By Tim Montgomerie
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2012 was an annus horribilis for the Conservative Party. The boundary
review was lost. UKIP started taking bite size chunks from the Tory
vote. The omnishambles budget undermined the central Tory quality of
competence. The deficit project went badly off target. These big changes have produced significant pessimism among Tory members.
In a ConHome poll 67% of Tory members now expect Labour to be in power after the next election:
- 36% expect a majority Labour government;
- 14% expect a minority Labour government;
- 17% expect a LibDem/Lab coalition.
Only 33% expect the Tories to remain in power:
- Just 12% expect a Tory majority government;
- 5% expect another Tory/LibDem coalition;
- 16% expect a minority Tory government.
These figures are not much changed from October when 35% expected a Tory PM after the next election and 65% expected a Labour PM but they are a huge change from March when 62% expected the Conservative Party to remain in power.
The appointments of Grant Shapps as Tory Chairman – pursuing a much more aggressive marginal seats strategy – of Lynton Crosby to bring discipline and focus to the Tory campaign – and of Neil O'Brien to bring a blue collar understanding to the next Conservative manifesto – are, however, all good signs. There is also the survival of Ed Miliband and Ed Balls. The Labour leader and particularly the Labour brand should not be underestimated but the Tories nonetheless plan to turn the next election into a presidential Cameron v Miliband contest. The latest polls suggest this strategy still has some sound basis in the opinion polls but it is very clear that the next election will be a big, uphill struggle.
These are results from the ConHome end-of-year survey. 2,568 people took part and later today I'll start publishing other results from the survey including our Ten Awards Of 2012.