As part of his speech today Nigel Farage showed off polling for various target seats. A couple of the polls were just the figures from previous Ashcroft polls that showed UKIP doing well, but three are Survation polls for UKIP that we haven’t seen before. They show UKIP well ahead in Boston & Skegness – on 46% to the Conservatives 26%, one point behind in Thanet North and on 37% to Labour’s 48% in Rotherham. Of course, polling conducted for political parties should be treated with a medium sized ocean of salt until you’ve see the tables with your own eyes (I’ll put up a link once Survation put the tabs up (UPDATE: here)), but the previous Survation polls for UKIP donor Alan Bown have used their standard methodology.

The polls got very brief attention as they were rapidly followed by Mark Reckless defecting to UKIP and precipitating a by-election in Rochester and Strood. Rochester and Strood probably won’t be the complete walk in the park for UKIP that polls have suggested in Clacton (Clacton’s demographics are absolutely perfect for UKIP and Carswell particularly well thought of). UKIP came top in Medway in the European elections, but that was hardly unusual and as an all-out unitary authority we have no recent local elections in Medway to judge from. The seat does not appear in Rob Ford and Matt Goodwin’s list of the most UKIP friendly Con seats. The unusual circumstances of a by-election though mean anything is possible – and from a national polling point of view, it keeps the UKIP bandwagon rolling, keeps them in the public eye, keeps the publicity coming, keeps them looking like a viable choice.

321 Responses to “Constituency polls and Rochester and Strood”

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  1. @Phil Haines

    I think UKIP is making an important strategic error. UKIP seems to think that because it may be able to easily capture Tory working class areas that this will translate into being in a position to challenge in non metropolitan Labour working class larger towns and cities.

    The two beats are very different animals.

  2. Old Nat

    Some people are believers in the utterances of the leadership of their party.
    The rest of us are content to be cynics about politicians.
    Report comment

    To be the infallible, ” sea green incorruptible “, you paint yourself as, you need to have a very good memory. Last November you indulged in unbelievable verbal gymnastics in order not to disagree with Nicola Sturgeon over something she was putting forward as SNP policy, which inconveniently for you, you had already disagreed with in principle on this hallowed site !
    You only seem cynical about politicians’ utterances if they are non-SNP.

  3. @Ewen

    … and look what happened to old Robespierre in the end :)

  4. RAF
    “…UKIP seems to think….that this will translate into being in a position to challenge in non metropolitan Labour working class larger towns and cities. ”

    How about the by-elections in South Shields and Rotherham for instance? UKIP came second in both. Perhaps a distant second, but they are still the main challenger.

  5. Amber and RiN

    And Lo, the scales did fall from his eyes. Thanks.

  6. @Pete B

    Point taken. And on the basis of the polling Farage referred to for Rotherham, UKIP may be the main challengers there too.

    Perhaps I should have said that UKIP’s message clearly appeals more to Tory working class voters (and even then only outside cosmopolitan metropolitan areas) than Labour working class voters.

  7. UKIP did well in Kirklees in the 2014 locals, but won no seats. This area in recent history elected BNP Councillors, so a strong line on immigration etc. has worked in the past.

    They seem to lack the ground troops to push for a win, but I can see them competing in a few years (assuming they continue to grow).

  8. Kirklees is next door to Bradford, Leeds and Wakefield – for geographical context.

    It has large urban area, a bit run down with a significant ethnic minority population.

  9. Ewen

    Only the other day, I said that the former SNP policy on Income Tax was misguided – and that was simply a repetition of what I said at the time.

    I’m happy to accept that I am less cynical about politicians who entered politics in parties which, at the time, had no chance of putting them in power, than about those who join established parties as a career prospect.

    Hence, I’m just as cynical about those who moved to the SNP in time to get selected for candidacy in 2011 as I was about them in their former parties.

    More importantly, however, you confuse cynicism about all of the breed with an acceptance that they are necessary, and can be used by people to attain their ends. That’s why I’ve been in 3 different parties (and will probably end up in the Greens in due course). Each of them has been the best vehicle to get somewhere towards how I want society to be like, at that period of time.

  10. Ergo [lest there be any doubt]

    Ole Nat is right again.

    And lo – there was much rejoicing in the ole nat household.

  11. “Roy of the Rovers”

    If you can name the team Roy played for then the prize is an eveing in the pub with Pressman ( at his expense ).

    Second prize is two evenings in the pub with him, discussing the master plan for keeping Old Etonans in Downing Street.

  12. BB/Spearmint

    Certainly there is nuance, but the first order issue is that a goodly chunk of Lab supporters in 2012 are now aligning with UKIP. Note that I don’t think most of these were 2010 Lab voters – rather ones who Labour lost to the LDs mid-Blair, but who returned post Rose Garden (from disillusion rather than conviction).

    Did you see the news on Thursday? Farage was being sown round a factory in Donny. A couple of workers said, “aye, why don’t we give him a go?” The town is full of people who voted Labour up to 2000, but who became disillusioned by national and local Labour. They have been prepared to give anyone a go, including an idiot from the English Democrats who had five years as Mayor. He was so far out of his depth it was horrific to see. But he damn well nearly got re-elected for a second term.

