Bringing Natural Conservative Voters In From The Cold


In this article Clare Ambrosino discusses the need to engage the undecided and non voters to ensure a clear Conservative majority win in May.

As  May draws nearer, the 2015 election is looking like being the closest  election in living memory.  Of course, if anyone can win it,  the Conservatives are well placed to take the lead. David Cameron is the only credible party leader and over the last five years the Conservatives  have demonstrated their  ability to turn round the economy, attract global investment, keep the budget under control and breathe new life into the job market. However, with UKIP already putting forward proposals of alliance, it would be far preferable if the Tories were to win the election outright and not have to share power with minor parties.

Even at this late stage, it is not too late to fight for an outright majority and although it’s certainly not going to be easy- largely because of the phenonomen of fragmentation of the vote, there are an estimated 2,000,000  disengaged and/or disenchanted voters who have dropped from the electorate roll, as well as a considerable number of undecided. Statistics show that there are entire groups of people who, despite sharing  Conservative values, simply do not perceive the Conservative Party as being representative of them. These include, among others, women; voters living in the North of England; public sector workers and ethnic minorities. If the Tories are to ensure a clear majority win, these potential Conservative voters must be made to feel included in our party and represented by it.

Fragmentation is a phenomenon which occurs in most countries whenever identities, national –cultural or religious– become weakened. At these moments there is often an insurgence of niche populist parties which test the position of  mainstream parties. In such situations, the mainstream party can either stand firm and ignore the actions of the populist party, or implement policies to compete. An example of this can be seen in the UK where UKIP has had some success in both Labour and Conservative constituencies. Now, while a degree of flexibility is fundamental it is more important in times of weakened cultural and or national identity to clearly identify and clarify the key core issues which define the party and ensure that every action is in line with that. A clearly defined identity makes for integrity and so builds reputation and trust.

Naturally, the true identity of a political party is a matter of discussion. According to Tim Montgomerie, who together with Stephen Shakespeare of YouGov, has just launched a manifesto called “The Good Right”, the correct and traditional position of the Conserative party is fairly close to centre with core values of family, education, work and social  progress at its heart.  He believes that the perceptions of  what the Party represents for some people are associated with capitalism and tax evasions for the wealthy.   Montgomerie believes that the way  to engage with potential voters is to regain possession of the true political identity of the Tory party and this will allow those groups who haven’t as yet recognised the Tory party as being representative of them to feel empowered.

Montgomerie also believes in the role of the State for social progression and to defend traditional values which enable families to aspire to achieve. Other proposals he puts forward include raising the minimum salary, restructuring public spending in strategic sectors, such as health and education, encouraging home ownership and encouraging  women. These policies allow people to create a solid base for their families and this, as  Margaret Thatcher herself was well aware is a good way to nurture future Tory votes.

Another group of voters who are increasingly disengaged and who  feel alienated by much of UKIP’s rhetoric, are represented by Britain’s ethnic minorities.  What is surprising is that, while  many of these citizens hold traditional conservative values, they are family orientated with a high percentage of enterprising businessmen . As statistics show that the single greatest factor for not voting Conservative is belonging to an ethnic minority and, if by 2050 35% of the British population is likely to be of a different ethnic origin, it is vitally  important that they feel represented by the Tory party.

Therefore, even in this 2015 election, a strong Conservative majority is possible. There are very many people who either  don’t vote or vote for a party which doesn’t safeguard their values. Many have a misleading perception of what the Tory Party stands for and how it works to protect their own core values. As Reagan said, “Latinos are Republicans who don’t yet know it”, so many of our non voters are not aware that Tory core values are in line with theirs.

The Conservatives can win this election with a strong majority if we  welcome these voters into the fold, out of the cold.

Clare Ambrosino is Executive Officer at Parliament Street and PR and Public Affairs Consultant. Follow Clare on Twitter @iammaeve

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