Saturday, April 28, 2012

Conservative Women's Organisation supports Boris

The Back Boris team were supported by a large number of Conservative Women's Organisation members on tuesday night at the Conservative Party's central headquarters in Millbank. The telephone canvassing session for Mayor Boris Johnson was held in conjunction with a candidates evening organised by Melanie Hampton.

We were joined by Dr Phillip Lee MP who talked about his experiences as a working doctor, issues facing his constituency Bracknell and current health care discussions in Parliament. 

The team spent the evening manning the phones and calling voters across London. Telephone canvassing is proven to be the quickest, easiest and most effective form of campaigning. 

CWO Chairman Katy Bourne attended the evening and answered questions from Conservative party activists about the CWO and the campaign. 

Theodora Clarke, CWO Director of Communications, who helped organise the evening said: “This was our first CWO telephone canvassing and it was great to have such a good turnout in the evening after work. CWO members have been working hard to support Boris in this final critical stage of the mayoral campaign.”

Melanie Hampton said "Many thanks to the CWO and their dynamic new team for coming to help telephone canvass for Boris".

Baroness Warsi, Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party, and James Cleverly AM, Leader of the Conservative Group on the London Assembly, also stopped by to lend a hand and support Boris.

You can follow the Conservative Women's Organisation on twitter @conswomen and RSVP to our next events on Facebook and here

BackBoris: For Greater London. For the Future

A message from the BackBoris team:

Over this crucial final week the BackBoris team and Conservatives across London are calling supporters to urge them to vote on 3rd May. And with Ken and Labour pulling out all the stops and spending seemingly limitless amounts of trade union money, Boris is counting on supporters like you.

With just five days to go to polling, we need your help to secure Greater London's future.

Next week voters will face the choice of a better future - or a return the past.

Boris Johnson's 9 point plan to secure Greater London's future cuts waste at City Hall, reduces council tax, creates 200,000 new jobs, protects green space, invests in transport, cuts tube delays and ensures a true Olympic legacy.

Over these crucial final days we have millions of leaflets to deliver and hundreds of thousands of people to call, explaining why every single vote counts and why Boris needs their backing.

The man himself will be at the Millbank call centre this weekend and it would be great if you could come along too. And he’ll be on the campaign Battle Bus too both days too if you're able to join him. Sign up here:

And it’s not just Boris you can meet if you come along to make calls. There are also chances to join members of the Cabinet calling for Boris next week. Michael Gove, Caroline Spelman, Justine Greening, Andrew Lansley and many more Cabinet members will be joining us to make calls for Boris. 

For more information and to register for one or more of our 'Calling with the Cabinet' sessions, please sign up now:

This election is going to be really close. Every call we make counts, so please come along to make calls, join the Battle Bus or help out in your local area.

Your help is absolutely vital to our Get Out the Vote effort, so please sign up now to help:

Thank you for all you've already done for the campaign.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The biggest campaign fight yet: Ken vs Ken

If you thought the "Rift in the Lift" was big news, get ready for the biggest campaign fight yet: Ken vs Ken! 

Watch the latest video from the BackBoris 2012 team where Ken Livingstone battles it out (with himself) over whether he can cut fares. 

Ken as candidate makes sweeping claims about fares cuts and where the money would come from, but as Mayor he says he's unable to do the exact things he's now saying he can.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Back Boris 2012: Countdown to the Mayoral Election

A message from Theodora Clarke, CWO Director of Communications:

Back Boris 2012 – Countdown to the Mayoral Election

There are less than three weeks before Londoners head to the polls to choose their Mayor and the stakes in this election are high. If Ken takes London and welcomes Ed Miliband into City Hall we will find attaining a Conservative majority in 2015 much harder.

