David Cameron enjoys best ever ratings with Tory grassroots
By Tim Montgomerie
I've written for today's Independent on the back of ConservativeHome's latest survey of the Tory grassroots.
I make four broad points:
There is strong support for the Coalition among the grassroots: Although 88% think Cameron should have won the General Election outright and many Tory members are unhappy at specific concessions to the Liberal Democrats support for the Coalition is high and increasing. 84% of members think the Coalition is a good thing for the nation.
Cameron tops Cabinet league table for first time: For the first time since ConHome began polling party members the Conservative leader is more popular than any other member of his team. In fifty polls William Hague won more support from the grassroots. No longer. Cameron has the top spot. The welfare reforming IDS is number two. William Hague is number three. Although the Foreign Secretary has lost a fraction of his support, the main reason for the change is greater satisfaction with the PM. 91% of Tory members think Cameron is a "natural PM". [The Independent has the full league table].
Nick Clegg is winning over Tory activists: 82% agree that he is "not like most Liberal Democrats" and is "working positively with the Conservatives". The Deputy PM is now rated more positively than 12 Tory Cabinet ministers although Vince Cable has fallen further in Tory members' estimation following his intemperate anti-business language during his own party conference. The affection for Nick Clegg hasn't translated into enthusiasm for joint Coalition candidates, however. More than 90% of Tory members want the Conservatives to contest every seat as Conservatives. On Platform today Martin Vickers, Tory MP for Cleethorpes, writes that victory at the next election may depend on there being joint Coalition candidates.
There remains opposition to more concessions: The survey also revealed that other possible concessions to the Liberal Democrats will be unpopular with party members. More than half, for example, oppose the introduction of a graduate tax: