Lord Ashcroft has repeated the same sort of large marginals poll that PoliticsHome did in 2008 and 2009, looking at the clusters of key marginal seats that will provide the battleground for the next general election.

As in 2008 and 2009, the poll asked two questions to determine voting intention – asking the same sort of standard voting intention that all polls use, then prompting people to think about tactical voting, asking people to think specifically about their own constituency, the political situation there and the candidates likely to stand and then asking how they’d vote in their own seat.

There is a widespread belief that people don’t really think about tactical voting until a general election is almost upon us. I’m not so sure that’s the case, it may just be that people don’t reflect their tactical voting intentions in polls until late in the day! The two-stage voting intention question clearly suggests that some people answer a standard voting intention question differently to how they think they would actually vote in a general election, their normal answer is more like their “national party preference”.

Anyway, this two stage voting intention appears to pick up tactical and incumbency effects, so in Labour held seats it tends to slightly increase the reported level of Labour support, in seats the Conservatives are defending it marginally boosts Conservative support. Where is has a massive effect is in Lib Dem held seats – the Liberal Democrats get much more support in those seats when you prompt people to think about their own constituency.

The picture painted by the Ashcroft marginal poll is not particularly surprising – a big swing from Con to Labour, the Liberal Democrats collapsing where they are against Labour but more resilient against the Conservatives. It is good to have solid data to back up what I was only assuming was happening in the marginal seats though!

The swing from Conservative to Labour is slightly smaller in the marginals than in the national polls (national polls are showing a swing of around 8.5%-9.5%, while this poll shows a swing of 8% in Con-v-Lab margins) but this looks like this is the result of incumbency effect for those first term Conservative MPs who hold most of those seats – the standard voting intention question without the constituency prompt was showing a swing wholly inline with national polling. There are no massive regional differences, the biggest being London marginals where there is only a 5% swing from Con to Lab, probably a reflection of the fact that the swing towards the Conservatives in London in 2010 was much less than elsewhere in the country – there is less far for the pendulum to swing back.

Perhaps the more interesting findings are what the poll says about the Liberal Democrats – the Con-v-Lab battle normally follows national polls, the Lib Dem battleground is sometimes different. When PoliticsHome asked the two stage voting intention question structure back in 2009 it found the Lib Dems did 10 points better in LD-Con seats when people were prompted to think about their own constituency (and conseqently was actually quite a good pointer to how well they’d do at the 2010 election – it had them getting 55 seats, compared to the 57 they actually got). In the Ashcroft poll today the tactical/incumbency boost the Lib Dems get in LD-Con seats when people are prompted to think about their own constituency is a mighty 13 points.

This is naturally good news for the Liberal Democrats, but still means they will lose a lot of seats. The reason that tactical/incumbency boost is bigger is probably simply because they are starting from a much lower base. Even with this prompting the poll suggests the Lib Dems will lose around 17 seats to the Conservatives. In seats where they are up against Labour the swing is bigger, the tactical/incumbency boost is smaller, and the Lib Dems face wipeout. Overall, if this poll was reflected at the next general election – still two years away remember- it would leave the Lib Dems with around 25 seats, a very sizeable loss, but not the complete wipeout that some have predicted, feared or hoped for.


192 Responses to “Lord Ashcroft poll of marginal seats”

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  1. NickP
    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/6306
    Methodology, Methodology, Methodology.
    Obviously come 2015, if we still have this sort of massive variation, the pollsters who come closer to the mark will keep their methodologies and the pollsters who’re way out will adapt theirs.
    Same thing happened in 1992.

    And those that don’t adapt will be discredited – that’s the invisible hand at work.

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  2. Alec, I agree with all of this and share your hunch about where the LD increases will occur more.

    ”The two big questions will be firstly whether the Tory VI edges upwards. I suspect it probably will, but ithen it needs to. Secondly, will LD VI edge up. Likewise, I suspect, but I wonder if the recovery is also going to be differential and greater in LD/Con marginals. I have no real evidence for this, other than a hunch, but this would be one to watch, in my view”.

