Lord Ashcroft released a new batch of constituency polls this afternoon, this time returning to ten Conservative -vs- Labour seats where he found a tight battle last time round. Full details are here.

I normally look at the average swing across the groups of seats that Lord Ashcroft polls, but I’d be wary of reading too much into that this time. Because Lord Ashcroft has gone back to the tight races, these are seats that were showing a smaller than average swing before (an average of 2 points from Con to Lab). They still show a lower than average swing of about 2 points…but that’s probably because it’s a sample made up of seats that were showing a lower swing anyway, rather than a sign of a wider pattern.

Most of the seats don’t show much change in the Lab-Con race since Ashcroft previously polled them last year. The biggest differences are in Harrow East, where Labour are now ahead, and in Loughborough and Kingswood, previously tight races but now with healthier Tory leads. Most of the polls showed a drop in UKIP support, but none of these are UKIP target seats and the previous wave of polling in most of these seats was Sep-Oct when UKIP were on a Carswell related high, so this is to be expected. A positive finding for Labour in these seats is that they are ahead in the ground war – on average 71% of people recall being contacted by Labour over the last few weeks, compared to 59% who recall being contacted by the Tories.

Elsewhere, last night’s YouGov poll for the Sun had topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5% (tabs). Nothing particularly unusual, but note that YouGov are now on their election footing, meaning they weight by likelihood to vote in a similar way to ICM and Ashcroft polls (so people who say they are 10/10 certain to vote get a weight of 1.0, people who say they are 9/10 likely to vote get a weight of 0.9 and so on). In past elections this has tended to slightly favour the Conservatives, but this time round it isn’t actually making any substantial difference at all. YouGov have also changed their sampling slightly – taking samples from people who polled in January and February (a period when Labour had a very slight lead in the polls) and weighting them using Jan/Feb vote, rather than party ID from back in 2010.

It also means they are now seven days a week, so we’ll be getting a fresh YouGov poll every night up until the election.

539 Responses to “Lord Ashcroft re-visits some Con-Lab marginals”

1 2 3 11
  1. No sleep for @AW!

  2. I look forward to Lord As next poll -plenty of questions on non doms I expect ?!

  3. I really can’t see past some sort of Lab & SNP deal…

  4. Its Con + LD + DUP or Lab + SNP (plus perhaps Gr, PC, SDLP)

    Very different propositions and I think the two are equally likely at the moment

  5. @07052015

    If there was anything more to make from non doms then it would have been done before now. I do wonder if this is one of these pre election policies that is announced with a great fanfare because it may gain votes but is quietly dropped if Labour get into government because it actually costs money.

  6. RMJ
    I think you’re right. Smacks of Miliband trying to shore up his core vote. It wont attract new voters though, paricularly with the BallsUp. Whether that strategy will be successful remains to be seen

  7. Rich, depending on the seat distribution it might be the only way Ed Miliband gets number 10. Somebody has to form a government no matter how much they prostrate their intentions for and against something at this time.

    I don’t think the election has got going as yet in England whereas some commentators say it has in Scotland. Maybe the manifestos next week will get it firing on all pistons but as there is no give away or attractive policies on offer this election may well be the most boring in years and may well help the Tories cling to power through lower turnouts in England.

  8. I’ve been looking up about non-doms. Apparently “an individual must pay UK tax on UK earnings, but need not pay UK tax on foreign income or gains unless they bring that income back to the UK.”

    I must be being stupid, but that seems totally reasonable to me. If a gain is made abroad and remains abroad, wouldn’t any tax be due in the country where the gain was made? Why would the UK have any claim to tax it? I must be missing something.

  9. Not sure Coburn is winning over many floating voters.

  10. With regret, I may have to restart my data sets from You Gov following the methodological changes.

    Doing sensitive analysis and mixing the data is probably a bad idea.

    Thank you You Gov :-/

  11. Okay, so, I want non-partisan opinions so this seems like the best place to look: is the Greens’ Party Political Broadcast/viral video effective marketing?

    Not sure Coburn is winning over many floating voters.

    Agreed. Only fair to give Ruthie a chance to heckle.

  13. @ CMJ

    I thought it was only about voting intentions. It should cause any major upset to a large data set.

  14. @Pete B

    Try that line with the IRS!

