Having made my way back from conference I’ve finally had a chance to look properly at Lord Ashcroft’s latest batch of marginal seat polling, this time looking mostly at Liberal Democrat seats – both the LD-v-Con battleground and the LD-v-Lab battleground. Full details are here.

Eleven of the LD-v-Con seats polled were the same as in the last round of Ashcroft polling. The picture in these seats is largely the same as it was then – a modest swing from Lib Dem to Con (2.9% average then, 2.5% average now), but significant variation. Then as now, the Lib Dems were doing much better in Sutton & Cheam and Eastleigh (both of which they’d hold), much worse in Chippenham and Somerton & Frome (both of which they’d lose). This round Lord Ashcroft also added four more LD-v-Con seats with slightly larger majorities. His polling found the Conservatives ahead in Berwick and in Taunton, neck-and-neck in Torbay but a hefty swing towards the Liberal Democrats in Eastborne. There is no obvious pattern to where the Lib Dems are doing better or worse in the LD/Con battleground. The Lib Dems are doing extremely well in Eastbourne where they have first term incumbent Stephen Lloyd, but they are also doing extremely well in Sutton and Cheam where Paul Burstow has been MP since 1997. They are doing extremely badly in Somerton & Frome where David Heath is standing down, but they are also doing extremely badly in Chippenham where Duncan Hames is a first time incumbent.

Ashcroft also polled five Lib Dem seats with Labour in second place. His previous polling of Lib-v-Lab seats was a little disappointing – he polled the four most marginal LD-v-Lab seats, all of which fell to Labour easily on huge swings. The more interesting question is what is happening in LD-v-Lab seats that have much bigger majorities, are the Lib Dems going to be wiped out there? In this round of polling Lord Ashcroft looked at some of those “safer” Lib Dem seats – Cambridge, Cardiff Central, Hornsey & Wood Green, Redcar and Bermondsey & Old Southwark. Four of these would need swings of 6-7 points to fall to the Labour, and Ashcroft shows them getting it relatively easily, the average swing across the five seats is twice that. The only LD-v-Lab seat where Ashcroft found the Lib Dems ahead was Bermondsey & Old Southwark – and there by only a single point.

Meanwhile the latest voting intention polls from the four companies who’ve polled so far this week are below:

Ashcroft – CON 32%(+5), LAB 32%(-1), LDEM 8%(-1), UKIP 17%(nc), GRN 4%(-2)
Populus – CON 34%, LAB 36%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
ComRes/Indy – CON 29%(+1), LAB 35%(nc), LDEM 10%(+1), UKIP 15%(-2)
YouGov/Sun – CON 31%, LAB 36%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 5%


338 Responses to “Ashcroft poll of Lib Dem marginals”

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  1. Interesting that two high-profile Lib Dems – Julian Huppert and Lynne Featherstone – would be on course to lose their seats according to that. Particularly surprising in relation to Huppert, who is one of the most left wing of all Lib Dems.

  2. It’s worth pointing out that Ashcroft polls seem to have a margin of error twice that of other polls. In many of these marginals polls, the top two parties could well be the other way round. Exxept Eastbourne, where the lead is bigger even than Ashcroft MoE.

  3. @ Anthony

    We wondered whether yu’d come back now you’re a TV Star! :-)

  4. Thank you, Anthony.

    Everything points to a dead heat between Lab and Con,

  5. Chrislane

    Quite possibly, and maybe/probably with too few LD seats to make a 2 party coalition viable. (SNP may or may not get enough to do the job but that might be awkward even if they could.)

    Might need to get the rulebook open to see what would be needed to orchestrate a second 2015 vote, fun for us, doubt investors will see the funny side. What odds for a “Grand Coalition, in the national interest”?

  6. I’ll assume someone from Newsnight was responsible for the hedge-backwards treatment, weird camera angles etc… but it’s actually a good look AW!

  7. On other reports of polls I see that the Cons would have to “win back”about a quarter of those who voted for them in 2010. I think Ashcroft described this as an “uphill climb”. NOT a dead heat

  8. I’m on my summer hols in Hastings.

    It is VERY warm here.

    It won’t be a “dead heat” and the LDs WILL be in to double figures CL45.

  9. I was impressed by the way you homed in on each constituency on that map with your marker pen Anthony.It looked very impressive

    …I’m assuming you got the right ones of course.

