Lord Ashcroft put another batch of marginal seat polls out earlier on today. He is gradually moving on up the Lab-v-Con target list, and today’s batch of seats covered the twelve Con-v-Lab marginals with majorities between 4.8% and 7.1%. These are seats that would fall to Labour if they were about equal with the Tories in the national polls, so given the variation between the swing in different constituencies we are getting to the point were we should start seeing some seats with the Tories ahead, and indeed we do – Ashcroft found the Conservatives ahead in three seats (Blackpool North, Kingswood and Loughborough).

The average swing across the twelve seats polled was 4.5% from Con to Lab – the equivalent of a two point Labour lead in the national polls. The average Labour lead in the national polls at the time the fieldwork was done was also two points, so once again the Ashcroft polling is suggesting that in Con-v-Lab marginals the swing is very much in line with national polling.

At an individual constituency level there is more variation. The lowest swings in this batch of seats were the three Tory holds mentioned earlier, which had swings of only 1.5% and 2% from Con to Lab. The biggest swings were in Erewash, Bury North, Cannock Chase, Keighley and Croydon Central, with swings between 6% and 7%. Two of those seats are ones where the first time Conservative incumbent is standing down, another is in London, where local and European elections suggest Labour are doing particularly well.

Full details of the Ashcroft polls are all on his site here.

459 Responses to “Latest Ashcroft marginal polling”

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  1. So, even polling in the low 30s we are still whispering Labour landslide?

  2. Sun Politics @Sun_Politics · 42s 42 seconds ago
    YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour lead by one, Lib Dems and Greens tied on 7%: CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, LD 17%, GRN 7%

    no points for UKIP?

  3. From previous thread:


    ” … the dear old British public will vote to stay in if it is held in the next parliament, which I hope will settle things.”

    I don’t believe that will be the case. Holding a referendum is merely the way a political party that can’t decide on a policy tries to farm off the decision to someone else. That’s what Wilson did and that is also what Cameron was forced to do.

    Unfortunately, the referendum will produce winners and losers – very likely a similar number of each. Perhaps only a minority of those qualified to vote will bother. There will be questions as to the result’s legitimacy. Just because the British people happen to come down on one side or another doesn’t mean that those who have held strong views on the subject but ‘have lost the argument’ are suddenly going to change their long held and, perhaps, well considered views. Can we really expect them to say ‘OK, fair enough, ‘the people have spoken’ and I will set aside my strongly held views based on my love for my country and my care for its future.’?

    A referendum will solve nothing. Those who believe in their hearts that the UK should be ‘free’ will still want to leave the EU. And those who believe in their heads that our, and our children’s, future would be brighter within the union will still think the same. Nothing will have changed but there’ll be greater bitterness.

  4. The Lib Dems look at bit low in that poll…

  5. Ashcroft also mentions he has yet to reach the point in these marginals where Labour are not winning.

    Obviously there are 3 here, but the point remains, chances are Labour will be ahead in seats slightly further down the target list as well.

    I love these polls more than most actually, as while the national ones bring narrative to the political scene, this has a proper ‘in the field’ kind of feel to it, and slightly more relevant.

    Good review as well Anthony :)

  6. 4% to others…presumably not more than 3% to SNP…

    It looks like we’ll have to guess where the VI has gone. Maybe Lab or Con are up, but are down elsewhere to compensate.

  7. CON 32% LAB 33% LIB 7% UKIP 17% GRN 7%

  8. That 7% for Greens in the YG poll look rather interesting. I wonder if it will be from the same demographic that the Scottish greens seem to be tapping into,

  9. @Nick P

    Your slip on LD numbers started me thinking…

    I wonder what would really happen is pollsters prompted one party more than once. Would they poll higher?

  10. No polling fireworks :-(

  11. @Amber Star

    Haha :).

    You know in Valencia’s annual Fallas festival, they burn effigies of politicians, celebrities and historical figures. Those on the receiving end take it as a badge of honour.

  12. Amber

    “No polling fireworks :-(”

    Oh, I don’t know about that. The Greens may have lit a wee sparkler there, while the LD fuse may have gone out.

  13. Polls still pointing to hung parliament but a 1% lead I suppose is the new cartwheel celebratory territory.

  14. Allan Christie

    Maybe Catherine Wheel would be more appropriate for tonight?

