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Lets hope we manage to win a few wards in York where we also currently have no Councillors.

Thanks for the insight into Hague's dilatory work in the North. Sometimes I despair at our Leaders "many jobs and few results" approach to life.

How many full time employed party workers have we there compared to London?

In the North West, Chester looks likely, Bury quite possible and so too Vale Royal. PLUS, MORE GAINS in the urban centres where we already hold councillors: Wigan, Salford, Warrington, Halton, St Helens etc etc, with any luck.

Manchester and Liverpool are tougher nuts to crack admittedly.

Yes, of course we'll gain seats in the North of England.

Hull's probably a little bit of an ask lol - if we can win that one we're certainly on our way back to government

Hull???? Are you lot mad?

We do have agents in the north - they are in all the safe seats where we weigh the votes

I wish people would get away from this obsession about whether we win a council seat in Newcastle being the measure of success in the North East.
All the talk on this blog about us not being able to win in northern inner-cities because we don't have policies that appeal on northern estates is absolute tosh. We haven't been winning in Newcastle because the Lib Dems replaced us in all the well heeled middle-class wards in the 1990s. Almost every ward the Lib Dems have in Newcastle has been Tory. And, if it was a Lab/Tory choice on the ballot we’d probably control the council.
In Sunderland, where we lost seats to Labour rather than the Lib Dems in the 1990’s (down to 4 seats in 1997) we have regained ground. Hopefully, we’ll retake some more tomorrow.

"Hull's probably a little bit of an ask lol - if we can win that one we're certainly on our way back to government"

If we can win that, we're heading for a 1931 type result.

I included Hull because I thought Projecting Politics had predicted it but checking back they actually think it will be LD Gain from NOC so i'll remove mention of it!

What do people think about getting footholds in Liverpool Central Ward and Manchester Brooklands Ward? I don't think they look any more likely than last time.

It is too close to call as to whether we take control of Bury. What is cetain however, is that the Conservatives will become the largest party in Bury. Fingers crossed.

I cannot see us winning in Manchester Brooklands, but we have a much better chance in the 3 way marginal of City Centre.

Welcome back Rob Largan! Are you getting up a bit earlier these days?

We should be able to gain at least one ward in Manchester - it will either be the City Centre ward or Brookelands (maybe both?).

Think we can, for this election, write off Liverpool, Oxford and Newcastle. I would be very surprised and disappointed if we didn't get a foothold back in Cambridge and York. Norwich and the Wirral are both areas where we should make gains.

Personally, and closer to home, my eyes will be on Uttleford (where I'm campaigning). A Tory MP with a HUGE majority with a Lib Dem-run council - can't understand it.

Next-door Harlow is another 'one to watch' -with a Labour parliamentary majority of just 97 yet there's a three-way battle for local governmnet...

Hull? Forget it!

You'll only win Hull with local Independents....just like Mansfield....Labour Councils an be toppled by Independents.......and introducing PR into local government as in Scotland would change these areas for ever in favour of Independents

Re Lee Martin's comments about Hull, also read Liverpool. Identical situation.

Don't know about Manchester but Liverpool still looks very unlikely. Targetting the Central Ward (ie inner city) is frankly madness. We should be looking to the suburbs.

Re: John Craig

Your point about agents in safe constituencies is well made.

I know of one 10,000+ majority seat with a full time agent next door to a target marginal without one. Yet the majority seat will not countenance merging its operations with the target.

Could Conservative Home start up a thread of articles on how to improve the local (Constituency and Branch) organisations?

We need to focus some effort on the basics.

It is certainly a problem that the strongest Conservative associations (numerically, financially, and organisationally) are usually to be found in our safe seats, rather than in marginals.

Linking strong associations with marginals (which happens in a number of counties) is a good idea. In Hertfordshire, we found it worked well to have three associations (Hertsmere, Watford, and St. Alban's) one of which is strong, one weak, and one middling, sharing offices and administrative staff.

HF: Happy to initiate such a thread or threads. Please get in touch if you want to help kickstart something...

