Branch News

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FAES & Conservatives Abroad Madrid grant Baroness Thatcher the FAES Freedom Award 2011.

 Baroness Thatcher and José María Aznar, 15th June, 2011. 

Baroness Thatcher and branch President Ben Harris-Quinney, 15th June, 2011. 

Baroness Thatcher and branch Chairman Leandro Busto, 15th June, 2011. 

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Vote no to AV on May 5th 2011, and vote (once) for the Conservative Party in the local elections!

The Bow Group launches its paper on AV: Here.

The No To AV Campaign and David Cameron lay down the argument for voting against the Alternative Vote reforms.

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Meeting on Justice & Constitutional Reform, (House of Commons) January 2011.

Representatives of Conservatives Abroad Madrid attended a recent House of Commons debate on Justice and Constitutional Reform, hosted by Lord Norton and Joshua Rozenberg. Guests of Conservatives Abroad and the Bow Group also included Xavier Gisbert, the Education Minister for the Communidad de Madrid.

From left to right: Branch Chairman Leandro Busto and Branch President Ben Harris-Quinney

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New research on the opportunity for the United Kingdom in Latin America produced by FAES (Spain) and the Bow Group (UK): November 2010.

From left to right: Chilean President Sebastian Pinera with branch President Ben Harris-Quinney

Read the research here: http://www.bowgroup.org/content/latin-america-opportunity-uk-report-based-spanish-experience-region

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Branch President Ben Harris-Quinney on UK government policy on Afghanistan (London): 2nd October 2010.

Watch below:

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Meeting with President Esperanza Aguirre (Madrid): September 27th, 2010.

The Conservatives Abroad: Madrid team, accompanied by Annesley Abercorn, the Chairman of the oldest Conservative think tank The Bow Group, met with President Aguirre at her offices in Madrid to discuss London transport and the “Big Society”. President Aguirre will be travelling to London to meet with Mayor Boris Johnson in October 2010.

From left to right: Bow Group Chairman Annesley Abercorn, President Aguirre & Conservatives Abroad Vice Chairman Simon Bowthorpe.


Bow Group Chairman Annesley Abercorn discussing Conservative Party Policy with President Aguirre.

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Reception for Conservatives & Republicans Abroad, (House of Lords, London): July 2010.

Members of Conservatives & Republicans Abroad gathered on the Lords Terrace for a summer reception to mark their continued partnership. Over 150 representatives attended the drinks reception, which included a keynote speech by the Rt. Hon. Kenneth Clarke QCMP.

From left to right: Branch Treasurer Isidro Abad, Celia Resel (FAES) and Branch Chairman Leandro Busto

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Campus FAES: July 2010

A delegation from Conservatives Abroad attended the 2010 Campus FAES event in Navacerrada, Spain. Many leading economists, foreign policy experts and heads of state were in attendance for what was another fantastic Campus event with our good friends at FAES. We even managed to watch Spain win the World Cup!

From left to right: Branch Chairman Leandro Busto, European Director of FAES, Celia Resel and Branch President Ben Harris-Quinney.

From left to right, FAES International Director Alberto Carnero, President of Madrid Esperazna Aguirre, President of Portuguese SDP Party Pedro Coelho and Fmr. President of Spain Jose Maria Aznar.

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UK Election Victory: May 7th 2010

We would like to thank all of you that have helped and supported us throughout the campaign.

David Cameron, our new Prime Minister:

Gordon Brown steps down as Prime Minister:

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UK Election Night: May 6th 2010

Conservatives Abroad Madrid staged a very successful general election night reception at the Spanish Popular Party HQ in Madrid. The event was presided by Esperanza Aguirre, President of the Madrid regional government, amongst other figures from the PP who attended. Wide coverage was given in the press and TV.

President Esperanza Aguirre, Branch Chairman Leandro Busto and Paul Gordon on May 6th.

http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2010/05/06/madrid/1273131177.html

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Some recent branch photos:

PREMIO FAES DE LA LIBERTAD 2010

José María Aznar and Baroness Thatcher 19th March, 2010. Mr Aznar communicates to Lady Thatcher concession of Premio FAES de La Libertad 2010.

