Tory members ‘a breed apart’ from other main parties, study finds

Jan 4, 2018 by

by Peter Walker, Guardian:

Conservative members are “a breed apart” from members of the other main political parties, with much stronger tendencies towards socially illiberal and authoritarian attitudes and completely different views on Brexit, a study has found.

The biggest ever polling of party members’ opinions shows that Tories are half as likely to support gay marriage as members of Labour, the Lib Dems or the SNP and significantly more supportive of the death penalty, obedience to authority and censorship of the media “to uphold moral standards”.

The findings by academics at Queen Mary University of London could spell trouble for the chances of a more socially liberal candidate such as Ruth Davidson succeeding Theresa May as Tory leader, given that the final choice is made in a vote of party members.

The study also shows that almost five years after David Cameron sought to move the party towards a more socially inclusive position by pushing through the gay marriage law, Tory members – 44% of whom are 65 or older – remain resistant.

The polling on social issues offers something of a clue as to why Jacob Rees-Mogg, the avowedly traditionalist backbencher who opposes gay marriage and abortion, has topped several polls of members by ConservativeHome on who should be the next Tory leader.

The study found that 41% of Conservatives backed gay marriage, compared to more than 80% of members of the other three parties. More than half of Tory members back the death penalty, 84% believe schools “should teach children to obey authority” and 44% support the censorship of films and magazines – significantly more than any other parties, although SNP members tended to be less liberal than their peers in Labour and the Lib Dems.

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