Over the last four years Boris has delivered his promises to turn around the mess left by Livingstone and Labour for Londoners. He has:

  • Tackled Crime by increasing the number of police on the streets pushing crime down by 10.8%.
  • Kept London Moving by making public transport we all rely on more reliable and efficient and by working to smooth London’s traffic flow.
  • Made City Hall Leaner and More Accountable by ruthlessly cutting out waste, making decisions more transparent, increasing efficiency in London with everything at City Hall driven to deliver more for less.
  • Fought London's Corner by constantly banging the drum for investment in London and working for a fairer deal from central government to create the most competitive environment for business.
  • Improved Quality of Life by investing in parks and squares using the best design and removing unnecessary and ugly clutter and by reducing London’s carbon emissions, not only protecting the environment but also saving Londoners millions of pounds in energy bills.
  • Worked to make the Most of the Olympics by bringing the Games in on time and within budget and by working to achieve a legacy that will last for generations.
  • Delivered Youth Opportunities by working to increase opportunities for young Londoners despite the worst recession since the 1930s, which has driven up youth unemployment to well over 15%.
This month at the official launch of his campaign, Boris set out his vision for securing Greater London's future. (watch the video here)

But there is more to do and to accomplish it Boris needs your help. CWO supporters are the backbone of Boris’ campaign and your commitment is critical to getting out his message across the capital.

That is why today we are asking you to volunteer, if you haven't done so already. With your help we can reach even more Londoners in these final three weeks.

Teams of volunteers have already been working hard across London for months leafleting stations, knocking on doors and phoning voters.

The Battle Bus will be continuing its tour of the outer boroughs and Conservative activists are out in them every weekend from now until polling day. Our call centres will be open every afternoon and evening with Monday nights being the dedicated CWO session with visiting MPs.

The choice on 3rd May is very clear – between lurching back to the high-taxing, discredited and divisive approach of Ken Livingstone, or going forward with four more years of sensible, responsible and cost-effective government in London with Boris.

Thank you for your continued support and dedication to the campaign and if you feel that you can do more please contact the BackBoris2012 campaign.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Race to be London Mayor: We Can't Afford Ken

By Theodora Clarke, Director of Communications for the Conservative Women's Organisation

There are less than three weeks until the election for Mayor of London on May 3rd. Each of the candidates has presented their plan to Londoners on what they would do in office. However, Labour's candidate has repeatedly made promises which he will not be able to keep. Ken Livingstone has made at least £2.7billion worth of unfunded promises while campaigning.

A new report out this week by BackBoris2012 details each of the 24 promises Mr Livingstone has made to Londoners ‘on the record’ since becoming Labour’s official candidate for Mayor. The money, over and above the current fully funded plan, would have to come from GLA or TfL budgets.

But Mr Livingstone is refusing to say how he will pay for these promises. In fact, he has told Londoners he will not reveal his financial plans ‘until the day after the election’.

But he has been forced to admit on the campaign trail that he is ‘going to increase your taxes’.

So, to deliver on his 24 promises, Mr Livingstone would have to: 
1. Increase his share of council tax by £348 for a band D property over four years, and 
2. Increase congestion charge by 42.1% or introduce a Heathrow Congestion Charge Zone.

Ken Livingstone says one thing but does another, making promises to Londoners which he knows he can’t keep. The report raises serious questions over where the money for these promises is coming from at a time when public finances are the tightest they have been for a decade.

There is only one way he can keep his promises – by continuing his record of hiking up council tax and increasing or expanding the congestion charge zone at a time when Londoners are struggling to make ends meet.

Mr Livingstone needs to be honest with Londoners and admit he will have to hike up taxes to fund his promises, or admit that he has no intention of delivering on his promises.

Below is a brief summary of the key points of the report Can't Afford Ken:

