The monthly ICM poll for the Guardian came out today, with topline figures of CON 28%(-3), LAB 33%(+1), LDEM 14%(+3), UKIP 14%(nc), GRN 5%(-1). Tabs are here. There’s a movement from Con to Lab since ICM’s previous poll, but nothing that couldn’t be normal margin of error – the broader picture still suggests a very small Labour lead, with no strong trend (in November the average Labour lead was 1.6%, so far this month it’s 1.3%).

This is the first time since September that any poll hasn’t shown UKIP ahead of the Liberal Democrats. The previous one was also ICM, and apart from one unusual Populus poll in July you have to go right back to March to find polls from other company doing the same. ICM consistently show the highest level of support for the Liberal Democrats for methodological reasons. This is largely because of how they handle don’t knows – when people say they don’t know how they’d vote, ICM look at how they voted at the previous election and assume that 50% of them will end up voting the same way. This is based on recontact surveys of don’t knows after previous elections and has made polls more accurate in the past… but of course, we can’t know until May whether that will still hold true under the sort of political realignment we seem to be seeing this Parliament. Without the reallocation ICM’s figures today would have been LDEM 11%, UKIP 15% – so it would have been quite a high Lib Dem figure anyway even without the adjustment.

Ipsos MORI’s month political monitor is also due. Today’s Evening Standard reported some figures, but I assume they are saving up the voting intention figures for tomorrow. The data so far is here, and shows people’s optimism about the economy in general (as opposed to their personal finances) dropping to its lowest since last year. I wrote about similar findings from YouGov at the start of the month, so this does appear to be more than a single poll; people’s confidence in the economic recovery does seem to be faltering a bit.


149 Responses to “ICM/Guardian – CON 28, LAB 33, LDEM 14, UKIP 14, GRN 5”

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  1. @Sam

    Alec is well aware of the potential of using oil revenues to hedge, and in the past Oldnat has spoken of the aim of creating a Sovereign wealth fund to tide over the bad times; the problem comes when, as now, the oil price plummets BEFORE you have had a chance to build up your buffers.

    Put this to Indie peeps though, and instead of engagement with the issue, they just go “OMG!! You think Scotland can’t survive alone!!!” even when peeps make clear that whether Scotland can survive is not in question.

    Similarly, bring up genuine concerns re: currency and one is liable to be treated to another hyped straw man response along the lines of claiming one is scaremongering or trying to threaten.

    It does not matter what issue peeps raise, they are treated to the standard, miserable, emotive diversions of those who have drunk waaaaaayy too much of the WoS Kool Aid. Although, to be fair, they don’t tend to do that to me personally so much nowadays, they just ignore my posts…

    That said, it does not surprise if it’s the case that Scotland could get more outta the North Sea. Other countries seem at times to do the State Investment/management thing rather better than us. (Of course, if it were down to me, ideally Scots would be investing in Thorium tech. so that they’d have an abundance of cheap energy for thousands upon thousands of years, even before the oil runs out…)

  2. UK oil industry facing ‘crisis’

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30525539

    “This has happened before, and the industry adapts, but the adaptation is one of slashing people, slashing projects and reducing costs wherever possible, and that’s painful for our staff, painful for companies and painful for the country. It’s close to collapse. In terms of new investments – there will be none, everyone is retreating, people are being laid off at most companies this week and in the coming weeks. Budgets for 2015 are being cut by everyone.”

  3. RAF

    @”Most ME members of Opec have no problem with oil falling to $45-50 a barrel.”

    Gulf members , certainly-because they have such a low cost base.

    But for the Opec and non-Opec members that have no room to increase their exports and lack the political will and financial means to cut production — Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Mexico and Nigeria —as well as Russia , they are mere passive spectators .

    And whilst the politics of the ME may well be in Saudi thinking-their view that oil prices will stabilise is based on their determination to take out at least some of the US shale production.

