Tag Archives: lord ashcroft

Six months from 7th May 2015: how the polls are looking and what to look for

There are three key things about opinion polls.

The first is what matters are trends, not individual poll fluctuations.

The second is they’re snapshots, not forecasts. (A point made by Lord Ashcroft, to his credit, every time he publishes his latest poll finding.)

The third is the next general election won’t be decided by national party vote shares but by who wins in 650 individual seats. (A point often made by PoliticalBetting’s Mike Smithson.)

Here are the trends…

Here’s a graph which focuses solely on the first of these. It shows the result of every single opinion poll – courtesy Mark Pack’s invaluable spreadsheet – in the 12 months from October 2013 to September 2014 (incl.):

poll trends 2014

Posted in Polls | Also tagged , , , and | 69 Comments

Champagne corks popping at party HQ?

Champagne cork popping photo by Brent SchneemanTim Farron was on Radio Four’s Today yesterday morning. He was talking about Norman Baker’s resignation. In passing, when interviewer John Humphrys mentioned the party potentially losing lots of MPs at the next election, Tim mentioned that the Lib Dems went up by three percentage points in this week’s Lord Ashcroft poll.

When Humphrys said he would mention that this was just one optimistic poll for the party amidst many pessimistic polls, Tim joked that “at party HQ they might not hear you above the sound of champagne corks popping”.

Posted in Polls | Also tagged and | 15 Comments

Ashcroft’s poll of Lib Dem battleground seats: incumbency is alive and well but 2015 will be a survival election for the party

Tory peer and pollster Lord Ashcroft has published his latest set of constituency findings. He polled some of the key Lib Dem / Tory and Lib Dem / Labour battlegrounds in the summer – he’s now followed that up by looking at a further 22 seats. Of these, 2 are Lib Dem targets, 15 the party is defending against the Tories, and 5 against Labour. You can see the full results here .

Here are the headline findings:

  • Of the 20 Lib Dem-held seats polled, the Lib Dems would retain just 6.
  • The Tories would gain 7 and Labour would gain 4. The other 2 would be a tie (though actually a further 5 are statistical ties within the margin of error).
  • The Lib Dems would win neither of their two targets.
  • Posted in Polls | Also tagged , , , , , , , , and | 37 Comments

    Can moderate public engagement be a good thing?

    Scottish referendum ohot by gerardferryimagesWhile I was a governor at a primary school, we had a yearly dilemma. By law, we had to hold an annual meeting with parents. About a dozen usually turned up. Normally the same faces. Interested and engaged, they gave us good feedback and a nice time was had by all. Soft drinks and nibbles supplied.

    But a dozen parents for a school with several hundred pupils was considered low. So, annually, we considered ways of increasing parental attendance, only to be frustrated. After several attempts, I jokingly suggested that the only way to increase attendance was to announce that, at the next meeting, we would be showing a preview of an experimental Swedish sex education video which we were considering showing to pupils.

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

    Ukip may well win a seat in May 2015. But the least likely person to get elected is Nigel Farage

    Nigel Farage, Leader, UK Independence Party (UKIP)This week saw the latest in Lord Ashcroft’s polls of the marginal battleground seats that will decide the result of the next general election. This crop focused on 14 marginal Conservative-held seats where Labour are in second place.

    The overall news was half-encouraging for Labour. As it stands, Ed Miliband’s party is poised to win 11 of these 14 seats next May. The average swing from Tory to Labour of 4.5% would be enough to win 53 Tory seats, which, as as Ashcroft notes, “combined with the 17 seats my recent polling suggested they could gain from the Lib Dems, would be enough for a small overall majority”.

    Of course, this poll is a snapshot, not a prediction (as Ashcroft repeatedly stresses). A similar exercise conducted by Ashcroft for PoliticsHome in 2009 pointed to a Tory majority of 70 seats and we all know how that turned out a few months later. Usually the governing party picks up support as the election nears, while the opposition party loses support. We’ll see how that historical pattern bears out in Coalition conditions and as voting becomes yet more fragmented between five national parties, as well as the nationalists in Scotland and Wales.

    But the most newsworthy finding from Ashcroft’s poll was that Ukip would win two Conservative-held seats, Thanet South and Thurrock.

