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Dr Frank Luntz, the celebrity pollster who "created Cameron", will paint a depressing picture of voters’ attitudes to politicians on Newsnight tonight:

"Listening to the British electorate talk about politics is like
listening to parents on a football pitch gripe about the referee. The
last time I heard such discontent, frustration and genuine hostility to
political leaders was in May 1997 – and we all know what happened next."

Sceptics will take his findings with a pinch of salt – his pool of opinion consisted of just 25 people in Birmingham – but his advice to David Cameron seems wise:

"After a decade of "soundbite culture", voters are more savvy and more
wary of anybody who seems too good to be true. Cameron’s policy
pronouncements continue to prove that he is not a return to the "old
Tories" of the 1980s. His challenge – not to be seen as a return to
Tony Blair. For him, more audio and less visual would be a wise
approach."

Luntz found that perceived PR stunts such as holding his newborn had "a poisonous impact" on the panel’s perception of Cameron. They were most positive about him when talking about non-traditional Tory issues such as "individuality in education" and even stability before tax cuts. There’s an obvious problem with a Tory leader talking about un-Tory policies, however:

Cameron_family

"The Tory leader has been testing the loyalty of some die-hard
Conservatives with his new stance on Europe (join in to shape the
debate, he says), his tougher approach to business, his wooing of
public servants and the softer social justice tones embodied in what
has come to be termed his "hug-a-hoody" proposals. But what the
refuseniks within the party also realise is that thanks to Mr Cameron’s
stewardship, the party is beginning to look – for the first time in
more than a decade – like it has a realistic chance of forming a
government."

There will be a largely positive atmosphere at Spring Forum this weekend, but the patience of members will have to be rewarded with some solid, principled policies in the coming months.

Deputy Editor

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