The Independent on Sunday has a very good piece about the new Party Chairman Eric Pickles, which is his first interview since his appointment to his new role. I am sure not many of you will have read the article so I have decided to reproduce a few extracts here.
Rather than simply attracting back floating voters who backed Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s but switched to Tony Blair in 1997, Mr Pickles says the Tories want to go further into Labour territory. Sitting in his new office at Conservative campaign headquarters, surrounded by maps of target seats, he says: “Crewe was about building a bridge that they felt safe to come across and to give us support. I set down a task, that in the chip-shop queue a couple of weeks later, they would be proud to say they voted for Edward, proud to say they voted Tory.”
But while Crewe was a huge victory, I ask, the Tories hardly have great support elsewhere in the North. “Stop it. Stop it,” Mr Pickles interrupts, his usual jovial tone evaporating. “Crewe and Nantwich killed one story: that Cameron’s brand does not run in the north of England. It does.
“I have to say as an expat Yorkshireman, I am fed up to my back teeth of southern journalists, even people as nice as you, patronising us, treating us like we’re a strange beast. We’re not.”
But surely it is Eton-educated Mr Cameron who does not understand financial hardship? “Well, David had his bike nicked… outside Tesco’s. I mean, it wasn’t even Waitrose. So he wasn’t even shopping in a toff’s supermarket.”
Mr Pickles says he has never felt any “glass class ceiling” inside the Conservative Party in the 40 years he has been a member. The Tory party “does not believe in class politics”.
For emphasis which is only half-comic, he adds: “Nobody should look down on somebody just because they have the misfortune to go to Eton. Nobody should look down on someone just because they went to a comprehensive.”
Those of you who came to help out in the Crewe & Nantwich campaign could not have missed Eric, he was everywhere, marshalling the troops and organising the whole operation with military procession. When the Labour campaign could only muster 50 activists we had over 200 out on the streets. The scale of the victory in Crewe would not have been possible without Eric and his strategy. After many years of relative obscurity he has really found his calling, with Eric at the helm come the general election victory just seems that little bit closer.