  10. You should try coming here in deepest midwinter Paul :-)

  11. Colin Jackson

    Was that referring to an OM? it might be a uphill climb for both parties to get an OM with a plurality of seats being neck and neck.

  12. My impression of the Newsnight bit was that they were in a tiny room, so weird camera angles were necessary. Purely for self indulgent reasons I’d like another poll of Sheffield Hallam quite soon.

  13. Re. the discussion of Ivan Cameron in the previous thread, we can’t on the one hand say “Ooh politicians don’t know anything about real life, they just go from Eton to Oxford to spad jobs to Number 10 and spout rubbish about ‘hardworking people’. Why can’t we have some real people in Parliament instead of these soulless technocrats?” and then when one of them tries to explain to us how his actual life experiences have influenced his politics, complain because that’s emotionally manipulative.

    Come on now.

    There are fair questions to be asked about why David Cameron is cutting disability benefits he used for his own child and why he reorganised a health service he claims to value so highly against the wishes and the strong advice of everyone who works in it. But it’s really not fair to say he can’t talk about his son.

  14. The polling in Berwick, very close to home, is interesting. The incumbent MP, Alan Beith, is extremely popular with, well, everyone but he is retiring. He originally won the seat, many moons ago, because of strife within the local conservative party but he proved to be so good at his job that he built a large majority. The conservative candidate has been working the seat some time now and is very well known and popular locally. We thus have a reverse incumbency situation with the Lib Dem looking more like the challenger.

  15. Spearmint

    Have to agree with you on this.

    I think the outrage he expressed at the charges that “He hates the NHS and wants to sell it off” was both genuine and justified.

  16. SPEARMINT.

    I agree in general.

    But I think DC’s resort to personal experience on the NHS appears to have been misunderstood here.
    He was responding to what he said were direct claims from EM that DC wanted to wreck or destroy the institution. The way he chose was to make it personal. He said that “for me it is personal”. That is why he said what he said.
    My reaction was that he was right to do so, but that he tried too hard .

    Actually it is about time Cons started responding to some of Labour’s more personal attacks & so I was very pleased to hear DC ‘s remarks about schooling & background in his attack on Tristram Hunt. And I thought that was much more effective than his NHS remarks.

  17. It is helpful to look at local election results. Here in Hornsey and Wood Green we had a full set of local election results in May and the Lib Dems were routed by Labour. There is a local bi election tomorrow which might confirm this but we shall see. Certainly Labour has been very active and is very much aware of its support base. In this seat if Labour get their vote out in May, Featherstone is toast.

  18. @Colin

    I thought the PM was perfectly within his rights to draw on his personal experiences to strengthen the force of his comments on the NHS.

    His assault on Hunt was juvenile, petty and beneath him, and wrecks any suggestion that to attack politicians for their background is not on. He’s declared open season on his entire party. It will backfire.

    Most of the electorate doesn’t know and doesn’t give a stuff who Tristram Hunt is, but they will have seen the PM wasting his time to be spiteful about him and concluded he must be doing a good job to rile the PM so.

  19. @ Chris Riley

    I agree, only political nerds know who Tristram Hunt is.

  20. CHRIS

    His attack on Hunt came after an accusation of “hypocrisy”.

    He attacked Hunt because whilst he shared the same privileged education that Cameron enjoyed, Cameron wanted to say that Hunt wanted to deny that sort of education to others, whereas he DC wanted to extend it to as many as possible.

    It was an effective & necessary response to the constant criticism of Cameron’s education, by a man who shared aspects of it, whilst denouncing it as a minister.

    This needed saying & was said well.

    DC certainly needed to make a similar rebuff on the NHS-I just thought it was less effective.

  21. @COLIN
    It just goes to show you, perception rules. Considering I am 68 years old, I spend very little time bothered about the NHS. Lucky me, and of course that may change. However, I to get very angry with this “the Tories will close down the NHS” narrative so beloved of Labour. As Cameron quite rightly said, its a damned lie and one wonders what would be said if similar untruths were broadcast by the Tories to Labours detriment. To get to the point, I thought Camerons obvious real anger, came over well and it is common knowledge that he and his family, do have first hand experience of the NHS. I am delighted that because Cameron genuinely does feel immensely strongly about the health service in this country, he will not allow outright lies to go unchallenged.

