Four more discoveries from our Conservative member survey

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
June 18, 2019, 7:00 AM GMT+0

Which faction do members belong to? How would the 2016 contest have played out in retrospect? And would Tory members vote for a Tin Man or a Scarecrow?

Our latest Conservative Party membership survey has revealed a lot about the state of the party and who they might vote for, as well as how the outlook of members has changed since the Brexit referendum and what policies they believe to be most important in this campaign. But we also learned some more interesting titbits:

1. Despite the clamour to be seen as the One Nation candidate, only 30% of members describe themselves as One Nation Conservatives

In fact, Conservative members are most likely to describe themselves as Thatcherites (56%), Free-market Conservatives (43%) or Traditionalists (31%) than One Nation Conservatives.

Only 25% don the title of Liberal Conservative, and the ranks of the Modernisers have thinned to just 20%. David Cameron’s time as party leader seems already a distant memory, with only 13% of members describing themselves as Cameroons.

2. Knowing how things have turned out, most Tory members would have cast their vote for Leadsom in 2016

Theresa May ascended to the premiership without ever being subject to a members’ vote after her rival Andrea Leadsom dropped out of the race following a controversy over remarks implying she thought she was better suited to be PM because she was a mother.

Asked to think back to how they felt at the time, almost half (47%) of Conservative members say they would have voted for May had they had the chance, compared to 39% for Leadsom.

However, when asked to say how they would vote knowing everything that has happened since then members grant Leadsom a resounding victory by 54% to 30%.

3. After Churchill and Thatcher, the post-war party leaders most respected by the membership are Hague and Duncan Smith

It is no surprise that the two heroes of the Conservative Party, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, are near universally loved by members, with 95% and 93% favourability ratings respectively.

What is much more surprising is that after these two titans come William Hague, the first Conservative leader not to become Prime Minister, on 68% and Iain Duncan Smith, who lasted just two years as leader before being deposed, on 61%.

This makes them better respected among party members than many former Prime Ministers. Only half of the membership has a favourably view of David Cameron (52%) and just 43% say the same of John Major. Theresa May is less popular still, on 41%, and ranks above Alec Douglas-Home and Anthony Eden only because she is more well known.

Languishing at the very bottom is Ted Heath, of whom who just 23% of members have a favourable view and fully 58% a negative one.

4. Two thirds of members would vote for a Tin Man over a Scarecrow

At the end of the 20th century, a simple technique was developed in America for discerning a voter’s general outlook. Respondents are asked to imagine that they live in the land of Oz, and must vote for one of two candidates: the Tin Man (who is all brains and no heart) or the Scarecrow (who is all heart and no brains).

Voting Conservative has long since been shown to be connected with a preference for the Tin Man and this proves to be the case for Conservative party members. Two thirds (67%) say they would opt for the heartless brainiac, compared to just 14% for his straw-stuffed rival.

Photo: Getty

See the full results here