May's Tories Overhaul Campaign Strategy After Election Debacle

  • Review warns another snap election could happen at any time
  • More staff, new technology as Labour targets swing districts

U.K.'s Morgan on Boris Johnson, Brexit Transition

Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives will overhaul its campaigning strategy after a warning that the next U.K. general election could happen at any time and it must be ready when it does.

“We are making necessary changes to ensure that, working together, we can deliver a majority when the next election comes,” the party chairman, Patrick McLoughlin, told delegates as he opened the Tories’ annual conference in in the northern city Manchester. “We are changing the way that we work.”

Earlier on Sunday, the Conservatives published an official review into why they lost their majority in Parliament in the snap election May called in June.

While it’s too expensive to put Tory campaign headquarters on a permanent war footing, “we must make sure that we are better prepared for sudden elections going forward,” former minister Eric Pickles said in the report. 

The Tories are appointing more local campaign managers around the country “to work hand-in-hand with you to ensure that when the next election comes we are ready,” McLoughlin told activists. “We won’t stop listening.”

Labour Ready

Jeremy Corbyn’s main opposition Labour party has already begun preparing for the next vote. Jon Lansman, founder of the pro-Corbyn grassroots Momentum movement, said activists are already targeting Conservative lawmakers in vulnerable seats.

“They need to prepare because we’re in their constituencies now,’’ he told the BBC. “We’re mobilizing thousands of people every weekend to go to Tory marginals and unseat Tory MPs.’’

In his review, Pickles also proposed a major change in the way the party manifesto is written next time. Instead of a tightly-controlled process led by the prime minister’s chief of staff, senior cabinet ministers should form a committee to agree on policies, and the system should be as “public” as possible so voters understand the party’s aims.

Work on the next set of pledges must begin by June 2018, the report said. With speculation swirling over May’s future as leader, this deadline suggests the question ought to be settled by then. The next election is scheduled for 2022.

May promised again in a Sunday Telegraph interview that she will lead the party into the next general election, though allies of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a potential leadership rival, believe she will be gone within a year, according to The Sunday Times.

— With assistance by Alex Morales

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