    In the Westminster elections, here’s what’s happened to the vote share in Doncaster Central over the last generation.

    Labour have haemorrhaged votes since the early Blair gloss wore off. First to the LDs but the increasingly to Others (in 2010, that meant BNP, ED and UKIP who made up 85% of Other votes). This IS fertile ground for UKIP and they ARE taking votes which historically were Labour’s”. They will sweep up the collapsed BNP and ED and much of the LD vote, which, I suspect, had been drifting back to Labour between 2010-12.

    It’s only one example and might be a bit extreme due to the disaster of local Lab politics over the past 20 years. But I suspect there’s a similar story in many post-industrial towns that were more or less left to rot by New Labour. UKIP won’t win in Donny in 2015 because there are still many with the old allegiance. But I fear what could happen in 2020 or 25.

  13. Old Nat
    Wot Paul writ.

    You really can’t admit error can you ?

    I’m not “confusing ” anything, and my comments on your specific points and general approach to debate are correct and logically coherent.

    You must have been everybody’s Common room favourite at whatever Institution you graced with your presence.

  14. UKIP are still unlikely to get more than one or two seats in May but will help Labour to a win a few more.

  15. @Olnat

    “I’m happy to accept that I am less cynical about politicians who entered politics in parties which, at the time, had no chance of putting them in power…”

    Like Tony Blair, who joined Labour in 1983, you mean?

  16. We actually have a chance to test Pressman’s belief that the only thing that matters is Party leaders. The Survation constituency polls. Two of them[1] asked What is your main reason for wanting to vote for [that party] with the option “I like their party leader”. And in Thanet North that was taken by only 3% of the voters, mostly UKIP supporters..

    And in Rotherham it was only 0.3%. One person. A Labour voter.

    [1] The third constituency, Boston and Skegness, they seem to have asked the extra questions about prospective UKIP candidate, Neil Hamilton (stop laughing at the back!). Oddly enough the questions don’t appear, just the cross-tabs, but you can work out the voters of B&S aren’t overwhelmed with the prospect: Favourable 17%, Unfavourable 30%, Have not heard of 47%.

  17. @RAF

    “I think UKIP is making an important strategic error.”

    I don’t think UKIP seriously expects to make any inroads in Labour areas. But it is a strategically smart move for them to keep alive the idea that UKIP hurt both Con and Lab. While that idea has currency, it is much less likely that “Vote UKIP get Labour” will work in trying to get Con-UKIP switchers to return home.

  18. @roger Mexico – that’s interesting and relevant. Presumably one needs to be careful how one interprets it. If I was asked why I bought a particular car, I guess I would be more likely to talk about its merits than the person who sold it to me. This doesn’t however mean that this person did not influence me or that some sales people are not more effective than others.

    To cut to recent matters I think that Ed Milliband’s speech was a missed opportunity and that he needs to do better (as I suspect he admits\)/

  19. I’m beginning to think Ed’s speech was exactly what he wanted it to be, not sure why though?

    Anyway, found this interesting (assuming it’s not been posted).

  20. Latest YouGov / Sunday Times results 26th Sept –

    Lab lead 5

    Lab 36%
    Con 31%
    UKIP 15%
    Green 6%
    LD 6%
    SNP/PCY 5%
    Others 1%

    APP -24

    The economic questions slightly against the government this week

    and the question

    How do you think the financial situation of your household will change over the next 12 months? -17% ( Better 16% worse 33%) – remaining in the average range found all year of -15% to -21% .

    There was a big improvement last year from -30% to -40% range to -15% to -21% range, but since then a plateau, no change at all

    Ed M ratings a dismal -43%, including 35% of Lab voters saying he is doing badly as leader and all the ROC supporters extremely negative. He is closer to Dave C on trust though, in that both of them have dismal ratings.

    He is ahead on the NHS, Schools, Welfare and.being in touch with ordinary people. Dave C is ahead on Economy, Defence and Law/Order. But it is all very partisan and “None of them” wins every time.

    The British people are generally fed up with their politicians, i think it is to do with falling living standards these last 6 years and the lack of solutions to that problem. People just don’t like getting poorer.

  21. @FV

    “People just don’t like getting poorer”.

    We hear a lot of fancy explanations from columnists as to why people have lost their trust in politicians and a lot of tendentious explanations from populists like Farage and Salmond too. I prefer your explanation.

  22. I think that’s the first time the Greens have matched the Lib Dems with YouGov?

  23. @Postageincluded

    I think so, I think voters would take a more light hearted and optimistic view of everything else, if living standards were rising

  24. I’ve done some analysis of UKIP switchers. UKIP has hurt the Tories the most overall, but have hurt both Labour and the Lib Dems more in the last year or two.

    Whether the recent defections change things in terms of proportions remains to be seen. Interpreting anything during conference season is fraught with danger due to response bias and genuine short-term volatility.

  25. And just to break the unremitting Labour smugness on UKPR, on this misty morning :-

    “There is still time for the Tories to turn their fortunes around before next May.”

    Michael Ashcroft.


