Lord Ashcroft has produced another round of marginal polling – full details here. His last batch of polls revisited the Con-held ultra-marginals with Labour in second place. This time they deal with some Conservative held marginals with slightly larger majorities and revisit some Labour held marginals. The latter aren’t of much interest at the moment (with Labour ahead in the polls there is no realistic chance of the Conservatives gaining seats from Labour, so until and unless the Conservatives start showing a lead over Labour in national polls polling Labour-held Conservative targets is a little bit academic, though I may return to them in a future post), for the immediate future the Con-held marginals are more relevant.

Lord Ashcroft’s earlier polling of Con-marginals took the eleven Con-Lab seats with majorities under 2 percent. This round of polling took the seats with majorities between 2 and 3 percent, eight of them. The average swing across these seats was 6 points from Con to Lab, the equivalent of a 5 point Labour lead in the national polls. A little larger than in national polls at the moment but, as with Lord Ashcroft’s previous waves of polling in Conservative -v- Labour seats, not that different.

As usual with Lord Ashcroft’s polls this wasn’t a poll of a group of marginal seats, it was eight fully fledged polls of individual constituencies and looking at the individual seats spits out a few interesting findings. Lord Ashcroft used the two stage voting intention question for the constituency poll, first asking people a generic voting intention question and then asking people to consider their own constituency and the candidates likely to stand there in an attempt to squeeze out tactical or incumbency effects. Normally this has a huge effect in seats where the Liberal Democrats are in contention, and very little effect in seats where they aren’t. The effect of the two stage question here was illustrative – in four seats the Conservatives did very slightly better in the second question (what we’d expect from the incumbency effect). In Warrington South (a three way marginal) and Bedford (which has a strong local Lib Dem presence) the second question boosted the Lib Dems. In Stroud the second question boosted Labour, perhaps because the ousted Labour MP David Drew is seeking to return at the next election (Patrick Hall is also seeking to return in Bedford, where the second question also showed a slightly bigger swing to Labour). Also worth noting was the healthy performance by the Greens in Stroud, up on 12%.

A final observation: Southampton Itchen, one of the four Labour held seats, showed a swing of 0.5% from Lab to Con, putting the Conservatives and Labour neck and neck on 33%. This seems unlikely, while John Denham is standing down in Southampton Itchen the last time Ashcroft polled the seat in May it had an eight point Labour lead. A more likely explanation for the rather odd result is probably that suggested by Lord Ashcroft himself in his commentary – that Southampton Itchen has a substantial university population (students and staff) who wouldn’t have been around when the poll was conducted.


382 Responses to “New Lord Ashcroft marginal poll”

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  1. Grateful as Im sure we are please HAVE A REST!

  2. Amber
    See my reply on previous Fred.

  3. I think commenting on UKPR while on holiday has a lot to do with the nature of the holiday. Normally, about the time that AW posted this thread, I would be cowering from the midday sun under a palm with something cold. Unless there were bathing belles (or beaus, depending on whom you are interested in) in view, there isn’t a lot going on in the typical resort. Especially if abroad, the parochiality of it all on UKPR provides even more amusement than reading it at home.

    An excellent summary by AW, by the way, and I had a look at the local Warrington LD site and local press. The 2010 strong challenging LD candidate seems to have resigned after taking a teaching job, but perhaps many voters were unaware of this, and that explains the ‘incumbent challenger’ bonus for LD there?

  4. AW

    But I doubt as Ashcroft suggested that all the lecturers are on Holiday in Cuba!

  5. Anthony: Thank you for this interesting post.

    Quite surprising Con to Lab swings in those seats, I think, but heartening for Ed M as the summer days start to drift away.
    Macmillan is reputed to have said that a good summer helps a Tory Government by about 20 seats.

  6. London – local elections, the Euros & polls only of London showed Labour well ahead but for the past week or so, YG has been showing a much narrower gap in its London x-break. Of course the x-break caveats apply but I still think it’s interesting & look forward to some London polling in the not too distant future.

    I’m also hoping there will be some Scotland polling about which Party gets the Westminster votes; so far, it seems to be only the SP voting intention which is polled.

