A ConservativeHome.com survey of grassroots members provides plenty of advice for the Tory leadership as the party gathers in Blackpool:
- Grassroots members would like to see a manifesto that reduces taxation, increases prison places, increases funding for the armed forces, scraps ID cards and delivers English votes for English laws.
- Members disagree with Tory promises to match Labour's spending promises. By more than two-to-one they would like less spending and more of the 'proceeds of growth' to be shared between lower taxation and lower borrowing.
- 55% of members would like to see a bigger emphasis on immigration within Tory campaigning. The same proportion fear that the party's policy position on higher green taxation is a voter loser.
- By 81% to 11% members disapprove of the decision of John Bercow and Patrick Mercer to advise Gordon Brown's government.
The next Conservative manifesto
A referendum on the EU Treaty was the top pledge that members would like to see in the Conservative manifesto. The most unpopular idea was a ban on airport expansion:
- A referendum on the EU Treaty: 91%
- More prison places for repeat and serious offenders: 86%
- More funding for the armed forces: 84%
- English votes for English laws: 80%
- The abolition of inheritance tax: 78%
- A strict limit on the amount of immigration: 77%
- A lowering of the level of stamp duty on house purchases: 77%
- A tax allowance for married couples: 75%
- Scrapping of ID cards: 74%
- A reduction in the amount of money paid by the English to the Scottish taxpayer: 73%
- Limitation of new housebuilding to brownfield sites: 50%
- More protection for small shops against supermarkets: 42%
- Action to ensure fair pay for women: 39%
- A ban on airport expansion: 15%
Policies 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 13 are expected to be party policy.
Taxing, spending and borrowing
Members also gave the thumbs down to George Osborne's pledge to match Labour's spending plans for the next three years. 24% agreed with the Shadow Chancellor's recent statement. 64% of members thought that the party "should spend less than Labour plans to spend and use the savings to cut taxation and/ or borrowing."
55% of members hope that David Cameron will campaign on immigration more. Only 5% agree with the 'über-moderniser' position that there should be less focus on the issue. 38% think that David Cameron has got the balance about right in terms of the amount of campaigning time he dedicates to the issue.
Only 33% agree that David Cameron's emphasis on fighting climate change will help the Conservatives to win the next election. 55% fear that higher green taxations - even when offset by reductions in family taxation - will be a vote loser.
74% believe that the legacy of Thatcherism has been positive for the party. 16% think it has been negative.
Brown's recruitment of Conservatives
81% of members think that John Bercow and Patrick Mercer were wrong to accept Gordon Brown's invitation to advise his government. Only 11% approve.
Behaviour of MPs
72% of members believe that "all Tory MPs should now stay loyal to the party leadership and all criticism should be kept private." Exactly a quarter say that "it is the duty of Conservative MPs to publicly express themselves if they believe that the party leader is doing something wrong."
1,481 Tory members were surveyed by Conservativehome.com from 25 to 28 September 2007.