Leak suggests the Tories don’t think they can win York Central

10 Feb 2015 @ 10.17 pm
| News, Politics
david-cameron-ouse
Do Tory bosses think their campaign in York Central is already sunk? Photographs © Harry Mitchell and Toms Norde on Wikimedia Commons

Now here’s a thing. The Conservatives have let quite a big cat out of the election bag.

It seems they have inadvertently revealed that the York Central constituency is not a Tory target seat.

Like all the parties contesting the General Election on May 7, the Tories have lists of seats they think are safe, that are winnable and that are most likely out of reach.

Usually they try to keep that a secret.

URLs bells…

The Conservatives have never been the most internet savvy party.

And it seems someone at Tory HQ decided to save images of its candidates in certain constituencies with this three-word phrase in the URL address:

Non%20target%20candidates

This was gleefully revealed on the website of PR man and Liberal Democrat Mark Pack. Here’s an example:

Conservative-Party-website-790x350

A non-target seat is either one that they think is a walkover – or one they can’t win.

York Central a no-go?

Now the full list of “non-target candidates” has been revealed. And it includes the name of one Robert McIlveen, Conservative candidate for York Outer.

As this seat was won by Labour MP Hugh Bayley with a 6,400 vote majority in 2010 (Labour 40% of votes, Tories 26%), it looks to be labelled a non-target because Tory central office consider it unwinnable.

Incidentally, if you type in the URL for Robert’s Conservative HQ photograph, this now comes up:

conservative-website-error

Perhaps some hasty deleting has taken place.

‘Fighting for votes’

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Robert McIlveen and some of his supporters campaign in York. Photograph: Robert McIlveen on Twitter
Robert McIlveen played down the significance of the faux pas when contacted by YorkMix.

He told us:

The national media love to talk about target seats, but on the ground here in York we are fighting hard for every vote.

Labour in York might take this city for granted, but with the incompetence they have shown running the council they might be in for a surprise in May.

The Labour Party is yet to pick a candidate.

Election ‘most open for years’

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The two Nicks… Love and Clegg. Photograph: Nick Love on Facebook
The Lib Dem candidate for York Central Nick Love had a different take on things. He said:

I don’t think that this is an acknowledgement that York is a safe Labour seat, but rather that the Tories selected a London resident as a candidate who would use this election as useful experience – before Hugh Bayley announced his retirement.

This election actually seems to be the most open and uncertain for years.

Nick said people are telling him that they don’t want a candidate who sees “being a York MP as just a logical extension of their career path”.

They want a long term York resident who is authentic. Someone with a life outside of politics that can represent real people and not focus groups.

Someone who doesn’t see York as a meal ticket, with recent working life experience outside of politics, who will put theirs and York’s interests before personal political career ambition.

It could be a very interesting contest.