Bleak news for Davis as 'IoS' survey of activists shows him falling behind

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Indy Politics

A survey of Conservative Party office-holders indicates that Mr Davis, his rival for the Tory leadership, is trailing far behind among party members around the country. Of the 54 local associations surveyed, 38 said they favoured Mr Cameron. Only seven preferred Mr Davis. Nine were undecided or said they would have preferred Liam Fox or Kenneth Clarke to become party leader.

The results will make bleak reading for Mr Davis as he struggles to claw back support from Mr Cameron, whose campaign has gained fresh momentum since he topped the poll of MPs last week.

The former cabinet minister Lord Heseltine yesterday endorsed Mr Cameron and said the 39-year-old contender had "that elusive quality that encapsulates people. It is rare, but when you see it, it is unmissable."

Mr Davis's fightback this week opens with a "personal manifesto" due on Tuesday, focusing on the shadow Home Secretary's experience and resilience and his standing in the party's heartlands. But Mr Cameron will seek to challenge that at a rally of supporters in Birmingham.

"I want the Conservatives to be a party of the cities as well as the countryside and suburbs," he will say. "Modern Conservative values are the right way to deliver a real urban revival."

Tory members surveyed by the IoS said Mr Cameron's youth and freshness made him the party's best hope forattracting crucial floating voters.