Having made my way back from conference I’ve finally had a chance to look properly at Lord Ashcroft’s latest batch of marginal seat polling, this time looking mostly at Liberal Democrat seats – both the LD-v-Con battleground and the LD-v-Lab battleground. Full details are here.

Eleven of the LD-v-Con seats polled were the same as in the last round of Ashcroft polling. The picture in these seats is largely the same as it was then – a modest swing from Lib Dem to Con (2.9% average then, 2.5% average now), but significant variation. Then as now, the Lib Dems were doing much better in Sutton & Cheam and Eastleigh (both of which they’d hold), much worse in Chippenham and Somerton & Frome (both of which they’d lose). This round Lord Ashcroft also added four more LD-v-Con seats with slightly larger majorities. His polling found the Conservatives ahead in Berwick and in Taunton, neck-and-neck in Torbay but a hefty swing towards the Liberal Democrats in Eastborne. There is no obvious pattern to where the Lib Dems are doing better or worse in the LD/Con battleground. The Lib Dems are doing extremely well in Eastbourne where they have first term incumbent Stephen Lloyd, but they are also doing extremely well in Sutton and Cheam where Paul Burstow has been MP since 1997. They are doing extremely badly in Somerton & Frome where David Heath is standing down, but they are also doing extremely badly in Chippenham where Duncan Hames is a first time incumbent.

Ashcroft also polled five Lib Dem seats with Labour in second place. His previous polling of Lib-v-Lab seats was a little disappointing – he polled the four most marginal LD-v-Lab seats, all of which fell to Labour easily on huge swings. The more interesting question is what is happening in LD-v-Lab seats that have much bigger majorities, are the Lib Dems going to be wiped out there? In this round of polling Lord Ashcroft looked at some of those “safer” Lib Dem seats – Cambridge, Cardiff Central, Hornsey & Wood Green, Redcar and Bermondsey & Old Southwark. Four of these would need swings of 6-7 points to fall to the Labour, and Ashcroft shows them getting it relatively easily, the average swing across the five seats is twice that. The only LD-v-Lab seat where Ashcroft found the Lib Dems ahead was Bermondsey & Old Southwark – and there by only a single point.

Meanwhile the latest voting intention polls from the four companies who’ve polled so far this week are below:

Ashcroft – CON 32%(+5), LAB 32%(-1), LDEM 8%(-1), UKIP 17%(nc), GRN 4%(-2)
Populus – CON 34%, LAB 36%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
ComRes/Indy – CON 29%(+1), LAB 35%(nc), LDEM 10%(+1), UKIP 15%(-2)
YouGov/Sun – CON 31%, LAB 36%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 5%

338 Responses to “Ashcroft poll of Lib Dem marginals”

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  1. Maura and Spearmint,
    Treading carefully here as I respect both your opinions.Perhaps it may come
    back at its most basic to the experience of being a parent.I believe that the loss
    of a child is a terrible thing that most of us hope to never have to suffer.How
    parents who do suffer this loss deal with it is a personal thing.Looking at the
    Harrowed face of Mrs McCann,who has not only lost her daughter in every
    parents nightmare scenario,but is still persued by maniacs stirred up by the
    Tabloid press is the ultimate in distress.If the Cameron’s wish their sons death
    to be used as part of a political speech,then that is of course their decision.


  2. Personally I think if you have allegations that you don’t care about the NHS and that you’re hell bent on destroying on it thrown at you1000 times a day, it must be very difficult not to keep pointing out your personal relationship with it.

    Imagine a Labour PM who was constantly accused of being soft on crime, despite having been the victim of a horrific assault, or having had a close relative murdered. It would get tiring I expect.

  3. .
    your post 1Oct 9.40 You explain things very well. Entirely agree with you

    @ Roger H
    “If i was a Labour voter, I would be tempted to vote for UKIP in the Rochester by-election.”
    You are absolutely right

    On the subject of the NHS which has been discussed a lot, I would compare the NHS with the BBC. Why?
    The public like the BBC and the NHS, and that’s why the right wingers cannot privatise them.