  22. CHOU

    I agree that it needed saying & he was right to say it.

    I just thought he tried a little too hard to communicate his anger. I don’t doubt that , given his families experience, and with his wife sitting in front of him, it would have been an extraordinarily difficult thing to judge.

    I’m certainly glad he said it.

  23. COLIN, SPEARMINT
    For an ex politician, if only in a very small way, I always find personal attacks sound rather cheap and I am generally very disappointed when politicians resort to them. Labour, however, are in no position to complain as they started it and I don’t see how Cameron can be criticised for fighting back on either the NHS or TOFF issue. Ideally Labour would drop both lines of attack as being low politics but I am not holding my breath.

  24. Chris Riley
    I disagree, the whole “where did you go to school” issue is of the lefts own making. I well remember the two lower middle class grammar school boys, Wilson and Heath, having a similar argument;” I want every child to have an education like mine said Harold to Ted”.
    “Not everyone would benefit from that level of academic study”, replied Ted to Harold. Well, whatever your view on that one, there was no nasty class prejudice involved. Now there is, and it was not started by David Cameron.

  25. @RMJ1

    Right on Mr RMJ, I quite agree.

  26. RMJ1

    I think they may be more circumspect about it now. We shall see.

  27. @chouenlai
    Regarding the National Health service, I did n’t hear the speech by David Cameron, but I noted one sentence, which yourself have used.

    It is this “In order to have a strong National Health service, we need a strong economy. ”

    The implication is that the strong economy pours money as benefactor to the needy National Health service. I don’t agree with that.

    The National Health Service is part of the economy, and produces output which is part of the country’s
    GDP. This is exactly the same as it would if it were in the private sector.

  28. What I think will be very interesting indeed will be where the Cameron’s send
    Their children to be educated.I have no idea how old the eldest is but choices
    will have to be made especially if the Tories get a second term.

  29. @Colin

    Cameron’s difficultly is that he has presided over permitting up to 49% of the NHS to be privatised, and that many of his backbenchers would like to see that threshold raised to 100%. Indeed many of his backbenchers lament paying twice for healthcare and education: once in taxation (for the state), the other out of choice (for themselves) and believe only the latter is in the best interests of the country. I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of Tory backbenchers in the 80s and 90s thought differently. But times have changed.

    So whatever Cameron’s own personal experience of the NHS, voters are always more likely to trust Labour on the issue. Now Labour started the ball rolling on NHS privatisation but kept it at a very low level. We’ll never know whether, had Blair stayed on to 2010, Labour would have significantly increased this threshold. What we do know is that as things stand the Tories cannot win an argument in the court of public opinion that they are the party of the NHS.

  30. @COLIN

    “His attack on Hunt came after an accusation of “hypocrisy”.

    He attacked Hunt because whilst he shared the same privileged education that Cameron enjoyed, Cameron wanted to say that Hunt wanted to deny that sort of education to others, whereas he DC wanted to extend it to as many as possible.

    It was an effective & necessary response to the constant criticism of Cameron’s education, by a man who shared aspects of it, whilst denouncing it as a minister.”

    ———–

    This makes no sense at all. So if someone has experience of private education they can’t express their view of whether it is a good thing or not?

    Given I had both state and private it would according to you be hypocritical of me to be critical of either. Which you might like, but doesn’t mean it makes any sense…

  31. @RAF

    “Cameron’s difficultly is that he has presided over permitting up to 49% of the NHS to be privatised, and that many of his backbenchers would like to see that threshold raised to 100%.”

    ————-

    Not to mention that they rather downplayed their plans to shake up the NHS…

  32. RAF,
    But they can try.I remember one of Cameron’s conference speeches when he
    declared that they were the party of the poor!

  33. R&D
    Luckily they have just made parody legal – (well it can be used without copyright issues).

    Chou
    Are you suggesting anyone who has had a public school education can not criticise it or its effect on society?

  34. @CHOUENLAI

    “Chris Riley I disagree, the whole “where did you go to school” issue is of the lefts own making.”

    —————

    Don’t know that it helps if you keep appointing friends from your own school…

  35. Chouenlai

    What was disappointing was that he didn’t commit to more NHS privatisation , pouring money into this behemoth is not the answer.

