Lord Ashcroft has published a new batch of constituency polling. I hesitate to call it marginals polling, since we’ve moving up into some less marginal territory with today’s polls. Ashcroft has polled four different groups of seats in this set (all the tabs are here.)

The first is the next cohort of Lib Dem -v- Conservative marginals, this group are those seats with a Lib Dem majority of between 9% and 15% over the Conservatives, so we are no longer looking at ultra-marginals. The average swing from the Liberal Democrats to Conservatives in these seats is 2%, nowhere near enough to win seats like these. However, as we’ve seen in previous Lord Ashcroft polls of Lib Dem marginals there is an awful lot of variation between individual constituencies – some seats (Carshalton & Wallington and Thornbury & Yate) are actually showing swings from Con to LD. At the other end of the scale two seats are showing large enough swings for the Conservatives to win the seat (North Devon and Portsmouth South, which has a chunky 9 point swing from LD to Con, presumably at least partially connected to the scandal around Mike Hancock).

The second group of seats consists of two more Lib Dem seats with Labour in second place. Lord Ashcroft’s previous polling in LD v Lab seats essentially showed a complete Lib Dem collapse, raising the possibility of an almost complete wipeout for Liberal Democrat MPs where Labour was the main opponent. One of the seats here – Burnley – follows that pattern, with a ten point swing from LD to Lab. The other, Birmingham Yardley, represented by John Hemming, bucks the trend. There is still a 2.5% swing from LD to Lab, but it is smaller than we’ve seen in other LD -v- Lab seats and would be small enough for Hemming to hold on.

The third group of seats is two unusual seats – the close three-way marginal of Watford, and Wyre Forest, an Independent seat between 2001 and 2010. Neither of these really fit into any broader category, but looking at them as individual seats Watford shows little relative movement for the three main parties – all are down a little, UKIP are up a lot but still in fourth place, meaning the Conservatives retain a narrow lead. Wyre Forest was held by Dr Richard Taylor between 2001 and 2010. He’ll be standing again come the next general election for the National Health Action party, but I think under the same Kidderminster Health Concern label that he won on in 2001 and 2005. Ashcroft’s poll currently has the Conservatives holding the seat on 32% with UKIP in second on 27%, Labour 16%, Lib Dem 7%, Green 5%, Other 13%. The others aren’t identified in the poll, but is presumably largely Dr Taylor’s supporters.

Finally Ashcroft polled three of the four seats that will be contested by the main party leaders come the election – Sheffield Hallam, Doncaster North and Thanet South (presumably he didn’t do Witney because he thought it would be too boring… it would seem there comes a point when even Lord Ashcroft saves his money!). Party leaders normally do pretty well in their own seats. It is extremely rare for them to lose their own constituency and they very often outperform their party nationally. Such is the collapse of Liberal Democrat support however people have seriously raised the possiblity of Clegg losing his own seat – Ashcroft’s poll has it very close. Clegg is on 31%, Labour on 28%, just three behind (and this is on the question prompting people to think about their own constituency, the standard voting intention question had Labour a point ahead). Ed Miliband’s Doncaster North seat is traditionally a very safe Labour seat that should pose no concerns for him, but there was some speculation about how well UKIP might do. The BNP have held their deposit there at the last two elections and their was some significant support for the English Democrats too, with the far-right parties now collapsing and UKIP hoovering up that right-wing protest vote it looked as if there could be some potential. In fact Ashcroft’s poll did find UKIP in second place in Doncaster North, but 12 points behind Ed Miliband. Finally Thanet South, the seat where Nigel Farage plans to stand at the general election. Current figures there are CON 34%, LAB 26%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 29% – so UKIP in a strong second place, but not currently quite enough to send Farage to Westminster.


529 Responses to “Ashcroft polls of the Lib Dem battleground and leaders’ seats”

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  1. Statgeek

    Except they’re not, as far as I can see. It’s the SNP and Tories engaged in a price war, though perhaps the SNP have won, having sold a mug to each of their 2.7 billion members and thus sold out.

  2. @ Crossbat

    I don’t necessarily have as much faith in the system as you are suggesting! I don’t think I would simply just take a policeman’s word for granted or assume a judge gets it right every time.

    I haven’t followed the case closely but I did read the judgment and I think you have to a certain extent quoted the judge’s mood music rather than the key elements that led him to the mood music. One was that the policeman didn’t have time to make up a good story and didn’t have the political nous to come up with the right words that he knew would lead to plebgate. Plus he doesn’t appear to have had any inclination to make this public and the conspiracy was taken on by other officers who had read his notes/heard the story.

