Having polled Lab -v- Con seats last month, Lord Ashcroft has now done a similar exercise in ultra-marginal seats between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. He polled 17 seats. 6 are Conservative held seats where the Lib Dems came a close second last time and need not unduly delay us, all show a shift from Lib Dem to Conservative and Conservative holds, the most interesting ones being Watford (which was a three way marginal in 2010 and remains so in this poll) and the two Cornish seats in the sample which both put UKIP in second place, more on that later.

Turning to the Lib Dem seats polled, Lord Ashcroft did fieldwork in the ten most marginal Lib Dem seats with the Conservatives in second place. He also polled the special case of Eastleigh because of the by-election and UKIP, but we’ll set that aside for now. The ten Lib Dem ultra-marginals represent seats with majorities of up to 6.4%, so they’d need a swing of 3.2% from LD to Con for the Tories to take them all at the next election. Based on national polling the Conservatives should do that easily (the national LD=>Con swing is about 5.5%), but as we know, Liberal Democrat MPs rely far more upon their personal support and tactical voting than MPs from other parties, and tend to be better able to confound a national swing.

Across the ten LD ultra-marginals the average swing from LD to Con was 3.4, so the Lib Dems continue to do far better in their own seats than in the country as a whole. However, “doing better” doesn’t mean completely immune from loss. If that was repeated across all LD-Con marginals they’d still lose all those ten to the Tories plus perhaps Eastborne. In practice there is variation between seats, so some seats with smaller majorities the Lib Dems would cling on to, some more distant targets they’d probably lose. Looking at these particular seats Ashcroft found the Lib Dems doing far better than average in Sutton & Cheam, which this suggests they’d hold with ease, and better than average in Cheadle which this also suggests they’d hold. Those two are the most urban of the two seats polled – but with limited data points its difficult to tell if that’s significant. North Cornwall’s swing isn’t far from the average, but would be too close to call.

If the Liberal Democrats lost only 10 or 11 seats at the next election they’d probably be quite pleased… but remember, the Lib Dems also have around 10 English seats where Labour is the challenger and 11 seats in Scotland that could be vulnerable to either Labour or the SNP, so this is not the only battleground for them. It’s the largest Lib Dem battleground, but not the one where they are most vulnerable.

Two other things to note. Seats that have had a by-election are changed by it, so Eastleigh is probably representative of nothing but itself, but for the record Ashcroft found voting intentions there of CON 27%, LAB 10%, LDEM 39%, UKIP 22%. Also worth noting is how well UKIP are doing in the Cornish seats included here. Because it’s a close LD v Con battleground Ashcroft’s sample happened to include five of the six Cornish constituencies, and UKIP were running in second place in three of them. Take the UKIP scores with a slight pinch of salt because the timing of the fieldwork (it was mostly done during or in the fortnight following the European elections, so when UKIP were on a bit of a publicity high), but it’s another potential pointer as to where they could do well.

330 Responses to “Ashcroft poll of Lib Dem marginals”

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  1. R&D

    ROFL, very witty.

    Hope your son recovers quickly & does so with little pain & discomfort.

  2. “I’d be most interested to hear Labour insiders views on the matter.”

    Not sure you’ll find Labour insiders on UKPR – try http://www.Labour.org.uk

  3. @Pete B
    People do not just support the Labour Party and movement because of their demographics. There is also an idealistic belief that we do better as a more equal and fairer society. But I do get a bit bored of the Miliband millionaire label. Ed was comprehensive educated and happens to live in London in an area where house prices have soared. The Mail said that he had remortgaged and now has a £400,000 mortgage, which suggests that it was not worth anywhere near that when he bought. It is very different from Eton education of those on the opposite benches.

  4. Come off it, a number of regular posters here are activists of various parties, including Labour. That’s what I meant by an insider, not Toby Blair’s best mate.

  5. R&D

    Surgeons pay well, and the co-pay is considerable!

  6. @Chatterclass
    Sorry, my previous comment was aimed at Bramley. I know the Milibands went to a comp, but most of the rest applies. The fact that he can get a £400,000 mortgage shows how wealthy he is compared to the majority of the population. There’s not much point in comparing the relative wealth of the various front benches, if only because it would be largely guesswork. There are millionaires on both sides, which immediately puts them on a different level to the vast majority of their constituents.
    You’ve answered my question though, which is that wealthy people are Labour leaders because they are idealistic. That’s fine, but I wonder how many of them are using tax-avoidance schemes (other than ISAs). I wonder if they might be able to reconnect with their core vote if they were more open about their finances.

  7. Ah that Black Country humour :-

    “Of all the people, it had to be the dirty, cheating violent racist cheat Suarez”

    Ian Austin
    MP for Dudley.


