Accusing the Conservative Party of clutching favourable opinion polls like a baby grasps for a dummy, Lord Tebbit issues his strongest warning yet to David Cameron in this week’s Spectator (not yet online). Describing the Bromley & Chislehurst result as humiliating for the Conservative Party the former Tory Chairman calls for David Cameron to be more worried about the increasing number of stay-at-home voters – the ‘none of the aboves’. The rise of ‘floating non-voters’ was recently analysed by YouGov’s Stephan Shakespeare on ConservativeHome.
Noting declining turnout at elections Lord Tebbit writes:
"It has not been the fringe parties, or even to any great extent the Liberal Democrats, who have been piling up the votes. It is ‘None of the Above’ whose supporters are swelling in numbers. They first broke through the 10 million barrier in 1970, and in the last three elections have averaged 16 million. For all sorts of reasons, something like 7 million electors opt out of the political process, but the other 9 million are neither apathetic, nor stupid nor uninterested in what is happening to their country."
Norman Tebbit estimates that both Tories and Labour have a bedrock support of about 8.5 million voters each and they then can win up to 5.5 or so million floating voters. The present Conservative strategy, he believes "is eroding its ultra-loyalist bedrock vote, while doing nothing to entice back its thoughtful erstwhile supporters":
"They want to know if Mr Cameron has bought into the Blairite, ever-expanding, ever more costly, interfering nanny state, or whether he has proposals to strengthen family life, restore discipline in schools, combat crime, deal with the now almost universally recognised dangers of multiculturalism and the unlimited immigration of unassimilable minorities, raise standards in schools and the NHS, and bring back home powers lost to Brussels."
Lord Tebbit goes on to attack the A-list. Cameron’s Conservatives give the impression, he writes, "that respectable working- and lower-middle-class supporters in the suburbs, country towns and villages are not quite good enough for the new ‘A’ list, Notting Hill party":
"Bromley suggests that while Conservative voters do believe that the new Conservative party is unlike the one they used to support, Mr Cameron’s target Labour and Liberal voters do not, and the Tories are in danger of missing the electoral opportunity of a lifetime. The Blair government is failing on every front. Like a victim of Ebola fever, the vital organs of government are ceasing to function. It can tax and it can spend — but it is unable to deliver. There is a deep longing for something better, but it has to be a lot better than what is on offer today."
Another Thatcherite Lord Bell is also unhappy with David Cameron. The London Evening Standard quotes Mrs Thatcher’s advertising guru as saying: "David Cameron has convinced the public that he is different to their normal expectation of a Tory leader, brilliantly done… [But] he has not changed the Conservative Party, the party is exactly the same as it was." The Standard goes on to suggest that Labour is planning a summer offensive against David Cameron. ConservativeHome spotlighted the likely contours of that campaign earlier today.