    The other seems to be that Mitchell, because he was angry, was unable to recall exactly what he did say even though he was adamant he wouldn’t have used the word pleb. So I guess the judge believed the person who he believed had no reason to tell porkies more than the person who couldn’t actually recall what he said.

  3. This is about Scotland and Smith I am afraid and might be a bit wonkish being based on some very rough guesstimates but I’d welcome people’s thoughts.

    The Jim Murphy figure for raising the top rate of tax on earnings over £150k to 50% would raise £250m from 16,000 high earning Scots.

    Now my rough calculation is that works out at about £15k each and to pay £15k at 5% you need to be earning £300k over the threshold making the average income for the 16,000 about £450k.

    Income distribution probably means that the majority will earn less than £450k but that the minority earning more will pay more than half of £250m it would be hoped to raise.

    However if some of those high earners, the so called “Willie” (Work in London Live in Edinburgh) move south to save £15k, Scotland would lose not just the £15k from the extra 5% but also all the rest of the income tax, including 40% of £400k or about £170k

    So at a ratio of about 11 to 1 it only takes about 9% or 1,500 people to switch to an English ( or Irish or Welsh) address for Scotland to lose money.

    It could also work the other way.

    If there are 16,000 scots on over £150k averaging about £450k each then the rest of the UK probably more about 200,000 earning about £500k.

    What happens if Scotland decides to drop the higher rate and just go back to 40% as the top rate. Someone in London with a flat in Edinburgh or a cottage on Skye could, if earning £500k, in theory save about £18,000 by being taxed in the North.

    That choice would bring all their tax to Scotland,worth about £180k each, which would mean if just 1,600 ( less than 1%) made the switch Scotland could earn more from cutting tax by 5% for those earning over £150k than by raising it by 5%.

    Sounds counter intuitive I know but I can’t see a flaw in my figures.

    Can any of you?

    Peter.

  4. Peter

    I suppose it depends on whether you believe Murphy on the 250m figure, or Lamont that it’s 100m, or IFS who reckon it’s less than 8.4m – or non of them.

  5. @Peter Cairns

    The whole thing is a total nightmare from start to finish.

    Piece meal tinkering like what is proposed will be a disaster.

    For me, we need to:

    1) have a simple nationwide system

    or

    2) really free up the country in a true federal system.

    It seems we will have a terrible mix of both worlds, with overlaps and inconsistencies that will drive the break up of UK at a faster rate.

  6. With Mellor ‘i’m a cabinet minster and you’re just a taxi driver’ yesterday and Mitchell ‘pleb’ today, will the Tories struggle even more convincing the electorate they’re on the side of ordinary people.

  7. Oldnat,

    True but that still leaves open the “Luxembourg” question. If the very rich are motivated and mobile can a future Scottish Government raise more money by cutting Tax for the highest earners.

    I don’t like the idea of a race to the bottom but if it is about paying for services and Smith has fired the starting gun we might be off!

    Peter.

  8. @CMJ

    “Piece meal tinkering like what is proposed will be a disaster.”

    Maybe that’s the idea. Give the SNP enough rope to hang themselves etc.

  9. @Christian

    I personally find it rather sad that people might judge any group of people (like a political party) on the behaviour of a handful of off the cuff remarks by a handful of people.

    If we want grown up politics in the UK, we need to get over this.

  10. @Statgeek

    Well they could easy hang themselves from the red tape and bureaucracy such a complicated system will inevitably introduce :-)

  11. INTERESTED

    Yeah-right !

  12. Peter

    I’ll wait till the Treasury officials, the rest of Whitehall, and Westminster MPs apply their castrating knives to the Smith recommendations before giving much thought to what is actually likely to appear as a Draft Bill.

  13. To be honest folk I suspect the SNP can probably live with the Party’s that made the Vow making a complete pigs ear of it!

    Talking about the rich!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-30238830

    Oh and Celtic make it to the next stage of the Europa League with a game to spare!

    Peter.

  14. Had to laugh at Nick Clegg. “We delivered Vow Max”

    Anyway I don’t think any of us can imagine the trouble ahead after todays proposals.

    I’m not giving my opinion on what I think of the new powers but for various reasons north and south I would say the Union is now on life support.

  15. @Peter, Catmanjeff

    And here we have clear examples of why devolved taxation should NOT be income tax, or anything else that is not clearly and unambiguously geographically located.