  8. CB11
    Yes, there are those who will journey relentlessly through sea storm and gale to hunt her down, including Captain Mandab: “She’s big, boys, yes she’s big, but I know her ways and her destiny is mine, mine.”
    And then, as you say, in May when the great shoals are moving, following in her malevolent eye. in her deep and genetic knowledge of the movement of her enemies, that dark speck between her and sunlight, she rises from the depth and the smashes boat and the long intellectual coils and harpoons of her enemies,lifting them high and scattering them in a great rise of spume, except for Mandab, skewered cackling against the belly of the whale as she plunges deep to the ocean floor.
    And then northwards to her destiny, the grim skeleton of New Labour still hanging from her abdomen

    Really honoured.

  9. Guardian again obsessing about EM, quoting unnamed frontbencher. They really are still fighting the last election .

  10. @ Pete B

    I can think of a few reasons ranging from cynical to idealistic, but I’d be most interested to hear Labour insiders views on the matter.
    It’s idealistic – they genuinely believe everybody should have their own owl.

  11. [snip]I think it’s amazing the rich people even bother going into politics in today’s Britain. Most of them quietly make money and squirrel money off shore.

    The wealthy, as a class, have generally abandoned politics.

    The very wealthy don’t need to get involved with politics.

    Their interests are already well preserved through the institutions of our global society and global capitalism.

    They let ordinary folk ‘play’ politics because the super rich know that ordinary politics won’t affect their power bases.

  12. You only need to look at this distribution map to see how unfair Labours Owl policy is to Scotland;


    It’s time for Independence because…..IT’S SCOTLANDS OWL!


  13. LOL :-)

  14. “You only need to look at this distribution map to see how unfair Labours Owl policy is to Scotland;”

    Sod Scotland is what I say. [No offence intended……..]

    Owls cannot feed their young on midgies. When Scotland becomes independent I trust they have the midgie as their emblem, with a teeny, weeny chip on its shoulder.

  15. chrislane1945
    “I think that poll looks very unreliable” The UKIP share looks like it is outside the moe, so I guess this is one of the 5% of polls that statistically can be expected to be outside moe.


    Owls don’t eat insects, they’re higher up the food chain than that….just like puppies!


  17. That TNS poll looks very ropey indeed. They had a Euros poll with UKIP on 37% so I’d take it with a pinch of salt.

  18. @Peter

    Given the numbers of midges in Scotland, an evolutionary step among owls to start eating them would be good.

    It would be good for people as well – apart from insect repellent manufacturers.

  19. Interesting footnote on the “Miliband property empire” obsession.

    Ruth Dalton (widow of Hugh Dalton) left £5,000 to Marion Miliband and it was this money that was used to buy the Primrose Hill property… at a time when nobody wanted to live in these dilapidated Georgian terraces, which were being condemned and demolished wholesale. Marion also bought a flat nearby for her mother some years later.

    David and Ed as young professionals each got on the “housing ladder” for something like £100,000, as did their respective partners. There’s no doubt that the family as a whole has not squandered the inheritance they received from the estate of a post-war Labour chancellor. (Ruth Dalton also left money to Ed Vaizey’s parents to enable them to buy their first home.)

  20. Good Morning All.
    Beautiful day here.
    Ben Pimlott’s biography of Dalton is well worth a read.

  21. 2nd attempt:

    Peter Jukes, who has been covering the trial involving some ex-NI employees tweeted last night:


    Labour and the Lib Dems are going to get trashed by the press until they abjure #Leveson. Heard Lord Black explain why at Press Club Awards

    That magnificent free press that must not be brought to book eh – so trustworthy – where would we be without them…..!

  22. New Zealand 36 England 13

    Pathetic and thank God it’s over. Not quite as embarrassing as our 5-0 Ashes humiliation in the summer, but dear oh dear, was that first half cringe-making or what? Still, at least there was no eye-gouging in this one and I loved the Inspector Clouseau running commentary of the referee. It was the most entertaining thing on offer amidst the glorified and bovine wrestling contest. :-)

  23. CFB11

    Glad you enjoyed it-I see you have the Digger’s expensive Sports Channel. Sadly I can’t/won’t afford i-so you have the advantage of me.

    Were you in the same pub with all those multi-ethnic, multi-class , folk ……….or at home with your rattle & branded T -shirt?


  24. The discussion of Ed Miliband’s household accounts omits the contribution of his barrister wife (which may well dwarf his salary… as does Samantha Cameron’s). In fact, I believe that Justine was the original sole owner of their current house. Touch of old school sexism going on?

  25. @Colin

    “Were you in the same pub with all those multi-ethnic, multi-class , folk ……….or at home with your rattle & branded T -shirt?”

    Multi-class, multi-ethnic people watching Rugger??? Don’t think so, old chap. No, I’d had a bit of a lie in and late breakfast this morning and endured it at home on TV with the 500,000 or so other poor wretches tuning in.