    Posted in News and Polls | Also tagged , , and | 21 Comments

    Ashcroft battlegrounds poll: Lib Dems set to lose four marginal seats to Labour

    lib lab Labour Liberal Democrat logoThe second of Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft’s polls of Lib Dem marginal seats was published this week, focusing on four of our battlegrounds with Labour: Norwich South (held by Simon Wright), Bradford East (David Ward), Brent Central (Sarah Teather standing down, Ibrahim Taguri selected), and Manchester Withington (John Leech). Also included was Brighton Pavilion, which Caroline Lucas won for the Greens from Labour in 2010.

    Posted in News and Polls | Also tagged , , , , , , , , and | 41 Comments

    Ashcroft battlegrounds poll: both Tories and Lib Dems down on 2010, but it’s the Tories who’d make gains

    lib toryLord Aschroft, the Tory peer and pollster, has published the results of a large survey of 17 Lib Dem / Conservative battleground seats. Six are Tory-held seats where the Lib Dems were runners-up in 2010; 11 are Lib Dem-held seats where the Tories were runners-up.

    Across those seats the voting intention (compared with the 2010 general election) is: Con 33% (-8%), Lib Dem 28% (-15%), Labour 14% (+5%), Ukip 18% (+14%). However, that conceals a lot of individual seat-by-seat variation. Here’s the constituency overview. The headlines are that:

    Posted in News and Polls | 64 Comments

    The poll findings which should encourage (some) Lib Dems and worry Labour

    I highlighted during Lib Dem conference season an interesting finding from Lord Ashcroft’s latest polling of marginal seats:

    Lord Ashcroft – the former deputy Tory chairman and the man who spends more on polling than all the political parties combined – released his latest findings this week. 13,000 voters in the 40 Conservative seats with the smallest majorities were surveyed, including eight where the Liberal Democrats came second in 2010: Watford, St Albans, Oxford West & Abingdon, Harrogate & Knaresborough, Camborne & Redruth, Truro & Falmouth, Newton Abbot and Montgomeryshire.

    Remember: these are seats which are potential Lib Dem gains in

    Posted in Polls | Also tagged and | 22 Comments

    Bob Worcester forecasts Lib Dems to be reduced to 24 seats in 2015. I’ll run naked down Whitehall if that’s the result.

    At a conference fringe meeting on Monday evening, the pollster’s pollster Bob Worcester, MORI’s founder, made a forecast of how many seats the Lib Dems will win at the 2015 election: 24.

    His prediction was based on current polling which he’d fed into the Electoral Calculus website and implied the number should be 17. His slightly higher punt allows for known Lib Dem strengths, such as our MPs’ habit of holding on tight in seats we win through sheer Stakhonovite grit.

    Forecasting the next election is a bit of a mug’s game, as the Coalition means there’s no past precedent to …

    Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 77 Comments

    Ashcroft’s latest poll: a couple of interesting findings about the Lib Dems

    Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft — who spends more on polling than all three main political parties combined — published the latest of his surveys yesterday.

    It contained little good news for his party: ‘Perceptions of the Conservatives have been eroded further … This is the price we have paid for spending half a year talking amongst ourselves.’ And none of the party leaders would’ve been much chuffed by public perceptions of them, though Nick Clegg comes off worst, ‘ the weaknesses of the other two, being “weak”, “out of his depth”, and “out of touch” all at the same time.’

    One finding caught my eye, asking which outcome at the next general election the public would most like to see:

    ashcroft coalition poll

    Posted in News and Polls | 39 Comments

    Where Ukip won (or almost won) on 2nd May 2013

    Wondering where Ukip won (or almost won – see below) in the local elections on Thursday, 2nd May? Then here’s a handy graphic and breakdown by constituency…

    ukip vote may 2013

    My thanks to Lib Dem Ben Mathis (@binny_uk) for crunching the Ukip numbers, as below. We’ll update the list with any more found…

    Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 17 Comments

    Opinion: A rousing campaigning message from Lord Ashcroft (of all people)

    Lord Ashcroft has done another enormous piece of polling, this time into the Lib Dem vote. A few of the more encouraging findings:

      • More people want a coalition including the Lib Dems (31%) than a Conservative majority (30%)
      • 30% of people could see themselves voting Lib Dem at the next general election
      • Only 1 in 5 think the Lib Dems have no real influence
      • Lib Dems outpoll the Conservatives on:
      o“Represents the whole country, not just some”(24% v 21%),
      o “Its heart is in the right place”(47% v 35%),
      o “stands for fairness”(41% v 30%)
      o “Stands for equal opportunity for all”(39% v 28%)
      o “Wants to help ordinary

    Posted in Op-eds and Polls | Also tagged and | 7 Comments

    Final Eastleigh poll puts Lib Dems narrowly ahead of Tories – but all within margin of error!

