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. @BARBA – Milk is a special case. That, burgers (quarter/half pounders) pints in pubs and miles seem to be the main imperial survivors. Almost all other food labelling seems to be in metric only.

  2. Barbazenzero
    I think it’s only milk, beer and cider that still come in pints but there could be other stuff I suppose.

  3. @prof howard

    What if Lynton Crosby browses UKPR for the quality polling analysis and reads your regular comments on crossover? You might hurt his feelings. It may have already happened – Lynton Crosby might be feeling sad *right now* because of your comments.

    Do you really want that weighing on your conscience? A hard-working man doing long hours on the campaign to put food on his family’s table feeling sad because of *you*, Prof Howard.

    Lynton, if you’re reading this – don’t worry they’re not serious. Crossover will happen eventually, lad. Keep up the hard work.

  4. Pigs have just flown. The Telegraph reporting that Ed’s interview with absolute Radio today was his best ever media performance, reveling in his geekdom. It’s a crazy world,but the we see of him…….

    Meanwhile, I’ve been pondering that things are going to be harder for Labour than many seem to think. There is an assumption by some that Labour gains off Con in England will mean a clunky Labour led coalition is inevitable, but I’m not so sure, especially as we are now seeing a creep up in LD fortunes, as many of us have long predicted.

    As I see it, the coalition currently has c 364 seats, meaning they need combined losses in excess of 40 seats not to simply reform the coalition. Anything less than this and a continuation of the coalition in some form is almost certain, whatever else happens, in my view.

    While Lab would prefer fewer Lib Dem losses to Con, as LD’s can move into the Lab camp, for now I’m assuming these to be irrelevant.

    Assuming 7 – 10 LD losses to the SNP, and perhaps 8 – 10 LD losses to Lab, means we are approaching half the losses needed to deprive the coalition of a majority.

    Lab then need as a minimum to take 20 seats off Con, but even if they manage 30 seats, a Con led minority seems likely. Then we get into the business of Lab replacing losses to the SNP, to get themselves closer to crossover with Con in seat terms, to have any real chance to persuade LDs to switch sides.

    It’s all possible, but I think the starting assumption really should be that LD’s stick with what they have already, rather than as some assume, that they will automatically return to being part of the broad ‘family of the left’.

  5. I think that regarding burgers, they’re technically measured in grams but they can be called “quarter pounder” or “half pounder” because those are names.

    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.

    Fair comment, and I don’t expect it to die out this century in speech, but I do think that some standardisation of measures across the EEA could not but help trading costs and volumes.

  7. Alec,

    I think you double-counted somewhere. Just put the Libs in the Con column and ask if the coalition is reduced by ~45 or not. Or ~50 if you want to finesse the DUP as well.

  8. I think maggots may still be sold in pints (as fishing bait)

  9. Leaned to afar age on the radio this morning (it’s lent your supposed to suffer) and he talked about 50,000 immigrants allowed in instead a net migration target because “you can’t control people leaving”!

    Why not. If it is about controlling our borders, why not say who can leave as well as who can come in?

    I am not in favour of it just wondered what his reasoning was, other than “One Rule for Us, Another for Them!”



    “Do you really want that weighing on your conscience? A hard-working man doing long hours on the campaign to put food on his family’s table feeling sad because of *you*, Prof Howard.”


    I have always expressed my confidence that Lynton knows what he is doing, and has penciled in crossover for a period up-close to the election. That way people will be very impressed at its timing; it is, after all, important not to peak too soon.


    Thanks for your input re measures. I seem to recall that the French McD’s a couple of decades ago used to offer a “quarter pounder” so named in English, but their menu nowadays is entirely metric and generally more interesting than their UK offer.

  12. @prof howard

    “it is, after all, important not to peak too soon.”

    Sage advice. It is important not to peak too soon.

  13. @Alec, my guess is that the libdems, as they said and did in 2010, will look to form a coalition with the largest party.That is why SNP seats taken from Labour, as the polling currently suggests, makes a Tory led coalition more likely.

  14. statgeek @ 4.55pm, 5.47 pm

    These complaints about Aberdeen Labour, Tory and non-aligned councillors all arose because of some material sent out with Council Tax demands.

    I am in Aberdeenshire, so I didn`t see the exact letter, but the complaint seems so trivial in that the letter merely stated the council`s view on the referendum. A fact which 95% of the recipients already knew.