    Non-dom status let’s individuals move profits and losses across boundaries to avoid tax. Much in the way some companies do.

  15. CMJ,

    Today’s YG data tables included the table using the old methodology, so you can carry on with that.

  16. Pete B,

    I think the point is that it is a privilege denied to the average UK citizen.

  17. Hope it’s not a partisan point to say that Willie Rennie is a more impressive debater than I expected. I’m not saying he’s winning or anything, but I do think he’s benefited from the debates, if only at the margin.

  18. TheSheep is right. The U.S. tax office would go after any income the tax subject has irrespective of the geographic origin (and if there is no tax arrangement with the given country – tough).

  19. @Lazlo @Hal

    Thanks for that info.

    I hope that tables with the old methodology remain until the GE.

  20. TheSheep
    Thanks. I worked abroad occasionally in the 1980s and 1990s and I remember that there used to be a rule about having to live in UK for less than 100 days in a year to avoid UK tax or something. I didn’t really understand it.

    Anyway, polls not moving much. I wonder if it’ll stay like this until the election or whether something dramatic will happen. I supect the former.

  21. Edward Miliband is deadly serious about tackling evasion and avoidance -you underestimate him at your peril.So cant see a uturn from him .Need a change of leader for that.

    I also think he will hope for a change in libdem leader as confidence and supply with them will restrict wee alexs mischief.

  22. @Rich @AdamB

    Where I think it gets interesting, and what seems perfectly possible, is if the CON are the largest party but can’t cobble together a big enough coalition for a majority, whereas LAB can.

    I may have misread the report, but it seems Jim Murphy said in the Scottish Leaders debate that in those circumstances Labour wouldn’t vote down a Queen’s speech by a CON-led minority government. Would they really stick to that assertion? If not what would it take to prevent a CON minority government from happening? Formal LAB/SNP coalition or just an agreement for the SNP to not vote down LAB Queen’s speech? If a formal coalition was required what would that do for LAB support in England?

    I would say if the various leftish parties can form an overall majority then there’s nothing wrong with LAB running a minority government even if not the largest party, as the alternative is a CON minority with all their policies being voted down in the house. I’m not sure if people generally would see it that way, I imagine generally they’d just be unhappy or consider it unfair that the winner of the election isn’t in government.

    I think the aftermath will be more interesting than the election itself to be honest, and will likely fit in nicely with our general “make it up as we go along” approach to constitutional arrangements.

  23. @ Pete B

    Non-doms are resident in the UK, but have a permanent home (as the law defines) abroad.

  24. Bit of a shame that Willie Rennie can’t come up with a single policy that he thinks would be a red line.

    I know House of Lords reform isn’t sexy but surely it would be worth mentioning something you would die in a ditch for.

  25. Nicola hints at a 2018/2019 referendum if the Tories get into government.

  26. Well if we’re still doing non-doms

    “I think the point is that it is a privilege denied to the average UK citizen.”
    Is that true? Couldn’t anyone do this?
    Laszlo says:
    “Non-doms are resident in the UK, but have a permanent home (as the law defines) abroad.”
    Quite a lot of people have a villa or apartment in Spain or Portugal. If they let that property out when they weren’t there, and kept the money abroad couldn’t they be non-doms?

    Anyway, thanks for all the reponses but I don’t want to get in trouble with Anthony for turning his site into a tax-avoidance discussion group!

    I wonder if the announcements re non-doms will affect the polls? (see, I’m trying to be good)

  27. Four forecasts changed today. five have Labour winning most seats. Two the Tories winning most seats. The average still has the Tories winning 5 more seats than Labour.

    See tables here:


  28. @ Pete B

    I hope AW will allow this short statement.

    You can have a non-Dom status only if your father considered a foreign country to be his permanent residence when you were born, and you stayed in the UK as a resident (you didn’t give up this right). So, it is not available to most people.

  29. Non doms aren’t evading or avoiding, they are following the rules. If necessary they can avoid UK tax altogether if they spend less than 90 days in the UK or alternatively spend 183 days in one other country but non Dom status gives them more flexibility for a fixed fee. In most cases they are paying tax in the country where their income comes from but in some cases those tax rates are quite low. It would not be a great hardship for many of these people to restrict their UK residence to under 90 days if the tax difference is too great. I think we would see a great deal less of Mr Obramovich for a start.

