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How can Tories win back the northern vote?

It’s an uncanny coincidence that the very same day I visit York to discuss campaign strategies for Julian Sturdy, our leader David Cameron launches the Party’s Campaign North. How neat is that, talk about great minds thinking alike.

Julian is naturally delighted with this, his York Outer constituency is a new seat created as a result of boundary changes and we need to win it to help secure a Conservative government.

Despite our Party’s flagging support north of Watford, which will be debated on Newsnight tonight, I am delighted we are forging ahead in this direction and not only focusing on “winnable” seats. Every single vote is precious.

Winning votes in the north is a major facing Conservatives. The figures do not make comfortable reading. The fact is that in 1970 we won 62 seats in the north, today, we hold 19.

We need to connect (my favourite word) with them, with all our voters throughout the country. It’s going to be tough, but we are facing the problem head on and, as Cameron says succinctly, we can never aspire to office unless we represent communities in every part of Britain.

How achievable do you think this is? How can we can win back our much needed northern electorate? Will the many failings of this government be enough to persuade them to vote Conservative?

And btw, I did have to stand on my outward journey to York, and for much longer than the half hour which the government’s head of railways spokesman believes is acceptable. Julian is pictured with supporters Bill, Ben, Andrew and John.


19 Comments

  1. Thanks Ellee- I’m not sure exactly what asset I’d be- It’s something that could be of interest- as long as the candidate was not Edwina Currie.
    I agree with what you say about Nadine Dorries, she is bucking the trend for politicians to become less seen or heard in their constituencies. Even Knocking doors seems to have been replaced by ubiquitous phone canvassing, which is obviously far less effective. You’re more likely to vote for someone whose hand you’ve shook.
    As far asking people in supermarkets about political issues it’s a good idea. I often initiate conversations in pubs by pretending complete ignorance of a subject- somebody will always fill you in with their ‘expert’ knowledge- and in doing so give you an opinion which will probably be a good representation of how the issue is seen on the street. Remember loud people in pubs are. in their world, opinion formers. The Telegraph can’t give you that viewpoint.
    I have heard the words ‘I’ve voted Labour all my life but’so often recently that I know Labour can’t win next time.
    What’s at stake is whether Cameron wants to have to give the foreign office to Uncle Ming or keep his cabinet blue…

  2. Joe, Re getting out and about at grassrooots, that’s what I particularly like about Nadine who I have written about on a more recent post, the way she clambered on a bus during the weekend in her casual clothes – absolutely perfect. I often ask people in supermarket queues what they think about the European Constitution or various political issues and invariably get blank looks. I have got some ideas along this direction, but am not revealing them here for all and sundry.

    With your knowledge and insight, you would be a great asset to have on board helping a local candidate, is this something you have considered?

  3. My background has always been in Sales and Marketing- though usually fairly mundane sectors.
    I have always been a kind of amateur psephologist, though. I’m one of those slightly disturbed individuals who have seen every election night on TV including Local elections for over a decade. There is nothing they can offer on the NHS to deal with it.
    I think you are right to say that politics is about connecting with people. It’s about knowing what mood they are in so you can articulate their concerns as if they are your own. This is a problem for politicians- Tories especially a few years ago. It is sometimes obvious that political parties really do not know what the groundswell of opinion in public houses and on trains is. Yet if they had gone down the pub, blended in and shut up, they would have heard conversations which would have told them the public mood better than pollsters can.
    I will admit here that I tend to vote for them, although I was a little more of a Portillista once.

  4. Joe, Thank you again, all familiar names, of course. What is your background, out of interest?

  5. it might be worth looking at separate regional campaign teams branding the party to appeal in different geographical regions with the message being put about by local Tories. In Yorks an obvious contender would be Phil Davies, young and independently minded, as well as Ann McIntish who is a clear asset to the party.
    In the North West you have people like Esther McVey, who knows how to handle the Media.
    As we have seen in Bethnal Green and Blaenau Gwent, local flavour makes a difference…

  6. Thanks Joe, I agree entirely, the sooner we start, the better.

  7. Two areas that are vital for you, Ellee. West Yorkshire and East Lancashire. These areas are rich in seats you CAN win with a bit of canny presentation.
    I think people up north are far less impressed however, by squiggly trees and bicycle helmets. Cameron needs to present a tougher, more down to earth image in these areas.
    Look at seats like Pendle, Rossndale, Dewsbury, Halifax etc. Concentrate on these as benchmark seats that you MUST win. Victories in seats like these will bring everything easier also, and it will make a Tory government not only more representative, but more likely.

  8. Nich, That is the kind of comment I would have expected from Jade, not a bright spark like you.

    Justin, I was taking the pic.

    Thanks for all the comments, plenty of food for thought here.

  9. All menin the pic – where were you?

  10. You should have to pay less if you stand!

    In order to win, you have to go into the heartland of opponents. It’s no use confining yourself to the ‘safe’ areas. The government is supposed to govern the country, not just the areas that voted for them. Labour seems to think otherwise.

  11. Perhaps it might be an idea to separate “Bill” and “Ben” on future pictures so their names are not put together. If not you’ll get people asking which one is “weed”.

  12. Well some of your more right wing members being rude about Liverpool: The Spectator etc.. doesn’t help!

  13. “I am delighted we are forging ahead in this direction and not only focusing on “winnable? seats. Every single vote is precious.”

    This presents a problem for the Tories where it is in alliance with the Lib Dems to run councils, such as in Leeds. To win the constituencies it needs it needs to take votes off the Lib Dems in the local elections. In some wards that means the Tories will take seats from the Lib Dems, in others Labour will take seats from the Lib Dems.

    The Tories can’t hope to gain the massive amount of votes they need to take constituencies if they don’t start campaigning in Lib Dem wards now.

  14. Any party that seeks to govern the nation needs firm representation across all areas of England and countries to have any legitimate mandate.It’s not impossible – modern voters are much more inclined to shift and change, as politics is increasingly viewed as another consumer choice by many.Stranger things have happened. For example, it’s often thought that Wales is “Tory free”. This is completely wrong. We have made real advances in parts of Wales in local Govt and started to win back parliamentary seats. Yesterday’s “Western Mail” reported that”…Labour intends to concentrate its main campaign fire on the Tories rather than Plaid Cymru, reasoning that in many of its most marginal seats the Conservatives are the main challengers…
    Labour officials are understood to be aware that the Tories could “pull off a coup” by polling well in Wales while the London media focuses on Scotland”

    A few years ago, most Tories had written off Wales as an electoral no-hoper…..

  15. Fifteen percent interest rate… Norman Lamont (Oooops, I mean Baron Lamont of Lerwick) – it’s going to take a long time to forget oop here…

  16. Damn I knew I should have watched Newsnight- as to the North- having people around who look more like Northerners should help but I think the whole social justice angle shoudl help- its interesting as well what the impact of a liberal surge up there could have on national poltiics.

  17. Get into power with Southern votes. End the subsidies to Northern councils and dole offices. Invest in enterprise and reduce the amount of state sponsored jobs.

    As the good people of the north then awake from the statist dependency culture they will be pleased to vote for the party that saved them…..

  18. I’m a Northerner who has generally voted Tory as the best of a bad bunch.

    However, nowadays I’d rather see a hung parliament as I feel that the big three are not credible, particularly by the way they ignore the EU elephant in the chamber…

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