The Conservatives face being sent into the political wilderness unless they fundamentally reform, including changing the party’s name, a former minister sacked by Theresa May said.
Robert Halfon, who was axed from his frontbench role on Tuesday, said the Conservative Party was “on death row” and had failed to offer a positive vision to voters.
The Harlow MP was scathing about the election campaign which saw the Prime Minister lose her Commons majority, saying the Tories did not have a message to rival Labour’s promise to stand up “for the many not the few”.
Writing in The Sun, he said: “The Conservative Party is on death row. Unless we reform our values, our membership offering and our party infrastructure, we face defeat at the next election – and potentially years of opposition.
“If we don’t change it wouldn’t matter if we had Alexander the Great or the Archangel Gabriel as leader. We face the wilderness.”
In an attack aimed at the Tory hierarchy – and campaign guru Sir Lynton Crosby – Mr Halfon said: “Our election campaign portrayed us as a party devoid of values. ‘Strong and stable’ is hardly a battle cry.
“I cannot remember a time in the campaign when the Conservatives attempted to explain what we are really about: the party of the ladder, of aspiration and of opportunity.
“We let ourselves be perceived primarily as the party of ‘austerity’, failing entirely to campaign on our record of a strong economy or strong employment.
“Virtually nothing was said on the NHS or schools or the caring professions that work within them. Instead we created fear amongst pensioners, and threatened to take away school meals, handing a gift to our opponents.
“Is it any wonder that the Conservatives did not get a majority?”
Mr Halfon said Mrs May had struck the right tone when she entered Number 10, but her message had been lost during the election.
“When the Prime Minister first stood on the steps of Downing Street and talked about a Britain that works for everyone I thought she had nailed it. When we launched measures to help workers in the early stages of the election, I thought, perhaps, people might vote for us with their hearts as well as their heads.
“Like Labour, we had a moral message. Then it all got lost. Now may be our last chance to rediscover the moral compass that points to real victory.”
Mr Halfon suggested a change of name to “the Workers Party” or “the Conservative Workers Party” with a new symbol.
He also demanded a campaign message focused on a “workers’ charter” promising to boost skills, wages, rights, the NHS and measures to curb the rising cost of living by cutting fuel duty and capping energy bills.
Under Mr Halfon’s plans, the Tory tree symbol would be replaced by a ladder suggesting the party’s desire to help people improve their lives.
He told BBC’s Newsnight: “I genuinely believe we face potential calamity as a party because people do not understand our values, they see us just in terms of austerity.
“We have failed to get our message about being the party of the ladder of opportunity across and we failed to get a message that we are also the party for the poor.”