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By Ben Guerin
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'Turquoise Tories' Could Sound The Death Knell For The Conservatives In Marginal Seats

North Herefordshire, the seat with highest density of Turquoise Tories (Credit: Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

4 min read

Around one in six 2019 Conservative voters who want to see action taken on the climate said they will switch parties at the coming election, according to polling data shared exclusively with PoliticsHome.

The consultancy Stonehaven has dubbed Tory voters who agree it is important to tackle climate change, even if it entails higher prices for consumers, ‘Turquoise Tories’.

According to the polling, they represent two million of the 14 million people who voted Conservative in 2019, but who now intend to vote for a different party at the General Election on 4 July.

In September, Rishi Sunak announced a major U-turn on the government’s climate commitments – confirming the UK would push back the deadline for selling new petrol and diesel cars and the phasing out of gas boilers. This was part of a “more pragmatic, proportionate and realistic approach” to reaching net zero goals, and intended as a dividing line with Labour going into the election.

However, since the election was announced, polls have consistently placed the Conservatives around 20 points behind Labour. In the latest blow to the Conservative campaign, an Ipsos Mori MRP poll released this week suggested the Labour Party is on course for a 256-seat majority at the election, leaving the Conservatives with just 115 seats.

While Ipsos also found that 117 seats were considered “too close to call”, Stonehaven’s MRP poll found that ‘Turquoise Tories’ account for at least one in 10 voters in around 50 marginal constituencies. Retaining their vote could be critical for the Conservatives to avoid electoral oblivion.

The data suggests North Herefordshire, North Warwickshire and Bedworth, Wyre Forest and Maldon are the constituencies with the highest density of Turquoise Tories, followed by Louth and Horncastle, South Shropshire and North Norfolk. All but South Shropshire, which has been re-established as a seat at this election, have been held by the Conservatives in recent years.

Polls have also consistently shown that the majority of voters support the transition to net zero, but that support starts to falter when the public incur the costs.

However, half of those who still intended to vote for the Conservatives at this election agreed it was important to tackle climate change even if that entails higher prices, according to this research. The Stonehaven poll also showed that the Conservatives would stand to lose around 3.2m votes if they rowed back further on their climate commitments.

When switching to a different party, around half of Turquoise Tories said they intended to vote for Labour. However, around a quarter said they would vote for Reform, despite former leader Richard Tice saying the party would “scrap” the UK’s pursuit of net-zero. This suggests voters are turning to the party for reasons other than their climate policies.

In April, former prime minister Liz Truss wrote in The Telegraph that there are “ludicrous claims that pursuing a net zero agenda will boost the economy and drive growth”, which she branded, “patently not true and wishful thinking”.

However, around half of Conservative voters intending to vote elsewhere in July agreed that tackling climate change would benefit the economy, suggesting swing voters are unconvinced by more right-wing, anti-climate Conservative messaging.

This election has also seen the Green Party appear to make gains into the Conservative vote over environmental issues, with sewage pollution a key issue turning Tory voters to the Greens. However, in reality, just 9 per cent of Turquoise Tories said they would vote for the Green Party at the coming election.

Stonehaven sent this survey to around 2,000 people across the UK at the end of May.

Luke Betham, head of data at Stonehaven said: "The Conservatives would be wrong to assume their supporters do not care about climate change.  Our research indicates a vast swathe of 2019 Conservative voters would be turned off by attempts to water down action on climate change. This stance is pragmatic.

“Nearly half of the core Conservative voters and 2019 Tory voters planning to not vote for the party believe that addressing climate change will be good for the economy and their families.”

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