New national poll shows Candidate X could save the Conservative Party. But who is mystery Candidate X?


By Andrew Hawkins.

Candidate X as leader of the Conservative Party would bring back Reform UK voters and even appeal to one in five Labour voters, a new national poll from Whitestone Insight shows. But who is Candidate X?

Yesterday (Tuesday) we were invited in to Parliament to present our findings on the Conservatives’ prospects under their current leadership.

The results make for uncomfortable reading for the Conservatives: they face a 17-point swing to Labour at the next election which would dwarf even the 1997 land slide which swept Tony Blair to power. And that is despite Sir Keir Starmer performing significantly worse in terms of his own personal ratings as Labour leader.

We presented to a group of Tory MPs and Peers, and the polling was part of a larger survey commissioned by Lady McAlpine.

Lady McAlpine, a Conservative donor, commissioned the national poll.

So what is the answer for the Tories? Perhaps after 14 years in office, with the bad luck of Brexit followed by Covid, the story only has one ending. But how can they minimise the electoral damage?

One option actively being mooted is a change in leadership. So, to understand the kind of leadership to which voters would be most receptive, we blind-tested three different brands of possible Conservative leader.

The major threats to the Conservatives come both from switchers to Labour and defectors to Reform UK, so we were particularly keen to explore the likely impact of a change of leader on Labour and Reform UK voters.

Who are the three leadership candidate types?

Candidate X 
Supported Brexit, wants to reduce immigration, reduce tax, scrap Net Zero, and make it impossible for trans women to enter women-only spaces.

Candidate Y
Supported Brexit but wants higher immigration for certain industries, is reluctant to cut taxes too quickly, and doesn’t think children should be allowed to transition.

Candidate Z
Voted Remain in 2016 and is content with higher immigration levels, would not reduce taxes, supports Net Zero and believes children should be allowed to question their gender.

Which candidate most represents your views? (%)Candidate XCandidate YCandidate Z
All voters341922
One-time Conservatives (i.e. not now)492013
2019 Conservative voters (i.e. not now)59206
Reform UK voters8092
Current Labour voters191922

The poll showed clearly that, for this upcoming election, Candidate X – the persona with traditional Conservative values – would be easily the most likely to recover Reform UK voters, and even appeal to one in five Labour voters.

The downsides of changing leader for the fourth time in five years may outweigh the benefits but, with the Party facing near wipe-out across the country, some may conclude that almost any strategy is better than the one they have now.

Andrew Hawkins is Founder and CEO of Whitestone Insight. Follow Andrew on Twitter / X here.


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