I’m not sure how often Bruce Anderson gets up from the lunch tables of London’s finest restaurants and actually meets grassroots Conservatives but my guess is not very often.  Trying to explain David Cameron’s modest opinion poll lead he decides to blame Conservative Party members for the party’s troubles in his Monday column for The Independent.  He compares activists to "perverts" who hold fantasies within a "locked room" in their brains.  90% of Tories apparently believe in the following:

"In their dreams, Britain is no longer in the EU. The coloured population of these islands is less than a tenth of its present total. Instead of being allowed into government, the leaders of the IRA were shot. Every town has a grammar school: every schoolmaster a cane. The death penalty has been restored and crime is under firm control. The state is only spending a quarter of the nation’s income. Margaret Thatcher is still Prime Minister.  If you were to make a speech advocating all that to 100 Tory activists, 10 would disagree. Thirty would cheer. Another 30 would agree but keep quiet. They want to be councillors and there might be a spy reporting to Central Office. The final 30 would also have agreed, after one more drink. But Mr Cameron would be firmly among the 10."

Such a description of the average Conservative activist is incredibly unfair.  There are some Conservative members who object to multiracial Britain but a diminishing few.  When I go to Tory gatherings I find people much, much more likely to talk about schools’n’hospitals than hanging’n’flogging.  Conservative activists are selecting more diverse candidates and they are actively involved in community action.  It is true that most Conservative activists want a smaller state, a tough approach to terrorism and strong discipline in schools but the Tory cause is not helped by painting the party workers as extremists.  It just isn’t true.  I’m think of using the next ConservativeHome survey to survey Tory views on global development, human rights and care of the elderly.  Any suggestions for questions would be welcome…