    Of course the third big and related question is what will happen to Lab VI in the run up and/or duringthe GE campaign.

    Some Con recovery will be from UKIP and much of the LDs would be from Labour (if it happens Hannah, we will have to agree to differ on this) but even WV/DK reverting (more from Cons than LDs) will reduce Labours %age as the ‘turnout’ increases.

    Sometimes I am accused of being negative about Labour’s prospects (even right wing which tickled me) but my view is that I am optmistic and think that 37% would be a very good result for Labour given how bad 2010 was, in fact anything over 35% would decent imo.

    Given the low hanging 2010 LD fruit below 35% would be disappointing imo.

    How UKIP VI disperses and how much of it is of course another factor.

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  3. “AV – a system that allows them to use smaller party voters as ammunition – is the most that’s offered”
    And equally, smaller parties (like the Greens, LibDems and Respect) who have highly concentrated support in certain constituencies can use Labour ‘as ammunition’.
    Ultimately you have to decide what sort of parliament you want -
    If your parliament is localist and represents communities, you will have the problem that it’s not proportional but with AV/SV you at least keep out the parties that the constituencies don’t want – you also allow small parties with constituency support to break through (which doesn’t usually happen under FPTP).
    If your parliament is supposed to represent the whole nation, you go with full PR – which has it’s downsides because small constituency-parties can’t break through.
    If you want both, you have AMS or two houses.

    Of course Labour only supported the reform that would benefit them as a party because their support is concentrated highly in certain constituencies, but it’s a system that’s a hell of a lot better than FPTP – especially for smaller parties with highly concentrated local support (again – Greens, Respect, LibDems and to a degree SNP and PCY who would do worse under PR).

    And the opposite is of course true – the only reason that smaller parties with spread votes want PR, and the only reason parties with concentrated votes backed AV, is because it’d benefit them as a party.
    Let’s not pretend that smaller parties have noble intentions for electoral reform.

    “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”, springs to mind.

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  4. @Alec – Now that Auld Nat is back do you feel like re-posting the post you made a couple of days or so ago in the hope of getting it properly discussed. As you know, I felt that it did not get the attention it deserved.

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  5. LEFTY

    Looks like I owe you an apology.

    You were right about that Cable article in NS & I was wrong.

    He did mean it to be a criticism of Government policy , and it merely was a warm up for his remarks at the LD Conference.

    He has formally abandoned Cabinet collective responsibility, and is now an open advocate of more borrowing ( £ 15bn as I understand it).

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  6. colin

    “You were right …I was wrong.”

    At last.

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  7. NICKP

    It’s quite easy to do.

    You should try it some time.

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  8. Jim Jam
    If turn-out for 2015 is the same (which it won’t be, but bear with me), 35.5% for Lab would mean an increase of 4.2% of the electorate – equal to what Tony Blair achieved in 1997.
    So 35.5% of the vote would be a pretty good turn-around.

    The 41% we’re seeing polled at the moment would require (at equal turn-out) a 7.8% of the electorate gain – which would be the largest Labour gain in electoral post-war history. Only 1945 would come close, with a gain of 6.8% – and pre-war only 1918 (+6.9) and 1922 (+9.4) would come close.
    Equally it would outstrip Thatcher’s gain (7.1%) in 1979.

    An equal sort of gain to Cameron or Kinnock would put Lab on about 34.5% of the vote (if turn-out is equal).

    So a 35% would be a number that the party should be very happy with in 2015. They wouldn’t – but we’ll have to wait and see.

    However, we are in a very unique situation, in that if we are seeing a ‘realignment of the left’, a 7.8% gain is also completely plausible, even more if turn-out increases (given that Labour lost 8.1% of the electorate in 1983 and 6.7% in the turn-out drop 1997-2001).

    Of course, if turn-out does increase then vote share will drop and it’ll look like Labour have done much worse than the underlying figures show.
    So perhaps Ed Miliband will be branded a failure, even if he does as well as Blair in terms of electorate gained.

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  9. Jim
    My post to your reply has been automatically put in moderation even though I can’t see exactly what may have triggered it. Just so you know.

