David Cameron has failed to seal the deal with the British public, who believe the Conservatives would govern for the well-off and are not an attractive alternative to Labour. In a remarkable snapshot of national opinion just months ahead of the general election, a ComRes poll for The Independent found that people disagree with the statement that "the Conservative Party offers an appealing alternative to the Labour Party", by a margin of 49 to 45 per cent. Meanwhile, by 52 to 44 per cent, the public agrees with the statement that "a Conservative Government would mainly represent the interests of the well-off rather than ordinary people". The survey gives the Tories a nine-point lead over Labour, down one point on last month. If repeated at a general election, the figures would leave the Tories five seats short of an overall majority in a hung parliament. According to ComRes, the Tories are on 38 per cent (up one point on last month), Labour 29 per cent (up two points), the Liberal Democrats 19 per cent (down one point) and others 14 per cent (down two points).
The findings will add to the jitters in the Tory high command after the gap between the two main parties closed in recent weeks. Amid fears that the Tory message has been too "austere" because of the economic crisis, Mr Cameron will try to paint a more positive vision of life under a Tory government in a new year campaign. The survey will encourage those Labour strategists who are anxious to win back the party's traditional supporters. Mr Brown was accused of reigniting the class war after he said that the Tory policy of cutting inheritance tax was "dreamed up on the playing fields of Eton", where Mr Cameron was educated. Although ComRes found that the Tories enjoy a 20-point lead among the AB top social group, the two main parties are virtually neck and neck among the other groups. Twice as many C2 skilled manual workers and the bottom DE group are "certain not to vote" than are ABs. Labour appears to have clawed back some of its traditional support since this month's pre-Budget report. The proportion of those who backed Labour in 2005 and who would stick with the party has risen from 66 to 76 per cent. The Tories appear still to have work to do among women voters. They are 11 points ahead of Labour among men but only six points ahead among women.
There is some good news for the Conservatives in today's poll. By a margin of 55 to 38 per cent, people support the party's policy of raising the threshold for inheritance tax to £1m. This will encourage Mr Cameron to resist pressure to ditch the idea. The finding suggests that aspirational voters like the policy and do not necessarily buy Labour's line that it would only help millionaires. Sixty-three per cent of the top AB social group agree with the Tory policy, falling to 48 per cent among the bottom DE group. As expected, Conservative voters are the most enthusiastic about this policy – 64 per cent agree. Surprisingly, more Labour voters agree than disagree with it – by a margin of 50 to 42 per cent. Worryingly for Labour, the public is evenly divided over whether a Labour government would protect front-line public services such as health and education better than a Tory government would – seen by Mr Brown as the key dividing line between the two main parties. Some 47 per cent agree with this statement, while 46 per cent disagree. People in lower income brackets are more likely than those in higher income brackets (by 54 to 47 per cent) to agree that a Conservative government would mainly represent the interests of well-off people. Thirty per cent of Tory voters agree, as do 78 per cent of Labour and 64 per cent of Lib Dem voters. Worryingly for the Tories, 45 per cent of the "don't knows" (or those who refuse to say how they would vote) also agree with this statement. Senior Tories will be most concerned about the lukewarm support for the party. Although the public has lost faith with Labour, it has not sufficiently warmed to the Conservatives for their liking. Women are less likely than men to regard the Tories as an attractive alternative to Labour. With the exception of people aged 65 and over and the 18-24 age group, the majority of people in all the other age brackets do not regard the Tories as an attractive alternative.
Dodgy Dave Cameron does another policy back-flip, proving again he can't be trusted. Embarrassed by the tax tricks of his chief party bankroller, billionaire Lord Ashcroft, he tried to amend a law going through Parliament. But the Tory leader had to ditch his fake get-out-jail-card only hours later - leaving the Government to put things right. Labour will compel MPs and peers to be resident British taxpayers - or quit Parliament. The likes of Milord Ashcroft and rich Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith will pay their full share in future. Meanwhile, ask yourself : why do these very rich men want to make laws for the rest of us? Diddy Dave Cameron is upset because people harp on about him being a toff and an Old Etonian. And it’s true he didn’t decide where he was educated. His wealthy parents sent him to Britain’s top public school to get him off their hands. But it’s not where he went to school that matters; it’s what he did with his education and his uniquely-advantageous start in life. I’m having none of his fake indignation about being the poor-little-rich-boy victim of a class war. It’s not compulsory for little Lord Fauntleroys in their top hats and Eton collars to become Tory politicians with aspirations to rule Britain. Tam Dalyell, a well-born Scot, went to Eton. But he became a Labour MP and was the scourge of Maggie Thatcher throughout her premiership. In a long career in the House of Commons, he championed the cause of democratic socialism.Cameron could have reached the same conclusion as Tam.
The same evidence of social injustice was there for him to make a similar moral and political judgment about how best to serve his fellow man - but he chose to ignore it and take the Tory way. The way that leads to exploitation of workers and their families. The way of the bosses, not the people. The Conservative leader prattles on about being the friend of the poor and the disadvantaged. It’s all sphericals. When he’s with his own folk, in the City of London, he can afford to drop the pretence. Addressing bankers last week, he boasted that the City is in his blood. “My father was a stockbroker, my grandfather was a stockbroker and my great-grandfather was a stockbroker,” he reassured the cream of the nation’s financiers. That just shows how remote he is from the harsh reality endured by most people, who have no stocks to broke and have a hard job to avoid going broke. Unlike smooth-talking Dave they can’t make the life choices he was privileged to make - and it's all about choices for the likes of him.
There is nothing inevitable about the path from private education to the high command of the Tory Party. Clement Attlee went to public school – Haileybury, in his case – but his experience as a social worker in the East End of London made him Labour for life. Country boy Cameron thinks the East End is a hell where you exile rivals for your job, like Boris Johnson. He might hire the locals as beaters for a day’s shooting – what ho! – but he could never understand them or sympathise with their condition, much less want to put things right. He chose to be what he is, and so did the rest of the hypocritical Tory toffs.