'Immigration to be top of agenda'
By Anika Bourley
This Is Bradford
The Conservatives will only win the next general election if more seats are won in West Yorkshire and immigration is at the top of its agenda, it has been claimed.
Shipley MP Philip Davies said the political picture in West Yorkshire was getting worse for the Conservatives not better.
Writing for an online magazine he warned party leader David Cameron that the way he could secure success in the North, and especially “key battleground” West Yorkshire was by talking about immigration.
He stressed: “Anyone who thinks we can win by just talking about the environment and not talking about immigration is very seriously mistaken.”
At the next general election, 22 seats in West Yorkshire will be contested.
Before 1997 the Tories held nine but now only hold one – Shipley with a majority of 422.
However, with the Labour government becoming increasingly “despised and increasingly bankrupt” there had never been a better opportunity for a Conservative revival in West Yorkshire, he argued.
But immigration has to be put at the top of the agenda. He said: “It may well be that in the heart of Oxfordshire (David Cameron's Witney constituency) people are primarily concerned about climate change. Given their idyllic villages and prosperity, they may have very little else to worry about. “However, many people have far more immediate concerns; particularly crime and immigration. I am afraid that the dreaded I' word will not go away in my part of the world.
“To win in West Yorkshire we have to show people that we understand their concerns and that we are addressing them.”
Mr Davies fears that if immigration is not discussed “decent” people will turn to parties like the BNP in “desperation and frustration”. But Bradford council leader Kris Hopkins said it was education and health voters wanted the Party to focus on.
Councillor Hopkins said Mr Cameron had been a “breath of fresh air” and both the leader and shadow cabinet were supportive of the North.
He said: “We have fought three general elections on immigration, crime and tax and lost. It is important to talk about these issues but we need to talk more about education and health and prove to voters we can be trusted to deliver.
“If we spend as much time talking about health and education as we did about the Euro we will get people to understand we are serious.'' e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org