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Today Tory focus group results
Nick Sparrow, Managing Director of ICM

Today joined forces with the polling organisation ICM to conduct a focus group examining some of the larger questions facing the Conservative Party.

Participants in the group were all members of the Conservative Party. Many were active within the party and were on the whole younger than the average member.

Only two looked to be over 50 years old and none, to the relief of some participants attending, came from what they called the "blue rinse brigade".

This group cannot therefore be presented as a representative cross section of the membership and indeed no qualitative research could make such a claim.

It should be presented as a focus group among party members and activists, giving a range of opinions about the current state of the party, its future prospects and the leadership.

Click on the highlights below for more detail from the investigation.

The Conservative Party: Present predicament

"No one in the group would be able to say to another Conservative party member who had been abroad since 1997 that the party had made any progress at all."


Labour

"One group member thought Blair had been very good at playing a right wing leader, while Brown had engaged in a massive redistribution of wealth. They had been successful in being seen as centre right party following a distinctly socialist agenda."


Liberal Democrats

"A nothing party. If people ever took them seriously, or if they ever looked like they would win power, potential supporters would soon turn away."


Policies

"The over-riding concern of most in the group was the issue of taxation. Yet in this respect they may be somewhat ahead of most voters, as the higher taxes in last years budget have yet to take effect, and at present many will not be fully aware of just how much local taxes will rise."


Leadership Qualities

"If a new leader were to be elected from outside politics altogether then such a person would ideally have a background in acting. Characters from outside politics who would make a good leader would include Ross Kemp, an actor with a no-nonsense approach."


The Weakest Link Game

"Group members were asked to vote out the weakest link in a series of elimination rounds and then, from the last two nominate their preferred leader. First to go was IDS! He just does not have what it takes. Second and third to be eliminated were (surprisingly) Clarke and Portillo. "


Conclusion

"A deeply depressing view of the Conservative Party's present predicament, its leader, the leadership alternatives and the prospects for the Party at the next election."




With her leopard-skin stilettos, Theresa May doesn't conform to the traditional Tory "blue-rinse" image


Listen - Former Tory adviser Michael Dobbs and the Sunday Telegraph's Matthew d'Ancona on the Tory focus group results. ( 10/03/2003)

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