    What will (I assume) be the final poll of the Eastleigh by-election was published this morning. Conducted by Populus and commissioned by Lord Ashcroft, it shows the Lib Dems sustaining a narrow lead — significant in itself, but the more so as Eastleigh voters were interviewed over the weekend during which the controversy over allegations against Lord Rennard were prominent. Figures shown are compared with the most recent Populus poll, published at the end of last week:

      Mike Thornton (Lib Dem)

    Posted in Parliamentary by-elections | Also tagged , and | 12 Comments

    ++ New Eastleigh poll: Lib Dems have 5% lead over Tories, Labour trail in 4th place behind Ukip

    eastleigh bar chartUK Polling Report has the figures from the latest (and last?) opinion poll to be conducted in Eastleigh ahead of polling day this Thursday — it shows the Lib Dems leading the Tories by 5%.

    The poll was conducted for The Times by Populus, the firm which undertook a previous survey for Lord Ashcroft (changes in brackets compare the two):

      Lib Dems 33% (+2%)
      Conservatives 28% (-6%)
      UKIP 21% (+8%)
      Labour 11% (-8%)

    On the face of it, this is good news for the Lib Dems. HOWEVER, we know the Tories are mounting …

    Posted in Parliamentary by-elections | Also tagged and | 19 Comments

    5 reasons for Lib Dems to campaign in Eastleigh (just in case you needed any more)

    eastleigh campaignMark Pack has posted last night’s poll findings from Eastleigh, showing the Tories narrowly ahead with both Labour and Ukip out of serious contention. In case you needed some reasons to help the Lib Dem campaign in the next three weeks in whatever way you’re able here are 5 from me…

    The Lib Dems can win…

    Lord Ashcroft’s poll is pretty ideal for the party: it piles the pressure on the Tories as early front-runners, while confirming how tight the contest will be. The Lib Dems’ local strength is significant …

    Posted in News and Parliamentary by-elections | Also tagged , , and | 7 Comments

    5 initial thoughts on David Cameron’s Europe speech

    David Cameron - License Some rights reserved by Statsministerens kontor David Cameron delivered his long, long-awaited speech on Europe this morning (text here). Caron’s rounding up the reactions from Lib Dems here – but here are my five initial thoughts…

    This is the speech Cameron didn’t want ever to have to give.

    Let’s be clear, David Cameron is making this speech now to try and keep the Conservatives together. The threat from Ukip and the party’s right has proved too powerful to withstand. Offering a referendum was no longer …

    Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 37 Comments

    Did you know the Lib Dems have lost half a million voters to Ukip? Here’s what I think it means.

    UKIP logoConservative peer Lord Ashcroft — who, as ConservativeHome’s Tim Montgomerie has noted before, spends more on polling than all three parties combined — has today published the latest survey looking at the timely issue of the threat of Ukip. Nigel Farage’s party is now regularly polling around the level of the Lib Dems, seemingly taking voters disproportionately from the Tories, contributing to lengthening Labour poll leads.

    Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 51 Comments

    Your essential weekend reader — 12 must-read articles you may have missed

    It’s Saturday morning, so here are twelve thought-provoking articles to stimulate your thinking juices…

    Where now for the immigration debate? – Sarah Mulley in the New Statesman with an excellent analysis: ‘the public don’t (on the whole) feel that immigration is a problem in their own local communities, although a large majority do feel that it is a problem for the country as a whole.’

    The Empire Strikes Back: Ofqual, and the omnishambles of assessment – Tom Bennett on the latest GCSE controversy: ‘let’s be …

    Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , , , and | 3 Comments

    What do the academics say? Ashcroft’s campaigning worked

    Welcome to the latest in our occasional series highlighting interesting findings from academic research. Today – the impact of the Ashcroft-funded Conservative key seats campaign in the run-up to the 2010 election.

    The latest edition of the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties (Volume 22, No.3) includes, “Laying the Foundations for Electoral Success: Conservative Pre-Campaign Canvassing before the 2010 UK General Election” by David Cutts, Ron Johnston, Charles Pattie and Justin Fisher:

    Posted in Campaign Corner and What do the academics say? | Also tagged , , , and | 5 Comments

    More questions raised over Lord Ashcroft’s business empire

    The business dealings of former Conservative Party Deputy Chairman and one of its biggest donors, Lord Ashcroft, are back in the news again.

