The Conservatives must be prepared for “sudden elections” at any time by creating a manifesto committee to vet policies and establishing a new youth wing, an internal review has found.
The inquest into the result of the 8 June election, drawn up by former cabinet minister Sir Eric Pickles, made 126 recommendations to make sure the party is better prepared for any future snap elections at a time of political volatility.
Pickles, a former party chairman, said there was a “clear campaigning deficiency” in the party and called for a “fundamental re-evaluation” of the way it runs elections.
One key proposal was a new manifesto committee to make sure policies are properly thought through by senior cabinet ministers, after the document was kept to a tight circle of the prime minister’s advisers at the last election.
He suggested the process of drawing up a manifesto should start within 12 months of the last election, involving the prime minister, chancellor, home secretary, foreign secretary, party chairman, chief executive and chief whip.
The report also confirms the Guardian’s report that the Conservatives will look to re-establish a “vibrant youth wing” and make sure there is under-30s representation on the party board and on candidate selection panels.
Pickles also called for an increase in the number of candidates who are women or from diverse backgrounds, including ethnic minorities, admitting that the Conservatives have not done enough to engage with Britain’s black and ethnic minority communities.
Pickles acknowledged that it was a “glum” night for the Tories, with only the improved performance in Scotland providing some cheer. However, he said he felt “a sense of optimism” and believed the party was “in a mood to address the defects and deficiencies of our electoral machine”.
He added: “We can come out of this process stronger and better, but we will need to be brave, radical and modern in our reforms.”
“The true importance of our percentage share is the measure of the task we face, and the need for a fundamental re-evaluation of the way we organise and conduct our election campaigns to translate this increased vote share into a higher number of seats,” he said.
He stressed the importance of recruiting more members and volunteers to get the Tory message out on the ground, in the face of a “united left” that provided coordinated and enthusiastic support for Jeremy Corbyn.
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