Tory voters are 'too shy to fight online' against Labour but will be equipped for 'battle'

Brandon Lewis who was appointed the Conservative’s new chairman following last week’s Cabinet reshuffle has promised to galvanise apparent “shy Tories” as part of plans to go “hell for leather” ahead of the next election.

He says the Conservatives will ready young Tories to “go out there and argue” on social media.

He said, “shy Tories” are not “getting out there in the digital world”, so has pledged the party will equip voters with a “toolkit” which includes graphics, Gifs and videos.

Mr Lewis, who is a former council leader in Essex who joined the Commons in 2010, is also hiring new staff to support the party’s digital team.

The announcement is sure to be seen as an acceptance that the Conservatives have been falling behind in digital campaigning against the opposition.

Digital strategists previously concluded that the Conservatives were outwitted by Labour in last year’s general election, where Theresa May lost 13 seats and her Commons majority.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Lewis said he intended to review the party’s candidate selection process to make sure they were appointing “the best candidates” to fight for seats in parliament.

He said: “No matter how good we are, I always want to be better.”

Mr Lewis, who has a portrait of Mrs May on his office wall said: “What I want to see out there is more and more of our activists and people who support some of the principles we’re outlining, whether it’s a particular policy or the whole package of government reforms, getting out there in the digital world saying so and spreading that message with us.

“Ultimately it’s about us being very positive and proactive about outlining what we’re doing in government and why it matters for people, and as much for young people as anybody else, so we can enthuse them about being Conservative and why it is the right thing for them to do to come out and support – not just vote for us but get involved.”

The previous immigration minister said he would focus on getting the Tories “battle ready” for the next general election, alongside preparing for “some really difficult local elections” in May.

The 46-year-old said: “We are looking to expand how we do things digitally.

“Being upfront about this, I think there has been a great improvement recently but there is more to do and I’ll certainly be looking to drive that.”

He went on to add: “It’s not just young people – older people are accessing their information through the digital world as well. It’s what they are looking at on their smartphone whilst on the train or while they’re sitting at home, or their tablet as well. It’s important that we’ve got to engage through that medium.”

Mr Lewis has promised to travel around the country speaking to association chairman, local party officers and members “to make sure we are listening to them” and ensure “that I’m picking up the best practice from them so we can share that”.

He insisted he wanted to speak to young people about “how can we work with them and make sure that they have got the opportunity to support and have the toolkit, through the digital world particularly, to go out there and argue the case about why Conservatives are the right party to offer good opportunities to them and their friends and family in the future.”

The Conservatives are also drafting a “respect code” where all candidates would promise to meet a standard of behaviour online, or be suspended.

The announcement follows an official report by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which warned that candidates in the 2017 election campaign “experienced harassment, abuse and intimidation”.

He said: “I would call on Labour to join us and do that, to stop being silent on this issue and front up and deal with this problem they’ve got.”



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