Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dem – Labour battleground

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By Lord Ashcroft

The Liberal Democrats’ vote has fallen by half in constituencies where Labour are their main challengers, according to my latest round of polling in marginal seats.

My research in Bradford East, Brent Central, Manchester Withington and Norwich South found the Lib Dem share down from 38% to 19%, with Labour up 11 points to 47%. This amounts to a swing of 15%, enough in theory for Labour to gain 17 current Lib Dem seats if repeated across the board at an election – though as we saw in my polling of Conservative-Lib Dem marginals, swings are very far from uniform where the Lib Dems are concerned. (more…)

“Equidistance” won’t be enough for Clegg to win back lost Lib Dems

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By Lord Ashcroft

Earlier this week Nick Clegg raised the prospect of a Lib-Lab coalition after the next election. He said he had observed Labour becoming more open to the possibility while the Tories had become more ideological in office.

Surveys last year found Lib Dem councillors and activists preferred the idea of working with Labour. Meanwhile, on the Conservative benches there is (shall we say) a diversity of opinion about the idea of governing in coalition after next May. Ed Miliband insists he is aiming for an overall majority, while some recent reports have suggested Labour are planning for a minority government if they are the largest party in a hung parliament.

But the fact is that in the early hours of Friday 8 May 2015, the politicians are going to have to deal with whatever situation the electorate has seen fit to present them with. (more…)

What Are The Liberal Democrats for?

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By Lord Ashcroft

The mood at the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference this weekend will perhaps be more cheerful than at any such gathering since the start of the coalition. The Eastleigh by-election apparently vindicates Nick Clegg’s approach to government, and his party’s approach to campaigning.

His activists will be relieved to think that pavement politics is back; that despite the polls, strong local government and an invincible leaflet-dropping network will see many or even most of their incumbent MPs safely back to Westminster in two years’ time. Certainly the Eastleigh victory was a considerable achievement for the Liberal Democrats, and there is no doubt, as my research has suggested for some time, that the party remains stronger as a local force that the national numbers suggest.

But that is not the whole story.

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To govern alone, Tories must reach out to all voters, not pander to their own

By Lord Ashcroft

The Liberal Democrats used much of their week in Brighton to discuss, as one Twitter wag put it, all the policies they would pursue if only they didn’t have power. For some, notably Vince Cable, differentiation from the Tories was the name of the game. Nick Clegg was steadfast in his commitment to the coalition, with a firm message on the deficit. But he too was keen to draw dividing lines with the Conservatives where he could: “Do you really think the Tories will make Britain fairer?” he encouraged his campaigners to ask on the doorstep.

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After the reshuffle soap opera it’s time to focus on the voters again

By Lord Ashcroft

Are MPs conspiring to smuggle an alternative leader into parliament? Who are the shadowy figures who tried to inveigle a respectable Colonel into their treacherous plot? Did the Prime Minister drink wine while sacking his Ministers? Did he offer them a glass? Did he make them cry?

Westminster politics is becoming more and more like a soap opera. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately – whatever would people think of it if they were paying attention?) it is a soap opera that nobody wants to watch. For voters, the reshuffle – which has dominated political coverage since before it was announced – is part of soap opera politics.

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Poll of marginal Conservative seats

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By Lord Ashcroft

In August 2011 I conducted a poll of 41 marginal Conservative-held seats to find out whether the static national polls were hiding a more nuanced picture on this crucial battleground. The results constitute mixed news for the Conservative Party – the findings are more encouraging for Tories where the Liberal Democrats are in second place than in constituencies where Labour are the main opponents.

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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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It was right for the Tories not to waste money in Oldham

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By Lord Ashcroft

Two principal questions are preoccupying Conservative commentators about the result from Oldham East & Saddleworth by-election. First, was the Liberal Democrat vote share largely due to tactical voting by previous Conservative supporters? Second, would a bigger Conservative presence on the campaign trail have made any significant difference to the result? I decided to find out over the weekend by re-polling 500 of the voters who took part in my pre-election survey (which turned out to be very accurate). The answers to the questions are: yes, and almost certainly not.

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Labour set to hold Oldham East & Saddleworth

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By Lord Ashcroft

Labour look set to hold the Oldham East & Saddleworth seat rather more comfortably than they did at the general election. For all the speculation, this by-election was always Labour’s to lose.

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What Future For The Liberal Democrats?

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By Lord Ashcroft

The Liberal Democrats have suffered a slump in the polls since their decision to enter a coalition government with the Conservatives. Some have argued that the Lib Dems are finished as an independent party capable of winning significant support at elections, but I suspected things might not be as straightforward as that. I have conducted research among those who voted Lib Dem in 2010, and those who thought about doing so but decided not to, to find some clues about the party’s future.

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