  • Ken Livingstone has made 24 promises that cost more money than is in the budget. He has made all of these on the record. It includes things like his fare cut, EMA replacement, ‘Ken-ron’ and a London wide lettings agency.
  • The estimated total cost of these pledges over four years is £2.7bn. This breaks down as £1.1bn on the GLA ‘Core’ budget, £482.5m on the TfL budget and £1.14bn for his fare cut.
  • The BackBoris report has been deliberately cautious in our judgement.  Each pledge has been examined and an estimate of how much it would cost based on either a) existing public sources, b) Labour’s own costings and c) independent costings, such as Channel Four fact check.
  • To fund his extra spending Ken would need to find more money from the council tax precept, and more revenue from TfL.
  • On the precept: He would have to increase the GLA precept by £348 at Band D over four years - £87.08 every year:
    • His extra spending falls into two parts of the GLA budget: ‘core’ and ‘TfL’.
    • The council tax precept does not fund TfL (except for a nominal £6m for VAT purposes) so in order to work out how much council tax would go up, you look at extra spending on the GLA ‘core’ budget.
    • Livingstone’s extra spending on the ‘core’ budget is £1.1bn. 
    • The GLA currently raises £935.1m through the council tax precept, which costs £307 per Band D household.
    • Livingstone claims he won’t cut existing budgets, he is unlikely to get extra Government money and he claims he won’t increase borrowing. So the GLA could only find this extra money by increasing the amount it raises via the precept.
    • So to get a figure of an extra £348 per Band D household, you divide extra spending of £1.1bn by 3,053,288 Band D equivalent households.
  • On TfL revenue: He would have to raise the Congestion Charge to £15 or create new congestion charging zones, such as a £5 Heathrow congestion charge.
    • He has already claimed he would cut fares, taking £1bn out of the budget.But he has also made election promises costing at least £482.5m in revenue over four years.
    • £482.5m over four years is £120.6m a year. To raise £120.6m from the congestion charge, it would need to go up by 42.1%, which brings it to £14.21 or £15.
    • Or a Heathrow congestion charge zone (which he backed before and the Greens also back) which would need to be £5 a day to raise £120.6m in revenue.

You can download the full document here:

So remember to get out and vote for Boris Johnson on May 3rd to be re-elected as your Mayor of London.  

There are only twenty days left until polling day and we need your help. If you would like to volunteer then there are plenty of ways to get involved such as knocking on doors, putting up posters, telephone canvassing, fundraising and leafletting. Sign up here:

Follow me on twitter @theodoraclarke and @conswomen

CWO Policy & Research: Women in the Lead

Good news reported in the Financial Times – the number of women on Boards is in line to pass Lord Davies' 2015 target. Only a year after his report, women are joining FTSE 100 at such a fast rate they are likely to exceed the target of 25%. Cranfield School of Management forecasts the figure could be 30% - the same percentage David Cameron has said he wants to see as a minimum for women in the Cabinet. The number of companies with no women on their Boards has fallen from 21 to 11.

Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Rt Hon David Cameron MP, Cllr Philippa Roe

Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Home Secretary, welcomed the news when she announced the appointment of Ruby McGregor-Smith, CEO of Mitie, to chair the Women's Business Council which will advise Ministers.

We also welcome the election of Councillor Philippa Roe as Leader of Westminster City Council. As a former Director of Citigroup and an Associate Director at Schroders, Cllr Roe brings a wealth of skill and experience to one of the country's most high profile jobs. She has argued for money saving through reform of services rather than just cutting them. Eighty percent of Westminster's savings have come from the back office and have not hit front line services.

For further information about the CWO, or to arrange an interview with anyone named in this release, please contact:
CWO Chairman
Tel: (020) 7984 8139


Now that the dust has settled, what do we think of the Budget?

Of course, there were things we liked and one or two that we favoured less, but we can hardly blame the Chancellor for the terrible state of the economy that he inherited. Overall, we think he did a pretty good job.

Many of us run our own businesses and we were very pleased to hear about the plans to move to a simpler “cash accounts” system. Businesses with a turnover of less than £77,000 will be able to use the system so we’ll be able to spend more time on growing the business rather than taking hours to complete complex tax returns.

For those of us who are parents, we understand the logic of the changes to child benefit even as we hold strong attachment to it. But we cannot justify retaining the benefit for people earning over £60,000 when it means the country’s debts would linger on and have to be paid by our children and grandchildren. Ninety percent of families will keep all or part of Child Benefit and only the richest 10% will lose it. This year’s Budget builds on other measures which help families through a further increase of £135 in Child Tax Credit and increases in entitlement to 15 hours a week free nursery places.

The thing we liked best was the tax cut by raising the personal allowance threshold to £9,205. Work is rewarded and 2 million people on the lowest incomes are lifted out of tax altogether.

Lower taxes and cutting the burden of red tape. Thanks George!