The logic with Central Ward Steve is that it has a very low turnout and lots of young professionals. The logic didn't seem to work too well in practice last time though.

crewe and nantwich should have a conservative majority for the first time ever.I don't know why everybody seems to leave us off the gains list. The only cloud on the horizon is the threat from labour that they will abolish us along with nearly 25% of all the district councils in the country.The public are not being consulted on this by the labour government but there has not been a peep from our national leadership on this democratic disgrace. In crewe and nantwich we are holding our own referendum and county wide poll.

I was an agent back in 1997 and was part of the intake promised with "ring fenced" funding for job security. How we laughed at our naivety afterwards!

Back then I advocated groupings of constituencies, using specialists for campaigning, fund raising and administration, working with associations to maximise resources. I know this is happening in parts of the country, but until the party sorts out its professional base, we will not move forward.

Across the country we have many volunteers doing their best, but a lot of time is wated reinventing the wheel.

I would like to contribute to any posts on this thread.

I hope we win more seats across the North (and indeed the rest of the country) tomorrow.

All of us (leadership, members, supporters) should not let the media get away with the lie that we have no presence in the North however.

Even if we don't win a single extra council seat, we still have hundreds of councillors across the north, control jointly or in partnership several big authorities including Bolton and Leeds.

Yes, we need to win more local and Parliamentary seats in the north. But let's nail the Lib Dem lie that they're the only national party.

Thanks Dep Ed re Liverpool's Central ward.

I see the logic but as you say it didn't look great last year!

The problem is a simple lack of effective targeting. As in Hull, the Lib Dems hold all 'our' seats and surprise, surprise, contol the Council.

Why should anyone in Liverpool bother voting Tory? We have no chance of any parliamentary seats, have no councillors and are placed third or worse in 29 of 30 council wards.

We should be concentrating on the demographically strongest ward and target it relentlessly - not be wasting time trying to gain inner city Labour wards!

It's not rocket science!!

Where is the north exactly?

(Just joking - every good fortune tomorrow to our friends in the north.)

I was one of the 3 candidates in Machester Brooklands in 2004. Despite the unusual circumstances - all up elections (boundary review), an all postal ballot, and coinciding with Euro Elections - we came within 95 votes (after a recount) of getting our top candidate elected.

I am convinced that without the all-postal ballot pulling extra Labour votes that would otherwise have stayed at home, we would have got at least our top candidate elected, as she was well known locally.

I am now back in London, so I don't know what has taken place since, but getting the majority down to less than 100 votes should surely have been the springboard for a lot of activity to have taken place in this ward in sufficient time for the 2006 elections. (If only to stop the media/Lib Dems bleating about "No Tories in Manchester")

However, I see that last year the Labour majority in Brooklands went up to 425, in what was a horrific year for Labour nationally.

This is a traditional middle-class suburban plus council estate ward where people are likely to vote, if you can engage them, more so than in City Centre ward, which is mainly young professionals.

Last year, when I won a seat on Greenwich Council, the polling district with the lowest turnout has a high percentage of 'young professionals'. This group is much less likely to identify with a local area, as they often move house frequently, and as a result are much less likely to bother voting (for any party) at a local election.

Interesting to hear your viewpoint having been there Graeme. I helped in Brooklands last year and although it seemed quite organised at election time, I got the feeling nothing much had happened between 2004 and 2006 - which if so would explain the poor result in 2006.

Agree with you entirely about the city centre vs suburban issue (as above). It's so frustrating when we don't seem to co-ordinate our activity better.

If we were consistently targeting Brooklands in Manchester and Woolton/Allerton in Liverpool and had been for the last 10 years, we would probably hold these wards now.

Hopefully the merging of the associations into federations will help.

Meanwhile however, in Wirral, we are inexorably going down the Liverpool/Manchester road as the Lib Dems continue to gain seats at our expense and we are now only just the official opposition - all after 10 years of Labour government. Surprise surprise, we also don't hold any of the parliamentary seats either - despite two of them once being 'safe'.

Why? Because the four associations are ridiculously territorial and spend too much time either fighting each other or bickering amongst themselves.

Steve -

I remember helping at a council by-election in Wirral about 20 years ago, just before or after we lost control of the council. Just like Sefton (where I am from originally) we have lost once safe seats to Lib Dems, and they have proved impossible to remove across the years to the extent that our associations have virtually diappeared as a result of having no elected representatives to support.

