In the run-up to the 2005 general election I supported a number of Conservative candidates in target seats. A year before polling day, it was clear that despite energetic and positive campaigns, many of them were not making the progress that their talent and effort warranted. My puzzlement increased when the party said that, according to its private research, it was heading for victory in 103 of the 130 most marginal seats. This was at odds with published polls. The belief that the party was on the verge of winning an election seemed implausible.
I decided to commission my own research to establish the real state of public opinion: the true level of support for the parties, the underlying attributes associated with each, whether the picture in marginal seats really was different to that in Britain as a whole, whether the Conservatives’ 164-seat battleground made sense, and why the candidates I was helping to fund were finding it so hard to build support. Smell The Coffee: A Wake-Up Call For The Conservative Party sets out the results of this work, together with my conclusions on how the party needed to change if it was to win another election.