Coffee House

The Tories have triumphed in Newark. Can they do the same in a national campaign?

6 June 2014

The Tories now have a great deal of confidence after Newark. It’s not just, as George Osborne said on the Today programme this morning, that ‘this all shows that if you’ve got a plan that is working for the country and you’ve got a good local candidate, as we did in Robert Jenrick, people respond to that’. It’s also that the party managed to run a very slick and energetic campaign.

MPs in marginal seats I’ve spoken to this morning couldn’t care less about a halved majority (especially given the circumstances of Mercer’s resignation and the danger of a by-election for any party of government). They see the result as a sign that the party can, in the words of one marginal MP, ‘win big when well organised’ and succeed with a positive message about the party’s achievements in government.

Now, the next challenge for the party is to work out how to take Grant Shapps’ cheesy-but-effective kitchen sink and road trip approach to one by-election and translate it into a national campaign where you can’t demand that MPs all visit one constituency three times and where ministers are desperately tweeting about their door knocking efforts in the hope of a promotion in the forthcoming reshuffle. But a successful campaign where even activists who tend towards the mournful and pessimistic are energised and encouraged is a good springboard for this.

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  • jazz606

    They’re not called safe seats for nothing. However Newark is now half as safe as it used to be.

  • Smithersjones2013

    They see the result as a sign that the party can, in the words of one
    marginal MP, ‘win big when well organised’ and succeed with a positive
    message about the party’s achievements in government.

    Well I wonder if that MP will be so confident when he realises that he will be fighting with another 150 plus MPs some of whom are ministers for what might well be diminishing resources (if it starts to look like Labour will win (and the less dedicated donors start shifting their donations to the winners).

    Whatever way Tories slice it they are at threat from Labour in 100 plus seats, they are under threat from UKIP in 30 to 60 seats and the Tories need to take at least 20 seats from the Libdems. Those 1000 activists Shapps has rounded up from the sheep fields of the shires don’t go very far if you are trying to cover 180 or more seats.I can just see it a telephone call between the Member for Backwater Under Hinterland to CCHQ regarding the campaign……

    MP “Hello. Can I have a thousand activists please and £250,000?”

    CCHQ ” You can have 6 activists and £1,500″

    MP “Oh well never mind. Will I get my colleagues coming up here at all and some Ministers?”

    CCHQ “Well the PSS for DCMS might be available three days after the election”

    MP What about David

    CCHQ [Silence]

    MP Hello, Hello

    CCHQ [Phone goes dead]

  • Kitty MLB

    Yes most certainly they can. Despite the coalition partners,
    the electorate wishing to give the governing party a bloody
    nose and all the very recent EU elections they retained
    this seat. Clearly the electorate despite all issues still
    trust the Conservatives to represent them at Westminster.
    And well done UKIP, but clearly, their party is still growing
    as Nigel Farage has said.

  • DaveTheRave

    Triumph? Confidence? It would be the confidence of the fool!
    Whilst many expected Ukip to do a little better (although +22% vote is very good by any gauge) the Tories need to bury a habit of lifetime and show a little less arrogance. Whilst Labour’s performance was abject, from which the Tories can gain some satisfaction, the one glaring fact about life in this country today is that we are generally totally fed up with the main political parties and want real changes made… not promises which are forgotten as soon as the blues re-enter Number 10. LibLabCon treat as as expendable most of the time: it’s about time they realised the truth – THEY are the expendable ones.

    • Denis_Cooper

      Labour’s performance was abject partly because about a third of those who were minded to vote Labour in the early stages of the campaign didn’t do so; instead about the same number of votes were added to the Tory total. So the Tories can gain double satisfaction from that tactical voting; Labour share of the votes down 9%, their share up 9%.

  • global city

    Is Cameron’s europhilia about to be exposed in the cruellest of ways?

    Seems he won’t meet Juncker because he is afraid that Juncker will offer a deal that the British people would like, but the Tories would be appalled at.

    This really should be followed up… are our tory lickspittle MSM up to that though?

  • Denis_Cooper

    The question is whether enough supporters of the three pro-EU parties care
    enough about the EU that they would be prepared to hold their noses and vote tactically for the candidate of another pro-EU party in order to be sure of stopping UKIP. It appears that in Newark about a third of those initially minded to vote Labour decided that it would be better to vote for the Tory candidate instead,
    and presumably that was to stop UKIP and so defend our EU membership.

  • Aberrant_Apostrophe

    Only if they can clone Cameron a few dozen times…

  • Jambo25

    Newark was a solid, safe Tory seat. The party flung huge resources at the seat and still saw their majority cut from 16,000 to 7,000.

    • Alexsandr

      i am struggling to see that as a great victory. more like jst scraping through.
      is Newark a marginal now?

      • Jambo25

        I entirely agree. That’s the point of my posting. God knows, I’m not a UKIP supporter. I’m an evil ScotNat but to see this result as anything other than rather a good one for UKIP is simply nuts. The Tories can take 2 bits of consolation from this. 1) They held the seat. 2) The results were poor for Labour and the Lib Dems. Actually, the result was apocalyptic for the Lib Dems and rather rancid for Labour too at this point in the life of this government. It still wasn’t a great night for the Tories.

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    Isabel, you too get the headline wrong, it ought to read:


    The electorate chose what’s right. A nobody beat Helmer – everyone knows who
    Helmer is, I don’t even know the name of the kid that beat him. This is the honest truth.

  • Grey Wolf

    Is this what TRIUMPH look like to the fanboys? A majority of 7000 in a safe seat?

    • BarkingAtTreehuggers

      oddly, yes.

      • Grey Wolf

        Is that what dehydrated Shapps is saying? Give him some water.

    • Hello

      Is this what an insurgency looks like? A bad second?

      It was a pretty good result for a government to get on the back of a corrupt MP resigning, and the reduction in the size of the majority is also due to turnout being lower. The Con vote was still almost 20% higher than Ukip. Ukip didn’t even come close.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        The Camerloons dropped 9 points, in a “safe” seat. They are doomed. They would likely have lost the 2015 GE even if they equaled their 2010 Newark performance. Now it’s proven they won’t even do that. They are doomed.

        • Hello

          “The Camerloons dropped 9 points, in a “safe” seat”

          I don’t want to point out the obvious, because I’m sure you’re really intelligent deep down inside, in your heart, but a “safe seat” is a safe seat precisely because you can drop 9 points.

          • Grey Wolf

            Wrong. A safe seat is a safe seat because you don’t have to expend a lot of effort to win it. A majority of 7K was won by enormous huffing, puffing and panting. Just go make sure that Shapps has had enough water to drink. He was looking quite dehydrated.

            • Hello

              Ukip got 10K votes in total. I don’t they’re in a position to turn their nose up at a 7K majority.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …and a doomed Dave is a doomed Dave, as this “safe” seat’s performance indicates.

          • Aberrant_Apostrophe

            So what about their marginal seats? Presumably they will fall because the Tories will have to poor all their resources into retaining their ‘safe’ seats?

            • Hello

              Hasn’t it been demonstrated that Ukip are not a threat in the safe seats?

              • the viceroy’s gin

                How so? You LibLabCon socialists had to band together in Newark, but is that going to happen everywhere?

      • Grey Wolf

        Quite literally, the whole Tory apparatus was there to defend this SAFE seat. That’s an effort they will not be able to replicate in a general election. Go over the math again.

  • kyalami

    I feel almost foolish stating the obvious, but the Conservatives threw all their resources into winning a safe seat. Well done that they won and won handily: however, it won’t be possible to repeat this scale of effort in every safe and marginal seat in the General Election next year.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      They showed their weakness, yes.

      Back in the 19th century, off the cost of China, the Japanese Navy won a great naval victory, even though nearly half the crews of their warships were down sick and unavailable for service, and their fleet was almost a paper tiger as a result. But the enemy didn’t know, and the Japanese didn’t let them know. And their bluff worked. The enemy submitted.

      And then there’s Field Marshal Dave.

    • telemachus

      When Labour put effort in to all 625 seats right will prevail
      Most of the LibDem vote will go to Labour
      Most of the Tory defections will be to Ukip

      • Grey Wolf

        STFU Telly. Labour came a distant 3rd. 3rd, did you get that. Nobody wants Blairites back in power.

