Conservative party must widen appeal beyond core vote or face irrelevance, warns Michael Gove

Posted On: 
21st May 2018

The Conservative Party must widen its appeal with the working class and young people or risk defeat at the next election, according to Michael Gove.

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The Environment Secretary will urge party chiefs to “go further” in attempts to attract a more diverse set of supporters at the launch of new think tank, Onward.

“The Conservative Party is at its best when it appeals beyond its core vote and puts forward a reforming, forward-looking agenda that responds to the concerns of the entire nation,” he will say.

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“At last year’s election we proved that our values and policies resonate in places once thought impenetrable Labour strongholds, but we need to go further to convince more people that we understand the need for change.”

The new centre-right think thank has been set up by Conservative MP Neil O’Brien, and former adviser to Theresa May, Will Tanner, and is also backed by Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson.

They will point to new figures which show that only one in five BAME voters support the Conservatives while the proportion of BAME voters in the UK is expected to double over coming decades.

“The Conservative Party will not win from its ideological fringes,” Mr Tanner said.

“It can only regain a serious majority by putting forward a positive agenda in the mainstream of public opinion and appealing to a broad a range of people as possible.”

He added “We need to be the party of both traditional working class who are disillusioned with Corbyn’s Labour and the party of younger, metropolitan voters at ease with the modern world. If we don’t we will forfeit our political relevance and be finished for at least a generation.”

Their remarks echo comments by Ms Davidson, who warned party bosses at the weekend that young people viewed the party as “anathema”.

She said that the “crash generation simply don’t trust the motivation of the right”, and warned that it was “countercultural for many people in Britain” to vote for the party.

Mr Gove’s speech follows reports that the party are mulling a new scheme to offer discount cards to entice new members to stump up the £25-a-year membership fee.

The proposal currently being considered by party chiefs would see new Conservative members offered discounts on food, clothes and other items in a bid to boost the party’s flagging membership figures.

One senior party source told The Times: “The discount card is a very real possibility.”

“These are early discussions: we don’t know how many businesses would want to take part, but we’re keen to give members more in return for their membership.”

The Conservatives revealed earlier this year that they have 124,000 members, compared to Labour’s 550,000 members.

Pro-Corbyn campaign group Momentum has 40,000 members despite being set up only three years ago.