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. “Mark Carney has written to George Osborne after the Financial Policy Committee conducted an assessment of the impact of Help to Buy.

    “Under current market conditions, the Committee assesses that the scheme does not pose material risks to financial stability,” Mr Carney wrote.

    He also said that the scheme was not a “material driver” of surging house prices. ”

    Politics Home

  2. Valarie agree,

    When Steve Richards criticises Labour and Ed I listen as he comes across as far more considered than you average sound-bite driven journo.

  3. @Hal

    I don’t know how it’s actually being done, but my assumption is that student services will ensure you have the form at the start of the year and poke you to fill it in. The politically-aware students will register and vote anyway; the question is whether the unaware-but-voting students will bother. But, if there’s anything the modern student has to develop a talent for, it’s filling in forms presented by the bureaucracy, so I’m hopeful that it won’t make a disproportionate dent in student turnout.

  4. Pulse have done a survey of 554 GPs (in Sept) and found:


    “In what highlights clear political mistrust amongst the profession, a survey of 552 GPs found that 47% do not trust any party with the health service and support for specific policies from the main political parties is mostly below 20%.

    Support for the individual parties is also at an all time low, with the vast majority of respondents to the same survey saying they have still not made up their minds about who to vote for, despite the elections being only seven months away.

    Support for the coalition parties in particular has plummeted from 54% since the 2010 election to a mere 20%. And the Labour party has failed to cash in on its opponents’ downfall as only 16% said they would be backing the party, compared to 15% in 2010.

    However UKIP has managed to win over some GPs, with 6% intending to vote for them next year compared to 1% in 2010. While the NHA party looks set to win 1.5% of GPs’ vote share.”

    It is interesting that such a wide survey shows so many undecideds in comparison to what we see in polls. I can’t think of any reason why GP’s should be that different to the general population?

    How firm are the current polls VI numbers?

  5. @Ewen

    re: 1066 and all that.

    I’m no historian but some years ago I read a fascinating article ( maybe in History Today?) about how the English “state” survived the conquest. The author put forward the view that the “civil service” of the Old English kingdom was so accustomed to keeping calm and carrying on through the Byzantine internecine strife of the Anglo-Saxon monarchy that William the Bastard just looked like more of the same. Governments came and went, but taxes still had to be collected.

    I’m not sure that the English Civil Servant would be a popular hero for the new English devolved whatever, but he or she certainly has a claim.

  6. Sam – when I was a NOLLIE years ago we went around with forms and the student union encouraged registration.

    We suggested students register at their home (usually parents) address if they lived in marginal seat, unless they lived a few miles out in the only close seat near the Polytechnic.

    Why waste a vote in a safe seat.

    Of course in Cambridge most students will be better off registering there but even then some may ‘live’ in a Tory/Lab marginal.

    Another thing is that Students can be a good ground war human resource.

  7. Students in Halls of Residence used to be registered en masse by their collge/university. These students are likely to be substantially disenfranchised by the switch to individual registration.

    Maybe that’s what Clegg had in mind in supporting this change, given that so many LD MPs are in student-heavy seats.

  8. @JimJam, Valerie

    Steve Richards is without doubt, Da Man.

  9. @Jim Jam

    I had to Google NOLLIE

    According to Wikipedia:

    “Short for “nose ollie”, a nollie is an ollie executed at the front of the board while the rider is positioned in his/her natural stance.”

    I hope you were not executed.

  10. Even if you get students registered you still have to get them to vote (and I never did when I was a student). Last time tuition fees presumably helped but will there be any similar cause next year?

  11. @RogerH

    “These guys lied to you about tuition fees. Vote them out.”?

  12. NOLS member Guy
    National Organisation of Labour Students.
    Mr N updates us every now and then and their arguments.

  13. These results are from the 2010 Election when UKIP got 3% of the vote, now they are polling 15%+. What chance do you think the Tories now have when a 3% split has probably cost all these seats

