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Before David Cameron only one in five voters deserting Labour switched to the Conservatives - it's now nearly all of them

CLARK GREG NEW Analysing opinion polls Greg Clark MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, notes that our party's ability to convert unhappy Labour voters into Tory voters has been transformed since David Cameron became Tory leader. Greg Clark delivered this message to a Manchester fringe event sponsored by The Times and the Populus opinon pollster:

"In 1997, Labour won the general election with 43.2 per cent of the UK vote.  Four years later, they won again, but this time with 40.7 per cent of the vote – a drop of two-and-a-half percentage points. In 2005, they won for a third time, but with just 35.3 per cent of the vote – a further drop of nearly five-and-a-half percentage points. That makes a total fall in electoral support of just under eight percentage points. Nevertheless, New Labour was returned to power, not just once, but twice. The reason for that was because the main opposition party, that is the Conservative Party, failed to gain the support that the Government was losing. In 2001, we gained just one percentage point and in 2005 just over half a percentage point. Thus overall, and adjusting for turnout, we gained just one vote for every five lost by Labour. Since 2005, however, the polls indicate that the ratio of Conservative gain to Labour loss is at least one for one, if not better.”

Why the change?

Greg Clark mentions three factors: David Cameron himself, Iain Duncan Smith’s social justice agenda and the breadth of the Tory message.

On David Cameron Greg Clark says: “Lest I be accused of sucking up to the boss, I won’t labour the point. I don’t have to anyway – the polling data speaks for itself.”

On Iain Duncan Smith's one nation agenda: “It was Iain who reconnected the Party to its One Nation roots – a tradition he continues to nourish through the work of his Centre for Social Justice.  It was this agenda that enabled David Cameron to make the third vital connection, from the Conservative Party to the heartfelt concerns of the British people.”

On the breadth of the Tory message: “Most of you here will be familiar with the brilliant ConservativeHome website. Its front page features a series of shields, each of which represents an important area of public policy. In the early days of the site, Tim Montgomerie commissioned a piece of artwork [below], designed to illustrate the fact that we had, as a party, abandoned many of these areas to the Left. [As you can see] the artist shows this in the form of shields missing from a wall, keys missing from a typewriter, and a window that only lets in a crack of light. In the last four years this picture has been transformed. There are no no-go areas for the Conservative Party. On social justice, the environment, international development and public services we have something important to say. By addressing the concerns of the whole nation, we’ve become the most trusted party on issues like health and education: a fact that doesn’t dilute, but rather enhances, our message on issues like crime and immigration.”

BARRIE_-TYPIST-WITH-SHIELDS Greg Clark warns against any complacency.  He says that keeping to this broad conservative agenda is essential for victory.

Tim Montgomerie


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