Will the working class return to the Tories?

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Suspicious strivers? Shameless might just be the answer for the Conservatives
Suspicious strivers? Shameless might just be the answer for the Conservatives

A group of Conservative MPs are looking to "recreate" the working class support for the Tory party which won it power under Margaret Thatcher.

The Blue Collar group of Conservatives, which is calling on David Cameron to pursue policies that will appeal to working class voters, already has 40 MPs and is growing in strength ahead of its official launch in November.

Party insiders concede that the Tories cannot win an overall majority in 2015 without winning over significant support from blue collar workers. Conservative historians point to the 1950s and early 1960s, and then the 1980s when 'Essex man' dominated Thatcher's thinking, as periods when the Tories benefited from working class support.

"Our idea is to try and recreate that coalition," John Stevenson, whose Carlisle constituency is dominated by blue collar workers, told politics.co.uk.


"Most constituencies would have a sizeable section of this group. We did it in the 50s, we did it in the 80s, we need to do it against in 2015. I want to be out there advocating policies that resonate with that group."

The project would involve appealing to low-and-middle income workers' wallets, Stevenson believes. Scrapping income tax for those on the minimum wage would help channel tax cuts to the lower paid, he suggested.

Other policy areas, like law and order, could be tailored more carefully to blue collar priorities. A focus on antisocial behaviour to ensure that "people are civil to one another" might prove successful, Stevenson said.

Earlier this month Conservative party donor Lord Ashcroft said he believed 15% of voters he classified as 'suspicious strivers' were critical to the Tories' electoral success

This group, thought to be the "natural successors" of Thatcher's C2 voters, are uncertain as to whether their efforts will bring rewards. Labour, having fallen behind in this category in the 2010 election, is now ahead once more.

"Tories need to show we share their aspirations and anxieties, not tell them they are on our side already if only they would realise the fact," he wrote.

"We should also avoid thinking that strivers have a ruggedly individualistic approach to life and simply want the government to get out of their way to let them flourish. In fact what they want, as much as anything, is reassurance - that doing the right thing will be worth their while, and that if they needed help, deserving cases would get priority."

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