« Why should the BBC have a monopoly on the licence fee? | Main | YouGov's perfect Christmas gift for David Cameron »


Good to read Michael Bates' upbeat assessment of the Conservative condition in the North. The report was primarily about Yorkshire but I can testify to the very strong state of the voluntary party in the North East. David Cameron recently spent the day in the region and I was really impressed by the enthusiastic reception he got from the business community, young people and party members - he was warmly welcomed at a big business event and numerous business leaders wanted to talk to him. He was very well received at a training centre for young people and over 300 voluntary members turned out at 5.00pm on a wet Thursday to see him at a special reception, more than have turned out at any time since Margaret Thatcher.

In elections we have held our own or won ground from Labour this year. Seat number increased in Sunderland, Stockton, Darlington, Tynedale and even in the Sedgefield by-election (where I was pleased to be the candidate) the share of vote increased slightly at a time before the Party's recovery began.

It would be wrong to overstate the task of winning support based on two Lib Dem held seats around Sheffield and Leeds. When faced with the chance to change the government, people in Leeds are as keen to do so as anywhere else in the UK. I am confident they will cast their vote for the only guy capable of replacing Brown as PM - David Cameron, not Clegg or Huhme.

I remember not very long ago (10 years back), Labour did not have a single seat in the South East of England.....and their closest shot (Dover), they were still 800 votes short.After 1997, it was a much rosier picture for them- there is no reason why the same cannot happen for us in the North....indeed, we are far stronger in the North right now than Labour were in the South East back then.

Whilst this article is ostensibly about Yorkshire, I am not certain where these great advances at last year's local elections are. The Yorkshire battleground for us is in the West and South, and we have been under performing here in an alarming way in recent years - there was a net loss amongst these councils last May.

I am the first to recognise the fntastic successes in parts of Lancashire, Cheshire and Sunderland, but with so many seats up for grabs in yorkshire, I would feel more confident with a lttle realism and understanding of the real situation from those in charge there

Do we still have a shadow minister for Leeds & Bradford? There hasn't been a sound from Hague since his appointment

"Yorkshire will get the Tories to 45%"

Okay, that came true quicker than expected :-)

I think we need to be more careful what we mean when we talk about the "North" as well as "Yorkshire". The North is not an homogenous place and in some parts we are doing really well, others we are gaining grounds and in yet other areas we have not made an impact or suffered setbacks. There are some practical issues amongst this, not least that it is necessary to build up the Conservative voting habit in areas that have lost it and where we may not have had councillors in proper numbers for a long time. The answer is to build up the base with hard graft. All the evidence shows that this will happen and we will win these places back.

Two points:

1) At the next election people will see that they have a real chance of voting out an unpopular government, but only if they vote Conservative. As the election draws closer I think more people will realise that. I suspect as a result of this we could take some traditionally Tory seats in the North of England (and Wales and Soctland for that matter) with swings higher than the national trend.

2) I think people in strongly Labour/anti-Tory areas are more reluctant to tell polsters they will vote for us. For example If memory serves me correctly at all three Scottish Parliament elections all the final polls have suggested that we will finish a clear fourth, yet everytime we have finished third...

This is a very good article - very pleased to see Mike Bates heavily involved in this excellent Campaign North.

(He's former MP for what is now Middlesbrough South & Cleveland East).

It is patchy - In South Ribble (Lancashire) the Tories polled over 62% in the May local elections to under 28% Labour, with the Lib Dems almost entirely wiped out (1 councillor left).

East Riding of Yorkshire was also a great result, wiping out a lot of the Lib Dems and ironically decapitating their leader.
But that result covers areas mainly with Tory MPs and was making the area more safe.

It is true the Tories have done pretty well on actual numbers of councils controlled - but they do tend to be the small councils.

Frankly, we lost the last seats in Liverpool and Manchester in 1987 (despite winning in 1987 and 1992).

