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(7/10) The Conservative Party needs to build a new machine for getting out the vote and voter contact

By Tim Montgomerie
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Last week in Birmingham I presented a ten step plan to deliver the first Conservative majority since 1992. The plan is summarised on the new website.  Parts one, two, three, four, five and six have already been published.

(Part 7) The Conservative Party needs to build a new get-out-the-vote and voter contact machine for the internet and mobile age.


Political journalists love talking about a party’s broad message and its manifesto policies but close elections are decided by the quality of a party’s machine.  The first report of the Conservative Majority Project will focus on how we rebuild our party’s organisational strength at every level. We’ve identified the following questions that need answers:

1.     THIRD PARTIES: Should Downing Street and Conservative HQ have a powerful external affairs unit to build deep relations with Britain’s most important third party groups?

2.     MOVEMENT: How can the party strengthen and utilise its relationship with movement groups, including the Countryside Alliance and the TaxPayers’ Alliance?

3.     MINORITIES: What is the ideal strategy for the Conservatives to reverse our poor performance within minority communities?

4.     FLOATING MEDIA: How do we encourage Tory MPs to appear more regularly on Breakfast News, Five Live and the other media platforms that reach more floating voters than Today and Newsnight?

5.     NEW MEDIA: What is the best way of sending out big messages during an election campaign? Should the party be switching from billboard to more direct messaging and internet advertising?

6.     MICRO-TARGETING: What can we learn from America in using Facebook, Twitter and email to communicate directly with electoral niches?

7.     MPs AND MEPs: How can the party make better use of the time and talents of Tory MPs and MEPs?

8.     LOCAL LESSONS: How have the Conservatives become embedded in lower income wards in Hammersmith, Wandsworth, Westminster, Trafford and other parts of British local government?

9.     UNIONS: What steps should be taken to limit taxpayer funding of pro-Labour campaigning by the trade union movement?

10. BBC MONOPOLY: Should we top-slice the BBC licence fee to ensure a more diverse supply of broadcast news media?

11. LONDON AND GLOBAL: What general lessons can we learn from successful electoral campaigns by our own MPs, Boris Johnson and sister parties in other parts of the world?

12. SCOTLAND AND WALES: Is it time, despite Murdo Fraser’s defeat, for Ruth Davidson to radically change the Scottish Party? What can the still troubled Scottish party learn from the success of the Welsh Conservatives?

13. GOTV: Could referenda be used to boost turnout of natural Conservative supporters on election days?

14. CANDIDATES: What kind of person should we be selecting to be the Tory MPs of the future? To what extent do we need more diversity of background and regional identity, rather than of gender and ethnicity?

15. FLEET STREET: How can we better work with the Quad of newspapers who traditionally support the Conservative Party?

16. PARTY FUNDING: How can the internet be used to diversify party fundraising?

17. YELLOW TO BLUE: Will we take this once-in-a-generation opportunity to oust Liberal Democrat MPs in the South West and South East of England? How should we do it?

18. PARTY UNITY: How can Number 10 Downing Street build better relations with the whole breadth of the Conservative Party?

19. REGIONALISM: Should we have MPs and peers as spokespeople in target cities and regions, coordinating campaign themes and media messaging?

20. ACTIVISM: What incentives and models can be introduced to rebuild the party’s membership and wider supporter base?

21. TARGETING LABOUR: What are Labour’s weaknesses and how do we target them?

22. APPOINTMENTS: Labour have used public appointments to frustrate conservatism. How do we counter this?

23. INCUMBENCY: How do we maximise our advantage of having so many new MPs?

24. DEBATES: When is the best time to hold them and should they be two or three party debates?

25. RETAIL: Do big or understandable policies move most votes?

The plan is to answer all of these and related questions in six months.


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