May hopes to end Tories' Halifax heartache

HALIFAX meets a lot of the criteria you would expect those orchestrating the Conservative election effort would have applied as they looked for a location to launch the 2017 General Election manifesto.

Then prime minister David Cameron launched the Conservatives' first poster of the 2015 election campaign in Halifax.

Parties always want to ensure the location they choose conveys the right message to voters and the Conservatives will have considered that carefully in choosing the West Yorkshire town.

A target seat for the Conservatives (demonstrating ambition)? Check.

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Not a major city (showing in touch with life beyond the 'metropolitan elite')? Check.

Illustrates a key theme (rebalancing the economy)? Check.

Many other places would meet these requirements.

What makes Halifax an intriguing choice is that it draws attention to Conservative failure.

Halifax has almost always been the just-out-of-reach seat for the Conservatives despite their best efforts.

As 2015 dawned, David Cameron chose to unveil the Conservatives' first campaign poster for the general election that would follow in May that year in Halifax.

But despite needing to overturn a majority of just 1,472 from 2010 and the Conservatives enjoying gains in seats across the country, an energetic campaign from Labour's Holly Lynch saw off Conservative candidate Philip Allott who fell 428 votes short.

Five years earlier Mr Allott had missed out to Ms Lynch's Labour predecessor Linda Riordan who herself had previously seen off a challenge from Kris Hopkins, who would later become the Conservative MP for Keighley, in 2005.

Indeed, a look back at the history of the Halifax seat shows it has only been won by the Conservatives at two post-war elections, most recently the 1983 landslide election victory under Margaret Thatcher.

By launching her first general election manifesto in Halifax, Mrs May sends a message that she intends to succeed where her predecessor and others before him failed.