One-third of Tory voters set to switch in 2015 poll

More than one in three people who voted Tory in the 2010 general election are not planning to do so next time, according to polling carried out by former Conservative Party deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft.

Around half had switched allegiance to the UK Independence Party – with a fifth aligning 
themselves with Labour or the Liberal Democrats and a third undecided.

But a clear majority of those “defectors” (56 per cent) think David Cameron is the best of the three main party leaders and say their preferred outcome in 2015 would be a Conservative majority.

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In a signal of the uphill struggle facing the party, the peer 
said it would need to win back all the lost Tory voters “plus practically everyone who is even prepared to think about doing so next time”.

But at present the number of new backers being attracted – two-thirds of them from the Lib Dems – “are not enough to replace those going in the opposite direction”, he pointed out.

Lord Ashcroft said many voters in all camps gave at least a grudging recognition that the coalition had done well in dealing with the economy.

Mr Cameron and George Osborne were more trusted than Ed Miliband and Ed Balls to manage the economy in the country’s best interests by a margin of 57 per cent to 43 per cent.

But it would be “hard” to persuade people that they were feeling the benefits of improved growth rates in their own lives given that the Government had no scope for large giveaways.

In fact a small majority 54 per cent said they expected no improvement or a slight worsening in the economy over the next one or two years – with only 46 per cent anticipating a significant improvement.

Lord Ashcroft said the polling found that “few swing voters see Ed Miliband and Labour as a credible alternative”.

But the Opposition’s decision to focus on the cost of living had struck a significant chord, with Labour leading by 51 per cent to 33 per cent on the issue.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage said: “Given that they continue to ban new grammar schools, have opened our doors to Romania and Bulgaria and overseen a huge increase in our national debt, I hope and expect even more former Conservative voters back Ukip in the 2014 European Elections and General Election in 2015.”