One of the spin-offs of Grant Shapps’ cheesy-sounding yet quite impressive ‘Team 2015′ strategy for campaigning in the local elections and now in Newark is that the energetic campaigning atmosphere seems to be making activists and MPs very happy.

This sounds like a minor consideration when by-election campaigns are for winning seats, not counselling party members. But given the rather fractious few years that the Tory party has had, this is rather important. Activists and MPs need to feel  they’re sailing with the wind behind them as they approach the election, and so gathering large numbers of campaigners together at once, rather than leaving them to canvass and deliver in little motley groups, is a good way of creating the impression of momentum.

Activists returning from the constituency say they are genuinely impressed by the campaign, which they think has improved leaps and bounds on the way the Tories ran things in Eastleigh. But there are a few gripes. Some MPs point out that they’re being asked to deliver leaflets, rather than go round canvassing. This seems, they argue, a little pointless, given MPs do tend to be able to articulate themselves reasonably well, given their own success in getting elected (although anyone who sits in the House of Commons press gallery will point out that this is certainly not a hard and fast rule).

But a good Newark campaign (assuming the Tories win, which as Seb says, is looking increasingly likely) is important to the general election campaign for the Conservatives because it will give activists and MPs the impression that their party can win and that its campaigning machine is capable of doing so.

Tags: Grant Shapps, Newark by-election 2014, UK politics