Sir - Iain Dale ("Tories' Champagne should stay on ice", Comment, February 21)
tells us that David Cameron "wanted to make Lib Dem voters feel that they could
come home to the Conservatives".
Problem: the 4.5 million Conservative voters who voted for John Major in 1992
but refused in 1997 did not switch to the Lib Dems. Nor did the extra 1.5
million who walked away between 1997 and 2005. Had they done so, Sir Menzies
Campbell would now be Prime Minister.
The slowly rising Lib Dem harvest of seats derives not from former Tory votes
for the Lib Dems, but from the falling vote of their two main opponents. Mr Dale
might address himself to the conundrum: what happened to the 10 million voters
who, across 13 years, have refused to turn out for anybody? Even if 20 per cent
have died or emigrated, that is still a huge missing electorate. David Cameron
does not need to convert Lib Dems. He walks into Downing Street if he can find
the missing Tory voters and bring them back.
Second problem: they were mostly traditionalists when they walked off in
disgust on May 1, 1997, and being now 10 years older probably still are.
Frederick Forsyth, Hertford
He raises some good points. Let me respond. Of course it is not just LibDem voters Cameron needs to attract. My point was that it is voters in the centre - whether Labour or Libdem - who need to feel that the Tory Party is a decent Party and can relate to people like them. The phrase 'good for me, good for my neighbour' sums this up.
Forsyth is wrong to imply that it is not Libdem voters which should be targeted. Many of their 63 MPs won their seats because former Tory voters went over to them in 1997 and 2001 - North Norfolk, Taunton, Winchester, Eastleigh, Harrogate, Kingston... Need I go on?
Forsyth is, however, right to ask why 10 million people now do not vote at all. In the 1000 words available to me I was addressing other issues so did not cover this, but I would say that one of the reasons (and there are many others) is that they felt the Tories had moved away from their values. It is Cameron's task to appeal to this group too, and I believe he is making good progress with them.
I do not agree with Forsyth that most of this group were 'traditionalists' and even if they were, I suspect they would have been in the upper age groups and after ten years are a rapidly diminishing number. No, most people who don't vote tend to take the 'plague on all your houses' approach and are a very difficult group to entice back into the polling booth. It's even more difficult when there is relative economic stability.
However, we should also remember that many people didn't vote last time and the time before because they thought it would make little difference to the result. That will be different next time.