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  10. .. ‘reply to your post’..

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  11. “You should try it some time.”

    Of course. I was wrong, once, in 1972, and I might have intimated a belief that Ken had been Boris to the Mayorship.

    But when I am wrong again, stand by.

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  12. Cameron to face Tory leadership contest before this Autumn ?

    Apparently according to reports, letters are being prepared by disgruntled Tory backbenchers, but will there be the 25 required to trigger a contest ? I doubt it will happen, as it could lead to end of the coalition and an early election. I really can’t see many Tory backbenchers thinking it would be a good idea for the Tories or the country to have an election sometime this year. These Tories wanting to replace Cameron cannot gamble on the Lib Dems supporting a new PM.

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  13. NICKP

    @”I might have intimated a belief that Ken had been Boris to the Mayorship.”

    I think you can do better than that.

    Try again-it really doesn’t hurt.

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  14. Amber

    I wouldn’t take a hard line on lanuage for elderly relatives. Laws? Let he that is without sin first cast a stone. Custodial sentence, yes.

    Tax is the thing.

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  15. @TingedFringe

    Why do you say small local parties can’t break through in PR? Depending on what system, they’d most likely end up with a couple of seats which is all that FPTP/AV would grant them anyway.

    I can’t see how minor parties are helped with AV, especially when considered they’ll always be a minority in all but a few seats (which FPTP could/would already deliver to them anyway) so they’d never by-pass the wider appeal parties to recieve the preferences, locking them out from representation just as badly (as you’ve seen in Australia).

    Whether or not the minor parties support is equal in self-interest as Labour’s, it helps make my point that’s exactly why the future’s bleak for PR and why none of Labour’s other reforms point to a desire on their part for it.

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  16. Tinged Fringe,

    “And those that don’t adapt will be discredited – that’s the invisible hand at work.”

    But perhaps later than sooner: people are only now realising that Gallup are a bunch of chancers and no longer taking them seriously on US presidential polling.

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  17. TimFringe, thanks for putting some bones on to me thoughts.

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  18. Colin

    15 billion is peanuts as you well know, why you consider cable to be abandoning cabinet responsibility but don’t point the same finger at hammond is beyond me. Unless cabinet responsibility really means ‘lib dems doing as they are told without question’. Anyhow the way the press reports moves against dave gives the impression that the cabinet is entirely conservative, in which case cabinet responsibility doesn’t apply

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  19. Dear old Vince… out to pasture, please. Muttering from the sidelines about the terrible economic decisions voted for in parliament by, err, you: do you think no one noticed or something. Think I might go and watch Wizard of Oz this week. Love a good delusional character – in a film.

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  20. Welsh

    Im guessing that the ethinc split in kenya means that there is no political split? Were both main candidates of the neoliberal persuasion?

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  21. @ R Huckle

    I suppose their thinking is that a more right-wing leader would soak up many current UKIP supporters. And even if that didn’t lead to a victory in a snap election, their assumption would be that a Miliband government wouldn’t last longer than a single term.

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  22. Colin

    I don’t usually get it right when I assert my certainties, but that NS piece seemed unambiguous to me (albeit dressed up in Cable’s quasi-academic language). It seemed blindingly obvious that this was the long-planned start of the move to distance the LDs (or at least Cable’s wing of the LDs, because it appears that Clegg disagrees with him) from Govt policies on the economy. He’s going to push hard on a platform of “Look, conventional wisdom told us that is we didn’t prioritise the deficit, bond rates would explode. We did that because we are a Serious Party. But we are not obsessive. When the evidence that growth is not emerging becomes overwhelming, we have to consider changing our minds. When the evidence that bond spikes are NOT associated with debt levels becomes overwhelming, intelligent, rational people must be prepared to change our policies. WE are intelligent and rational. By implication, Osborne and Cameron (and the Clegg-Laws axis?) are
    determined to ignore the facts.”

    As for the Cabinet, looks like collective responsibility is out the window, what with Teresa May’s blatant kite flying to assess her standing in the party and Hammond’s public insistence that defence spending be protected.

