Recently there’s been a further development in both the 40/40 targeting strategy and the long-running process of candidates being deployed as ground troops by CCHQ. It’s not unlike the approach which has apparently been applied to ministers, who are scored on their campaigning efforts.
First, candidates in constituencies outside the 40/40 seats have been instructed to submit a daily diary directly to Lynton Crosby recording the work they and their local association are doing in their allotted 40/40 seat. The implication is that a failure to do so, or a failure to demonstrate enough of the required activity, will reflect badly when their future on the candidates list is considered after the election – a form of leverage which has been used increasingly over the last couple of years, particularly in the by-election battles. There don’t appear to be any exceptions made for areas where there are local elections being contested on the same day.
Second, I’m told it has been made clear to those candidates that they are expected to be personally campaigning in their allotted 40/40 seat on polling day itself, rather than in the constituency in which they are actually standing. The degree to which this is going to be obeyed remains to be seen – an admittedly unscientific survey tells me that some candidates are planning to spend the whole of polling day away from their own seat, others are doing their best to divide their time between the two, while some are considering the risks of ignoring the instruction on the basis that they owe it to the association which selected them.