Conservative Party

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…)

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…)

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…)

Cameron’s Caledonian Conundrum

ScotMap

By Lord Ashcroft

When the Conservatives were booted out of office in 1997 the party was left with no MPs in Scotland. Today they have one – a total which few expect to rise in 2015.

Explanations abound for the Tories’ Scottish decline, economic and cultural as well as political. One of the most common is that the Tories are still being punished for the legacy of Mrs Thatcher and what she “did to” Scotland. But this theory does not ring true. For one thing, the Conservatives’ popularity in Scotland has been waning since 1955, when they were the largest party. For another thing, when the supposedly wickedly anti-Scottish Thatcher was in Number 10, the Tories won more seats and more votes in Scotland than they have ever done since. And for a third thing, even if Mrs Thatcher were universally reviled in Scotland – which she is not – I do not believe that most Scots are so unimaginative as to vote according to what they thought of the PM before the PM before the PM before last.

Whatever the history, the task for the Tories is to work out where they are now and what they can do about it. (more…)

Labour are in poll position but here’s why the Tories could still win the next election

By Lord Ashcroft

This article first appeared in the Mirror.

From the moment the Lib Dems joined the Conservatives in coalition, the next election was Labour’s to lose. Half the people who had voted for Nick Clegg’s party – many of them wanting to keep the Tories out – went straight to Labour, giving their new leader Ed Miliband a big head start. Worse, from the David Cameron’s point of view, Labour could still win outright with a lower share of the vote than the Tories could – and the Lib Dems locked in Labour’s advantage by blocking a plan to make constituency boundaries fairer.

The trickle of Tory voters towards UKIP has made life even more difficult for Cameron. And as I found in my recent poll of marginal seats, things look even tougher for the Conservatives on the key battlegrounds than they do nationally. Not surprisingly, the bookies have Labour as firm favourites to return to government.

So why, as a Tory, do I think we are in for the closest election for forty years – and that we could see another term of Prime Minister Cameron? (more…)

What I told the Tories in Manchester

manchester.ashx

By Lord Ashcroft

Here is the text of the presentation I gave at the ConHome fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester this week. (more…)

That’s enough fantasy politics. ‘Margaret Thatcher Day’ is not a vote-winner

By Lord Ashcroft

It is sometimes remarked that the centre ground of politics is not the same thing as the common ground. There is some truth in this. Overall, most people want to vote for parties that seem sensibly moderate rather than those that have veered too far one way or the other, but this does not mean that on any given issue – crime, immigration, the NHS – the centre of gravity of public opinion is always in the middle of the spectrum.

Yet politicians should beware of using this argument as an excuse to pursue preoccupations of their own which few voters share. A good example of this occurred at the end of June in the form of the so-called Alternative Queen’s Speech, a raft of measures (why do measures always arrive on rafts?) put forward by a number of Tory backbenchers which are, according to Peter Bone MP, designed to “recapture the common ground, where most views are”.

I decided to put this contention to the test in a poll. (more…)

“Are You Serious?” Boris, the Tories and the voters

Boris cloud

By Lord Ashcroft

What do we know about Boris Johnson? That he is the most popular politician in the country. That he raises the spirits in gloomy times. That he is a Tory who was elected, and then re-elected, in a predominantly Labour city. And that some think the magic that helped ensure his two personal victories would do the same for his party if, one day, he led it.

It is not a ridiculous idea. But in politics, things are seldom as straightforward as that. I decided to look further into the proposition that Boris is the answer. (more…)

The Tories can’t afford to waste another six months

Cameron cloud

By Lord Ashcroft

The year started promisingly enough. The government’s mid-term review aimed to show what had been achieved and set the agenda for the rest of the parliament. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Europe speech was supposed to clear the decks and allow us to talk about the things we were elected to do.

So much for all that. My latest poll, conducted over the past weekend, shows the last six months to have been a missed opportunity to make progress on the things that will determine who wins in 2015.  (more…)

Enough! Time to behave like the governing party we want to be

By Lord Ashcroft

Was last week good for the Conservative Party because it proved that only the Tories were committed to an EU referendum? Or bad, because we seemed obsessed with the subject and excessively fond of arguing amongst ourselves? Either way, we were surely all glad when the weekend arrived. At least, that is, until we woke on Saturday to read of swivel-eyed-loon-gate, the latest in a seemingly unending series of ploys we seem to devise for tripping ourselves over. (more…)