By Tim Montgomerie
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In the Mail on Sunday James Forsyth reflects (scroll down) on Robert Halfon MP's successful use of the ePetitions system to put petrol prices at the top of the political agenda. James suggest Robert is exactly the kind of Conservative who connects with 'Essex Man':
"Conservative Election victories are won off the back of votes from the hard-working, lower middle class. If Cameron had done as well among these people as John Major did in 1992, he’d have a majority. But in Robert Halfon, the Prime Minister might have found someone who can help him connect with them. Halfon is the Tory MP for Harlow, which is real White Van Man territory. He has a grasp of what makes these voters tick, built up through a decade of campaigning there. Halfon is fast emerging as the Tory leadership’s ambassador to Essex Man. Osborne called him before the Commons vote on an EU referendum, and Cameron asked to see him after it. I understand that he and the Prime Minister discussed how best to get across what the Tories are doing for the striving classes."
Rob is one of the best examples of the campaigning knowledge and desire for a more balanced conservatism that the Class of 2010 has brought to Westminster. Rob fought Harlow twice before winning the seat from Labour last year. Over years of campaigning he overturned a big Labour majority and, in the process, learnt how to win the votes of blue collar Britain. His petrol campaign is a manifestation of this. He believes that, like the Group of Forty, issues of Europe and crime are important but so is a commitment to the NHS and a concern for the poor. One of the most important articles ConHome has recently hosted was his piece challenging the Conservative Party on its tax priorities.
James Forsyth is absolutely right about Rob's value to the party. I hope, one day, he'll be the Tory Chairman.