The highlight of the Conservative Party Conference this week for many was the CDO’s sold out black-tie gala dinner which hosted high profile guests such a Dame Priti Patel, Nigel Farage and Nadine Dorries.
The CDO’s wined-and-dined guests enjoyed a Champagne reception and 3-course meal at the 5 star Kimpton Clocktower Hotel in Manchester followed by barnstorming speeches from President Lord Cruddas and Chief Patron Dame Priti Patel.
Guests then danced into the early hours with entertainment from four-piece male vocal harmony group, The Overtones.
The 300 strong guest list included many influential figures from British politics such as Deputy Party Leader Lee Anderson, former Margaret Thatcher advisor Nile Gardiner and popular hosts from TV such as Darren Grimes and Liam Halligan.
The star studded event also featured a GB News hosted auction of experiences and gifts donated by CDO backers.
Auction lots included a copy of the EU withdrawal agreement signed by Boris Johnson in 2019 which reached £1000, a round of golf with Lord Cruddas which sold for £1300 and lunch with Dame Priti Patel which reached £1700.
The CDO was co-founded by Lord Cruddas, former MEP David Campbell Bannerman and Conservative Post Editor Claire Bullivant in December 2022 in direct response to the declining membership of the Conservative party and what they feel was an undemocratic ousting of two democratically elected prime ministers.
“We want more democracy because our party is slowly being destroyed and we need to put a stop to it,” Lord Cruddas said.
In his speech, Lord Cruddas said the Conservative Democratic Organisation needed to pressure the party to change and said members should also be able to vote on MP candidates and policy.
He said: “We need to start applying pressure on the party board to listen to us to make major changes now before it’s too late.”
He was backed by former Home Secretary Priti Patel, who said the party must become more democratic. Borrowing the slogan from the campaign to leave the EU, Dame Patel said party members needed “to take back control” and said the CDO had stopped many members leaving the party following the recent political turbulence.
Ms Patel told guests at the dinner: “We must offer them full-blooded Conservatism. A Conservative manifesto that has our values of Freedom, Enterprise and Opportunity at its heart.
“A manifesto that gives families and businesses the economic freedoms that they care by cutting taxes, reducing red tape, and making the most of the freedoms we now have outside of the European Union.
“Our next manifesto must commit to rolling back the frontiers of the State by reforming public services so they are more efficient and effective, bring down the burden of State spending – the weight of which is making our country sink, and empower communities over planning and development.
“We need a manifesto that tackles climate change and Net Zero by focusing on technology not taxation, and on supporting innovation and enterprise rather than regulation and targets.”
She added: “Our next manifesto must defend our Freedoms to think, to speak and to hold beliefs – without facing the fear of censure or persecution.
“We should never be ashamed of promoting a radical tax-cutting, enterprise-backing, small-State, Freedom-embracing government.
“We know that is what’s best for our country’s future success and prosperity, and we know it is an approach that inspires and motivates the country.”
The CDO now boasts high profile MPs among its Patrons such as Dame Andrea Jenkyns MP, Sir Jake Berry MP, Brendan Clark Smith MP and Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Chief Executive Claire Bullivant said: “The event was a great success and it was incredible to see so many true conservatives and patriots all coming together. We’re definitely reuniting the right. I think Nigel’s presence highlights that. But we also had the former leader of UKIP Henry Bolton there and quite a few high profile people from Reform. We all believe in conservatism at the end of the day.
“The fact is no-one wants Starmer, no-one wants 20mph limits, no-one wants unions running the show, no-one wants wokery, no-one wants ULEZ expansions and big government breathing down your neck every second. The average man on the street does not want Labour. But grassroot conservatives have been ignored and democracy has been neglected… so no wonder so many have been jumping ship and leaving our party. We’re doing our best to bring them back. If we don’t, we’ll just be handing the keys of Number 10 to Labour by default.”
In 1998, when William Hague introduced the new constitution, the Conservative Party had more than half a million members. Today its membership has collapsed to about 150,000 and if reports are to be believed, that number is waning by the day.
“Many members tell us the party wants their money, time and resources but they don’t want their opinions. This has to change,” explained Ms Bullivant.
“It’s time to send out the lifeboats and bring the members and grassroots back. We as a party need them more than ever and CDO is helping achieve this,” said Ms Bullivant.
JOIN the CDO at www.conservativedems.co.uk