Ben Harris-Quinney (Hon. President) with Baroness Thatcher on 19th March, 2010.

Leandro Busto (Branch Chairman) with Baroness Thatcher 19th March, 2010.

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2010 UK GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN IN MADRID

Paul Gordon (Branch Secretary) -left- and John Medcalf -right-manning our recent voter registration/campaign table in Madrid 14th March, 2010.

Our voter registration and general election campaign table in Madrid Sunday 11th April. From left to right: Vice Chairman and Hon. Secretary Paul Gordon, Chairman Leandro Busto and Hon. Treasurer Isidro Abad.

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CAMPUS FAES 2009

PICT7193 por BH-Q.

Mariano Rajoy with Leandro Busto (Chairman of Conservatives Abroad Madrid)

PICT7194 por BH-Q.

Mariano Rajoy and Paul Gordon (Secretary of Conservatives Abroad Madrid)

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CONSERVATIVES ABROAD CONFERENCE OCTOBER 2010 MAJORCA

From left to right: Branch Secretary Paul Gordon, Dominic Grieve QC MP, Branch Chairman Leandro Busto and Philip Dunne MP Parliamentary Chairman of Conservatives Abroad.

The PP leader in the Balearic Islands (left) and Branch Chairman Leandro Busto (right) at Conservatives Abroad Conference October 2010.

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July 2009, by Benjamin Harris-Quinney.

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July began with a major event on the Madrid branch calendar as 10 of our branch members travelled north to a mountain retreat for Campus FAES, a week-long event of lectures and seminars on International Conservatism.

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It was a tremendous opportunity for our branch to better integrate with the Spanish Conservative movement but also with Conservatives & libertarians from all over the world. Ronald Reagan’s former foreign policy team was well represented with Elliot Abrams and Raymond Tanter, which offered some fantastic insights into the Gipper’s thinking in bringing down the Soviet Union and indeed some transferred thinking on Iran and Islamism. The Nobel Prizewinning economist Edward C. Prescott and Thatcher historian and Director of the IEA John Blundell also provided a differing viewpoint to Barack Obama’s adage that no notable economists disagree with the bailout package.

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Our Honorary Patron Michael Portillo attended part of the conference and we were able to put across to the international body present some of the issues facing Conservatives in the UK and British citizens abroad. I get a particularly good reaction from Americans when informing them that British people who have lived abroad for more than 15 years are disenfranchised to the extent of still being taxed in the UK, and increasingly taxed, but have their right to vote removed.  I am hoping some of the recent anti-tax tea party events taking America by storm find their way to Madrid.

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The policy of a government to silence its citizens and dependants living abroad by restricting and removing their right to vote was arguably the single biggest mistake Great Britain ever made, and we lost the United States as a result. Of course the devolution and subsequent opposition of Benidorm does not loom on the horizon, but now the problem is at home.

The cynical policy of reducing citizens voting rights because they would probably vote against the incumbent is as endemic of the poverty in leadership and politics as the recent expense scandal, and in my view a citizen’s right to vote is more significant than their right to know how much their MP has claimed on expenses for their wisteria trellis. I hope that we will soon see the mock incredulity of the media applied in fond helpings of outrage to the cause of our ex-pat citizens.

It is important to be clear on the issues facing ex-pats, if perhaps one thinks they have no interest in UK politics generally, or even no right to that interest, if they have lived abroad for 15 years.

Firstly it isn’t just people who have lived abroad for 15 years that can’t vote in the UK, anyone who lives abroad will be officially told they can postal vote, but the system doesn’t work. Conservatives Abroad advise people not to postal vote unless they want their vote to sit in a postal sorting station for a week and then be binned.

