The Unexpected Mandate: my review of the 2015 election and the unusual parliament that preceded it

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By Lord Ashcroft

After the 2005 general election I published Smell The Coffee: A Wake-Up Call For The Conservative Party. Based on extensive research, this was an attempt to understand why the Tories kept losing elections and what they needed to do about it. In 2010 I followed up with Minority Verdict, which drew on published polling and my perspective from having been involved in the Conservative campaign, to help explain why the party had once again fallen short.

My analysis of the 2015 election, and the unusual parliament that preceded it, appears as the appendix to Call Me Dave, my biography of David Cameron written with Isabel Oakeshott. I am now releasing this as a separate edition – The Unexpected Mandate – to follow my two earlier election commentaries. (more…)

The sun is shining on the Tories: will they make hay, or mend the roof?

By Lord Ashcroft

For Conservatives of my generation, Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to the Labour conference on Tuesday had a reassuringly familiar flavour. We know where we are with old lefties who declare “we’re a rich country” – as though that is just a given, and all politicians need to do is decide how to spend it – and who spit out the word “profit” as if it were a profanity (and as if any of the things they say they want could be paid for without it).

But there were some odd parts too (more…)

Corbyn is doing the job as he understands it – and as his supporters intended

By Lord Ashcroft

It has been said that a novel depicting the past week in the history of the Labour Party would have been rejected as too implausible. But the idea has crossed creative minds before: in Chris Mullin’s engrossing 1982 story A Very British Coup, an ultra-left unilateralist Labour leader, Harry Perkins MP, is elected Prime Minister. If political life has not in this case imitated art to the fullest extent, it at least feels as though we are living through the prequel (more…)

Project Red Dawn


By Lord Ashcroft

Five years ago I conducted some research to find out why people in the Labour movement thought they had lost the 2010 election and what they thought they should do about it. They believed people had failed to appreciate what Labour had achieved, that credulous swing voters had been influenced by the right-wing media, and that although Labour’s policies had been right, they had not been communicated well. Accordingly, they expected the coalition government to prove so dreadful that people would soon see the error of their ways: Labour would not need to make any big changes in order to win the following election.

Well, we know how that story ends. Labour is reduced to 232 seats in the House of Commons, a net loss of 24 since its 2010 defeat, and won only 30 per cent of the national vote. The question for the new leader, whose identity we will know on Saturday, is not just how the party can start winning again, but whether Labour as we know it will survive.

My latest research has looked into this question by examining the views of two sorts of people: how do the views of Labour Loyalists, who voted for the party in 2010 and again last May, compare with the Defectors who have moved away from the party since it was an election-winning force? What caused the switchers to switch, and do they see themselves returning? (more…)

‘Pay Me Forty Quid And I’ll Tell You: The 2015 Election Campaign Through The Eyes Of The Voters’

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By Lord Ashcroft

From January until the election, Lord Ashcroft Polls conducted weekly focus groups from Cornwall to Scotland to find out whether the parties’ campaigns were having any effect on the people they were supposed to impress: undecided voters in marginal seats. We asked what people had noticed and what had passed them by, what they thought the parties were trying to tell them and how believable (or otherwise) they found it, what mattered to them and what didn’t, what they made of the leaders vying for their attention, which way they were leaning and what doubts stopped them making their minds up. (more…)

Reflections on the election polls – and creating a Conservative Party people need not be shy about supporting

By Lord Ashcroft

This is the text of a speech I gave last night at the Post-Election Conference, jointly hosted by Conservative Home, the TaxPayers’ Alliance, Business for Britain and the Institute of Economic Affairs.

Good evening. You might think it’s a bit much to kick off this post-election conference with, of all people, a pollster. If so, I can understand your scepticism. After last week I’m not sure whether it’s worse to be a pollster or a Liberal Democrat. But as I will explain, it would be a mistake to dismiss the polls out of hand, or to think there is nothing we can learn from them. (more…)

Why did people vote as they did? My post-vote poll

By Lord Ashcroft

I have polled more than 12,000 voters who voted in the general election. I wanted to know when people decided, what factors had most influenced their vote, what issues were most important to the country and their families, how they see the economy and the future of austerity, and how the parties’ voters had voted in previous elections. The results are here:

Final Ashcroft National Poll: Con 33%, Lab 33%, Lib Dem 10%, UKIP 11%, Green 6%

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By Lord Ashcroft

My 3,000-sample final national snapshot before the election, with fieldwork conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday, has produced a tie. Here are the details: (more…)

Voting tactically has become more fraught in the new political order

By Lord Ashcroft

This piece was first published in The Independent

A surprising number of people are candid enough to admit that they voted Liberal Democrat in previous elections because they simply could not decide between Labour and the Tories. Others like the party’s policies or, more often, its local MP.

But in their strongholds, the Lib Dems have owed a good deal of their support to their status as the most credible local alternative to the Conservatives. Indeed, in most recent elections, tactical voting has nearly always meant backing the Lib Dems to get (or keep) the Tories out. Since the Iraq war, the Lib Dems have also attracted left-leaning voters looking for a safely like-minded alternative to Labour.

So imagine their surprise and delight as the recipient of their carefully calibrated votes strode cheerfully into the Downing Street rose garden with David Cameron (more…)

Ashcroft National Poll: Con 32%, Lab 30%, Lib Dem 11%, UKIP 12%, Green 7%

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By Lord Ashcroft

The Conservatives lead by two points in this week’s Ashcroft National Poll, conducted over the past weekend. The Tory lead is down by four since last week, with Labour unchanged on 30%. The Liberal Democrats are up two points at 11%, UKIP up one at 12%, the Greens unchanged at 7% and the SNP up one at 5%. (more…)