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Fri, 25 September 2020

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EXCL Theresa May's ex-policy chief unveils 'Cabinet' of Tory members to revamp party

EXCL Theresa May's ex-policy chief unveils 'Cabinet' of Tory members to revamp party

Emilio Casalicchio

3 min read

A prominent Conservative MP has unveiled plans for a “Cabinet” of party members in a bid to revamp the Tory policymaking process.

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.

It is not the first time Mr Freeman has tried to revamp the party for a new generation. In the summer he launched a Big Tent Ideas Festival to provoke policymaking discussion among Tories.

He said he had stepped down from the No 10 policy board amid an overhaul in the wake of the Tory manifesto and election campaign "shambles".

Instead he has taken a role working with the newly elected Conservative Parliamentary Backbench Policy Chairs, who will oversee specific areas like housing, education and the environment.

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