  26. Wes,

    Have they actually matched them? They had the same headline figure before but with two fewer respondents.

  27. Number Cruncher.

    Nice analysis. Do you have any way of assessing what the journey of the 2010 LD–> 2014 UKIP folk has been. ie was it 2010LD–> 2011/2Lab–> 2014 UKIP?

  28. @MrN – I didn’t know we could pin down exactly how many respondents the Greens have with YouGov? On that measure they’ve been (very slightly) ahead with other polling firms a few months ago. I didn’t think they’d matched them in the headline figures with YouGov so perhaps I missed one.

  29. I’m not sure it was YouGov – but we can wait for tables to come out.


    That is quite plausible because Lab post-2012 declined a lot more than Lab>UKIP switchers have risen, but unfortunately I have no way of saying for certain. You’d need to look deeper into the data to see exactly who went where when

  31. COLIN.
    Good Morning to you; the mist has gone from our beach here in sunny Dorset.

    The swing back rule means Ashcroft is right.

    Thus ends my last September as a ‘wage slave’.

  32. New Ashcroft poll coming at 2 PM today.

  33. @CL1945

    Your statement is much too strong.

    The swing back rule suggests that Ashcroft may be right.

    There are few certainties in politics, as in life..

  34. Some graphs that may be helpful to the Lefty/Billy Bob/Number Cruncher discussion about where different groups of defectors have gone:

    Con churn since 2010:

  35. Red Dems holding firm then.

  36. @leftylampton

    Nice to see the engine running hot again, thanks for your post.

    Earlier in this thread I gave some examples of ways in which, imo, the Medway area had not been “ignored”. The record of the last Labour administration was pretty good in some respects and needs to be defended, otherwise we surrender to the “Labour’s mess” narrative.

    I haven’t been to Doncaster, but was it really left to rot? Nothing in the way of health/education/infrastructure/regeneration/early years?

    Labour is gradualist. As Ted Heath put it “There are no quick and easy answers”. Not everyone is in it for the long haul.

    The Universities at Medway was a tri-partite collaboration making a new campus from disused barracks. Only one example of changes since the nadir of the eighties. In some ways it hasn’t fixed anything for the older generation, but the dynamic has changed somehow now that higher education has a presence.

    Medway lost all its Labour MPs in 2010. Reckless made Rochester and Stood relatively safe for the Tories with the help of boundary changes. Ukip gave him a free pass after he blamed them for his defeat by Marshall Andrews in 2005. All in all I’ll be happy when Ukip and Con permanently re-merge, I’m all for being honesty with the public

  37. @ Mr. Nameless,

    Well, a bunch of them left in the spring of 2013. The remainder have held firm, though. Labour would be solid on 39-40% if they could get their Green and Ukip defectors back.

  38. CHRIS

    Just clearing here now ; the sun peeking through.

    I don’t know about swingback-but it was good to read Ashcroft offering crumbs of hope for a change.
    When UKPR poster return to the zygomatic skeletal aspects of social class distinction , one instinctively knows Cons are in trouble-without even reading the news.

    Glad that you have escaped slavery-who was keeping you enslaved?

  39. Many of the LD > Lab > Green voters or LD > Green voters will vote Labour next year for lack of a Green candidate. Not a particularly enthusiastic mandate but it might push Lab up a little in vote share.

  40. What would Cons be on if they could get there kippers back?

  41. Pete B,

    Yep. I also think that Callaghan would have had a tough time becoming PM in 1970 if Wilson had resigned, though that had more to do with his period as Chancellor.

    Basically, the Home Office is a tough brief with little in the way of rewards.

  42. David Davis’s article in the Mail today is worth a read.

    He is quite clearly setting out his stall to be the grassroots Candidate for the next Leadership contest.

    I do find him an interesting character, as he not part of the Westminster bubble, and from a totally different social background that most of the Cabinet.

  43. COLIN.
    I think the GE race will be very close, so I also agree with ERNIE.

    The ‘wage slavery’ finishes in July 2015. Retirement beckons.

    Time to devote more time to politics.

  44. @ERNIE:

    “Your statement is much too strong.

    “The swing back rule suggests that Ashcroft may be right.”

    Still too strong. There is no ‘swing-back rule’. There’s only a swing-back theory based on fairly weak evidence. It remains to be seen if it holds true in 2015.

  45. @ Mr. Nameless,

    “Not a particularly enthusiastic mandate”

    I think you’ve found the tagline for the 2015 Labour Manifesto.

    @ Pete,

    35-36%? That’s where they were in 2011 before Ukip took off.

    @ Catmanjeff,

    You do have to wonder where they’d be now if he’d won instead of Cameron. I think they have two deep structural problems, though- “posh” and “rightwing”- and Davis will only solve one of them.

  46. Spearmint,

    I’m not sure to what extent the Tories being seen as rightwing is more of a problem for them than not being seen as rightwing ENOUGH by Blue Kippers. Perhaps the latter is more of a problem for them; I honestly don’t know.

  47. Though the fact that David Davis denies anthropogenic global warming could be a problem for the Tories.

  48. @Bill

    I don’t see how that would be a major impediment to be in the Conservatives.

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