    Cameron’s in troubled waters here. Once senior colleagues start running their own public campaigns, it’s a devil of a job to re-assert authority. The standard way is to re-shuffle the miscreants out of Cabinet. But if he does at to Cable, the left of the LDs will pull the plug on coalition. And if he does it to May, he’s given the right wing of the Tory party the big figure to crystallise around. He needs to do something very publicly to demonstrate that he is in control. But I’ve no idea what that something should be.

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  23. @ R Huckle

    I fail to see the motivation for a Tory leadership rebellion.

    These are politicians who ought to know the effect of every little thing they do and ought to know that this would only bring the impression of a divided party Other than the John Major example of a mid parliament change of leader in very different times, it seems very unlikely that this would turn their fortunes around, especially when you consider Cameron is more popular than his party.

    So if they are sure they are going to lose then why do they not wait until after the election when the new leader has 5 years in opposition without any stigma of a failed election campaign and 18 months of the electorate seeing the new leader in action?

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  24. Tinged

    Why can’t we pretend that small parties have noble intentions, whats the point of being in a small party if you dont have noble intentions, if your a scumbag there always a place for you in one of the two big tory parties and if all else fails you can be a 5th columnist in the third tory party

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  25. @Charles – “Now that Auld Nat is back do you feel like re-posting the post you made a couple of days or so ago in the hope of getting it properly discussed. As you know, I felt that it did not get the attention it deserved.”

    Not really, to be honest. ‘Oldnat had his reasons for being absent (welcome back by the way) but I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunity to discuss Scottish Affairs* in due course.

    I generally prefer to post about things that are relevant or current in the news, rather than pick a post just to get a reaction from a specific poster.

    *These are not the same as Ugandan Affairs

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  26. Colin

    I don’t usually get it right when I assert my certainties, but that NS piece seemed unambiguous to me (albeit dressed up in Cable’s quasi-academic language). It seemed blindingly obvious that this was the long-planned start of the move to distance the LDs (or at least Cable’s wing of the LDs, because it appears that Clegg disagrees with him) from Govt policies on the economy. He’s going to push hard on a platform of “Look, conventional wisdom told us that is we didn’t prioritise the deficit, bond rates would explode. We did that because we are a Serious Party. But we are not obsessive. When the evidence that growth is not emerging becomes overwhelming, we have to consider changing our minds. When the evidence that bond spikes are NOT associated with debt levels becomes overwhelming, intelligent, rational people must be prepared to change our policies. WE are intelligent and rational. By implication, Osborne and Cameron (and the Clegg-Laws wing?) are
    determined to ignore the facts.”

    As for the Cabinet, looks like collective responsibility is out the window, what with Teresa May’s blatant kite flying to assess her standing in the party and Hammond’s public insistence that defence spending be protected.

    Cameron’s in troubled waters here. Once senior colleagues start running their own public campaigns, it’s a devil of a job to re-assert authority. The standard way is to re-shuffle the miscreants out of Cabinet. But if he does at to Cable, the left of the LDs will pull the plug on coalition. And if he does it to May, he’s given the right wing of the Tory party the big figure to crystallise around. He needs to do something very publicly to demonstrate that he is in control. But I’ve no idea what that something should be.

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  27. @R Huckle – “Tories wanting to replace Cameron cannot gamble on the Lib Dems supporting a new PM.”

    I think that is the crux of the matter… a significant number of MPs do not see that Cameron has anything to offer as leader *after* the coalition – which may well come to an end in 2014.

    Most speculation is about the positioning of candidates for a leadership election after a defeat in 2015. Anyone with ambition will be wary of taking over sooner only to go straight down to defeat in 2015. However, the Thatcher/Major transition and victory-from-the-jaws-of-defeat in 1992 is a strong memory for the Tories.

    46 letters to Brady are needed – but in the unlikely event that something closer to 150 letters arrived, Cameron might find the attraction of life outside politics suddenly irresistible. Sam would no doubt turn half a dozen cartwheels on the spot – I mean, hanging out with Michelle for a couple of hours was coolness itself, but it doesn’t compensate for the all those No10 donor suppers, interminable Conservative conferences and having to put up with Dave’s dreary political friends.