    Con & Lab going round in circles, and going nowhere.

  15. OLDNAT

    Absolutely. I see a lot of smoke but very little sparkle!!

  16. “Polls still pointing to hung parliament ”

    Yes…. all of them.

    Oh! …….except for the marginal polls being discussed and where GEs are won and lost.

  17. The marginal polls, likle the GB ones, are suggesting that Labour will be the largest party ….. in a hung Parliament.

  18. “Oh! …….except for the marginal polls being discussed and where GEs are won and lost”

    But I’m not seeing that?

  19. I’d quite forgotten about the occasional brouhaha over the Lewes bonfires. Just doing a Wiki check to refresh my memory, I learned that the Lewes bonfires, as well as commemorating the Gunpowder Plot, are also paying homage to those burned at the stake in the Marian Persecutions.

    So, as you do, I go and have a look at the Marian Persecutions.

    Hundreds of folk, burned at the stake by the locals for the sin of being different and having an unacceptably different culture. And they were nearly all in the Home Counties (especially the Thames Estuary) and East Anglia.

    Plus ca change as them weirdos over the water are apt to say.

  20. I consider the most revealing question in the Ashcroft polling of English marginals to be in Table 13 – Which of the following would you most like to see as the outcome of the next general election?

    In order of Lab/Con/Con-LD coalition/Lab-LD coalition

    Overall figures: 32/29/11/10
    So a 2% lead for a government involving Labour over one involving the Conservatives. That compares to a 3% for Lab over Con in the main VI question. So it’s hardly the case that with the rise of UKIP the right wing vote is far more ineffectively concentrated than the left. In England both right and left are pretty well fractured and the question is which side of the spectrum be better able to reverse this.

    Breakdown by party:
    Con: 1/80/15/1
    Lab: 81/2/1/14
    Indicating possibly that those who still have some sympathy for the LDs post 2010 are fairly evenly split. The 15 and 14 figures will include some voting tactically for Con and Lab in a two horse race.

    UKIP 25/32/13/9
    The 34% favouring a government including Lab isn’t that far behind the 45% favouring one involving the Cons. A surprisingly narrow margin, suggesting that UKIP is taking nearly as many potential Labour sympathisers as Tory ones in a forced choice. So a proportionate further squeeze on UKIP would still help the Conservatives slightly more than Lab. But since there are still a great deal of these UKIP voters even in Con-Lab marginals, even a slight Con advantage would be significant in absolute terms.

    LD 7/7/43/38
    Those still endorsing the LDs despite five years of coalition with the Conservatives are still almost evenly split.

    Green 38/6/16/31
    Overwhelmingly the Greens are on the left. 69% want a government involving Lab, 22% one involving Con. Any further squeeze on the Greens will help Lab overwhelmingly in a two party race, but with the Greens only polling 4% there still aren’t that many to squeeze.

  21. Just caught the very end of Newsnight’s piece on Miliband. In her summary, Allegra Stratton* commented on the polls and said that “Labour were edging down” (true, but some evidence from the last few YouGovs and Populus’s that they’ve bottomed out) and “the Tories were edging up” (not true at all, as far as I can tell from all the polls taken over the last six weeks or so. In fact, post their Conference mini-bounce, they’ve edged downwards!). In other words, the whole premise of her summary was based on entirely false and factually inaccurate information. And this from a professional journalist who should be better informed than her audience. A basic failure in her duty to inform.

    Has there have ever been a period when the quality of political journalism and commentary has been so lamentable, I wonder?. Most of it has now reached the sub-moronic level exemplified by Andrew Neil’s late night show on Thursday nights. If you want to watch complete twaddle masquerading as serious political discussion, then just listen to Portillo, Abbott, Neil and any one of a whole host of guest contributors chew the fat into the late hours every week.

    People of all political persuasions and loyalties deserve better than this drivel.

    * Stratton is the wife of the Political Editor of the Spectator, James Forsyth. Another example of the incestuous nature of it all too. Most political journalism has become a version of Mr and Mrs now. Stratton/Forsyth, Glover/Parris, Gove/Vine, Marr/Ashley. There are many other duos too, probably, that we don’t know about. We’ll probably soon discover that Nick Robinson is the long lost lovechild of David Dimbleby and Margaret Thatcher.