    The difference between the BBC and the NHS is that the BBC is financed separately. The NHS is in the government’s pocket paid out of general taxation. It becomes political. Therefore a move to finance the NHS independently, like the BBC, from an insurance fund, would be a good move.

    Call it insurance payment, call it the BBC licence fee. It is independent finance. I think that is what they do in a Germany. About 85 per cent of the population there have the state insurance, and about 15 per cent choose private insurance.

  4. Ann in Wales

    Thank you for the comment.

  5. @ RogerH

    I don’t expect EV4EL to be in effect before the GE, but there will be future problems if this issue is not resolved, particularly if Lab forms the next UK government. The West Lothian question would be magnified substantially if there is a Devomax settlement for Scotland and no EV4EL.

  6. Spearmint – “People’s lives are political. People’s deaths are political. ”

    I think the rule is that politicians can do whatever they like in their personal lives and use their personal stories however they want, as long as they are not being hypocritical.

    So nobody was fussed about Robin Cook dumping his wife and marrying his secretary because he hadn’t made any grand pronouncements about “the sanctity of marriage”. Whereas when they found out about Edwina, everyone thought Major was a right old hypocrite given his “back to basics” stance.

    Similarly if you pronounce against single mothers, you don’t then go and create one (Cecil Parkinson). If you attack Hillary Clinton for standing by Bill, you don’t then do the exact same when your own husband strays (the wives of various American governors in the last decade).

    Cameron claimed DLA for his son, plus the state paid for a full-time nurse for him. Which is fine and was his right – only he cut that money as soon as he no longer needed it himself. I think that’s what angers the disabled community. Especially as most don’t have other resources to make up the gap.

  7. @RoyKite
    we have schools where there are classes of up to 70 pupils,

    Just a nitpick – I agree that immigration is causing pressure on school places in some areas but the story about schools with classes of 70 pupils was a mistake in the Daily Telegraph, based on one school which counted the number of pupils attending an assembly.

    The very informative blog “Local schools network dot org dot uk” covered this in an article entitled “Titan classes claimed by Telegraph were whole-school assemblies led by one teacher, the DfE reveals.”

  8. Neil A

    I think that’s a very interesting example. Imagine that there WAS a PM (Labour or Conservative) who had been the victim of a horrific crime and who introduced policies which people thought were ‘soft on crime’. Would it be OK if, when people criticised the policies, the mythical PM said, in terms, ‘you can’t say that about me, I’ve been the victim of a horrific crime’?

    I think it would be wrong because the case for the policies should be able to be criticised intellectually and playing that kind of ‘trump card’ simply tries to make your opponent feel they can’t make a case without being insensitive to your dreadful experience.

  9. “The public like the BBC and the NHS, and that’s why the right wingers cannot privatise them.”

    I think it’s also because both are seen as state providers excluding private enterprise. That both are demonstrably more successful at satisfying the needs of their customers and at a lower cost than the private alternative only adds salt to the wound. (See also the re-nationalised East Coast railway.)

  10. @Candy – spot on.

  11. Maura,

    I think the difference is probably between criticising someone’s policies, and impugning someone’s motives.

    If a PM whose daughter had been murdered decided to reduce the maximum sentences for child killers, then it is acceptable to say that the policy is wrong and should be reversed. But if your accusation was “you don’t care about children getting killed” then I think it would be reasonable to cite personal experience in your defence.

  12. Sun strongly hinting that something notable has happened in tonight’s YouGov Poll…


  13. Number cruncher,
    Well if it doesn’t happen tonight it never will!

  14. @Number Cruncher

    Polldrums it is, then

  15. The Panelbase tables are here:


    the poll was done for the SNP, though there doesn’t seem to have been the dodgy question order we saw in the poll they did for them about a year ago (Survation tend to ask Holyrood first as well). There’s no likelihood to vote tables, but in the past Panelbase have tended to ask separate questions for each and I don’t see why they should change. They usually include anyone with an LTV of 8-10.