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  28. Craig
    Perhaps I should have been clearer?
    Under PR, parties that have a high-level of concentrated local support (Greens, Respect, Localist parties) would gain no seats because they lack widespread national support. However parties with widespread national support (for example, UKIP) but not concentrated in local areas would do better under PR.

    Under AV, small parties that have high-levels of local concentrated support (the Greens, Respect) would do better because they would be able to win the seats because of the lack of the ‘split vote’ problem. However parties with widespread but not concentrated support would do worse under AV.

    “which FPTP could/would already deliver to them anyway”
    Not exactly true -
    LibDem seat count, according to AV polls -
    1983 +25
    1987 +22
    1992 +11
    1997 +69
    2001 +16
    2005 +6
    2010 +36
    The 1997 result would have given the LibDems more seats than the Tories (115 vs 70) which would have dislodged the Tories from second place and would likely alter the path for the LibDems in every election following 1997 – meaning we may have even seen a LibDem majority post-crash.

    “locking them out from representation just as badly (as you’ve seen in Australia)”
    Would that be the Australia that has two houses, one for constituencies and one to represent the nation?
    One under AV (which is a constituency system) and the second house under PR?

    If you’re going to have a constituency system (like we do or the lower house in Australia), you’re going to lock out smaller parties that lack concentrated local support – but AV is much better for smaller parties *with* local support.

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  29. Colin

    My reply to you is in Auto Mod. Ite may or may not emerge later depending on AW’s judgement!

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  30. TF – Specifically with this comment.

    ”So a 35% would be a number that the party should be very happy with in 2015. They wouldn’t – but we’ll have to wait and see.”

    Similarily I find those tories who think DC should have comfortably delivered an OM in 2010 unrealistic. An OM was possible but it would have been narrow due to the mountain the Cons had to climb.

    It is easy, though, for some to focus on why a leader should have done better and/or been more popular that on the fundemental reasons for your party not been able to achieve an OM (or whatever for smaller parties).

    Some right wing Tories (too my satisfaction) just don’t appreciate the negative Thatcher legacy that still pervades and the nasty party tag that still resonates with too many voters.

    Similarily Blairites (yes you Chris, simlie thing) think 2010 was all down to Brown and that with Tony as leader we would have been at least the largest party.

    To their credit imo both EM and DC understand that there are weaknesses within their parties profiles affecting their potential appeal which need addressing.

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  31. Jim Jam
    As far as pure % of the electorate, Cameron gained the third highest post-war gain for the Tories.
    1950 +10.2, 1979 +7.2, 2010 +3.6
    But obviously you have to look at things in context,
    1950 was 36.5% of total electorate, 1979 was 33.3%, 2010 was 23.5%[1].

    [1] Although you could equally compare that to 2001 (24.2) or 2005 (21.6), or even 1987 (23.2) for Labour.

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  32. @TingedFringe

    The Greens/Respect support might be clustered in certain constituencies but that isn’t the extent of their support: if there wasn’t the spoiler effect of FPTP to contend with their support would certainly show a spread (in single figures perhaps, but still) and thus they’d almost certainly get more seats than in FPTP – and AV. I don’t consider the Lib Dems a minor party, and they naturally benefit from AV as the centrist party in a way the Greens nor Respect would.
    The minor parties have to be competitive enough to oust a main party into second place and as we’ve seen with Australia that just never happens (and I mean their lower house that has AV and not PR) because, as you’d expect, they’re a minority.

    You could argue that AV helps them in the minority of constituencies where, if anything, they don’t need the help, as their demographics are such outliers they’re already targeted and competitive in FPTP.

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  33. I can well believe that VC and the “left” wing of the Libs think they have a cunning ploy up their sleeves for distancing etc. But he has chosen THE whole reason for being in coalition as the distancing policy. You can’t spend three years voting for a government’s economic policy and then just magically pretend it hasn’t happened. If he truly has changed his mind (again) then there is only one option for him: resign as a minister and consider his options from a less hypocritical position.

