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. Colin

    “Don’t know if there is anything substantial happening-but the headlines are pretty awful for him.”

    As you say it all started with the New Statesman article followed by McBride’s comments on Politics Today. Whether or not there is any substance does not really matter, the headlines are bad for EM.


    “Yes, I can skim more efficiently too! :-p”


    lol, would that it were efficient!!…


    Glad you can understand the point I’m making. I’m always happy to clarify a post if asked.

  4. ToH,
    I saw the McBride thing and to me he just acknowledeged issues with EM as does the NS article, and most LP members
    Neither called for him to step down and I am not aware of anyone suggesting that within the LP.
    Rod Liddle did point out the Cons are not exactly doing well during the same DP conversation but that is missing from current narratives; a cynic might think that the EM stories are part of a stragety to deflect attention away from the PM travails.

    I an not sanguine but neither am I overly worried.

  5. ToH
    “Whether or not there is any substance does not really matter”

    Ho Hum, I rather think it does. When he’s still there in May 2015, we will know.

  6. @JimJam
    “a cynic might think that the EM stories are part of a stragety to deflect attention away from the PM travails.”
    Would they really do such a thing? I am shocked.
    Despite all the huffing and puffing I doubt whether VI is affected much.

    If Ed was such a dud I would have thought that his opponents would do their best to keep him in post until the GE, so they need to have a bit of a team talk and decide which way to bat.

  7. JIM JAM

    “I an not sanguine but neither am I overly worried.”

    I’m not worried at all! Politics to me is like any other sporting activity, to be enjoyed. Just a minor part of my life and always has been.

  8. Colin

    Hope all is well with you.I’m feeling very chipper at the moment, since my latest scans were clear even if the blood tests show the problem is returning slowly. At least another six months without the need for any treatment.

    Politics really is fun at the moment, all to play for at the election in 2015.

  9. Whether or not there is any substance does not really matter, the headlines are bad for EM.
    If Ed’s media team hasn’t worked out that the only time Labour are on TV is when “Ed’s Leadership Crisis” is the headline, then they aren’t worth whatever the Labour Party are paying them.

    His visit to Northampton, a key area, got TV coverage & several Labour MPs were on TV this morning talking about Labour policies. They’re never given the opportunity, other than when the msm is doing its annual Ed is [email protected] festival.
    Labour must be hoping that they make the most of it.

    Ben Bradshawe certainly did this morning – despite the usual ‘technical difficulties’ which invariably happen on the few occasions when Labour people are given coverage.

  10. The more I think about it, the more I think that for once Labour wrong-footed the press.

    There were minor rumblings from a few dissidents but also as per the Guardian, a feeling amongst some frontbenchers that they wanted more authority to speak freely and appear on TV/radio to support and defend the party’s plans. In response EM carried out a reshuffle appointing a new vice chair of the GE campaign to coordinate this new approach and to ensure more rapid responses and rebuttals to media stories.

    A day after the reshuffle, the minor rumblings appeared in the press as a major story, after Labour had already responded to it. So nothing happened.

    Pressman – your boys were too slow off the mark!

  11. @Allan

    “If that happens then parliament should be recalled and another election has to be called. You can’t possibly shut out 69% of the electorate for 31%.”

    Well if we’re talking purely the electorate, Blair was elected in ’97 with 30.9%, while Major was elected in ’92 with 32.7%.

    One thing that strikes me is the overall size of ‘Others’ when calculated to the size of the electorate. Traditionally, ‘Others’ refers to those out-with the Con / Lab / Lib three, or that’s been the general case since the 80s.

    Take a peek at the top image posted here:


    For the sake of argument, I’ve kept the 2010 turnout of 65.1% and just adjusted the parties’ share of the electorate. Note the jump in ‘Others’.

    Also note how the coalition was higher than the ‘did not vote’ in 2010. To achieve that now, we would need a UKIP coalition or a Con / Lab one (I’m talking vote share, not seats).

    I’ll wager than when Others overtakes the two parties, we see the end of the two party system and a move to something other than FPTP. In fact, with the Lib Dems being sub-10% we might as well consign them to ‘Others’ too, and that brings ‘Others’ to 1% above either Con or Lab.

