels Parliamentary Chairman). The Vice Presidents are Lord Lucas of Crudwell (Investment Policy), Stephen Mosley MP (e-Crime and Cyber Security) and Laura Sandys MP (Energy Policy). The Chairman is Philip Virgo and the Vice Chairman are Simon Moores (Policy) and Nick Wood Dow (Events).

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