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  34. Craig
    The math doesn’t lie – if there’s a party with high enough support in certain constituencies but not across the nation, but that causes a split-vote, they will do better under AV than under FPTP.
    And if you want a constituency system, AV is far better for small parties than FPTP, simply because of the math involved.

    But your problem with AV isn’t a problem with AV, it’s a problem with constituency representation.
    And I’m not a supporter of constituency representation – so I’m not going to bother defending it.

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  35. @NickP

    Your point about the quite wide discrepancies that are emerging between different pollsters is an interesting one and, assuming they’re sampling the population at the same time, can only be attributed to differing methodologies. Some methodologies are obviously producing more accurate results than others because clearly they can’t all be right and, in that sense, your frustration at not knowing whether UKIP are on 11% or 17% is perfectly understandable.

    YouGov, the poll that preoccupies most of our thoughts here because of its frequency and proliferation, is starting to look a bit out of step with most of the others, generally scoring both Labour and the Tories higher and the Lib Dems and UKIP lower. The general, non-YouGov picture, seems to be settling at the Tories in late 20s, 30 at best, and Labour in the late 30s, 40 at best, with the Lib Dems and UKIP neck-and-neck in the low to mid teens. Our UKPR polling average shows Lab 42 Con 30 Lib Dem 10 UKIP ?, but I wonder what it might look like if we excluded the daily YouGovs which, I suspect, must be skewing the mean?

    I’m waiting for an ICM, ComRes, Ipso/Mori, TNS, Angus Reed, Populus, TNS, Survation or Opinium that looks anything like a YouGov!!!

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  36. Jim Jam

    Re: Lack of OM in GE10.

    You’re right that the Tories needed a huge swing to gain an OM in 2010. But surely, all that this argument does is to underline the size of the hole that the Tories have fallen into over the last generation. By May 10, the Tories had had nearly 18 years to pull themselves out of their post-Black Weds pit. But they had made so little progress on that path that even with the most helpful economic circumstances for an Opposition in 80 years, and even against a widely derided PM, they couldn’t get close to an OM.

    If I were a Tory strategist, that thought would send me off to the gin bottle.

    To hammer on the theme that obsesses me, the Tories have had only two brief periods of consistent >40% poll ratings in the past 20 years: once at the depths of the 08-09 recession and once in the brief post-Rose Garden glow. Or, to put it another way, it took the Tories 16 years briefly rise above 40% after Black Weds. And they fell away from that zenith very rapidly. And NOT because of the difficulties of being in power. The collapse in Tory VI set in from mid 2008 and has continued in more or less linear fashion for the past 5 years.

    Labour, by contrast, rebounded from a nadir of low 20% VI in summer 09 to reach >40% within 18 months. And Labour has spent longer at >40% VI level in the past 23 months than the Tories have in the past 23 years.

    These facts tell us something very fundamental about the resilience of the two main parties’ appeal. And they emphasise the terrifyingly difficult challenge that the Tories face if they are to secure a OM in the foreseeable future.

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  37. Lefty, Agree and arguably the Tories have a higher base line core support but Labour have a higher potential during recent period. Can change in the future but needs the legacy of Thatcher, Black Wednesday, Clause 28, nasty party to die out.

    As stated before and polls I recall verify, Labour will disappoint many, be disliked, disrespected and distrusted from time to time but hated by far fewer than the Tories.

    Fair or not is for other fora but that is the evidence.

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  38. @CROSSBAT11

    “…YouGov, the poll that preoccupies most of our thoughts here because of its frequency and proliferation, is starting to look a bit out of step with most of the others,..”

    Good point. YouGov’s USP is its frequency of publication, and this has implications:

    * it’s more volatile. If you have BigPollCorp saying Radical Reform Party has 20% in January and 25% in February, that feels different to YouGov saying 20%, 19%, 15%, 17%, 21%, …. 27%, 23%, 25%, even though they are describing exactly the same thing!
    * it’s difficult to handle in a frequentist way. If you have one polling company issuing polls 12 times a year, and another issuing 250 times a year, how do you combine them? Simple averages won’t work! Statgeek has his way, using his mean whatchamacallit, and it seems to work pretty well. I tried to handle it using those charts, and that worked pretty well, but it took up too much time. So what to do?