    As The Observer reports:

    Fresh revelations have raised a series of questions about the links between the former Conservative deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft and a company responsible for luxury projects across a string of islands…

    Who controlled Johnston International, which won building contracts across the Caribbean worth tens of millions of pounds, has triggered awkward questions for the Tories, and above all for their major donor, Lord Ashcroft.

    The Tory peer, who has given the party more than £10m,

    Posted in News | 1 Comment

    Lord Ashcroft, Panorama and a herbivorous Liberal Democrat Peer

    Yesterday’s Press Gazette  highlights that the Panorama programme broadcast, entitled Secrets of the Tory Billionaire, on Monday night may help the Independent defend the libel case brought against it by Lord Ashcroft.

    In a development that you couldn’t make up, the Independent, in its own coverage of the programme,  referred to Lord Ashdown when talking about the Conservative Party’s major benefactor.

    This prompted our own Paddy Ashdown to write to the paper with, The Voice suspects, his tongue firmly wedged in his cheek

    “It is one thing to misrepresent my position on the benefit cap as you did last week,

    Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 4 Comments

    Campaign Corner: What campaigning books are worth reading?

    The Campaign Corner series looks to give three tips about commonly asked campaign issues. Do get in touch if you have any questions you would like to suggest.

    Today’s Campaign Corner question: I prefer learning by reading rather than by hearing people speak at training sessions. What campaigning books would you recommend?

    Lots of possible answers, but in the spirit of Campaign Corner’s love of threes, here are just three, deliberately chosen as one each from the main party perspectives:

    Posted in Campaign Corner | Also tagged , and | 6 Comments

    The best Conservative blog post of the week…

    … came from Lord Ashcroft, taking to task fellow Conservatives for their obesssion with Europe:

    f there is one thing that unites Conservatives it is the desire to win the next general election outright.  Certain things follow from this.  The first is that we need more votes at the next election than we received at the last.  This means attracting people who voted for a different party last year.  This in turn imposes two requirements: to address the things they care about most, and to show that we are changing the things that put them off voting Conservative in the past.

    You

    Posted in News | 5 Comments

    Only 3% swing to Tories in key Con/Lib Dem marginals

    The detailed polling by Lord Ashcroft published today on ConservativeHome brings some encouraging news for the Liberal Democrats. In a set of key marginals held by the Conservatives and where the Liberal Democrats were second in 2010, there has only been a modest swing to the Conservatives since May 2010.

    In the eight seats polled, the Conservative Party has a lead of 8% compared to an actual lead in May 2010 of 2%. This swing of 3% is much smaller than national opinion polls show. The vote share figures are:

    Conservative 39% (-2% on May 2010)
    Liberal Democrat 31% (-8%)
    Labour 19% (+6%)

    Con lead

    Posted in News and Polls | Also tagged and | 11 Comments

    House of Lords reform: taking a look at the details

    Yesterday Nick Clegg unveiled the Government’s proposals for reforming the House of Lords, an idea that David Cameron is on record as fully backing.

    The mere idea of introducing elections for half of our Parliament is shocking enough for some (letting the public decide who rules them? what a radical idea) that the details have understandably so far got relatively little attention.

    So what are the highlights of them?

    First, the Lords will be small – 300. That makes sense given how enormous the combined number of MPs and Lords is in Britain at the moment compared with other democracies (see this chart from the Economist which shows how Britain has far fewer people per Parliamentarian than any of the other countries in the survey).

    Second, STV (yes, STV) is proposed as the electoral system. The small size of the Lords means that STV can be used without having to get into the sorts of huge numbers of candidates on ballot papers that you see in federal party committee elections. The experience of drawing up constituencies boundaries for the London Assembly (also much larger than Westminster constituencies, though for other reasons) also suggests that the constituencies can be drawn up fairly quickly and easily.

    Third, the plan is for elections by thirds, coinciding with general elections. This minimises the cost of Lords elections and maximises turnout, which are good motivations, but it comes with two other knock-on effects: more votes for minor parties and the possible collapse of election expense controls unless there is major reform.

    House of Lords. Photo: Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of ParliamentFourth, the argument over 80% elected versus 100% elected has yet to be settled, though the proposals in effect defaults to an 80% option. Either way, it is also proposed that a reduced number of Bishops (and only Bishops; i.e. not including other religions) continue to sit as ‘ex officio’ members. In other words, there are some strong Conservative voices for special provision for the established Church, and Liberal Democrats in government have taken the view that a compromise on this point is worthwhile in order to get Lords reform.

