The UK Conservative party have just recently concluded their party conference in Manchester. It alternates annually between Birmingham and Manchester. Neither city is particularly pro-Tory, but Manchester and its surrounding area especially is known for being perhaps one of the the most hostile part of the country towards conservatives. If we look at the council where conference is held, there hasn't been a single conservative councillor for over a decade, and within the county there is only one conservative led council (and that's far from safe). Labour MP's still outnumber Conservative MP's 2:1 in the county even after the last election.
I know few cities are friends of the Conservatives, but there are certainly more welcoming choices than Manchester. It's not some recent strategy either, it's been going on for a number of years.