What is the new 'Conservative Democratic Organisation' campaign group?

Priti Patel: Key moments during her time as home secretary

A new Tory pressure group has been launched to "restore democracy" after Rishi Sunak was anointed leader of the party and therefore prime minister.

The group, the Conservative Democratic Organisation (CDO) was launched by former MEP and Brexiteer David Campbell Bannerman on Sunday and it has been backed by former home secretary Priti Patel and big donor Lord Cruddas.

It pledges will help members “take back control” (where have we heard that slogan before?) after Sunak won the contest without having to consult the members of the party. Penny Mordaunt dropped out because she didn't get enough nominations from MPs.

A CDO strategy document said the "coronation" of Sunak just a month after he was rejected “has finally ended members’ faith in any party democracy”.

Cruddas, president and treasurer of the CDO who has donated more than £3.5m to the Tories said: “Internal democracy in the Conservative Party is dying on its feet.

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“The leadership pays scant attention to the views of the membership – regarding them as little more than mindless drones who only matter at election time.

“The result is a widening gulf between the parliamentary party and the grassroots. But as the Conservative government pushes taxes to a 70-year high and rising, there is also an electorally fatal gulf opening up between the leadership and voters. No wonder our poll ratings are dire.

“It is time to restore the democratic rights of Tory members, not least the right who choose parliamentary candidates without being hectored and bullied by party headquarters.”

Patel added: “Our grassroots are the heart and soul of our party. They work tirelessly to campaign for Conservative votes. They should never be taken for granted.

“Party members are committed to our values of freedom, enterprise and opportunity and we need to empower them to have more say over our policies and candidates.”

Meanwhile, 40 Tory MPs have sent a letter to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt saying taxes are too high and criticising his Autumn statement.

The letter was signed by senior Tories, including former Conservative Party chair Sir Jake Berry, and ex-ministers Sir Iain Duncan Smith, David Davis and Esther McVey.

Looks like Sunak isn't going to have a chilled Christmas.

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