  7. @ Balbs

    Yes I think he needs to check in to a clinic with a stern Hattie Jacques matron in charge to hector “is that a tablet you have under the bedclothes- you know you’re not allowed them in here”.

    Maybe there’d be be a Sid James in the bed next to him who bribes one of the porters to run out and get the YouGov polls at 10pm each night.

  8. Amber Star

    I […]look forward to some London polling in the not too distant future.

    Like this stuff from today you mean:

    http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/0zkot7bu1z/ES_London_Omni_Results_140813_W1.pdf

    Con 34% (-1)

    Lab 45% (-4)

    Lib Dem 10% (+2)

    UKIP 9% (+1)

    Green 3% (-1)

    F/w was 8-13 Aug so they’ve been sitting on it for a week rather strangely. Changes from previous London YouGov-ES poll (21-24 Jul).

    Lots more questions about Boris’s potential double-jobbing (there seem to be dozens of these from pollsters it’s all they seem to care about).

  9. @ChrisLane

    You may remember how that othrer famous Harold, before the election in1970, was ridiculed for talking about the nice weather, as if he had personally arranged it.

    I imagine Macmillan was thinking about autumn elections, and perhaps he was right , but we’re now unlikely to be able to test his hypothesis.

  10. Oops correction: London VI is actually:

    Con 34% (-1)

    Lab 41% (-4)

    Lib Dem 10% (+2)

    UKIP 9% (+1)

    Green 3% (-1)

    Doesn’t actually give Labour that many extra seats in London: 5 from Con, 3 from LD. 2 LD to Con. But partly that reflects 2010 being better for Labour in London than elsewhere.

  11. @Colin, Alec

    Interestingly yang and yin in old Chinese referred to the sunny and shady side of a valley, so at the moment Colin is definitely yang, though there are shadows even in the sunniest spot.

    Not that I’m saying there’s anything shady about Alec, of course. As the I Ching says of the most yin of hexagrams – “Earth brings sublime succes, furthering through the perseverance of a mare”.

  12. 5 Labour gains from the Tories in London is still more than I have been predicting, so not too bad for Labour really.

  13. Barnaby Marder

    There’s still a few low hanging fruit around – in this case Brentford, Ealing Central, Croydon Central, Hendon, Enfield North.

    But you can see how difficult it then becomes by the fact that according the Electoral Calculus, the second most winnable seat for Labour after the above in South London is Uxbridge – the ultra-safe Boris bolthole. There’s a few more possible in North London (Harrow E, Finchley, Ilford N), but otherwise it’s deepest blue.

  14. The Labour NEC results have been announced. I voted for the most left wing people and they won. It is a bit of a surprise but the result is a boost for the Labour

  15. The Labour Left (of course)

  16. @THE OTHER HOWARD

    “A very big gap between inflation and wage increases in the UK..”
    “As I said yesterday why is anybody surprised by this. This is likely to continue for some time yet regardless of which government is in power. We are having to learn within our means as a nation.”

    ———

    The idea of “living within our means” doesn’t really explain the cost of living problem, re: hikes in energy, rent costs etc. etc.

    You might say “living within our means” might pull down wages a bit, but then that should pull down prices more.

    (Pulling down wages doesn’t necessarily assist balancing the books anyway because of knock-on effects on demand, investment, tax revenues, tax credits etc., and we have already seen plenty of issues along those lines…)

  17. @Roger Mex
    You’re probably part of the 0.001% of the population that would think “Lord Ashcroft” rather than “burglars”

    LOL. I’m always in a minority of a minority so nothing new there.

    I wonder though if the scripting used by Populus might produce a bias here though. The caller introduced herself and her organisation immediately, included the name of my constituency in the introduction, and asked me to confirm that I lived in that “constituency” pretty much all in one breath. This piqued my interest because if she was cold calling for double glazing she wouldn’t use “constituency”. The intro script is designed to let you know straightaway that this is political, without actually mentioning politics. Still, I can imagine that such an intro would lure in more political animals than in a random sample. This could affect the “in your constituency” question results. Either we political animals are more or less inclined to vote tactically than the rest (aka majority) of the populationt (I have no idea which).

