Last week we held focus groups with wavering former Conservative voters as they prepare to go to the polls in Thursday’s by-elections: in Wincanton, in the heart of the Somerton & Frome constituency; at the South Ruislip end of the Uxbridge seat; and in Selby.
People in all three places had a pretty clear view about the unorthodox circumstances giving rise to the contests. Nigel Adams “didn’t get his honours, did he? So he threw his toys out of the pram and said right, that’s it.” David Warburton “took way too long to step down… It’s a little bit naughty of the Conservatives to let it go on for so long. I think they tried to let it die down because there was so much going on elsewhere” (though there was some sympathy: “He had to stand down, but he had a really rough ride from the parliament people… It sounds like he’s been gagged from saying anything about the harassment allegations. I mean, people can forgive the odd snort of cocaine these days, but the sexual allegations were the real meat of the scandal and we’re none the wiser about what happened, if anything at all”).