    It`s not that these Labour and Tory councillors had been fighting in the chamber, profiting from some planning decision they had made but not declared an interest in, stolen things from the Town House, or been guilty of some shameful sexual act.

    That 500 “citizens” should send in complaints that the letter issued with the Aberdeen City Council Tax Demand for 2014/15 contravened paragraph 3.16 of Section 3: General Conduct, which covers Use of Council Facilities, in terms of its content, is most unlikely unless the complaining was deliberately organised.

    Now the SNP is emphasing that this is very bad for the city because the number of these complaints to the Scotland Standards Commission exceeds all others made this year. Yet the Standards Commission has not yet concluded its hearings.

    We have suffered a similar mass complaining about the Aberdeen Labour-Tory-unaligned council on architecture and planning, with people urged by the SNP to support a bid for city to be given the “Plook-on-a-plinth” Carbuncle Award.


    I personally have been unhappy about some too-tall building recently put up in Aberdeen, but we are no worse than most other UK cities. And to deliberately run down the city for short-term political gain is in my view very sad.

  15. Alec
    Leaving aside the exact position of the tipping point; I think your reasoning is sound. If there are a lot of LD survivors then a continuation of the coalition becomes much more viable. The conditions that are needed to get into this zone have had much less discussion that those for a Lab led government.

    Whether the LD would want this if the numbers are another matter entirely, but it is certainly worth examining hiw far we are from the seat count that would let that conversation between DC and NC take place

  16. CASCLC – Milk is only a special case in limited circumstances (when sold in a returnable container – in practice, milk deliveries in pint bottles). In cardboard boxes and plastic bottles at the supermarket it must be sold in metric measures.

    The only other legal exceptions where pricing in imperial measurements is allowed are beer & cider and precious metals.

    Of course, nothing stops people selling things in measures of 568ml, etc, and providing that when people ask for a pint.

  17. With Sky News coverage of the debate due to start at 18:00 UTC, I have just tested a number of sources which do not require a VPN and may help expats listen to and/or watch the debate, as suggested by Andy S in Vancouver.

    BBC Radio 5 audio coverage starts 18:30 UTC

    For Android users, it can be listened to via the TuneIn Radio free app. I listening to that stream as I write and it’s usually very reliable.

    For everyone else, the URL is http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/bbc_radio_five_live
    That’s currently working on a vanilla PC and is also usually very reliable.

  18. The BBC video coverage isn’t due to start until 19:00 UTC and may prove to be UK IP restricted. Try http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/election-2015-32137362#

  19. Re gender gap in VI .

    Labour fielding cooper,flint and powell tonight for interviews .

    Three women leaders .

    Two old fashioned men.

    Two modern men

    Attack line developing ?

  20. Alec,

    Jim Jam said weeks ago that less than 30 Lab gains off Cons and DC remains PM but that he really needs to keep below 25 to have semblance of stability.
    More than 40 and EM becomes PM.

    30-40 is a mess with more than LD and SNP having a say and whoever ends up forming a Government it will be very unstable.

    Current polls deliver enough based on UNS adjusted for Scotland but then we have those old friend swingback and/or incumbency to come (or not).

  21. There are 2 URLs promising the ITV Leader Debates on YouTube
    + youtu.be/zqDo3E8ysq0

    No promises, but they’re supposedly going to stream the lot. Currently both are broadcasting count downs.

  22. Watching a Ukip GE broadcast.

    It’s all Farage speaking to the camera, explaining the party’s policies in a calm, rational way.

  23. @AW
    ” In cardboard boxes and plastic bottles at the supermarket it must be sold in metric measures.”

    My local Morrisons sells milk in plastic bottles in pints. Should I report them to someone?

  24. Steaks still sold in pubs in ounces. petrol sold in litres but fuel efficiency measured in mpg rather than litres per 100 Kms. (In the uk)
    Having lived outside the uk for 10 years I have got used to centigrade and now know that 25 is pleasant and 30 is hot.
    I haven’t a clue what 8.43 litres per 100kms means though.
    Oh and of course we still use miles.
    What a dogs breakfast.
    It would have been far better if everything had been changed at once back in 1971. Short term pain for long term gain.

  25. The One Show on BBC1 is explaining how YouGov polls.

  26. YouGov’s offices use Windows 8 laptops. That’s what I have learned today!

  27. Windows 8? No wonder YouGov polls are so accurate.

    I have got used to centigrade and now know that 25 is pleasant and 30 is hot.

