Lord Ashcroft released another batch of constituency polls earlier today, this time revisiting some of the Lib Dem seats where he had previously found close battles. In Lord Ashcroft’s previous polling in Lib Dem seats he’s often found wide variation from one seat to another, and it’s the same here – in some seats the Lib Dems are holding on against the national tide, in other seats they are doing very badly indeed.

Camborne and Redruth was an ultra marginal between the Conservatives and Lib Dems at the last election. In June 2014 Ashcroft polled the seat and found a close three way battle between the Conservatives, Labour and UKIP. The picture in this poll is far less exciting – a very lead 13 point Tory lead.

North Devon and St Austell and Newquay both had narrow one point Tory leads last time, this time they had more comfortable seven and six point leads for the Tories.

North Cornwall, St Ives and Torbay all saw much less movement. Torbay and North Cornwall both had neck-and-neck ties when Ashcroft last polled them, this time he found a one point Lib Dem lead and a two point Lib Dem lead. St Ives has gone from a one point Lib Dem lead to three points, showing almost no swing from LD to Con at all since the general election.

Turning to the two Lib Dem seats where Labour is the main challenger, Julian Huppert in Cambridge has now opened up a nine point lead over Labour, reducing the swing from LD>Lab to just three points, which would be exceptionally good in a LD/Lab seat.

Finally Lord Ashcroft re-polled Sheffield Hallam, Nick Clegg’s own seat. Naturally this is the poll that got the most attention, as he continues to show Clegg trailing Labour. Voting intentions were CON 16%, LAB 36%, LDEM 34%, UKIP 7%, GRN 6% – a whopping great swing of 19.5% from LibDem to Labour. The Lib Dems criticised the poll for not including candidate names, saying this would have boosted Clegg. Lord Ashcroft pre-empted the criticism by saying that he already asked the constituency specific question and feared putting candidate names in the question would give too much prominence to that as a factor and would risk showing too much of a candidate effect. Both are perfectly justifiable arguments – the reality is we don’t know. Constituency polls have been very rare in the past, so we don’t have lots of constituency polls with and without candidate prompting from previous elections that we can compare to results to make a judgement. There is simply no evidence that would allow us to judge whether candidate prompting in constituency polling is less or more accurate.

341 Responses to “Lord Ashcroft returns to the Lib Dem battleground”

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  1. I don’t know how significant it may be but the latest Ashcroft, TNS/BMRB, Populus and Panelbase polls have the two main parties aggregating mid 60s and UKIP in the mid to upper teens.

    It does start to make me wonder a bit about this latest little clutch of YouGovs showing the Tory/Labour aggregate at 70%, or higher, and UKIP in the low teens.

  2. Now everybody can see why I think of RAF as a top source for London polling. :-) The ‘conversation’ between RAF & Richard has increased my understanding of the London GE outlook immensely.

  3. @ Barbazenzero @ ProfHoward

    I doubt if there is a real liking of Imperial measures. How about an 1/8 of a gill? Most people have difficulties with fractions anyway. Should we introduce firkin for butter?

    Anecdote: Half a pound of your cooked ham please … Is it OK? … Right, just put one more slice on it.

  4. It appears to me that what we have seen in the last couple of weeks (amidst all the churn and MOE) is the Tories benefitting from a UKIP squeeze and Labour benefitting from a Green squeeze. The Tories have benefitted a little more because there is more UKIP support to squeeze..


    Tonight we will see Farage, who is usually good on telly and Bennett, who often isn’t. So we may see the UKIP squeeze halted or reversed and we may see the Greens squeeze accelerated.

  5. Richard

    I had not picked up on the Dagenham UKIP challenge, but I should think it would be a relatively good area in London for them.

    I am doubtful that Labour will gain Harrow East but they should pick up Croydon Central I think.


    I think Enfield North is a more likely gain that Ilford North.

  6. What website is this I have stumbled across?

    I thought it was the UKPR. A bastion of electoral sanity.

    But no. There are all kinds of posts along the lines “I think X will get 38%”, “I think Y will get 32%”, “this safe seat wont be safe this time, take my word for it” etc..

    And the polling evidence for most of these assertions? There is none. “I think…” or “In my opinion…” has replaced the polls.

    Move over YouGov. Move over Ashcroft. Move over TNS. Why bother to poll when we can just find all we need from that font of all wisdom a.k.a. Internet opinion.

    Seriously though, where is our moderator? We clearly need him and his scissors back! Enough of that kind of rot.

