Slapped down: Poll setback for Tory right-wingers
Conservative right-wingers have been warned against playing "fantasy politics" after new polling suggested their ideas are leaving voters cold.
Research from Michael Ashcroft, the former Tory donor, has found many of the proposals put forward by a group of right-wing hardliners in an 'alternative Queen's Speech' are not resonating with voters.
Just 13% supported the idea of creating a bank holiday named after former prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Only around a quarter back other right-wing ideas like privatising the BBC or abolishing the Department for Energy and Climate Change.
Only on law and order issues did the right-wingers' agenda attract significant support. Policies like making repeat offenders spend more time behind bars, deporting foreigners found guilty of a criminal offence and putting a time limit on asylum claims were backed by over four in five.
Many of the alternative Queen's Speech ideas did not register much interest from voters, however, leaving Ashcroft to conclude they score highly on what he called the 'Meh index'.
Policies like removing some UK waters from the common fisheries policy and forcing developers to hand over residential roads to local authorities were met with indifference by nearly half of all respondents.
"Winning in 2015 will mean more than devising the most eye-catching ways of clamping down on criminals and foreigners," Ashcroft said.
"We certainly need to deliver on immigration, crime and welfare reform, but it is at least as important for the Tories to be a competent and united party of government that can be trusted on the economy and public services (which, incidentally, merited scarcely a mention in the Alternative Queen’s Speech).
"Rather than play fantasy politics we need to respond to the country's anxieties and aspirations, not least those of people who may never have voted Conservative before. That ought to be common ground."
The 42 bills in the alternative Queen's Speech appeared on the Commons order paper after Tory right-wingers camped overnight in parliament to ensure their legislation appeared in the business.
“This is a serious attempt to deliver policies that the British public really want," Conservative MP Peter Bone said.
"There are ideas here that could form the basis of a future Conservative manifesto."
Other proposals include an end to subsidies for wind energy, the ringfence protecting foreign aid spending and the office of the deputy prime minister.