    Of course Populus may already use several different scripts to compensate for this bias, or may have decided the difference wasn’t worth the rush.

  18. Labour on course to win ge outright,chech the betting odds.

  19. It’s been obvious for a while now that there’s a decent sized bunch of current UKIP supporters who moved there from Labour over the last 18 months. We’re still hearing the stories that UKIP support is soft, and that this will inevitably benefit the Tories.

    Look at Ashcroft’s results. They don’t suggest anything of the sort. When asked, ” Are there any of the following political partie s that you would definitely not vote for at the next General Election?” UKIP supporters answered:

    Con: 69%
    Lab: 70%

    Looks like there’s as much for Labour to gain from a UKIP melt as there is for the Tories.
    LD:

  20. TOH

    Basically, “our means” comes down to the level of productivity that we can maintain. For 50-odd years up until the 2008 Great Recession, our productivity grew at a more of less constant rate. Since then, it has stagnated. That is why we are in an unprecedentedly extended spell of depressed wage growth.

    Now, it seems to me that there are two possible explanations for this. Either Labour did to the economy what Thatcher did to the Kids according to Frank Turner, or we’ve had the wrong sort of recovery.

    In one of those scenarios, you’re right that we have to get used to a permanently reduced standard of living as a nation. In the other, we have chucked away nearly half a decade’s worth of wealth growth by macro-economic incompetence which stalled the recovery and even now has a recovery that based on more people being no more productive.

    That’s the core of the “cost of living crisis” debate for the Election.

  21. @Barney

    “that Labour will faace challenges but will understandably focus on what is immediately in front of them”

    ———-

    Sometimes tho’, peeps don’t see what’s immediately in front of them. Or, they do see it, but it’s the stuff off to one side that gets them!! Or maybe… the stuff immediately in front turned out not like they thought it would…

    Regarding identity, the problem is that devolution can militate agaunst this as it allows for progressively more difference… I suppose there needs to be more investment in shared interest at the UK level, more common activities. A spaceport in Scotland, for example, with a fast rail link, might have lots more Englanders travelling North, spending money, mingling with Scots, learning about the differences in their educational system…

  22. @Lefty

    Was reading an article in the Telegraph the other day about how pursuing Austerity in the EU has led to deflationary effects and struggles with growth which are now even impacting Germany.

    In contrast, we returned to growth quickly with a stimulus, flatlined without it, then returned to growth with the housing stimulus…

    It also notes the consequences of Germany’s efforts to drive down wages, which results in only a temporary boost as it drives down wages in other EU nations to compete. The old “beggar my neighbour” thing…

  23. POSTAGE INCLUDED.
    Harold should have won that GE. He blamed AWB, soon to be re baptised as Tony Benn. That Belsen speech was a disaster, as was the Chelsea Goalkeeper who did not save those WG shots, on the Sunday before the GE.

    NEWHOUSET.
    I have little doubt that shy tory syndrome is alive.

    COUPER2802.
    The Left of the Labour Party was so good a force, from 1950-59 and from 1970-1994; for the Tories.

  24. On the politics of envy thing.

    There are other reasons for having an interest in the background of politicians besides envy. One of them, we get polling on: the question of whether some might be “out of touch”. Another, concerns about people appointing school and Uni chums… Not sure if we’ve had polling on that yet…

  25. @Barney Crockett “I always make Amber seem more than sensible! But I could not agree more with her comments
    1 that there has to be a re-building of the wider UK identity.”

    I agree with Amber on this too. And not just in relation to the Scots.

    We need to do more to include all our other minorities too.

    Has anyone else noticed the following rather odd development? According to the stats, the muslim population of Birmingham hasn’t really changed in ten years, it’s roughly the same as it was give or take a few percentage points. I recall visiting ten years ago with my Mum, and there were no burqas or hijabs worn anywhere. What you saw was young muslims wearing western clothes and older muslim ladies wearing beautifully embroidered brightly-colored shalwar kameez, with a filmy chiffon scarf across the neck (not over the head). Which made sense, because the shalwar kameez is the costume of Pakistan where these ladies came from.

