YOU HAVE TO GIVE THE CONSERVATIVE’S THEIR DUE, their latest ruse to maximise the party’s vote in the Rochester & Strood by-election, to be held on 20th November, is worthy of a gold medal in political skulduggery.
Presented in the form of a Local Primary, all those entitled to vote in the upcoming by-election have today received a personal letter from David Cameron to nominate the Conservative candidate that they wish to defeat the UKIP insurgency by postal ballot. Under the guise of finally responding to calls for open primaries by its activists, the Conservatives have apparently invested some £40,000 to conduct their own poll of voting intentions and fine-tune their electioneering to target the female vote, which previous results have suggested are UKIP’s Achilles-heel.
The choice is between two female candidates, drawn from the pool of Conservative Party local councillors (one presented as working-class, and the other of a middle-class background).
The strategy is particularly interesting, because neither candidate is presented as supporting the Tory Party manifesto or the policies it has pursued in government…
Dave’s love letter is specifically constructed to discover which political message to highlight for the approaching campaign. Should the Conservative’s confront UKIP on the topic of immigration by fielding Tolhurst; or should they confront Labour on the NHS and boost their own support by campaigning upon traditional Tory concerns about anti-social behaviour and the Armed Services by fielding Firth?
Voters are being asked to select a candidate for those policy areas that Cameron and his LibDem bedfellows have intentionally abandoned and undermined during their term in office. In effect, Rochester & Strood’s electors are not being asked to select a Conservative Party candidate to represent the Tory Party Manifesto: they are being asked to select the best candidate and policy platform that will ensure the Conservative Party wins the by-election!
This is what Dave has to say:-
‘Following the resignation of Mark Reckless, the Conservative Party now has to choose a new candidate to contest the upcoming by-election. And as you may have already heard, we’re putting the people of Rochester and Strood in the drivers seat.
‘We’re inviting you - regardless of which party you support - to help us make that decision through a postal primary election. This is a unique and exciting opportunity that the other parties aren’t offering. In fact, it’s only happened a few times before in British history.
‘Every voter will be sent a ballot paper in the mail, along with the details of each candidate by the local Conservative Association. And before you vote you’ll have the chance to meet the candidates and hear their plans for our area at public meetings around the constituency.
‘It’s your chance to make a positive choice for the future of Rochester and Strood by selecting the Conservative candidate, so you have the best chance of getting a local MP that you can trust to stand up for you and your family. So don’t pass it up!
‘Nigel Farage and Mark Reckless want to turn this election into a national media circus - we want it to be about you and what you want for the future of this area.
‘The decision is in your hands. There’s no stunts or backroom deals, just a strong local candidate you can trust.
‘So today we are very excited to announce that the two people who will be contesting the postal primary are Kelly Tolhurst and Anna Firth - two strong local candidates who you can trust to fight for your interests.
‘Kelly [a Rochester councillor] has lived and worked here all her life. The daughter of a boat builder, she now runs her own marine survey business in Rochester and has served as a local councillor for over three years. As a life-long resident who has seen our area grow and change over the years, Kelly understands the benefits new investment can provide for local people. But she has also seen the strain that excessive immigration has put on housing and our local services. So if she’s elected, Kelly will work hard to secure a better future for our area by pushing for more serious action to get immigration under control, working to improve the service at Medway Hospital, fighting for improvements to our local primary schools and helping small businesses get the government investment they need to create more jobs.
‘Anna [a councillor from Sevenoaks] lives in Kent with her husband and three children. Formerly a barrister, she now serves on the local council where she has worked to successfully secure funding for sports facilities and a new nursery, delivered changes to welfare and campaigned for the regeneration of our high streets. Growing up in Essex as the daughter of an engineer and a school teacher, and now with a son at school in Rochester and a brother who works at Medway Maritime Hospital, Anna knows the issues that matter to you because they also matter to her. If elected to serve the people of Rochester and Strood she would fight for more police on our streets to tackle anti-social behaviour, better health services and a better deal for our armed forces, to whom we own so much.
‘But remember this primary process is all about you. It’s your chance to make a positive choice for the future of Rochester and Strood by selecting the Conservative party candidate. Kelly or Anna, the decision is in your hands.
‘No stunts: just a strong local candidate you can trust.’
No stunts? (Dave is careful to make that point twice!)…