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Conservative Future
Conservative Future logo.png
Chairperson Michael Rock
Founded 7 October 1998[1 ]
Headquarters 30 Millbank, London
Mother party Conservative Party
International affiliation International Young Democrat Union[2]

Conservative Future, abbreviated to CF, is the youth movement of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom for members aged up to 30 years old.

Founded in 1998, Conservative Future is the largest political organisation on British campuses.[3] Led by chairman Michael Rock since 2008, the organisation has increased its membership by one-third to 20,000 in the past eighteen months.[4]

Conservative Future only currently organises in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.[5] Conservative Future Scotland is the autonomous sister organisation of CF in Scotland. Internationally, Conservative Future participates in the centre-right International Young Democrat Union.[2]



Conservative Future was formed on 7 October 1998 by the merger of the Young Conservatives, the Conservative student organisation Conservative Collegiate Forum, and the National Association of Conservative Graduates into one organisation.[1 ] Although the fusion broadened the organisation beyond the 5,000 then-members of Conservative Students, the creation marked a break with the preceding policy of not competing National Union of Students elections.[1 ] 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.[1 ]

At its launch, however, CF's membership continued to fall, to a low of 3,000. Over the following ten years, this increased five-fold, making it bigger than Young Labour and Liberal Youth put together.[3] The membership increased by 150% in the months leading up to the 2001 general election, hitting 10,000.[6] 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.[7] 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.[7][8] CF gained further traction in 2003 and 2004, after it was announced that the party announced it would scrap university tuition fees.[9] In 2004 alone, membership rose by 3,000,[10] but stagnated at 15,000 members until the election of David Cameron as party leader.[11]

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.[3][12 ] This occurred most dramatically from 2006 onwards, particularly in northern England.[12 ] 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.[10]

The election of Michael Rock as national chairman in 2008 was seen to mark another upward swing in the success of the organisation,[13 ] including the growth of CF membership by a third, to 20,000.[4] It has also marked a period of better media management, and the disappearance of 'heartless right wing ideology' in favour of a detoxified brand.[4] There is a perception that Conservative Future is more in line with the ideology of the party leadership than it had been previously, or than Young Labour are with its party's leadership,[4][14] but are notably more socially liberal.[4]


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',[13 ] CF made a major contribution to the parliamentary by-election victories in Crewe and Nantwich in 2008 and Norwich North in 2009.[15] 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.[16] Michael Rock has said that one of CF's virtue is being able to take part in stunts and activities that older members can't.[13 ] A notable contingent from Conservative Future went to the United States to campaign for John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.[15]




Conservative Future branches can vary in structure. It has branches at most British universities, but also has a number of branches affiliated with city and town associations. These branches aim to attract members from the non-student population. However, some branches are now bringing together both types of organisation. Newcastle-under-Lyme 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 many more opportunities to get involved.

National Executive

Conservative Future is run by a National Team, elected annually, to represent the membership and to implement its aims and objectives. The chairman, currently Michael Rock, is supported by six other members of the National Management Executive, with the option to co-opt three further members.

List of 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) (one, extended, term)
  • Michael Rock (2008 – present)


  1. ^ a b c d "Future launched with plans to join NUS race". Times Higher Education Supplement. 9 October 1998.  
  2. ^ a b "Member organisations". International Young Democrat Union. Retrieved 25 October 2009.  
  3. ^ a b c Bryony Gordon (4 October 2006). "Forget Tory Boy, Conservatives are now cool". The Daily Telegraph.  
  4. ^ a b c d e Rowenna Davis (6 October 2009). "The restrained children of Cameron". The Guardian.  
  5. ^ "New Politics for a New Northern Ireland". Conflict Archive on the Internet. Retrieved 20 November 2009.  
  6. ^ Erin Baker (28 May 2001). "Competition hotting up amongst party youth wings". The Daily Telegraph.  
  7. ^ a b Polly Curtis (6 September 2002). "On the road again". The Guardian.  
  8. ^ Patrick Wintour; Nicolas Watt (6 September 2002). "Tories go on tour to woo students". The Guardian.  
  9. ^ Polly Curtis (6 February 2004). "NUS announces election candidates". The Guardian.  
  10. ^ a b Tanya Gold (26 December 2004). "Can Jessica Lever, 17, save the Tories?". The Observer.  
  11. ^ "Conservatives on campus: Dawn of a new blue future?". The Independent. 23 February 2006.  
  12. ^ a b John O’Doherty (21 May 2008). "Students flock to newly-cool party". Financial Times.  
  13. ^ a b c Allegra Stratton (30 September 2008). "Rock papers over crackpots of Conservative Future's past". The Guardian.  
  14. ^ Rowena Davis (29 September 2009). "Labour's future lies with its youth movement". The Guardian.  
  15. ^ a b "Drive boosted by army of young volunteers who feel it is cool to be Conservative again". Yorkshire Post. 8 August 2009.  
  16. ^ Rob Blackhurst (2 August 2008). "A Rhapsody in Blue". Financial Times.  

External links


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