    Fifth, the proposals are for people to be elected for 15 year terms and then banned from standing again. I’m dubious about the virtue of this given how often at election time people want to cast a verdict on how politicians have behaved in the past and one term only means, once elected, there’s an awful lot of leeway to be indolent without any comeback. But being elected in the first place is itself a major step forward.

    There are plenty of other details in the proposals, which you can read in full below, though my eye was caught by this:

    Members of the House of Lords would continue to be deemed resident, ordinarily resident and domiciled (ROD) for tax purposes.

    You could call that the Ashcroft Triple Lock.

    Overall these plans are good – and it’s worth remembering how badly wrong Lords reformers got it in the 1960s by opposing reforms because they though better ones would come along. The subsequent 50 years showed that to be an stupendously misplaced view.

    Less good is David Steel’s actions yesterday. Though Liberal Party leader through many years when the Liberal Party wanted elections for the Lords, he joined joined a cross-party group opposing any elections for the Lords. He’s wrong. It’s as simple as that.

    House of Lords Reform Draft Bill

    Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , and | 15 Comments

    What can we learn from Michael Ashcroft?

    Controversial Conservative peer Michael Ashcroft has done campaigners in all parties a service with the frankness of his book on the 2010 general election, Minority Verdict.

    Though a short book, it contains some details of how the Conservative Party went about targeting swing voters in swing seats for last year’s contest. Aside from the subject’s inherent interest, this particularly caught my eye because part of what he recounts is the Conservative equivalent of what I was doing when working for the Liberal Democrats for much of the last Parliament.

    The Conservatives took Mosaic data and then ran a detailed and expensive polling …

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 5 Comments

    The four best books on the British general election of 2010

    Over the last few months, I’ve read (and mostly reviewed on this site) all the books I’ve found published so far about the 2010 general election and the subsequent coalition negotiations, not to mention a fair number about the political events leading up to the general election over the preceding years.

    I’ve yet to read a book that is really bad, although many do have very similar content to each other. A few gems either have original content or present that common ground in particularly strong ways. So based on that here are my top four recommended books about the British …

    Posted in Books and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 3 Comments

    The verdict of Liberal Democrat voters so far

    “What annoyed me most was that they had intelligent policies and were not dogmatic, so I thought ‘how could you possibly go into coalition with the Tories?'”

    That quote, from a voter in a Liberal Democrat held seat, neatly summarises a view that is both held passionately by many Liberal Democrat voters but also irritates many Liberal Democrat members – for the obvious riposte is, “How can you both say we shouldn’t be dogmatic and also insist we rule out one party regardless of circumstances?”

    It comes from a set of focus groups commissioned by Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft, along with two opinion …

    Posted in Polls | 23 Comments

    Paul Tyler writes… Party funding: dilemmas and delays

    Since so many of us have fought elections against extremely well-funded opposition candidates, Liberal Democrats are naturally and rightly exercised by the matter of campaign finance. Though Labour made some modest progress with its Political Parties, Elections and Referendums (PPERA) Act, back in 2000, the Act’s focus was transparency, rather than regulation.

    When I chaired the party’s policy group on Better Governance in 2007, we set out an objective that no donor should be able to buy influence in the political process, and no party should be able to buy elections. This was the approach we took in the cross-party talks …

    Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments

    Are the unions a bigger threat to the Lib Dems than Ashcroft was?

    A Guardian headline today reads, Unions focus on Lib Dem seats in battle to save jobs. The story makes clear how trade unions will mobilise their resources to fight the budget cuts unveiled this by George Osborne’s comprehensive spending review — and in particular focus on Lib Dems:

    The campaign is expected to focus on constituencies held by Liberal Democrat MPs who, unions believe, will be vulnerable to local pressure as many of the people who supported them did not vote for cuts on the scale revealed this week.

    Nowt wrong with unions mobilising to protect their members’ interests: that, after …

    Posted in News | Also tagged | 99 Comments
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    • User AvatarJosh Townsley 23rd Nov - 5:35pm
      Without meaning to stray further off topic.. My Mum used to prefer being called 'girl' (in a nice way of course). My apologies anyway!
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      @Josh Townsley No need to apologise - I wasn't being serious, just flagging up the eternal ability to be offended these days.
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      Funnily enough, there a quite a few women who rather like being called "girls", in a nice way of course.
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