    The end of FPTP is nigh! :))

    Having said all that, if you then peek at the second chart, you’ll see that the Con + Lab low point was reached in 2010, and we’re now seeing their re-birth (you never know!).

    Of course, none of this takes into account any rise or fall of turnout in 2015, and we can be relatively sure that Scottish turnout will be up.

  12. Lab not doing well, true, but which party has lost 2 MPs to another one?

  13. Didn’t Ed look cool in his interview! If thats a man in crisis Dave must be sweating in the mirror everyday.

    Nice to see him on TV though,doesn’t get enough air time.

  14. @ToH – I’m delighted to hear of your continued good health. Long may it last. For full credit you should undergo a Damascene conversion in political terms, but for the moment good health will do.

  15. Amber Star

    Delighted your pleased with the coverage, me too!

  16. Survation gender crossbreaks:

    UKIP 29.4%
    Labour 27.2%
    Conservatives 25.8%

    Labour 35.7%
    Conservatives 29.2%
    UKIP 18.7%

    Labour still solidly ahead with women and UKIP struggling. But the interesting story is the 800-ish men. The Tories may be in considerable danger of losing the male vote. Once UKIP breach the barrier of coming first among a demographic, it may be hard to get back.

    So: why? Why in this poll might UKIP be winning men?

  17. @Amber

    “They’re never given the opportunity, other than when the msm is doing its annual Ed is [email protected] festival.”


    Probably better than Glastonbury, and there’s a future for Ed beyond politics. We could have an annual ‘[email protected] Politicians’ festival, with the worst getting named and shamed (and maybe for once, sacked or deselected).


    Thanks for your kind words, appreciated.

    “For full credit you should undergo a Damascene conversion in political terms,”

    I formed my political beliefs at University and moved slightly leftwards to the “middle ground” when I had a family and have stayed their ever since ( I accept there are various definitions of the “middle ground”). There is no chance of my conversion as i want my country to survive and flourish, at least for those who are prepared to go the hard yards.

  19. @TOH

    I think “delighted” is a bit of an overstatement. I’m simply stating my view: that the only time the Labour Party get any coverage is when there’s an Attack Ed story on the go.

    And the msm are clearly desperate for the story – there’s not a day in the calendar when you can’t find two anonymous MPs from any Party who are willing to complain about their Party’s leader.

  20. Latest Populus VI is much better for the big two:
    Lab 35 (=)
    Con 33 (-1)
    LD 9 (=)
    UKIP 14 (+1)
    Oth 9 (=)

  21. TOH

    I’m so pleased for you. I can’t begin to imagine what it was like for you & your good lady.

    Yes-not too bad healthwise presently. We have a grand daughter staying for the week & have been out & about every day. Walking on the South Downs yesterday in the glorious winter sunshine.

    Yes I can see you are chipper lately on all fronts::-)
    I hope your forecasts come to pass.

  22. It is clear that EM baring a real catasrophe is goinng the lead Lab in to the next GE so the opponents tactics must be to denigrate him without precipitating an actual change in leader.
    A change may not work but it may so the anti-Lab forces would not want that. (FWIW I dont think there is a ‘Healey type figure ready to step in like in 1982/3)
    I recall whenn Thatcher fell 4 votes short on the first ballet how disappointed I was.
    Many in the Labour Party wanted her to continue as PM but wounded with diminished authority up to the GE.
    I suspect had that happened the Tories would not have won an OM in 1992

  23. Amber

    That’s fine with me, and you might be surprised to know that to some extent I actually agree with you, although all the negative stuff far out ways the positive.

  24. Colin

    Thank’s and pleased to hear your news. My wife and I love the South Downs, we usually stay near Pulborough or Alfriston depending on which part of the downs we want to walk. So different to the North Downs where we live. Spent yesterday with a Granddaughter, granddchildren are such fun and you can hand them back when your tired!

  25. Part of the problem with Ed is that so many of the Shadow Cabinet are not very well-known or self-publicists in the Salmond / Farage mould.

  26. TOH

    We walked the stretch above Firle, then went to Alfriston for lunch & the Much Ado Bookshop . Lovely village & a favourite of ours.

