Fri, 19 April 2024

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By Bishop of Leeds
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Only 'a new Conservative face' like Sajid Javid will win a general election

5 min read

Mims Davies MP explains why she is backing Sajid Javid for Prime Minister, saying "we don’t necessarily have to change our message but our language and appeal."  

It’s tempting to forget, as we sit in Government offices and on the government benches in the Commons, that our recent electoral history isn’t as rosy as people might think.

We’ve won, after all, just one majority in 27 years.  And as we’ve found out over the last two tortuous years of Government, majorities make delivering for ordinary people an awful lot easier.

So how do we get there?

We don’t necessarily have to change our message but our language and appeal.  Ambition, opportunity for all, a belief in getting on and being rewarded for it are not values that are out of step with the population.

What we clearly need to do is change the messenger. The sad truth is that large parts of the public have switched off to the Tory message after nine years of incumbency. We could be promising bread and honey, but we have to be honest that when it’s us saying it, it leaves too many people with a sour taste in the mouth.

We only have to look at the numbers to know that’s true.

Let’s start with young women, where research conducted by Ipsos MORI is genuinely staggering. Amongst the youngest cohort, 18-24, we were outpolled by 73 points to 18. Amongst the slightly older, from 25-34, it wasn’t much better; Labour received the vote of 58% of the electorate, compared to our paltry 24%.

That’s important not just because women are half the population. They are the influencers in their families; they, more often than not, are the ones who feel we have nothing to say when it comes to their families- their daughters, granddaughters or their mothers and grandparents, So when they issue such a damning verdict on us, we must listen. Often these are young mothers – and clearly they aren’t happy with what we’re doing or feel that they aren’t connected and understood on everything from childcare to schools to healthcare. 

And what about those from ethnic minorities?

We lost the BME vote by 54 points. That’s, by the way, one of the fastest growing parts of the electorate. If our vote amongst BME Brits had held up from where it was in 2015, we’d be looking at a majority of 28.

Today’s politics is all about values and authenticity. And that’s why, to change those numbers above and get us in Government, I am pleased to back Sajid Javid for Prime Minister.

Why do we get beaten so badly by those groups because we’ve allowed Labour to get the jump on us. Jeremy Corbyn thinks he’s owed the BME vote and that of young women, and we’ve let him do it.

Saj is a potential for us crucial one-man wrecking ball swinging right through his argument. It wasn’t Labour that gave him the ladders of opportunity to leave the street described as Britain’s worst by the Mail – it was the Tory party, backing his dad’s small business, emphasising the value of family and education, and rewarding his hard work when he began climbing those ladders.

And it’s not the Labour Party that gave the job of Home Secretary to a British-Asian.

We have to get people to open their eyes to the Tory Party. We will look different and our appeal will be different in  having the first British Asian party leader and this will open those eyes wider than anything else – with core Tory values coming at them fast.

And as for winning back the women? We need to show we share and understand their values, too. Public services, more police and safer communities. 

This isn’t new – at least, not for me. Before Parliament I was the Conservative Women’s Organisation Chair across the 84 constituencies of the South East, the Chair of the All Party Women In Parliament Group and sat on the very first Women and Equalities Select Committee. I’ve thrown myself into it because I don’t think we can win elections without having women on our side. A reminder, to win, whoever is PM we need 40% of the female turnout to get into Downing Street.

For all the rhetoric flying about in this race – much of it of the loftiest kind – the best way to persuade people you are on their side is not to listen or to broadcast, it’s simply to get on with the job. And since he became Home Secretary, that’s exactly what Saj has done, putting women and girls at the heart of this agenda.

He published the draft Domestic Abuse Bill, which produced the first ever statutory definition of domestic abuse – including psychological and emotional abuse. He made £8 million available to support children and women impacted by domestic abuse. And he moved to ban the vicious cross-examination of domestic abuse victims by their abusers in the family courts.

And also vitally he oversaw the first conviction for female genital mutilation.

I know, too, from talking to Saj how important building on this agenda across Government would be if he became – as I believe he should – the next Prime Minister of this great country. He has three daughters, daughters he wants to compete on a level playing field, in whatever field they choose.

He also has committed to a multi-billion, multi-year settlement for our education system, from early intervention to further education, to give our kids a head start in the global economy. 

We win the next election only by putting a new Conservative face in front of the public, a new face for the Tory Party. Putting forward two more distant public school boys just won’t cut it. It’s time to be bold and bring forward a new generation. 

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