For further information about the CWO, or to arrange an interview with anyone named in this release, please contact:
CWO Chairman
Tel: (020) 7984 8139

Report: CWO Forum 'Caring For The Elderly'

The CWO Forum Panel on “Caring for the Elderly” took place in a Committee Room of the House of Commons on Tuesday 31st January 2012.

The speakers for the evening were:
Margot James MP
Esther Rantzen CBE
Cllr Lady Flight
Dianne Jeffrey, Chairman of Age UK.

CWO Chairman, Niki Molnar, welcomed everyone on behalf of the CWO and explained to those attending that the Forums were established to give women the opportunity to debate topical subjects and challenging issues that affect them and their families every day.

Diane Jeffrey introduced the topic and explained her role as Chairman of Age UK and the relevance of the Forum with tomorrow’s publication of the Care in Crisis report. She discussed the current challenges that older people face in the UK. Life expectancy is increasing with the population of over sixties set to rise by 50% in the next 25 years. The country’s ageing population raises questions about how to care for the elderly and concerns about future burdens on society and the state. Diane argued that the elderly should be celebrated and supported in later life. She said that the current care system was in crisis, where people need help but are being failed by the system. For example, many people are being forced to sell their homes and assets to pay the costs of care.

The current system is too complex, underfunded and in need of urgent reform. She cited three main issues with the system at present: lack of support; failure to plan for long-term care needs; and underfunding. She described how many people were unaware that social care was not provided free like the NHS and that instead it was means-tested within strict guidelines. Anyone who owns assets worth more than £23,250 has to pay for their own residential care including accommodation and food. As a result, many people were being forced to sell their homes to afford their payments especially as many private sector insurance companies will not insure personal care needs. In 2012, 18% of councils had raised their eligibility criteria to substantial or critical which means that many older people were no longer meeting the new standard.

Age UK was also concerned about what she termed the ‘glass of water placed out of reach’ syndrome and a lack of concern by staff regarding patient dignity. She concluded by arguing that the central challenge facing the care for the elderly was a lack of funding. The current cuts in social care of 4.5%, equivalent to £331 million, was directly impacting on frontline services. An urgent reform of social care was needed now in order to deal with the growing, long-term problems of the UK’s ageing population.

Cllr Lady Flight spoke of her role as the champion for older people in Westminster, with CONTACT group and as Editor of Westminster Plus. Four years ago, Christabel raised the idea of an ‘Older People’s Day’ as a UN day on Wednesday 1st October every year. She would like to resurrect this idea to have a specific day in the calendar to celebrate older people.

Popular culture impacts on our everyday life in numerous ways. She argued that we should feed narratives into television and radio such as the ‘Archers’ and ‘Eastenders’ which can depict issues with life far better than politicians. A recent example was a storyline focused on dementia on the Archers which resulted in a huge amount of publicity and considerably raised the profile of dementia as a direct result of the programme. Several ideas of how to celebrate ‘Silver Sunday’ and ‘Older People’s Day’ were discussed. A central concern was the invisibility of older people. She suggested that everybody was asked to find an older person such as a neighbour and to bring that person back into society so they were less lonely.

Through her role with Westminster Plus, she has seen the importance of getting older people together such as with their annual tea dance for nearly 1000 older people. If we could replicate events such as this across the country, then we could successfully engage older people. Her central message was that older people need to feel that they are visible and that ‘Silver Sunday’ would be a good way to recognise them.

Esther Rantzen CBE spoke of her experiences as the President of ChildLine and the work she is currently doing to support older people. She agreed with Age UK that there was a problem with the current system and the ‘glass of water out of reach’ syndrome. However,
it is not simply a case of underfunding but one of attitude. ‘Silver Sunday’ was an idea she supported but asked the audience how they would define old age. Arbitrary age brackets, such as 60 plus, were perhaps no longer helpful. Esther said that she believed the central problem facing older people was that they were increasingly isolated and lonely.

Recently she wrote an article in the Daily Mail on loneliness and was overwhelmed by the response she had. Many people ranging from children to widows wrote to her. Problems that they brought to her attention included the challenges that disabled people faced in isolated rural communities where it was possible to be alone for weeks at a time. She quoted from one letter where one elderly correspondent wrote that the public “shun us like empty restaurants”. Another issue raised was how many older people did not want to become a burden on their children or families.