    As you say, politics is certainly interesting just now.
    The splinter to the Left in Spain ,with Podemos grabbing 20% ish is almost a mirror image of UK. Whilst their “anti-establishment parties” are pro EU/anti-austerity; ours is anti-EU / immigration.

    Clearly a different dynamic-though the deep dissafection with status quo is similar.

    And we have the Scottish scenario now developing ( if polls are to be believed) which makes things even more complex.

    I share your hopes, but I’m seeing “through a glass darkly” at present.

    Time yet for some light to appear though :-)

  27. A more substantive issue with Ed is his interest in the minutiae of US Democratic Party policy, not shared by nearly all his party and judging by the latest election results in the US extremely unpopular.

  28. the polls are steadying for Ed…it’s amazing how ill disciplined labour are when their backs are against the wall…the tories, by contrast are showing remarkable forbearance (barring the odd defection here and there)…it’s almost as though losing two seats to ukip doesn’t really matter.

  29. TOH

    Keep hoping, I am very confident.

    Lovely walking, walked that area many times.

  30. Colin

    Sorry about that, addressed to you of course!

    Listening to the last act of Gounod’s Faust as i write, less able to do several things at once these days.

  31. The current political situation again reminds us of how fortunate Cameron and Miliband are to have each other as antagonists. Miliband’s recent woes, some self-inflicted (Conference speech etc), others media orchestrated (photo pratfalls, T shirts etc), have allowed Cameron and his party to revel in his difficulties, appearing absurdly chipper in otherwise calamitous political circumstances for them. The latest Survaton poll, in terms of their VI vis-a-vis UKIP, is quite extraordinarily bad for a governing party seeking re-election in six months time, but succour is available in Labour’s own anaemic polling. Cameron is getting wriggle room primarily because, maybe complacently, a lot of Tories think Labour’s problems are as bad or even worse than their own. It’s an obvious thing to say, I know, but if Miliband and Labour were rising in the polls and not falling/stagnating, then Cameron would be facing internal strife within his party. That said, two high level defections and a by-election defeat by an alternative right wing party, is strife of sorts anyway, I suppose! :-)

    Turning to Miliband and Labour, their small but persistent lead over a chronically weak Tory Party is allowing him/them to escape the furore that would normally accompany such poor polling at this stage in the electoral cycle. Like Cameron, Miliband is getting away with it a bit and obtaining some breathing space to re-energise his leadership. Had he been up against an even half-decent Government looking on course for re-election, he’d have probably faced a leadership challenge by now.

    FTPT allows the two of them to punch above their electoral weight so whichever one of them first wriggles free of this mutual mortal embrace come next May will, in all likelihood, become Prime Minister. Reading the runes (polls, constituency boundaries, election battlegrounds, marginals etc), it’s still Miliband’s to lose. That’s my call and it’s why Lefty L is absolutely right about holding nerves etc.

  32. Mr Nameless
    “Labour still solidly ahead with women”

    But that can’t be right – after all, we keep being told on here (by men !) about how women see Ed as unelectable & unappealing.

    Wow, I’m shocked that a man can be proved wrong & a woman right – shocked I tell ya !

  33. Amber,

    Usual technical difficulties when Lbour are interviewed????

    Bit early for the paranoia to kick in, there is still six months to go!

    Or are things really that bad internally that you’ve already starting dishing out the rifles in case of any approaching messengers.


  34. Peter Crawford,

    The alternative explanation is that there is a direct relationship between party anxiety and chances of success.

    Labour seem the most nervous because they should win but just might not, the Tories are more sanguine because they privately think they are going to lose anyway and as for the , well if Charles Kennedy of QT was anything to go by, they are blithely whistling a jig as they are led to the gallows!


  35. Two memes are popping up a lot at the moment.

    1. A Labour win with a low vote would somehow be electorally illegitimate and the people won’t stand for it. But an equivalent low Tory win would be entirely legitimate, as would another Tory largest party five year lock-in with whatever lobby fodder they can scrape together.

    2. Traditional Labour voters are unthinking sheep. Yet there need be no equivalent insult for traditional Tory voters.

    I suppose this is all part of the inbuilt advantage of being the ‘natural party of government’?

  36. @Bramley

    “Over the third quarter, the trade deficit widened by £900m to £29bn after exports fell by £300m but imports rose by £600m.
    Whoops !”

