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. @Anthony

    I’ve got a comment on the MP incumbency factor seemingly locked in perpetual moderation. Any particular reason because it seems pretty innocuous to me?

  2. CROSSBAT 11.
    Possibly the vision of you in the bath following the Labour Poll has put you in there.

  3. ALEC

    @”So far this financial year, tax receipts have fallen. ”

    Central Government Current Receipts
    April/July 2014 vs April / July 2013
    Taxes on Production . £75.8 / £71.8 +5.7%
    Taxes on Income & Wealth ££64.8 / £64.8

    Public Sector Finances, July 2014
    PSF3A Central Government Account : 2014/15

  4. Populus Poll (spelling/) has Lab 6% ahead: 39 to 33. Liberals on 9

  5. @Colin

    Today’s articles in the national press on British Muslims leaving to join “jihad'” are quite interesting when you examine the numbers.

    Just 440 British Muslims in the last 3 years have gone abroad for this purpose. That’s about 150 per year out of a total UK Muslim population of over 2 million. Even if you take the overall figure of 440, that’s just 0.022% of all British Muslims (based on the above total of 2 million UK Muslims).

    Distill further and you find most of the “jihadis”in Syria are not fighting with ISIL but for other Anti Assad groups – groups Britain initially supported in the Anti Assad campaign, and who are vehemently opposed to ISIL.

    So, on the above numbers 99.978% of UK Muslims have not gone abroad to fight so called ” jihads” and yet the press and others still believe there is a problem.

  6. @HOWARD

    “No, thanks, keep them coming, it’s everyone’s choice what they choose to post. I read much of the foreign press, particularly the Low Countries, France and Germany, as well as here, and there were a lot of contradictory articles today. They were mostly downbeat though.”


    Oh yeah, contradiction abounds. The government could announce a workable plan to eliminate poverty in three years and someone would probably oppose it. Might not happinate every payday lender. Lobbying abounds… People are paid to resist stuff. Hislop was on about this recently… governments keep talking about reducing the huge quantities of sugar in some drinks, but then that industry can afford a lot of lobbying and PR etc. Meanwhile parties have their activists doing much the same to tarnish rivals policies.

    They reckon up to two percent of the population would qualify as sociopathic were they to undergo the tests, so there’s no shortage of takers for the disinformation thing. But besides that, some things like the economy are naturally complicated, and some difference is inevitable. So you do the dialectic thing, read opposing views and then… come up with a synthesis!!

    That’s one reason we thrash things out on here, but things like the economy in particular have quite the VI salience, and are interesting from the polling perspective because of potential gaps between perception and reality. A classic example of this potential gap was given by AW in his post on what voters think is the level of benefits.

    Then Neil A threw a spanner in the works by pointing out that those polled may be factoring in stuff like Housing Benefit. Again showing the reason why we thrash it out.

    When it comes to the economy, an important issue re: polling is that conventionally a growing economy is supposed to see the government prosper. But Tories are flatlining and LDs have collapsed. So naturally we explore reasons as to why this might be.

    Not everyone is interested in the details of the economy of course. But most have their favoured interests they bring to the party and I find it quite handy. Saves me having to go looking for it all myself. And I dunno about you Howard, but I find it interesting seeing how people evaluate things in different ways, which is also useful in polling, and indeed, how they may change their minds. One view is that people are rather resistant, and superficially this may seem to be the case, if one focuses on resistance at the time. But one of many things one learns in education is that things can take time to filter through, and if you track it over time, you can see changes…

  7. RE: “swingback”

    All these models based on swingback look to be not working. The polls have been essentially unchanged for a year.
    The problem is clearly that isn’t a lab>tory swing to swing back from. The swing has been from tory > ukip, lib dem > lab and lab > UKIP/green.

    So ‘swingback’ if/when it happens could result in both tories and labour seeing their vote increase at the expense of UKIP for the tories and UKIP/green for labour.

    I dont think lib dems will see much/any swingback – the desertion of the 2010 lib dems looks to be a done deal – indeed their vote looks to be slightly lower than a year ago.

