Some interesting non-GB polls today. First up Lord Ashcroft has released four constituency polls in Conservative held seats targeted by UKIP. The four seats are Boston and Skegness, Castle Point, South Basildon and East Thurrock and North East Cambridgeshire.

  • North East Cambridgeshire seems like a rather odd choice to begin with, it doesn’t look like an obvious place for UKIP success and while Ashcroft doesid find UKIP in second place, the poll gives the Conservatives a very solid 21 point lead. (detailled tabs)The polls in the other three seats were much closer though…
  • In South Basildon and East Thurrock Ashcroft found a clear, but not entirely comfortable, Tory lead of 6 points – Conservatives 35%, UKIP 29%. Labour were in an extremely close third place on 28%, so it’s a fairly even split between the three parties with plenty of potential for tactical voting to change the result (detailled tabs)
  • In Boston and Skegness Ashcroft found a close race, with the Conservatives just ahead. Topline figures are CON 38%, LAB 17%, LDEM 5%, UKIP 35%. (detailled tabs) Note that this was one of the seats that Survation had previously polled for Alan Bown, the UKIP donor, back in September. Ashcroft’s three point Tory lead is in complete contrast to the Survation poll which showed a twenty point UKIP lead.
  • Castle Point was closest of all, essentially neck and neck between the Conservatives and UKIP. Topline figures there were CON 37%, LAB 16%, LDEM 3%, UKIP 36% (detailled tabs)

Meanwhile the latest Survation poll of Scotland was in this morning’s Daily Record. Topline figures for Westminster voting intention are CON 15%(+1), LAB 28%(+2), LDEM 5%(-2), SNP 45%(-1), UKIP 3%(-1), GRN 3%(nc) (tabs here). Compared to Survation’s other post-referendum polls it suggests a slight narrowing in the SNP lead (their previous three polls had SNP leads of 22, 24 and 20 points) Looking across Scottish polls from other companies though there’s no obvious consensus on whether the lead is narrowing or not… and even if it is narrowing a bit, a seventeen point lead is still firmly in landslide territory.


189 Responses to “Ashcroft polls in UKIP targets & Survation in Scotland”

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  1. @ Couper and Allan,

    Those are all fringe positions, though. Most of the parties are pro-austerity and support Trident renewal. It’s like saying Heseltine was at an unfair disadvantage because he was the only pro-Bedroom Tax panelist (although of course Lamb voted for it before the Lib Dem volte face). If you take fringe positions then of course you’re going to be isolated. And indeed Ukip and the SNP are very, very happy to be the only parties advocating their respective positions on immigration and austerity, because those are the USPs that are picking up votes for them.

    I agree with Allan that by going on an English panel Sturgeon was at something of a disadvantage re. “Sticking up for Scotland!” positions, but that’s another fringe position and it was a cost she chose to absorb when she went on an English panel. It would be daft to say a Glasgow panel should have more than one English panelist so Ed Balls won’t be isolated, or else it’s unbalanced. If he chooses to go to Scotland he has to take his lumps, and the same applies to Sturgeon.

  2. Miliband my new tablet is determined to correct that name. I’ve added him to the dictionary so problem solved.

  3. @Spearmint

    They aren’t fringe positions in Scotland, just shows how far we’ve drifted apart. Also SNP are the government here have been for 8 years they are not a protest party as we hear over and over on the BBC.

  4. @Anthony – “North East Cambridgeshire seems like a rather odd choice to begin with, it doesn’t look like an obvious place for UKIP success”

    North East Cambs was surely chosen by Ashcroft because it’s next door to UKIP’s “model village” of Ramsey, in North West Cambs. UKIP have run Ramsey for some years now, many senior UKIP functionaries had roles in Ramsey, and if that example were proving inspirational then one would expect it to show up in NE Cambs. That doesn’t seem to have happened.

  5. @ Allan,

    Instead of having the Lib/Dems on the panel why not have a Green party member?

