Tory party 'is on death row' without major changes, warns sacked minister Rob Halfon
The Conservative party is "on death row" and facing "years in opposition" unless it makes sweeping changes to its message and party structures, according to Rob Halfon.
The Harlow MP, who was removed as Skills Minister in the latest reshuffle, said his party faced defeat at the next general election without a thorough rebrand.
Mr Halfon has long advocated changing the Tories' name to the Workers' Party and focusing more on opportunity for blue collar Britain.
Writing in The Sun, he argues: "The Conservative party is on death row. Unless we reform our values, our membership offering and our party infrastructure, we face defeat at the next election – and potentially years of opposition."
And he tore into an election campaign which he claimed showed his party as "devoid of values" and defined by cuts to public spending.
But he suggested the problems go deeper than Theresa May's leadership of the Tory election campaign, saying: "If we don’t change it wouldn’t matter if we had Alexander the Great or the Archangel Gabriel as Leader. We face the wilderness."
Among the challenges facing the party is matching the vast number of volunteers Labour could call on thanks to its hugely expanded membership under Jeremy Corbyn.
Mr Halfon warned against characterising the opposition as a group of "far left activists".
"Whilst it is clear that some are, the vast majority are not. It is no surprise that those who have a passion for change join a party whose core message is transforming the lives of the poor," he said.
"Nor is it astonishing that the Labour party have 600,000 members. Indeed, it is remarkable that they do not have even more. Such a huge Labour membership, alongside the support of trade unions, means they have a campaigning infrastructure that Conservatives can only dream of."
He suggested the Conservatives needed to make a pitch with a real "emotional connection" to the British public, while also changing its branding to either the 'Workers Party' or the 'Conservative Workers' Party' to make clear its defining mission.
Mr Halfon argued that his party's offer should be pitched around five 'pillars': workers' skills and jobs, workers' wages, workers' rights, workers' wages and workers' services.
He suggested an emphasis on the party's policies on the minimum wage, tax cuts for low earners and cutting fuel bills, while also urging them to do more to help the self-employed and those on zero-hour contracts.