    Based on this I predict a GE result of around Tory 34-36. Lab 36-39. Lib dems 8-10. UKIP 10-12. Exactly as I and many others were predicting three years ago.

  8. @ AW

    “I can sink into the relatively plentiful suds and allow the warm water to play tantali… (Snip..that’s enough of that for now, thank you very much. AW)”

    I have my credit card details handy if that would help- just when it was getting interesting :-)

  9. Populus Lab 39%(+2) Tories 33%(+1) LD 9%(=) UKIP 11%(-3) Green 3%(=) SNP 3%(=)

    So looks like straight transfer from UKIP to Labour and Tories. Second week in a row that Labour have good Friday figures.

    Something worth noting while we wait for the West Midlands Police Commissioner by-election result is that it looks like the turnout will be about 10%. Will the Tories declare the result invalid and insist over 50% of the electorate must vote as they want to impose on the Trade Unions?.

  10. RAF

    A Muslim Labour MP thinks the numbers you quote are significantly understated.

    If you want to emphasise that the vast majority of UK Muslims are not engaged in jihad-I I am with you.

    If you want to suggest that young men leaving this country in hundreds-or may be over 1000-to wage brutal terrorist war on anyone who is not , or who will not become a Sunni Muslim, is not a matter for our Security Forces to be very concerned about-I am not with you.

    IS is a massive global problem-they have what AQ never had-territory-lots of it. They have oil wells & banks-and if the reports are to be believed, funding & support from countries listed as allies of ours.
    They are lead by a charismatic madman , who controls an incredibly sophisticated PR machine.

    The West ( & the Middle East) has been asleep as this monster was borne vin Syria & exploded into northern Iraq. It isn’t going to stop there.

    British recruits to this vile “caliphate” are most certainly of concern-to us & to the world.

  11. @ RogerMexico

    Many thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. It’s very good of you and does indicate the LD’s can potentially hit that 12% target.

    I suspect from the figures you gave it might be closer to 11%- we add in slightly less than 1% for their target seats (a potential of 10% add on in their 60 target seats) putting them on 9.5% then, because of the higher “don’t knows” they have over Lab and Con they might be able to recapture those and gain share of vote.

    I guess it comes down to a personal opinion (rather like we have with UKIP) about whether those “don’t knows” do come back but you make a good point that they have often already ruled out other parties which leaves Green or not voting as most likely alternative.

    The main difference with Lab and Con returning compared to LD returning is that unlike the old Liberal Party days where you could clearly identify a type of (Liberal) values that creates loyalty the LD’s probably have a greater mix of values than the old Liberal Party had which makes loyalty a little bit more uncertain.

  12. @Colin – I was citing the Telegraph, which came up with the -1.1% figure. It looks like this could be for a specific set of taxes, rather than tax receipts overall. The article was talking about IT and CT, so this could be what they referring to, but I can’t find the item now to confirm.

  13. TOONIE.
    Hello to you.
    How many people are waiting for the West Midlands Police Commissioner by-election result?

  14. ChrisLane1945

    I am following it:


    Looks like a good result for Labour on just over 10%

  15. Personally Im rather glad that the British public is ignoring the faux democracy of electing a Police Commissioner.

  16. I too am looking at it – not for the result necessarily but for how the UKIPpers break on second preferences.

  17. If of course there are second preferences, which is looking unlikely.

  18. @ChrisLane1945

    “CROSSBAT 11.
    Possibly the vision of you in the bath following the Labour Poll has put you in there.”

    Probably a good job that I didn’t attach the photographs then. :-)

    The latest YouGov and Populus polls seem to suggest that things have settled back to the steady state that we’ve seen for 6-9 months now after a rather strange, albeit short-lived, period of relative volatility. I still raise a slight eyebrow at the plus 70 aggregate vote shares for the two major parties, but the 4-5% Labour lead we’ve been seeing for some time appears to be holding firm and true.