In the 1980's Maghull branch used to have around 30-35 regular attendees and put a full slate of 20 candidates for the Town Council. This year one candidate has been put forward allowing 15 Lib Dems to be returned unnopposed, with another 4 out of 5 guaranteed election and I am not sure if there is an organised branch any more. Reinvigorating branches is vital if we are to win back Crosby (or is it now South Sefton?) at the GE.

Liverpool is a massive challenge, although Woolton, Allerton, Grassendale and Hunts Cross have some of the most fantastic housing that should be naturally Tory, but they go Lib Dem because they are active and we are not.

But equally we must win back those wards in Wirral, Sefton and similar councils which we once held, just as much as gaining a foothold on 'symbolic' big City councils.

Where is the north exactly?

(Just joking - every good fortune tomorrow to our friends in the north.)

Posted by: Londoner | May 02, 2007 at 15:00

I understand they call The Northern Line "The Drain".......that must be because when we in the North flush the sewage flows south

Spot on Graeme.

I would have thought that after a full Local Election campaign rather than simply Local by-elections that the 3 party vote would be likely to be slightly stronger as Independents and minor parties struggle to compete for media access, probably the results will be very similar to those in last years Local Elections.

The problem with the Tory vote in the north is the same locally as nationally - while this government keeps throwing so much money at urban regeneration north of Birmingham, Labour will continue to hold strong.

We face a catch 22 and need to break through. Loss of support in North and other areas = weakening of local parties = lack of resources = no agent, no real organisation on the ground leading to spiralling decline in membership, delivery networks etc. Lack of work on the ground gives the voters the impression it is a wasted vote, and so on.
I think the Northern Board and City Seats initiative as well as shadow ministers for northern cities is an excellent idea, but only a start (campaigning with Oliver Heald the other day he was saying he was getting excellent feedback on the doorstep in the North in his role as Shadow Minister for Sheffield).
We do as well need some investment in paid staff to "pump prime" the regeneration of local leadership and organisation on the ground.
Good start - still more to do.

Will we win more seats in the North? YES.

We expect to increase the Conservative majority in West Lancashire tomorrow, but are still working hard to ensure that this does happen.

"The north" is not a homogenous block, but voters do expect to see their candidates and political parties between elections. Regular newsletters in the months well away from elections would build CREDIBILTY - something we lack in certain of the areas mentioned above.

"Across the country we have many volunteers doing their best, but a lot of time is wated reinventing the wheel."
John Craig, you hit the nail on the head.
Was just reading through the thread with no intention of commenting when I saw your comment.
It is probable the biggest bug bear I have with the party North of the Border, we just do not match the campaigning and targetting skills of some of the associations down in the South.
Some dismiss Scotland because of the disastrous results back in the 90's but we have slowly been recovering in our former heartlands although I really do think that our progress has been hindered by 10 years of poor targeting, resources and a lack of a grand plan to begin establishing ourselves again in area's where we were not strong.
We allowed the myth of "a tory vote is a wasted vote" to resonate for too long.
I get the feeling that this problem might have allowed the Libdems to dig themselves in more deeply for longer in the North of England as well??
A visible local association and feet on the ground is what builds a base in constituencies we have not so far prospered in. The libdems targets are smaller than ours and they will be concentrating on marginals against Labour come the next GE, our mountain is much higher and we need to build support in seats which are more out of our reach.

My last post went up on the thread before I posted it and went through the usual procedure??
Was going to add that I also agreed with Adrian Owens comments. "Regular newsletters in the months well away from elections would build CREDIBILTY - something we lack in certain of the areas mentioned above."

The Libdems are famous for their strategy of being the natural home of the protest vote, a visible presence from the tories well before elections will harvests a lot of "I am fed up with Labour" votes come the next election. This type of strategy with the job we have to be the biggest party never mind gain a majority really could be the difference.

while this government keeps throwing so much money at urban regeneration north of Birmingham, Labour will continue to hold strong.

Really ? How much have they thrown at Bradford with its devastated city centre ? The Conservative Council demolished 98 shops in the main shopping centre and three years later no start has been made on the supposed shopping centre to replace it - so the city centre is a wasteland.

Bradford Council always has money for demolition but seemingly none for reconstruction.

It is a poor relation to Leicester or Mansfield or Barnsley and looks like the East End after the Luftwaffe had visited

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