Letter: Conservatives lack the will to win

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Sir: I am a great admirer of Andrew Marr, but his article on the Christchurch by-election (30 July) was behind the times. The day before yesterday, I might not have argued against his confidence that the Conservatives will win the seat back in the general election. I spent yesterday on the doorsteps in Christchurch. Any seasoned election worker is trained not to linger on the doorsteps on polling night, but when one voter after another offers allegiance and ringing messages of thanks to the campaign and the candidate, courtesy compels attention.

Mr Marr has also forgotten what he usually knows well, how near the rot has spread to the heart of the Conservative Party. Yesterday, in a seat the Conservatives must have known they risked losing, I saw in a full day one Conservative worker and no Conservative cars. The Conservative Party will not win till it wants to more badly than it did yesterday.

Mr Marr has also forgotten that Christchurch was not an isolated event. It was not a 'media-magnified' campaign last May that made the Conservatives lose control of Kent, Sussex and Surrey, bringing the Liberals a battle honour we did not win in 1966. Something big is happening in the electorate. Whether they stay with us in these proportions or use us as a lever to achieve other change is something they have not decided yet; but either way, things will not be the same again. Those who predict the general election result do so at their peril.

Yours sincerely,


House of Lords

London, SW1

30 July

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