  7. @Hawthorn
    Now I am not saying this is true,but the BNP polled pretty well in Barking and Dagenham and although a fiercely working class area,it has been subject to a lot of immigration and there have been serious tensions there.
    So UkIP are an outlet for disaffected people who may have once gone to the BNP.I am not saying the parties are comparable,but some may perceive them to be.
    My friend lives in Barking and he thinks UKIP will win there,he has always voted Labour.

  8. David in France
    “Why bother to poll when we can just find all we need from that font of all wisdom a.k.a. Internet opinion.
    Enough of that kind of rot.”

    Well said

  9. State of candidates as of April 2

    Conservative full slate + 7 in NI
    Labour full slate
    LD full slate in Scotland and Wales, but 7 short in England
    UKIP 23 short in Scotland, 3 in England and 1 in Wales
    Green 32 short in England and will not nominate 3 in Wales
    SGP have only nominated 31
    NIG have nominated 5 so far
    UKIP have 9 in NI

    What’s required to register with the Electoral Commission?

    In Canada a candidate has to present signed and affidavited papers to the Returning Officer plus a letter of endorsement from the Leader of the Party and 100 signatures of citizens 18 years or older in that electoral district.

    The collection of a registration fee was ruled unconstitutional as our Charter of Rights and Freedoms specifically states any citizen 18 or older may run for elected office.

    The courts do have the lattitude to allow some discrimination if it is fair and reasonable, but decided that a registration fee served no useful purpose other than to constrain persons of lower economic means from running for office.

  10. CB – yes as I said a couple of weeks ago after a couple of 70%isg Con+Lab other pollsters will be coming along and produce some mid 60s although the average has certainly moved up 2-3% in the last month or so.

    You have always reckoned 65% ish whilst I am in the 70%+ camp perhaps we will both be wrong and it will be 67/68.

    But as ever it is them there marginal that matter.

    Also imperial measurements *are* used outside the UK

    Yes, but almost exclusively in the “old” Empire and at least in some places inconsistently. I’d welcome Andy’s input to know what units are in common use in Canada nowadays.

    I can understand older people resisting change but more than 40 years after decimalising the currency and joining the EEC it strikes me as odd that businesses in the EEA are hampered by more expensive labelling if they want to sell the same product across it, and cannot physically do so in the case of some automotive and broadcasting products.

    But I have to admit that I find it equally odd that business clubs from the CBI on down make no fuss about it. Were they to do so, the Cons at least might take notice.

  12. Mibri

    Barking is far too multi-ethnic for UKIP to win. However, as you go further East, the more WWC London becomes.

    Dagenham and Rainham is one such seat, although of course the MP is Jon Cruddas who has been very big on reaching out to that group.

    In 2010, UKIP+BNP stood at 14%,so I’d have thought that would be their bare minimum support. Hmm.

  13. @hawthorn.
    I meant Dagenham and Rainham ,i always class barking and dagenham together as that is the council.

  14. @ Hawthorn

    Haven’t seen back up the thread but I assume there must be recent local council plus polling evidence that UKIP can push Labour out?

  15. So Barking in 2010 is where Nick Griffin came 3rd with 14.8%, with the Conservative on 2nd with 17.8%, but Labour still got 54.3%.

    So that would be quite a switch for UKIP who only got 2.9% to win in 2010. There is currently no LD candidate in Barking and LD got 8.2% in 2010.

    The BNP also got 12 councillors elected in 2006, but in 2010 that was reversed with Labour taking all 51 council seats. While they held all 51 seats in 2014, UKIP came second in all but one ward

  16. Oops – should read “to win in 2015”

  17. Bantams

    I don’t know, there is little evidence. For UKIP to beat Cruddas, the Tory vote would have to collapse.

  18. Andy Shadrack.

    Barking is the next door seat to Dagenham & Rainham. In 2010, the white population in Barking was 60%.

  19. @David Welch

    “It has been a deliberate SNP policy on Aberdeen City Council to make these complaints about other councillors, no matter how trivial the problem.”

    Well I have to ask for some form of substantiation on that statement David. Can you at least provide a source that proves the complaints are deliberate (i.e. a political campaign), rather than deliberate in the sense that the people are a bit annoyed at the council?

    Or at least give a hint as to how you know it is deliberate?

    “And Jennifer wrote…” Please play the ball. I could give you a big, big list of journalists that wrote very biased articles to support No, and none of them are out of a job for it.



  20. To clarify, I mean white British.

  21. In the same way the Labour supporters voted tactically for the LibDems in the past (and maybe still will in some places?), I think that in areas like Barking and many seats in the Midlands and North, Tory supporters may vote UKIP tactically. Not because they particularly support UKIP’s policies, but simply to get Labour out.

