|Founded||7 October 1998|
|Headquarters||4 Matthew Parker Street, London SW1A|
|Mother party||Conservative Party|
|International affiliation||International Young Democrat Union|
|European affiliation||European Young Conservatives|
Conservative Future (CF) is the youth movement of the Conservative Party in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The organisation is made up of all members of the Conservative Party who are 30 years old or younger.
Conservative Future was founded in 1998. By 2006, it was the largest political organisation on British campuses and the estimated membership, including members on campuses and through constituency associations is 20,000.
Conservative Future Scotland is the independent sister organisation of CF in Scotland. Internationally, Conservative Future participates in the centre-right International Young Democrat Union. Within Europe, it is a founder member of the European Young Conservatives.
Conservative Future was formed on 7 October 1998 as part of a major series of cross-party reforms introduced by then party leader William Hague. Part of the reforms including the merging of the three movements that specifically handled youth affairs within the party: the Young Conservatives, the Conservative Collegiate Forum, and the National Association of Conservative Graduates. The merger of the organisations into a single body was controversial and opposed by most members and officers of the three organisations at the time. A key change was that whereas members of the party 'opted in' to join the three organisations, under the new unified organisation membership would be automatic for all members under 20. The name 'Conservative Future' stems from the title of the party reforms 'The Fresh Future' and was only intended to be temporary. The first national chairman was the last head of Conservative Graduates, Donal Blaney, followed by Gavin Megaw, who had been the chairman of Conservative Students in its last year of existence.
At its launch, the party's national performance and dwindling activist base led to the closure of most former Young Conservative branches and student branches struggled to attract members. As formal membership records were not kept on a national database there have never been any accurate membership figures for the youth organisations before or after the creation of Conservative Future.
In 1999 Conservative Future attracted national attention following a re-branding exercise that used the slogan "CFUK", a twist on the French Connection FCUK brand. The CFUK branding was to be used on promotional material for university branches from late August to mid October 1999 but the threat of court proceedings from French Connection over breach of copyright led to Conservative Future withdrawing the promotion in early October, just before the end of the campaign.
In 2002, Conservative Future gained two positions on the national executive committee of the National Union of Students, marking their first return in seven years. This was followed up by a national tour of universities, called 'Politics Unplugged', which involved ten Shadow Cabinet members and was aimed at making politicians more approachable. CF gained further traction in 2003 and 2004, after it was announced that the party announced it would scrap university tuition fees. In 2004 alone, membership rose by 3,000, but stagnated at 15,000 members until the election of David Cameron as party leader.
Cameron's election was seen to be emblematic of a change of Conservative Future's image to 'cool', replacing the symbolism of the 'Tory boy' stereotype of previous years. This occurred most dramatically from 2006 onwards, particularly in northern England. Described by Geordie Greig as 'counter culture', this change is ascribed to 'Saatchi-isation', named for former Party Chairman Maurice Saatchi, and ideological alignment to the so-called 'Notting Hill Set' of the party leadership.
CF's purpose is to encourage Conservative Party values and assist in local and general elections. Conservative Future is aided in its aims by Members of Parliament (MPs) and Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) with visits to branches. They participate in lectures, debates and many more activities. Many members of Conservative Future branches often go on to contest local and national elections, and the organisation as a whole is increasingly turning to the internet to attract new active members.
Conservative Future also plays an important role in the party's campaigning. Described as the Conservative Party's 'shock troops', CF made a major contribution to the parliamentary by-election victories in Crewe and Nantwich in 2008 and Norwich North in 2009. They were significantly more numerous, visible, and active than Labour's young supporters in the 2008 London mayoral election, in which young voters were one of the key demographics of Boris Johnson's vote. Michael Rock[who?] said that one of CF's virtue is being able to take part in stunts and activities that older members can't. A contingent from Conservative Future went to the United States to campaign for John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.
Conservative Future branches vary in structure. It has branches at most British universities; others are affiliated with city and town associations and aim to attract members from the non-student population. Some branches are bring together both types of organisation. Newcastle-under-Lyme, Swansea and Keele University Conservative Future is an example of a hybrid university and town branch. Some County areas operate, in effect, as one large branch, so that their members have more opportunities to get involved.
Conservative Future's national organisation includes a National Executive, elected annually, to represent the membership and to implement its aims and objectives. The National Executive is also supported by the Regional College, and the CF Strategy Team. The National Chairman for 2014/2015, Alexandra Paterson, is supported by six other members of the National Executive, three of which are co-opted members.
The current 2014/2015 National Executive is as follows:
- National Chairman - Alexandra Paterson
- Deputy Chairman (Political) - Stephen Canning
- Deputy Chairman (Membership) - India Brummit
- Best Practice Officer - Annabel Shaw
- Regional College Chairman - Chris Rowell
- Internal Communications Officer - Eleanor Vesey-Thompson
- External Communications Officer - Mahyar Tousi
The Regional College includes a voting body of Regional Chairmen from across the UK who co-ordinate campaign and membership activity in their regions, and chair their Regional Executive. It is chaired by the Regional College Chairman, who is elected by fellow Regional Chairmen to one term, and represents the Regional College on the CF National Executive. The position was first established in December 2011, when then Northern Ireland Regional Chairman, Matthew Robinson, was elected as the inaugural Regional College Chairman.
The current 2014/2015 Regional Chairmen are as follows:
- North West England - Anthony Harrison
- North East England - Isaac Duffy
- Yorkshire and the Humber - Chris Rowell
- West Midlands - Kurt Ward
- East Midlands - Samuel Armstrong
- Eastern - Chantelle Whyborn
- South West England - Connor Donnithorne
- London - Luke Springthorpe
- South East England - Theodora Dickinson
- Northern Ireland - Ben Manton
- Wales - Ryan Hunter
Non-voting members of the Regional College also include; the Northern Conservative Future Partnership Chairman and representatives from the Conservative Future Scotland National Executive.
Former National Chairmen
- Donal Blaney (1998–1999)
- Gavin Megaw (1999–2000)
- Tom Bursnall (2000)
- Hannah Parker (2001–2002)
- Justin Tomlinson (2002–2003)
- Paul Bristow (2003–2005)
- Nick Vaughan (2005–2006)
- Mark Clarke (2006–2008)
- Michael Rock (2008–2010)
- Ben Howlett (2010–2013)
- Oliver Cooper (2013–2014)
- "Future launched with plans to join NUS race". Times Higher Education Supplement. 9 October 1998.
- "Member organisations". International Young Democrat Union. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
- Bryony Gordon (4 October 2006). "Forget Tory Boy, Conservatives are now cool". The Daily Telegraph.
- Rowenna Davis (6 October 2009). "The restrained children of Cameron". The Guardian.
- Polly Curtis (6 September 2002). "On the road again". The Guardian.
- Patrick Wintour; Nicolas Watt (6 September 2002). "Tories go on tour to woo students". The Guardian.
- Polly Curtis (6 February 2004). "NUS announces election candidates". The Guardian.
- Tanya Gold (26 December 2004). "Can Jessica Lever, 17, save the Tories?". The Observer.
- "Conservatives on campus: Dawn of a new blue future?". The Independent. 23 February 2006.
- John O’Doherty (21 May 2008). "Students flock to newly-cool party". Financial Times.
- Allegra Stratton (30 September 2008). "Rock papers over crackpots of Conservative Future's past". The Guardian.
- "Drive boosted by army of young volunteers who feel it is cool to be Conservative again". Yorkshire Post. 8 August 2009.
- Rob Blackhurst (2 August 2008). "A Rhapsody in Blue". Financial Times.