    Probably all on Leon Brittain’s dinner guest list too I would imagine.

  22. @CROSSBAT11

    Has there have ever been a period when the quality of political journalism and commentary has been so lamentable, I wonder?. …
    People of all political persuasions and loyalties deserve better than this drivel.


    Heartfelt agreement… and what a mockery it makes of their outrage over Leveson and their defence that the role the ‘free’ press plays in facilitating democracy.. laughable.

  23. Crossbat

    You may have put your finger on it with “incestuous nature” between politics and journalism.

    It may be that it has always existed, and we just didn’t know about it before because our only sources of information on such things were – politicians and journalists!

    The internet has made knowledge about many things more widely known, and some “citizen journalism is good (although some is only marginally better than the Daily Star).

  24. Phil Haines

    Thanks for that analysis.

    Squeeze has long been a traditional consequence of the 2-party system under FPTP.

    However, I wonder if it’s effect may be weakening somewhat where people see an election not resulting in the the Leader of Party X or Party Y becoming PM with an overall majority.

    In that circumstance, people will be pushed toward voting for the least execrable choice.

    However, if people assume that a hung Parliament is the most likely outcome, then voting for candidates who might moderate the actions of whichever disaster becomes PM may be seen as a more desirable use of their vote.

  25. Crossbat

    Another surprising partnership is the marriage between Amelia Gentleman who writes with understanding in the Graun on the effect of benefit cuts enacted by the coalition to Jo Johnson MP, brother of Boris.

  26. so if ashcroft is right and there is a 4.5% swing from c to lab. there has to be a 2.5% percent swingback from lab to c in the next 6 months for the tories to be the largest party…to leave a net swing of 2% con to lab…at which labour win about 31 seats on UNS and are just under 290….

    something like that…hard, very hard but not totally impossible. Mili will probably have to fall out of a bus on the campaign or sing the internationale in one of the debates, if they happen.

  27. Bramley

    And that’s without getting into all the friendship networks from having been at Uni together and serving on the committees of a political party together.

    That often creates a symbiotic relationship between journo and politician. BBC Scotland is a good example of that.

  28. James Peel

    But Ashcroft’s marginal polls have so far looked ate Emglish (and 1 Welsh?) seat.

    His promised Scottish polling will give us a more realistic assessment of the likely impact on seats of current polling here.

  29. look at ladbrokes, old pal, oldnat, shadsy recalculated the odds a couple of days ago. he reckons that the snp are odds on to win a grand total of 3 seats off labour…. like some sage commentators have said here, the snp wipeout of labour is wildly exaggerated. It s a ruse of desperados like the Daily Mail and Louise Mensch…

  30. James Peel

    I presume you are from Lewes?

    Let’s wait to see what Ashcroft’s Scottish constituency polling says. I don’t know, and , let’s face it, you are wholly ignorant (in both the English and Scottish senses of the word) as well.

  31. Well it could theoretically be a Labour landslide with low 30’s and 1-2% above Conservatives: with lots of seats won by small majorities. I know UNS is not looking so reliable these days, but that’s rather unlikely.

    As for the LD vote: somewhere too in the middle? I think most other possibilities have been mentioned previously.

  32. I think all of this discussion of swing from Conservative to Labour is kind of missing the point here. The big story from these marginal polls is how high the UKIP figures are in many marginal constituencies.

    Cannock chase actually has a UKIP majority on the standard voting intention.
    In Blackpool North & Cleverleys they are on 27, Labour on 32, Tories 33.
    Northhampton North Labour 32, Tories 30, UKIP 26
    Kingswood Cons 33, Labour 30, UKIP 26

    So that’s 4 out of the 12 where UKIP are actually competitive. and if you look at the final table, it is only in Cannock Chase that they have done any level of campaigning yet.

    I’m starting to see why UKIP are extending their targets list.

    Also note that UKIP is prompted in these polls, which could be adding 2-5% to their totals vs most national polls who do not prompt for them.

  33. These full scale constituency polls are giving us a level of information never before available, and currently only of much interest to politicians and us polling geeks.

    However, one of the things that has always been previously true of the marginals is that lots of people in these seats didn’t know that they were in a marginal.