    Actually, I tell a bit of a porkie. I switched channels at half time to try and escape the awfulness of what I was watching and came across a programmed called “Cricket Fever” that was showing highlights of the Kiwis v Windies 2nd Test match. What on earth has happened to cricket in the Caribbean, once the throbbing heartbeat of the game? Perfunctory cricket played by disinterested players in front of an almost totally deserted Queens Park Oval in Bridgetown. One of the very saddest things I’ve seen in international sport, certainly for an old cricket nut like me who remembers sitting on the Rea Bank in Edgbaston in the 60s and 70s amongst thousands of joyous West Indians watching legends like Sobers, Kanhai, Gibbs, Griffiths, Murray and Hall play.

    @John Pilgrim

    Brilliant stuff and a truly chuckle-inducing post. Keep them coming. :-)

  26. @Ben Foley
    TNS poll. Is the UKIP figure just a typo for 13?
    If so it matches many others. If not, where have UKIP’s votes come from?

  27. CB11

    You never disappoint CB- I just knew that your politics & your sport would be inextricably entwined.

    ..and thanks for that further mandatory extract from your life history…………er……..is there much left now……..?


  28. @Colin

    “..and thanks for that further mandatory extract from your life history…………er……..is there much left now……..?”

    Plenty. My only advice to you is to go and get one! lol


    I would think the TNS-BRMB poll is over-estimating the UKIP support, as it tends to do due to its different methodology. That said, there’s absolutely no sign that I can see, in any of the polls, that support for UKIP is on the wane. I don’t think for one minute that they’ll get 23% of the vote at the next General Election, or even 15% for that matter, but their resilience in the polls over the last 18-24 months makes me think that they’ll retain something like 10%; a level of support that will change the rules of the game in May 2015.

  29. @ CB and Colin

    Can’t you both just agree a truce?

    I respect both of you as posters but when you two get going at each other it comes across as mild flaming rather than gentle teasing.

  30. @Shevii

    “Can’t you both just agree a truce?”

    You’re quite right; if he stops telling lies about me, I’ll stop telling the truth about him! :-)

    Only jesting, and I would imagine we’re boring the pants off everyone else on this site, as well as ourselves. It is truly tedious, I agree.

    No more from me; you can rest assured of that. I will revert to young Spearmint’s wise counsel. Selective reading of threads is good for the blood pressure!

  31. @ Shevii

    “it comes across as mild flaming”

    1st time I’ve seen that word on here. Has it not in effect been replaced by trolling as an all-purpose description of internet abuse?

    @ Crossbat.

    Speaking of obsolete words, you write “Perfunctory cricket played by disinterested players ..”
    Why use interested & disinterested inter-changeably? Ok: uninterested originally meant disinterested, & vice-versa, but at some time they swapped meanings. This seems a bit bizarre but at least it preserved a distinction between the two words which is now lost.

  32. Robbiealive,

    Yes, much to my chagrin as trolling describes deliberate baiting to get a rise out of people – it’s been co-opted to mean “arguing” which flaming served perfectly well.

  33. Miliband has provided further evidence of his excellent judgement by refusing to give David Blunkett a job.

    That should keep the Red Dem crowd happy. (It’s certainly made my morning.)

  34. Theresa May might be in a bit of trouble – apparently somebody’s passport, visa and birth certificate were sent to a completely different person.

  35. I finally had it with the Grauniad. Cancelled my sub this morning after seeing yet another anti-Ed bit of drivel. I think the i might do it for me and save me £1 a day.


    ‘Speaking of obsolete words, you write “Perfunctory cricket played by disinterested players ..”
    Why use interested & disinterested inter-changeably?’

    And I thought you were going to refer to cricket as the subject of your comment on obsolete words as well…..

  37. @Robbiealive: “This seems a bit bizarre but at least it preserved a distinction between the two words which is now lost.”

    I wouldn’t say it was lost. I don’t think a professional publication would confuse the two and any style guide will emphasise the distinct meaning of each word.

  38. @ Chris Green,

    Psychologically revealing, anyway. ;)

    @ Pete B,

    A quick factual correction: Mandelson went to his local grammar and led the student campaign to comprehensivise it (much to the disgust of the headmaster, apparently). Short of deliberately failing the 11+, delaying his birth by a few years or convincing his parents to move to a worse catchment area, it’s hard to see how he could have secured himself a more proletarian education.

    To the specific cases:

    Mandelson is Labour because “We’re all Labour round here”. He might as well have been born in a pit town- he was delivering leaflets on his tricycle when he was five. I’m not saying he’s not ideologically Labour as well, but it’s clear the primary basis for his allegiance his tribal. (This is also why people like him and Roy Hattersley never joined the SDP.)

