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”

1 5 6 7 8 9 11
  1. Richard

    Good points re the young. I’d guess 16-17 year olds will become enfranchised for the first time in rUK at an EU referendum.

  2. @ Colin and interested

    Describing Orban’s government is as populist is a mistake that even Hungarians commit. It is a very elitist government. There’s not an iota socialism there. Poverty has gone through the roof and now a third of the population is described as at some level of needs. There is a massive redistribution going on to Oligarchs (leading officials of the national tax office are banned from entering the USA). However, as winter is coming (and it can be very cold), social peace is very fragile. The race card (against the Roma, Jews, and now immigrants) are openly and extensively used to divide et impera. The radical right in Hungary is Jobbik a through and through fascist party. The government lost a by-election last week to the centre-left and if they lose a February by election, they lose the two third majority that enables them to run the authoritarian show.

    But I largely agree with Colin. The radical movements in Europe now passed the stage of just simply rebelling against the status quo, and the distinction between political affiliations is meaningful.

  3. @Catmanjeff
    “Labour seem to have given up chasing UKIP on UKIP’s terms, but that seems to be wisdom to me.”

    Labour have certainly been quiet on immigration in the last few days, not following up the announcements made last week. But that is par for the course and one of the problems with their media operation – they announce a potentially popular policy but then fail to ram it home at every opportunity so that the public fails to really associate the policy with Labour.

    What Labour have committed to falls short of what the Conservatives have announced today. Nonetheless there are enough strings to their bow now for Labour to argue that they can do something reasonably effective but fair on immigration as an EU member whilst avoiding all the baggage and repercussions that would come with the new Conservative approach, let alone that of UKIP. And they always have an argument that Cameron have had five years to do something, and have so far achieved next to nothing.

  4. Graham

    It is true that the Tories have declined less in industrial Yorkshire than in Liverpool, with a significant presence still in West Yorkshire. However, you would struggle to persuade me that they are a major factor in South Yorkshire.

    What I found notable about Ashcroft’s poll in Hallam was not that Clegg was in potential trouble, but that the challenge was coming from Labour. As I am sure you know Hallam was a Tory seat until fairly recently, and a deterioration here would remove the Tories last major oasis in South Yorkshire.

  5. Richard

    (Sample sizes aside) its actually the 45-54 age bracket who are least in favour of staying.

  6. @ Lurker

    I think, since the 1970s, Liverpool is Labour versus anyone but Labour. At the May local elections the drop in Liberal vote (LibDem and Liberal Party) is almost the same as the growth of the UKIP vote.

  7. Colin

    “Not entirely sure what you mean, but the fragmenting & disillusioned voters across europe are exhibiting anything but standard patterns”

    the standard pattern is becoming / will become either

    1) right-populist parties


    2) left-populist parties who compensate for ignoring immigration by becoming more socialist


  8. Richard

    Yes but…

    Before any negotiation – stay in 45% leave 37%
    After ‘failed’ negotiation – stay in 35% leave 43%

    Leaving aside that this seems a mite illogical, is the negotiation, which as far as I can see is doooomed to fail (on limiting immigration, as highlighted in the poll) actually a cunning plan to persuade people to vote for out. Or, given that everybody thinks Cam wants to stay in, is the whole thing another shambles?

  9. @Richard

    “There was a London poll on the EU and immigration.”

    Age distribution is London is a proxy for ethnic distribution.

    Replacing the electorate will eventually break all resistance to the EU.

  10. Sadly, I get the feeling that most of the other countries in the EU are pretty sick of us and wouldn’t mind the UK leaving. The EU project is definitely moving slowly towards a USE (which personally I would vote to join), but I can’t see how it could possibly work having the UK half in, half out. Denmark, the other country with opt-outs, is slowly moving in the other direction.

  11. @Guymonde

    Well my guess is it is an attempt by Cameron to reclaim his UKIP voters, 2015 being the immediate problem. By 2017 it will all be explained how some minor concession was a major breakthrough and how leaving the EU would completely destroy our economy, and how we need to vote to stay in to avoid total catastrophe. Queue companies all offering to relocate their HQ and factories to Dublin and we all vote to stay.

    In other words its all normal politics, blame the EU, blame the immigrants, blame the banks, but no one offers real solutions to why we can’t get a GP appointment anymore, or why the school my daughter is zoned for is in special measures and has been on and off for the last 10 years and it never gets fixed so I have to send her to private school, or why it now takes me an hour to do a 7 mile journey because of traffic, and why we can’t find parking because all the kids are still living at home into their 30’s because they can’t afford houses. You know, the real stuff that politicians are supposed to be fixing instead of playing these silly games…

  12. Richard,

    “for the Scots it was the old folk wanting to stay in the UK.”

    I hear this a lot, but without evidence.


    Fair enough-put him in the other group then.

    My point was that the fragmentation & discontent has given rise to flight from mainstream parties-but not all in one direction.



