Another busy day for polling. We have only one GB voting intention poll today, but from a brand new pollster (later on we’ll have the regular daily poll from YouGov and the ComRes/Mail/ITV poll). However we also have a new Scottish poll from Ipsos MORI, three new constituency polls from Lord Ashcroft and a new poll of Con-Lab marginals from ComRes.

The new GB voting intention poll is from BMG Research for May 2015. It’s an online poll, using the sort of weightings and adjustments ICM use – so weighted by past vote, weighted by likelihood to vote with people who didn’t vote weighted down, and with 50% of people who say don’t know assumed to vote for the party they did last time. This has produced topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 32%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 14%, GRN 3% – full tabs are here.

MORI’s Scottish poll shows, as ever, a huge SNP lead. Topline figures are CON 17%, LAB 20%, LDEM 5%, SNP 54% (tabs). This would be enough for the SNP to win just about everywhere. A measure of just how vast the change has been in Scotland is that we are no longer surprised by polls showing the SNP with huge landslide leads in Scotland – we should be. A thirty-four point lead for the SNP in an area that Labour has consistently won since the 1960s is astounding and appears to be a true realignment in Scottish politics. We end up paying to the rest of the country because England and Wales are on a knife-edge while the outcome of Scotland appears settled, it’s just a question of how colossal the SNP landslide is, but it’s good to sit back occasionally and gawp at the scale of the turnaround in Scottish politics since a year ago.

Lord Ashcroft released three new constituency polls. The first was of South Swindon – a typical Con-Lab marginal seat, but not of any great importance beyond that. At the last election Robert Buckland had a majority of 7.5%, so with the national polls level we’d expect to find Conservative and Labour pretty much neck-and-neck here. That’s what Ashcroft found in his last two polls of the seat, it’s still the case now – a Conservative lead of just one point.

The other two seats are far more unusual affairs. The first is Sheffield Hallam, Nick Clegg’s own constituency. Ashcroft’s previous polling of the constituency has consistently found a very tight race between Labour and the Liberal Democrats (despite the fact that it used to the Tories who were main alternative to the Liberals here). Ashcroft’s poll today shows a Labour lead of one point, so far too close to call. Interestingly comparing the standard voting intention question and the constituency question a quarter of Conservative voters say they will actually vote Lib Dem in Hallam, suggesting significant Tory tactical voting propping up Nick Clegg.

The last of Ashcroft’s polls was in Thanet South, the seat being contested by Nigel Farage. There has been substantial polling in this seat, with recent Survation polls commissioned by UKIP donor Alan Bown showing a solid lead for Nigel Farage and other polling by ComRes showing a tight three way race between Conservative, Labour and UKIP. Ashcroft found a tight race between Conservative and UKIP, with the Tories just three points ahead, but Labour now clearly back in third place – CON 34%, UKIP 32%, LAB 26%. Tables for all three polls are here.

Finally there was a new ComRes poll of battleground Con-Lab marginals. As I’ve written before, the key to understanding marginal polls is to look at how those seats voted last time, what they change is, and how that compares to the national picture. This poll isn’t the 40 closest Lab-Con marginals that ComRes usually poll in their marginals omnibus, but a different bespoke sample of the fifty most marginal Con held marginals with Labour in second place. In 2010 there was an average Conservative lead of 4 points across these seats, while in today’s poll ComRes found a 3 point Labour lead. This is a 3.5 swing from Conservative to Labour, or the equivalent of a national poll showing Labour and Conservative neck-and-neck. Full tables are here

The 3.5 swing is in line with the national swing across all the polls (though a little bigger than the swing in ComRes’s telephone polls). However, I’m not sure that national polls are the right comparison – almost all Lab-Con marginals are in England, and because Labour have collapsed in Scotland the swing to Labour is actually bigger in England & Wales than the national polls imply. I’m going to try write at more length about the different battlegrounds at the weekend, but at first glance it looks to me as if the Conservatives may be doing a little better in the key marginals than across England and Wales as a whole… but Labour are doing a little better in England and Wales as a whole than in GB, so the two factors cancel each other out and the marginals swing is about the same as the national GB swing.

UPDATE: The voting intention figures for ComRes and YouGov are now both out. ComRes’s telephone poll for the Mail & ITV has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 35%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 11%, GRN 6%. YouGov for the Sun have topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 34%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%, GRN 4%.

