Building a Conservative Majority (1)... Recruitment of more northern candidates
By Tim Montgomerie
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When I launched Majority Conservatism I listed some of the reasons why winning the next election will be an uphill struggle for the Conservative Party.
Two weeks ago I revealed that clouds of gloom had descended on Downing Street as Cameron's advisers struggled to identify a clear path to a Conservative majority.
Yesterday, in a brilliant essay, Paul Goodman identified some of the structural factors that explain the weakness of the Tory position. Prominent in Paul's analysis was our terrible performance in Scotland and the big increase in the number of people who receive income from the state.
Today we start getting positive. ConservativeHome believes we can win the next election and that we must. Unless we win a working majority the Liberal Democrats will continue to be the great roadblocks to common sense reforms. There'll be no repatriation of powers from Europe. No reform of the European Court of Human Rights. Inadequate control of immigration. No support for marriage. More and more social engineering in our universities. More expensive windfarms. More tinkering with our constitution.
Each day - in no particular order of importance or potency - we'll be listing ideas to build the majority we need. I'm starting off with the need to win in the north.
In this weekend's Mail on Sunday I suggested the party went for the wrong kind of candidate diversity:
"The under-representation of women and ethnic minorities was a real problem, but the excessive emphasis on these dimensions of the Conservative Party’s lack of diversity was revealing of how Cameron and his advisers thought. Swapping a white lawyer for a black lawyer, or a rich City banker in a tie for a rich City banker in a skirt, wasn’t real change. Real change would have seen the party recruit gritty Northern candidates; people from outside the world of politics who had come up through grammar and comprehensive schools; people who couldn’t afford an outfit that would look good on the cover of Tatler or GQ."
All of the evidence is that local credentials are much more important in improving performance than gender or ethnicity. The Tories are further behind Labour in the north today than at the start of the Thatcher years. We must take action to change this.
- During this series we'll be suggesting many things but ensuring that northern voices represent the party locally and on TV is vital. From the new intake, for example, a switched on CCHQ would ensure the likes of Graham Evans, Fiona Bruce and Kris Hopkins were never off the airwaves.
- Someone like Samuel Coates, previously of this parish, should be fast-tracked as a candidate. Wise beyond his years, brought up in Liverpool (although half-Yorkshire!), just returned from serving his country in Afghanistan and steeped in compassionate conservatism, he should be our candidate in a seat like Sefton Central.
- We should also consider financial support for candidates. Being a candidate is an expensive business (2006 statistics). People from less privileged backgrounds with conservative principles should be helped to be flagship candidates for us at the next election.