Waitrose Man switching to the Tories

SOCIALLY concerned ABC1 voters - the well heeled living in smart neighbourhoods - deserted the Conservative Party in droves during the past two decades.

SOCIALLY concerned ABC1 voters - the well heeled living in smart neighbourhoods - deserted the Conservative Party in droves during the past two decades. But polling organisations are detecting a liking among them for David Cameron's agenda, which could be bad news for both Labour and the Liberal Democrats in suburbia.

These prosperous souls have been given the label Waitrose Man, because of the preference to shop in the John Lewis Partnership's supermarkets where organic food and expensive luxury items are all the rage.

The theory goes that Waitrose Man is not interested in specific policy proposals but wants reassurance that a politician understands the issues which concerns him - and her, of course. One left-wing commentator believes that Mr Cameron is streets head of Labour and the Lib Dems with his focus on labour market mobility, giant supermarket chains, anonymous neighbourhoods and congested roads.

Writing in the Labour conference edition of The New Statesman, Richard Reeves said Cameron has captured the "spirit of the age." He continues: "Cameron is tapping into a growing unease about the state of our communities and the still-tattered state of our social fabric.

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"He is making all the right noises about work/life balance, well-being, corporate power and the environment. People do not generally feel that their problem is poverty, or lack of individual freedom.

"Their problem is that, despite all our advances and advantages, neither market-driven growth nor state-funded public services seem to be delivering better communities and better lives."

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If the Tories can appeal to the average Tesco voter who wants value-for-money, safer streets, secure borders, action against terrorists/ militants, and decent schools and hospitals, and also tune into the concerns of Waitrose Man - including the environment, global warming, and the third world - then Cameron is half way to Downing Street.

Waitrose is also the very essence of Englishness. Most of its stores are clustered in the south-east around the M25 belt, central London, with a few outriders in the West Country, the Midlands and up North. They are to be found in Saffron Walden, Sudbury, Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds and Billericay, but none are in Scotland.

Although the Conservatives' poll rating have fallen in recent days, the party does not seem too concerned. In the past four general elections, the Conservatives have out-performed opinion poll predictions and Labour under performed, basically because no weighting has been given by polling organisations to anti-Tory sentiment in Scotland.

England's ABC1 voters see no difference between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. They don't believe the Chancellor is capable of casting aside Blairism, and if Mr Brown does become Prime Minister, the likely outcome is that Waitrose Man will be tipped back into the Conservative column.

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