By Andrew Hunt and Claire Bullivant.

How bad are things going to have to get before Conservative MPs wake up?

Are they going to wait until they’ve lost their seat at the General Election or will it be after Starmer’s been in No10 for a few years and the country is on its knees?

Ipsos have just recorded their lowest EVER vote share for the Conservatives since they began polling in the 1970s.

Last month Lord Frost warned if MPs don’t act now “there will soon only be smoking rubble left,” a sentiment echoed by MP Simon Clark who called to replace Sunak immediately “or face a decade of decline under Starmer.”

After the recent “stunningly awful” YouGov polls which show the Conservative Party facing a 1997 style wipeout, Lord Frost noted: “Whatever the strategy is – and it is often hard to discern one – it isn’t working.”

“Whatever the strategy is – and it is often hard to discern one – it isn’t working.”

The most optimistic of predictions currently sees the party lose nearly 200 seats, the worst loss of seats since Arthur Balfour in 1906, and would see Labour with a majority of 120. Can you imagine the damage Labour would do with a 120 seat majority?

But sadly many journalists and even MPs are just more concerned about who paid for the huge YouGov poll rather than study the actual results. It’s disappointing as these MRP polls have huge samples and give us detailed constituency-level data.  They have a track record of accuracy. 

As Frost stated the YouGov poll showed we are “going to lose, and lose bad, unless we do something about it.”

Last month a Conservative Post’s members’ poll was released which showed equally dire results for the Tories. It asked the question whether dedicated members would be sticking by Sunak? The answer was a resounding “No.” The survey of over 2000 verified party members found they were on strike. 37 per cent said they had campaigned in the past for the party but just 9.9 per cent will at this year’s election if Sunak remains in place. 

According to the survey, over half said they would even vote for Reform UK if an election was held tomorrow while 16 per cent said they had already now joined the eurosceptic party. Just a third said they were planning to vote Conservative at the next election with nearly three-quarters believing the party would do better under a new leader.  

Another large national poll surfaced last month commissioned by Conservative Party donor Lady McAlpine and run by seasoned pollster Andrew Hawkins and his independent and highly reputable company Whitestone Insight. The poll questioned over 13,000 British voters of all persuasions.

Results overwhelmingly show the British public are craving conservative policies yet no-one is delivering and therefore the electorate will punish the Tories at the next General Election because of it.

Nearly two-thirds of people, including a majority of Labour voters, said they want immigration reduced. More than half wanted children to be banned from changing their pronouns and people everywhere up and down the country are totally fed up of “woke.”

From all these polls a clear and consistent picture emerges. Simply put it shows how the Conservative Party COULD make an almighty comeback… if its leaders choose to.

From all these polls a clear and consistent picture emerges. Simply put it shows how the Conservative Party COULD make an almighty comeback… if its leaders choose to.

First, the bad news. The polls make clear that voters dislike current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. This is the case across all voter groups, but especially the very voters the Conservatives need to win back. A whopping 82% of one-time conservatives in the Whitestone Insight poll said the party would have a better chance of winning the next election if it replaced Rishi Sunak with a more traditionally conservative leader. 

This is devastating for the Sunak camp. However, it does show that immediately replacing him could win back vast swathes of voters, especially the ‘don’t knows’ and those who have jumped to Reform UK. Even Labour voters think the Conservative Party would do better with a new leader. 

The narrative that it is too late to change leader and that voters do not want to, simply does not wash. Across the West, voters are crying out for radical change. Not since the summer of ‘69 has Europe experienced such revolutionary zeal. Everywhere the elites are tumbling faster than Sir Keir’s convictions to his own policies. The assumptions underpinning the neo-liberalist model of battery farm capitalism have been entirely dismantled.

That is Lesson 1: the case for an immediate leadership change is overwhelming.

Rishi’s plan is just not working and sticking with the status quo guarantees electoral oblivion. However, voters will respond positively to a change in leadership. But can we have a sixth leader? Sure. The embarrassment of another leadership contest certainly looks more enticing than the current slow-motion train wreck. 

