Are the Tories mis-reading the threat from Farage?
I’ve just come across some intriguing polling that was tucked away in a post on the Coffee House website last month by the Speccie’s James Forsyth, In it he reported on a series of “calm the nerves” briefing sessions that are being held at Number 10 for groups of a dozen or so Tory back-benchers.
Part of this is a presentation by the ex-Populus boss who is now Number 10’s strategy director, Andrew Cooper, in which he sets out some of the private polling. Forsyth goes on:
“..One of Cooperâ€™s big messages is that among those who have deserted the Tories since the last election 40 per cent are now donâ€™t knows, another 40 per cent have gone to Labour and 20 per cent to UKIP. Intriguingly, among those switching to Labour, the third and fourth most popular reasons given are welfare and immigration â€” suggesting that these voters are protesting about the government rather than positively choosing Labour.
Cooper, who has always been sceptical about the political salience of the European issue, is also convinced that those moving to UKIP are largely motivated by immigration.
His research shows that when asked why they donâ€™t support the Tories anymore, two thirds of them donâ€™t mention the EU at all..”
If this is correct, and I’ve got a huge respect for Cooper who used to post on PB, then Tory promises of an EU referendum might not be the vote-winner and panacea that many in the party think.
What seems to be the case is that the primary concerns of many members, activists and MPs are not shared in the same way by the mass of current and former Tory voters.
Mike Smithson @MSmithsonPB