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. RAF,
    Sorry probably me being dense,do you mean it is the old thing about governments losing elections and not oppositions winning them?

  2. @Hawthorn

    And I tend to agree with you, in that some sort of adjustment that boosts the Tory position at the expense of Labour will bring a final poll closer to the actual result. I still think that’s more a case of the consequences of a lousy electoral register, such that a poll that made such an adjustment on the pretext of the so-called “spiral of silence” might be right for the wrong reason.

    Also, in Con/UKIP contests, a significant chunk of UKIP support is drawn from former non-voters who from their past record might have difficulty getting around to voting whatever they tell pollsters to the contrary. So it’s possible that an adjustment to diminish the UKIP vote might be in order, it’s just the rationale being used that I don’t buy.

  3. Re – Rafael Behr
    Most journalists are pretty ignorant when it comes to psephology.

  4. Poll Troll (fpt)

    You’d think at least Castle Point residents would realise they were in a UKIP target – I presume the actual polling was done after UKIP’s campaign launch?

    Surely this could swing voters to UKIP if they realise that it isn’t a wasted vote in these seats?

    All four of these constituency polls have fieldwork dates 26 Jan – 5 Feb.[1] So they would have been taken before the UKIP campaign launch on the 12 February. You have to remember that there are many people with a much lower attention to politics than the average UKPR reader and who don’t follow local or national politics much (and probably don’t vote in local or EU elections).

    So it may well be that in these seats currently undecided voters pick UKIP if they are unhappy with the coalition. Only 47% in these seats said they would definitely not vote for UKIP (two thirds of whom are already voting elsewhere). This compares to 61% in the last set of Con-Lab marginals but 48% in the four Lab-UKIP ones done at the same time[2].

    Of course that relies on a strong enough local campaign and possibly also having a good candidate (or at least one who won’t actively alienate the voters). UKIP have been very centralising on this and it’s possible some choices may not fit – I’m not sure that a tax accountant (even if he is ex-Labour and an ex-Lord Mayor of London) is the best choice for SB&ET with the current news agenda:

    (the bit about the cat isn’t quite up to West Hollywood standards, but still quite UKIP-y)

    [1] There’s usually a bit of a lag before Ashcroft polls are published.but a fortnight and the fact that there are so few of them suggests that he is hoarding in advance of his 4th March event.

    [2] Interestingly all four showed UKIP ahead on SVI but falling behind Labour on CVI. In contrast only the safe NE Cambs shows an increase against UKIP on the CVI question. So it may be that choosing UKIP is more a protest response in the Labour constituencies and more voters return from UKIP or undecided.

  5. Perhaps one of the reasons why Labour supporters are fatalistic is the tendency over the past 30 years for the party to perform not as well as the polls have suggested.

  6. I mentioned earlier about commentators writing what they are briefed. According to a friend in the know, Raphael Behr is firmly in that category.

  7. The new Vote for Policies site is up –

    So far showing great results for the Greens – and last time I feel that became a bit self-perpetuating, with Greens sharing it more because it showed them ahead; and also therefore those with Green sympathies more likely to engage with it.

  8. Guymonde

    I was struck by [Raphael Behr’s] column yesterday which for all intents and purposes concedes there will be a Tory victory in May […]

    His take seems to be that:
    a) the Tories are very chipper and
    b) the Labs are very miserable and
    c) the Tories look at the labs and get even more chipper.

    This rather chimes with something someone (I think it was RolandGateaunose) was saying on here but doesn’t chime at all with the vibes I, as an ‘umble and not very active activist, pick up. It also doesn’t seem to chime with the polls, though the punters seem to agree with Rafael.


    This has been raised here before and I’m going to give the same answer I gave over six months ago.
    It’s actually very simple. The Party grassroots are happy and enthusiastic because they think Labour will win the next election. And many of those in the upper reaches of the Party are all afeart and trembling for exactly the same reason.

    For many Labourites in the Westminster Bubble it’s actually been quite nice since 2010. There are none of the stresses and pressures of the previous 13 years in government; the chance to make serious money with outside jobs that were not possible while in office; the ability to criticise rather than having to defend things you may not believe in; being in opposition without worrying the Lib Dems will make a better job of it[1]. Not to mention that any Labourite with the slightest beef with Miliband will have the media gobbling up their every word.