    In late April 2015 someone funds constituency polls in every potentially marginal constituency and publishes the results (or at least that suit them to do so).

    Might that have a significant effect on voting decisions at the point when most voters are actively considering how to vote?

    Has polling moved to the point where it could significantly affect the result of an election?

    That might be no bad thing. Voters deciding in a climate of ignorance and propaganda may suit parties, but not the electorate.

  34. Richard

    Good point about prompting. In my scenario above, constituency polls would be asking about X, the Y candidate.

  35. @Crossbat (11.42)

    I find it very worrying. With the vast majority of the press significantly biased to the right, where is the average voter to obtain an unbiased perspective. I used to believe that it was from the BBC and (despite the Murdock ownership ) Sky news, but increasingly I find both questionable either through ignorance or bias.

    Posters on this site have suggested that the net/blogs are replacing the press but I would question how many people are sufficiently interested to use these sources, <<5% would be my guess.

  36. Peter Bell

    There don’t seem to be YG tables for this poll which NewsUK used to hype the importance of newspapers, but the speech contained this snippet

    “The research showed that 60% of Scottish voters got a significant or very large amount of information about the issues, campaigns and debates about independence from newspapers and their websites.

    This compares to 54% who said they got a lot of information from social media and 44% who said they got a lot from the Yes or No camps directly. ”

    The Drum provided additional data “The figures showed that despite 71 per cent of respondents saying they had gathered general information on referendum issues from TV and radio and 60 per cent from newspapers and their websites, more than two thirds (68 per cent) of voters said that mainstream media coverage of the issues concerning them most in the referendum debate had not helped them reach a decision.

    More than half of respondents (54 per cent) said they got general information on social media and other websites, and 44 per cent said they took information directly from the Yes and No campaigns.

    However, when asked about information that did influence decisions, more people said they’d used information from social media and other websites (39 per cent) than newspapers (34 per cent), although TV and radio was the strongest source (42 per cent), and nearly a third (30 per cent) said they used information from the Yes and No campaigns when deciding how to vote.”

    There appears to be some dispute over the figures, so it would be nice to see the tables, but clearly the numbers gaining information online (including here!) are higher than you suggest.


    I assume you are left of centre so find the press to be biased. I am in the centre and find the press well balanced.
    In my lifetime there have been several attempts by trade unions and the labour party to launch or finance national newspapers and all have failed through lack of readership.

  38. @ON

    Might that [constituency polling] have a significant effect on voting decisions at the point when most voters are actively considering how to vote?

    That is such a sublimely optimistic suggestion that I fear that your reputation for curmudgeonliness may be severely damaged. The answer, however, is NO, for these reasons:-

    1) The local press is now so degraded that they cannot publicise the information.
    2) The national media are so centralised that they won’t publicise the information
    3) The electorate is so degraded that the majority of them are not interested – But…
    4) Politicians will use the Ashcroft results to “tailor” their messages in the marginals in the sure and certain knowledge that the electorate won’t know what they’re doing and the media won’t hold them to account.

    Curmudgeon I remain. And Proud!

  39. OldNat,

    I have wondered for a while whether constituency-level polling has the ability to influence electoral outcomes. We’ve seen by-election polls in this parliament that have shown a two-horse race, followed by a squeeze on smaller parties as support coalesces around the frontrunners. Eastleigh was an example of that, if I remember correctly.

    However it may be that this is just what naturally happens in by-election campaigns anyway. Unless someone is willing to do the fieldwork for a constituency poll and then not publish the result until after polling day, I suppose we’ll never know.

    I am sorry to hear that your local paper is so degraded. I am pleased to report that The Cornish Guardian Fowey and Lostwithiel edition is full of life and concentrates on important matters, ignoring political wonks like me!!
    How much happier to read about engaging couples, centenarians, progress with the local skate park, the mayor’s prize giving. We do have to put up with two pages of readers letters complaining of action or lack of action by the County Council. But as the Council chamber and Council offices are 25 miles away the Councellors and Officials can clearly have no understanding of our part of Cornwall. In any case, from reading the letters I gather they are all unintelligent! But the letters page and the alternate weekly column from the local Tory MP and neighbouring LibDem MP are not compulsory reading. If it reassures you at election time every candidate makes a half column presentation.