    I’m not sure this is being allowed for by the pollsters. Don’t forget that we had a discussion about a week ago about some study that showed (I think) 27% of voters make up their mind actually in the polling booth.

  22. @ Barbazenzero

    Canada went metric so it could trade internatationally with Europe and Asia, but our neighbour to the south is not metric and that is who we trade the most with and buy from.

    So auto mechanics, for example, have two sets of spanners (wrenches). One to deal with Asian and European vehicles and another to deal with US.

    My daughter who is 33 this year and her mother of 57 think metric, whereas I at 65 this year am bi, in that I can still think quarters, thirds and eighths.

    Funnily enough there is a community on the East Shore of the lake we live on, who proudly proclaim they are metric free.

    Our speedometres are bi and when we cross the border either way we are advised of miles in the US and kilometres in Canada.

    Enough said I think, it is a generational thing now and the non-metric thinkers are a dying breed. I even still talk in Farenheit, as do Americans – but most Canadians including my spouse think I am odd.

  23. @ Pete B

    In Dagenham & Rainham the Tories were close enough in 2010 to think it would be more likely for UKIP to tactically support them rather than the other way round but I might be missing something here.

  24. @Barbs, Laszlo

    I admit to being happier in Imperial than Metric for everyday use. I can’t estimate in metric, and I have to do mental arithmetic if someone says “it’s 20cm” before I understand “8 inches”. But I’m good enough at mental arithmetic for it not to bother me, and I was in education when SI was being introduced for science in schools so I understand both. Not everybody is that lucky.

    Because of our interest in voting nobody wants to make old people unhappy. So don’t expect Imperial to die off easily. I have heard “livre” used in rural France as a measure of weight, though not recently, so 200 years should do the trick.

  25. @ Statgeek

    ‘Show & tell’ is not welcomed by Anthony. And this applies to the SNP as much as any other Party. If you post ‘show & tell’ or scuttlebutt then don’t be surprised when somebody rebuts it with less than academic rigour! To then criticise the rebuttal is just keeping it going beyond the point of reasonableness.

  26. @ Hawthorn

    Thanks, I was raised in Wanstead and went to school in Chigwell – so I know where they are. Have there been many layoffs at the Ford plant, as one of the experiences in Canada (and the US) is that the major car plant communities no longer employ the numbers they used to and hence income levels have really plummeted in those communities as industrial wages and rates of unionization have dramtically dropped too.

    The point of friction, from my perspective, is for good jobs, housing and access to services. In communities with relative affluence, like some suburbs of Greater Vancouver, ethnicity divergence does not appear to be a problem like it is in the US and other parts of Canada.

  27. @Bantams
    I don’t know anything about Dagenham in particular. I was just making the point that there are areas where UKIP have a council presence, and where Tories have very little chance of winning. In those areas Tory voters might switch to UKIP as a way to get Labour out. UKIP have a better chance than Tories in some places because they attract disillusioned Labour voters who would bever dream of voting Tory.

    In other words, UKIP have a good chance of becoming the ‘Anyone But Labour’ candidate in a lot of places.

  28. LASZLO
    I doubt if there is a real liking of Imperial measures. How about an 1/8 of a gill? Most people have difficulties with fractions anyway. Should we introduce firkin for butter?

    Like Michael Flanders, we have a scale marked in Scruples [=20 grains], but then my wife used to be a chemist. And as a computerer for nearly 50 years, as well as 3 Android devices and 2 PCs I still own 3 slide rules.

  29. I find it out that there is still a metric/imperial debate or maybe just that people debating it are odd.

    The vast majority of what we now buy is prepackaged or weight for us electronically at the till.

    People say they are going to the shops to buy a Pint of Milk but they just pick up the middle sized one, based on what it looks like.

    A generation of modern packaging and convenience food means we overwhelmingly buy on sight and metric or imperial most of us no longer know what anything weighs!



    CON 33% LAB 33% UKIP 17% LD 7% GRN 5%

  31. I’m really confused by the media coverage of the SNP strategy. I’ve seen some political commentators saying that the SNP want to depress the Labour vote in England because a Tory government would mean a better chance of independence (hence Alex Salmond making claims about his influence over Labour in order to frighten English voters). And I’ve seen a similar number of commentators saying the SNP want to maximise Labour’s chances in England so they can have a coalition with them. Can anyone explain what’s really going on! Thanks.

  32. @ AW – now that you have changed the UNS methodology to adjust for Scotland, would there be any way of updating the numbers so PC, SNP, UKIP and Greens are separated out from your “others” seats totals. It would be really helpful to see what your UNS is saying in terms of seats.