    Now you do see black burqas and hijabs (the costume of Saudi), even though we don’t actually have any Saudi emigrees. Which means that some British muslims are not only rejecting western mores, they’re rejecting the styles of their own ancestors in favour of adopting Saudi culture.

    The muslim world seems to be underdoing a rejection of multi-culturalism, where people in Pakistan are supposed to abandon their pretty colourful shalwar kameez and people in Egypt are supposed to reject their tradition of belly-dancing (going back thousands of years) and they are all supposed to adopt a mono-culture based on repressive Saudi traditions.

    And somehow this Saudi-fication has caught on in Britain in the last ten years. How and why is the question. It’s a trend that muslim MPs in Parliament seem to have missed (though Labour Muslim MPs are anglicized to the extent that they all voted for gay marriage). But I don’t recall Sayeeda Warsi talking about it either.

    Is this happening because the press are demonising muslims to such an extent they feel they can’t belong even if they want to and try to, so they might as well seek acceptance elsewhere?

    I know that we seem to be developing a three-tier citizenship, where Scots are demanding more rights than enjoyed by the majority, and muslims are being told they should expect fewer opportunities than the majority (if a muslim teen told you he wanted to be the first muslim prime minister people would laugh – he must be joking, doesn’t he know he’s here on sufferance and can’t expect the same opportunities as say, a Scot?) (There was a reddit thread a few months ago where American blacks were asking British blacks how they were treated, and the Brits said they were treated better than muslims who were at the bottom of the pile!)

    What does this kind of thing do to a young person who on the inside sees themselves a no different to others? It doesn’t help when they see UKIPers telling Ed Miliband to “go back to Poland” and even the Queen being denigrated as “German” – even though she’s ethnically half Scot and her German emigree ancestors arrived here 300 years ago. If the Queen is an “outsider” what hope for a more recent immigrant? How many generations does it take before you are accepted as merely a Brit?

    I’d like to see a true one nation where everyone was treated the same and you didn’t get this group getting extra privileges based on ethnicity (Scots, I’m looking at you) and this other group getting less, also based on ethnicity, and the majority seething because they have noticed differences. How about all citizens being treated the same. Is that too much to ask?

  26. @Chrislane1945

    I think we have gone too far right. I think EM is left wing himself but is surrounded by a lot of Blairites So he needs some left wing support on the NEC.

  27. Not sure your assessment of Southampton Itchen is entirely correct.

    In the recent elections, according to Ford/Goodwin, Ukip attracted sizeable support on the back of former Labour supporters
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ukip/10857198/Ukip-has-torn-up-the-map.html

    I believe that this is the only Labour seat the Tories have a chance of winning and even then I think Labour are the slight favourites.

  28. @ Lefty

    A nice find that one on UKIP!

    I wonder how that one balances with the polling we’ve seen that suggests 50% are committed to UKIP next year (meaning 50% might change their mind). Presumably that would balance with 25% of the current UKIP vote that could go Tory and another 25% Labour?

    There was another figure from the Lord’s write up I found interesting that in his sample 42% of LD voters from 2010 will definitely not vote for them next year. In my humble opinion that puts ICM’s weighting in some doubt and also pretty much rules out an LD score of anything over about 12%.

    Of course I know you can’t take people’s opinions at face value and a ‘never’ vote for them might turn into “well I had to keep to the other one out” but those “never” preferences seem quite strong to suggest UKIP might just hold up and LD’s might not poll 10%.

  29. On the NEC thing I voted for candidates from across the board because I think balance is good (and as someone in the center of the Labour Party it made sense). Two of them won, but I was sad to see Crispin Flintoff came last.

  30. Despite their national unpopularity and the expectation that the LDs will only hold 30/35 seats after the next Election, as a betting man, I might have a small flutter on the LDs winning Maidstone as there was a large swing towards them in 2010, and Helen Grant (Con MP and former Labour Party member) won’t have pleased her constituency with the 2nd home she claimed parliamentary expenses which was based in Reigate.

  31. Candy
    “How about all citizens being treated the same.”

    Yes that would be a good idea. So Sikhs should no longer be exempt from laws enforcing the wearing of crash helmets, and banning carrying knives in public? And Muslim and Jewish slaughterhouses should not be exempt from the law about stunning animals before killing them?

