A little earlier I posted a few thoughts on ‘next steps for modernisation’. I urged the party to keep emphasising its commitment to the public services; adopt a more achievable environmentalism; embrace the social and international justice reports of IDS and Peter Lilley; defend the rights of adult gay people; recruit genuinely diverse candidates; and adopt a moderate tone. This site has always stood for ‘the politics of and’ – a fusion of traditional and modern concerns – and whilst we welcome the recent rebalancing it is vital that it does not become a retreat into core vote territory.
It’s also necessary that as we think about core vote issues again – tax, crime, immigration, Europe – we do so in an intelligent way.
I have just learnt that The Sun dropped more than 100,000 sales on Monday when it launched its EU referendum campaign. That’s a big drop for a newspaper in the middle of a circulation campaign. Although 65,000 people have signed The Sun’s referendum petition I’m far from convinced it’s the most important core vote issue. Last month’s ConservativeHome survey of Conservative members suggested that you agree.
Only 3% thought Europe was likely to be the most decisive issue at General Election. Nearly four times as many thought immigration would be issue number one (hence the importance of today’s Mail splash) and 26% put crime as issue one. I hope that the rebalancing will see a focus on crime and immigration – not Europe. I’m only talking electoral strategy here – not about what necessarily matters most in reality.
The other important ingredient for a successful rebalancing is that we approach the issues in a different way and I have 100% confidence in David Cameron’s ability to achieve this. His approach to crime, for example, isn’t just longer, tougher sentences. There are also lots of ideas to help young people off the conveyor belt to crime. And, on immigration, there’s a more sensitive language and we’ve got rid of the ugly cap on asylum numbers that we had at the last election.