    The sample figures for likely voters aren’t that different 840 for Westminster, 859 for Holyrood and it may be a result of a higher level of interest in Scottish politics. It’s not unknown, turnout was actually higher in 1999 (59%) that it was in the nearest GE in 2001 (58.2%) and the Opinium polls which asked both also showed slightly higher Holyrood interest.

    According to Panelbase All the results were weighted by age, sex, household tenure, country of birth and SEG. Respondents who voted in the 2011 Holyrood election and/ or 2014 European elections were weighted back to the actual election results. UK voting intention was weighted to reflect the 2010 Westminster election rather than 2011.. This may actually cause some problems with false recall. Although recalled Holyrood and Euro election results aren’t too far out[1], Westminster recall is way out with more people in the original sample who say they voted SNP (actually 20%) than Labour (actually 42%). This can’t be a biased sample or the other recalls would be out as well. So people who voted Lib Dem, Labour or didn’t vote at all are now claiming to have voted SNP. As 90% of these are current SNP voters, the result of this mis-remembering is possibly to reduce the SNP vote by about a sixth.

    [1] There is the usual problem that there is a lot of over-recall on Holyrood (constituency) for Greens and ‘Other’. What is happening of course is that people remember their regional vote rather than the (presumably tactical) one they cast for their constituency MSP. This means that the Greens (and UKIP and SSP to a lesser extent) are always weighted down in VI in all such polls.

  16. Neil A

    Yes, I agree! But my point is that if you were criticising the policies – making an intellectual case against them – and our mythical PM responded to you not by defending the policies but by repeatedly referencing the murder of his child then he is impugning YOUR motives, implying that you are saying he doesn’t care about something every right thinking person cares about, and he is hiding behind his tragedy.

  17. @Ann I would say tonight or maybe tomorrow night (for the Sunday editions) because according to AW, 2/3rds of the fieldwork is typically done in the evening and 1/3 in the daytime the following day.

    So most of the people in tonight’s poll would have seen the speech on the evening news but not the press coverage from this morning, which couldn’t possibly have been any more favourable, at least from the type of papers that UKIP-leaners read. So unless tonight’s move is enormous, I wouldn’t be surprised to see further move in the next poll, as happened after the budget.

    Of course, it might be that there is no boost whatsoever and the Sun are bigging that up as the story, although that would be a bit rich from the Sun after they tore into UKIP for their non-announcement yesterday :)

  18. @Roger H
    Certain state enterprises such as the BBC and the NHS succeed, and the privatised railways do not succeed and that is just how other countries have found it from experience

    In almost all countries,including the USA, the railways are state owned. They are for public service not for profit to shareholders. I looked at wikipedia, I may not have the latest details, and there were several failed privatised British rail companies, and there is one which has been taken over by the German nationalised rail company.

    In the same way countries comparable to Britain have public health provision. You can look at the USA, which for idealogical reasons is wedded to private sector provision of health, and you can see the difficulties that the USA has. It just looks as if state involvement in health provision works better that an entirely private system.

    In seems to be a similar situation in broadcasting.

  19. Cameron is using the experience to deflect criticism of his policies on the NHS. I don’t think it contributes anything to the argument regardless of whether or not you agree with the critics. The children of politicians (and anyone else in the public eye) should, IMO, be seen but not heard about.

  20. @ Candy,

    I agree, and I made that point in my original comment. But I don’t think that means it’s in bad taste for Cameron to mention his son- it just means that he can’t complain about people politicising his private life when they then ask the obvious question “Why don’t you want other disabled children to have the same help and support your son had?”

    @ Maura,

    As far as I can see it hasn’t inhibited anyone from criticising his record on the NHS. I agree it would be wrong to bring it up in a debate, because as you say it makes it impossible for his opponent to rebut him without seeming callous. But a conference speech or an interview isn’t a debate. He was trying to give a broad explanation of his values, not to defend a specific policy, and his opponents weren’t in the room to be silenced by his tragedy.

