Conservative Diary

Ideal Tory leaflet

5 Mar 2010 13:36:51

CCHQ approves strong immigration message for campaigning in marginal seats

Checklist A couple of weeks ago I began a process to find an ideal leaflet and drew up a list of policy pledges that could be included on that ideal leaflet. It's very good to see an almost exact reproduction of that list appear in a newspaper advert placed by our excellent candidate in South Ribble, Lorraine Fullbrook (full PDF of the ad).

Two pledges have been altered:

  • One corrected from my "Free long-term care for every pensioner who buys an £8,000 insurance policy" to "Free long-term residential care for every pensioner who buys an £8,000 insurance policy - so pensioners don't have to sell their homes."
  • And my "A cut in net immigration of 75%" has been changed to "We would cut net immigration from the current hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands".  I think that might be an improvement.

Every candidate should know that if they want to campaign on immigration they can. CCHQ are sometimes frustrating this but candidates need to be assertive.

Lorraine's newspaper ad is great but I would cut the number of policy pledges to just five or six when used on a leaflet. The five or six depending on the individual constituency.

Tim Montgomerie

26 Feb 2010 08:56:41

A ten point plan to put the Tory election campaign back on track polled 2,352 Tory members on 22 and 23 February. The results of that survey inform this post.

Dontpanic (1) Don’t panic! The Tories are still 7% ahead in the ConHome Poll of Polls. We’re almost certainly further ahead – where it counts - in the marginals. If the election was held tomorrow David Cameron would be Prime Minister and have a working majority. But, to coin a phrase, we can't go on like this. We have lost support in recent weeks and we can’t afford to lose much more. The changes below do not require radical surgery. All the right policies are in place. We simply need a more focused and more disciplined campaign.

Clarify (2) Clarify the economic message. In the vote of Tory members I tested four descriptions of the party’s economic message. The official description, supplied to me by George Osborne's office, came bottom in the voting. This, with 41%, came top:

"Every Labour government in history has raised debt and unemployment. Conservatives will clear up Labour's mess again. We'll cut wasteful spending, keep taxes as low as possible and encourage small business."

I'm sure this can be improved upon but let's get a clear message for doorstep campaigners.

Raisethedanger (3) Raise the dangers of a hung parliament. In a supplementary question to 326 members in Liberal Democrat-held seats/ councils we asked; “Do you agree that ‘a vote for the Liberal Democrats could produce a hung parliament and keep Labour in power’ is the best line of attack in Lib/Con marginals?” 93% said yes, 5% said no. That’s overwhelming.

Deploy C-Home-Election-Toolbox (4) Deploy the party's very sensible immigration policies. We may have overplayed it at the 2005 General Election but we are in danger of underplaying it this time. It’s crazy not to be highlighting an issue that is voters’ number two issue. We can start to kill off the BNP by demonstrating we are determined to end Labour’s “out of control” immigration. Unlike Michael Howard, Cameron can sell a tough immigration policy without frightening moderate voters. Chris Grayling and Damian Green have developed a good set of policies. Let’s sell them.

StopAnnouncing (5) Stop announcing new policies (unless we have a pledge as potent as the 2007 inheritance tax policy up our sleeves!) and focus on the best ones we already have. The Tories have loads of policies but we can’t go into a campaign with two hundred bullet points. We need to highlight just a few key pledges. The top ten issues that Tory members want on campaign leaflets are…

  1. A cut in net immigration of 75%: 84%
  2. No more early release for convicted criminals: 65%
  3. A two year freeze in council tax: 63%
  4. The abolition of inheritance tax for all families except millionaires: 63%
  5. A cut in the cost of politics including a 10% cut in the number of MPs and a 5% cut in ministers' pay: 57%
  6. Headteachers to be put in charge of school discipline: 56%
  7. Restoring the link between the basic state pension and earnings: 55%
  8. New laws that will give householders more rights against burglars: 65%
  9. The budget deficit cut in half by 2014 so future generations don't live in debt: 62%
  10. Abolition of Labour's expensive ID cards: 55%

I'd add more environmental and social justice themes into that mix but it's a good list to begin with.