    Harriet Harman is Labour because if you are the sort of feminist who believes state intervention is required to achieve gender equality, in the 1970s there was really only one game in town for you (and there still is, to a large extent). Again, I’m not suggesting she doesn’t support the socioeconomic half of Labour’s equality agenda, but feminism is her big cause and her brand of feminism made her Labour by process of elimination.

    Milibands- see Mandelson.

    Balls seems to be Labour largely because he hates everyone he went to school with and they all became Tories. Again, he probably believes in the cause as well, but I get the impression his primary motivation is making Tories cry.

    Blair is the tricky one. He was a late adopter and the only one who I could really see in any other party. I think in his case it’s a combination of two factors: Cherie is a working class Catholic from Liverpool, and Tony has a Christian sense of obligation to the less fortunate. These days you might be able to fold that into Cameron’s “Big Society” banner, but it was difficult to reconcile with Thatcherism which was the dominant Tory movement at the time. I’ll leave you with Michael Foot’s observation on the subject: “Anyone who joined Labour under my leadership is not an opportunist.”

  39. @ Guymonde

    Don’t blame you at all. I actually stopped buying the Guardian regularly long before I had an issue with their politics- basically because they had become a comment paper rather than a newspaper.

    I used to still buy it occasionally if I was on a trip but am now also on a complete “boycott”. I don’t mind them having a view or even endorsing LD’s but the anti Ed articles they print are of such low quality and news value they look no different to the Mirror or the Sun.

    In my humble opinion they have become as biased as any daily paper.

  40. @Guymonde
    “I finally had it with the Grauniad. Cancelled my sub this morning”
    Well done. Me too. Similar reasons. Gave it the heave-ho last week after buying it for many years.

  41. @Ozwald

    The MPs allegedly calling for EM to resign if Lab does not win the GE, should, if they have any honour, themselves resign if Labour wins.

  42. @ Pete B,

    To the general case:

    There are quite a lot of reasons why middle class people might be Labour.

    a) Idealism. Let’s define this as supporting redistributionist policies that go against your own personal class interest because you believe they are good for society as a whole.

    b1) Self-interest. The middle class has a wide range of income. A teacher makes a very different salary from a CEO- someone may be middle class and still be a net beneficiary rather than a net contributor to Labour’s redistributive policies.

    b2) Blatant self-interest: if you are, for instance, a teacher in a state school, you have a vested personal interest in making sure it’s Labour and not the Tories who get in power, because part of their redistribution will be redistributing money into your salary, rebuilding your school, etc.

    c) Someone may define their class interest more broadly than just “Am I a net beneficiary or a net contributor?” For instance, some studies show more equal societies tend to have less crime and better health outcomes even for the most wealthy people- if you believe these studies, you may believe that the non-monetary benefits you derive from redistribution will outweigh the cost of the money you have to contribute to it.

    d) Tribalism. Many middle class people have working class parents or grandparents. If we want to be generous about this impulse, we could say voting against your mum’s class interest after she scrimped and saved to send you to that fancy school so you could get into Cambridge and become a barrister is a dick move. If we want to be less generous, we could point out that people don’t like to think for themselves too much.

    e) Multiple Issue Voting. Parties have ideological platforms with more than one plank in them. Depending on your strength of feeling about various non-socioeconomic issues, you might be tempted to vote against your own class interest because Labour’s agenda coincided with yours in some other areas.

  43. f) Issueless rationalism/the Monty Hall problem as applied to politics. If you’re middle class and are unhappy with how the current government run things, and want to replace them without regard to policy, there is only one rational vote to cast.

  44. @ RAF,

    I’m just baffled that this is a thing. Is there anyone on Earth who thinks he shouldn’t or won’t resign if Labour lose? No? Then you can bloody well shut up about it until after the election, anonymous Shad Cab sources.

    I wonder who it is. (Probably Jim Murphy.)

  45. “I finally had it with the Grauniad. Cancelled my sub this morning after seeing yet another anti-Ed bit of drivel. I think the i might do it for me and save me £1 a day.”
    The Guardian is just seeing the writing on the wall…you can’t blame them for that.

  46. Re “flaming” etc.

    I blame Colin.

  47. @MARCO

    “The Guardian is just seeing the writing on the wall…you can’t blame them for that.”

    It’s either very strange writing or a very strange wall if they think Nick’s their man!

  48. Re: the Guardian.
    Am daft enough to walk to the convenience store and pay £1.60 (even more on Saturday) Have to avoid reading their stupid political stance for the good stuff elsewhere in the paper. Can’t avoid when they stick ridiculous stories on the front page!

  49. Sky news reporting that Francois Hollande has said the EU centre-left leaders back Juncker for President of the EU Commission

  50. bramley

    Just press the button as I did.

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