    The best hope for sanity is clearly for Labour to win the next election, and then to announce that, after consultation and reconsideration, their objections to this plan were correct all along, and that they will work with the SNP (and all others seriously interested) to build a solid and reliable model for devolved taxation which can be extended to Wales, NI and English regions should the occasion arise.

  16. @Robin

    That makes sense to me.

    We do need a long think about the right long term – a Constitutional Convention.

    I think the whole ‘vow’ was a rush, last minute, back of a postcard by a movement really concern thet Scotland would vote ‘Yes’.

    We all know how bad such swiftly conceived and executed policies tends to be….

  17. Correction

    @Robin

    That makes sense to me.

    We do need a long think about the right thing to do in the long term – a Constitutional Convention.

    I think the whole ‘vow’ was a rushed, last minute, back of a postcard policy cobbled together by the ‘No’ camp, really concerned that Scotland would vote ‘Yes’.

    We all know how bad such swiftly conceived and executed policies tends to be….

  18. Sun Politics [email protected]_Politics 11s11 seconds ago

    YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour and Tories tied on 31%: CON 31%, LAB 31%, LD 8%, UKIP 17%, GRN 6%

    Very low Con and Lab scores.

  19. YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour and Tories tied on 31%:

    CON 31%, LAB 31%, LD 8%, UKIP 17%, GRN 6%

  20. That’s the lowest Con + Lab score in 2014 I think.

    It’s a race to the bottom!

  21. CATMANJEFF
    That’s the lowest Con + Lab score in 2014 I think.
    It’s a race to the bottom!
    __________
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    …………..It really is rock bottom.

  22. Dead heat.

    93% and 7% for others. It might be rounding though. Allan, you might get your 50%+ tomorrow.

  23. That must be the lowest Lab+Con on YG this parliament?

  24. STATGEEK
    Dead heat.
    93% and 7% for others. It might be rounding though. Allan, you might get your 50%+ tomorrow
    _________

    You know I’m going to have a sleepless night now thinking about that.

    Thanks STATGEEK….. ;-)

  25. @Jim Jam

    I think you are right – it is the lowest this Parliament.

  26. @ Peter Cairns

    I don’t like the idea of a race to the bottom but if it is about paying for services and Smith has fired the starting gun we might be off!
    ———-
    The SNP demanded devolved income tax. Are you getting cold feet now?

  27. @Peter Cairns

    You’ve got it spot on. It’ll be pure tax competition. The idea that England would ever allow a higher tax rate here than in Scotland is also fanciful.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Coalition legislated as soon as Jan to put this in place, and then in the March budget cut the top rate to 40% and then dared whoever came next in either Scotland and England to change it.

    The SNP could demand another referendum – but their worst nightmare would be having it granted while the oil price was so low. All their pronouncements at the last referendum would be repeated back at them (including Salmond’s statement in August as an “oil economist” that oil was ” higher than $90 a barrel and likely to rise”).

  28. @ Allan Christie

    This type of comment was quite funny the 1st time you did it – but now…
    __________
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    …………..It really is rock bottom.
    Please stop.

  29. Amber,

    “The SNP demanded devolved income tax. Are you getting cold feet now?”

    And you gave us it after demanding we stay in the Union and your Leader in waiting has promised to raise it. Are you not getting fed up of shooting yours?

    Peter.

  30. @Amber

    “…………..It really is rock bottom.
    Please stop.”

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    LoL!!

  31. Well…someone has to win.

    Probably MoE. “I’m looking for a Majority. First name: Overall.” “Is there an Overall Majority in here somewhere? Anywhere?”

  32. @Peter Cairns (SNP)

    No, Amber didn’t “demand” that you stay in the Union; the residents of Scotland decided to stay. Your comment is referendum denial.

    Or to put it in plainer English, you are saying “We wuz robbed”. Never a pretty attitude and hardly ever productive of anything other than bitterness.

  33. Amber it’s not meant to be funny. I take every post I write extremely serious because I know what I write can have (profound) implications on the VI for the parties.

    Well that’s the impression I get sometimes.

  34. @AC

    I was thinking…it’s a real shame you never got the chance in 1997 to say…”Taxi for Mellor”.

  35. @Old Nat
    @John B

    Like the stamp duty changes. I think the SNP will change the bands and amounts – I wish they had control of the threshold as well stupid that they don’t.

    The result should be fiscally neutral and not worth people leaving Scotland for. So, people on 100-150K end up paying maybe 150-200 more a month & people on 10-15K are 100 a month better off. A direct fiscally neutral redistribution from better off to less well off workers,

    I would pay more but know that it was fair so would be fine about it.