Esther announced that tomorrow she would be launching Silverline which was to be a telephone advice and help service for the over fifty-fives. Her experience with Childline had shown that having a number that anyone could ring with no agenda was essential. The helpline will take the time to listen to the concerns of older people and to discuss any issues they may have. For example, there are instances of abuse by carers where it is very difficult for people to ask for help. Having a national resource which provided information and would signpost problems would therefore be of great use. Another purpose of the helpline was to become a resource, providing information on local agencies and opportunities for older people in their area. She concluded by arguing that, if we help each other, then we can change attitudes and make our society more inclusive of older people.

Finally Margot James MP spoke on her role as Vice Chairman for Women in the Conservative Party and her role in the Women’s Policy Group. Her previous experience as a Councillor in Kensington and Chelsea and her work with the NHS Trust meant she had worked with several branches of Age UK. In her constituency of Stourbridge there are two day centres which are open 364 days a year and provide a vital break from loneliness for older people. Margot discussed the legislative challenges facing elderly care and the Government White Paper expected before Easter. She acknowledged that legal reforms of the current system were needed and that there were funding challenges. Her experiences dealing with residential and home care in Kensington were used as examples of the current problems with the system. In 2005, half of councils funded home care for people with moderate needs. However, now less than 20% of councils do the same. Several good residential homes had been closed as they no longer met the stringent new regulations, such as not having the requisite on-site facilities. Home care has been contracted out to private health care providers who offer cheaper services. The private sector was doing a good job but the problem is with local councils who are cutting funding to care services. Margot pointed out that the population of over 55’s was increasing and that NHS funding had been increased by 27% so more funding should be available for adult social care. She suggested that the solution could be to raise the threshold for which elderly people pay for care, perhaps to a capped amount of £100,000. The current £23,000 threshold was far too low and residential care in London is particularly expensive. Residential care homes were important and provided a sense of community to individuals living alone. The challenge is one for the NHS which had to make £20 billion in savings over five years under the last Labour Government. The new Health Bill aims to integrate health and social care and increase the power of local authorities.

Questions and comments from the floor explored issues such as perceived bias by GPs and doctors against elderly patients, how to define elderly and the eligibility criteria for admittance to care homes. A member of the audience raised the Dilnot Report and asked whether care for the elderly was not a matter for society and that we needed to ensure the next generation understood social responsibility. Several members of the audience also asked about resources in rural areas and what Age UK was doing for people in inaccessible areas who were frequently neglected. Each of the speakers summed up their final comments and the Chairman thanked them for contributing to such a fascinating panel discussion.

With thanks to Sophie Stratton, Director of Forums and Theodora Clarke, Director of Communications.

For further information about the CWO, or to arrange an interview with anyone named in this release, please contact:
CWO Chairman
Tel: (020) 7984 8139

CWO invites you to Back Boris

The Conservative Women's Organisation invites you to Back Boris 

It’s very simple. The idea that Ken Livingstone could be Mayor of London again in time for the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee should have been quashed long ago – but the polls suggest there's still some way to go.

The Conservative Women's Organisation would like to invite to an evening in the CCHQ call centre at 30 Millbank, Westminster, on Wednesday 25 April to join us to make some calls to back Boris. We thought it would be good to get some CWO members together and then all catch up over a drink.

We’ll be at CCHQ from 6.30 to 8.30 p.m. – feel free to come along whenever you can after work. Just let us know if you can make it so we can make sure there’s a place for you. And feel free to invite others along too.

Telephone canvassing is proven to be the quickest, easiest and most effective form of campaigning. 

We will be joined by guest speaker Dr Phillip Lee, MP for Bracknell and by Katy Bourne, CWO Chairman, who will answer any questions you have.

We hope to see you on 25 April. Please rsvp to by April 20 to be on the security list at the door.

Any questions please get in touch with Theodora Clarke, CWO Director of Communications at 
Event on facebook here
Follow us on twitter @conswomen