Tory poster ‘unlikely to win new votes’

By Sasjkia Otto

A new Conservative poster campaign pledging to cut benefits for those who “refuse to work” will appeal to core Tory voters in lower income groups but is unlikely to sway marginal voters, according to ITV polling company ComRes.

The poster, which depicts David Cameron talking in front of an audience with the slogan “Let’s cut benefits for those who refuse to work” went up on 500 sites across Britain last night.

Andrew Hawkins, CEO of ComRes, the live election debate polling company for ITV, said he was “surprised” at the move away from a big society message.

“A lot of the people who will be switched on by this campaign are those who were likely to vote conservative before,” he said.

He said people in lower income groups approved of this campaigning style as they found the “Thatcherite message” more appealing.

He said: “People who come into contact with the benefits system may be in contact with somebody who is abusing the system.”

He said their views could be “too hard-line” for higher earners who were traditionally more liberal.

He added: “Whenever they talked about tough Tory issues [during the first ITV election debate] their ratings went up.”

This shift to the right follows well-documented pressure from senior Conservatives including former tabloid editor Andrew Coulson, Cameron’s director of communications, to replace strategy chief Steve Hilton’s positive Obama-style campaign with more aggressive tactics.

It echoes John McCain’s shift to the right during his campaign against Barack Obama amidst fears competition for centre votes was too fierce.

Jaime Campbell, who creates left-wing political posters and graphics, issued a spoof poster on Twitter today with a “letter” from David Cameron attached. It read: “We need to turn nasty George, it’s getting desperate now.”