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« Editorial: Cameron on substance | Main | The week that David Davis didn't relaunch »


Jonathan Sheppard

It is incoceivable that anyone would want the party to drop down the polls to figures approaching 25%. Do we really want to give the Lib Dems any opportunity for them to claim they are the real alternative. Come on. Lets talk about adopting positive policies that address todays real issues - and take us forward in the polls, not back (to steal an awful New Labour slogan!!)

Mark O'Brien

As disturbing (and, quite frankly, expected) as this kind of suggestion is, can we really expect that we might lose 7% of our core vote just for adopting a more socially liberal line?

New Labour managed to move to the right (in words, if not in actions) without turning their core vote away to another party. It's only now that Old Labour are starting to become disenchanted. Only a failure in leadership would be necessary for us to make the mistakes that they didn't before 1997.

Don't get me wrong: Cameron's 'More Blairite Than Blair' tag is the single-most worrying thing about him, and far more destructive (in my humble opinion of the man) than anything about drugs. But I find it very hard to imagine that any shift in either policy or tone would lose as much as 7% of our core voters.

(And, for what it's worth, if a senior Cameron backer really does this his man could lose even 0.7% of our core voters, there's no way in hell I'd be voting for him!!!)


Clearly Cameron is willing to make deliberate enemies on the right - eg Heffer - and use this as a way of defining his own centre ground, by which he thinks he will win more votes. I'm sure he is correct that the Conservatives must win over people who define themselves as 'centrist' and have been alienated by the unattractive appearance of the recent Tory party.

The potential mistake, though, is to think it's all about positioning, and not about real policy. Heffer may be an unattractive personality, but are his views on policy therefore wrong? Do not millions - not just some mythical 7% of nasty tories - agree with him?

If this really is Cameron's strategy - if it is even a risk he is prepared to consider - then it shows his immaturity. A wise politician would want to move to the centre without losing 7% on the way - and would see how it could be done. The model, as has been remarked often enough, is Australia's John Howard.

Cameron's team is focused on re-making the early days of Blair, and they think insulting Heffer is a bit like Blair taking on the left, Clause 4 etc. But the parallel is flawed: only a tiny fraction of the electorate ever sympathised with real socialism; by contrast, the Mail represents a much, much broader strand of opinion.

I worry that Cameron's team will be so over-excited by doing their own version of New Labour that they will fail to spot the inherent risks. I'm really impressed by their grasp of handling the media, or 'the narrative'; they now need to demonstrate some deeper thinking.


So where are they going to go? Labour held their core vote despite modernising and an increasingly left wing Lib Dems & nationalist parties. UKIP in their recent shape aren't going to hold appeal for many. I don't mean to be flippant about the right wing voters, I don't want them to leave the Conservatives, but in practical terms where would they go that would better suit their views.

This story is just silly, possibly the work of another campaign, but more likely just an anti-Cameronite.


So where are they going to go

They wouldn't vote (or would vote for UKIP, BNP etc - the effect is the same).

Jonathan Sheppard

Indeed it seems a nonsense story in my estimation. But voters dont need to go anywhere - they just dont turnout. The party needs to be a broad church and encompass a wide range of views.

Graham D'Amiral

Where does anyone imagine this 7% are going to go to?

The idea that embracing social liberalism is going to lose us bucket loads of voters is a little hard to believe. Social liberalism is essential in order to demonstrate we understand Britain as she is today, and to demonstrate that we aren't some reactionary party who just doesn't get how much our country has changed over the last 40 years.

As an opposition we need to set out a positive vision for Britain, what we can't rely on is just banging on about how bad everything is in modern Britain. In 1979 a higher proportion of young people than the electorate as a whole voted conservative, I think anyone who thinks that the way to win support among the young today is to reject social liberalism is deeply misguided and not living in the real world.


I don't see it as very likely they wouldn't vote. Would the right wingers in Britain sit by as Labour were in power, knowing full well the alternative as a cabinet of David Davis, Liam Fox, David Willets, Oliver Letwin, George Osbourne..... I think it unlikely they'd just sit on their hands.


Well core Labour voters did - what's the difference?


I must comment that it is a bit unfair to say that Conservative voters would go to UKIP/BNP. UKIP maybe for some although it would only cost us seats but the BNP! I very much doubt it and to link them by association is very unjust.


