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As part of the special ConservativeHome.com survey of members – carried out after ‘Chicken Saturday’ and before Ming’s resignation – we asked what David Cameron should do next.  This PDF lists the ideas suggested by 1,029 members and the dates and times at which they were made.  I’m glad to report that the list is completely unedited – there were no ‘f’ or other unacceptable words.  Thank you to everyone who took the trouble to contribute.  Here are my own observations on the 1,029 offerings:

The most common themes were…

  • the idea that we win votes when we’re genuinely Conservative and focused on bread’n’butter issues…
  • that we should attack Brown’s record more vigorously (probably the most popular wish although one person warned: "Don’t attack quite so hard. Softlee softlee catchee monkey. Cruelty puts the voters off.")…
  • that the broken referendum pledge on the EU is a top campaigning priority…
  • more could be done to highlight waste of taxpayers’ money as a preparation for serious tax cuts (a common theme being a concern for the tax burden on ‘working class Tories’)…
  • that we shouldn’t roll out new policies too early because they’ll only be stolen by Labour…
  • emphasise traditional Tory policies and not go back to "stunts", supermarket parking charges and other self-inflicted wounds…

Comment 218 summed up this mood behind that last point: "Sound and act like Conservatives and stop trying to pander to Guardian readers."

There were a few modernising comments…

  • "Step up the pace of change – show those floating voters who are still wary of us that we are not the same old Tories, but have truly changed."
  • "Stick to the strategy of fighting on the centre ground – keep the emphasis on the environment and social justice as equal priorities with economic liberalism and law’n’order."
  • "Work hard and ignore Norman Tebbitt"!
  • "Love-bomb the lib-dems."

…but they were very much in the minority.

There were some sensible warnings against looking smug.  One respondent said we must always look like we are focused on the people’s business rather than our desire to return to office.  Comment 721: "Avoid smugness and "told you so" attitude and when things go wrong for the government give a general impression of calm, reasoned, articulate and sensible criticism. If things go wrong for the party (which from time to time will happen) be upfront about admitting mistakes, disagreement etc and DO NOT use spin. Overall act competently and thoughfully."

IDS’ Broken and Breakthrough Britain reports are mentioned more than any other policy group report – and nearly always positively.

Lots of desire for party unity.  Here are two typical thoughts:

  • "Above all remain as united and openly supportive of each other as they have been over the last two weeks."
  • "Stay united! For goodness’ sake, stay united! Stop criticising our own leader in public, start holding Brown to account for the last ten years, and we may just have a chance at the next election."

And finally, I liked comment 690 and I promise it wasn’t me:

  • "Keep going! The new agenda, combining ‘compassionate conservatism’ like the environment and NHS with more traditional Tory issues like tax, immigration and Europe is working well. Mr Cameron’s two finest moments, in my opinion, were his speech to Conference and Wednesday’s performance at PMQ’s."

8 comments for: 1,029 members have advice for David Cameron on next steps

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