  14. Richard
    A lot of what you talk about is made worse by population growth. There has been a load if house building(which was objected to) near me, now it is far harder to get a gp appointment, or a school place. This seems the case in a lot of areas.
    Immigration does put pressure on public services, congest roads, and push house prices up. It is also changing demographics and pushing the birth rate up, causing even more population growth.

    Do we have polls on the numbers of people in E & W, who want immigration reduced?

  15. HH

    you might not have seen this ?


    You can see why FN are doing so well in France.

  16. The fragmentation of centrist politics and the emergence of popular parties at the extremes was an all-too predictable consequence of the European insistence on an internal devaluation route out of the EZ problems. The argument was that in the long-run, the pain would be worth it. But I wonder if there should be a re-take on Keynes’s quip? In the long run, we are all dead against the system that imposes this on us.

  17. Laszlo

    Pretty much so, but at a parliamentary level there is not much competition.

  18. @ Lurker

    The LibDems thought they can take Wavertree in 2010, but it has parts that are 92% Labour. Quite clever. West Derby may be willing to vote anti-Labour but it’s not enough. And especially not since 2010.

  19. @Roland

    I suspect that agreed to what I hadn’t read properly (I was multitasking – typing andthinking).

    My essential point was that Cameron’s position on Europe and Immigration as set out today was ruthlessly seen through by Nigel Farage. Of course Cameron is in a tough place as many of his MPs and party are wanting to challenge UKIP on these issues by being much tougher. He is still quite a practical PM I think, however, and he knows he cannot get a strong line on this past the other EU Leaders. He also knows the hazards of an EU exit. It’s a tough line to hold, but the one thing he has going for him is that he is more popular than his party.

    Farage will always outsmart Cameron on this, as he doesn’t have to triangulate between the elements the PM does.

    This is why today will not really get the Con – UKIP voters back in my view. These voters know what they want, and ultimately Cameron probably can’t offer that to them.

    Labour only pretended very badly to offer anything that could attract hard core UKIPers, and Labour’s target voters are the Lib Dems and Greens, not those who support the Conservatives and UKIP.

    In conclusion, my guess is today won’t change a single thing in polling terms.

  20. @Bill Patrick

    You can see all the Scotland referendum polls here


    Looking at the last few:
    Ipsos , 65+ No 61%, Yes 30%
    Survation 65+ No 60%, Yes 25%
    Yougov 65+ No 61%, Yes 35%
    Panelbase 55+ No 60%, Yes 37%

    Compared to a final result of No 55, Yes 45

    So the older folk were skewed towards No.

  21. @HH

    Yes, there was a recent Yougov asking about attitudes on immigration


  22. @Mr Jones

    Age distribution is London is a proxy for ethnic distribution.
    Replacing the electorate will eventually break all resistance to the EU.
    Perhaps, but then again even if you look at national polls like the one above, younger people are more open to immigration.

    I think its because younger people go to school, university and work with immigrants, so they are no longer the bogey man as in many cases they have immigrant friends. Older people don’t get to mix with immigrants to the same extent, as it tends to be younger age groups that immigrate.

    For that reason I think Cameron and the conservative party will look back at his speech today with regret in time, as he is really fighting the future and creating division when he should be uniting us.

  23. You know, hindsight being 20/20, bringing all of Eastern Europe in at once might not have been such a bright idea after all…

  24. @Gray

    I don’t understand your post.

    All of Eastern Europe hasn’t gone anywhere. As far as I know East Europe is still in, well, in Eastern Europe.

  25. Any Edinburgh folk out there (Amber?) to explain if there is any significance to this by council by-election result?

  26. The plebgate full judgement, since it’s being discussed:


  27. Bill Patrick

    “for the Scots it was the old folk wanting to stay in the UK.”

    I hear this a lot, but without evidence.

    Try this:


    YouGov’s final survey asking people how they voted. Overall it came up with Yes 46% No 54% – the closest anyone got the result. But among the over 60s it was Yes 34% No 66%.

  28. Richard
    That YouGov is a year old I think (clue – PK thinks we’re about to be overrun by Bulgarmanians)

  29. Is it just me who is suddenly being assaulted by music from an advert ( I think for eBay) on this site?
    I’ve never had any racket from ads here before.

  30. @Guymonde

    Thanks, sorry missed that. But I don’t think much has changed in the last year except the Bulgarmanians have now arrived in their 30’s thousands per quarter overrunning our population of 65m.


    Not sure if there have been more recent polls…

  31. The Populus VI poll just gets weirder and weirder.

  32. RAF

    I posted the comparison between the 1st preference votes in this (AV) by election with the STV 2012 election in the ward, upthread.

