Vote UKIP, get…?

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By Lord Ashcroft

In the wake of this week’s Clegg-Farage Euro debate – the Division Two play-offs of British politics – the Conservatives in particular will be honing their pitch to former supporters tempted by UKIP.

Mr Farage says most UKIP voters are not ex-Tories, and this is true. But it is also true that they are more likely to be ex-Tories than anything else. For these people, the Conservatives have settled on the message that however much they may like what Nigel has to say, the better UKIP do next May the more likely it is that Her Majesty will have to ask Ed Miliband to form a government. (more…)

Europe on Trial

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By Lord Ashcroft

The European Parliament elections are just weeks away. Depending on the result of the next general election, we are perhaps three years from an in-out EU referendum.

Yet despite the furious debate the subject generates among politicians, huge numbers of people do not know what to think about our relationship with Europe. (more…)

Miliband’s referendum non-pledge will win votes for Labour – if the Tories let it

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By Lord Ashcroft

On the face of it, Ed Miliband’s non-referendum pledge held a clear upside and a clear downside for Labour.

Matching David Cameron’s guarantee of an in-out referendum would mean that if he won, Miliband would have to spend a good deal of his premiership campaigning to keep Britain in the European Union – a battle he might lose. He would be the Prime Minister who took Britain out of the EU, and would probably have to resign. And all because of a promise he had never wanted to make in the first place. (more…)

The Conservatives don’t attract too few women. They attract too few of everyone.

By Lord Ashcroft

David Cameron tells Angela Eagle to “calm down, dear”. A number of female Conservative MPs decide they will not stand at the next election. Another is deselected. Ed Miliband derides the dearth of women on the government front bench. Several women are replaced in their jobs heading public bodies, prompting Harriet Harman to observe that it is “raining men in the Tory Party”.

To some, these stories and others like them constitute evidence that the Conservatives have a problem with women. (more…)

“Equidistance” won’t be enough for Clegg to win back lost Lib Dems

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By Lord Ashcroft

Earlier this week Nick Clegg raised the prospect of a Lib-Lab coalition after the next election. He said he had observed Labour becoming more open to the possibility while the Tories had become more ideological in office.

Surveys last year found Lib Dem councillors and activists preferred the idea of working with Labour. Meanwhile, on the Conservative benches there is (shall we say) a diversity of opinion about the idea of governing in coalition after next May. Ed Miliband insists he is aiming for an overall majority, while some recent reports have suggested Labour are planning for a minority government if they are the largest party in a hung parliament.

But the fact is that in the early hours of Friday 8 May 2015, the politicians are going to have to deal with whatever situation the electorate has seen fit to present them with. (more…)

With a week to go in Wythenshawe, Labour’s grip looks firm

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By Lord Ashcroft

There is a week to go in the battle to succeed Paul Goggins as the MP for Wythenshawe & Sale East. A lot can change in a week – especially the last week of a by-election campaign – and any poll is a snapshot not a forecast.

But according to a survey I completed yesterday, Labour’s grip on the seat is firm.  (more…)

Project Blueprint: The proceeds of growth?

David Cameron wordlet

By Lord Ashcroft

This year, party politics will be dominated by the European elections. Though for most normal people the event will go all but unnoticed, one question will preoccupy the political class: how well will UKIP do, and at what cost to the Conservatives? But whatever tactical moves the Tories are tempted to make to minimise losses, they must keep their eyes on the real prize: the 2015 general election, now just 16 months away.

If the Conservatives want to govern without needing a coalition of parties, they are going to need a bigger coalition of voters. (more…)

Counting the ‘Kippers

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By Lord Ashcroft

How are UKIP doing in the polls? Well, it depends which polls you look at. At the end of last month, one survey put the party on 7%; the following day another poll from a different company had them at 19%. In an article in the Independent on Sunday, Nigel Farage has accused various pollsters, and me in particular, of underestimating his party’s support and trying to reinforce the idea “that a UKIP vote is a Tory vote”. (more…)

If the Tories are returning to comfort polling, that’s a bad sign

By Lord Ashcroft

Conservative Campaign HQ is in optimistic mood, according to Dan Hodges in the Daily Telegraph. Despite Labour’s stubborn lead, he reports, Tory strategists believe voters find Ed Miliband unconvincing and that an improving economy will eventually translate into higher living standards. They are also confident in their campaign team, both at the centre and in target seats, and in their use of data to reach key voters.

All this was very cheering until I got to the part about the Tories’ private polling. (more…)

Twenty minutes of Miliband

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By Lord Ashcroft

Over the weekend Nicolas Maduro, socialist president of Venezuela, announced that he was forcing a local chain of electronics stores to sell its products at cheaper prices. Maduro is now seeking the power to extend this policy to other goods, in an attempt to “protect the people from the bourgeois parasites”. Maybe it’s true after all, I mused to myself on hearing the news: Ed Miliband really is setting the political agenda. (more…)