    The have their first victim already :-

    http://www.afr.com/p/business/companies/james_packer_backed_collapse_burnt_tqtc3Rfz2czz3a8UmM4ZWK

    I don’t think the western world can be entirely comfortable as it takes the gains to consumers. There will be bank exposure to failed oil companies.

  4. In terms of the ICM poll, the supplementary question on Osborne’s cuts is interesting:

    “The Chancellor is taking the tough decisions that Britain needs to
    live within its means”
    = 35%
    “The Chancellor is going too far and making cuts that will endanger
    important public services” = 55%

    The cross breaks are interesting in showing that UKIP supporters’ are just as hostile as the average, by 37/57. Tories by contrast back Osborne by 73/19.

  5. Alec

    Is it not the case that some Scottish/UK problems do originate in Westminster?

    The mismanagement of the oil/gas industry by DECC is an example. The Wood Review came out in February 2014 when the price of oil was over $100 per barrel. At that point the numbers of staff engaged in DECC to regulate the industry had halved over the previous 20 years. They were unable to do more than day to day work.

    Wood identified the following key issues. The need for fiscal stability consistent with the challenges of maturity. These challenges include much smaller discoveries, many marginal fields, much greater inter-dependence in exploration, production and development.

    The need for a better resourced and more proactive Regulator.

    The need for significantly improved asset stewardship.

    The need for far greater constructive collaboration among operators.

    The need for better implementation of industry strategies.

    What Wood is talking about is “light touch” regulation (where have we heard that before) that has failed over a considerable period of time to allow the industry to develop to its full capacity. As a result, at the time of his report production had declined significantly and exploration also declined sharply. The industry voted with its feet. Some 450,000 are employed in the industry across the UK.

    These are criticisms made by a supporter of the Union.

    Health inequalities are found across the UK but particularly in Scotland and particularly across West Central Scotland. One reason for the health inequalities was deindustrialisation. The policies of the Thatcher years widened income and wealth inequalities.

    Researchers say that what is needed to address health inequalities (in Scotland this means early deaths) is to address inequaliities in power, income and wealth. Given that Scotland does not control its own economic and welfare policies and cannot prevent another widening of the inequalities of wealth and income it is difficult to see how Scotland can do anything to address the issue.

    Successive UK governments have failed to find a sustainable economic model.

  6. “Nor is oil and gas Scotland’s only energy resource. It is estimated that there are 17 billions tons of coal under the Forth which can be extracted by burning the coal in situ.”

    Bang goes the green/left alliance. The most dirty way to [produce power. Absolute shocker for climate change.

    The point about oil isn’t about oil – it’s about the very high spending needs current within Scotland. Of course oil has been squandered by the UK – an absolutely shocking legacy of missed opportunity, largely down to Conservative miss rule in the 1980’s.

    But Scotland has excess spending needs now. The IFS were the ones who said that if the SNP wished to build up 2 oil funds as planned, then cuts or higher taxes would be needed today. That was before the oil crash.

    It’s the linking of oil volatility to higher need thats’ the issue.

    On tackling the causes of poverty and the high need, yes, I would agree that inequality is an issue. The SNP has had 7 years to increase income tax on the wealthiest and increase council tax on expensive houses, but they chose not to.

    It’s easier to blame Westminster for everything, which isn’t to say that there aren’t things Westminster should be blamed for.

  7. Tim Montgomerie in today’s Times says DC can’t retrieve much of the VI lost to UKIP now. The schism on the right is permanent.

    DC’s best hope is the splintering of the Left.

    Come on the Greens :-)

  8. ALEC

    @”Absolute shocker for climate change.”

    Its squirrels & beavers apparently :-

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/arctic-squirrels-blamed-for-climate-change-damage-9931647.html

  9. Looking at the detail of the ICM poll, the reallocation of don’t knows and refusals is boosting the LD score from 11% to 14%, an unusually large boost.

