Senior Stoke-on-Trent Tory calls for end to 'in-fighting' after election catastrophe

The beleaguered Conservative Party can recover by following the example of local Tories in Stoke-on-Trent, according to a senior city councillor. All three Conservative-held seats in Stoke-on-Trent were regained by Labour in last week's general election, as the Tories nationally were dumped out of power, suffering their worst electoral defeat in history.

Dan Jellyman, who leads the opposition Conservative group on Stoke-on-Trent City Council, believes there is a way back for his party, but says they need to need to end their in-fighting and become better organised. And he points to the 'hard-working' Conservative councillors in Stoke-on-Trent as an example of how Tories should behave in order to become electable again.

The Conservatives lost control of the city council last year as Labour were voted back into power, but Mr Jellyman says his party's vote held up relatively well in the local elections, in stark contrast to what happened last week. Mr Jellyman said: "I think that since around 2017, people no longer vote for a certain party just because their families always voted for that party. The time of class-based voting is over.

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"That means that there aren't any safe seats any more - no safe Labour seats and no safe Conservative seats. People will just vote for the party who they think will do better for them. The general election results don't show that Stoke-on-Trent has become safe Labour territory again - Gareth Snell, in Stoke-on-Trent Central, actually got a lower vote share than last time. That means that the Conservatives can make a comeback here.

"In last year's council elections we only lost one seat compared to the 2019 election. That's because voters can see that Conservative councillors are hard-working and serve their local communities. We have a strong track record locally.

"But there were a lot of people who voted Conservative last year who stayed at home for the general election. After what they've seen from the Conservative Party recently, they didn't think we deserved their vote this time, and quite rightly so.

"There's been far too much infighting. It seemed that every time two Tory MPs met for a cup of tea they formed their own research group to try and influence the direction of the party. We need to end that infighting, get back some discipline and offer voters a more optimistic vision again."

Ex-Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to stand down as Conservative leader, with a timetable being drawn up for the contest to find his successor. Right wingers Suella Braverman, Robert Jenrick and Kemi Badenoch, along with more moderate MPs such as James Cleverly and Jeremy Hunt, are among those who could throw their hats into the ring.

Mr Jellyman said he would wait for candidates to officially come forward before deciding who he would support. But he believes the party should not move further to the right.

He said: "The worst thing we could do now is follow what Labour did in 2015, when they lurched to the left under Jeremy Corbyn. Most people just want to get on with their lives, and for the government to be there when they need it. They're not interested in the hard left or the hard right."