Hague (6) Hague is a golden asset. ConservativeHome asked Tory members: “Which of the following individuals should front the Tory campaign?” William Hague – at 94% - gets the same score as David Cameron. He’s box office, particularly in the north. Party members don’t think he can be over-used. Boris is the Conservative that members rate next as a frontline campaigner with a 59% vote. Then Ken Clarke (48%); John Major (34%); Michael Gove (33%); Eric Pickles (33%); George Osborne (32%); Chris Grayling (20%); and then, tenth, the increasingly effective Sayeeda Warsi (19%).

Remind (7)  Remind voters on a daily basis of Labour's failures. Brown wants voters to take a second look at Labour. Bring that on! Voters need to be reminded of Labour failures. Tory members voted for these top five attack lines:

  1. Labour has introduced 111 new tax rises and council tax has doubled: 76%
  2. Labour failed to control immigration and our schools, hospitals and green space are under pressure as a result: 73%
  3. 8.1 million people of working age are not working at all and five million are on benefits: 69%
  4. Labour has doubled the national debt: 69%
  5. 100,000 million pounds has been drained from British pension funds: 68%

PutSomeone (8) Put someone in 100% charge of campaign co-ordination. I’m hearing lots of stories of too many chiefs in the Tory campaign (all able) but no overall chief. We don’t (alas) have Lynton Crosby co-ordinating this campaign but we need someone in absolute charge and able to give the campaign 100% attention. Who is that? George Bridges? The question needs answering and kinda now.

StraightTalk (9) Cameron can show that he's stronger than Brown by being the election's straight-talker. Labour’s best line is the one hinted at in last weekend’s Independent on Sunday: "There is something remarkable about the sheer bloody-minded resilience of Gordon Brown." Mandelson is talking about Cameron as a wibbly-wobbler. Cameron is a strong leader who does not deserve that label. By telling the truth about the budget deficit - as he has been doing for some time - I think he can get respect from voters and that can be contrasted with Brown’s dishonesty about Britain’s problems. In other words: Honesty equals strength; Dishonesty equals weakness. Sunday’s speech from Cameron – to the Brighton Spring Forum – should all be plain, without-notes straight-talk.

Choice (10) This election is a choice between decline and recovery. The choice at this election must be presented clearly: Brown doubled the national debt by wastefully spending too much taxpayers' money. His failed system of banking regulation meant we have had the longest recession of major economies. Immigration is still increasing. Voters can elect a strong Conservative government that will bring borrowing, immigration and regulation of banks under control or it can choose the chaos of a hung parliament and Britain could go the way of Greece with much higher interest rates.


Governing Britain, given Labour's scorched earth legacy, will be hard but a Conservative agenda will be a huge prize. George Osborne's corporation tax reforms will create a dynamic economy. Michael Gove's school reforms will be revolutionary. Chris Grayling's plans for elected police chiefs will transform the police's idea of accountability. Liam Fox's commitment to restoring the military covenant. A fairer distribution of seats. A 10% cut in the number of MPs. Theresa May's welfare reforms. Iain Duncan Smith's agenda for the family. Dominic Grieve's charter for reversing Labour's attacks on our liberties. See-through government will bring costs down across the public sector. This is an agenda worth fighting for.

Tim Montgomerie

22 Feb 2010 08:28:02

Vote for the ideal Conservative election leaflet

ConservativeHome wants your help to design the ideal Tory election leaflet. We want you to choose the best Tory policies, the best way of describing the Tory economic message and the best way of attacking Labour.

Vote here. Results from Thursday.

21 Feb 2010 19:43:32

Would you like to suggest any other components for the ideal Tory leaflet?

6a00d83451b31c69e20120a8be0541970b-250wi In the morning I'll be emailing out the monthly ConHome questionnaire. Its main purpose will be to get your views on the ideal Tory campaign leaflet. So far I've collected your ideas for the best doorstep Tory policies; the best attack lines on Labour; how best to describe our economic policy; and how to appeal to Lib/Con waverers.

So we'll end up with a leaflet that will explain our economic policy, showcase our most effective policies and attack our opponents' weak spots. What else should the leaflet include?

Tim Montgomerie

21 Feb 2010 17:37:38

What's the key message for Lib/Con marginals?

Ideal For those who've been following ConHome over the last 24 hours we're in stage one of a process to design an ideal Tory leaflet. So far we've looked at...

In stage two we'll vote on the various ideas and decide the best in each category.

As well as designing a leaflet for Lab/Con seats we need one for Lib/Con seats. What messages should that leaflet conclude? I have one suggestion:

A vote for the Conservatives will end thirteen years of Labour failure.