  36. Postage Included

    Both uses of “demand” were inappropriate. “Argued for” would have been more accurate.

    Selective criticism of only one example is even more inappropriate.

  37. RAF

    Don’t you worry about that……. I have plenty more taxis parked up in the rank just waiting to be called.

  38. @ Peter Cairns

    And you gave us it after demanding we stay in the Union and your Leader in waiting has promised to raise it. Are you not getting fed up of shooting yours?
    ————–
    My feet are just fine.

    If the SNP didn’t want income tax devolved in the way the Smith Commission proposes, they could’ve sided with Labour & opposed it. The SNP didn’t do that.

    The SNP sided with the Tories & LibDems against Labour & won the ‘prize’ of devolved income tax. Are you now saying that this is not a prize but a curse; that the Barnett formula has been jeopardised for a power that the SNP won’t use?

  39. Amber/Peter

    I wonder how this discussion will remain visible to readers on here?

  40. @ Allan Christie

    Amber it’s not meant to be funny. I take every post I write extremely serious because I know what I write can have (profound) implications on the VI for the parties.
    ————
    LOL – but, just FYI, there is a name for that kind of thing: It’s called ‘Spotlight syndrome’. ;-)

  41. “how this” -> “how long this”

  42. Now now Amber you’re getting me confused with the Labour leadership contenders. ;-)

  43. @ Old Nat

    Postage is right about “demand”. The SNP have talked in terms of listing their “demands” to the Smith Commission.

    Anthony may indeed choose to zap these comments but they are reflective of the concerns which voters are raising; & I’m sure there will be polling about it!

  44. Amber,

    We wanted the devolution of a lot more than the rest of you put together.

    As to the devolution of Income Tax in particular, the issue isn’t whether it should be decided but what we decide to do with it, which if you haven’t noticed is the point that Neil Findley has been trying to make for the last two weeks.

    As Couper2802 had pointed out you can adapt it and use it effectively to do some good things but the particular issue of very high earners being able to switch tax between parts of the UK might be problematic.

    There is a big difference between pointing out something might have some weaknesses and throwing it in the bin, but then you don’t really do nuanced do you!

    Peter.

  45. Amber

    Once their is polling, (and there might well be a clue in the new Scottish YG crossbreak) then the underlying factors will be topic for discussion.

    In the meantime, members of parties swopping charges is less than useful.

    (PS I recognise your technique in these matters. :-)

  46. Alex Salmond on This Week sofa.

    Should be fun.

    Night night peeps

  47. @Peter Cairns

    “However if some of those high earners, the so called “Willie” (Work in London Live in Edinburgh) move south to save £15k, Scotland would lose not just the £15k from the extra 5% but also all the rest of the income tax, including 40% of £400k or about £170k”

    They don’t need to move south, they just need to declare to the Inland Revenue that their main place of residence is in the South. And vice-versa, if the boot is on the other foot.

    The creation of different systems of income tax helps no-one but the tax evader/avoider.

  48. Why do the SNP get to make demands about anything? They lost. Naturally they would demand things that would destabilise the union, which makes them the LAST people who should have any say.

    It’s not as though income tax is a particularly large proportion of the total tax take. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxation_in_the_United_Kingdom, it was only 29% in 2008-2009, and I don’t imagine it’s gone up much (or at all) since then.

    By comparison, NI was 19%, VAT 15%, corporation tax 9%, council tax 5%, business rates 4%, landfill tax, air passenger duty, stamp duty, beer wine spirit and tobacco duties, which total another 5%. All of which are locality based and therefore form a much more sensible basis for devolved taxation.

  49. Electoral calculus

    Assuming the SNP are at 5% and gain 50 seats and some othet questionable assumptions.

    Lab 289
    Tories 260
    SNP 56
    LD 17
    Ukip 5
    PC 4
    NI parties 19

  50. @ Peter Cairns

    As to the devolution of Income Tax in particular, the issue isn’t whether it should be decided but what we decide to do with it, which if you haven’t noticed is the point that Neil Findley has been trying to make for the last two weeks.
    ————–
    I had noticed actually; except it isn’t Neil’s point. Did you miss Sarah Boyack’s “Powers for a Purpose” which was her guiding principle when she chaired Labour’s Devolution Commission? However, I’m happy to pardon your mistake because of the obvious respect which Neil has for Sarah’s policy ideas & views; it’s not surprising that people sometimes think they’re Neil’s own.

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