How much will the result mean?
Late September will see the result of the ballot of Conservative members on the party’s “Built To Last” mission statement. The process of a new, reforming leader having the party ratify his vision bears some resemblance to Tony Blair’s reform of the Labour constitution in 1995, exemplified by removing the Clause 4 commitment to state socialism.
So is this Cameron’s Clause 4 moment? Not exactly. It’s not so much that “Built To Last” is insubstantial; it varies, with environmental policies such as a target for carbon reductions being a significant change for the Tories, whilst other elements such as “a constructive Unionist response to the West Lothian Question” look more like placeholders for future policy.
But unlike Clause 4, opposition to the document doesn’t seem to be totemic for any significant mass of Tory members. The criticisms of the right of the party have been couched more as faint praise. Lord Tebbit, for example, seeing his leader get on his bike and look for votes, described the document as “clever marketing” without actually opposing it.
Last week we had some discussion from Tory commenters on the site about the results of the ballot. Estimates of the opposition ranged from 8% to 25–30%. So even if you could bet on the document being passed, the odds would be pretty poor.
Will the result in itself have wider significance? It probably won’t be noticed all that widely outside the party, or be a great triumph for Cameron, who’ll stand or fall by what he has done and does in future, rather than the result of an intra-party ballot. Nonetheless, predicting the numbers is an interesting exercise and it would be good to hear posters’ latest guesses.
As usual, base your gambling, gloating or gloom on the figures as much or as little as you see fit.
Populus for The Times, 5 September:
Main poll: Con 36 (unc), Lab 32 (-2), LD 20 (+1).
With Brown as Labour leader: Con 42, Lab 33, LD 16.
With Reid as Labour leader: Con 40, Lab 32, LD 15.
Mike Smithson returns on 10th September.