    And of course those in such a position are the very sort of people who have done well out of the ‘recovery’. So life is good and going into government to face difficult challenges not terribly inviting. Perhaps another few years on the opposition benches before it’s you ‘turn’ sounds inviting.

    Obviously if you’re the sort of person who goes into politics to change things, then opposition can be frustrating and government actions enraging. But if you’re the sort who goes in as a ‘career’ – as many do (and it may be an hereditary career at that), then things still look OK, providing you can have a go at the spoils of office some time.

    I wonder also if many of the Old Guard are afraid that Miliband will be much more radical than they hope and will be successful. If nothing else that will mean all the compromises and capitulations of the New Labour years were a mistake, maybe a betrayal, and those who supported them fools. However if the neo-liberal consensus sweeps smoothly along, the easy life can continue and consciences be left untroubled.

    Of course these sort of attitudes aren’t just confined to Labour. Indeed they may explain the some of the Lib Dem’s zen-like calm in the face of the coming Apocalypse – they have now become part of the Government Party and they believe their due rewards will follow. But many of Labour’s upper reaches do seem less than enthusiastic about actually winning and changing things.

    [1] The almost universal collapse of the Lib Dems in strong Labour areas may also be a reason why many of the grassroots are so chipper. They have had an influx of trained recruits, easy gains in local elections and less serious opposition over things such as local government cuts.

  9. Roger M
    Very interesting thoughts. It had never really struck me before that careerist politicians might actually be happier in opposition, but it would explain a lot!

  10. my previous comment is in moderation. i have no idea why

  11. MS reports that that LD’s are to publish their private polling to show how well they are doing in their target seats….

    @AW – please don’t shoot the messenger!

  12. @Roger Mexico

    Many in Scotland now see Labour politicians as the careerist you describe. The referendum seemed to pull a curtain back on the real soul of Scottish Labour and that is what the polls are reflecting

    The BBC has similarly lost the trust of most Yes voters (would be interesting to see polling) I rarely watch BBC news now but when
    I do I see manipulation – for example ‘hard left’ to describe Syriza.

  13. @Ann In Wales
    Sorry probably me being dense,do you mean it is the old thing about governments losing elections and not oppositions winning them?”

    I just don’t think there is ever a good time to be in Opposition. Incidentally, I do think governments lose elections more than Oppositions win them.

  14. @ Roger Mexico

    I can’t comment on LibDems in general. In Liverpool they have been wiped out. Their voters went to UKIP. Some of their activists – not many – went to Labour and to Green (the “official opposition in Liverpool”), but most retreated to local campaigns on various issues. Liverpool is unique (I had a Labour leaflet in the last month and one Green – neither serious. There hasn’t been a LibDem leaflet for ages), but in 2010 LibDems thought they could capture Wavertree (it was a non-flier, I don’t know why the national leadership bothered. You just have to look at the boundaries). So I think a lot of the LibDem activists just withdrew from national politics.

  15. @ Cooper2802

    Politicians are careerists by definition as they are professionals and wage earners. It doesn’t depend on party affiliation.

    In a different political system it could be different, but as far as I know the overthrowing of private property and introduction of direct democracy (aka Soviets) are not on the agenda.

  16. Still 1 pt lead on YouGov.

  17. Con 32
    Lab 33
    Ukip 15
    LD 9
    Green 6

  18. @Sun_Politics: YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour lead by one: CON 32%, LAB 33%, LD 9%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%

  19. Tonight’s YG posted above.

  20. @ Paul Bristol

    I am sure that you were talking about Bristol North West? …..hence the disbelief.

    No.. It was Bristol West I was talking about, as you can check by going back to the original comment which was posted at 3.54 pm on Jan 1st.

    There were follow-up posts by @Ben Foley and myself on the Bristol West constituency page the following day. I have never pretended to have any knowledge of activities on the ground. It was just a constituency that came up in a modelling exercise.

    If you read through recent comments on the constituency page it is just as hotly disputed as ever whether this seat is a potential Green gain.

