Conservative Party

The election cost the Tories their crucial competitive advantage: a reputation for competence

By Lord Ashcroft

This article first appeared in the Telegraph.


In January 1993, the Conservative Party’s average poll rating was 
39 per cent. Twelve months later it had fallen to 31 per cent, and there it stayed, or thereabouts, for more than a decade. Throughout that time, and until after their third consecutive general election defeat, the Tories suffered from a fatal combination of flaws. People did not think the party was on their side or in touch with life as they lived it, and neither did they think it was up to the job of running the country.

It would be a bit much to say the Tories are in the same predicament today. When, in 2005, I published Smell The Coffee – an analysis of public opinion in which I set out the scale of the challenge they faced – the party had won less than a third of the vote, and just 198 seats. But after the disappointment of the 2017 election, the Tories need to take stock of their relationship with the voters – it’s time to smell the coffee all over again (more…)

The Lost Majority: The 2017 election, the Conservative Party, the voters and the future

By Lord Ashcroft

The 2017 election was supposed to be a walkover for the Conservative Party – but the voters had other ideas. My new book, The Lost Majority, aims to help explain how the unexpected result came about and why the thumping victory the Tories expected never happened. More importantly, it looks at the state of the party’s relationship with the voters in the wake of the campaign, and the challenge of winning a majority in parliament when even 42 per cent of the vote was not enough for outright victory. I have written about my main conclusions in today’s Telegraph.

The book draws on my research before June 8th and on election day itself, as well as comprehensive new polling conducted since the electorate delivered its verdict (more…)

My latest research on the state of the parties and what people want from the Brexit deal

By Lord Ashcroft

As the government embarks on two years of grueling EU negotiations following the triggering of Article 50, I decided now was a good time for a detailed look at the political landscape – and what voters expect from the Brexit deal. Here’s what I found from my 10,000-sample poll and focus groups around the country.

With three years to go until a general election, rather than asking people how they would vote tomorrow we gave them a little more leeway, and invited them to give their likelihood of voting for each party on a 100-point scale. The answers look like this (more…)

The new political landscape – and what Britain expects from Brexit

By Lord Ashcroft

My latest research is a comprehensive survey of the political landscape as Britain embarks on two years of negotiations over the terms on which it will leave the European Union. Based on a 10,000-sample poll and focus groups around the country, the project asks what voters hope and expect to get from the Brexit deal, how they balance immigration control and access to the single market, the status of EU nationals already in Britain, people’s confidence that the Prime Minister will secure a good deal, and how the Brexit negotiations compare in importance to other priorities.

The research also looks in detail at attitudes to the political parties and leaders, who is switching, and why.

I have written about the main findings and their implications in today’s Sunday Telegraph. (more…)

Protesting against the state visit does Britain no favours, and Trump no harm

By Lord Ashcroft

Last week, thousands of people took to the streets of London and other British cities in opposition to President Trump’s planned state visit to the UK. The weekend was rounded off with a predictable burst of celebrity sniping against Trump at the Oscars. No doubt this made everyone concerned feel better. But there are perhaps two things above all that reassure Trump voters that they made the right decision in November: squealing Hollywood liberals and noisy protesters – especially abroad.

This ought to be obvious to anyone who knows anything about voters of any kind, let alone American ones (more…)

The New Blueprint: The Conservative Agenda In Post-Brexit Britain

By Lord Ashcroft

A year after the coalition government was formed I embarked upon a research exercise which I called Project Blueprint. It looked at how the Conservatives could win an overall majority, and rested on the premise that if the party did not want to govern in coalition, it would need to build a coalition of voters big enough to allow it to rule on its own.

Just over a year since the 2015 election – and five years since the first instalment of Project Blueprint – the political landscape seems at first glance to be almost unrecognisably different. We have a new government led by a new Prime Minister, with no opposition in sight – whether from Labour, who are engaged in a bizarre drama of their own, from the Liberal Democrats, who have all but vanished, or from UKIP which, having accomplished its founding mission, will need to articulate a new purpose for itself. Oh yes, and the UK has voted to leave the EU.

But if the context is different, the Tories’ political mission is the same (more…)

Panama, Cameron and tax returns

By Lord Ashcroft

It is the received wisdom that the leaking of the Panama Papers triggered the Prime Minister’s worst week since he took office. From his personal point of view, that may well be true: having the media trying to dig into your family’s tax arrangements is not a pleasant experience, as I can attest. But politically, how much has really changed since open season was declared on the Camerons’ financial affairs?

As so often, it is worth remembering that most people have better things to do than follow the minutiae of political coverage. Nothing very important gets past the voters, but they have a knack of getting straight to the point. The Cameron tax story, then, boils down to three essential elements. (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…)

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 aren’t the Tories running away with the election?

By Lord Ashcroft


This article was first published in The Independent.


“I don’t understand it,” said a chap in one of my focus groups a few days ago. “People think David Cameron is pretty good, and they think Ed Miliband is a muppet. So why is it so close?” Why indeed. It is a question to which books and theses will be devoted in the months to come. But I think we already have a good idea of the answer (more…)