Katy Balls

Want to know what the Tories are thinking? Look at the seats Theresa May is visiting

Want to know what the Tories are thinking? Look at the seats Theresa May is visiting
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Over the weekend, Theresa May was accused by Labour of hiding from the public in a remote forest hut on a trip to Aberdeenshire. Today, the Prime Minister faced similar negative jibes on a visit to Cornwall. This time, the local paper complained that its reporters were 'shut in a room and banned from filming'. So, on the surface, it would seem safe to conclude that May's tightly-controlled tour of Britain reveals very little.

But actually, a look at where she has travelled since calling for the snap vote, tells us a lot about the Conservatives' election strategy. The party are on the offensive when it comes to taking seats from Labour, and on the defensive against the Lib Dems. Contrary to May's claim that her party is not complacent over the result as the prospect of Prime Minister Corbyn remains very real, she is laying the groundwork for a landmark victory.

Forest jokes aside, May used her Saturday to speak to voters in Banchory, in West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, where the SNP have a majority of over 7,000. The Tories came second here in 2015 and May's visit shows they have ambitions to move up a place come June. Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn busied himself speaking to the Labour party faithful in East London (an area where Labour already boasts majorities that run into the tens of thousands).

In fact, the majority of constituencies May has visited of late boast sizeable majorities the Tories are hoping to overturn. Last week May went on a Labour offensive as she visited Chesterfield -- a constituency that last voted Conservative in 1931. Here the Tories would need to overturn a Labour majority of over 13,000. What's more, the seat is not even within the top 150 Conservative target seats -- which gives you some idea of the scale of victory the party is hoping for. May has also visited Ormskirk, in West Lancashire (an area where Labour had an 8,000 majority in 2015) as well as Leeds North East – a seat held by Labour since 1997 (where its current MP Fabian Hamilton, boasts a Labour majority of over 7,000). Other targets in her sights include Wales -- a one-time Labour heartland. As part of her visit, May spoke in Bridgend, an area where Labour had a majority of nearly 2,000 in 2015.

The one big con of this snap election for the Conservatives is the threat from the Liberal Democrats. May was warned by Lynton Crosby that the Conservatives would lose a couple of seats, at least, to the Lib Dems. The party looks particularly vulnerable in Lib Dem/Conservative marginals where the area voted to Remain. But Tim Farron has also said his party want to win back seats in the West Country -- the one-time Liberal Democrat heartland that voted for Brexit. This is why May has spent today in Cornwall, in a bid to stop Conservative voters from straying.

What this all tell us is that contrary to warnings of a 'coalition of chaos', the Conservatives are on manoeuvres to win a landmark victory come June 8.

Written byKaty Balls

Katy Balls is The Spectator's deputy political editor.

Topics in this articlePolitics