  21. @Hawthorn

    “I mentioned earlier about commentators writing what they are briefed. According to a friend in the know, Raphael Behr is firmly in that category.”

    Who’s briefing him?

    I can understand that argument but it doesn’t really fit what RB is saying: “When Tory veterans look across the floor of the Commons they see miserable reflections of themselves in the wilderness years, under WH, IDS and MH” In other words, this is not Labs relishing continued opposition, but sad and demoralised at their impotence.

    In the end we have Roland (I think) who claims on here to have an inside track into the inner souls of the Lab leadership (a claim of which I am deeply sceptical) and RB (who might be expected to have a genuine insight) agreeing that the Lab leadership have in effect conceded defeat. Is it spin and b*llocks, or does it have any basis in reality?

  22. Roger M,

    Your thoughts are far too cynical. I’d be surprised to find any Labour or Tory politician who does not want to win a general election (except maybe Boris Johnson).

  23. A political history question for people.

    Earlier today I was looking at historic Scottish parliament regional list results and I found the highest losing list percentage in the Scottish Parliament’s history was whoever was 4th on the regional list for the SNP Lothians in 1999 with 6.4% of the vote as a quota.

    I can’t find a list of who the nominated candidates were in 1999 so I’ve no idea who missed out.

    The vote 1999 BBC website is no longer working and all the other reference materials only list the winning MPs. Edinburgh Council website only has results back to 2003.

    Anyone got any idea where the nominations details might be? Or anyone remember? I voted in Lothians in that election (For David Steel who promptly became Presiding Officer) but can’t remember who the SNP 4th candidate was.

    On the assumption that it was one of the SNPs losing constituency candidates in the region my suspicion is that it could have been Westminster leader Angus Robertson, who contested Midlothian in 1999 before being selected for Moray at Westminster in 2001.

  24. Guymonde

    Anyone who can catch his ear. From what I hear he does not have strong political opinions and politicians are always very keen to talk to him. I should say that this is anecdote.

  25. @couper2802

    ”The BBC has similarly lost the trust of most Yes voters”

    A friend of mine since school days is an SNP member and campaigned in the Ref. He and his wife were on the anti-BBC protests that happened in response to the perception of BBC bias against the Yes campaign.

    He and I managed to remain civil and cordial throughout the campaign, even though his passion for independence was matched by my passion for the union.

    The interestign this was that his view that the BBC was biased against Yes was shared by almost everyone else I know who supported Yes. Yet by contrast, I was every bit as angry and disgusted by my perception that the BBC was pandering to the Yes side and trying so hard to be avoid doing anything that could be construed as pro-No that they ended up being very much pro-Yes by default. Other No voters I know felt the same way.

    My point is simply that the accusation of bias very much went both ways, people on both sides are still unhappy and the BBC probably couldn’t have possibly got it ”right” anyway

  26. @northumbrianscot

    SNP Lothians nominated candidates 1999

    MacDonald, Margo
    MacAskill, Kenny
    Hyslop, Fiona
    Dana, Anne
    Scott, Paul
    Gibb, Stewart
    McKee, Ian
    Robertson, Angus
    Sutherland, Graham
    Constance, Angela
    McCarra, Greg
    Hargreaves, John

  27. @ Roger Mexico

    It may be the problem we’ve seen with EF before. Their overall model may predict a certain number of Lib Dem seats, but data from individual seats that ‘should’ be lost show them being retained. So unpolled seats which are far safer under UNS are made less so to balance up the numbers.

    I don’t know for certain (and would welcome any informed correction) but I suspect that this observation of yours is a little unfair to the EF team. You seem to suggest that they introduce non-principled adjustments to their projections for as-yet-unpolled seats in order to make the output appear more internally consistent.

    In fact, they specifically cover this issue using a link provided at the bottom right of their home page. If you click through from there they explain why there may be discrepancies – such inconsistencies not having been ‘balanced up’ as you suggested earlier.

