General Election 2015: Tory divide over campaign attack dog tactics

David Cameron has hit out at Labour and the SNP
David Cameron’s bid to keep the keys to Downing Street is facing friendly fire from some of his own Conservative colleagues.

Tory candidates told City A.M. they are anxious about their party’s failure to pull ahead in the polls with just over two weeks to go until the election, with several critical of a negative campaign that has centred on attacking the SNP and Labour.

Their criticisms came on the same day as a new survey from TNS UK showed the Tories trailing Labour by two percentage points.

John Whittingdale, vice-chairman of the influential 1922 Committee, said he is concerned about what the national polls are showing.

“I am anxious we’re not further ahead,” he said.

Another candidate seeking re-election said he could “see how we’re going to end up in opposition.”

The candidate said he did not understand how the Conservatives would be able to elect more MPs than a “coalition of the left” including Labour and the SNP.

The Tories yesterday continued their campaign to convince voters of the dangers of a Labour-SNP alliance, with former PM John Major describing the prospect as a “recipe for mayhem.”

“At the very moment our country needs a strong and stable government, we risk a weak and unstable one – pushed to the left by its allies, and open to a daily dose of political blackmail,” he said.

But multiple Tory candidates seeking re-election told City A.M. the tactics from Major, Cameron and others resonated with their constituents.

Worcester candidate Robin Walker, said he had seen a sharp increase in the number of voters raising the issue with him. “We’ve fought hard for local funding, and there is a genuine concern that could go out the window,” he said.

Nadhim Zahawi, who is seeking re-election in Stratford-on-Avon, said he thought this marked a turning point in the Tory campaign.

“This feels like a real shift on the doorsteps,” Zahawi said. “It feels like this will be the top of the head question that people will ask themselves in the polling booth.”

But Laurence Janta-Lipinski, associate director for political and social research at YouGov, said polling showed the Tory strategy may not pay off in the end. “Any Conservative thinking this is the election-defining moment may find themselves in trouble on 7 May,” he said.

Visit our General Election poll tracker to see how the polls changed in the build-up to election day. 

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