Will the North ever love the Tories?


This week saw the three main political parties reshuffle their cabinet and shadow cabinet members respectively.

The key aim of such a process is not necessarily to replace incompetent or underperforming politicians with better people, but often about boosting your party’s appeal to the electorate.

Certainly, the spin coming out of the Prime Minister’s office this week was that he wanted the changes he made to signal a more inclusive Conservative Party, with the elevation of female MP’s and MP’s from northern constituencies.

Among the Northern contingent to get the call from the PM were Esther McVey, the formidable Wirral West Liverpudlian MP, who ticked both boxes, and was rewarded for her tenacious role in selling the welfare reform agenda with a job as Employment Minister, and Yorkshire MP and former Bradford council leader Kris Hopkins, who has been appointed as the new Housing Minister.

Overall there is certainly a more ‘northern feminine’ feel to the Cameron team, albeit none of those promoted will be sat at the top table of government just yet.

So, will these personnel changes make it more likely for the northern electorate to support the Tories at the 2015 General Election?

On a straw poll of about a dozen people so far, the answer is a resounding no. I accept that this is hardly a scientific sampling of voting intentions, but they were all the type of folk who the main political parties use as their ‘barometer’ – although I’m not sure all of them have or aspire to have conservatories, which apparently is the new ‘sweet spot’ as far as the politicos are concerned (I kid you not).

Without exception, and as I wrote last week, the key thing for all of them is the economy. If the recent upturn proves to be sustainable, the Tories will win. If not, then Miliband’s pitch to ‘the squeezed middle’ might just resonate – though, worryingly for Labour, he still fails to meet the ‘I can see him as a Prime Minister’ test.

Personalities in politics are clearly important, but anyone at government level outside of the PM, Chancellor, Foreign Secretary and Boris Johnson, not in the government per se, but more powerful than most politicians, just doesn’t hit the radar of most of us.

So it is the Prime Minister’s highest ranking (northern) Minister and colleague, Tatton’s George Osborne, who can deliver victory for him at the next election, rather than the smattering of female MP’s with northern accents who have climbed another rung on the slippery Westminster ladder this week. Oh, and by the way, even if we vote Tory in this part of the world, few of us actually love ‘em!