    Thanks, I know you have loads of time on your hands ;-)


    With changes from last time:

    Conservative 33 -1
    Labour 33 -1
    Liberal Democrat 7 +2
    UKIP 17 +2
    Green 5 -1
    Other 5 -1

  34. Comment on new Panelbase Poll:

    *Two big parties neck and neck , but UKIP and LD up.

    *Effect of media coverage regulations during campaign?

  35. @prof howard

    I posted that panelbase poll a couple of hours ago…


    POPULUS: Lab. 34 (-), Con 32 (-2), LD 9 (+1), UKIP 15 (-), GN 5 (+1),

    PANELBASE: Conservative 33 -1; Labour 33 -1; Liberal Democrat 7 +2; UKIP 17 +2; Green 5 -1; Other 5 -1

    Comment: two parties falling, smaller parties gaining.

  37. Thanks Omnishambles. I missed it.

    Interesting patterns, the two polls point in the same direction.

  38. I thought that Panel base was supposed to be an old poll

    Canada went metric so it could trade internatationally with Europe and Asia, but our neighbour to the south is not metric and that is who we trade the most with and buy from.
    So auto mechanics, for example, have two sets of spanners (wrenches). One to deal with Asian and European vehicles and another to deal with US.

    Thanks for clarifying that. I thought that was the case but wasn’t sure. I have a VW which is metric and an HD Sportster which is AF as opposed to the standard UK [BS?] spanners. Both have only KM speedos, but fortunately my satnav switches easily from metric to imperial when I catch the ferry to the UK.

  40. @Peter Cairns
    “People say they are going to the shops to buy a Pint of Milk but they just pick up the middle sized one, based on what it looks like.
    …..we overwhelmingly buy on sight and metric or imperial most of us no longer know what anything weighs!”

    The middle-sized one is a quart, so you’ve proved your point!

  41. @profhoward

    Yes, smaller parties gaining some ground (except for the Greens). It’s difficult to judge whether tonight will help them, any of those leaders could so easily mess up or come across negatively.


    No it’s a new poll, only the tables I posted were old

  42. @MartinW

    The last time we discussed SNP strategy here, Supernanny put us all on the naughty-step, so you’re probably not going to get much of an answer about.

    I still think it was a bit unfair on me. The big boys were fighting and I got knocked down.


    I recon Lynton Crosby must be scheduling cross over for after Easter now. There is no point in crossover during a holiday weekend when people are not paying attention to it. Hence expect Cameron just to mention his “Long Term Economic Plan” a bit tonight, and hold back the game-changing initiatives until closer to the election.

  44. Someone greater than Lynton Crosby scheduled Passover for this weekend.

    So Crossover must wait.

    PS re imperial measurements

    Perhaps I’m wrong. I just had a quick look for UK produced products in the kitchen and to my surprise all 5 of them are marked only in metric units, viz:

    1L Grants “cooking” whisky
    85ml Dunn’s River Hot Sauce
    360g Branston Pickle
    360g Sharwood’s Mango Chutney
    490g Roots Reggae Reggae Sauce

    All were purchased this year in the EEA but outwith the UK, so I suppose the $64,000 question is whether those are “export” labels or identical to the UK ones. Perhaps milk is just a special case.

  46. That’s a very good Panelbase poll for UKIP then!!!!!

  47. Andy Shadrack

    Right, I did not realise you knew the area.

    It is not my Manor, but I believe the area is gradually becoming more multi-ethnic, with white flight to Essex proper (and the Costa del Sol).

  48. Andy Shadrack, you asked about nomination rules for parliamentary candidates. A candidate needs a proposer, a seconder and the consent of eight electors from the constituency, plus a £500 deposit that is returned if he or she obtains 5% or more of the vote. Full details can be found on the Electoral Commission website.

    I’m curious to know where you are in Canada. I like Canada very much and my sister is married to a Canadian and they live in BC.

  49. @Amber

    It isn’t rumour of gossip (scuttlebutt).

    “Scotland’s Ethical Standards Commissioner Bill Thomson told the Scottish Parliament’s local government committee that 524 of 672 complaints regarded Aberdeen councillors making up nearly 80% of those recorded.”

    Now if there’s a reporting irregularity, I’m happy to hear it. Really.

  50. @statgeek, David Welch, Amber Star

    I think you will find as referenced in the EE article that the complaints arose from the Labour Administration’s decision when our own Barney Crockett was leader to use ACC resources to write to all Council taxpayers on ACC letterhead paper to advise them to vote No. It is I believe still being considered by the Standards Commissioner.

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