    The way I handle it is my witty one liner: “snog YouGov, marry ICM/Populus, avoid the rest”. I use YouGov to look at the trend day-to-day, ICM/Populus to find out the position month-to-month, and basically discard “the rest”. Since “the rest” involves ComRes and Angus Reid (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!) I’m pretty confident in this.

    My one qualm is reassignment of “don’t knows”: I take AW’s point that reassigning “don’t knows” in a by-election doesn’t work, and I’m not sure whether it works during the current UKIP surge. But you gotta stick with something, so I’ll stick with “snog YouGov, marry ICM/Populus, avoid the rest” until 2015.

    rgdsm

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  39. Al Urqa
    “from the West’s perspective with such a divided electorate how much stability is there in the country to allow external commercial interest to invest…..It sounds to me like somewhere that will blossom in the next ten years and more. But only if the lid is kept on tribal tensions.”
    I defer to Welsh Borderer in respect of the current facts of the Kenya situation, but some historical data about Kenya’s long-term tribal make-up and economic interests may be relevant to moderating the tribal picture. Raila’s Luo, from around the plains in the west around Lake Victoria eastern coast, differ from the Kikuyu primarily in their language, which has Nilotic roots, and, to some extent, in being the urban and agricultural labour force of Kenya. Uhuru’s Kikuyu (& and Embu and Meru) are Bantu speakers primarily seen as the crop farmers, occupying all the central and eastern highlands, where British settlers took their land from the beginning of the 20th Centurey. They are also seen as the sophisticates, and the leaders in the fight against the British, with Kenyatta’s Dad, Jomo Kenyatta, being the man who led the Kikuyu schools movement, to get the white man’s literacy, and spent time in Moscow, so thought of as a Marxist revolutionary by the Colonial Office, and was the – unwitting- leader elect of the Mau Mau revolution. The Masai and the Kalenjin are Nilo-Hamite speakers, in the East, North of, and in the Rift Valley itself and in the trans-Mara. They formed up with the coastal Swahili to form the KADU alliance opposed the Luo Kikuyu grouping of the Kenya African Union, which absorbed the KADU tribes to form a government from 1960 up to 2002. In the development of an economic policy, as in much else, everyone in Kenya with a stake in modernity went for a take-over and continuation of the British Kenyan commercial farm economy, basically laissez-faire, and open to corruption, but responsive to world trade in the fruit, flowers and green beans market that opened up with air transport. In the meantime, tribal territories have continued to be the overwhelming subsistence basis of the now peasant economy. Tensions have arisen with successive political moves and some internal migration of agriculturalists, mainly Kikuyu, to take land and settle in the cattle country of the Kalenjin, in Eldoret and Kericho: hence the clashes of 2010,which were manipulated by a claque of Kikuyu commercially interested politicians, and represented as “tribal” by the media. There is no history of any tribal territorialism in Kenya. The only sustained armed conflict was between Masai and neighbouring Kalenjin, and sometimes the Kikuyu, for purposes of cattle raiding, for which there was a code of honour forbidden unnecessary killing or the seizing of women and children. IMV Kenya will go on being God’s Own Country, as the settlers used to say, and one of the loveliest places on earth (where I spent two happy years researching land tenure) but I doubt if it will ever be a place of massive industrial or other investment.

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  40. RiN

    @”15 billion is peanuts”

    I agree-hardly worth mentioning in our case.

    @”you consider cable to be abandoning cabinet responsibility but don’t point the same finger at hammond is beyond me.”

    Cable is an economic minister.

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  41. LEFTY

    @”As for the Cabinet, looks like collective responsibility is out the window,”

    Going that way-certainly.

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  42. Unless they’re actually Americans, will contributors on this site please stop using the word ‘math’. It’s not only a very ugly word, it’s wrong – it’s ‘maths’!!!!!!!

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