Labor by-election campaigners warned: ‘Show Tory voters some respect or go home’ | By-elections

Union activists campaigning ahead of a by-election in a safe Tory seat have been told to leave if they feel unable to be respectful to Tory voters, as the party tries to tackle the assumption that he cannot compete in true blue hearts.

Direct attacks from the Tories are also being dropped or significantly toned down as Labor strategists try to convince voters in the Mid Bedfordshire seat that their candidate will put the ‘constituency ahead of the party’ if necessary, should he win the seat.

The change in approach comes as Labor is desperate to make an impression in the constituency, as part of its strategy to prove it can win over some voters who backed the Tories in 2019 and longer .

A massive Labor operation is already underway in the seat, despite the fact that the by-election has yet to be officially called.

Labor immediately targeted the seat to test its appeal to soft Tory voters when Nadine Dorries, the former Culture Secretary, said she was stepping down last month.

Dorries, a close ally of Boris Johnson, said she would step down with immediate effect after being barred from having a peerage on Johnson’s resignation honors list. However, she has not officially resigned yet.

Labor and Tory figures believe she will at some point do so to do maximum damage to Rishi Sunak, whom she blames both for preventing his elevation to the second chamber and for precipitating the end of Prime Minister Johnson’s post. Some expect her to officially resign the day after the three by-elections on July 20.

With Dorries securing a majority of more than 24,600 votes in the last election, Labor planners know the seat is a long way off – with the Liberal Democrats also making a serious bid for the seat.

However, as part of the Tory courting exercise, Labor campaigners have been warned about their attitude towards those who say they are lifelong Tories.

“It’s about listening to what voters here are telling us,” a senior Labor source said. “A group of activists who came here were told, ‘If you can’t have a respectful conversation with a Conservative voter, you have to go home.’ We find that a lot of people say they are Conservative voters, but when asked, they say they can’t vote for them.

“We have stopped all direct attacks from the Conservatives. We just don’t need to. We have simple messages like “on your side”. There are no direct attacks against Nadine. We are simply pushing our candidate as someone who will put constituency before party and hold regular meetings in the seat.

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