    § • Bolton West: Labour 18,329; Conservative 18,235; UKIP 1,901
    • Derby North: Labour 14,896; Conservative 14,283; UKIP 829
    • Derbyshire NE: Labour 17,948: Conservative 15,503; UKIP 2,636
    • Dorset mid & Poole: Labour 21,100; Conservative 20,831; UKIP 2,109
    • Dudley North: Labour 14,923; Conservative 14,274; UKIP 3,267
    • Great Grimsby: Labour 10,777: Conservative 10,063: UKIP 2,043
    • Hampstead & Kilburn: Labour 17,332; Conservative 17,290; UKIP 408
    • Middlesbrough South: Labour 18,138; Conservative 16,461; UKIP 1,881
    • Morley (Ed Balls): Labour 18,365; Conservatives 17,264; UKIP 1,506
    • Newcastle-Under-Lyme: Labour 16,393; Conservatives 14,841;UKIP3,491
    • Plymouth Moor View: Labour 15,433; Conservatives 13,845; UKIP 3,188
    • Solihull: Liberal 23,635; Conservatives 23,460; UKIP 1,200
    • Somerton & Frome: Liberal 28,793; Conservatives 26,976; UKIP 1,932
    • Southampton Itchen: Labour 16,326; Conservatives 16,134; UKIP 1,928
    • St Austell & Newquay: Liberal 20,189; Conservatives 18,877; UKIP 1,757
    • St Ives: Liberal 19,619; Conservatives 17,900; UKIP 2,560
    • Telford: Labour 15,977; Conservatives 14,996; UKIP 2,428
    • Walsall North: Labour 13,385; Conservatives 12,395; UKIP 1,737
    • Walsall South: Labour 16,211; Conservatives 14,456; UKIP 3,449
    • Wells: Liberal 24,560; Conservatives 23,760; UKIP 1,711
    • Wirral South: Labour 16,276; Conservatives 15,745; UKIP 1,274

  14. I have no idea what the current situation of NOLS is, since Sheffield Labour Students left. The great exodus of clubs seems to have stopped, but no rival organisation has yet been set up as some thought would happen.

    I can provide some insight into voter registration at least here though. Every student registering at the University of Sheffield for a year is told (though not actually mandated) to register on the electoral roll for the year. This results in basically the same level of registration as previously, while still technically falling within the rules.

    However, that was arranged by talks between Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, and the University. It probably works differently elsewhere.

  15. RogerH,

    “I’m calling on behalf of Oliver Coppard, the Labour candidate for Sheffield Hallam, standing against Nick Clegg” seems to help.

  16. Roykite,

    You’re absolutely right to point this out…that’s why nearly every poll this year, if fed into a UNS calculator, shows a labour majority.

    The received wisdom is that 2015 will be very close in the poplar vote, with labour getting more seats…

    there is a chance that it could be a bloodbath for the tories, with labour getting a 20+ majority, precisely for the reason you suggest.

  17. @ROYKITE

    Interesting list indeed BUT there must also be an equivalent list the other way around where Labour was and indeed might again just miss out on various seats.
    Next years GE will be like no other and so very unpredictable.

    If Labour squeak in by the back door and by default mainly because of the electoral ‘damage’ UKIP will do I wonder how the former Tories turned UKIP will feel that it was more that likely them that helped Labour win by default.
    Just my view on things – other people will have different views I’m sure!

  18. Mr Nameless

    “However, that was arranged by talks between Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, and the University. It probably works differently elsewhere.”

    Almost certainly. There won’t be many MPs whose previous post was General Manager of their local Student Union.

  19. @Ann in Wales
    In reply to you 8pm last night on this thread. I don’t think it matters where the Cameron children are educated. Tories are perfectly happy with a good state school or a private school. We have absolutely no hypocrisy on this matter. Their father went to Eton, their mother went to some other very up market school for young ladies, ( I don’t know which), therefore in my opinion the kids should follow suit.
    If private school is good enough for the likes of Diane Abbotts kids, it is good enough for a little Cameron.

  20. @ Sine Nomine,

    Just my view on things – other people will have different views I’m sure!

    The view I generally hear expressed by the Kippers is “Liblabcon are all the same and they’re all going to be swept away by the People’s Army!”

    I’m not sure if they’ll start reconsidering the first clause when the second proves over-optimistic, but for now they don’t seem too bothered by the prospect of letting in Labour.

  21. @ SPEARMINT – yes I take your point – so will they simply regard it as stage one of causing even more harm in 2020 i wonder.
    By then of course a referendum in 2017 probably won’t have happened to lance the boil so to speak.
    I just think there will be loads of regrets at just what they have collectively done next May – Who knows I could be totally wrong.
    At the end of the day it’s certainly ‘A curse on all your houses’ and Damn the lot of them.

  22. Point of possible interest about this morning’s 38% for Labour: it’s all down to the LD -> Lab switchers. Labour’s retention is still pitiful but for some reason conference season has really fired up the Red Dems. Labour have been getting some impressive LD -> Lab numbers in the last few polls.

    Not sure what it signifies exactly, but I wonder if Coalition hopes of swingback from this group will be dashed? Events that focus the mind on politics seem to make them more Laboury rather than less. (Might be a bit of that old Lib Dem underdog spirit coming to the fore as well- the media ridicule Ed Miliband, they think ‘Wow, that’s just like Paddy Ashdown!” and they feel right at home.)