    Based on the actual numbers declaring support, the LDs have 61 voters which is reduced by 14% after turnout adjustment to 51. There are also a combined total of 51 2010 LD don’t knows and refusals (compared to 43 2010 Con and 37 2010 Lab), 50% of which will have been reallocated back to the LDs and a turnout filter applied. Assuming a similar 14% reduction(*), that would mean that the LD VI consists of 51 declared LDs and 21 assumed LDs.

    Do a similar calculation for Con and Lab and you get the following %s for the proportion each party’s VI support that has been assumed by ICM to be “shy voters”:

    LDs 29%
    Con 11%
    Lab 9%

    Personally I think this pretty arbitrary ICM adjustment is becoming increasingly dubious in multi-party Britain, where voters are switching allegiance all over the shop to an unprecedented degree, and the don’t know response may simply reflect the fact that people can’t make up their mind which alternative to go for out of the several offered.

  10. Looking dodgy in Greece-one vote down-two to go.

  11. (*) from above:

    You might ask, shouldn’t there be a larger % reduction for don’t knows and refusals compared to those with declared allegiance? I think not, because (a) they say they did vote in 2010 so are in the habit of voting and (b) the % reduction calculated by ICM is upped by downweighting the responses of other non-voters. I think it’s a reasonable assumption.

  12. Anyone know when today’s Ipsos Mori poll is coming out?

  13. Labour called for an inquiry into the pressures put on civil servants to manipulate financial predictions predicated on a high oil price.
    Perhaps the most notable aspect of the debate was that J Swinney repeated the recent mantra of the snp that oil prices will fully recover within a year.
    I am off for a while on my duties as a member of crisis-hit Grampian Health Board which the H of C discussed yesterday. Sam should look into it!

  14. @Alec

    The SNP have had no power to increase income tax on the wealthy – the power is only to increase the basic rate & even then they way that power is implemented means a £ for £ reducing in Barnet funding. It is a new unionist tactic to blame the SNP for things they have no power over – in the hope that once again low-information voters will fall for it.

    Council tax is a regressive tax which hits the poorest hardest – SG gives extra cash to councils to cancel the effect. We need a rellacement for council tax IMO but need cross-party agreement and council agreement.

  15. @Carfew

    Scotland should have a Soveriegn Oil fund the fact that we don’t is s sad fact of the union. The fact that our economy is too dependent on oil is also a sad fact of the Union. Of course if when we start independence and oil is low then we will have to borrow or raise taxes, if high we can immediately start our fund. But since we voted No it is a moot point. When oil starts to rise I hope to see both yourself and ALEC posting enthusiastically about all the benefits Scotland could have if independent.

  16. @Couper2802

    The structure and operation of local taxation in Scotland is entirely a matter for the Scottish Government and has been for a very long time. So if you didn’t like the council tax it could have been changed. Wales made some significant changes a decade ago but could have gone further.

    More generally, I think that Murphy is entirely right to try and shift the argument from that of “we need (yet more) powers” to that “well what are you going to do with them (and the ones you’ve already got)”.

  17. @Peter Crawford

    I’ve only just seen your reply to one of my posts on the previous thread and I’m afraid my absorption in the Worcester City v Scunthorpe United epic penalty shoot out last night (14-13 to Scunny, by the way) prevented me from doing my usual late night dip into UKPR to check the latest polls.

    I think you and I may well be kindred souls in terms of our interpretation of not just the current opinion polls, but the political situation generally. Like you, I feel that the continuing and long-standing stagnation in the Tory VI, impervious as it appears to be to whatever propitious political and economic events may occur, suggests that there is something rather more serious going on than transitory incumbent popularity. This casts doubt on the possibility of a magic, last ditch recovery that sweeps them off the rocks and on to the sun-kissed strands of electoral victory in four months time. We could be wrong, of course, but the likelihood of us being so reduces by the day, I suspect.