    In pre Gulf war 1 Kuwait, there was a law which entitled all working outdoors to drop tools and seek shelter when the temperature rose above 50.

    Needless to say, the weather report only ever recorded 50 on Fridays. That really is hot.

    I haven’t a clue what 8.43 litres per 100kms means though.

    It’s only confusing because the calculation is “upside down” in that the lower the L/Km the higher the MPG.

    8.43 Litres per 100 kms = 34 MPG

    See http://mpg.webix.co.uk/

  30. From todays Private Eye

    Other leaders react to Cameron 2020 announcement

    Clegg “I am completely ruling out a second term ”

    Miliband “I am completely ruling out a third kitchen ”

    Farage “I wont be shtanding after 20.20 (hic)”

    That snp manifesto in full

    “Hand over supreme power and all in the money in the Bank of England or we will utterly destroy your country .

    You have until 7th May to agree to our demands.”


    ps we know where you live and its not north of the border

  31. Drove up the A1 today through Berwick on Tweed constituency (Con target LD seat).
    Big Con roadside posters every few miles – not a single LD poster in sight.

  32. 50 voters are offering their reaction to the BBC’s worm on tonight’s debate. Yes, that was 50! Totally meaningless.

  33. Being shown live on C-Span in US

  34. Our first GE leaflet (Bromley and Chislehurst) has arrived.

    And it’s a Labour one.

    Odd that Labour should be wasting money on bumph here.

  35. Joe Twyman (YouGov) on Sky News says that most people don’t pay much attention to the debates

  36. That snp manifesto in full
    “Hand over supreme power and all in the money in the Bank of England or we will utterly destroy your country .
    You have until 7th May to agree to our demands.”
    ps we know where you live and its not north of the border

    That’s very funny 07052015

    Probably the last time I’ll smile or chuckle for two hours

  37. A factor in the success or otherwise in hanging on to their seats is howhow they approach the campaign. Are they going to take a ruthless triage approach and put all their resources into their 50 (or less?) best prospects and abandon the rest.

    Fighting say 30 or 40 well resourced seats could give a very different outcome than a standard national campaign.

  38. BBC live feed is working without VPN

  39. @ Barbazanzero

    Thanks for all that, I’ll see which one works best.

    I got moderated earlier for saying this earlier, but will try again.

    Of 8 polls into the first week of the campaign, I average YouGov and Populos, so it is actually a six poll set:

    Conservative +1.1%
    LD no change
    Labour -.1%
    Nationalists+other -.2%
    UKIP -.3%
    Green -.5%

    I again note that Conservative and Labour combined are currently on 67.7%

    Given what I know about elections I would wait until at least after the April 16th debate for all the bounces to end and then we have have to wait until after April 30th for sure.

    The bounce from the non-debate has certainly faided fast.

    “Swing low sweet chariot I am awaiting for you to come home – whoever you are”

    Oh yes the celtic bretheren on this list will be pleased to know that the foyer of the British Consulate had only two pieces of literature:

    1. The Most Beautiful Villages of Scotland by Hugh Palmer

    2. The Celtic Connection – a North American publication featuring St Patrick’s Day in Ireland, Scotland and North America.

    Sorry nothing available on England, Wales or Northern Ireland

    The entrance way is now boarded up and there is no indication of the fact that it is the British Consular offices other than a printed letter indicating you may only press the buzzer if you have an appointment. There is a phone number to call otherwise.

    Wasn’t sure if the reason for this was because of staff cutbacks or fear of a terrorist attack. Anyway they decided to let me back in the country and gave me a twelve month extension on my passport.

  40. New thread on the debate

  41. Re the whole metric/imperial argument:

    NASA has had a lot of stuff-ups because they use imperial internally, but all their commercial suppliers use metric.

    eg in 1999 their Mars Orbiter failed because their altitude control system used imperial units, but the navigation software used metric. Cost of the mistake: $125 million.

    And in 2006 one of their DART spaceships rammed into a military satellite it was meant to dock with because the NASA computer was mistakenly reading GPS data in feet.

    Civilian and commercial orgs tend to use metric and they suspect that NASA’s refusal to change from imperial is designed to thwart commercial entities from getting some of the business. And they arn’t wrong.

    Is imperial holding back NASA – I would say yes. They currently don’t have a rocket and have to rent Arianes and Soyuzes now that the imperial-dominated disaster that was the Shuttle has been retired.

    Tl;dr everyone should use metric!

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