  23. @ Sine Nomine,

    The thing is, they don’t believe Cameron would deliver the referendum, so while there are going to be a lot of irate Tories running around accusing them of sticking their todgers in things I’m not sure the Kippers themselves will realise they’ve scuppered their big chance.

    Objectively this is nuts- Cameron will have no choice but to deliver the referendum if he remains Prime Minister or his backbenchers will have his head- but the Kippers believe a lot of odd things.

  24. I don’t think it’s appreciated nearly enough the extent to which the kippers loathe dave.

    I have a theory that Mili leaving out the deficit bit of his speech actually played well to the left,…the fact that the centre-right media went after him on this, merely ventilated the idea that he wasn’t going to be an axeman with cuts….everything mili says and does plays to his lefty base…syria, energy freeze, hints about rail nationalisation, and of course, the mansion tax…

    the right can foam all they want, but his view is that as long as he keeps the left happy, he can gain a victory on points…the LD> Lab retention doesn’t surprise me.

  25. @Sine Nomine

    If Labour squeak in by the back door and by default mainly because of the electoral ‘damage’ UKIP will do I wonder how the former Tories turned UKIP will feel that it was more that likely them that helped Labour win by default.


    It probably won’t bother them that much. After 1983 people voting for the Lib-SDP Alliance did much to hand Thatcher a landslide victory, but there was little sign of them rushing back to Labour in droves soon after that.

  26. @Sine Nomine

    If Labour squeak in by the back door and by default mainly because of the electoral ‘damage’ UKIP will do I wonder how the former Tories turned UKIP will feel that it was more that likely them that helped Labour win by default.


    It probably won’t bother them that much. After 1983 people voting for the Lib-SDP Alliance did much to hand Thatcher a landslide victory, but there was little sign of them rushing back to Labour in droves soon after that.

  27. I can’t think of any reason why GP’s should be that different to the general population?
    I can. They are all professionals of working age & are self-employed.

  28. Speermint,

    Pressman tells us that NI strategy is that a majority of Red Dems will return for the GE so lab get 32% ish.
    polling evidence suggest, however, that as can be the case with apostates this section of Labours VI seems keenest on EM etc
    Low 2010 retention (for either of the 2 main parties) is a double edged sword as they have to be confident that swing back will occur for a good number.

    Dovetails nicely with RoyKite and Sine’s posts and as we all know will the enough 2010 Con-UKIP return in the GE in marginal seats to make Cons the largest party again???

    Personally, whilst some kippers will be Kamakazi I reckon a good chunk of their current support in marginals will vote Con..
    Same for the smaller 2010Lab – UKIP of course plus LD/Green squeeze greater in these seats.

    Broken record time I know!!!

  29. Spearmint,

    Or perhaps it is because, unusually, we have not yet had the LD conference which normally comes before Lab and Con, but was moved this year due to indyref.

    Who knows, perhaps we will see a surge of Lab -> LD next week ?
    If those reddems really want to support the plucky underdog, Mr Clegg has a better claim than Mr Milliband.

  30. I can recommend Steve Richards’ Rock & Roll Politics shows.

    He is warm, friendly, funny & engages with his audience, seeking out their opinions.

  31. SN,
    “If Labour squeak in by the back door and by default mainly because of the electoral ‘damage’ UKIP will do I wonder how the former Tories turned UKIP will feel that it was more that likely them that helped Labour win by default.”

    Surely, that’s the whole point of switching from Tory support to UKIP! Help Cameron to win the 2015 election and you (probably) get a referendum that will (probably) mean UK staying in EU for the foreseeable future. Vote UKIP and have a chance of that party having some, albeit small, influence of new government and Cameron being replaced as Tory leader by an Eurosceptic.
    There is a price to be paid for supporting UKIP in 2015 but you’d be mistaken to believe that those thinking of doing so haven’t thought the whole thing through. They are just as capable of doing so as you or me.

  32. @ Paul H-J,

    It’s a fair point.

    I’m just amazed the Labour conference accomplished anything at all.

  33. |Spearmint

    I suspect Mr Axelrod has a motto above his desk that reads ‘Conventions are cr*p’.

  34. Postage
    I’m no historian either but I used to work for a company that did battlefield tours with the services and schools etc, so I had to take a bit of an interest in what young Bill P loves, ‘Wot-might- have-beens,’ or to give them their posh title ,’Counterfactuals’.
    The Conquest offers shed loads of opportunities for these kind of things and in the end they all boil down to a sort of consolation prize for the losers.

    To stick to the topic of this thread, well sort of , the big c/for the LD is whether they should have gone for conditional support of a minority Tory govt.