        • realfish

          ‘Nobody wants Blairites back in power.’
          And I think that you’ll find that even less will want Miliband’s Marxist Labour /hard left, in power

          • telemachus

            But you will get the Charismatic team
            A team that cares

            • saffrin

              That team can’t be Labour then.
              Labour invented the Liverpool Pathway remember?
              Labour cared so much thousands died from their indifference.

              • telemachus

                You are a fool
                Labour were nothing to do with the Care Pathway
                If you read even the biased Telegraph and Mail the Pathway was promoted by Hospice Doctors to stop Cancer patients dying in agony
                After 2010 overstretched doctors and nurses were induced by managers and financial incentives to use it for the wrong reasons without telling the families

                • saffrin

                  Liar, denier.
                  Andy Burnham having all connection to his NHS record removed from wiki doesn’t wipe out recent memories.

            • flaxdoctor
              • telemachus


                Charisma is addictive: Followers become addicted to the leader’s charisma, reinforcing displays of populism and perceiving unpopular decisions as deal-breakers

            • Smithersjones2013

              Misfits from the Addams Family, Charismatic? Well in their way I suppose

          • Grey Wolf

            My political persuasions will put me slightly to the right of UKIP but I must say you don’t know what Marxism means or what hard left means. Read a little. Don’t just come here and blather to collect cheap upvotes.

            Are you implying that Miliband wants to impose a Mao-Stalin type polity in the UK? Are you out of your mind? Are you so unlettered?

            Miliband is a globalist, just like Dave. There is no difference b/w Tory and Labour on defining issues of the day – be it globalism, financial mercantilism, political correctness, media management, EU etc.

        • telemachus

          Labour did not believe Newark worth the effort
          Faragevtalks about targeting
          Labour knows how to do it

          • saffrin


          • gcowks

            ‘When Labour put effort in to all 625 seats right will prevail’

            ‘Labour did not believe Newark worth the effort’


            • Aberrant_Apostrophe

              Labour must be saving their powder, although I’m not sure for what exactly. Perhaps they didn’t want to be embarrassed even more by sending in Miliband and his Dream Team in case they received even fewer votes.

            • telemachus

              I said Labour knows how to do it
              See reply to Smithers

          • Grey Wolf

            You are a stupid Blair-Brown fanboy with no point to make. Begin your education again. You are in dire need of it.

      • saffrin

        Most of the LibDem vote may very well go to Labour, however, as Labour have shown over their last thirteen years in office they are no longer part of any labour movement, (outside of open door mass immigration that is), nor do they care for or represent the ‘British’ working class, (unless they is black), much of Labour’s ‘traditional’ vote will go to UKIP.

      • Smithersjones2013

        Did you miss the memo? Has Ed cut you out of the loop (did he catch you praising the other Ed?)? He’s only targetting 80-100 seat

        PS why are Labour going to ignore 6 seats (they contest 631 seats in England Scotland and Wales plus the Speakers seat)?

        • telemachus

          They are targeting 80 seats with electoral risk
          They for example do not need to target Neath
          And it would be pointless to target Chelsea and Westminster

  • swatnan

    Nige has himsel;f to blame; if he had been the candidate, he would have won it. Even though in 2015 he ould have lost it. But at least in 10 months he would have been a nucleus for many Tories skeptiks to gather around rather like wasps around a jamdoughnut or fruitcake.

    • fundamentallyflawed

      No – Nigel was astute in not trying to contest a safe seat. He would have polled higher than perhaps the UKIP candidate but would have lost and the political damage would have been catastrophic.

  • Tony_E

    No, they probably can’t. Labour, although struggling at present, still have a huge advantage and a solid head start.

    It does however, confirm that there is still significant opposition to socialism and the EU outside the major cities, so in the event of a Labour government a re-alignment of the right is a distinct possibility.

    • statechaos

      The ‘huge advantage’ is that constituency boundaries are biased in favour of the Labour party. The Tories and UKIP together achieved 70% of the vote in Newark with over 50% turnout. That is an amazing achievement for the Centre-right. The ‘working-class’ vote that Margaret Thatcher won over have turned to UKIP. This is not a good result for Labour at all.

      • Tony_E

        You only have one group of people to thank for that….the Lib Dems.

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