925 Responses to “BMG, MORI Scotland, Ashcroft constituencies and ComRes marginals”

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  1. @ Chrislane1945

    Isn’t your estimate of Tory gains from the LDs a bit on the low side?

  2. NICO

    “A good poll for Labour which stops the media narrative of a move to the Tories.”

    Wrong. Just another point gain for Conservatives after taking the lead in yougovs poll yesterday and the massive change in their favour according to Mori

  3. “Sandi Toksvig is founding new party – the Women’s Equality party”

    Bit sexist. Shouldn’t that be the Persons’ Equality Party?

    Or aren’t men allowed to be equal too……..

  4. @Magpie

    Can’t keep up with all the posts.

    I think that the SNP would see their main purpose at Westminster as getting DevoMax, and would be prepared to lose Westminster representation to achieve it.

    Their emphasis is upon Holyrood – Westminster is no longer the main event, and their Leader isn’t even standing.

    For Labour, a brief but defined period in charge with specific objectives is better than an indefinite quasi-coalition with the SNP, subject to by-elections and rebellions.

    At the end of the day, it will come down to the specific arithmetic and the attitude of the smaller parties, so I don’t think you are wrong – it will be a matter of circumstance, and perhaps the impact of ‘events’. I simply think that the idea of a short Parliament could appeal to both parties.


    I specifically stated that the situation I described would not be a ‘constitutional crisis’. We have a constitution to deal with it, and hung parliaments are commonplace elsewhere. So I agree with the mainstream consensus on this site, namely that a government will be legitimate if it commands a majority in the House, however that is comprised.

    But the situation I outlined is not a repetition of the Con/LD coalition, where the party with the most seats were in charge, and where the two parties combined held a healthy majority.

    The Lab/SNP pact I envisaged would involve Labour as the second largest party, and the other principal partner being a party standing in only a small part of the country. And relying upon the cooperation of yet further parties to win a confidence vote. And subject over time to rebellions and by-elections. I am not sure that is a sustainable situation, although entirely constitutional. From the perspective of practical politics, I feel a short term agreement has attractions to both Lab and SNP.

  5. @McClane, @Nico

    Both wrong. No point at all in spinning one, two or three polls. Leave it to the statisticians to reach conclusions based on meaningful runs of data.

  6. Holgate

    Where are you getting Survation as low Lab? They are low Con whereas the Lab house effect straddles 0.

    Also since Ashcroft changed to prompting for UKIP, they’ve been pretty neutral.

  7. That IPSOS Mori poll looks decidedly iffy.

    Tories ahead of Labour in London crossbreaks? Oh dear. The volatility in these phone polls due to their low sample size makes me take all of them with a huge pinch of salt.

    Good Evening to you.
    I am off to play Chess in a low level league.

    On reflection, I think you may well be right; we all tend, I think to over estimate Lib Dem figures.

  9. @McCLane

    The IPSOS/MORI was conducted over 4 days between the 26th and 29th. That’s too long a period to be called a snapshot of public opinion, it also showed part-time workers/unemployed going for the Conservatives which is laughable. It also had Conservatives 9 points ahead in London, again this is not feasible, it also had Cons leading in the DE demographic which again is not going to happen.

    Ben Page was too busy bigging up this poll the day before and instead should have wondered why many of the crossbreaks were going against every other poll of recent weeks. Simply put the IPSOS/MORI deserves to go into the cat litter tray!

  10. @alan

    I think @holgate means Survation have been showing low Lab VI (30%, 29%). This has only started recently, though.

  11. Millie: the scenario you describe would be constitutional, but it would be very damaging for Labour, who would be trapped in a short-lived, do-nothing government that would be viewed, especially by English voters, as a hostage to the SNP (a party which, let us not forget, wants to break up the United Kingdom). The question is: will Ed Miliband put his own personal ambition to be PM above the long-term interests of his party ?


    Ashcroft constituency is our main guide here, which seems to show Lib Dem resilience in constituencies that it has held for extended periods. As Daredevil says, the polling data we have suggests that

    ChrisLane1945’s scenario where the Conservatives take 20 Lib Dem seats requires gains in Con-LD two-way seats like Cheltenham or Kingston and Surbiton; Ashcroft hasn’t polled them recently, but both showed LD+8 in December.