Why not? I'm sure you wouldn't object to the suggestion that a fair number of BNP voters are ex-Labour voters, which is also undoubtedly true.

Andy Stidwill

I think there could be some truth in the idea that Cameron might lose a significant amount of support on the right for this simple reason: most old Labour supporters tend to have a kind of resigned air about them - they don't like Blair, but they still stubbornly vote Labour anyway.

Now, with right-wing Tory voters, this is not the case: they tend to be anything but resigned, and will vote whole-heartedly for other parties such as UKIP if they don't like what the Tory party has become. They have a kind of ridiculous confidence about them - as shown by people like Roger Knapman, for example - and they won't carry on voting Tory if they don't feel like it. They WILL change their vote, just to teach - in their eyes - the Tory party a lesson.


I've just banned 'ABC' for making potentially actionable remarks. I'll keep a close eye on posting over the next few hours as we feverishly approach the time of Sunday newspaper publication... I won't hesitate to ban again.

Sorry, btw, for earlier problems on the site (with access problems and multiple postings). TypePad (the otherwise excellent serrvice provider for this blog) have had problems all afternoon. They now appear to be resolved.

James Maskell

My fear is that there is probably more than 7% here. If the core Tory voters see that Cameron is moving too fast, they might ditch the Conservatives and go elsewhere. Thats my greatest fear of that situation.

Its possible to unite the party by being a core Tory on the issues that matter, like crime and immigration as well as Europe, but also be more towards the centre on the other, more human issues, like health, education and the environment. That way you wont alienate the core supporters by turning your back on them, but you wont be ignoring the more moderate supporters who want a less hard right approach which has been tried and tested and isnt getting us very far.

Adrian Sherman

Good lord, what a ludicrous strategy.

Any Cameron led Tory Party probably will plummet to 25% in the polls, but not due to his "strategy". There's more than enough in Cameron's past and present to trash him within the first hundred days.

Whether people here like or don't like Simon Heffer, it probably wouldn't be advisable to make an enemy of him, or of the 'bed blockers', or 'Cornerstoners', or 'Davisites'.

Deary me, Cameron's "inclusive" approach appears anything but!


James, I think you've missed the point. The whole theory is based on the idea that huge numbers of centrist voters won't vote Conservative whatever their policies. Make clear that you are definitely appealing to them and, even better, have that confirmed by 'expendable' core voters "ripping up membership cards etc" and all that will change.

Whether it is a good theory is another matter.


Well, if we've learned anything over the last two elections, it's that the core vote strategy is never going to get us back into power.

But the good news is that we don't have to alienate core voters to reach out to new ones.

David Cameron is in favour of lower taxes, repatriating powers from the EU, increased choice in the public services and a strong national defence. Core Conservative voters don't like these?

He's also the most likely of the candidates to beat Labour. I imagine that most core voters are sick of playing for the losing team.

I certainly am, and I'm pretty sure Cameron will be getting my vote, if he makes it through to the ballot of party members.


I'm not sure he is really in favour of lower taxes.

Cllr Iain Lindley

This strikes me as another ugly-rumour non-story, frankly. It's about time we concentrated on substance.


Did you see my earlier post on drugs policy, Iain?


Funny isn't it, how every story the Cameron camp don't like, they dimiss as an "ugly rumour non-story"?

It appears that Cameron's evasivness and arrogance has rubbed of on his cheeleaders, like Cllr Lindley. Not that I'm at all surprised considering his campaign has been built upon meaningless platitudes and spin.

James Maskell

I dont think this is a case of arrogance with Cameron. Hes not being arrogant, he just doesnt want to answer the question.

James Hellyer

It's about time we concentrated on substance.

Please point me to where I can find substance in the Cameron campaign. I've tried the website and all there is there are hollow platitudes and contradictory statements.

This lack of substance tends to explain why supposedly minor matter take on a new perspective (that and the Cameron's camp's woeful management of these matters).

Graham D'Amiral

I think a more relevant question might be what the millions of voters who took the opportunity not to vote for us in May, might make of a changed conservative party?

James Hellyer

Specify which voters in particular and waht is meant by "change" and it may gain some substance. Until then it's as empty of meaning as the campaign I suspect its author supports.

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