The main urgent priority is to pick up enough marginals in urban West Yorkshire (Halifax, Leeds NW, Leeds NE, Calder Valley, Pudsey, Elmet - which has an unhelpful boundary change, and so on).

I think local campaigns seat by seat are the main way to do this, and Campaign North is a very positive move, and deserves every success.

We have suffered from a flatlining in many of these areas because public sector employment has expanded massively. We need to counter that by offering people an alternative that shows you can run a small business without being taxed to the hilt.

There are Shadow City Ministers in Sheffield, Leeds, Hull, Liverpool, Manchester, Tyneside, Wearside and Teesside.
Having a minister for an area doesn't mean anything - the fact is that ministers across all the issues are supposed to be ministers for the United Kingdom, how every area of the UK is affected needs to be addressed - how men and women are affected needs to be addressed, but this doesn't mean that there should be seperate men's and women's ministers, it's totally looking at it the wrong way.

There needs to be a Federal system across the UK - there needs to be devolved parliaments for Yorkshire, Cornwall, Wessex, Mercia, Lancashire, South East England, Norfolk etc... ect... and devolution within Scotland, Wales and Ulster. Moving the UK parliament to a more central location and having a more de-centralised Civil Service based more centrally in the UK will help sort out localised difficulties.

"The Conservative Future branches in Leeds, Manchester, York, Lancaster and Durham are among the top branches in the country."

Er... there isn't a Conservative Future branch in York...

"There are Shadow City Ministers in Sheffield, Leeds, Hull, Liverpool, Manchester, Tyneside, Wearside and Teesside."

Which is an indication of where things are going wrong for the Conservatives in northern England.

At the next election there will be NO Conservaive MPs in Sheffield, Leeds (Pudsey and Elmet are not part of Leeds city), Hull, Liverpool, Manchester or Newcastle. Indeed we probably won't even have any councillors in these places by then.

The Conservatives need to concentrate on the industrial towns around the big northern cities - places like Bolton, Hyndburn, Bury, Worsley, Wallasey, Halifax, Wakefield, Dewsbury, Keighley, Sunderland Central, Stockton, Penistone, Don Valley, Bassetlaw. These areas know that Labour has failed but have not yet been given a reason to vote Conservative. The skilled northern working class is there for the taking - we just need the right policies.

I get the feeling though that these places aren't regarded as 'fashionable' enough by the party leadership.

There are twice as many potential Conservative gains in West Yorkshire alone as in the whole of Scotland yet I suspect Scotland is regarded as more important by the party leadership.

Michael Bates is my old boss, he is a great guy and well-suitd for the job....I hope he returns to mainline politics, he would great in the Cameron cabinet.

In the last couple of years in Leeds many old factories have been demolished to build blocks of flats. This has really made me realise how important industry used to be up here and how long these factories have been empty.

There is still a big problem up here countering the Thatcher legacy. I have been confronted myself with an older person who accused me of being a "Thatcher lover". We will soon have a generation of voters who have never lived under a Thatcher government, but the young don't vote do they?!?!?


In 1983, 1987 and 1992 4 of the 8 Leeds borough constituencies were Conservative.

So Thatcher was rather popular in Leeds at the time.

Part of the Thatcher agenda was down to earth aspirational appeals to the working class. A modern version of the same approach would benefit us.

While campaign north is making improvements, the Sedgefield By-election, going from second place to third, showed that when it comes to fighting by-elections, the Party remains weak.

Graham Robb's campaign allowed the Lib Dems a free run at Labour because they didn't take on their efforts to encourage Conservatives to vote Lib Dem. In particular the myth that they were second placed to win. Conservatives had previously always polled second place in sedgefield.

The Conservative message was vague, focused on the wrong issues in the wrong areas and it has to be said that the campaign lacked the hunger and organisation to achieve a good reult.

The only lessons learned from the Hartlepool disaster was the candidate being local and selected early.

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker