Northern Pride #002: A wake-up call for the party by Sarah Stook
Not afraid to tell it how it is, and revered on Twitter for her 'sass', Sarah Stook is a proud Conservative feminist based in Grimsby. She has a keen interest in writings, politics on both sides of the pond and writes for numerous publications and blogs. She is also an Editor at the Mallard and freelance writer, and has a few home truths for the party in the North.
For some voters in the North, chewing their fingers off would be more preferable than voting Conservative.
It would be stupid to say that we shouldn’t bother with the working class folk in the North. For years, divisions were drawn between voters and certain demographics were expected to stay in their little box. The Conservatives focused on one group, Labour on the other while others scrambled for the scraps left. These barriers need breaking and that means focusing on a group CCHQ fears the most- those voters in the Northern heartlands of Labour. For years, they’ve been ignored. For years, they’ve voted in Labour blocs. In some places, you won’t find a Tory councillor.
These voters aren’t different because of who they vote for, they’re like everyone else. That’s what the Tories need to focus on. They’re people deserving of fair policies and a good life, the same that Conservatives dream of.
Labour voters are culturally conservative in their focus on family and other issues. They want to see their doctor without a three week wait, for their children to get a good education and for their local work plant not to close. When they look at Conservative politicians and policies, they think that they are just for the elite. Sure, the Tories aren’t perfect. Neither is Labour. What the Tories need to do is show that their policies work for everyone, not just nice families in Surrey. They need to bring down wait times, get schools up to outstanding level and save work places.
Tories need to stop treating the North like a dirty swamp. Politicians need to travel from London and speak to people who aren’t just their own members. The Northern Powerhouse should not just be the fancy job title of a lowly minister, but something actually taken seriously. When originally conceived, the Northern Powerhouse was basically a way for Osborne to flex his muscle in an attempt to appeal to different voters. Yes, he did have a deep interest, but it was also very political. It was a football, not a policy.
If the Tories just treat Northern Labour voters like everyone else, then we’re bound to make some progress. Show them that the political elite are going to deliver the Brexit they asked for, because their vote should not have been ignored. Show them that they are valued because they should be. A one party voting bloc without opposition takes itself for granted. Labour just expects the Northern working class to vote for them. The Conservatives expect the opposite, therefore Labour just don’t bother with change whilst the Tories ignore them.
Let’s hope that changes.
Northern Pride is a short series engaging with young northern Blue Beyond members, analysts and exec members.