As the expectation management game goes, the leak to Scrapbook of an internal campaign email claiming “We have more pledges than Labour” and “THIS IS NOT LABOUR TERRITORY” probably isn’t on message for the Tory by-election effort in Corby.

The message from Tory vice-chair Michael Fabricant, sent to Tory MPs from their chief whip’s office, looks to electoral geography to play up the party’s chances in more rural areas of the seat which Louise Mensch abandoned. Fabricant claims:

  • “Labour’s main support lies in a very compact area in Corby.”
  • “55% of voters live in Cotswold like villages like Gretton”
  • “Our canvass returns are very encouraging. We have more pledges than Labour.”

The email stands in marked contrast to previous efforts to downplay Labour’s chances. A poll commissioned by Lord Ashcroft gave the reds a 22% lead, with the peer writing on ConservativeHome:

  • “Labour are winning the ground war.”
  • “CCHQ may have decided to conserve resources for future campaigns it sees more hope of winning.”
  • “Unfortunately it looks as though Christine Emmett, the excellent Conservative candidate I wrote about meeting at conference in Birmingham, is going to do less well than she deserves.”

From: Government Chief Whip
Sent: 13 November 2012 12:30
Subject: FW: CORBY BY-ELECTION Bulletin 11
Importance: High

Bulletin 11 D-2 Just 48 hours to go…..
[REDACTED] MP Hotline:07920 [REDACTED]

Maybe I have made a mistake by constantly referring to this constituency as ‘Corby’. It is not. It’s full name is ‘Corby & East Northamptonshire’. There is a huge difference. Corby Town is Labour controlled (but with a strong minority of Conservative voters) and has around 45% of the population of the constituency. 55% of voters live in Cotswold like villages like Gretton (where I am living) just 4 miles from Corby. I attach some photos. THIS IS NOT LABOUR TERRITORY.

Our canvass returns are very encouraging. We have more pledges than Labour. But, as ever, there is an element of “Well, this is just a by-election so I may stay at home”. We need to get out the vote on Thursday.

But our task is not easy. Labour’s main support lies in a very compact area in Corby. Ours is mainly scattered in numerous villages over a wide area. I attach a map which illustrates the problem.

So this an appeal. We need YOU to help Get out the Vote on Thursday!! Please help. Just let us know you are coming in advance so we can redirect you after a welcoming tea or coffee.

Thanks go to Alok Sharma and to Philip Dunne who (as you can see in his photo) was keen to establish that his name would be on the Honours Board. Peter Bone has been campaigning tirelessly several times a week in the south of the constituency bring teams of 10-15 strong each time and to Philip Hollobone. Chris Heaton-Harris has been fantastic steering local policy at the Campaign Centre and been here most days.

A huge thank you to the 80 or so colleagues who came (some, several times and some with staff) and to others who telephone canvassed from CCHQ.

Meanwhile campaigning goes on in Cardiff with David Jones often leading canvassing teams (see photo).

I know that no-one likes a whining nag. But if you have not been up at all (or if you have been a hero and have already been) please make the final effort to come on Thursday.

With just 48 hours to go, there’s a lot to play for.


Michael Fabricant MP
Vice Chairman, Parliamentary Campaigning

Oh, dear.

  1. They do have quite a lot of the village support, but they also have to fight off UKIP this time around. Also in 2010 there were around 7,000 who voted LD. I don’t think they’ll get anywhere near that tomorrow as I heard many ppl saying their LD vote was a protest vote and look where it got them! (also UKIP take about 2000 votes mainly from the tories.)

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