    I also very much agree with you about the UKIP and SNP factors. UKIP will be a havoc-causing, mayhem-wreaking force next May and while I can see them causing some problems for Labour and the Lib Dems, they have the potential to fatally wound the Tories. Again, I hear the contrary arguments, but I just can’t see them fading into electoral insignificance over the next four months. It’s possible, I suppose, but how likely? If we credit opinion polls with some legitimacy, and I know they don’t necessarily predict election results, how can anyone ignore UKIP’s consistent mid-teens polling for well over two years now? It must mean something, mustn’t it? They may be an eclectic mix off oddballs, but an ephemeral single issue protest party they certainly ain’t. Not any more, anyway.

    On the SNP, I share your view to some degree that they’re being a little over-hyped, but I think they’re mutating to be a major threat to Labour in the Westminster elections as well as in Hollyrood. The key will be how successful Scottish Labour can be, with a new leader in place, in winning the political argument north of the border. The political argument with UKIP in England has been a muddled one, and largely lost by the Tories, certainly with a significant rump of their former voters, activists and even MPs now, but Murphy may have a better chance north of the border to stop the more recent rot. The question for me is whether the SNP surge is mainly a post-referendum hangover that fades the further we get from that seismic political event, or is it based on a lasting sea change in opinion in Scotland. If some Scottish Labour MPs, MSPs and activists start decamping, then the game changes utterly. Murphy needs to prevent that and hope the more footloose and fancy free of his ex voters decide to come home in May 2015. The prospect of an SNP vote helping the Tories may be a more potent mind-changer than a the spectre of a UKIP vote helping Labour in England. These are just a few of the fascinating and symbiotic sub-plots that will be at play next May.

    Not sure though about your view that the March 2012 omni-shambles was the game-changer. It may have planted some seeds of doubt about Osborne’s competence, but he’s largely recovered most of that, and while it no doubt dented the Tories in the polls, I suspect, unlike the infamous Black Wednesday that scuppered the Tories for almost a generation, March 2012 is now but a distant memory.

    The Tories woes in the polls in my view are more down to the persisting existence of a large section of the British electorate who just don’t like the idea of them and, it would appear, no plethora of benign economic statistics is going to change their minds..

  18. Some very interesting stuff in this :-

    http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/03138/CampaigningAgainst_3138005a.pdf

    First time I have come across “Mosaic Groups”. Can people’s whole character & complexity of outlook & circumstance really be encapsulated in groupings like “Terraced Melting Pot”.

    I realise political parties have to target their campaign resources, but I must say, I find this sort of classification mildly insulting.

  19. Colin,

    The Mosaic groups are usually just a guide. In most cases local variation will be taken into account when canvassing – for example if there is an area where wealthy financial workers all vote Labour for some idiosyncratic reason, the CLP will normally be aware and take it into account when printing canvass sheets. Any CLP secretary worth their salt is not too concerned with Mosaic groups as much as likely areas of support which do vary by seat.

    On that UKIP document more broadly, I’m very surprised if anyone outside party HQ gave it a proper read. Certainly it was never mentioned in Hallam and we have our own ways of trying to win over UKIP voters. But then the Hallam campaign is far removed indeed from the national race so maybe in other seats they’re paying it attention.

  20. I’ve always felt that Labour in Scotland have one good unionist card, and its one they rarely play – rather than hammering on about Scots patriotism, they should be trying to clearly make the argument that badly off people across the UK have a better chance of fighting for a better economic settlement united behind Labour than split into two countries. The SNP have succeeded in arguing that the Scots have few real values in common with the English, and it is that perception coupled with the idea not merely that Scotland could be independent (which I don’t doubt) but that an independent Scotland would inherently solve the actual problems of Yes voters (which of course it wouldn’t) that is really hurting Labour at the moment.

  21. @Phil Haines

    With ‘who do you trust to make the best decisions for you and your family’ currently at Scottish Parliament 55% to Westminster’s 17%. It seems that people are satisfied with the way the SNP are using the powers they have, so not fruitful. Far more fruitful to pretend the SG can solve problems it has little or no power over – I.e energy prices and regulation. In the hope that low information voters will fall for it.