All that remains is therefore proxy voting, which relies on ex-pats having a trusted party in the UK from their home constituency that they feel they can ask to vote on their behalf. The right to vote should never rely on anyone else, or overcoming social awkwardness to ask a faint acquaintance to drive to a polling station after work to fulfil your democratic process.

Those who have lived abroad for more than 15 years often have begun to draw their pension, and on that pension are being taxed. Retired people are relying on every penny of income; I can’t imagine anyone who should be more interested in Government spending and the inevitable massive tax hikes which will follow.

Ex-pats are often also in need of support from Westminster on a range of issues such as the LUV law where many ex-pat Brits have lost their homes in Spain without compensation. The Italian system of having two MP’s to represent their ex-pats in the Italian Parliament is excellent, progressive and engaged with the kind of mobile world we live in now. The UK system is moving rapidly away from democracy and is more reminiscent of the unaccountable EU, than the mother of democracy. When Italy is forcing questions on the authority of the British democracy, now for change.

In order to remind us of what we are rapidly losing and what we once so proudly held I am very pleased to be organising the first Winston Churchill exhibit in Spain to be held in Madrid in 2010 which will showcase the old man’s life

In planning the exhibition I was privileged whilst a few days in the UK to visit Churchill College in Cambridge and the Churchill archive. To see the original speeches with notes, edits, last minute omissions and additions was to view the blueprints of our history. The fact that, due to becoming woefully unprepared for rain whilst in Spain I was caught for 40 minutes under a tree in a rainstorm outside the college, was a small price to pay for the presence, and much needed reminder of greatness in our now heavily worn halls of power.

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June 2009 update, by Benjamin Harris-Quinney.

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From Left to right, Ben Harris-Quinney:  Chairman Conservatives Abroad Madrid, President Aznar, Jaime Garcia-Legaz MP:  Director of FAES.

A highly eventful month began on June 8th with the launch of our Conservatives Abroad branch in Madrid, marking the results of several months of lobbying and planning. On the day following the European Elections, the FAES (Fundacion para el analisis y los estudios sociales) headquarters in Madrid brought together members of British Conservatives Abroad, the U.S. Republicans Abroad as well as many Spanish politicians and journalists. Former President of Spain Jose Maria Aznar ably hosted his guests in his role as President of FAES, welcomed a new forum for Conservative debate in Madrid and increased connections to the U.K Party.

President Aznar announced his desire to see continued collaboration between Conservative Parties in Spain, the U.S. and the U.K. in a move toward a more “Atlantic Europe”. In my opening speech I congratulated the President for his leadership in defending a commitment to security, freedom and democracy that is sorely missed in light of current events in Iran. President Aznar’s government strengthened ties between the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain, and held Spain as a point of reference in International Affairs, whereas now, as anyone following the back pages, or indeed front pages of our tabloid media in the U.K will note, more people in the world can name the President of Real Madrid than the President of Spain.

My opening speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wygEhUV-M78

Some of you may remember the Rt. Hon Michael Portillo, if you are able to cast your mind back to the dark days of Twigg’s victory late that night in 1997. We were therefore happy to announce that he has accepted the position of Patron of our branch with a view to represent expatriate Conservatives in Spain and aiming to create “a network of conservatives abroad” to strengthen ties with the conservative foundations of Europe such as FAES and Republican Americans overseas. I can confirm that he remains a political heavyweight and we are all looking forward to employing his weight of experience and expertise in achieving much needed reforms to how we deal with our ex-pat citizens as a party and, one hopes, in the future, as a government.

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From left to right, Paul Gordon: Branch Secretary, Rt. Hon. Michael Portillo: Honorary Patron, Esperenza Aguirre: President of the Communidad de Madrid, Leandro Pilbeam: Branch Vice Chairman, Ben Harris-Quinney: Branch Chairman.

On the 24th June we were delighted to host Lord Lawson, who was presenting the Spanish version of his book An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming. Following his influential role in shaping a report on “The Economics of Climate Change” by the Lords economic affairs committee, Lord Lawson felt that an argument opposed to the widely adopted consensus on climate change was sorely needed.

