This year the Yorkshire and the Humber CF Conference came to York and the York Tories were only too happy to help. Tories came from across the county, and beyond, to the Park Inn for networking, socialising and learning.

The morning started with a round of campaigning in the ward of Guildhall in the centre of the city, distributing leaflets and getting the message out. Upon arrival at the Park Inn Chris Rowell, Chairman of Yorkhire and the Humber CF, gave an introductory talk, a briefing on campaigning for the election and a welcome to the City.

The afternoon continued with interactive seminars and training workshops: intimate groups of 5 or 6 people learning from experts in their fields. Many of these workshops were given by York Tories such as our Chairman, Calum Stewart, former External Vice-Chairman Sarah Ralphs, current External Vice-Chairman Annabel Shaw and Campaigns Officer Dan Hill. The subjects included: making the most of social networking sites, campaigning, planning an event and conservative think-tanks.

The next event consisted of a Policy “Dragons’ Den”. Attendees had a chance to put forward policy ideas and, if selected, pitch them to a panel of experts. The panel included:

Timothy Kirkhope MEP – Member of the European Parliament for Yorkshire and the Humber, Deputy Chairman of the ECR Group, MP for Leeds North East from 1987 to 1997 and amongst other things Honorary President of Yorkshire CF.

Wendy Morton – Vice-chairman of the Conservative Party for Social Action and Chairman of Richmond Conservative Association.

Dr Spencer Pitfield – National Director of the Conservative Policy Forum, which includes helping to write the 2015 manifesto. Also an Honorary Vice-President of Yorkshire CF.

Mark Clarke –Founder of the successful #Roadtrip2015 grass roots campaigning network, Chief Executive of the Trade Union Reform Campaign, a director of the Young Britons’ Foundation, and a former National Chairman of CF (2006-08)

Subjects included, but weren’t limited to Yorkshire Independence, privatising the Bank of England and a Common Energy Market for Europe. The talks proved informative and entertaining. But the pitches didn’t end there.

Political “TED talks” were soon to follow. People had applied beforehand to present 10 minute talks on politically innovative or interesting subjects. The talks ranged from ‘The Myth of Green Energy’ by former York Tories Chairman Dan Hawkridge, to a “None of the Above” option on the ballot paper. All speeches proved well thought-out and were presented in an informative and accessible style.

Prizes were awarded for the best policy pitch and the best TED talk and a drinks reception concluded the conference, but the evening didn’t end there. For it was then the beginning of the York Tories Summer Ball.

Hugo Graham