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Boris Johnson faces election wipeout unless he rejects ‘rampant individualism’, new poll warns

3 min read

Boris Johnson could face an election drubbing unless his government rejects a focus on “rampant individualism”, according to a new report.

The Conservatives could lose half their 2017 voters if they do not focus more on security and less on personal freedom, the study from centre-right think tank Onward said.

The report, written by former Number 10 advisers Lord O’Shaughnessy and Will Tanner, urged Mr Johnson to build a "politics of belonging" by abandoning the party's “dogmatic obsession” with creating a small state.

It comes after a poll of 5,000 voters found that 65% now wanted a society which “focuses on giving people more security” while only 35% are in favour of a focus on increasing individual freedoms.

In his first speech as Tory leader, Mr Johnson had vowed to “energise” the economy and “ping off the guy ropes of self-doubt and negativity” as the UK sought to leave the EU.

But according to the report, the party could lose almost 4 million voters to the Brexit Party, 1.5 million to the Liberal Democrats and a further 350,000 to Labour if “freedom fighters” within Mr Johnson’s Cabinet are allowed to guide the Government’s agenda.

"Sea change"

Mr Tanner said: “British politics is undergoing a sea change and it is for security, not freedom.

"Most voters are not freedom fighters who want more rampant individualism, a small state and lower taxes.

"They want well-funded public services, security for their family, and a strong community in the place which they live."

According to the polling, support for improving economic and social security was almost twice as high among likely Conservative voters, while 71% of Tory defectors to the Brexit Party considered it a priority for the Government.

Meanwhile, 61% of voters said they believed technological change had hurt jobs and wages, while 71% said the growth of cities had “made society worse”.

Lord O’Shaughnessy, the former Conservative Research Director, said the figures marked a “break in 60 years of liberal consensus”.

“We found that voters believe the growth of cities and increasing numbers of people going to university have been bad for society,” he said.

“They think that communities have become more segregated rather than diverse and that family values are being eroded, and that globalisation, technological change and immigration have harmed ordinary people’s lives, jobs and wages.”

The Tory peer added: “These findings are true, on average, for all voter groups but even more so for the 5 million voters the Conservative risk losing at the next general election.

“To bring these people back into the fold the Prime Minister needs to deliver Brexit, but on its own that is not enough. He needs to move on from freedom and give these voters the security they crave.”

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