    I have noticed another problem for Labour. Support for Devo-max is about 66% but 45% of that is independence/SNP voters. That means that up to 2/3rds of voters for the unionist parties may want the status quo or even Holyrood to be abolished. Makes things tricky for Labour if we stay on the constitutional issue.

  22. Colin
    “Come on the Greens”

    You will be disappointed if the Red Box poll is correct:


    Using YouGov’s First Verdict, with a large sample (4,335), I asked:

    “Which party would you most like to win in your constituency? Please choose the party you like best, regardless of whether they have a chance of winning?.”

    I followed up with: “How do you predict you will actually end up voting? This may not be for your favourite party but for your tactical choice”.

    There was some movement to and from all parties, but just one example of real significance: a third of the Green vote went to Labour.

    If we think this will hold, then we should factor in a couple more percentage points for Labour. Of course there may be even more from Ukip back to the Conservatives, but we didn’t see it in this experiment.

  23. Colin

    Mosaic codes are a marketing invention. The mail you get through the front door is more than likely influenced by this.

    They can only ever be broad brush and a starting point (just think about your neighbours. Are you the same as them and have the same views? – Mosaic implies you do). Better marketing is based on individual info and likewise better political party activity will use individual voting info or a bit of local knowledge.

    I have always thought that the insulting names for the mosaic groups says quite a lot about the people trying to sell us things – and me when I buy them.

  24. MR. N

    Thanks.

    Not being an activist/party member , & never having canvassed , I am the bloke who opens the door from inside the house.

    As I say, understanding that parties have to focus & categorise in this way, the Howardian whiff of “Leaflet Fodder” puts me off big time.

  25. BRAMLEY

    @”You will be disappointed”

    No doubt !

    BONEYM

    @” the insulting names for the mosaic groups says quite a lot about the people trying to sell us things ”

    Yes.

  26. @ Phil Haines

    re Council Tax in Scotland. Full control of Council Tax Benefit was only devolved to Scotland in 2013, so before that more radical plans to alter local taxation in Scotland suffered from a potential loss of income from Council Tax Benefit being lost unless UK governments consented to the changes (which they indicated they would not).

    This was a particular problem for the Land Value Tax proposed by the Greens and would also have applied to variously discussed Local Income Tax models.

    Now both local taxation and the funding settlement is fully devolved we may see some more radical proposals for local taxation reform in Holyrood manifestos (including Labour’s) in 2016.

  27. Oh I’m not questioning that the SNP are popular in Scotland at the moment, which is essentially what you’re saying.

    The question is, how best can Murphy try and shift the debate to confront the SNP’s weaknesses, which would lead the polls to shift if successful. I suggest those weaknesses are a lack of clarity over what would be done over the extra powers it seeks and the lack of use of many powers it already has. So far the SNP’s got away with using the blame game with Westminster to focus the dissatisfaction of Scots, but I wonder how much longer that can happen. The more that powers are devolved, the harder that game will be to play.

  28. Ipsos Mori poll

    Con 32% (nc)
    Lab 29% (nc)
    UKIP 13% (-1)
    LD 9% (nc)
    Green 9% (+2)

  29. @Northumbrian Scot

    Nonetheless, the 1991 valuations, and bands and band weights all still stand unamended from when they were inherited from Heseltine 23 years back, contrary to the position in Wales. So even minor tweaking hasn’t happened in Scotland.

  30. @couper2802 (1:17 am)

    Agreed.

    Apparently the North Sea Industry is close to collapse today, due to the oil prices.

    What they mean is that future investments will be stalled and older fields might be closed earlier. Sadly, this is what happens when there are thousands of lawyers, accountants, managers and share holders. Posh facilities and excessively lavish lifestyles, paid for by the company must be maintained, or a few hundred job in the North Sea must be lost.

    I’m certain that these fields would pay for themselves without the excessive corporate overheads, and the excessive profit margins.

    Well at least we will now see what will happen when Scotland and/or the UK has to make do without the industry (or, more likely we will see a down-sizing of the industry, as we saw in the late 90s, when the big companies shed staff and shifted to employing more and more staff via agencies to avoid contractual issues.