    Now, if Ed Davey or Vince Cable are under the same pressure from the Conservatives as Nick Clegg is in Hallam from Labour, that’s a big deal, but there’s no evidence that they are.

  13. Nico,,

    If that is right, and I do not doubt you, then I revise my opinion.

    My current view (until I change it) is that that IPSOS MORI poll is a rogue.

  14. @Daredevil

    Thanks for your earlier posts, which all agreed with me, so welcome.

    As for ChrisLane’s seat predictions, I think you will find he is expecting a late improvement in Tory performance, which explains his modest expectations of losses to Labour. As it currently stands, 50 seats is much more likely, I’d agree.

    I broadly agree with Chris, as I think there is a discernible, if very modest drift to the Conservatives, and I also share his expectation that the LibDems will underperform. His theory is something to do with the 1970s, but I think it will be due to a diminution in tactical voting arising from the uncertainties of an expected hung parliament. I think people are less inclined to vote tactically if it is not clear how that tactical vote will be deployed.

    I didn’t mean that first sentence to be taken seriously – every sensible and polite contribution is welcome.

  15. @NICO

    I read the trailing yesterday from Ben Page for their poll as framing it a little bit. There was a reference to how Ipsos’ upcoming poll was in the ball park of other recent publicly made polls ‘and those in progress’.

    It looked like ‘a safety in numbers’ defence of what are eyebrow-raising data…and he looks to have spent a fair chunk of today on twitter fielding questions over it.

  16. NICO

    Youre cherry picking data being suitable for your agenda. Yougov and Mori both showed the Conservatives on 35 percent of the vote, if the Tories are leading Labour by nine points in London,Mori probably underrates Con in other regions. Other polling institutes like Ashcroft and Survation also suggest that Lab might get just 30 percent, So many outliers? Or maybe the new trend? The outcome of Moris poll strengthened my notion Labour is going to lose the election.

  17. ALAN

    When did Ashcroft make the change in prompting for Ukip?

  18. Re: posters. I’ve seen about equal numbers of Green and Labour posters across Lambeth. Tory posters are rare, I saw just one, in Dulwich Village. No LibDem posters anywhere, quite astonishing for a party which was 2nd in both constituencies last time.

  19. The question is: will Ed Miliband put his own personal ambition to be PM above the long-term interests of his party ?

    @ MBruno

    It’s an impossible bind though. Labour in Scotland would be finished (more than they already are) if Miliband let the Tories in simply because he was unprepared to work with the SNP. And frankly, an awful lot of Labour voters in England and Wales would wonder what the party was for if it didn’t do everything in its power to keep Cameron out.

  20. ALAN

    Omnishambles did the work for me, and is right that Survation’s low VI is relatively recent.

    L <32 is rare in the short campaign and had been confined to two polling orgs, Ashcroft (low UKIP) and Survation (high UKIP).

    C <32 is even rarer, and probably reflects Panelbase's house +L effect.

    It's clear enough that the low bound overall for L is lower and the high bound for C is higher, which fits with a C lead on average, but we're still seeing distinct clusters with sufficient broad variability on key questions like UKIP VI that go beyond the usual fine regulation of house effects. Perhaps the final week of polling will shake some of this out, but Wednesday night is more likely to deliver a final set of polls where it'll be easy to identify methodological winners and losers once the votes are counted.

  21. David

    Can’t give you a date I’m afraid, think it was about the same time You gov did, think it was early this year, certainly long enough to get a good handle as to how it affected their relative house effect.

  22. MBruno


    I think the ‘toxicity’ of the SNP is precisely why he has to make it a short-term government.

    I doubt it would be ‘do-nothing’. There are a multitude of ‘anti-austerity’ style measures that could be introduced.

    But above all, it could achieve constitutional reform, especially in respect of DevoMax. This was what was promised to Scotland, after all, – it is hardly controversial.

    There is nothing electorally suicidal about a brief term in office. As I think Roger Mexico pointed out in an earlier post, it all depends on what you do during the time available.

  23. Here in marginal Ipswich the local paper is carrying the headline that the tory MP has a lead by 39% to Labour’s 34% admittedly a telephone poll of 200 people carried out by the local newspaper over the past few days,(the newspaper here has a slight tory bias) but on placards around the town I find hard to believe as it seems to be 3-1 Labour…. an interesting night next Thursday here in sleepy Suffolk with both Ipswich and Waveney being must wins for Labour….

