The phrase is Tim Montgomerie’s.  He used to deploy it roughly as follows.  Yes, politics means making choices.  But they doesn’t always have to be either/or.  The Conservatives can have immigration control and international development.  Green growth and more fracking.  Same-sex marriage and transferable tax allowances.

The new majority Tory Government won’t necessarily smile on these examples.  But it will want to follow the principle.  To this end, ConservativeHome is reviving The Politics Of And.  In one series, we will examine Securing the Majority.  In another, Growing the Majority.  Boris Johnson will want to do both.

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In the aftermath of the 2017 election debacle, Mark Wallace wrote “The Rusty Machine” – a three part series on the campaign.  It painted a picture of both an air war and a ground war that had been lost.

These are very early days in which to carry out even a prelimary assessment, but the 2019 campaign seems to have been worked extremely well at the first level but been as troubled as ever at the second.

This Securing the Majority series has concentrated on government essentials: getting appointments right, boundary reform, tackling election fraud.  It ends by casting a brief eye forward on campaigning next time round.

  • Boris Johnson will want Isaac Levido,  Sean Topham and Ben Guerin, Paul Stephenson, Michael Brooks and company to return next time round (and to keep Darren Mott and other key personnel in place).
  • None the less, the Party must prepare for the possibility of some or all of them not being available.  One senior campaign figure stressed the importance of training the next generation of CCHQ campaign staff, so that the machine doesn’t have to be built from scratch all over again.
  • At the other end of the campaign, so to speak, are over 100 new Conservative MPs.  Some of them will have had next to no support on the ground.  All of them will have been reliant on Boris Johnson’s effective national campaign to get them over the line.  Many of them will be “Eastleigh MPs” – i.e: the local authority or authorities will be controlled by another party.
  • It isn’t clear where they will find experienced and able staff from to support them immediately, and one source told ConHome that some will attempt to their campaign managers.  CCHQ will need a strategy to retain those it hired and to find new ones in the run-up to next year’s local elections.
  • We received regular reports of campaign literature arriving late.  A solution would be for candidates’ literature to be far more local: the model in West Kent supervised by Andrew Kennedy, a former columnist for this site, might be one to draw on.  There’s no federation there, but a group of Associations work closely together.
  • Some argue that it’s impracticable to have Association Chairmen and officers in place who will be required to step down by the time the next election takes place, and that the limit on a Chairman’s term should be five years rather than three.
  • In 2017, the campaign seemed to see the Party pitted against not only the Official Opposition, but a mass of third party groups.  There appears to have been a bit less of that this time round, perhaps because of the unpopularity of Jeremy Corbyn.
  • None the less, electoral law is ripe for an overhaul: Government insiders talk of a need to keep foreign money out of the system.  And there seems to have been only a very late attempt to get systematic third party endorsements.  These may matter in 2024.

These are very early preliminary bids for thinking about how to approach the next election – and those in between.  One obvious addition is social media: the Party’s game has improved considerably, and provides a means of bypassing sometimes hostile broadcasters entirely.