Have the Tories got their northern strategy right?
Why Cameron can afford to ignore Manchester, Liverpool etc?
The above coats of arms are from Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield – all great commercial centres, the homes of major universities and with proud industrial heritages. One or two of them, I’m told, have, or have had, modestly good soccer teams.
Yet none of them has a Tory MP and some commentators are saying that the party can never return to power unless this can be reversed.
Indeed – judging by his actions – David Cameron seems to share this view. With a series of visits he’s trying to demonstrate that these cities are no longer no-go areas for his party – and even the Tory spring conference was held in Manchester.
Yet the notion that the Tories need to win again in the big cities is absolute rubbish and does not stand up to critical examination.
The young Tory leader should go into Martin Baxter’s excellent Electoral Calculus site. If he clicked on the prediction tab, keyed in the vote shares CON 41; LAB 31: LD 18 from Brown-Cameron question in this month’s Populus poll he would get a pleasant surprise
For out will come a projected House of Commons of CON 344: LAB 251: LD 20 seats – an overall Tory majority of 42. This is based on 145 Tory net gains that the Baxter site helpfully lists and which, surely, represents the battle-zone for the next General Election. This includes a scattering of northern Tory prospects but only two of the targets are in the five cities.
The reason is depopulation and the move to the suburbs. For the five cities have just 22 parliamentary seats between them – a small fraction of the 529 seats in England as a whole. Together all the seats in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield represent less than a third of the 74 constituencies in London. The population shifts have made them getting on for irrelevant.
Surely the Tories should abandon this preoccupation with the north, certainly the cities, and focus the party’s campaign efforts on elsewhere in England where there are many more rich pickings?
General Election Betting
Most seats LAB 1/1: CON 1.02/1
Overall majority LAB 2.4/1: CON 2.55/1: no overall majority 1.34/1.
Commons seat spreads Cantor Spreadfair. CON 270-285: LAB 280-295: LD 54-57.
If you believe that Populus Cameron-Brown voting intention poll then now might be the time to back the Tories.