'Red Wall' Tory MPs say CCHQ is so out-of-touch and London-centric that it will lose them their seats

·3-min read
Boris Johnson at CCHQ
UK PM Boris Johnson. Ben Stansall - WPA Pool/Getty Images
  • Conservative MPs from the 'Red Wall' fear losing their seats due to central management.

  • The MPs spoke at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.

  • They said CCHQ doesn't understand their areas, and predicted losses if there was no change.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The Conservative Party campaign headquarters (CCHQ) is failing to provide MPs in marginal constituencies with the support they need, Tory MPs have said, attacking the party for its London-centric organisation.

Jonathan Gullis has been the MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, in the West Midlands, since 2019. He took the seat for the Tories for the first time since 1950.

He told other Conservative MPs, aides, and attendees at a conference fringe event that the Labour Party had realised Stoke was a target, but his efforts to rally support from CCHQ were not succeeding.

"They're a closed off shop," he said. "They've got too many people - quite brutal - a lot of people who are from London, who live in London, they look at a map of Stoke and they go, oh, they fall into the trap that Labour did, we must know what Stoke wants."

"They don't actually take the time to come up to Stoke-on-Trent," he said.

Gullis suggested if Labour took his seat, then many with smaller majorities than his 6,286 would also fall.

CCHQ is in Westminster, but it was announced last year that the party would be opening a second headquarters in Leeds, West Yorkshire.

"Why is the new HQ in Leeds? We've literally sent our new HQ to a Labour controlled city rather than a small town or a small city that's just gone blue," he asked.

Gullis warned that CCHQ's London-centric nature could cost him his seat.

"They've got staff who aren't from that area, who don't speak our way, don't understand our way of life. And so it gets very frustrating saying to them - things like - you say about small boats [of migrants crossing from France].

"Not every seat will be affected in the same way. But in Stoke North, to be honest with you, the anger, that issue alone will cost me my seat if we don't get control of our borders," he said.

Conservative party fringe event
MPs, aides, and attendees listen to a presentation by The Decision Problem Henry Dyer/Insider

Gullis's comments were echoed by other Tory MPs.

Jack Brereton was elected to Stoke-on-Trent South in 2017. He was blunt in his criticism of the party's management.

"The scale of support you're now getting through CCHQ is far from sufficient for what it needs to be," he said.

Anthony Mangnall represents Totnes, a southern constituency in Devon, a long-term Conservative seat. He also criticised CCHQ's failure to look at the issues facing young voters.

"The criticism I've always seen with CCHQ is that they're never direct. I mean, frankly, between elections, quite slow. And where you've held seats like mine for close to 100 years, you just, you leave it," he said.

"How do we attract young voters? We are haemorrhaging young conservatives," he added.

Mangnall cited issues like housing and employment as being key to gaining young votes.

"We need to look at the issues and CCHQ has failed to do so for many years. And that has to start with young voters," he said.

The tone of the event was not totally pessimistic.

Attendees also suggested that, with the right pressure, the Conservatives could unseat former Labour leader Ed Miliband and senior Labour figure Yvette Cooper, who both have seats in the north of England.

The MPs spoke at a fringe event hosted by The Decision Problem, a new organisation seeking to provide "direct and continuous support" to the 2019 intake of MPs.

It also aims to encourage a new generation of Conservative members and activists; and to "create a clear and sustainable policy framework for the next generation of Liberal Conservatism".

Read the original article on Business Insider

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting