A “key reason” for the Tories losing support to UKIP is the Conservatives’ “modernising agenda” on issues like gay marriage, The Sunday Telegraph has said.
The paper highlighted research carried out earlier this year that showed 51 per cent of ‘switchers’ from the Conservatives to UKIP don’t support same-sex marriage.
And in an editorial on Sunday, it said those who have traditional values “are often the backbone” of local Tory associations.
The newspaper disagreed with comments from Nick Boles – a Government minister – who has said gay marriage should be shouted “from the rooftops” to attract younger voters.
It said that Mr Boles was “doubtless well-intentioned but he is also wrong”.
The paper commented: “Recent polling evidence suggests that young people have in fact become more supportive of the Tory party in the past few years rather than less.
“It is the defection of mature, ordinarily Conservative voters to UKIP that could lose the next election.”
It added: “A key reason for the rise of UKIP is disaffection with the very modernising agenda that Mr Boles promotes.
“Polling conducted for this newspaper back in March found that 51 per cent of ‘switchers’ from the Conservatives to UKIP oppose gay marriage.”
And the editorial continued: “Modernising is wrong if it means dismissing everyone who has more traditional cultural values.
“Traditionalists might embarrass some of the metropolitan elite, but they are just as deserving of the label ‘compassionate Conservatives’.”
The newspaper noted: “Part of the problem is that collapsing Tory party membership has left local associations too small to put up a real fight.
“Modernisation and social liberalism have led to confusion over what the party stands for and created the suspicion that it has lost its sense of priorities.”
Last week Mr Boles, who is the planning minister for the Coalition Government, claimed the Conservatives can reach out to young people by highlighting policies like gay marriage, which caused a lot of division in the party.
He said: “We should not shy away from those achievements but shout them from the rooftops. They should make us proud.”