10/10 Rebooting Project Cameron: Cameron needs a new big message
By Tim Montgomerie
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With the exception of "the grand bargain" and the idea of a Bruges-sized EU speech today's 'Rebooting series' has been focused on the mechanics of governing, especially personnel matters. Let me end, however, by returning to the big picture from which every thing else flows.
The biggest barrier between the Conservative Party and floating voters is the sense - polled by Lord Ashcroft - that we are a party for the haves rather than the have nots. George W Bush and Cameron both understood this and both crafted more compassionate brands of conservatism. Polling suggests Cameron is failing to change perceptions of the party. That's a shame because (for reasons I summarised this morning) he has delivered real and significant pro-poor changes. We are still, however, seen as too close to the wealthy and big business. This is partly because the sum of Cameron's efforts is smaller than the parts. They don't add up to anything resonant. Cameron's way of communicating a kinder, gentler Conservative Party - the Big Society - is very poorly understood. In fact it is electorally impotent.
Again and again in a survey of 2,000 Tory members these shifts were approved by overwhelming majorities. Whenever I speak to Tory MPs, local associations or conservative commentators the same feedback is received. Much residual loyalty to David Cameron but exasperation with his stances on growth, compassion and Europe. Of all the changes discussed today - a new, big picture narrative is the most important.