“One of the striking features of how concern over global warming has risen to the top of our political agenda is the extraordinary unanimity with which it has been taken up by our political establishment.

Not only have our main political parties unquestioningly accepted the more extreme claims of the threat posed by global warming, as exemplified by the Treasury’s Stern Review or Al Gore’s alarmist film. Our politicians have similarly endorsed without a murmur all the steps now being taken to avert this predicted catastrophe – which, if carried through, can only mean a dramatic transformation in our way of life.”

Those of you observing the current meetings on climate change on the G8 summit must surely be balking at the amount of EU imposed restrictions on energy production and industry that are about to find their rapacious way into U.K law, serving as a further impediment to our battered economy.

The primary aims of our branch are listed on the new Conservatives Abroad website: http://www.conservativesmadrid.com. “We hope to enable expatriate Britons to vote in the UK’s local, European and general elections. We hope to stand for the rights of expatriate Britons in Spain, to create a social network for Conservative expatriates in Spain, to foster stronger links with other Conservative political bodies in Spain, and to provide members access to leading political thought and leading Conservative politicians”. The branch membership welcomes” all Conservatives, libertarians & friends.”

Look forward to a full report on the Conservatives Abroad at the Campus FAES European political conference next month.

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From left to right, Paul Gordon: Branch Secretary, Lord Lawson, Ben Harris-Quinney: Branch Chairman, Pierre Shepherd: Branch Treasurer.

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May 2009 update, by Benjamin Harris-Quinney.

I am very pleased to introduce a continuation of my first blog entry from Madrid, which will now become a monthly fixture on the Conservative Future blog. I would go as far as to say, the coming months will be the most exciting Conservatives Abroad in Spain will have ever had, and I am looking forward to reporting back all of that sun-drenched action to the UK.

First on our agenda this month is reporting to the media our newly-forged alliance with Republicans Abroad Spain, which hopes to become the first joint branch the two parties have ever founded. Next is the new collaboration we have with the leading Spanish think tank FAES, which has the potential to greatly enhance the reach of our branch in Madrid, and bridge many of the gaps between the British and Spanish Conservative movements.

Moving into the height of summer, we are delighted to be collaborating with the FAES summer university programme who have offered the chance to take a Conservative delegation to Campus FAES 2009. Set to take place between 29th June – 8th July, this is a 10 day long event of lectures and seminars by leading Conservative Politicians. Speakers are set to include Former President Jose Maria Aznar, President of Madrid Esperanza Aguirre, US Defence Analyst Elliot Abrams, Former Cabinet Minister Michael Portillo, Italian MP Gianfranco Fini, IEA Director John Blundell and aide to President Sarkozy Xavier Bertrand.

On June the 8th at 12:30 pm, we are scheduled to launch the Madrid branch publicly at the headquarters of FAES, with speeches from Former President of Spain Jose Maria Aznar, President of Madrid Esperanza Aguirre, James Levy of Republicans Abroad and myself.

Of course we also all need to remember to vote Conservative on June 4th.

April 2009 Update, by Benjamin Harris-Quinney .

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Photo: Ben (centre) with Abusos Urbanisticos-No team

After spending the last 6 months in Madrid, Spain pushing the Conservative Agenda, I have to report that socialism in the sun is only marginally more fun. It still features crippling unemployment, heavy-handed government and poor public services.

There is however some progress to report. Last week I travelled to Javea in the Valencia region to meet with Chuck Svoboda who runs Abusos Urbanisticos-No (AUN), an organisation formed by ex-pat property owners seeking to combat the baffling Valencian LUV Land-grab law that permits local government to take land from residents without compensation and sell it on to developers.

As unfathomable as this may seem in a capitalist western democracy, it has affected over 100,000 ex-pat Brits, who have, in many cases, lost their homes and livelihoods with no hope of compensation. It is when Chuck told me that AUN seeks to mount a legal challenge to the LUV law, and take their collective case to Brussels to have the Spanish law overturned in European Court, that the scale of how staggeringly the British Consul and the current government have failed to represent its expatriate citizens truly became apparent.

I am already quite aware that the British Embassy in Madrid seems to be little more than the clubhouse from which civil servants launch their various golfing trips and beach holidays. When I telephoned the embassy in late September 08, I was told that the Ambassador Denise Holt was still on summer holidays. I wondered at the time if their was any point in her coming back before she began her Christmas excursions. From the evidence of her abilities to represent the 1 million Brits in Spain, there wasn’t. The British Embassy in Spain refuses to register ex-pat nationals who have moved here, claiming it unnecessary. They are unable, therefore, to provide any data on voter registration, thus most Brits abroad have no idea when they need to register for the upcoming European elections or how to do so. Beyond this, I am told that the Embassy does not wish to challenge the Spanish government regarding the LUV law, because they fear rocking the boat. One wonders, then, how they justify the multi-million Euro property in central Madrid as being an effective use of tax-payers’ money if they are merely there to watch the world go by.

Great Britain has always been a nation of exploratory peoples, at home on foreign soil, yet always clearly representative of where home was. We live, work, study and retire all over the world, but we still retain, and should expect, as much representation and support from Westminster as those who live in the UK. Yet, in Spain just 1% of the 1 million British people here vote in UK elections, and this is not because they have left the UK long behind and are toasting Cava to the good life. Often they are struggling to run businesses that cater to British tourists, or are living on a pension on which they still have to pay tax in the UK.

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Photo: Ben with members from the Javea Conservatives Abroad branch

Whilst in Javea, I also had the pleasure of having lunch with David and Jennie Decker who together have helped run the oldest Conservatives Abroad branch in Spain. David is a retired RAF serviceman who draws an armed services pension from the UK. He is less than happy to see his money paying for the current government’s scorched earth economic policies, and clearly is dramatically affected by the Sterling’s 30% drop in value, as indeed am I. The current system of voting from abroad is that those with the personal conviction to go through the long process of getting yourself registered only have two viable options: to appoint a proxy voter or to vote in person in the UK. The postal voting system is such a fudge of mismanaged bureaucracy, that more often than not your vote is left uncounted. Of more concern is that under the Labour government the law was changed to limit Brits abroad from voting if they have lived overseas for more than 15 years. David is therefore in immediate danger of losing his vote- one that I feel, considering his service to our armed forces, is more deserved than many residents of the UK.

Clearly, as a party we could be doing a lot more to represent and support ex-pat British citizens in Spain and the World. We should be campaigning to get the voting laws changed, we should appoint a Lord or MP to represent the 1 million Brits in Spain and we should be challenging foreign governments openly when abusive laws such as the LUV are evident. Many of us feel that the EU is a staggering waste of money and, more worryingly, a serious threat to our future as a sovereign nation. We cannot continue to argue this position and yet force many of our most loyal Conservative voters into the sticky mire of Brussels in search of justice and political representation.

Next month, with the backing of CCHQ, I will found the first Conservatives Abroad branch in Madrid, and we have already negotiated an alliance with James Levy, Head of Republicans Abroad Spain. Thanks to the assistance of Chuck Svoboda and the Deckers, our voter registration forms will be sent out to the 100,000+ members on the AUN mailing list all over Spain in time for the April 30th European elections deadline. We have also arranged for a continued and open dialogue with FAES, former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznars’ think-tank, who hope to publish David Cameron’s book Cameron on Cameron for a Spanish audience. Suzanne Wyatt, an AUN affiliate, will be presenting a petition to Downing Street regarding the LUV issue: www.spanishpropertyscandalpetition.co.uk, and is also seeking support from CCHQ, which we should give her. Progress has been made in the time I have been here, but the big push needs to be for the UK general election.

In the future the Conservative Party cannot forget, as Labour has, that Great Britain is a nation whose people like to travel, explore and indeed conquer the world; they shouldn’t have to leave their vote at home.

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