    Lab 33% (-3%)
    SNP 32% (-11%)
    Ind 20% (+9%)
    Con 8% (-1%)
    Grn 5% (+5%) – Didn’t stand in 2012
    LD 2% (+2%) – Didn’t stand in 2012
    Soc 0% (-1%) – Didn’t stand in 2014

    As always with local elections the variation in candidates/parties standing makes drawing conclusions a bit difficult !

    In vote share, the winners were the independent and the Greens, with the SNP the biggest loser.

  33. @Richard

    Unfortunately, DC knows that there aren’t many votes for him in the cosmopolitan cities. In what looks like being the tightest GE since…the last one (!) he seems to be going all in for his own 35% strategy.

    He can’t get to 35% by wooing solely wealthy or aspirational middle class economic liberals. He needs to win a fair chunck of the traditional Tory working class.

    To do this he must convincingly suggest that Labour is for low skilled immigration whereas the Tories are against it. Whether he can back up his rhetoric with tangible results isn’t that significant. This is about mood music to convince that tranche of the electorate that the Tories are on their side. It’s psychology rather than economics.

  34. Guymonde – mee too – I though tit was from some other tab I had open!!

    Adverts taylored apparently so not all posters getting?

    OK, I thought it very nice but a bit odd we might see eye to eye.
    As per my comment about the attitudes of kippers on the Specky site,
    anything less than walking out of Europe will not do for them. Indeed, some are nearer a quite high level of unpleasantness where immigrants are concerned. I do not want my party leader, aping those opinions, and he did not.

  36. @ RAF

    The by-election victory for Labour is good for Labour’s morale; I’m not sure it would be wise to make anything more of it than that. :-)

  37. @OldNat

    Sorry. I must have overlooked your previous post.

    It appears from what you sat that the result is pretty meaningless in the overall context of things (as most council byelections are, I guess).

  38. Retail customer confidence & spending power very high in Manchester, Glasgow, Dundee, Cardiff, Bristol, Edmonton, Willesden.

  39. RAF

    As Amber says, it’s a good result for Labour as it keeps the SNP from having a majority on the council.

  40. @Roland

    I think Cameron has a nightmare on his hands for sure.

    He could easily (in the short term) just follow the UKIP rhetoric, but it is to his credit he hasn’t.

    I’m sure a Conservative does not need reminding what happens when an internal debate over Europe dominates party life. Perhaps the likes of Mr Reckless sailing off on the good ship Farage will actually help them in long run, by allowing them to get on with being the party I’m sure most of membership want it to be.

  41. Amber

    Do you happen to know if Edinburgh Royal Infirmary has wifi available in the wards?

  42. Retail PFI Index(1) at record levels in those areas.

    (1) Purchasing Fistfight Intent.

  43. Roger Mexico,

    That poll was 3% off the actual result, and unless Yougov were unevenly inaccurate among different groups, the 16-24 year olds would have voted Naw, as of course would every other group except the 25-39 year olds.

    Anyway, even on the headline figures there, Aye could only draw level among the 16-24 year olds, and with a big margin of error as well. One can justifiably say that most older voters voted Naw, but one can’t justifiably say that most younger voters voted Aye.

    (Of course, on the face of it “it was old folks wanting to stay in the UK” is easily proven wrong, since it obviously wasn’t just older voters voting Naw, but I’m being charitable in the way one has to be with the kind of generalisations that have been thrown around in Scotland recently, e.g. “Scotland mostly votes Labour”.)

  44. Sorry, didn’t read that poll properly: on that poll, the Naws won among young voters (16-24 year olds) and would have still won clearly if over 65s hadn’t been voting. So how can one say that it was older voters who voted Naw, on the basis of evidence saying that 16-24 year olds mostly voted Naw?

  45. Jim Jam

    I’ve shut it up by finding how to turn the speakers off on Flash Player.
    Now I’ll be wondering why I get no sound on YouTube

  46. @Guymonde

    I have a Linux system, running Firefox and have added Bluhell Firewall 2.4.0.

    I get virtually no ads, and definately no loud or dodgy ones.

  47. Ah but @Colin – that record Retail PFI Index figure doesn’t imply a booming economy – it’s far more driven by a lack of consumer confidence that they afford useless, materialistic artifacts at the normal prices.

  48. Bluhell is a free add-on to Firefox.

  49. @Colin

    Retail sales improving in the run up to Christmas? Is that particularly unusual?

  50. @Bill Patrick

    If you exclude the over 65’s on that poll the result would have been 51% No, 49 Yes.

    16-24’s, 350 of them, 51 No, 49 Yes
    25-39’s 552 of them 55% Yes, 45 No
    40-59 , 895 of them 47 Yes, 53 No
    60-64, 222 of them, 55 no, 45 Yes

    So yes, it would still have been a no without the over 65’s but a lot closer…. and if we remove the 60-64’s it would have been 50.2 Yes, 49.8 No.

    Splitting hairs really, but the likelihood of independence increases significantly once that older generation is no longer there with their large no majority.

1 5 6 7 8 9 11