If the Tories are to win a working majority at the next election, they are going to have to take seats off Labour. Even if the Tories won every single Liberal Democrat seat they are targeting — something that is highly unlikely to happen, they would still only have a majority of one.
Doing this after five years of austerity government is going to be extremely difficult. The Tory strategy for it, involves boosting the party’s vote among groups that the party traditionally underperforms with. Tellingly, Grant Shapps is launching the Tory target seats campaign today in a Hindu temple in Harrow West, a seat where the Tories underperformed last time; the Labour majority there actually went up in 2010. Tory polling suggests that Hindus are more open to voting for the party than many other ethnic groups.
Shapps’ hope is that a long-running ground campaign can enable the Tories to outperform the national swing in these target seats. Certainly, it seems odd that the Tory vote in 2010 was only 0.4 per cent higher than it was in 2001 when Daniel Finkelstein contested the election there as the Tories tried to win it back after losing it in 1997. But one of the challenges for the Tories is that any effort they make will draw a Labour and a union response.