But who should that new leader be? Can any single name turn it around? Yes, in the Conservative Post survey, members chose Suella Braverman or Jacob Rees-Mogg. In the national Whitestone poll which asked all parties and groupings, Suella Braverman was the clear favourite.

Not surprisingly Boris Johnson also polls well, with well over half of Lost Conservative voters saying they would vote for a Conservative Party led by Boris again. While many MPs seem to have moved on from Boris, they do so at their peril as the blond bombshell still exerts a powerful gravitational pull over the public, particularly Conservative loyalists. There is clearly a role for him within the party going forward.

While many MPs seem to have moved on from Boris, they do so at their peril as the blond bombshell still exerts a powerful gravitational pull over the public, particularly Conservative loyalists. 

There is clearly a role for him within the party going forward.

Of the other Leadership hopefuls, a few stand out in the Whitestone poll. However, they’re not who you might think. Conservative Home’s favourite Kemi Badenoch actually finished middle of the pack, well behind Suella Braverman, Priti Patel and Jacob Rees-Mogg who are the favourite choices among both current and potential Conservative voters.  

Those who appeal more to the left of the party like Penny Mordaunt and Gillian Keegan perform poorly with the wider public and terribly with the Conservative loyalists and potential voters. Therefore a centrist switch would not fix anything. The statistics show the Party must reach to the right for its next leader. 

One of the innovative aspects of the Whitestone Insight mega-poll was to blind test voters giving them a choice between three hypothetical candidates: Candidate X, Y and Z. 

Candidate X (based on Suella Braverman) was the right wing candidate: standing for reduced immigration, cutting taxes, scrapping Net Zero policies, and being tougher on trans. 

Across the wider public, Candidate X won by a country mile; winning back 60% of those lost 2019 Conservative voters and even ripping 19% of votes away from Labour. Yes, you read that correctly. Almost one in five Labour supporters want Suella’s conservative policies!

Across the wider public, Candidate X won by a country mile; winning back 60% of those lost 2019 Conservative voters and even ripping 19% of votes away from Labour. 

Yes, you read that correctly. Almost one in five Labour supporters want Suella’s conservative policies!

That leads us to Lesson 2: The new leader must fight on policy not just personality.

Changing leader would be a big help but core Conservative policies is what will ultimately turn the ship around.

Get the right policies and a leader who starts executing, and the Conservative Party would still win the next General Election.

So what policies? Reassuringly it is traditional conservative policies that can bring back voters in droves. As the Whitestone pollsters note: “We think that these results suggest the centre ground is not centre left but centre right.”

A tougher approach to trans issues, and a softening of net zero policies both poll well with Tory loyalists and the general public. 

For example even 43% of Labour voters and 46% of Lib Dem voters support banning children from changing gender or using alternative pronouns at school without parental consent. 

But the game-changing issue for the party is Immigration. Almost two thirds support reducing total migration to the UK. While a staggering nine in 10 current Conservative voters and 2019 Tory voters support cutting immigration. From a polling perspective these figures are eye-watering. It is almost impossible to poll over 80% for anything. 

Immigration is not just a hot-button issue; there is a near unanimous verdict among all possible Conservative voters that numbers must be slashed now. 

Even almost half of Labour voters (46%) and Lid Dems voters (47%) want total migration to the UK to be reduced.

If a young and hungry Tony Blair were in charge, you can bet his top three priorities would be ‘Immigration, Immigration, Immigration.’ The first step to avoiding electoral wipe-out is to slash immigration. 

If a young and hungry Tony Blair were in charge, you can bet his top three priorities would be ‘Immigration, Immigration, Immigration.’ 

The first step to avoiding electoral wipe-out is to slash immigration. 

Thus, Lesson 3 is: Swing to the right, and especially slash immigration.

Of course, achieving all this will require a particularly rare political quality: courage. Taking on identity politics, climate fanaticism and mass migration means standing up to left-leaning MPs, the blob, big business, vested interests, lawyers, NGOs, the media and a welter of online abuse. 