    I pledge my troth here. Considering the continuing poor personal and leadership ratings for Miliband, and the continuing economic recovery, now in its fourth quarter, I would have expected the Tories to have recovered significantly in the polls by now. We’re way beyond any mid-term blues and a whole range of political indicators are becoming increasingly benign for the Tories, not least Miliband’s continuing woes, but their poll ratings remain astonishingly poor. As I say, I’m both baffled and surprised by this and we may need to look in strange and unusual, and painful for some, places to try and diagnose why this is the case why they continue to experience these political problems.

    My views on this quite often anger Tory sympathisers on these pages, and I suppose I’m easily accused of partisan wishful thinking, but I make my observations dispassionately and, I hope, supported by polling evidence. After all, this is a site dedicated to discussing political opinion polls. I’m not predicting the Strange Death of the Tory Party but I’m sceptical about predictions that suggest this 2014 version of the Tory Party is capable of its former powers of recovery or its old electoral capabilities. These polls suggest that we need to discard orthodox assumptions based on outdated analyses of party strengths. Their electoral problems remain deep seated and chronic.

    I think much more has changed, and changed utterly, than many people think. This is another reason why I’d recommend disposing of all those old prediction models.

  19. The above posts nicely illustrates why Ive always thought these elections are a bit of a joke…. no offence but if the value of this election is to see how the kippers break on second preferences it seems to devalue the whole concept and is nothing more than a rather good opinion poll for the political parties.

  20. @Alec

    Is this the quoye from today’s Telegraph:

    “The Government remains on track to miss its borrowing target this year, despite stronger income from tax and VAT receipts last month.
    July, which is an important month for tax receipts because of quarterly corporation tax payments and income from self-employed workers, saw income tax receipts rise by 5.1pc to £17.4bn compared with the same month last year.
    However, receipts for the first four months of the financial year fell by 1.1pc to £49.4bn, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the Government’s fiscal watchdog, said on Thursday that weaker earnings growth and an increase in the personal allowance to £10,000 from April this year would provide a “downside risk” to income tax and national insurance receipts this year.”

  21. The huge rise in non-effective self-employment due to the work programme is very clear to anybody with any dealings with the current welfare system. It is effectively a huge fiddle encouraged by work programme providers who get a large payout after two years if the self-employed former jobseeker is still self-employed. Jobcentre Plus does not object because it reduces the number of jobseekers. The burden of administration falls on HMRC, for tax credits, and Local Authorities, for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction.

    The HMRC do very few, if any checks, when assessing Tax Credits and only review on an annual basis, so administratively much cheaper than Jobcentre Plus.

    Local Authorities are much more thorough when checking and cross checking information on initial claim and on subsequent reviews, but rely upon self-reporting and full disclosure by the claimant.

    Should Universal Credit ever start as proposed there will be a huge wave of unemployment as these ‘self-employed’ suddenly fold their businesses when they are subject to a ‘notional’ income of £233.47 per week being used to assess their entitlement to Universal Credit. An extra million unemployed overnight.

  22. Figures are still patchy, but it looks like a fairly safe win for Labour. It also looks like ((I just typed ‘loike’ there, the WM has clearly infected my keyboard) that the postal vote is what saved the day. I’ve only seen a figure for Wolverhampton, but it looks as if half the vote there was postal. In contrast two polling stations had turnouts of about 1%.

  23. @ cl1945

    Probably those that voted yesterday and a few people on polling sites.

    I even noticed the Libdem vote in the local government by-election in Wroxham was rather low.

  24. Crossbat11

    Perhaps I’m naive but I’m definitely not surprised or baffled by the lack of a Tory lead and I don’t need to look in surprising, unusual or painful places… it’s a combination of

    1. A complete disconnect between people whose cost of living is going up, who haven’t had a pay rise for years, but who keep reading about how wonderful the economy is, and

    2. People who are not quite as taken in by the EM media bashing (what are MIlibands ‘continuing woes’ btw?) as some in the media might think.

  25. You’ll be hearing this phrase a lot by the morning of May 8th but the Lib Dems have lost their deposit.

  26. chris45

    So populous are showing Labour with a 6% lead – well within current moe – but the YG 5% boy is “surprising for the reds”.

    D’you want to give us the benefit of of your analysis as to just why that is surprising?

    Otherwise it comes over as a rather redundant contribution to the debates on polling – like the LDs look high stuck record joke.

    My own view, looking further ahead, is that a lot of things are in place for Labour to do well.

    A long, long background of leads: EM being seen on equal footing as a PM candidate come next year: the LDs attacking the Tories for what they would be like if they governed alone, and yet very unlikely to win votes for themselves for that but rather point people to another party, maybe Labour: the fact more people dislike Cons than dislike Labour.

    Won’t be a shoo in but I think it has all the makings of a Labour OM.

  27. It looks like Lab 52.4% Con 27.4% UKIP 13.6% LD 6.5%

  28. Hang on, no they haven’t.

  29. Correcting my figures
    Lab 50.8%
    Con 27.4%
    UKIP 16.3%
    LD 6.6%

  30. TOONIE.
    I picked up the Norfolk result on twitter.

    I think the LD result there was quite high for them, actually.

    I used to live up there in days of old.

  31. ROSIE and DASIE.
    I think there will be a de facto dead head between reds and blues on May 7th.

    About 315 each for them,I think.

    There will be interesting negotiations then with the Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh Parties.

  32. @CL1945

    Well the Libdems still lost the seat to the Tories, just surprising UKIP did not stand they could IMO have won the seat.

  33. I thought that given the low turnout for the PC by-election, a election related to law and order ,the Tories would have done better,

    Does it reflect a general apathy about the PC role or a more deeper dissatisfaction with their party by Tory voters?

  34. I dont think the tory ratings are ‘suprisingly low’ at all.

    The lib dem collapse means that the “anyone but the tories” vote is far less split – boosting labour VI.

    Meanwhile the ‘anyone but labour’ vote is more divided than in 2010 due to UKIP.

    An uneven and underwhelming economic recovery and ed m’s lack of F Factor is not going to significantly shift those fundamentals.

  35. @Balbs

    “Perhaps I’m naive but I’m definitely not surprised or baffled by the lack of a Tory lead and I don’t need to look in surprising, unusual or painful places… it’s a combination of
    1. A complete disconnect between people whose cost of living is going up, who haven’t had a pay rise for years, but who keep reading about how wonderful the economy is, and
    2. People who are not quite as taken in by the EM media bashing (what are MIlibands ‘continuing woes’ btw?) as some in the media might think.”

    While I agree with your first point, I think you’re in danger of simplifying the reasons why the polls are the way they are. There are a whole range of reasons, some obvious, others less so, why the Tories are struggling to gain further support and I don’t think, as you appear to do, that they’re all related to the current disparity between wages and price rises. That’s way too simplistic a diagnosis for me.

    As for your second point, I’m citing the polling evidence. I share your view about the lack of impact of the media bashing, but we’d be silly to think that Miliband doesn’t have a problem breaking through with a large part of the electorate. We’ve debated long and hard on these pages as to why this is, and how important it may prove to be, but he’s clearly not a popular Leader of the opposition at the moment. That should, normally, benefit the Governing Party and the fact that it doesn’t appear to be doing so is another intriguing feature of these current polls.

    My general point is that the polls aren’t reacting in the way that you would expect them to, certainly if you were relying on the orthodox theory of political cause and effect. Hence my theory that we can’t expect them to suddenly behave obediently as we get nearer to the election.

  36. @Reggieside

    I was expecting this to go to the second round because of the combined Tory and UKIP vote.

    The Tories traditionally do better on low turnouts and UKIP seem to have put a lot of effort into getting out their vote,

    I would say the only party to have anything to smile about would be Labour,

  37. cl45

    “I think”


  38. @toonie

    cross purposes – i was talking about the GE – Im guessing your talking about the PC bi-election. But still – same story on a smaller scale.

  39. @CHRISLANE (12.49)

    “I think there will be a de facto dead head between reds and blues on May 7th.”

    Chris, Assuming you mean dead heat, I have to question on what data/assumptions this is based.