  30. @pete b

    They had a tax expert on today’s PM on radio 4 who explained how non-dom works quite clearly. Not only do you have what @laszlo said, but you have to pay huge fees to the Treasury in order to take advantage of the tax loophole. So you have to be really rich for it to even make sense.

  31. Debate not as shouty as tweets had suggested. Excellent chairing by James Cook.

  32. Oldnat,

    Agreed. Early on the leaders tried the tiresome “talk over each other so no-one can make a point”, but he shut it down fairly effectively.

  33. @RMJ1

    They are absolutely avoiding tax. That is the difference between evasion (illegal) and avoidance (legal).

    From a polling perspective I think this plays well to people’s perception of what Labour stands for – it will reinforce votes but probably only win a few new ones.

  34. the non dom status allows very wealthy individuals to arrange that the bulk of their income is ‘earned’ in the cayman islands or somewhere similarly uninterested in collecting tax.

    Its a blatant tax dodge and only defensible from the highly debatable point of view that it attracts the super rich to invest in the UK.

  35. @Gary Gatter

    Thank You, very interesting.

    The G and UK elect both show Con and Lab on identical vote share and near identical seat share suggesting that (in their view) Labour no longer has a built in advantage.

    However, Electoral Colculus and May 2015 show Labour winning more seats with Con with a smaller vote share. So there appears to be no consensus.

  36. There is a YouGov poll tonight due in 30 mins or so.

  37. Is it me or have Labour opened a modest (1%) lead since Easter?

    It seems 1% trend leads are about as high as they get at the moment.

  38. AW
    “They still show a lower than average swing of about 2 points…but that’s probably because it’s a sample made up of seats that were showing a lower swing anyway, rather than a sign of a wider pattern.”

    I see they are all sophomore seats so perhaps it is less worrying for Labour than for Conservatives that some will fall, according to that theory anyway. Having looked again at the seats, it seems to me that many were originally safe Con but fell in the 1997 ‘clear out’. It’s funny how once a change takes place, it takes a special effort to win it back, it seems.

  39. @Little Red Rock

    I tend not to look at their projected percentages. YouGov changed from Con 34%, Lab 33% to Con 33%, Lab 35%. But their seat nowcast didn’t change!

  40. @Little Red Rock

    I just noticed that the nowcast on YouGov has not been updated.

  41. YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour lead by one: CON 34%, LAB 35%, LD 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%

  42. So what’s the labour proposal on non doms?

  43. YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour lead by one: CON 34%, LAB 35%, LD 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%

  44. No time so far to analyse how the various projection models fare in relation to this batch of polls. However one pattern is so stark that it doesn’t call for careful analysis.

    When contributors cite projections from Electoral Calculus I often jump in and point out that it has long been apparent that this model has a rather marked Labour favouring bias (and that this should therefore be taken into account in interpreting any of their projections).

    This bias shows up very clearly in the present batch of polls. EC classifies all ten seats as Labour gains. In contrast with this, Ashcroft puts the Tories ahead in half of the seats not just in one poll, but now in two of them. Moreover the margin is probably beyond the MoE in three of these cases.

    Prior to the election itself these constituency polls (and prior to this a handful of by elections) provide the only external validation of the performance of a model and therefore about the accuracy of its election projections.

    All the evidence to date suggests that the EC projections are likely to be misleading and should therefore be taken with a pinch of salt.

  45. Those two tens for the LibDems don’t look so significant now.

  46. YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour lead by one: CON 34%, LAB 35%, LD 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%

  47. Surely the point about Milliband’s position on non Doms is not essentially about how much money it raises (relatively small in the overall scheme of things) but about having a clear policy that is about “fairness” or tackling inequality (at least the inequality of influence)? I think those who look at it in £ and pennies are missing the point; the fact it’s taken quite so long to come out is also probably testament to EB’s tenacity

  48. They may imply the LDems are on the upper side of 8% rather than the lower, but probably not any more than that.

    All very steady at present…

  49. So Lab holding up in the polls and all talk of crossover has gone quiet.
    However not a good day for Lab on the tax front. Ed Balls will not win the election for Labour but he might well lose it.

  50. Unicorn
    Duly taken (pinch). I just wait for you to tell us which one we should follow. EF isn’t it?

1 2 3 11