Caveat elector

ConservativeHome and ConservativeIntelligence have just polled the 250 Tory candidates in the party’s most winnable seats.

The survey finds that in terms of personal priorities, cutting the deficit is top-of-the-league. Helping small businesses is priority two and reducing welfare bills is priority three. Interestingly, three issues associated with the modernising agenda (civil liberties, defending the NHS and fighting poverty) score above winning powers back from Europe and reducing the level of immigration.

At the bottom of the league table of personal priorities is a reduction in Britain’s carbon footprint. Just eight adopted candidates said it would be a top priority for them in the next parliament. It was the only policy goal that fell below 3.0 (the middle ranking). If the Tory leadership presses ahead with a decarbonisation strategy it will need to redouble Greg Clark’s tactic of emphasising the wider benefits of all green measures (eg in terms of energy security or household fuel bills). Candidates’ ‘green scepticism’ is shared by the Tory grassroots. 76% of Conservative members want Cameron to focus on energy bills above climate change.