79% of Tory members do not want Coalition to continue beyond the next election
Poll of 1,787 members from 30 November to 2 December 2010.
At some point in this parliament the Conservative Party will need to decide if it becomes a liberal or a mainstream centre right party.
Sir John Major recently suggested that the Coalition should continue after the next election. We should be under no illusions as to what that means. A whole range of core Tory beliefs will be vetoed by a Liberal Democrat party which is at heart, left-wing. The Coalition is working today (and it is working) because of Nick Clegg. He is not your average Liberal Democrat but even he objects to many Conservative policies on, for example, Europe, crime, tax and the family.
The alternative future for our party is Mainstream Conservatism; not a conservatism that retreats to where we were at the end of the Major years - or even where we were in 2001 and 2005 when our electoral pitch was unbalanced. Mainstream Conservatism would not jettison the social justice of IDS, the civil libertarianism of David Davis, the internationalism of Andrew Mitchell or the green conservatism of Tory local councils. But it would not be embarrassed about Tory beliefs in lower taxation, a strong identity for England, repatriating power from Europe and retaining stronger national defence capabilities. I believe it is a conservatism that can win. Let us never forget that Liberal Conservatism failed to win a majority earlier this year.
The latest ConservativeHome poll of Tory members finds 79% of members wanting the Tories to govern on our own after the next election. Only 16% want to follow the John Major route. These are not unhappy, grumpy, anti-Cameron Tories. 75% approve of the Coalition today (20% do not). 87% approve of David Cameron's performance (11% do not). These members are just against the Coalition going on and on. I suspect most Liberal Democrat members feel the same.
I write more about this choice for the Tories in The Times (£).
Tomorrow I'll be launching a major ConservativeHome drive to rebuild Mainstream Conservatism.