    Because QT likes to have a government minister and Hezza obviously couldn’t fill that slot, and because the Greens are a minor party that are now in a bloc with the SNP. The goal of the show (often poorly executed, I will grant you) is to get the full spread of political opinion, not to find a bunch of people who all agree with each other.

    There’s no point in putting the SNP and the Greens on at once because they occupy a similar political space. It would be like putting Clegg and Cable together because one is a liberal and one is a social democrat and the rest of the panel might be mean to Clegg otherwise.

  6. @Spearmint – “Sturgeon was at something of a disadvantage re. “Sticking up for Scotland!” positions”

    Indeed, in exactly the same way that Nick Griffin was always “at something of a disadvantage” re his “Sticking up for whites!” positions. It’s a simple fact of being a nationalist, like Griffin, Sturgeon, and other such people are.

  7. The advantage of North East Cambs is as a control test.

    Had UKIP had stronger polling in the other, closer seats it may have been a useful comparison.

    It that is the case, it might just be possible to infer that Lord Ashcroft was expecting the other polls to be worse for the Conservatives.

  8. SPEARMINT
    Here’s a budget, pass it or bring down the government and vindicate Johannes Murphy’s dumb ‘Vote SNP get Tories’ line

    But as was discussed at length on a previous thread, the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 would not allow EM to call another election, so he would have three options:

    1. Make a deal to get it passed
    2. Resign so the new Con leader can try to form a new government
    3. Invite the new Con leader to join him in a grand coalition

    Who blinks first would decide, but I can’t see either option 2 or 3 increasing EM’s popularity.

  9. @ Couper,

    No, but the panel wasn’t in Scotland, and Scotland is a small part of the UK. Look, a lot of them are fringe positions I agree with. I might agree with more of them than Allan! But they’re still fringe.

    Imagine if the Tories sent Sajid Javid to Glasgow next week and people here started complaining because the MSPs comprising the rest of the panel supported free university tuition and he was the only one who is in favour of fees, and therefore the panel was unbalanced. That would be crazy. This is the same thing.

  10. SPEARMINT

    Lets agree NS policy’s were fringe views. Like I said on my last post lets have the SNP leader Scottish socialist leader Scottish Green party leader and Sir Tom Farmer on the panel along side Ed Balls or a Tory MP and then see who has the fringe views.

    Other than that lets agree to disagree because we are just going round in circles.

    Anyway I’m off. Picking up the little sister and her pal and dropping them off in town.

    Nice cross breaks today OleNat. ;-)

  11. CHRIS GREEN

    You can also add UKIP and the Tories into that category. After all they are BritNats.

  12. @ Chris Green,

    That is not a reasonable comparison, and you should apologise for making it.

  13. @Couper

    ”What Miliband cannot do is refuse to deal with the SNP and by doing so let Cameron be PM. Well he could but that would as bad for Labour in Scotland as SNP supporting the Tories would be for the SNP.”

    I agree that Labour refusing to deal with the SNP, leading to a Tory government, would damage Labour in Scotland.

    That said, there are problems for Labour either way. You are right that it would be a disaster for their support if it were seen that they walked away from the chance of government in a fit of pique against the SNP. The SNP would have a field day blaming Labour for there being a Tory government and blaming them for every Tory policy enacted

    But if Labour do even a C&S deal with the SNP then there will be Labour supporters who won’t be happy with Labour doing a deal with a party that ”wants to break up Britain” and has given Labour a kicking in one of its strongholds (I am not being partisan here, just that is how it may be seen by some). The Tories and UKIP will have a field day arguing that the SNP’s only agenda is to sow division as a way to ultimately destroying Britain and Labour have given them the chance to do just that.

    I think that if Labour can avoid a deal with the SNP they will do so, but as you pointed out they may not have the luxury of making that decision if the numbers are not in their favour.

  14. Roll A Hard Six

    “they may not have the luxury of making that decision if the numbers are not in their favour.”

    In many ways, the most dispiriting thing about UK politics in May 2010, was that none of the parties appeared to have gamed any of the likely possible scenarios.

    Any strategist worth their salt would have had plans in place to make them at least look good!