    I assume that to get their aggregate seat projections they use something like the Curtice/Firth formula to convert VI values into the probability of each party winning each seat. Under this system the probability of winning a seat like Bristol West (with its current Green VI of 30 and Labour VI of 29) is estimated at 0.49 for the front runner and 0.41 for the runner-up. So, if there were ten seats with comparable profiles, 5 (approx) would be allocated to the Greens, 4 to Labour and one to the party consistently coming in third. By hypothesis, all ten seats would have the leading teo parties well ahead of the one consistently coming in third. But I am pretty sure they don’t change the VIs for any of the individual seats to correct for this acknowledged inconsistency. In other words, the ‘balancing up’ you talk about almost certainly doesn’t happen.

    So, whilst discrepancies between aggregate and detailed seat tallies does represent something of presentational challenge for EF – an acknowledged problem – I don’t thing the VIs for any seats are modified (that is, starting fairly safe and ‘made less so’) in order ‘to balance up the numbers’.

    I might be wrong and I am more than happy to stand corrected if I have misjudged the way they handle this matter.

  28. 80% Labour, 20% Lib Dem (on welfare and Europe). It’s rubbish though, because anyone politically interested can tell the party from the way they write their press releases.

    Also, supporters of a certain party continue to spam it like Jehovah’s Witnesses pushing the Watchtower, asking if we’ve heard the good news. So not getting in my good books.

    I went to see Neil Kinnock in Sheffield tonight (he insists nobody ever brought up the rally until eight days after the election). I would never have thought a 73 year old man could retain such a level of energy while doing public speaking.

    Probably his best line of the night was “We’re in the last two minutes of the football match, with no extra time, and we’re ahead. We’re just ahead despite the referee and most of the linesmen being crooked, and a couple of team members who’ve forgotten what jersey they’re wearing”.

    He also opened with quite a bit on the Green Party (the event being in Sheffield Central), which was surprisingly not as combative as the rest of the speech, and more on the lines of a plea for unity. He spoke of the way that both Labour and Green hearts go out to the same degree and in the same way for the very poor in Britain, that they both feel the same about climate change, and drew a comparison with the 2002 French election where a badly split left led to the runoff between Chirac and Le Pen.

    Interesting speech whatever your view, and he can still get them laughing and crying in the space of two minutes. Packed house, and I won a book in the raffle too.

  29. @ColinB


    I couldn’t get that BBC election 99 site to work earlier.

    So Anne Dana is the unluckiest MSP candidate ever. Contested Edinburgh North & Leith against Malcolm Chisholm at both Westminster and Holyrood.

    Looks like she was on the NEC at the time of nominations hence the relatively high ranking.

    Contested both EN&L and was on the list again in 2003 (albeit 2 places away from being elected) but has since disappeared from politics.

  30. @northumbrianscot

    There are two versions of the website. Only the static version works!

  31. I am 40ish, and I think Neil Kinnock has benn the Party Leader in my lifetime for their oratory skills.

    I was reading some of his speeches last week, and brought home to me how our current Leaders lack these skills.

  32. That reads terribly (tablet typing).

    In short Mr Kinnock is a great orator, a lost political art.

  33. @ Nats of Various Ages,

    Your lass Nicola was very good on QT, but I was intrigued to see that CND went down like a cup of cold sick, even with one of those audiences that basically clapped every point.

  34. MrNameless, surely the site isn’t aimed at people who are sufficiently familiar with the parties to be able to immediately identify their policies and tone. Of course the Greens are going to push it, why wouldn’t they? It seems a reasonably well designed site and I reckon reasonably good at reflecting the views of those who take it – who are of course dramatically unrepresentative of the electorate as a whole.

    (I got 80% Green, 10% Lib Dem and 10% UKIP after not reading their welfare policies through throughly).

  35. @ Mr. Nameless,

    What book did you win?

  36. I thought Nicola’s response to supporting a Labour Government was interesting.

    I think the SNP would support a minority Labour Government, but with conditions. I’m not sure they would collapse a Labour Government if it led to a Conservative one.

  37. Spearmint

    Mind you, the audience showed a remarkable grasp of strategic reality – especially the woman who wanted the Trident subs based in her back garden.

    Heseltine’s support of them because we couldn’t let the French be the only Europeans with them seems reasonable for someone who was a midshipman in Nelson’s Navy.


    The problem for the BBC is that it makes mistakes.

