Tories need to 'rebuild trust' with voters to give hard-working candidates a chance of winning, new Tory chairman says
In an exclusive interview with The Yorkshire Post after his promotion in Monday’s reshuffle, Richard Holden said that the public “won’t give us a hearing” unless the party fixes its relationship with the electorate.
He said that the general election battles were still “all to play for” if candidates with strong local support can be helped by the national party convincing voters to give the Tories a “second chance”.
“When it comes down to it, we need to rebuild after what has been a tough time for the Conservative Party,” Mr Holden said during a visit to Skipton, North Yorkshire, where he also attended school.
“We need to rebuild that trust with people, that has to happen on a local and a national level.”
Mr Holden said that the party needs to emulate the success of people such as Ben Houchen, who after promising key pledges was able to deliver and gain “credibility for the future”.
“The challenge for Rishi is basically he needs to do what Ben Houchen did in two years rather than in four years,” he added.
Yesterday polling from Redfield & Wilton Strategies showed Labour as more trusted than the Conservatives on every issue when prompted, including the economy, immigration and levelling up.
Mr Holden said that Mr Suank has been working to a two-year plan, with the first aimed at “stabilisation” where delivering and making progress on key priorities, and ignoring those who are telling him to “put the pedal to the floor and risk it all” through cutting taxes or increasing spending.
“That's what underpins the credibility of us going into the next general election campaign for a vision for the future,” he said.
Mr Sunak’s second year in power is building on that bedrock in order to push for growth, and eventually tax-cuts, said Mr Holden, adding that growth will be a key priority in next year’s budget, and “to a degree” in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement.
“We want to do tax cuts, but we want to do it in a way that doesn’t cause issues with inflation.”
The 2019-intake MP, who is the youngest Tory chairman since the 1920s at 38, said that this platform should allow the Conservatives to “at least” retain every seat they currently hold in Yorkshire, but added that it would not be a “walk in the park”.
He praised the performance of “hard-working” MPs such as Keighley’s Robbie Moore, Harrogate’s Andrew Jones and York Outer’s Julian Sturdy.
However, when pressed on whether more work-shy members of the party can see the same level of support from the central office, he conceded: “I need to be cold-headed about this, resources need to be targeted where they’re most effective.”
Robbie Moore, who Mr Holden described as “f****** relentless”, currently only has a majority of around 2,000 in Keighley, meaning that despite local campaigning work that has seen the Government agreeing to rebuild Airedale hospital, a bad national swing in the polls would see the seat turn red.
The Conservatives are currently seeing some of its worst polling since Liz Truss left office following her disastrous tenure as Prime Minister, with some polls putting the Labour lead as high as 30 points.
Analysis by The Yorkshire Post has previously found that the Conservatives are on course to only keep between 5 to 10 seats in the region unless they out-poll Labour in Yorkshire.
Mr Holden said that the North is where the next election will be “fought and lost” in seats across Yorkshire, with May set to be “the start of the big fight” with local elections and the North Yorkshire mayoral race.
Keane Duncan, the Conservative candidate for the role, is set to face David Skaith or Owen Trotter, who are battling it out for the Labour selection ahead of the announcement on 11 December.