James Forsyth

The Tories need to talk about immigration

The Tories need to talk about immigration
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As the Tories prepare to head to the seaside, Tim Montgomerie has published a ten point plan to get the Tory campaign back on track. The plan is already causing much discussion in Tory circles. His main points are that the Tories need to sharpen their economic message, use William Hague more, sort out the structure of the campaign, warn of the dangers of a hung parliament and ram home to voters just how badly Labour has failed.  

What is getting the most attention, though, is Tim’s suggestion that the Tories should talk about immigration. I tend to agree with Tim on this point. It was a strategic mistake in 2005 to talk about immigration so much but it would be an equally large mistake not to talk about it at all this time round. I also think that ‘detoxifying the brand’ has worked sufficiently for it to be easier for the Tories to get a hearing when they talk about this topic. However, the problem is that the Tories can’t start talking about immigration now; it would look like a panic response to the polls. But as soon as the Tory numbers go up and again, as I expect they will, they should take the opportunity to do a big speech on it. Andy Coulson’s instinct that Sayeeda Warsi is the best messenger for the Tories on this subject is sound.  

There is one point on which I disagree with Tim, though. He says that the Tories should stop announcing new policies. My view is that they should carry on rolling out policy as it gives the campaign momentum and provides the positive part of the message to go alongside the concentration on Labour’s failings.