Nadine Dorries is the Member of Parliament for Mid Bedfordshire. Follow Nadine on Twitter.
I was delighted to be asked to speak at the ConservativeHome conference on Saturday and to give my opinion on how I think the party can
reach out to blue collar workers.
I don’t actually like the term ‘blue collar’ very much as,
by implication, it excludes women and so from here on in I will use the socio
economic terminology of C2s. It wasn’t an easy talk to give as all the way through I was
very much aware that the C2s are no longer going to listen to a thing we say.
They don’t trust any of the three main parties very much, anymore.
Back in the day, when I grew up on my Liverpool council
estate every member of Liverpool City council was Conservative. The city had
eight Conservative MPs. The Conservative Party had a brand. It was known
universally as the party of the family. C2s knew who and what they were voting
for. The C2 family today lives a tough life. It will only take a
minute or two of talking to a C2 before money crops up in the conversation.
They know the price of everything; they have to. They shop at Aldi for orange
squash, washing powder, detergents, dog food, bread, biscuits and crisps and
they go to Tesco for value fishcakes, mince, sausages and chicken. They buy
vegetables on the market and only have fish if it is in the reduced aisle. A C2
mum knows if there is enough spare for the chippy on a Friday night and she
would love to have enough to go to JBB Sports for the kid’s trainers rather
than the market. They know the price of milk.
To those who are in work, job security is king. So when, in
the Eastleigh by-election, Nigel Farage spoke about the UKIP immigration policy
as being based on the Australian system, i.e. you are only allowed in if
approved and have a skill we are missing and have a job offer to go to, C2s
liked that. That policy meant job security. It meant no deluge of Eastern
Europeans working for less than the minimum wage and distorting the job market.
They lapped it up and they voted for it.
In 1997, C2s thought things were going to get better. They
hummed the tune and waited. They got worse. Their dizzyingly high expectations
were dashed on the rocks of deceit. In 2009, the MP expenses crisis took a grip and diminished
the public view of all politicians and political parties. There is now a new kid on the block untainted by a history
of non-delivery, its name is UKIP and its leader speaks in the language of the
C2. Funnily enough, he’s speaking very much in the language of the Tory party
of old and, unless I am very mistaken, seems to articulating the policies the
Conservative party abandoned in our badly thought out and implemented programme
of crass ‘we’re all hip now, yah, really’ modernisation.
How to attract the C2 voter isn’t brain surgery. It involves
adopting the policies that provide people with aspiration, security and keeping
more of what they earn in their pockets. However, to recognise those policies,
one needs to understand and know the C2 voter.
So, here’s my list of what we need to promise C2 to win them
- Deliver a referendum on Europe right now based on the almost
certainty that the country will vote no and we get to keep the 53 million per
day we send as pocket money to a sick European project.
- Adopt an Australian style immigration system.
- Deliver a radical, across the board tax-cutting agenda that
puts money back in people’s wage packets. If people keep more of what they earn
they can spend more and the revenue take increases via other means than PAYE.
If people have it, they spend it. Especially the C2s who need to spend so much
more than most to elevate their position.
- Commit to ignore, from today onwards, the equalities
legislation which is forcing councils to allocate Gypsy and Traveller sites
across the country when Ireland, also part of the EU, has a zero tolerance
policy in its two finger salute to the EU.
- Abandon HS2 and redirect the money to house building and
infrastructure projects that do not rip up the green-belt but focus on urban
regeneration where most people live and work and deserve to have their
- Abandon all commitment to wind farms and a green energy
agenda. Shoot the huskies (joke!).
In addition to the above, we have to apologise for the Coalition. For having been forced by our Lib Dem partners to focus our time in
government on headline grabbing gay marriage, wind farms, Lords reform, HS2 and
much needed but badly delivered boundary changes. And who knows, if we do
that then maybe the C2s will have no reason to vote UKIP. If they believe
us that is.