Interesting report in today’s Yorkshire Post from their Political Editor Simon McGee:

"It emerged last night that Tory MPs and senior officials were summoned to Conservative headquarters earlier this week for a confidential briefing with their leader on the party’s seven new aims for 2007.  Among them was an instruction for MPs to go back to their constituencies and take part in more social projects, like helping to paint or renovate local parish halls.

Multi-millionaire deputy party chairman Lord Ashcroft – who is understood to have already begun loosening his purse-strings for Tory candidates in some key marginals – also delivered a presentation telling MPs to take heart from his research which found party support was reliably in the 36 to 39 per cent range.  Any poll results outside that range should be considered "rogue" and ignored, he said.

Mr Cameron went on to outline the aims – which were later handed out to MPs on laminated wallet-sized cards, to make sure they did not forget.  Number Two was "to increase our support in the North of England", underneath "to win the 2007 local elections in England and meet our goals in Scotland and Wales".  Other aims were "to practise what we preach", which Mr Cameron explained as not only advocating social responsibility but taking direct participation in social action programmes, and "to align the party’s perceived priorities with people’s priorities".

MPs who attended told the Yorkshire Post that it was an upbeat, morale-boosting gathering.  But there was some concern that the aims were hardly ambitious: the party cannot fail to "win" this year’s local elections in England because it already has the most councillors in England, and the party’s "goals" in Scotland and Wales are presumably fairly modest."

More here.

ConservativeHome also understands that Conservative MPs were told not to worry about UKIP.  Only 1.5% of Tory voters were tempted to vote for Mr Farage’s party, Lord Ashcroft claimed.

These are the seven aims btw:

"Our aims are quantifiable – we will be able to measure and track our success and progress:

  1. To win the 2007 local elections in England and meet our goals in Scotland and Wales.  This means concentrating messages and local campaigns on NHS, Vote Blue – Go Green and to take on the Lib Dems
  2. To increase our support in the North of England. (e.g. establishment of Northern Board etc)
  3. To align the Party’s perceived priorities with people’s priorities.  This means focusing on issues that really matter to people – NHS, Education, Crime.
  4. To increase support for the party among those aged 18-34.  (At the last General Election we polled 28% among 18-24 year olds; and only 27% among 25-34 year olds.  So we have to do much more.  One way is to focus on issues that matter to this age group – childcare, environment, affordable housing, global poverty.
  5. To build a campaign machine so we are ready for the General Election. Our Association teams and PPCs are crucial in making this a reality locally.
  6. Increase our membership
  7. To practice what we preach.  Social Action programmes, greener and more environmentally friendly Association offices, recycling etc."