With a Conservative Prime Minister in office, it is understandable that the result of a General Election held less than two months ago appears to have been forgotten by most of us. Yet, the Conservative Party didn’t win an overall majority. If we are to win one in future, (and I hope that is still our aim!) we need to understand why.
Tim has already written a comprehensive account of why he thinks we failed to get a majority, and I don’t wish to repeat his analysis. I do hope I can offer a slightly different perspective on it though – I was one of the Tory candidates who lost in a marginal seat – I may have been an MP now if we’d won a majority in the Commons, so I guess I have a vested interest in understanding why we didn’t!
Every marginal seat is unique, and the reasons why one seat is won and another seat is lost will vary markedly. As a candidate who lost, I of course made mistakes, and will readily admit to them. However, there are some issues that stood out to me during the campaign ‘on the ground’ which I’m not sure individual candidates could have had much effect on – I set them out below.
I was knocking up in one of my ‘good areas’ at about 6.30pm on election day – I met a man in his late 30s in his driveway and I asked, of course, if he’d vote for me. He said he still wasn’t sure – he was a disillusioned Labour voter who didn’t want to vote for Gordon Brown – but, that, he "wasn’t sure, with the economy as it was, that now was the time for a change”.
My heart sank at that point. We had just endured the worst recession in our history (with the West Midlands the worst affected region of the UK). Banks had collapsed under a regulatory regime established by the then current Prime Minister 13 years ago. Our budget deficit was massive and unsustainable, and entirely the fault of the government. (There are of course 20 other points all of us could make here about the Labour government’s economic incompetence). And yet at 6.30pm on election day, a relatively affluent middle class voter in Dudley was still weighing up if he’d be safer with Gordon Brown.