    We ought to see an acceleration to renewable alternatives, but George Osborne is apparently overseeing a shift from clean to fossil investment. So does he know more about the problems around renewables, or is he just ‘speculating to accumulate’ with the UK economy.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/06/george-osborne-fossil-fuel-energy-environment

    Has the UK missed the boat through a lack of investment once again? Are the politicians and bean counters only seeing the price and not the value of things?

    h ttp://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/05/13/3436923/germany-energy-records/

    “On Sunday, Germany’s impressive streak of renewable energy milestones continued, with renewable energy generation surging to a record portion — nearly 75 percent — of the country’s overall electricity demand by midday. With wind and solar in particular filling such a huge portion of the country’s power demand, electricity prices actually dipped into the negative for much of the afternoon, according to Renewables International.”

    They sell us cars while we import the fuel to use them, while many had arrogance to suggest that their renewable project was foolish.

    It may be proved to be too much, but they have demonstrated that anything is possible if a government bothers itself to do it. Meanwhile, out politicians are busy planning how best to defeat their best political enemy so they can spend five years crowing about it.

  31. STATGEEK

    ” on May 11, fully 75 percent of Germany’s electrical demand was met by the output from the renewable resources of wind and solar power. The 75 percent figure is a result of a particularly sunny and windy weekend in Germany. So far this year, 27 percent of Germany’s energy needs have been met from these sources.”

    dailyzone

  32. couper

    “I too am fed up with the patronising sneering attitude of the No camp”

    The problem I find with so many of your posts on this subject is the consistent tendency to generalisation and hyperbole.

    The no “camp” is NOT a single, monolithic entity with one, really nasty voice.

    It’s not even a camp come to that, it’s just 55% or your fellow Scots residents who actually voted against Scottish independence..

  33. Hm, so Ashcroft has good news for Labour on the Ukip battlefront (I thought Great Grimsby was a goner, but if it’s a hold now it probably will be in May), bad news on the Green battlefront (looks like the Greens’ national success is filtering through in Brighton Pavilion, although really who could be upset about returning Caroline Lucas), and meh news on the Tory battlefront (Ashcroft has finally found the point of inflection, and if they can replicate it at the election it will definitely make them largest party and Tory government impossible).

    I guess we’ll have to wait until next year to find out how they’re faring against the SNP.

  34. The marginal polling does seem to indicate that outside of Scotland Labour are going to take a considerable number of current Tory seats at the next election.

    All up to Scotland now?

  35. Spearmint,

    I have a problem with returning Caroline Lucas, but this is not the place.

    Something Ashcroft noted struck me as odd. In Brighton Pavilion, more voters prefer a Miliband premiership to a Cameron one than any seat in which Labour are ahead. Surely they know a Green MP makes that less likely?

  36. In other news, does anyone know why the Telegraph seems to be losing all its journalists?

    Matthew d’Ancona has just joined the mass exodus.

  37. @ Mr. Nameless,

    Surely they know a Green MP makes that less likely?

    Does it? It makes a Labour majority less likely, but Lucas is about as likely as Dennis Skinner to prop up the Conservatives. She’ll give any Labour government confidence and supply.

    They may have to work out some complicated arrangement for Trident funding, but apart from that’s she’s functionally identical to a rebellious Labour MP.

    The SNP are a little concerning because they profit politically from Tory government. The Greens and Plaid don’t, and they’re not going to let one in.

  38. “Moderate Tory cheer and a fright for Labour in my final marginals poll of 2014”

    Lord A.

    Excellent :-)

  39. The latest batch of Ashcroft marginal polls will provide some festive cheer for the Tories but worry Ed and Labour.

  40. @Mr Nameless

    Seems pretty simple to me: they want Green (probably more accurate to say leftist) influence over government and understandably feel a Labour government alone doesn’t guarantee that. More Green MPs also embolden the prospect of a Labour w/ Green/Nats support (with Trident scrapped etc).

