Cameron loses out to Labour in battle for hearts of ‘strivers’

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David Cameron needs to re-connect with the “suspicious strivers” among voters to make up ground lost to Labour since the last election, a new poll has suggested.

The survey published by the former Conservative Party deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft found that the Tories won “comfortably” among the group, who make up 15 per cent of the population, in 2010 but Labour were now ahead.

In the report, entitled “Blue Collar Tories? In pursuit of the strivers”, the group was suggested as the natural successors to the “C2 voters” whom Margaret Thatcher won from Labour in the 1980s.

Lord Ashcroft identified “suspicious strivers” as those who “think people expect too much from government, oppose penalising top earners with very high taxes, and value flexible labour markets”.

But he also added the group “are not sure their efforts will bring the rewards they should. They suspect that hard work counts for less than connections, and are sensitive to signals that striving goes unrewarded ... when they miss out on help which, as they see it, they would get if they worked less hard”.

The poll found that at the last general election, Conservatives secured 29 per cent of such voters, with Labour on 19pc, Lib Dem 18, Ukip 3 and others 3. Current data on voting intentions of the group showed Conservatives on 20pc with Labour on 25, Lib Dem 8, Ukip 12 and others 6.

“Suspicious strivers” were among five groups identified in the report within the voting public.

These also included “optimistic individualists”, making up just under a third of the population; “downbeat dependants”, making up one in seven of the population; “liberal idealists”, making up one in seven of the population and the “entitlement anxiety” segment, accounting for more than a quarter of the population.

The poll was of 8,224 adults, with 16 focus groups also conducted between July and September.