    The tax cut should have be effective from next year not something that may happen by 2020.

  36. Redcar was a special case in 2010 and only went Ld due to Corus issue so close to GE day.
    The 19% swing in Redcar adds just around 2.0% to the average of the 5

    Redcar certain to fall to Lab whilst H&WG and Cardiff are battlegrounds seats for me but with Lab favourite to take but not easily..
    Bermondsey a hold and Cambridge probably, if Labour take the latter it indicates a good result for them and/or a shocking one for the LDs.
    These seats are interesting and LD holds from the Tories may determine who gets most seats but the real action is in the Con seats vulnerable to Lab of course.
    Some seats between 20 and 50 on he target list would be interesting.

  37. Did I miss the poll on DCs speech?

  38. I do get fed up with all the scaremongering about privatising the NHS. GPs are all private businesses and always have been, as are pharmacists, dentists and opticians. Labour brought in the pfi initiative for hospitals.

    So long as the NHS is free (or affordable in the case of opticians, dentists, prescriptions etc) at the point of use, who cares who actuially provides the service?

    On another matter this link

    http://www.ukip.org/poll_results_in_full

    provides some interesting constituency polling.

  39. @Pressman

    And only effective if one pays tax in the first place.

  40. @ADGE3 You have made your point about the NHS and GDP before. I have never seen why a doctor working for the state is somehow less economically viable per se than one working for the private sector. Not being an economist, I did not feel entitled to say this. However, I hope you go on repeating your argument until either someone answers it or it becomes clear it is unanswerable.

  41. @ Chris Riley,

    He’s declared open season on his entire party.

    I’m pretty sure it’s been open season for about four years. And Labour are now waving their hunting rifles about with that “Tories: for the privileged few” tag.

    they will have seen the PM wasting his time to be spiteful about him

    They won’t, because they won’t have seen his speech. Although I do feel this opens a new chapter in the ongoing mystery of “Why is Tristram Hunt on the front bench?”

  42. I think at the end of the day it is all going to be a question of trust.On the world
    at One,MK asked Gove how the Tories would pay for these tax cuts,and his
    answer was you have to trust Cameron and Osborne to eliminate the deficit by
    2018.Despite the fact that it has only been reduced by 30% so far.He finished by saying that DC was an honourable man.Her response was telling.”You hope

  43. I am very doubtful about LD vs Labour seats but these polls from Ashcroft do give them hope – more hope than the national polls indicate. Perhaps their private polling matches this and has been the reason for their seemingly astonishing complacency.

    I already commented on your performance AW on the previous thread so you gather I am now to be reckoned a fanboy.

  44. @ Anne in Wales,

    They’re looking exclusively at state schools, I believe.

    @ RAF,

    I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of Tory backbenchers in the 80s and 90s thought differently

    Really? Their party opposed the formation of the NHS in the first place, and some of them wanted to privatise it (Thatcher stopped them because she realised it would be political suicide). And they certainly under-invested in both health and education for their whole time in office.

  45. Spearmint

    No, Maggie wanted to privatise it and would have done so post the 1992 election, the likes of Clarke were opposed to it during the eighties and presumably she never pushed it too hard as there were other priorities anyway.

  46. For the Tories the dark cloud of Clacton has loomed over it.

  47. @ Pressman,

    What was disappointing was that he didn’t commit to more NHS privatisation

    Yes, that disappointed me too.

    @ Pete B,

    So long as the NHS is free (or affordable in the case of opticians, dentists, prescriptions etc) at the point of use, who cares who actuially provides the service?

    Because when the state has to contract out for services (as in the case of the rail franchises, private landlords, other countries’ health services, etc) it always seems to end up being vastly more expensive than when the state provides that service itself. And as we heard a lot in the last week, there’s a deficit to think of.

  48. Spearmint ,
    Well as my ex alumni said,they would say that wouldn’t they.The proof will be in the pudding as usual.

  49. Spearmint
    You’ve chosen your examples carefully. I don’t think it is necessarily more or less expensive to provide services publicly or priivately. There are plenty of examples of privatisation leading to a reduction in real costs – e.g.electricity, gas, telecomms etc

  50. Nick Griffin has been expelled as a member of the BNP, but is refusing to leave claiming that the new leadership is operating outside the constitution. His Twitter feed is a larf and a harf at the moment.

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