Robert Jenrick is Excheqeur Secretary to the Treasury and MP for Newark.
The next election will be won by having thousands of conversations on the doorsteps, with people from all over the UK, particularly in key battlegrounds, such as where I come from in the Midlands. As Conservative voters and activists, it’s time to get out there again and get started.
There is a spirit of optimism following the appointment of Brandon Lewis and James Cleverly, and the appointment of some inspirational, hard-working vice-shairs, which offers a valuable opportunity for us to renew the Party. Despite this sense of progress, it is important for us, as activists, to consider what the biggest tasks are that lie ahead.
Above all else, we need to start connecting with new voters. The days of top-down political campaigning are behind us: as the very nature of politics is changing, we need to respond to the reality that in a world of immense connectivity, traditional forms of electioneering simply are not as powerful as they used to be.
When social media trolls attack Conservative accounts – and the internet is at times hostile to positive Conservative messages – we need to get out on the doorstep and connect face-to-face with the people as well as inspiring our supporters to make the case for us online. CCHQ does important work, but its social media strategy is not and cannot be enough. We need to get back out there ourselves.
The Conservative message of opportunity and aspiration is one that connects with the voters I represent and have known all my life in the Midlands. It’s what drove me into politics, and can inspire the next generation of Conservatives as well. At the 2017 election in our part of the world, the Conservatives won seats that we have never won before, electing bright, dynamic MPs in Mansfield, Stoke-on-Trent South, and North-East Derbyshire who show the party at its best. There are opportunities to win more.
These are parts of the country which have been receptive to aspirational Conservative policies that benefit hard-working families, but by the time of the next election we need a group of campaigners to get out there and defend the Government’s record.
This is why today we, a group of young activists in the Midlands (helped by others further afield), are launching a grassroots campaign. We have one key goal, to spread a positive Conservative message of opportunity and hope to communities in the Midlands. Through Action Days, we will get out onto the doorstep, connect local activists with their MPs and other local Conservatives, provide a simple means to make that connection for those uninitiated in the intricacies of our Party and take the fight to Labour.
We hope that this can trigger other groups to get out there and campaign and not rely on traditional forms of campaigning. If our small initiative is quickly superseded by bigger and better ones, led locally or nationally (and CCHQ are making strides forward in this respect), we will have succeeded as much as if this flourishes in its own right.
Our first Action Day, held in November 2017, fielded more activists than any other Conservative event since the General Election across six constituencies in the Midlands From Lincoln to Stoke. We have another one on January 27th and more to follow,.
The next election will be a battle for the soul and future of the country, as none I can remember. A Conservative message needs to be communicated effectively, or a socialist experiment could wreck our country irreparably. Join us, and let’s do our bit to help our candidates and brilliant new MPs keep changing their communities and the country for the better. You can check out our campaign days at www.forthefuture.org.uk.