  41. Mr Nameless

    I have lived in Brighton (well, Hove actually) for 19 years, it’s the home of the comfortably middle class creative/rebel.

    The last thing anyone here would want is a Tory government, but Labour is too mainstream, so Green it is. There’s such a large student population in the Pavilion ward that it’s almost inevitable Caroline Lucas will be returned.

    I’m expecting Hove to revert to Labour at the next election, the Conservative candidate benefited at the last election from a large shift from Labour to Lib Dem so I’m expecting that to unwind.

    Brighton Kemp Town also likely to go back to Labour.

    As the local economy is very dependent on Public Service spending and tourism the impact of the cuts is clear and Brighton and Hove are looking a lot like they did when I first came here in 1995, lots of street homelessness, empty shops and general blight.

  42. @Mr Nameless

    As someone whom (I think) some here regard as hostile to the Greens, for the record I’d have no problem with voting for Lucas, nor for that matter tactically for Plaid. (And I would have to think seriously about whether to go Labour or not in a direct contest with Plaid.) Both seem to be parties which want to see workable coalitions on the left and would behave reasonably to keep them intact. By contrast, I cannot see a Labour government propped up by the SNP lasting more than a few months.

    The problem for Labour with the Greens is not in the couple of seats where the Greens are in direct competition with Labour. It is in those where they are not. They risk delivering many Tory-Labour marginals into the Tory camp, or in your case into the Orange Book LD camp.

  43. @Colin – The Mosaic groups are a very useful geodemographic model of the UK population. The blah descriptions are silly handles to allow the data-illiterate to get an idea of what they represent. But there is a vast amount of hard data underlying them.

  44. If Scotland votes for independence will they get to keep the ukpollingreport?

  45. @ AmbivalentSupporter,

    I dunno. Labour are holding against Ukip, there’s little sign of an incumbency advantage in Tory-held seats (according to Ashcroft’s methodology, which admittedly doesn’t name the candidates), and they’re on course to win # 59 on their target list.

    It’s hardly fantastic for them, but they’ve definitely had worse news.

  46. One of the issues with Ashcroft’s polling is not the seats he chooses to publish polls for, but those that he is silent on.

    So, no poll in Witney but one in Doncaster N, Sheffield H and Thanet S for example.

    Now we have a poll of Labour seats where UKIP is expected to be in contention, and – Lo! – they are. And then Ashcroft speculates about Conservatives voting UKIP to keep Labour out. Of course the odd UKIP gain from Labour boosts the prospect of a minority Conservative administration without affecting the prospect of a majority one, so maybe Ashcroft is trying to help bring that about.

    When, I wonder, will we see Ashcroft polls in a swathe of Conservative held seats deemed to be particularly vulnerable to UKIP (rather than just the odd one or two prompted by by-elections?). For fear of creating a local UKIP bandwagon, might Ashcroft be rather reticent to conduct such polls, or to publish the results if they show the wrong answers?

  47. Also those Plaid and Green votes in Carmarthen W. & S. Pembrokeshire and Warwick & Leamington look squeezable.

  48. @ Phil,

    But we have a poll in Witney. It was dumb and pointless. If I were a Unite member I’d want my political levy back.

    And Sheffield Hallam is now a marginal, and Thanet South always was. Ashcroft would have polled them anyway. (Doncaster I agree was just trolling.)

    I’m not suggesting there is no political motivation- Ashcroft is clever and he has a preferred outcome for the election. But you know, it is his money. And it’s not a problem with the polls themselves.

    If Unite have the money to commission polls maybe they should spend it somewhere other than frickin’ Witney.

  49. @Gazprom

    “There’s such a large student population in the Pavilion ward that it’s almost inevitable Caroline Lucas will be returned.”

    Depend how many of them get on the register. They won’t be put on automatically by the halls of residence or by virtue of student council tax exemptions this time. Individual Electoral Registration is going to make registration problems far worse.

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