    One example. Tonight’s question time had 4 panel members who all shared the same views on Trident and one who was not and 4 panel members hostile in nature towards the SNP.

    Imagine if Caroline Flint or Eric Pickles went on QT in Glasgow and the other panel members consisted of Alex Salmond, Sir Tom Farmer Patrick Harvey and Tommy Sheridan!!

    Another mistake during the indy ref on the main evening and late news was they would interview David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband and Alistair Darling for the No side and then only Alex Salmond for the Yes side.

  39. Sorry not Eric Pickles I meant Michael Heseltine.

  40. If I were Ruth Davidson, I’d be spitting nails about QT.

    She’s doing some effective work in trying to redefine Scottish Tory values for the 21st century – eg the latest PPB focussing on filming her family and her partner.

    Then the BBC projects Heseltine into potential Tory living rooms.

  41. @AC

    I see you’ve not out your glasses on.

    I understant that your side (and that of your chum John Murphy) swung back from an almost insurmountable deficit.

  42. @ Catmanjeff,

    I tend to agree. Crossing what we might call “The Couper Line”- doing something that helps the Tories enough to alienate their new leftwing supporters, thereby losing their new Scottish electoral dominance and potentially forfeiting Yes support in a future referendum- is a bigger danger for them than any possible consequence of propping up a Labour government, even though the collapse of such a government would be helpful to them. Even assigning to them the worst possible motives, I just think it’s not prudent for them.

    Plus if Labour are in opposition you can’t force them to do fun stuff like renew Trident with Tory votes.

    This plus the fact that Labour are not very good at playing with others plus Miliband’s nerves of steel actually gives Labour a pretty strong hand, assuming they can get around 290 seats or so.

  43. @OldNat

    These days Tarzan is considered to be on the left of the Tory party.

  44. I read the Rafael Behr article the other day, and I remain a devotee, but his recent piece wasn’t his finest, I have to say. Surprisingly, because I think he stands out from the crowd run-of-the-mill political commentators who clog our newspapers and airwaves, he appeared to write on the basis of received wisdom. It was almost as if he’d returned to the herd rather than continuing on his own individual and esoteric way. He bought the Miliband is unelectable line a little too readily, I thought, and to base his argument on the body language of Labour MPs in the Commons was slipshod and journalese at its worst.

    The reason why I admire journalists like Behr and Oborne is because they tend to eschew the “hunting in packs” mentality that characterises so many of their fellow political commentators and it’s always a little dispiriting to see them going native from time to time.

  45. @ Old Nat,

    Now now. Hating the French is a venerable and noble English tradition.

    @ Allan,

    Loathe though I am to defend the people who decided inviting Nigel Farage every other week was a good idea, QT always puts up one person per party. It’s not their fault that so few parties want to break up the UK, and now that the SNP/Plaid/the Greens have formed a bloc it makes sense to only put up one of them at once. Plus, it was a panel in England. I’m sure Sturgeon could have declined to attend if she thought it was biased against her.

  46. @ Allan Christie

    The problem for the BBC is that it makes mistakes.

    Sorry not Eric Pickles I meant Michael Heseltine.

    Have you applied for a job with the BBC, Allan? It looks like you’d fit right in. ;-)

  47. Spearmint

    “Now now. Hating the French is a venerable and noble English tradition.”

    Those Chelsea fans should get free season tickets then, It wasn’t that the guy was black. He was French!

  48. I’m unfortunate enough to come from a country where most of these national issues had been played out before the collapse of the country in 1918 (pre-1867 in the Habsburg empire, constitutional arrangements in 1867 between Austria and Hungary, constitutional arrangement in 1868 between Hungary and Croatia, from the most liberal constitution to the most authocratic in Hungary in the space of twenty years (religion, nationalities, employment, right of associate, etc., the Hungarian role in starting the war against Serbia in 1914 with unintended (at least at that time) consequences). And if you don’t mind I don’t go into details how it was played in Parliament (and the relationship between Parliament and the Burg).

    I think, and I hope, that the next elections bring a major constitutional change to the UK, and it hopefully avoids the errors that the Austrian-Hungarian Empire (?) made.

  49. Amber

    RAF can join AC too – unless Jim has repackaged himself as John. :-)

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