  24. SMITHY

    Not me, the only gambling i do is on the stock markets and then i am fairly cautious. Done very well in the last two years though :-)

  25. @McClane

    I’m happy to accept a poll even if it shows a big Tory lead if the crossbreaks are plausible. You do get the odd weird crossbreak and these normally even out but there are too many in the IPSOS/MORI poll. DE’s voting Conservative is like AB’s voting Labour. I’ve seen weeks of polls and this is the first one that has this, aswell as the other problems therefore I’ve discarded the poll.

  26. Discussion on Radio 4 about whether opinion polls should be banned in the last days/weeks of the campaign. Apparently there is a two week pre-election moratorium on them in Italy.

  27. Matthew
    I’m not sure that basing our political system on Italy’s is a good way forwards

  28. Italy eh? Always a good idea to do the opposite to what the Italians do.

  29. @ SurbitonSteve

    “Could you let us know what the difference in the seat distribution would be if the constitutional norm had been observed and the boundaries had been redrawn after the last election??”

    With or without a reduction to 600 MPs?


    I’d want better than 6/1 on a Tory majority given the polls!

  31. Jasper22,

    I don’t think so. The Italians tried that, but it didn’t work.

  32. Does anyone the constitutional position should the results be in line with the polls – i.e. CONs largest party so the Queen is obliged to ask them to form a Government first (I believe), that will fail as no-one wants to work with them – and the polls precist a combined anti CON majority; ebven if there was a CON-LIBDEM-UKIP alliance

    Is the 2nd largest party then asked (i.e. LAB given a chance) or do we have another election?

    Has this ever happened before?

  33. @ Gattino

    “Sandi Toksvig is founding new party – the Women’s Equality party”

    Bit sexist. Shouldn’t that be the Persons’ Equality Party?

    Or aren’t men allowed to be equal too……..

    I am resisting the temptation to post all the statistics which show the lack of equality for women in parliament, in pay, in education & in other life chances!

  34. Well, whatever the truth about the polls the narrative developing on Conservative sites is that crossover may have occurred and Conservatives are AHEAD.

    I think this is useful for UKIP and Lib Dem as their voters will feel under less pressure to support the Conservatives to stop Labour if there is a story that the Conservatives are going to win anyway.

  35. Mnnie: how would Ed Miliband call an election in six months or one year though ? Would he engineer a vote of no confidence in his own government ? Under that scenario, using the FTPA interpretation that is prevalent among posters in this forum (with which I disagree BTW), Miliband would have to resign, the Tory leader (whoever he/she may be) would take over, and after losing a second vote of confidence in 14 days, an election would be held with the Tories in government. Hardly a practical scenario if you ask me.

    An alternative would be Labour and the Tories mutually agreeing to a dissolution (with Labour in government) by invoking the 2/3 clause of the FTPA. However, why should they wait six-months or one year to do that instead of calling an election right away in June if no party has a concrete prospect of forming a stable government immediately after the May election ? Labour could then go back to Scotland to shore up its support among soft SNP voters while the Tories could appeal to soft UKIP voters in England. I’m pretty sure voters would seek a resolution and return a majority government (either way) under that scenario.

    I guess my point is that, in this new era of fixed-term parliaments, political parties in a hung parliament situation need to strike deals that are meant to last five years (like the 2010 Con-Lib coalition) as snap elections called at the PM’s pleasure are no longer the norm and can only be held according to convoluted statutory rules.

  36. Good evening from NL, the land of pure PR. If we had the same on present polling, we would have Lab 210, Con 220, UKIP 80 , LD 50, Green 40, SNP 35 …… and the rest.
    Of course I realise the situation would quickly morph into another scene, party wise, but hopefully this should set thoughts going in what if directions.

  37. Good evening from NL, the land of pure PR. If we had the same on present polling, we would have Lab 210, Con 220, UKIP 80 , LD 50, Green 40, SNP 35 …… and the rest.
    Of course I realise the situation would quickly morph into another scene, party wise, but hopefully this should set thoughts going in what if directions.

  38. Millie,

    While I find nothing implausible in the structure of your scenario, there are a some difficulties which might well scupper it.

    Firstly, your notional six month time is an extremely short time frame for a constitutional convention. Given the lack of consensus on even the need such a thing, the chances of even agreeing terms of reference looks challenging. As for reaching agreement on a way forward in six months….

