London is, or at least ought to be, an area of acute electoral concern for the Conservatives. The Party has a recent habit of moving backwards there even when it makes progress in other parts of the country.
With a diverse and broadly Europhile electorate, there is talk in some circles that the capital risks becoming the Tories’ “next Scotland” if urgent action isn’t taken to reconnect with London voters.
That task has now fallen on Paul Scully, MP for the south London seat of Sutton and Cheam, who CCHQ yesterday announced has been appointed as the new Vice Chairman for London. He replaces Stephen Hammond, who was sacked after he voted to defeat the Government over the Withdrawal Bill.
In its press release, CCHQ highlights how Scully has successfully bedded himself into his seat, which was previously held by the Liberal Democrats for 18 years. In 2017 he managed to strengthen his position and win over 50 per cent of the vote, which contrasts with the loss of the nearby seats of Twickenham and Kingston and Surbiton.
How much does that contrast owe to Scully’s campaigning nous, as opposed to the fact that he, unlike Tania Mathias and James Berry, wasn’t challenged again by his seat’s previous owner in June? That remains to be seen.
CCHQ also emphasise how Scully has been building relationships with minority communities (“diaspora groups”) in his constituency. The Tories went backwards with these voters at the last election, and Scully and the entire Party will have their work cut out to regain the ground won by David Cameron over ten long years between 2005 and 2015.