Tory stands up for disgruntled rank and file

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The Independent Online
Disillusioned Conservatives unite: you now have your own party, and parliamentary candidate, to represent you.

The Disillusioned Conservatives (Campaign for Change), who prefer to see themselves as a "group" rather than a party, have just published their first survey of, well, disillusioned Tories.

It reveals that at least 5 per cent of voters describe themselves as "DC", and are prepared to sign a statement to that effect. Their main areas of unhappiness are the party's confusions over the European Union and the single currency, law and order, the performance of ministers - including John Major - and the Tories' electoral campaigning tactics.

Now, for the first time, these disgruntled Tories have someone to vote for other than a Labour or Liberal Democrat candidate to register their protest. Phil Gott, a chartered accountant and a former constituency party chairman, is standing at the Wirral South by-election on Thursday as a Disillusioned candidate.

Mr Gott, from Milton Keynes, said yesterday: "I am a Conservative through and through and our supporters want the party to win the general election.

"But they have to start to do things differently - we do not want five more years of the same thing."

This "same thing", as defined by the DCs, is a failure to tackle law and order properly, a lack of serious debate over the single currency and Europe, and the constant negative campaigning.

Mr Gott, 38, who has no connection with Wirral but believes he could pick up 2,500 votes, said that the Conservative Party is "dying on its feet".

He added: "The average age of a member is 63. The party needs to modernise itself and listen to people. It needs to move forward."

The group's survey of 500 people in Leighton Buzzard produced 23 who were prepared to sign up as "disillusioned" Tories. These peoplewould only vote Conservative again if the party showed a willingness to change.

In Wirral South, where the Tories are defending a 8,000-plus majority, Mr Gott, who helped set up DC 18 months ago, says he has found fertile ground for his ideas. "The level of support is astounding. I needed 10 electors to nominate me. Having knocked on just 22 doors I had my 10 signatures."

The DCs have not yet decided their tactics in a general election. "We will see what response we get from the electorate in Wirral South and from the Conservative Party. It's a question of wait and see."