Peter Riddell spotlights more data from The Times’ Populus survey this morning.  That data underlines the Tories’ northern challenge.  Although 54% of voters in south eastern England agree that "the Conservative Party understands and speaks for people in my part of the country as much as any other part of Britain" the number falls to 37% for people in the north and just 29% in Scotland.  The numbers will underline the challenge facing William Hague as he chairs the party’s new northern board.

Mr Riddell points out that the Conservatives can still deprive Labour of their parliamentary majority by winning seats outside of the north.  He highlights three crucial battlegrounds:

  1. Approximately 11 seats along the M4 corridor in and around Bristol, Gloucester and Swindon;
  2. Approximately 15 seats in the M25 corridor around London; and
  3. An unspecified number of seats in the M1 corridor from Milton Keynes up to Warwick.

For victory, however, the Tories need to advance in the north and Peter Riddell highlights the M6 corridor in Lancashire.

In terms of addressing the Conservative Party’s northern and Scottish challenge ConservativeHome recommends three changes:

  1. A functionally separate Scottish party that has a similar relationship to the London CCHQ as Bavaria’s CSU has to Berlin’s CDU.  It is vital that Scottish voters see their party as genuinely committed to Scotland and not importing a London-based agenda.
  2. Genuinely local candidates in most northern target seats.  One of the great failures  of the A-list was its focus on representation of women and ethnic minorities but not on regional background.
  3. Continuation of ‘the Year of the Striver agenda‘ so that the concerns of Morrison Voter – value for money and personal security – are as much part of the Tory mission as the concerns of Waitrose Voter – environment and social justice.