Mr Cameron says that he wants the Tories to “becom[e] a Party which is more like modern Britain, and which likes modern Britain more…”, and I wonder how he’s doing on this score.
A survey of 500 delegates to the Conservative Party conference in 1983 found that a quarter thought that the “best” British society would be exclusively white, and that 14% favoured compulsory repatriation schemes. In 1991 a poll of 2,466 randomly selected Party members found that 70% “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the statement that “A future Conservative government should encourage repatriation of immigrants”. That generation of Tory members is dying off: the 1991 poll found that the median age of Party members was 63, the average age of a new member was 54, and that fewer that 5% of the members were under 35 — and the authors of that poll estimated that 40% of the membership then would be dead by 2001.
But what’s the state of play like these days, on the cusp of the Cameron Transformation? Has any good data been collected on political attitudes inside the Conservative Party since 1991? To what extent is Cameron pushing at an open door — because these old bigots are now dead or retired from active involvement in Tory affairs — and to what extent has this kind of bigotry managed to reproduce itself within the Tory party down to the present? I wish I knew the answers to questions like these, but I don’t have a clue. Anyone?