David Cameron’s attempted detoxification of the Conservative brand is failing to trickle down to the party’s membership. A survey for Conservative Home shows that, at the local level, Tories are obsessed by immigration, crime, and tax cuts. They care little about the economy, environment, or public services.
Conservative Home recently polled 2,352 members and asked which issues Tory members wanted on campaign leaflets. The top choices were:
• 84 per cent want a cut in net immigration of three-quarters
• 65 per cent want no more early release for convicted criminals
• 63 per cent highlight the Tories inheritance tax giveaway and a similar number want a two year freeze in council tax and the same
Put against Ipsos-MORI’s chart of the most important issues, it shows a party that has little to say about voters’ number one issue, the economy, or about unemployment which is the top issue for 20 per cent of the electorate. Cutting the budget deficit in half by 2014 (the Government’s policy) is ninth on the list and the sole mention of an economic issue.
A separate poll of 101 Conservative PPCs for this week’s New Statesman showed that only 28 per cent agree that “next government will need to legislate to make people behave in an environmentally ‘greener’ way.” Meanwhile, 59 per cent believe that “The inheritance tax threshold should be raised as a matter of priority.”
In 2005, the party’s “dog whistle” focus on immigration backfired. Immigration and crime remain important issues but their salience has dropped in recent years as the recession has taken hold. The only mention of public services by the ConservativeHome list is 56 per cent who want “Headteachers to be put in charge of school discipline.”