David Cameron needs to talk to the Mondeo man
It has been a tough year for the Conservative party, Labour has had a comfortable lead throughout 2013 and UKIP have had a breakthrough year. There has been talk of leadership coups and there has been general backbench worry about the upcoming 2015 election. However, it has not all been negative for the Prime Minister, the economy is growing, Labour’s lead is down to 6% from a high of close to 11%, and UKIP’s popularity surge has subsided and stabilised. Although the year has been tough for the Conservatives the points mentioned above will give them some optimism of being able to win a majority in 2015. Nevertheless, if they intend to win the first Conservative majority since 1992, 2014 will be a big year and the Conservatives are going to have to start talking to the Mondeo man.
The Mondeo man is the name given to those voters who opted to vote Conservative in 92 but turned to Labour in 97. Even in 2010 David Cameron was not successful in winning this group back, and it is crucial in 2015 this key electoral group returns to the Conservative party. This group of aspirational middle class voters kept Thatcher in power for a generation and then Blair, the Mondeo man decides elections. So far the Mondeo man has been neglected by the government, as this year Cameron has fought UKIP in a successful attempt to stop the Conservative party leaking its core voters. As he is aware without his party’s core vote he will never win a majority. In his fight with UKIP Cameron has promised a referendum on the UK’s membership in the EU and has took a tough stance on immigration. Although these sorts of policies have not won back all the former Conservative voters now considering voting for UKIP, they have won back some and stopped UKIP’s popularity surge. UKIP had a spike in their popularity in May in which they stood at 15% in the polls since then the Conservatives have successfully shrunk the UKIP’s rating to around 11% were it has remained for the last four months.
The Conservative party’s offensive against UKIP alongside an economic revival has helped them recover in the polls. However, they have failed to steal many Labour voters at all and if they are to win in 2015 they need to start damaging Labour’s share of the vote. To do this they need to target the aspirational middle class (Mondeo man), this is the group they lost in 97 and they need to win it back. This is the group so often referred to as the “squeezed middle” in the media and is being badly hit by the cost of living. As keen political observers will have noticed the battle for the Economy is pretty much over, now all Labour want to talk about is the cost of living and this sort of rhetoric could potentially win them the next election. The Government have done things to tackle the cost of living and come election time these policies will be highlighted, such as the raising of the tax threshold and not raising fuel duty. However, in the recent debate over the price of energy the government has received a bloody nose by having no real alternative to Labour’s energy price freeze. In 2014 the Conservative party are going to have to show they are tackling the issues surrounding the cost of living and this includes getting to grips with the cost of energy bills and hitting their 2% inflation target.
Although the economy is growing again many people are yet to feel the effects of this growth, and will be looking to the government to lower the ever-increasing cost of living. Currently the dreams of the aspirational middle class such as owning a house or owning a new car seem very distant, and the party who can make these dreams realistic will be the party of government come 2015. David Cameron has already started to try to talk to this key electoral group, but more than just talk of cutting green taxes must be done for the Conservatives to show they are taking the cost of living crisis seriously.