  32. @Candy

    In the case of Birmingham it may be a change in the populations that make up the Muslim minority in Birmingham. Over the last ten years there has, for example, been a significant immigration from the Horn of Africa, bringing their own traditions and dress. If the Muslim population has stayed constant that suggests that the Birmingham Pakistani community is moving on (to leafy Solihull?).

    I think we also need to be aware of selection bias. We are being primed to notice things, so we do…

  33. @MrNameless

    We’re you surprised Luke Akehurst didn’t win. I thought he was a sho-in. I didn’t vote for him or others on that slate as it seemed a bit cliquey too me.

  34. CANDY

    @” According to the stats, the muslim population of Birmingham hasn’t really changed in ten years, ”

    2001 Birmingham Census-14.3%
    2011 Birmingham Census-22.0%

    An increase of 54%

  35. Over at the Graun, an interesting article looking at the rise in self employment.

    Currently, it has risen to 4.6 million, about 15% of the workforce, though…

    “As well as these 4.6m people, there were also an extra 356,000 who had a second job in which they were self-employed according to a release by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).”

    So some of the rise is not creating new jobs for the unemployed, but extra income for the already-employed.

    “This is important because if you look at total employment in the second quarter of 2014, it was up by 1.1m on the pre-financial crisis first quarter of 2008. The majority of this rise was down to a 732,000 increase in self-employment – meaning it has been the crucial factor in the rise in employment.”

    Thus, much of the increase in employment is coming from the self-employed. However, here’s something a bit weird…

    “What makes this data doubly interesting is that there has been no real change in the proportion of people choosing to enter self-employment, roughly an additional 37% new starters every five years, but a significant drop in the proportion leaving self-employment between 2009 and 2014.”

    So, if we are not seeing more people entering self employment, why are the numbers of self employed increasing? Because… fewer are leaving self employment…

    “Across the last two decades the proportion of self-employed people who left self-employment across five year-periods has veered between 32% and 37% but between 2009 and 2014 that went down to 23%.”

    The reasons fewer are leaving self employment?…

    “The ONS stats release suggests two factors which may be contributing to this stoppage:

    1) More people (both those self-employed and those working as employees) are continuing to work beyond the default state pension age. Self-employment among those aged 65 and over has doubled from 241,000 in 2009 to 428,000 in 2014.

    2) The opportunity to work as an employee fell at the onset of the economic downturn which limited the opportunity for people to move from self-employment.”

    So more pensioners are continuing to work, and the rest are struggling to find jobs to move on to.

    Also, for those interested about the effects of employment on VI and hence which sectors are benefiting from self-employment…

    “The rise in self-employment was instead largest in what the ONS describes as “professional, scientific and technical activities”. These include a wide range of things such as management consultancy, book-keepers, photographers and chartered accountants.”

  36. @Colin – I stand corrected.

    But none of the newcomers are from Saudi, are they? So Saudi-fication of British muslims is happening – otherwise why the adoption of Saudi customs that are not part of their own traditions?

  37. CANDY

    You are making assumptions about which I cannopt comment.

    I don’t know anything about the sectarian make up of Muslims in Birmingham, or how it may have changed over time.

  38. @Ying and Yang

    As another fan of your ongoing dialectic on employment stats etc. etc. thought I’d draw your attention to the self-employment data in my prior post (in case it might spur a synthesis or summat…)

  39. @Pete B – Sure.

    I happen to think decisions on safety should be made on scientific grounds. So either a practice is safe or it is not. Saying it is or not based on religion seems very odd (and dangerous).

    On the other hand I’d expect normalization of rules to apply evenly. i.e. none of this “we expect you to normalize to the majority culture, but BTW you are still a second-class citizen even after making the concession”. Equality should really mean equality and there should be no second-class citizens.

  40. “…and Helen Grant (Con MP and former Labour Party member) won’t have pleased her constituency with the 2nd home she claimed parliamentary expenses which was based in Reigate.”

    ———

    On the other hand, she may not have dismayed her supporters over tuition fees, the miserable compromise, Austerity, NHS etc. etc….

