There are four main possibilities post-election: that the Conservatives win outright, that Labour do so, or that either party is the largest one in a hung Parliament.
To try to get a more full picture of what respondents believe, we have asked whether Cameron should stay or go as leader in the following scenarios.
- If the Conservatives win a majority, 97 per cent of Party members believe Cameron should stay as Party leader, and 3 per cent that he should go. That tiny proportion represents the hardline Cameron-haters – a smaller proportion of these respondents, please note, than the larger one that turns up in the comments below the articles on this site.
- If Labour are the biggest party and form a government – even one with a majority – almost a third of Party members think that Cameron should stay on. Perhaps they believe that in these circumstances there might be a second election in the autumn; or it may be that they want Cameron to stay on until 2020. At any rate, 70 per cent of these respondents believe that Cameron should go and 30 per cent that he should stay if the election produces this outcome.
- If Labour are the biggest party but the Conservatives form a government, 82 per cent of Party members think that Cameron should stay on, and 18 per cent that he should quit. It should be noted that the balance of parties in the Commons makes this outcome unlikely, since Labour has more small parties prepared to work with in than the Conservatives do.
- Our final question was perhaps the most interesting one: what should happen if the Conservatives are the biggest party, but Labour – presumably propped up by the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Greens, and perhaps other minority parties – forms the Government. 56 per cent of Party members think Cameron should stay if this happens, and 44 per cent that he should go.
This last finding can be interpreted in several ways. It can be claimed that it shows the natural loyalty of Party members to their leader during a tight election. You can argue that Cameron’s position as Party leader would be unsustainable with over two in five members opposed to him continuing in such a circumstance…or you can argue the opposite, since over half favour him staying. You can even maintain that, in this eventuality, his support would harden.
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I’m sorry that these questions are not symmetrical. Were this to be the case, we would have asked for Party members’ views in the event of Labour winning a majority, and the Conservatives being the biggest party and forming a government – six questions in all, which would have been neater.
None the less, there is no great mystery about what the general shape of the answers to those questions would have been. In our poll, support for Cameron as Party leader maxes out if the Tories win outright and is presumably at its lowest if Labour wins outright – below, surely, the 30 per cent we found in answer to question two.
Similarly, support for him staying if the Conservatives are the largest party and form the government – but have no majority – would presumably have been below 97 per cent and above 82 per cent.
It may be objected that some Party member respondents might, in some circumstances, want Cameron to quit as Party leader but stay on as Prime Minister were he to occupy the post again post-May 7. However, I think this view is a bit clever-clever: quitting as the first, in this eventuality, would surely entail quitting as the second.
Over a thousand Party members responded to the survey, and only two of them skipped this question. They evidently view it as being very live. The survey is tested against a control panel which was supplied by YouGov.