If *Miltonborough* elects a Liberal Democrat MP we may have a hung parliament.

That MP might even keep Gordon Brown in power.

Britain cannot afford the uncertainty of weak government at this difficult time.

From day one a strong Conservative government will begin the urgent working of reducing Britain's debts and getting the economy growing again.

We need a Conservative MP for *Miltonborough* who will work with David Cameron to invest in the NHS, protect the local environment and cut the cost of politics.

Please add your own thoughts below.

Tim Montgomerie

21 Feb 2010 13:57:43

How should the Tory economic message be described?

Ideal I've already sought your advice on best Tory policies and best attack lines on Labour. How should we describe Tory economic policy for the ideal leaflet?

The current Tory wording is "we'll rebuild our broken economy". A longer version is here:

"We will ensure stability, build a more balanced economy, reform public services to deliver better value for money, create new jobs and make Britain open for business again."

Earlier today Fraser Nelson suggested that 'Conservatives will save Britain from following Greece down the economic khazi'!

My own formulation:

"Every Labour government in history has raised debt and unemployment. Conservatives will clear up Labour's mess again. We'll cut wasteful spending, keep taxes as low as possible and encourage small business."

What words would you deploy? And, please remember, I'm not seeking your ideal economic policy but the ideal way of describing existing Conservative economic policy. Thanks!

Tim Montgomerie

21 Feb 2010 11:36:08

How should Conservative leaflets attack Labour?

Ideal Over the next few days - with your help - I want to produce an ideal election leaflet.

Stage one is happening on the site now. I'm gathering together the best components for a leaflet, as started last night with producing a comprehensive list of best doorstep policies.

Stage two will be a vote of all ConHome regular readers. We'll vote for the best doorstep policies and on a few other components of the leaflet.

Stage three will see the results of the vote published in the form of an ideal Tory leaflet. We'll produce one for Lab/Con marginals and one for Lib/Con marginals.

As part of stage one I'm now asking for the best attack lines on Labour. Ten are below*. What would you add?

  1. Labour has doubled the national debt.
  2. Brown is borrowing £277,719 every minute.
  3. Britain suffered the longest recession of all major economies.
  4. Superbugs have killed thousands in dirty NHS hospitals.
  5. 900,000 more people are living in extreme poverty.
  6. The gap between rich and poor has widened under Labour.
  7. Labour's failure to control immigration will add nearly seven million to the UK population in the next 20 years.
  8. More soldiers have died in Afghanistan than in the Falklands, partly because of inadequate equipment.
  9. Anti-social behaviour has soared in places where Labour introduced 24 hour drinking.
  10. Brown broke a promise to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Tim Montgomerie

* A good number from John Major's demolition of New Labour's record in the Mail on Sunday.

20 Feb 2010 19:39:49

Is this a comprehensive list of our doorstep pledges?

Ideal I'm preparing the end-February poll of readers and one of the questions will attempt to identify the best doorstep pledges. Two questions for you as I attempt to get the survey content right:

  • Have I missed any in the list below?
  • Could any of them be worded better?


  • More funding for the NHS
  • Headteachers to be put in charge of school discipline
  • 450,000 new apprenticeships, college and training places
  • Guaranteed continuation of the minimum wage and child benefit
  • A cut in stamp duty for first time homebuyers
  • A recognition of marriage in the tax system
  • A two year freeze in council tax
  • The abolition of inheritance tax for all families except millionaires
  • Restoring the link between the basic state pension and earnings
  • Free long-term care for every pensioner who buys an £8,000 insurance policy
  • No more early release for convicted criminals
  • New laws that will give householders more rights against burglars
  • A new British Bill of Rights that will end the nonsenses of Labour's Human Rights Act
  • A cut in net immigration of 75%
  • Never to Britain joining the Euro
  • A Green Deal that will mean you can insulate your home now and pay the costs over time through lower energy bills
  • A high-speed railway network that will connect north and south and boost the UK economy
  • A cut in the cost of politics including a 10% cut in the number of MPs and a 5% cut in ministers' pay

PS These aren't necessarily the most important Tory pledges (eg the transparency agenda is more transformational) but the ones that will work best on the doorstep.

Tim Montgomerie

8pm additions to the list:
  • Abolition of Home Information Packs
  • The budget deficit cut in half by 2015 so future generations don't live in debt.