  35. Interesting analysis from John Curtice of the Scottish Labour Question:



    I agree the conference wasn’t up to much but I’m drawn back to the Survation Poll (for LabourList so perhaps voodoo IDK) which was to my small brain quite astonishingly positive about the 6 policy-ettes Ed M announced. Every one stonkingly popular with everybody, even Tories with one exception.

  37. @ Paul H-J

    If those reddems really want to support the plucky underdog, Mr Clegg has a better claim than Mr Milliband.
    Nick Clegg has a better claim to being the underdog because he’s in government with the Tories?

    Maybe you’d like to rethink that assertion.

    The LibDems have only one way to keep a sizeable number of MPs (if Ashcroft polling is to be believed); they need to focus all their resources in England & Wales on the LD/Tory marginal seats.

    A further suggestion not based on polling (yet), the LDs might actually be able to take advantage of their solid Scottish support & retain most of their seats here; or off-set any losses by benefitting from the forecast Labour to SNP switchers allowing the LDs to gain from the changed split in the ‘left leaning’ vote.

  38. @KeithP

    “If Labour squeak in by the back door…”

    It’ll be by the front door, as usual. In general governments lose elections, oppositions don’t win them. If the Tories lose votes to UKIP that’s their failure.

  39. Spearmint,
    I think that the media were so intent on rubbishing the speech because of what he did not say that the actual content was ignored.The six policies were sound,
    his position on Europe was clear and the promise of extra money for the NHS
    forced the Tories to follow suit.I wonder what the verdict on the speech would
    have been if he had mentioned the deficit.What compounded the whole thing
    Was his honesty,admitting that he forgot.A gift for his political enemies that can
    only be compared to that idiotic note.

  40. Ewen ,
    Back in the mists of time when I was studying Ancient and Medieval history at
    Birmingham University,my tutor,now a very respected Historian,recommended
    Alfred Duggans novels,particularly the one you mentioned,he thought they were well written and historically accurate.I would imagine they might be out of
    print now.

  41. @Ann in Wales

    Lots of Duggan books available very cheap on Amazon…

  42. you can’t get round the fact the EdM is a very poor communicator. very poor. I think his metier is as a back office strategist and policy wonk… i’m very surprised he is even an MP, as I can’t imagine he’s that great on the constituency surgery stuff.

  43. Peter,

    DC on the other hand is a good communicator but ……

  44. It’s not much use being a good communicator if:

    1. Nobody is listening; or
    2. Those who are listening don’t believe what they’re hearing or disagree with it.

    The reaction of the media to David Cameron’s speech has not been tested via polling VI, so we must await tonight’s YG & also wait until Sunday(!) to see whether the reaction – or lack thereof – is ‘real’.

  45. …his party management skills are dire….to have one defector to UKIP may be regarded as a misfortune; to have two looks like carelessness.


    I agree with you…I think a large section of the print media are desperate for a tory turnaround, so are hyping dave’s speech no -end, just as they hyped the 2014 budget and hyped the “disastrous” local election results for labour, which saw the reds win 300 councillors….

    I expect a mini bounce post the cameron speech, but less than the one which occurred after the budget, so about 0.5%, and I expect the bounce to unwind just as quickly, when Carswell storms the Clacton by-election next week with 60%+ of the vote.

  47. @Peter

    Dave C is a good communicator, and better than Ed M, i have to agree.. The polls back this up

    I would imagine that Ed M is a good strategist, good planner, good at thinking ahead and good at details. We know he is calm and doesn’t rush into things. These are useful qualities in election campaigns.

    Ed M scores worse than Dave C on being prime ministerial by about 15 points.

    His worst scores are on the youogov Sunday poll on how he is doing as a party leader, when many Lab supporters express a negative view – we don’t know why so many Lab supporters feel that way.

  48. EM may not be the greatest orator, but he’s a very good strategist. As he showed in the leadership contest, he’s clearly able to identify what is needed to win, and to follow through on the plan.

    It does look like there is a solid 35% strategy. If he can keep them on board then a Labour win is more than likely, and that does seem to be the principal objective. Don’t give the Tories anything meaningful, don’t scare the horses, and take advantage of opportunities when they arise.

    Given the general expectation of an internecine war post-2010, I don’t think it’s sensible to view his leadership as anykthing but a success. Sure, we will all have policy disagreements, but the proof of the pudding will be in the post-election eating. I for one am hoping that he will be the opposite of Blair – much more left-wing in government than in opposition.

  49. ‘Robin

    He does seem to disappear from the news quite often though. Nigel F seems to be able to push himself up the new agenda, Ed M can’t seem to do this. IMO

  50. I see the Tories now appear to be favourites with the bookies to win Rochester and Strood. Con Evens, Ukip 5/4, Lab 8/1
    That’s a turnaround since the announcement.

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