  15. @Roll a hard six
    @couper

    If Lab + SNP is a majority then there simply can’t be a Tory government enacting Tory policies unless it is tolerated by either Labour or SNP. Basic maths.

    If Labour and SNP can’t do a deal, the SNP would have to decide whether or not to bring down a minority Labour government … and if there was no alternative majority there would be an election under the terms of the Fixed Term Parliament Act. It would all then be about the blame game … whose fault was it that the Tories get another go at trying to win? Plus calculations about how the public would react to the failure to come to an agreement.

    But let’s not get carried away … it is still very close to a Lab Lib deal being viable especially if LD’s outperform UNS in the seats they hold. And there’s always the DUP … “you can always do a deal with an Ulsterman”!

  16. @oldnat

    ”Any strategist worth their salt would have had plans in place to make them at least look good!”

    So true! The Lib Dems seemed the best ‘prepared’ imo in 2010 but the Conservatives seemed to be counting on winning outright and Labour didn’t seem to have considered the possibility of victory!

    It would be interesting – though I have no idea how practical this would be – if we had a proportional system and the electorate voted for parties on a first ballot and coalitions in the second (probably ranking in order of preference).

    The first vote could determine the size of the respective parties in parliament, following which the second ballots would be counted to see the popularity of various potential coalitions (with those combinations unable to command an certain threshold level of support eliminated).

    That way the electorate would have a proportional parliament AND the coalition government combination that was the most popular (or the least unpopular) overall. It would deal with the ”no one voted for this coalition” problem and would force the parties to explain what they would and would not compromise on in a coalition before polling day.

    (Btw for the record I am just thinking out load and can see plenty of practical problems with this scenario!)

  17. JOHNB160
    If Labour and SNP can’t do a deal, the SNP would have to decide whether or not to bring down a minority Labour government … and if there was no alternative majority there would be an election under the terms of the Fixed Term Parliament Act.

    Not so. Lab wouldn’t be able to call an election unless they whip their MPs to vote against themselves in the confidence motion needed, since the SNP would support them Lab on that vote. That would make it hard to conceal their childishness, even for the “Scottish” press.

  18. ROLL A HARD SIX
    Btw for the record I am just thinking out load and can see plenty of practical problems with this scenario!

    The obvious one being that the parties would HATE the electorate having all that power!

  19. It seems like an awful lot of hot air about Question Time.

    Personally I stopped watching it years ago, I was finding it frequently tedious to the nth degree.
    It appears I’m not alone in that, the vast majority of the British public seem to agree as they never watch it either.

    Its audience figures are now around 2.7 million, about 4% of the population.

    Very seldom does any even short excerpt of it now get broadcast on the news.

    The clear majority of those 4% are already very much politically decided for one party or another, whether just by voting habit or actually being members of a party and are not going to be swayed.

    I sincerely doubt the programme nowadays has much political influence at all, balanced panel or no.

  20. @Barbazenzero

    There is no need for either a Labour or Conservative minority government to do a deal.

    Steps

    1) amend the Fixed Term Parliament Act on the grounds that it’s pretty carp and didn’t foresee this situation.
    2) make no direct deals, but play the ‘being open’ card. Say “this is our programme for government, either support it or don’t, but don’t try and do deals behind the backs of the British people”.

  21. Labour could end up in a nightmare if SNP support them on confidence motions but little else, then put forward amendments on hot topics in Scotland, watching as Labour troupe obediently through the lobbies with the Tories. And Ed is stuck with this for five years because of the fixed term parliament act.

  22. @TheSheep

    How are they going to do that without a majority? It is unlikely that the opposition would agree to the amendment unless they thought they would win, in which case the government wouldn’t want an election.

    Plus it needs a super majority to amend.