    Secondly, elections are expensive for the parties and Labour may not be keen to go back in so quickly until they have rebuilt their finances.

    Thirdly, for Scotland this would mean 5 major campaigns within 2 years (Euro 2014, Indy Ref, GE2015 #1, GE2015 #2 , and Holyrood 2016). The SNP might be wary of being on the wrong side of an election fatigue backlash.

  39. Anyway tonight the three leaders have their chance .

    By now fatigue will have its grip and mistakes are possible.

    David Dim is a quiet assassin compared with pax and brillo.

    Will cleggy concentrate on labour (to save himself ) or on the tories to defend the south west(the only seats he can save )

    Will dave be pumped up.

    Will ed say hell yes again.

    They are all pros so dont expect anything to go wrong but just feel it might.

  40. @ Ericgoodyer

    DC doesn’t have to ask the monarch if he has majority. If he can’t muster it, he has to inform her. She doesn’t ask anyone, because it is the private business of the HoC. Anyone in the house, including AS, or HH could attempt to assemble a group of MPs to support him or her. Parties don’t have constitutional meaning in the UK. They are people who vote together or go to the same restaurant, or prefer the same washing powder. The trouble is that reality and constitutional affairs could diverse, but I’m digressing.

    So, if we assume that it’s within the two nicest weeks of May, and get’s the confidence of the house, the monarch invites the person, and he or she becomes the PM (for the time being).

    That’s it.

  41. Alan
    The reason I asked about Ashcroft prompting is that Christian Fraser, the BBC polls presenter is telling everyone that Ashcroft doesn’t prompt and highlighting that as the difference to other polls.

  42. Catoswyn: as Nate Silver’s prediction indicates, the current polling data point to a nightmare scenario where the Conservatives are the largest party in Parliament and win a plurality of the popular vote, but the Labour/SNP block may be able to vote them out in a motion of no confidence (or force a new election in an alternative interpretation of the FTPA which some posters here do not accept).. Either way, rather than taking the pressure out of LibDem and UKIP voters to vote Tory, that scenario will IMHO prompt them to do exactly the opposite to stop a weak 270-seat Labour government dependent on the backing of 50 SNP MPs.

  43. Millie

    EM has already promised to deliver on the ‘vow’ which is near as dammit devomax, and are now looking for FFA, though ideally with some kind of insurance if it goes wrong. Plus if they are seen to get some kind of concession like that it undermines their longer term aim of independence. I don’t think you’re seeing it clearly from either the Labour or SNP point of view, it just doesn’t do either of them any favours to promise a short parliament.

  44. Do we know if there will be snap polls tonight?

    That assumes these voters will be following the polls and possible outcomes rather closely. A simple message of Cameron heading for a win is more likely to be heard.

  45. MBruno

    “(or force a new election in an alternative interpretation of the FTPA which some posters here do not accept)”

    With respect, there have been scores of past/current articles in the media since the FTPA was brought in. The views of most of the posters on here concur with the consensus view of those.

    It is your interpretation which is ‘novel’ or in a minority.

  46. @Cloudspotter

    I think the Guardian have a snap poll. I’m on a Panelbase panel, not sure if it same.

  47. Sunreada,

    “They are all pros”

    Aside from Cameron, of course. He’s Con.

  48. First post after lurking for a few weeks, so a big thanks to all of you for the really enlightening insights into polling (and other things…)

    Quick newbie question: do any polling companies ask about eligibility to vote?

    I’m interested as there’s a sizeable number of people of voting age who can’t because of nationality (roughly 4 million according to ONS).

    Apologies if this has been covered before, but I’ve come up blank searching online

  49. DS
    I think this is the last major hurdle that could trip someone up. With one week to go, Cons about 1% ahead in GB. They will hope to gain one or two more in the next 7 days and that the polls are underestimating them. I think Labour will be happy if nothing changes and the poll of polls and the marginal polls are right.

  50. @sunreada
    On the subject of tonight’s Question Time, and on the subject of David Dimbleby, apparently David was a member of the Bullingdon Club at Oxford University, as was David Cameron – not at the same time though.

    @Little RedRock
    That’s interesting what you said about Nate Silver. He was inaccurate in his prediction of the 2010 election. This time they say that Silver is using the expertise of the ElectionForecast team to make his prediction, which presumably is why it is in line with their forecast.

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