    The 15 YG polls this month have a mean of 37.4 for Lab with a std dev of 0.91. which with a few exceptions has been the norm this year. As several people on here have stated in the past, if Lab can maintain a VI in the high 30s then the 2015 GE is theirs for the taking.

    There are only 8.5 months to go and no obvious factors which would see the Tories taking votes from Lab. The “improved” economy is only helping a few so as time passes this could even work against Con. Factor in the increasingly negative reports re the NHS, railways, energy etc. plus as someone said earlier, what the LDs may well say re the Tories in government, then the Tories may do well to hold onto their current VI.

    The only obvious concern for Lab is “events dear boy, events”. Stay clear of stupid mistakes and it must be a Lab victory in share and seats.

  40. @ChrisLane1945

    “About 315 each for them,I think.”

    So, you think Labour and the Tories will gain about 630 of the 650 seats, leaving 20 for others? Others being, the Lib Dems, SNP, DUP, Sinn Fein, Plaid Cymru, Greens etc, who currently hold 86 of the seats in the Commons in this Parliament. 66 of these to fall into Labour or Tory hands in May 2015?

    A bit unlikely, I would have thought.

  41. Are the Populus tables up?

    I’m particularly interested in the 10/10 certain to vote stats.

  42. Yes they are….

    10/10 certain to vote:

    Con 70%, Lab 69%

  43. CROSSBAT11.
    The Sun has gone, so I have come inside.
    Thank you for reminding me about the other parties in the House of Commons. I start the Politics lessons soon with that list.
    I think the Greens will not have an MP.
    Northern Ireland MP’s will be of the same number, but I expect SF to pick up one SDLP seat. SNP to stay the same, with Plaid.

    That probably helps to answer your question. I think.

  44. @ChrisLane1945

    “That probably helps to answer your question. I think.”

    Alas, I think not, but let’s move swiftly on.


  45. CB – forgive me if I attempt to summarise your view.

    Simply the Conservative party are on a long term historical decline which no matter how favourable short term factors are at GEs will make it difficult for then to achieve a meaningful OM.

    FWIW – I think you are correct and it will take the specter of Thatcher to disappear from memory before this changes.

    Cameron has dome well to partially de-tox but can not bring enough of his party with him and keeps having to look over his right shoulder; a task made even harder by a single issue pressure group party morphing in to an old fashioned right wing Tory party.

    I would add. though, that Labour faces a similar decline but not as critical due to less ‘never vote Labour’ sentiment and FPTP helping at the moment and for the foreseeable future.

  46. @JimJam

    You summarise my view very well

    I wouldn’t disagree with your fourth and last paragraphs, either, maybe only to add that another advantage Labour may enjoy is the fact that they can claim to be the only genuinely national party still remaining in GB politics.

  47. Looking forward to the GE, the biggest unknown I can see is the impact of the campaign itself. There is of course the volatile impact of the likely TV debates, particularly possible gaffes.

    But apart from that, the main effect is from campaign literature and, to a lesser extent, contact with the political parties. The last two local/euro election cycles have seen an extraordinary impact of the UKIP campaign in the form of country-wide distribution of anti-immigrant literature. In 2013 this hit the Tories most, but in 2014 Labour took the larger hit (I’m looking at the Wikipedia opinion poll summary). There are signs that UKIP are re-positioning to appeal more to traditional Labour voters by bolting on some Labour-type policies to their core rhetoric. I think the key thing for the 2015 campaign is how much success they have with this.

  48. This is genuine, I am not having you on. I came online here, after getting an early night last night, so just caught up with Roger Mexico talking about a PCC election. I could not understand how the turnout in a parochial church council election was generating so much interest.

    Now I am clued up, it seems midlands voters had as much knowledge or interest in it as I.

  49. @CHRISLANE1945: “About 315 each for them,I think.”

    That would mean both Labour and the Tories increasing their seat counts, something which I suspect is unprecedented.

  50. The 1922 election was the last at which the seat shares of both Labour and the Conservatives increased – Labour by 85, the Tories by 12, and also the official Liberals by 26.

    The last election at which both the Tories and Labour increased their vote share was 1924.

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