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

UnexpectedMandate cover

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…)

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

PMFQ cover

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:

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…)

My speech to Turcan Connell and Charlotte Street Partners in Edinburgh

By Lord Ashcroft

This is the text of a speech I gave last night in Edinburgh. I was introduced by Chris Deerin.

Thank you, Chris, for that kind welcome, and can I say what an honour it is to be introduced by Scotland’s Columnist Of The Year? Those of you who read Chris’s work will know that the accolade he received at the Scottish Press Awards was thoroughly well deserved, and that his writing is always brilliant – provocative, honest, thoughtful and original.

While I’m at it, I might as well add that such is his incisive grasp of public affairs, any of you who are not retaining the services of his company should have your people call his people first thing in the morning. (more…)

Parties can’t change in four weeks what they’ve failed to change in five years

Conservative Q

By Lord Ashcroft

My most recent constituency polling has found an increase in support for Labour and the Conservatives – and, in their own battlegrounds, the Liberal Democrats – while the UKIP share has drifted down since last year. Even so, neither of the main parties has established a clear overall lead, either in national polling or in the marginals. So while the evidence is that voters may be focusing more on the parties capable of forming a government, they are not finding the choice becoming any easier or more palatable.

The latest large-scale national polling I have conducted on the impact of the campaign helps explain why (more…)

The voters’ view, with five weeks to go

By Lord Ashcroft


My focus groups with undecided voters this week took place in Thurrock and Brentford. Despite the parties’ frenetic activity since the start of the year, for some of our participants the real action seemed hardly to have started: “It feels like the start of a boxing match where they strut round the ring bigging themselves up”. Local street campaigners are out in force, however. While some in the groups confessed to peeking from upstairs curtains to avoid opening the door to a canvasser, there was still an appetite for the traditional doorstep conversation: “You can send me bits of paper all you like, but I’ve got questions. You can’t ask a piece of paper questions. Knock on my door!” (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…)

The campaign state of play – plus latest marginals

Lord Ashcroft Pollsevent in Westminster,

By Lord Ashcroft

Below is the text of the polling presentation I gave in London this evening, including my latest national poll findings and new results from marginal seats in England and Scotland. Scroll down to find the presentation slides, marginals report, and full data tables.

Good evening and welcome. If you have ever wondered what a pollster does to celebrate his birthday, now you know. Somebody kindly asked me this morning if this was the big “four-O”, and I was compelled to admit this estimate was outside the margin of error.

This evening I will be unveiling my latest polling, both nationally and in the marginals, and giving my overview of where I think we are in the campaign that will end just nine weeks tomorrow (more…)