David Cameron warned Tory party is patronising Tory voters on immigration

Conservative party hurt most by Ukip surge

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David Cameron's Tories are "patronising" voters as they scramble to counter the threat of the Ukip surge by becoming more like Nigel Farage's party, a former Conservative Party treasurer has warned.

Lord Ashcroft, writing on the ConservativeHome website today, said that trying to win back Ukip voters could be "costly” for the Tories if they don’t go about it the right way.

He warned that the party's "Vote Ukip, get Labour" message is a flawed election strategy because voters view it as "patronising".

Lord Ashcroft claimed that as the Conservatives have become increasingly vocal about Europe and immigration, voters have become more interested in these issues, but also to view the Tories as less effective in dealing with them.

The billionaire Conservative peer, who has made major donations to the party in the past, was analysing the findings of national opinion polls he has conducted regularly in 2014.

He said: "Most voters either disagreed that a vote for Ukip made a Labour government more likely, or didn't know whether it was true or not. Some voters may also hear a patronising message to the effect that they are too dim to understand the consequences of their vote."

However it wasn’t all doom and gloom: Lord Ashcroft’s poll results in marginal constituencies showed only around half of Tory defectors to Ukip rule out returning to their former party in the May 2015 elections, and would still prefer to see a Conservative government after the election.

The Tory peer said: "Most voters, including a majority of Conservatives, would be unhappy to see Ukip as part of a coalition government.

"Indeed Tories would rather see the Lib Dems or the Greens as part of a coalition than Nigel Farage's party. Tory voters give higher - or rather, less low - ratings to Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems than to Farage and Ukip.”