    Prepare for rebuttal unit response! :-)

    [Which is the reason I ask people not to play “bad story for party I don’t like” show-and-tell, dragging in some story from the Guardian in a “look miss, I found some bad news for the Tories!” type way – AW]

    Talking about the economy, and its effect on voting behaviour, I wonder if the Republicans success in the Congressional elections this week shakes the assumption that improving economic indicators automatically benefit the incumbent government. Obama had a pretty good story to tell on the economy (falling unemployment, steady and sustained economic growth and a surging stock market) yet he and his party have just got an utter monstering in the polls. The reasons given are that none of these headline figures have generated a genuine feel-good factor amongst most voters and have only really benefited the wealthiest sections of society. Stagnant wages and insecure employment seem to be the key drag factors.

    In many respects, Obama had a better economic story to tell than Cameron and Osborne will have by the time of the election, but he reaped no political dividend. I rather suspect that the same will be true for the incumbents next May, especially if they can’t show that the austerity and economic pain has not reduced the deficit and borrowing significantly.


    Not sure if you’re comment was aimed at myself but if it was then again I’ve been misquoted.

    I’m not saying if one party wins 31% of the vote then they shouldn’t be allowed to govern, the problem I see is winning a majority of seats on such a mediocre share of the vote.

    It wouldn’t be so bad if one party won 31% and led a minority administration because that at some point would at least give concessions to other parties who won the remainder 69%.

    3 out of 10 voters , less than a 3rd win a majority of seats?

    I’m not having a dig at Labour and I would be saying the same if it were the Tories.

    3 out of 10 voters..Some mandate!!

  38. The UK has been given more time to pay the recent £1.7 billion EU bill: it’s delayed until after the election. I don’t think it’s going to be reduced though.

    Well, that’s a bullet dodged. For now.

  39. @Allan Christie

    Lobby the Conservative party to support a change to the electoral system. Labour, Lib Dems, and UKIP all support electoral reform of some kind, the Conservatives are the party that do not.

  40. @Keith

    A very short sighted punt. It simply turns it a temporary October embarrassment into an election issue in May.

  41. Crossbat
    Your stuff on Worcester last night reminded me of a framed newspaper advert from the Worcester Evening News that used to be up on the wall in my local Liberal club, underneath a photo of Peter Walker MP it said “Pig Roast” in large type, with Worcester Conservative Association and other details in much smaller type. I suppose you had to see it to appreciate it !

  42. As for 31% of the vote being insufficient for a party to get anything like an OM – that does seem very unsatisfactory. But then you get parties with much smaller levels of support joining a coalition and having influence far out of proportion to their numbers. We may well see such a scenario next time.

    Some PR systems have a threshold, otherwise they get chucked out of parliament, reducing this risk. But then that effectively disenfranchises small parties and makes new parties difficult to get started – unless they start off very popular, which is not necessrily so.


    I know, every party tries to screw the way we vote to suit themselves and FPTP migh come back to haunt the Tories.

    I can see why they are putting such a large emphasis on EVFEL, it might actually help to re-balance the political arithmetic in England.

  44. @Keith

    It also has the paradoxical result of increasing the votes-to-seats power of small parties that just cusp over the threshold. UKIP used to get a boost from that in EU elections before they had their surge.

  45. However, all forms of AV are vastly more representative than FPTP.

  46. @Allan Christie

    Then I don’t see why they aren’t fully supporting the idea of House of Lords reform that gives region representation. Surely that’s a good solution to the issue that doesn’t carve up the House of Commons.

  47. Mr Nameless
    I see you used Table 4 of Survation. Are you able to tell me what the difference is between Table 4 and Table 5 please*? (Or anyone who downloaded the poll). Why did you choose Table 4? I appreciate there is not a fat lot of difference between the figures anyway.

    * I don’t mean the displayed results!

  48. KeithP
    “The UK has been given more time to pay the recent £1.7 billion EU bill: it’s delayed until after the election. I don’t think it’s going to be reduced though.”

    Can’t find any of this on the news sites. Do you have a link ?

  49. Quietly paid after next election…

  50. @Bramley

    Telegraph website.

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