LABOUR must engage in a “groundwar” if it wants to tackle Conservative spending in the General Election, a senior shadow minister has said.
Dan Jarvis, formally a Major in The Parachute Regiment, has completed a nine day tour of all nine English regions as he seeks to show party members they can compete with a well-funded Conservative election campaign.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, the shadow justice minister said he believed the Tories where in many parts of the UK a “ virtual party”that can be combated with a door to door approach to campaigning.
His march on the doorstep comes which an honest assessment that “in some parts of the country and in some parts of Yorkshire there have been areas where MPs of all political persuasions have not been out there talking to the public.”
Setting out how the party will campaign over the next four months, he said: “We have people who are prepared to come out in all weathers, and believe me, I have seen all weathers on this.
“We have people who will come out and join us, and what is clear after these nine days is that our opponents do not have that.”
That doorstep approach though has been forced on Labour as it faces up to a Conservative party which is set to surpass its £16m 2010 election spending by some margin.
Mr Jarvis said he believed the Tories were weakened by their dependance on donations over volunteers, a view many Conservative MPs leading their own street campaigns would challenge
Mr Jarvis said: “ Essentially the Conservatives have become almost a virtual party in the sense that while they have quite considerable financial resources, they will outspend us by a significant margin, they have not got the people, the members, the activists who will get out there and debate the issues, to talk the issues on the doorstep.
“We have got those people, we are doing it, we have to keep doing it until May.
“We know that the Tories have considerably deeper pockets than us and that they will do everything they can to win an election, a plan that will see them spend a lot more money than we do.
“That has to be at the front of our minds, and instead we have to use the resources we have, people and members who think we can make a difference.
“We have to fight for this house by house, street by street... We will not outspend the Tories but we can absolutely do much more than they can in terms of our ground war.”
Was it worth leaving Westminster for?
“This tour has been about that, getting out of parliament, where frankly there is not very much business taking place at the moment, and going where the real politics is, out in the country on the doorstep about what will happen in May.”
Mr Jarvis said: “There are undecideds, lots of them, and that is why we need to keep going, to let them know this is a high stakes election, perhaps the most important election in more than a generation.”
He added: “You knock on hundreds of doors and you meet lots of people who are cynical about the ability of politicians to effect meaningful change.
“But when you engage with them actually people really appreciate that, that you are stood in sub zero temperatures, in freezing cold snow prepared to have the conversations and that is what we have to do.”
Addressing that cynicism could help Labour see off a Ukip challenge which threatens to undermine its General Election push.
Mr Jarvis said that of the people he spoke to who were considering voting for Ukip, “many accept that Ukip do not have the answers to the problem we face”.
The MP said Yorkshire was also a key part of the party’s election plan.
“Yorkshire has a crucial role to play in the General Election. “We as a party have a number of marginal seats in Yorkshire, in West Yorkshire, that we have to win if we want to return a Labour Government.
“Getting out on doorsteps in Yorkshire is critical for us as a country, particularly in west Yorkshire. We are not remotely complacent , we are ready to show what we can do here over the next few months.”