  23. Some Lib Dem ‘private polling’ – but I saw a comment recently that they intend to release the tables.

    “The polls show a boost in the party standing in the last six months especially among women and voters aged 18 to 34. The switchers are mainly coming from Tories or undecideds, and predominantly in Tory-held seats.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/feb/19/lib-dem-polling-brings-hope-of-future-coalition-role

    Some commentary

    Anthony Wells [email protected] · 2 hrs2 hours ago
    @patrickwintour @dylsharpe Patrick – how many seats did they show you anything for (beyond those listed in your article?)

    Patrick Wintour [email protected] · 2 hrs2 hours ago
    @anthonyjwells not a lot more. Few labour facing and no Scotland. No sample size etc. But take a strange brain simply to invent the numbers

    Anthony Wells [email protected] · 2 hrs2 hours ago
    @patrickwintour Cheers – would be frankly barking to invent numbers, but not to pick out the ones that showed them in best light.

  24. Also note that Survation did the polling, they are a member of BPC so evidently they have to release the tables?

  25. LDs MUST have polled Hallam – but obviously won’t release it if it shows Clegg anything other than way out in front. Also, none of our members have reported being polled by them (one of them was by Survation/Unite I think) so maybe they aren’t bothering.

    I’m not sure what the mood in Sheffield Lib Dems is – they outwardly seem 100% confident of victory, but I can’t tell whether that’s genuinely or a facade stretched tight over blind panic.

  26. @MrNameless

    The story would tend to agree with your assumptions – no mention of a poll in Sheffield Hallam, but read the twitter commentary from Anthony and Patrick – the ones they released are probably their best ones.

    But note this comment at the end of the article

    “Party officials are confident that Clegg will retain his seat in Sheffield Hallam despite three polls showing he is behind. They admit the seat has switched from being a Lib Dem/Tory fight to a contest against Labour, but are confident that the large Conservative vote in the seat can be squeezed by warning of the dangers of a Labour government with an overall majority.”

    So there is your battleground…

  27. Roll A Hard Six

    There seems to be an assumption that if Labour is under 300 seats or so they will certainly HAVE to accept SNP support.

    I’m not sure this is true. So long as Labour outnumber the Tories lets say by 20 seats they can govern as a minority government safe in the knowledge that the SNP will not sabotage a Labour government and risk the return of the Tories.

    But it doesn’t have to sabotage the government. It just has to sabotage its legislation. Nobody (except presumably the SNP) seems to realise just how much the Fixed-term Parliaments Act has changed things. What the government can’t do is make any piece of legislation or the budget or whatever a “matter of confidence” (as was sometimes done in the past to keep rebellious MPs in line) with the threat that, if it was lost, they would ask Her Maj for a new general election.

    The new process is more formal and gives less power to the PM. So the SNP can keep voting down things it doesn’t like and Labour’s only options are:

    [a] only put forward things that the SNP likes;

    [b] put forward a vote of no confidence, but the SNP can simply support Labour in that and the situation doesn’t change;

    [c] resign and effectively invite the Conservatives to take over. The SNP would probably vote against the subsequent vote of confidence motion which would make Labour either vote to support the Tories or vote the new government down. But even then it is another 14 days before a new election is called – in which time there will be pressure on Labour to put a new government forward. Again it’s back to [a]

    Even if there is another election, that might produce a Conservative majority or the same situation again. Given that the SNP would probably force the issue on something that it would be popular to block (at least in Scotland), risking another poll would be dangerous for Labour – especially with the Tories’ friends in the media crying “Vote Conservative for stability”.

    But a new poll is less dangerous for the SNP because Labour would have been seen as letting down Scotland. And although the SNP would prefer not to have a Conservative government at Westminster, they could use the consequences to increase support for independence. So Labour can’t blackmail the SNP into unconditional backing.

    That’s not to say that Labour won’t behave like a sulky child demanding it’s own way in everything and simply refuse to cooperate – even if that means a Conservative government by default. But, as Spearmint say, that is very unlikely with Miliband at the top.

  28. @Roger Mexico

    A good summary. Effectively the fixed term parliament act means that Westminster is now very similar to Holyrood 2007 – 2011.

    The SNP had a minority government that no one was threatening to bring down but which could only pass legislation with the co-operation of one or more of the other parties.

