Nick Denys is Head of Policy for Conservative Workers & Trade Unionists.
If you’re a Conservative, you have to be confident that you’ll have a good night on 8 June. The latest YouGov poll puts the Tory vote at 48 per cent. On the ground we’ve recently won the council seat of Coulby Newham (Middlesborough), a place the Conservative’s have never won.
That the Conservatives are going to win a decent majority I have no doubt, but on its own that will not be enough if we want to ensure that the Conservative Party dominates the 21st Century.
The Labour Party continues to have an incredibly powerful message, which resonates on the doorstep. Their claim to be the party of the underdog, that cares about you and your family’s lives, is believed.
Today most people will doubt that Labour can get the economy right or negotiate a decent Brexit, and many will be uncomfortable that Corbyn has tea and jam with extremists. But many people will also believe that the Labour canvasser who interrupts their day has his or her heart is in the right place, and that they’re working for Labour because they want to help those who are suffering and struggling.
That is an incredibly powerful instinct. It will not be enough to stop Labour from going backwards at this election but when Labour regroups under a better leader they will be in a position to win the next election, no matter the result.
For the Conservatives, therefore, this election campaign is not just about gaining a bigger majority. It is an opportunity to convince people who would never normally listen to us that the Conservatives’ care about them.
Too often Conservatives seem shy about banging the social conscience drum. We feel comfortable making cold business cases, or debating abstract terms, but fail to connect with voters emotionally. This is especially unfortunate as we are in fact the true workers party and we should be proud to say at every possible opportunity.
The proof is there. To coin a phrase from Robert Halfon MP, the Conservative Party over the last seven years has shown themselves to be the party of the ladder of opportunity.
Firstly, the Conservative government has been obsessed by ensuring that all workers have skills and jobs to achieve a better life. If you are on lower income, the Conservatives have given you skills so you can get a better job. The Conservative Government’s commitment to reaching three million apprenticeship starts in England by 2020 will have the biggest positive impact on social mobility for a generation.
Secondly, the Conservatives have worked to improve workers’ wages, especially those on low-pay. We want you to be able to spend more of your money on what you want to. It is the Conservatives who introduced the national living wage while also cutting taxes for lower earners. No-one pays any income tax on the first £11,500 they earn.
Thirdly, the Conservative believe it is morally right to create a fair and safe work place; and that a fair day’s wage deserves a fair day’s pay. That is why the Prime Minister has promised not only to protect the rights of workers, but to build on them.
Fourthly, the Conservatives have reformed the welfare system to help those who need help to gain independence, mainly through getting people back into work. We care about those who aren’t as fortunate as the majority, which is why the Conservatives want to make sure that the state is always able to help those who falloff the ladder.
We also spend £50 billion a year on disability benefits – that’s the second highest amount in the free world. But good intentions are meaningless unless they can be funded by a strong economy.
Let’s wear our Conservative hearts on our sleeves and tell people why we want a Conservative government to be elected – because we want the best for them and their families.
We have a unique opportunity to convince people across Britain that we are the real worker’s party, the real trade union for the British people and the real party of the ladder of opportunity. Let’s grab it.