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A growing number of Conservative MPs with a slim majority are cutting back on their time in Westminster in a bid to bolster their electoral prospects in their constituencies, as gloom surrounds the party ahead of the next election. .
US pollster Frank Luntz told Tory MPs in a briefing last week that any of them with a majority of less than 15,000 votes was at risk of losing their seat. While boundary changes coming into effect could change the electoral calculation, more than 180 Conservative MPs currently have a majority below that threshold.
Conservative MPs defending the marginalized can apply for a “vote” – allowed to leave the Commons – for up to a week a month to spend more time campaigning in their home region. them and are offered special help to try to improve their abilities. chance of re-election, some told the Financial Times.
Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) is focusing on an “80/20” strategy to save the 80 narrowest marginalized people and win 20 more seats in the general election, while preparing for four upcoming by-elections.
Special support for these 80 seats includes surveying local voters, profiling constituencies, funding campaign campaigns, and helping create campaign materials including “newspapers.” even” set separately.
According to a Tory insider, a poll in a range of 80/20 ratios revealed that some incumbents have poor reputations with local voters.
A concerned MP said low-visibility members have been told they “need to raise their local profile further” by acting as “honored local councilors”. “. The party apparatus urged them to send out hyper-local flyers, issue one-off copies, interact more with the local press, and attend more voter events.
Some MPs reported that a thin legislative program and enthusiasm by party leaders in encouraging MPs to campaign for four upcoming by-elections eased the pressure to be at Westminster.
Some are stepping up their campaign activities on weekdays when they have to scrutinize and vote on legislation in parliament.
A Tory MP defending one side stressed that recalibrating how they divide their time is “not unusual at this stage of the election cycle”.
Backbencher added that a significant portion of the most important government legislation, including on Level up, Online safety and the so-called illegal immigrationcurrently “bound in the House of Lords”, giving more room for Conservative MPs to bypass the Commons.
While government officials denied that there was a sketchy legislative agenda, another Tory supporter said: “There is not much on the agenda. We finished at 4:30pm one day last week. MPs are saying, what is the point of going down to Westminster if we do nothing? There is a sense of a controlled decline.”
Opposition parties have noticed this trend. A senior Labor MP said: “When you look at the number of Tories going to the polls, it’s usually only 280, 290 or 270, as if they have abandoned this parliament. You have to ask, where on earth are they?”
A Conservative official replied that only a handful of votes were granted on any given day and many of the absences were due to ministers traveling away from government and reserve MPs on visits. domestic or foreign.
Several MPs whose constituencies do not fall within CCHQ’s 80/20 criteria have also requested special help, with little success.
“You cannot continue to expand the list of marginal seats, otherwise it will become completely meaningless,” said one Tory MP, adding that they believed the party had “rightly identified the seats that will be sitting.” very important for the general election.”
Conservatives insist there is still a “narrow path” to winning the election and dismiss Luntz’s analysis. They say prime minister Rishi Sunak’s leadership is restoring confidence in the party, with 5,000 new volunteers signed up since he took power.
Donations received from January to March of this year a total of more than 12 million poundsmore than doubled from the previous quarter.
Additional reporting by Jim Pickard