According to today’s Observer there are warning signs about David Cameron's ability to lead the Tories back to power. An advanced copy of a survey of party activists apparently shows signs of rebellion over Cameron's latest move to reposition the Conservatives, by embracing Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee's views on poverty.
A series of other polls timed to coincide with his leadership anniversary will also make sobering reading. An ICM survey in today's News of the World reveals that Gordon Brown, is the preferred choice for Prime Minister for 29 cent of people, with Cameron trailing on 25 per cent. (That said there is still considerable comfort for the Tories in a 9% poll lead). A focus group conducted by the political consultant Frank Luntz for the Sunday Telegraph indicates that Cameron does appeal to floating voters but he alienates Conservative voters. Luntz warned, however, that Cameron could be 'one poorly conceived stunt away from disaster'.
According to the Observer the survey of Tory activists, by the website Conservativehome.com, seems to confirm the rumblings of discontent among some traditional Tories, even though Cameron has built a steady lead over Labour in opinion polls over the past year. It found a sharp drop in the approval rating for his leadership.
The survey - conducted by a website viewed by Cameron aides as a key barometer of Tory opinion - reveals the depth of unhappiness over his repositioning of the party. Though a comfortable majority still backs him as leader, his 'satisfaction' rating has fallen since last month's survey from 76 per cent to 67 per cent. Asked more generally about Cameron's campaign to change the party, about half the respondents said he had the 'pace and extent' about right, and 11 per cent felt he should go even further. But 43 per cent said he had 'gone too far'.
On the other hand I could be just clutching at straws with this sort of news. Time will tell but perhaps Gordon’s gravitas will win through in the end. I don’t doubt that Cameron is well intentioned (it is strange to hear a Tory leader say things that don’t make me puke) but his delivery may well count against him. Whatever he does, I hope he stands by George Osborne - his crass attacks on Brown must be worth a few votes to Labour...