In some ways Smith is an unusual figure for this role, formerly associated with the Libertarian wing of the Tories. More recently he has moved closer to the centre ground, warmly endorsingly party leader David Cameron's "Agenda for Change" and thus leaving the CDA membership wondering what is going on.
Original members of the CDA's steering committee included Sam Swerling, a former Monday Club chairman (1980-1982), founder of the Monday Club's Philosophy Group, member of the Campaign for an Independent Britain, former Conservative Party parliamentary candidate and councillor on Westminster City Council, and Stuart Millson, a former editor of Kent Writers magazine and founder of the short-lived Revolutionary Conservative Caucus in 1992, and Gregory Lauder-Frost, former Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman and Political Secretary of the Monday Club.
Millson and Lauder-Frost are both former members of the Conservative Party, the Monday Club and its Executive, as well as the Western Goals Institute, and both are now also members of the council of the Traditional Britain Group.
On 27 June 2002, The Daily Telegraph carried a letter from the CDA, signed by Mike Smith, attacking the Conservative Party and its Chairman Francis Maude for "the sleaze, double-dealing, arrogance, incompetence, Europhilia, indifference and drift with which the party is still associated. "Voters", he said, "deserve a real alternative to Blairism and his 'straight kinda guy' chicanery. Mr. Maude and his C-Changing Tories are incapable of providing it." (NB "C-Change" was a now-defunct Tory modernising pressure group headed by Maude.)
The CDA often criticises free-market economics and Americanisation in the United Kingdom, both of which it perceives to be after-effects of Thatcherism. This may be seen as distinguishing it from the IDS Conservative Party leadership, which CDA members often criticised as neoconservative. The CDA is also fervently opposed to the European Union and to close links with George Bush and his Neoconservatives.
The CDA fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference in October 2002 was addressed by Roger Knapman, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party; Ashley Mote, then a UKIP MEP and author of Overcrowded Britain - Our Immigration Crisis Exposed (2004); John Gouriet, a founder with Norris McWhirter of the Freedom Association alongside Derek Turner, editor of the now defunct Right Now! magazine; and Adrian Davies, sometime chairman of the fledgling Freedom Party a barrister and a critic of the British National Party.
The CDA at one point considered fielding candidates against those Conservative MPs with small majorities, who they felt had betrayed traditional Toryism, at the 2005 General Election, concentrating on Oliver Letwin, the then Shadow Treasury Spokesman, and MP for West Dorset, whom they described as "simply not a Conservative at all". In the event no candidates actually stood for the CDA at the 2005 General Election, and Letwin held his seat.
The CDA produce a regular bulletin, and have a website with discussion forums.
Michael Keith Smith has recently described the advertisement, penned by former CDA supporter Peter Gibbs, as "regrettably homophobic". Smith has branded the incident "an untoward event" and promised that CDA will take a more "forward-looking and inclusive role in future", although the membership of the CDA have not as yet (Sept 2008) been consulted.
Smith issued a writ claiming Breach of Natural Justice and party rules and proceedures and the party was obliged to re-admit him to membership.
Soon afterwards Smith resigned from the Conservative Party, and stood as a parliamentary candidate for the United Kingdom Independence Party in Portsmouth North where the Labour victory was claimed by the Conservative candidate to be a result of the UKIP candidacy, a claim also made by Richard North of the Bruges Group.