Political Leadership

Some surprises in my new constituency polling – and a look at the leaders’ backyards

LD-ConDashboard

By Lord Ashcroft

My latest round of constituency polling includes an assortment of seats and some intriguing results.

Of the eighteen seats I have polled over the past four weeks, eleven are held by the Liberal Democrats with the Conservatives in second place. These have bigger majorities than those I have previously surveyed on the Lib Dem battleground, from 9.3% (Cheltenham) to 15.2% (Hazel Grove). To these I have added Watford, the most closely contested of the Conservative seats I have polled where the Lib Dems were second in 2010.

I have also looked at Burnley and Birmingham Yardley, two Lib Dem-held Labour targets not yet covered in my research. And though it does not fit easily into any category, having had an independent MP over two parliaments who finished second at the last election, I have also looked at Wyre Forest.

In addition to these I thought it would be interesting to poll the constituencies of the three leaders of the opposition: Ed Miliband’s Doncaster North, Nick Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam (the electoral opposition, if not technically the Opposition) and Thanet South, where Nigel Farage hopes to be elected next May. (more…)

Twenty minutes of Miliband

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By Lord Ashcroft

Over the weekend Nicolas Maduro, socialist president of Venezuela, announced that he was forcing a local chain of electronics stores to sell its products at cheaper prices. Maduro is now seeking the power to extend this policy to other goods, in an attempt to “protect the people from the bourgeois parasites”. Maybe it’s true after all, I mused to myself on hearing the news: Ed Miliband really is setting the political agenda. (more…)

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

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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…)

Don’t tell me… It’s him off the telly

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By Lord Ashcroft

What proportion of people in Britain can correctly identify a picture of the Prime Minister? Yes, you at the back – correct. 94%. This is as close to a unanimous response as you get in political research, but still means that more than one in twenty of our fellow countrymen and women could in theory bump into David Cameron and not be at all sure who he was. (This ought to be a salutary thought for those in the political world who imagine that the rest of the electorate follow events in Westminster as closely as they do.)

Who, then, is Britain’s second most recognised politician? (more…)

A memo to Nigel Farage

NigelFarage

By Lord Ashcroft

Dear Nigel,

As you know I have taken quite an interest in UKIP’s fortunes, and what they portend for the Conservatives. I have followed your career with interest, and I must confess I always enjoy your contributions. I particularly liked your joke that you worked hard in the City of London for twenty years, at least until lunch time.

But there is one thing I wonder about. What exactly are you up to?

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Farewell Margaret Thatcher – a colossus of British politics and a dear friend

By Lord Ashcroft

I have numerous memories of Margaret Thatcher and all of them are fond ones. To me, she was not just a colossus of British politics but also a fiercely loyal friend when I was under fire. Her death today, aged 87, has saddened me greatly.

I credit Margaret Hilda Thatcher with rekindling my interest in politics after I had drifted away from it for well over a decade. I had admired her from afar long before I knew her – and not just because she was Britain’s first (and to date only) woman Prime Minister. (more…)

Why a Tory onslaught on Ed Miliband could backfire

Ed Miliband

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 Leadership Factor

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By Lord Ashcroft

In The Leadership Factor I have looked in depth at how voters see each of the three party leaders, and the extent to which each leader is an asset or a liability for their party – a draw or a drag.

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How to handle Ed?

Ed Miliband

By Lord Ashcroft

As Ed Miliband returns to work this week after the birth of his son, Conservatives will be wishing his family well – while considering what can be done to ensure the Labour leader’s political fortunes do not prosper. Two schools of thought are apparently emerging: one, that the Tories should subject Mr Miliband to relentless assault in much the same way as Labour treated William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith; the other, that he is proving so uninspiring that we should leave him alone in the hope that he remains in post indefinitely. Both these arguments make the mistake of assuming that Mr Miliband’s success or failure, and how he is seen by the voters, will be determined by what the Tories choose to say about him.

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