One of the questions in the latest survey of Tory members sought to establish support for some of the ‘libertarian paternalism’ or ‘nudging‘ being promoted by David Cameron’s frontbench team. We asked members to say whether they welcomed or opposed a politician doing the following things. The table below summarises the results. A high positive percentage means that many more members approved of a politician engaging with the subject matter than disapproved:
- Tory members are much more willing to accept interventionism when the welfare of children is at stake. That’s why 74% of members welcome a politician speaking about chainstores selling clothes that sexualise young girls (as David Cameron has done). 20% opposed this.
- Another determining factor appears to be the scale of the problem. 56% supported George Osborne’s suggestion that there should be a cooling off period before people can use new instore credit cards. 31% opposed. The scale of Britain’s personal debt problem appears to have persuaded a majority of Tory members to give up their laissez-faire instincts in this area.
- The third conclusion is the most interesting. The overwhelming majority of comments left on the post about Michael Gove’s Nuts and Zoo remarks was hostile. The survey finds that Tory members are actually evenly split. 39.7% welcomed Michael Gove’s intervention and 40.6% opposed it. This is another reminder that people who leave comments on blogs are not necessarily representative.