  41. @ Candy, Pete B

    On the other hand I’d expect normalization of rules to apply evenly. i.e. none of this “we expect you to normalize to the majority culture, but BTW you are still a second-class citizen even after making the concession”.
    ——————-
    It should work the other way too. e.g. If Sikhs are legally allowed to wear turbans instead of motorcycle helmets, as opposed to just not being charged if they are caught doing so, then Sikhs not wearing helmets is normal. Positing it as a special concession is not correct.

  42. @Candy

    The answer to your question is more likely to lie in Muslims in the UK feeling as if they are constantly under attack by politicians and the media, and being made to look like criminals or fifth columnists because the UK objects to someone or some Muslim country somewhere in the world

    How many wars or conflicts has the UK been involved in since Blair came to power either against Muslim countries or allied to countries fighting Muslims? A number at least. This has led to politicians, the media and eventually society taking a view of UK Muslims (by extension) as the enemy. This polarisation has led to Muslims becoming very defensive. In some cases into becoming more conservative in outlook and dress.

    Unfortunate this social conservatism has been mistaken for support or at least tacit acceptance of Al Qaeda or worse ISIL type jihadism, of which there is practically no support in any meaningful numbers in the UK.

    So I wouldn’t mistake the change of dress with anything other than a defensive social conservatism.

  43. cl45

    “Quite surprising Con to Lab swings in those seats, I think, but heartening for Ed M as the summer days start to drift away.
    Macmillan is reputed to have said that a good summer helps a Tory Government by about 20 seats.”

    Oh dear, here we go again with cod-analysis.

    Why is it surprising exactly do you “think” – I mean objectively? The polls are here to inform and stop us guessing what the correct answer is based on some sort of intuition.

    As for MacMillan, well that is a vaguely interesting historical quote but its relevance to the modern UK is zero.

  44. @Candy

    One more observation. I’ve noticed that a number of people have gone overseas to fight for all kinds of people, groups and other states. If we want to end this (and I think we should), parliament should legislate for UK citizens only being allowed to serve in UK armed forces and no other overseas forces whether state entities or any other entities.

  45. @Amber Star “It should work the other way too. e.g. If Sikhs are legally allowed to wear turbans instead of motorcycle helmets, as opposed to just not being charged if they are caught doing so, then Sikhs not wearing helmets is normal. Positing it as a special concession is not correct.”

    ————–

    If motorcycle helmets are required to prevent brain injury in accidents, then they should be applied to Sikhs too (simply get them to wear larger helmets that accommodate their turbans) – unless it is proved that turbans offer the same protection in an accident (which they don’t).

    It seems to me that what has happened is that Sikhs have said “OK we’re second class citizens, so at least let us have this one concession on wearing our turbans instead of a motorcycle helmut”. And we’ve said, “Of course you can, that’s part of ‘the deal’ – especially as special exemptions emphasize the fact that you are different and hence a second class citizen. As does the fact that we don’t give a toss if you get brain injury in an accident due to lack of a helmut, we don’t care ’cause you are a second class citizen, see?”.

    How is that right?

  46. RAF

    @” I’ve noticed that a number of people have gone overseas to fight for all kinds of people, groups and other states.”

    What has that got to do with it?
    The topic for discussion is young British Muslims going too Syria/Iraq in order to shoot/decapitate/bury alive anyone who is not & refuses to become, a Sunni Muslim. This is a very particular breed of foreign fighter.

    @” If we want to end this (and I think we should), parliament should legislate for UK citizens only being allowed to serve in UK armed forces and no other overseas forces whether state entities or any other entities.”

    If we want to end this we should come down very very hard on preachers & anyone else-in the mosque or on the street-who advocate violent sectarian behaviour-here or abroad.

    I thought we had laws to do so.

  47. @” This polarisation has led to Muslims becoming very defensive. In some cases into becoming more conservative in outlook and dress.”

    I am truly sick of hearing this stuff-particularly right now.

  48. Couper,

    I was actually. He seemed on Twitter to be getting quite a lot of support although I understand people’s objections to him. I did vote for him but deliberately ignored the “slates” as I don’t like being told who I should vote for.

  49. Colin

    I don’t disagree.

  50. R and D.
    I don’t disagree with you.

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