Every time Rishi Sunak has tip-toed into any of these, he has quickly wilted, evaporating into climbdowns and u-turns.  Yet the echoes of history remind us that all great leaders must face down powerful forces. Think Thatcher, Reagan or Churchill. Perhaps this is why the country holds such affection for Boris. He dared defy the Establishment to deliver Brexit and became a political rockstar across the world.

Churchill wrote “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” 

Lesson 4 is that the party must find the Churchillian quantities of courage required to listen to their voters, and then to stand up and speak for them, no matter how loud the establishment screams back.  

This is a tall order. Yet it is worth digging deep because the prize here is huge. If you want an image to sum up Britain’s electoral landscape; it is all buried treasure. 

The majority of voters have switched off and gone on strike. Farage and Tice have at least got their trowels out, but no major party is really listening to the electorate, let alone trying to disinter them.

The majority of voters have switched off and gone on strike. Farage and Tice have at least got their trowels out, but no major party is really listening to the electorate, let alone trying to disinter them.

This is what we mean by the ‘silent majority.’ It encompasses Reform voters, Conservative loyalists who have gone on strike, 2019 conservative voters, one-time conservatives, and incredibly those 1 in 5 Labour voters who would back a Tory leader with solid Conservative policies. All the polls show Britain is crying out for a more conservative Conservative Party.  

The good news is winning them back is easier than it looks. The political landscape is laden with low-hanging fruit: that is, policies that poll well with over 50% the country and over 70% of Conservative voters. That includes tough stances on legal and illegal immigration, identity politics, and crime; while rowing back on tyrannical net zero policies. These are really easy wins. Any leader worth their salt should not think twice before hoovering them up. 

But it’s not just the sheer numbers that count. These core Conservative policies really engage voters. It makes us hopping mad to see criminals running amok, asylum seekers in four star hotels, and billionaires in ski resorts telling us we cannot have a gas boiler, a petrol car or a foreign holiday.

It makes us hopping mad to see criminals running amok, asylum seekers in four star hotels, and billionaires in ski resorts telling us we cannot have a gas boiler, a petrol car or a foreign holiday.

The fact we can engage voters on these issues really matters. Because right now, what all these polls are showing is unprecedented levels of apathy towards all political parties. Rishi is not failing because he is only engaging a too-small minority (as Corbyn did), he is failing because he does not engage anyone.

On current form, the next election could be held on a cold dark day in late 2024 or even early 2025. Few voters will bother turning out to cast their vote. However, if a Conservative leader were to re-engage their loyalists and the silent majority by listening and delivering, then millions would show up on the day and vote Conservative. The same cannot be said for Labour or the Liberal Democrats. 

And there is yet more scope to hyper-boost voter engagement.  A new leader and a full slate of conservative policies would bring Boris and Nigel back into the fold. As John Curtice has observed, that combination is electoral gold dust. 

And that is Lesson 5: Engagement matters and is there for the taking. Thanks to voter apathy and first-past-the-post, a leader who can inspire 25% of adults to get out and vote for them will win a landslide. 

Nothing here is impossible. With the right leader and the right policies, the Conservatives and the Country can get back to winning again. With apologies to Bonnie Tyler, it’s time to put out the call: 

We need a hero!

We’re calling out for a hero who is up for the fight!

They’ve gotta be brave, 

And they’ve got to engage 

And they’ve gotta swing miles to the right. 


Author Andrew Hunt graduated from Cambridge with a Law degree in 2003. He worked in TV production before moving into finance. It was here that he became fascinated by how personal investors and small companies could turn negligible resources into enormous fortunes. Applying the same mindset and principles, Hunt was able to retire in his thirties. He now invests in interesting projects which aim to make the world a better place and runs a radical centre-right environmental think tank. He is also the author of Better Value Investing.

Claire Bullivant is the founder and editor of the Conservative Post, founder of the Patriot Club and co-Founder of the CDO.

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