A Conservative official has admitted the party’s own research shows people are “far more likely” to vote Labour on “caring stuff” and as a result tailored their local elections message on bins and council tax.
Chris Scott, the Tories’ director of voter communications, also conceded the party needed to “get back our brand” in the long-term in what one Labour MP described as an “astonishing admission”.
The frank remarks came in a video clip passed to The Independent of a training session for Tory members during the party’s annual conference in Birmingham earlier this month.
In the event, organised by the Conservative Academy under the title “constructing your political narrative”, Mr Scott told delegates that this year the party was “very, very good at focusing on bins” and on money issues during May’s elections.
“Do not take a photo of this, do not quote me on this, this is the truth from our research, when voters thought who was the best for some of the caring stuff in their local communities they were far more likely to vote Labour,” he said.
The Tory official added: “So we framed the choice onto bins and council tax in the short-term that’s the right thing to do in the long-term. You’ve got to make decisions about how we get back our brand at being the best for all the issues in the local community not just best for some.”
During the recording, Mr Scott can be seen standing next to a powerpoint presentation which displays photographs of bin collections and a council tax form, before switching to an image of a homeless person when he mentions “caring stuff”.
In a 45-second clip issued on the day of the local elections earlier this year, Theresa May appeared to follow that message, highlighting bin collection services and the Tory councils having a “record of managing money wisely”.
“Delivering those high-quality services, all whilst keeping council tax low,” the prime minister added in a video sent from CCHQ’s Twitter feed on 3 May.
Seizing on the recording from the training session at the Tories’ conference, Catherine West, a Labour MP, said it was an “astonishing admission”.
“They are telling their campaigners not to mention issues related to caring for people in their communities because they know Labour is better in this area,” she said. “We have a governing party which has given up on caring for people in this country.”
A spokesperson for the Conservative Party said: “Local elections are fought on specific local issues and as the results showed, Labour failed to make gains they were confidently predicting.
“We’ll take no lectures on caring from a Labour Party that when last in government, left nearly half a million people jobless, saw youth unemployment soar by 44 per cent and the number of workless households double.
“Under this government, the lowest paid have seen the fastest rise in pay for 20 years thanks to our introduction of the National Living Wage, there are 1.9 million more children in good or outstanding schools, youth unemployment has fallen to a record low, and we have just handed the NHS the biggest cash boost in its history, with an additional £20bn per year in funding.”
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