  21. We’ll know in a minute, but last night’s YouGov was fairly aberrant. A 36-33 poll tonight would be utter polldrums but the Sun could easily talk it up as “Labour lead drops by 4 points!”

  22. Heywood and Middleton:

    LAB – 50%
    UKIP – 31%
    CON – 13%
    LDEM – 4%

    Labour should be pretty happy with that.

  23. Okay, I admit it: a Tory lead is unusual. :)

  24. @ADGE3

    Even the US health system isn’t ‘entirely private’, though. It actually spends a higher percentage of GDP on public health provision than the UK (7.4% to 7.2%). It then spends another 8.6% of GDP on private healthcare.(2008 figures.)

  25. Yep – Crossover. 35-34

  26. Heywood & Middleton poll (Survation):
    LAB – 50% UKIP – 31% CON – 13%
    LDEM – 4%

    YouGov/Sun poll CON 35%, LAB 34%

    Both via Lord Ashcroft

  27. They’re not going to tweet the full topline figures because they want us to click the article!? Jeeeeerks.

    Pressman, have a word, will you.

  28. Something for everyone tonight then.

    Three important questions coming up. First, will Labour lose their heads over it like they have before? Second, will the Tories take some momentum from it or will it be a flash in the pan? Third, how much damage will the Clacton situation do?

  29. YouGov:

    CON 35
    LAB 34
    LIB 6

    Not sure about UKIP

  30. @ Mr. Nameless,

    It’s too late to get rid of Miliband now, so I’d hope the whining would be a little less feverish; whether they’re happy or not this is the election strategy they’ve got, so they might as well make the best of it.

  31. Good Evening All.

    I think Swing back is back.

    The Conservatives presented their tax policy very well.

    The Lib Dems seem to be struggling.

    It would not surprise me if the UKIP numbers fall, as people go back to ‘nurse’.

    Party Conference bounces are normal, however.

  32. I see this poll and it is Conservative 35 and Labour 34, and I compare it with previous polls over the past few months.

    You know, it is possible to see it in perspective.

    I remember an episode of the BBC radio programme Just A Minute. There was a moment where just one person applauded in the audience. Clement Freud, one of the panellists, said to the chairman, Nicholas Parsons,
    “I see your mother’s here tonight.”

  33. New thread, Anthony has the juicy details (by which I mean the Ukip VI).

  34. ChrisLane

    Perfect self-parody

    I think.

    Steady the Buffs, Labour lead back to 4 points by Sunday.

  35. Well ,
    It is a bounce but not a huge one,and if number cruncher is correct will be even
    greater tomorrow.It will be very silly if this brings the knives out for EM.

  36. Ewen,
    I thought about saying steady the buffs,so I am glad you did.

  37. labour panics are hilarious…it’s just one bl**dy poll. the tories are hyping themselves…it’s funny…let’s see as JP says what happens post clacton…the mood will be very different…populus already shows a labour 5% lead this morning, so it’s not even clear that this yougov poll is anything other than MOE stuff.

    the times was disgraceful today leading on a single poll as its main headline…this is the nonsense which gave us the scottish referendum panic….

  38. A good set of panel questions to ask would be:

    1) “Do you consider yourself a supporter of a particular political party?”

    Dear God no.

    2) “Do you ever put up a poster or sign for your party’s candidates?”

    You have got be kidding me.

    3) “Do you ever deliver leaflets for your party?”

    Don’t have a party but if I did it’s about as likely as selling the 135…

    4) “Do you ever knock on doors or telephone canvass on behalf of your party?”

    Well they don’t canvas for me now, do they. Besides, it’s uncomfortably close to religious peeps knocking on doors and trying to convert peeps…

    5) “Have you ever stood for election for your party?”


    6) “How often have you voted for a candidate of another party?”

    What’s voting again?

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