Code of Conduct for Members and Representatives of the Conservative Party

Part 1. Section 2. This section applies to Party Representatives only

The standards of behaviour set out in Part 1 Section 1 apply to Party Representatives. There are additional standards as well set out below.

Party Representatives mean anyone who represents the Party to others (particularly members of the public) in an elected, appointed or other way. This includes but is not limited to Members of Parliament, Peers, Members of the Scottish Parliament, Members of the Senedd, Members of the London Assembly, Police & Crime Commissioners, Mayors, Councillors of whatever kind, and Association/Federation, area, regional, and national Party, officers. It also includes candidates for these roles. 

 

Party Representatives who hold Public Office 

Public Office holders are expected to adhere to what are traditionally called the Seven Principles of Public Life established by Lord Nolan and the Committee on Standards in Public Life (“the Nolan Principles”). Party Representatives who are Public Office holders are expected to know what they are and how to do that. Their conduct whilst acting in the capacity of or carrying out the duties of their public office will be governed by the public body’s own Code of Conduct and/or regulator. The Party’s Code of Conduct may also apply.

The Nolan Principles are set out below:

  • Selflessness – Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.

  • Integrity – Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.

  • Objectivity – Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.

  • Accountability – Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.

  • Openness – Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.

  • Honesty – Holders of public office should be truthful.

  • Leadership – Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour and treat others with respect. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

     

Party Representatives who do not hold Public Office

Party Representatives who do not hold Public Office are expected to be guided by the Nolan Principles. 

The Party therefore expects all Party Representatives to:

  • be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever they are aware of it;

  • actively promote diversity and inclusion of others within their spheres of influence as best they reasonably can;

  • lead by example to encourage and foster tolerance and respect of other individuals;

  • treat others in a professional and straightforward manner;

  • not use their position to bully, abuse, victimise, harass or unlawfully discriminate against others or allow others to do so;

  • take reasonable steps to ensure that people who wish to raise concerns about bullying, discrimination, harassment and/or victimisation by others are able to do so.

 

Guidance Notes

What the Code of Conduct does and does not do

The Code of Conduct simply regulates the way individual members of the Party are expected to behave as members of the Party towards each other and non-Party members by setting out basic minimum standards that apply to everyone regardless of their background.

The Code of Conduct does not regulate the conduct of politics or political debate. It does not regulate political decision making or the making of public policy. For that reason, it cannot be used directly or indirectly to affect the conduct of politics or political decision making, including the making or influencing of policy.  It should not therefore be used for political purposes.

The Code of Conduct must not be used in a way that interferes improperly with a person’s private life. For Party Representatives, the Code of Conduct must not be used in a way that interferes with how they exercise their judgment about their work. 

 

“Objects and Values” of the Conservative Party

These are set out in the Party Constitution. The test we use to identify an object and value is objective based on relevant evidence. That evidence may be common or historical knowledge, or common sense, Conservative Party manifestos past and present, guidance notes from the Party Board, Government policy and speeches from senior Party spokesmen including the Party leader, and so on.

 

Bringing the Party into “Disrepute”

In this context, disrepute means causing the Party to be held in low or negative esteem as a result of a member’s behaviour or actions.  What is often disreputable conduct can be worked out from common knowledge or common sense. We use an objective test to identify disreputable conduct on a case-by-case basis.

 

Discrimination, Harassment, Victimisation and Bullying

Discrimination means, according to the Equality Act 2010, treating a person less favourably than another because of a protected characteristic and includes victimising or harassing any other person because of race (including colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, citizenship), sex, gender re-assignment, sexual orientation, marital or civil partnership status (in employment contexts), disability, age, religion or belief and pregnancy and maternity status.

The Party has since 2016 fully adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism. This is relevant on the question of discrimination on the grounds of race and religion or belief.

Harassment means any unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating a person's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive situation or environment for them. A single incident can amount to harassment. Harassment may involve conduct of a sexual nature, or it may be related to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status (in employment contexts), pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. 

Harassment is unacceptable even if it does not fall within any of those categories. 

Victimisation provisions protect certain individuals who do (or might do) acts such as bringing discrimination claims, complaining about harassment, or getting involved in some way with another complaint (such as giving evidence). It may therefore occur where a person subjects another person to a detriment because either that person has acted in such a way and/or is believed to have acted in such a way or may act in such a way.

Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour involving the misuse of power that can make a person feel vulnerable, upset, humiliated, undermined or threatened. Power does not always mean being in a position of authority, but can include both personal strength, influence and the power to coerce through fear or intimidation. Bullying can be physical, verbal or non-verbal. A bully can be a person who deliberately allows or encourages another to bully someone else. 

Adopted by the Board of the Conservative Party – May 2022

You can see the Code of Conduct in full here: