Project Blueprint Phase 3: The quest for a Conservative majority

By Lord Ashcroft

When I published the first phase of Project Blueprint in May 2011, David Cameron’s first anniversary as Prime Minister, political comment was dominated by the relationship between Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs following the Alternative Vote referendum. At the end of this government’s second full year, the same is happening again in the aftermath of another of the Lib Dems’ doomed attempts to change the constitution, to the yawning indifference of the country at large. What was true a year ago is even truer now: what should matter most to Tories is not the coalition between the parties, but the coalition of voters who will decide whether to elect a Conservative government with an overall majority.

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What does and doesn’t matter most to voters about the Libor scandal

By Lord Ashcroft

The following genuine conversation was overheard yesterday on the tube. A man in his twenties was flicking through the Metro. His friend, also in his twenties, glanced over at the front page and said,

“That’s Bob Diamond!”

“Who?” asked Man A.

“The Barclays chief executive. You know.”

Man A frowned at the paper.

“I don’t know the origin of this scandal”.

“He says the Bank of England told them to fix the Libor.”

“What’s the Libor?”

“It’s, like, the interest rate that  banks use to lend to each other. They made it artificially low”.

“So that must have been great for the borrowers, right?”

“No, it was just to make their profits look bigger.”

Man A considered this.

“Apparently it’s going to be sunny at the weekend”.

That may not be everything you need to know about the political implications of the Libor scandal, but it is a good place to start. (more…)

Which party does The Sun support? Do Sun readers know?

By Lord Ashcroft

The Leveson Inquiry, which is now heading towards its second year, has spent the last few weeks considering “the relationship between press and politicians”. It is taken as read that this matters a great deal. An assumption exists that a newspaper may deploy huge influence over the votes of its readers in the service of the party that most pleases its proprietor.

Attention has naturally focused on Britain’s biggest selling daily newspaper, The Sun. But how real is The Sun’s political influence over the public? Leveson has examined minutely the relationships, in the run-up to the last election, between D. Cameron, R. Murdoch, G. Osborne, J. Murdoch, A. Coulson, R. Brooks and her horse – but have most Sun readers even noticed their paper’s support for the Tories?

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“Lord Ashcroft’s Tory right”? A response to Peter Oborne

By Lord Ashcroft

I always enjoy Peter Oborne’s writing. Part of the fun is that you never know what he is going to say next. His latest theory, which he expounds in today’s Telegraph, is that I am using my vast power single-handedly to push the Conservative Party to the right and undermine the workings of the coalition government. Flattering though this portrayal is in some ways (“one of the most influential and potent figures in the wider Conservative movement”, no less), I must point out one or two flaws in his argument.
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How much do children know about the Second World War?

By Lord Ashcroft

If you were to ask a representative sample of 1,000 children aged between 11 and 18 when the Second World War began, what proportion do you think would be able to name the right year? How many do you think would know that the Battle of Britain was fought in the air, rather than on land or at sea?

On 28 June, the Queen will unveil a new memorial to honour the 55,573 men of Bomber Command who lost their lives in the Second World War. The prospect of this event prompted me to find out how well we are doing at ensuring that younger generations know about crucial events in their country’s recent history. Some of the results are quite startling.

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Why a Tory onslaught on Ed Miliband could backfire

By Lord Ashcroft

David Cameron is falling in voters’ estimation. Last weekend YouGov found his net satisfaction rating – the number thinking he is doing well, minus the (rather greater) number who think he is doing badly – is the same as Ed Miliband’s. No survey has put Miliband ahead on the question of who would make the best prime minister. Nevertheless, the latest figures are causing angst in Tory circles.

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The Armed Forces & Society

By Lord Ashcroft

Since 2001 our Armed Forces have been more in the public eye than at any time since the Second World War. As we mark thirty years since the Falklands’ liberation, and thousands of personnel face the prospect of redundancy, it is a good time to take stock of our relationship with the Forces and the men and women who serve in them.

General Sir David Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff, has kindly allowed me to conduct the biggest ever independent research project among military personnel. We also spoke to veterans, employers, American Service personnel, and the general public in Britain and the US.

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What did the local elections mean?

By Lord Ashcroft

David Cameron has said the midterm blues and tough economic conditions are not enough to explain last week’s results, and that he will not take refuge in the familiar excuses. This is good to hear, though he probably does take some comfort in the fact that bad local elections are hardly a shock for a mid-term government. Nevertheless, it is worth making some observations about what happened.

Some claim core Conservatives stayed at home or voted for someone else. Yet the figure of 31%, the party’s vote share last Thursday, has a familiar ring to it. This may be because 31% was the party’s average score in published polls between 1997 and 2005. That suggests to me not that core Tories did not vote Conservative last Thursday, but that they were the only ones who did.

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It’s Not You, It’s Them

By Lord Ashcroft

The main purpose of this website is to set out the findings of my research in a way that readers will find clear and easy to digest. I know, however, that many people still prefer to reach for a volume from their shelves. For them, I have published It’s Not You, It’s Them, a collection of my political work since the 2010 general election.

The subtitle of the book – Research To Remind Politicians What Matters – sums up what I try to achieve with my polling. In my experience, people in politics are usually well motivated and want to serve. But they often find it hard to appreciate one important point: the mere fact that politics occupies much of their attention makes them different from (without wishing to offend anyone) normal people.

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Ethnic minority voters and the Conservative Party

By Lord Ashcroft

At the 2010 election, only 16% of ethnic minority voters supported the Conservatives. More than two thirds voted Labour. Not being white was the single best predictor that somebody would not vote Conservative.

The gulf between the Conservative Party and ethnic minority voters is a well-known feature of British politics. I decided to explore the problem in more detail. The results of the research – which involved a 10,000-sample poll and 20 discussion groups with voters from black African, black Caribbean, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh backgrounds – are detailed in my latest report, Degrees of Separation: Ethnic minority voters and the Conservative Party.

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