    Perhaps bloggers like you and me should be pleased for a little bit of balance to bring us down to local earth.(submitted from Hong Kong. How sad!)

  41. It can’t be surperisng that some politicans end up in relationships with other people involved and interested in politics.
    Others will sub-consiously prefer to have a private life with someone who has little interest in politics – vive la difference.

    I don’t think TV journos are typically baised although there are exceptions (Boulton hating Brown for example, John Snow arguably).
    I agree though that they are sloppy, driven imo by the need to produce a ‘story’ – Strachan is a good example; she often has good inside info but perhaps just accpeted the Tories edging up line from an anti-EM source (maybe a so-called senior Labour figure) without checking.

    We see this in polls with ‘sensation’ claims and AW telling us that not much has change if anything, wait and see etc. There have been Jokes on here about Anthony being no good as a geust on By-Election specials as if asked he might say – this result has little or no relavance to the GE and tells us nought we did not already know, thus spoiling the narrative the panel and journos want to press.

  42. @OldNat (11.56pm)

    “execrable choice”, “whichever disaster becomes PM”

    Once again, your disdain for the main parties in opposition to the one that you choose to support completely permeates that comment, such that it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that you comment so prodigiously just in order just to take every opportunity to express that disdain.

  43. Phil – the kind of comment found on PB….

  44. @Richard

    “I think all of this discussion of swing from Conservative to Labour is kind of missing the point here. The big story from these marginal polls is how high the UKIP figures are in many marginal constituencies.”

    Yes, I agree. I still don’t think that UKIP will win any of these, but it certainly becomes harder to squeeze them when their polling reaches levels in some of those seats that suggest that they are not completely out of it. My earlier post was intended to focus on what might be the result on the outcome if UKIP and others were squeezed, and what damage they and others they had done to Con and Lab respectively in the votes they had garnered. It wasn’t intended to imply automatically that a squeeze would happen any more than it has already done (and in UKIP’s case it clearly hasn’t).

  45. I am not surprised that there is an incestuous relationship within the Westminster village. These people work such ludicrous hours that they often would not have time to meet, let alone form relationships with outsiders. This may also explain why they tend to have this strange groupthink that is detached from the real world sometimes.

    This also manifests itself in affairs with secretaries/aides as well.

  46. @ Old Nat (from last night)

    “These full scale constituency polls…etc”

    I think large scale constituency polling is coming if not for GE2015 then in subsequent general elections. We have already seen this in by elections in this parliament more than ever before.

    It definitely has the capacity to change our politics. At the moment though I am undecided whether it would undermine or buttress the FPTP (and by definition the Big 2 party) system.

    Ironically its greatest effect to me would seem to be to bring about a type of AV since any MP who commanded less than 50% of his constituency’s vote would be vulnerable to his opposition coalescing around one candidate that had been identified purely from a constituency poll.

  47. Nick P
    “So, even polling in the low 30s we are still whispering Labour landslide?”

    Some are whispering Tory majority.

  48. Some interesting sub-headlines from Yougov’s poll being reported by The Sun:

    Best PM:
    Don’t know – 42% (!!)
    Cameron – 37%
    Miliband – 16%
    Clegg – 5%

    Up to job of being PM:
    Cameron – Yes 50%, No 28%, Don’t know 22% (after 4 1/2 years over 1 in 5 don’t know if he’s any good at it!)
    Miliband – Yes 19%, No 55%, Don’t Know 26%

    Most likely result of General Election 2015:
    Hung Parliament (Con largest party) 30%
    Hung Parliament (Lab largest) 22%
    Con majority 14%
    Lab majority 9%
    Don’t know 18%
    Something else (?) 7%

  49. Crossbat11
    “Has there have ever been a period when the quality of political journalism and commentary has been so lamentable, I wonder?.”

    Yes, many times. Try reading political pamphlets from 17th & 18th centuries.

    Mind I enjoyed the piece in the New Statesman about “Labour running out of time”.

    I enjoy the press coverage especially the paper that the left love to hate and the weekly joyous pieces from a certain commentator who usually makes more sense than all the politians of whatever parties.

    Life is to be enjoyed.


    Encouraging for those who do not want a Labour government.

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