Guest Speaker at the Patrons Dinner was Rt Hon Frances Maude, MP for Horsham and Conservative Party Chairman. He was introduced by Sir David Mitchell, former MP for NW| Hants, and thanked by the current MP, Sir George Young. The Chairman of the Patrons Club, Sandy Copland, presided. Amongst the guests was the Association Chairman, Margaret Milner-Williams.
Speaking after the dinner, Frances Maude urged all members to vote in the Leadership election - and to fill in the donation form that was included in the ballot papers. He explained that,ás Party Chairman, he had to remain strictly neutral - but revealed he would be voting for David.
He emphasised the importance of changing how the party is perceived by the electorate. "People have lost faith in Labour - Tony Blair won the last election with a lower percentage of the vote than Jim Callaghan got in 1979 when he lost. But they haven't placed their confidence in us. They liked the policies we put forward at the last election - until they discovered they were Conservative policies, when support plummetted."
He stressed the need to reform the Party's organisation, and to focus more effort on the seats we need to win back - like Crawley next to his own seat. He explained how the two associations had merged and had a joint agent and were focussed on winning back that critical seat.