    The budget setting process becomes key to the whole process as it is the one piece of legislation that the government HAS to pass each year.

    Any other legislation rises or falls on its own merits and the government is forced to seek partners from all sides depending on the topic.

    I think the SNP and Sturgeon understand the scenario well, having been on the other side of the situation.

    On his side Ed Miliband might do well to seek the advice of Andy Kerr who was Labour’s finance spokesman at Holyrood (effectively Shadow Chancellor equivalent) during that period and will have the experience of negotiating budget agreements line by line.

  29. The Guardian article mentions Leeds Northeast which is a Labour held seat!

  30. @Roger Mexico

    What happens if the government isn’t able to pass it’s budget -is that a problem for the spending departments?

  31. Couper2802.

    It falls. The Finance Bill must be passed each year or the ability to raise income tax lapses. The budget must be passed or the government falls.

    It’s an interesting oversight in the FTPA actually, as Roger suggests. The 14 day period for a new election is only started by a vote of confidence using the proscribed wording, so if a government fails to pass its budget and tenders its resignation the early election clock doesn’t start ticking.

    I expect, in practice, they’d square the circle by having a vote of no confidence the next day to start the clock ticking.

  32. So to recap,

    If Lab+SNP is a majority, then Cameron resigns for fear of losing a no-confidence vote and Miliband becomes PM. No deal with the SNP is necessary, but he might have difficulty passing legislation.

    If the budget fails, Miliband resigns. Cameron is appointed PM, then there is a motion of no confidence, which SNP+Lab vote for, and he loses. Then after 14 days a new election is called.

  33. ANTHONY WELLS
    I expect, in practice, they’d square the circle by having a vote of no confidence the next day to start the clock ticking.

    Yes, but they would have to vote against themselves or abstain to make that work. Hardly good publicity to ask your own MPs to vote you down.

  34. The FTPA could be a bit of a quagmire. We could end up like the USA down to the wire on whether the UK can raise taxes. However, if the SNP wouldn’t support Labour on the budget I imagine the Conservatives would give support to prevent chaos.

    The FTPA was brought in to stop the Conservatives cutting and running from the Lib Dems and so it will equally prevent Labour cutting and running from the SNP. Happy days.

  35. COUPER2802
    We could end up like the USA down to the wire on whether the UK can raise taxes.

    But depending on who else wants to play silly Bs with Lab, then the rest of the HoC could pass a motion extending the current budget for a year/

  36. Anthony Wells

    [The government] falls. The Finance Bill must be passed each year or the ability to raise income tax lapses. The budget must be passed or the government falls.

    I’m not sure that that is true any more. Obviously a formal no confidence vote would then take place, but if that also fails, there would be nothing to stop a minimal Finance Bill being put forward to keep things going while negotiations take place.

    Apart from anything else, given when budgets take place, there wouldn’t be time for the 14 day cooling off period and the now longer general election timetable all to happen before the end of the financial year.

    Having just googled it appears from HoC standard Note SN/PC/02271 (Last updated: 10 July 2014):

    http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN02271.pdf

    To ensure that the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act (PCTA) 1968 continues to have the same practical effect, the Government announced in the 2011 Budget that the Act would be amended, to allow Budget resolutions to remain in effect after prorogation, subject to the Bill on which these resolutions is based being carried over and reintroduced within a set time period.

    The same paper also points out that Dennis Healey put through a “Caretake Budget” introduced after the Govt had lost a vote of confidence and an election had been called in 1979.

  37. Roger – yes, I agree. If the government then passed a confidence vote and could get through some sort of alternative minimal budget I think it could remain.

  38. @SPEARMINT

    Scotland is approximately 1/3 of the British landmass which is an odd definition of ‘a small part’.

  39. The Boston and Skegness poll is flawed. It doens’t mention Chris Pain, UKIP candidate in 2010 and now running as An Independence From Europe (UKIP in all but name). There are actually two UKIP candidates in Boston. Ashcroft should do it again. Would probably show Conservatives far ahead and Labour second.

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