The 2015 general election will be one which will not follow any precedent, and will most likely set a precedent of its own. It will differ from 2010 where there was no winner and it will differ from 1997 where there was a landslide. But as the weeks and months tick down to May 7th 2015, what is needed and what has to be done to ensure victory for the Conservatives?
The first issue the Conservatives will have to look at is the economy. Our economic performance is much healthier than in 2010. Indeed, in 2010, the economic outlook was bad, with the nation suffering from a boom and bust culture riddling the country with high borrowing, high debt and low economic growth. The incoming government needed to act effectively to ensure the economy was rescued and could be in situation to grow once again. Labour spent the best part of two years mocking the Conservatives because there wasn’t instant growth, but after one of the deepest recessions since the 1930s, you wouldn’t expect instant growth immediately. Labour said that Plan A of deficit reduction wouldn’t work, they said recovery would be choked by the plan, they advised for a Plan B to be followed. But now in 2014, we are seeing unemployment DOWN, employment UP, borrowing DOWN, debt DOWN, growth UP and we are seeing Labour not wanting to talk about the economy anymore. And with growth now predicted to be three times that of Germany, the newly self-appointed financial heart of Europe, this rosy economic outlook is set to continue.
The issue for the Tories in 2015 is two-fold however. The first is to ensure the recovery continues. This may be easier said than done, but essentially the plan must be to ensure that Britain is gaining investment in order to help businesses increase output and keep our doors open for business. The next part of this issue is making sure that everyone is seeing the effects of the recovery. With Labour and Ed Miliband focusing so much of their attention and energy on a so called ‘cost of living crisis’ over the past few months, measures to ensure lower energy costs and food prices would surely seal the economic debate in favour of the Conservatives. The key to success when it comes to this is confidence – if voters can see visible effects in terms of lower prices and policies to help common people, then they may be more inclined to vote Conservative as opposed to Labour.
The next issue is whether the Tories will be able to keep voters from turning their backs on the party and waltzing over to join the ranks of UKIP. This part of my article is a disagreement with an article written for the Daily Telegraph some time back. The article was talking about how the countryside, which has always been very loyal to the Tories, could be lost in 2015. I want to explore the deeper issue here. The Conservative Party does have a strong loyal base in the countryside. This is a fact. The bulk of safe Conservative seats are here and these will remain safe in 2015 because UKIP will not be able to offer a strong manifesto on a range of issues because they are a one issue party. Fact. There has reportedly been a decrease in support for the Tories from the countryside, but that may be down to HS2. Now, HS2 has split nearly every party in the country because, nationally, it would be good for capacity and for strengthening the spine of the economy but locally, it would affect certain individuals hugely. I will allow you to come to your own views on what is the correct future for HS2. But I think it is safe to say that countryside support is still predominately Conservative, and although policies like equal marriage and HS2 may have rocked the boat slightly, parties like Labour, the Lib Dems and UKIP would have to do something pretty special to overturn the strong Tory support come 2015.
So let’s conclude. The economy, living standards and the countryside are three factors which are likely to be integral to a Tory success in 2015. The magic 326 is the number of seats the Conservatives need to gain to ensure a majority government. In 2010, we gained 306 seats, a 20 seat shortfall made up by the Lib Dems. As a Conservative, the next election will be fought on working hard for hard working people – ensuring the policies are not just Westminister rhetoric but actually have an effect to improve the lives of ordinary people. The Telegraph predicts that the winners will be Labour with a majority of 84, but I don’t think this will be the case. Middle Britain is far from convinced that Miliband is a strong leader and in marginal seats, many voters are seeing that their Conservative MP is working immensely hard for them. I think this election could be close, but the Conservatives are the only option for strong government with results. This is something I strongly believe and something will carry forward into 2015.
By Sam Kenward