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Conservatives for Change or Cchange was a political organisation set up in 2001, along with its sister organisation Policy Exchange, to modernise the image of the Conservative Party. At a speech in 2012, Francis Maude recalled that: 'CChange was an overtly political group promoting the modernisation of the Conservative Party. I was its Chairman; and our hope was that CChange would not be needed for long. ... We made ourselves redundant when after the 2005 election I became Party Chairman and six months later David Cameron became Leader. [1]

Origins and history

CChange was established by a group of Conservative MPs who had backed Michael Portillo’s 2001 campaign in the 2001 Conservative leadership contest. Portillo, who had recently admitted having had homosexual experiences, advocated a shift towards more liberal social attitudes, whilst maintaining a commitment to right-wing economic policy. Dubbed ‘Portillistas’ by Westminster commentators, Portillo’s backers saw themselves as modernisers of an out of touch party which had put off potential voters through its negativity, xenophobia and social conservatism.

Portillo withdrew from the Conservative leadership race on the evening of 17 July 2001 and subsequently announced that he would leave politics. According to the Independent the eleven Shadow Cabinet colleagues who had backed him were subsequently dubbed ‘the living dead’ in Westminster. [2]

Only days later, one of the ‘living dead’, Archie Norman, told the Daily Telegraph’s Rachel Sylvester that he and other Portillo supporters were planning to set up a think-tank saying: ‘I came into public life to help transform the Conservative Party so it can win again, and that's what I'm still about.’ [3] On 21 July the Daily Telegraph ran a front page headline, ‘Portillo supporters to fight on’. Archie Norman was quoted as saying:

We've got hundreds of thousands of people who don't want to lose what we were creating, we've got financial support from people who wanted to invest in this as the future of the party and we would like to find a way of channelling that and harnessing it. [4]

That August the Daily Telegraph published a letter from the ‘Portillistas’ in which they said they planned to establish ‘a new forum, firmly rooted within the party, devoted to developing the ideas that will form the basis of a genuinely modern Conservative Party.’ [5] The letter was signed by Francis Maude, Archie Norman, Tim Yeo, Andrew Mackay, Peter Ainsworth, Theresa May, Edward Garnier, Peter Lilley, Damian Green, Nicholas Soames, Julie Kirkbride, Stephen Dorrell and Nicholas Gibb. [6]

The 2001 logos for CChange and its sister organisation the 'non-partisan educational charity' XChance, which was subsequently rebranded as Policy Exchange

In early October, a week before the Tory Party Conference, the party’s new leader Iain Duncan Smith reportedly met for private talks with Francis Maude, and the latter agreed to delay the launch of the think-tank until after the party conference. [7] The truce was cemented with an offer from the ‘Portillistas’ that Iain Duncan Smith would be appointed Honoury President of the think-tank [8] – an offer which apparently came to nothing.

Archie Norman, Francis Maude, and their allies decided to set up two seperate think-tanks as part of their modernisation project. In addition to setting up CChange, they established XChange Ideas or simply XChange, which would be rebranded as Policy Exchange a few months later. The two were presumably kept seperate to allow Policy Exchange to apply for charitable status as a non-partisan organisation. Conservatives for Change supplied the initial funding for Policy Exchange, with a loan of £75,000. [9]
Conservatives for Change Ltd was set up as a private company limited by guarantee (i.e. with no shares) on 10 August 2001 and was dissolved 15 May 2007.

CChange board members

Name of Board Member Stated occupation Date of Appointment Date of resignation
Nicholas Boles Investment Consultant 26/07/2006 Not stated
Colin Barrow Company Director 23/10/2001 16/08/2006
Baroness Buscombe Politician 15/10/2001 16/08/2006
Lord Marland of Odstock Chairman 02/01/2002 16/08/2006
Francis Maude Member of Parliament 04/10/2001 16/08/2006
Theresa May Member of Parliament 02/11/2001 16/08/2006
Archie Norman Member of Parliament 02/11/2001 26/05/2005
Theresa Villiers M.E.P. 11/10/2002 16/08/2006
David Willetts Member of Parliament 02/11/2001 16/08/2006
Tim Yeo Member of Parliament 04/10/2001 16/08/2006

The table on the right shows the company directors of Conservatives for Change Ltd listed at Companies House along with their dates of appointment and resignation. The Conservative MP Ed Vaizey, though he does not appear in Companies House records, was listed as a board member on the organisation's website.[10]

The board shares a number of figures with CChange's sister organisation Policy Exchange. Nicholas Boles was the Policy Exchange's first director and Colin Barrow, Francis Maude and David Willetts have all served as board members. Nicholas Boles and Colin Barrow have also served on the board of Localis, the local government think-tank which is closely associated with Policy Exchange.

Financial Statements

Conservatives for Change Financial Statements made up to 30 September 2002

Allegations of BBC bias

In 2003 CChange published a report called 'The Guardian of the Airwaves? Bias and the BBC'. [11] It described the report as 'a serious and constructive attempt to persuade the BBC to acknowledge this bias and take active steps to remedy it.' [12]

On 7 October 2003 CChange held a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference at the Imperial Hotel in Brighton to discuss the alleged bias of the BBC. The speakers at the event were the Shadow Secretary for Culture, Media & Sport John Whittingdale, the author of the 'The Guardian of the Airwaves' report Martin McElwee, the right-wing journalist and former BBC Producer Rod Liddle and the BBC's Director of Editorial Policy Stephen Whittle. The event was chaired by Francis Maude, the Chairman of CChange. [13]


Internet Archive,


  1. Francis Maude - Ten Years of Modernisation: Looking back and the challenges ahead’, Policy Exchange, 7 March 2012
  2. Andrew Grice, ‘The living dead' ponder their future after backing wrong horse in leadership contest’, Independent, 20 July 2001; p.10.
  3. Rachel Sylvester, ‘Norman still selling Portillo's dream’, Daily Telegraph, 21 July 2001.
  4. Rachel Sylvester, ‘Portillo supporters to fight on’, Daily Telegraph, 21 July 2001; p.1.
  5. Letters: Leader needs radical new advisory forum’, Daily Telegraph, 10 August 2001; p.29.
  6. ‘Letters: Leader needs radical new advisory forum’, Daily Telegraph, 10 August 2001; p.29.
  7. David Crackwell, ‘Duncan Smith in secret deal with Portillistas Tory leader agrees truce before party conference’, Sunday Telegraph, 7 October 2001
  8. Rachel Sylvester, ‘We must change to survive, say Tory webmasters’, Daily Telegraph, 8 December 2001; p.14.
  9. see Policy Exchange Financial Statements made up to 30 September 2002, p.4
  10. CChange Board, CChange website, 29 July 2007, accessed from the Internet Archive on 25 March 2010
  11. Martin McElwee and Glyn Gaskarth, The Guardian of the Airwaves? Bias and the BBC (CChange, October 2003)
  12. Is the BBC Biased?, CChange website, 1 January 2004, accessed from the Internet Archive on 25 March 2010
  13. Party Conference 2003: BBC Bias, 1 January 2004, accessed from the Internet Archive on 25 March 2010