The people, the parties and the NHS

ConLabClouds

By Lord Ashcroft

The general election debate over the NHS has already become an exchange of insults, doubtful assertions and unreliable statistics of the kind that voters find so edifying. But despite the noise, both parties are avoiding real discussion of the subject.

Labour have put the health service at the centre of their campaign. But they look set to focus on spending the proceeds of their Mansion Tax and, of course, attacking the Tories’ record. There is no sign of the harder thinking on the longer term of the kind that the previous Labour government was prepared to grapple with. They know the choices and unpalatable, not least with their own voters.

The Conservatives are reluctant to talk any more than they have to about the NHS because they feel no such conversation would end well for them (more…)

Ashcroft National Poll: Con 34%, Lab 28%, Lib Dem 8%, UKIP 16%, Green 8%

ANP line graph 150112

By Lord Ashcroft

The first Ashcroft National Poll of 2015 has produced an unexpected result. The Conservatives lead Labour by six points, by 34% to 28%, with the Liberal Democrats unchanged on 8%, UKIP down three points at 16%, the Greens up three points at 8% and the SNP down one point at 4%.

It is important to keep results like this in perspective, and to look at the overall trend rather than any individual poll. The ANP is subject to a margin of error of 3% – meaning the Conservative share could be low enough, and the Labour score high enough, for the parties to be tied on 31% (more…)

No predictions from me – but here’s a whole gallery of snapshots

Grimsby

By Lord Ashcroft

Last week, along with various colleagues from the polling fraternity, I was asked by the Independent on Sunday to make a prediction about the election. At the risk of looking like a spoilsport I declined, as I always do when faced with such a question. I felt my usual answer – “I think it’s going to be quite exciting” – was not exactly what the editor would be looking for.

As was clear from the answers of those who bravely or recklessly did take part, nobody is very sure exactly what to expect (more…)

Eight things we learned from my research in 2014

Salience v. performance chart

By Lord Ashcroft

My research in 2014 has included a weekly national telephone poll, surveys in over 100 marginal seats, two rounds of my Project Blueprint research on the quest for a Conservative majority, a detailed study of voters’ attitudes to Europe, polling-day surveys of voters in the European elections, five by-election polls, and regular updates on the state of the parties. Here are some of the things we have learned: (more…)

Moderate Tory cheer and a fright for Labour in my final marginals poll of 2014

Con-Lab dashboard Dec 14

By Lord Ashcroft

Two types of constituencies feature in my last round of marginals polling for 2014. First, the next tranche of seats the Conservatives are defending from Labour; second, a selection of seats where Labour may be under threat from UKIP. I have also returned to the solitary Green constituency, Brighton Pavilion.

In previous rounds I have said I wanted to find the point in the Conservative-Labour battleground at which seats consistently stay blue and the damage stops. Well, it has not stopped yet, though I suspect Labour will be disappointed not to be inflicting more of it. (more…)

Ashcroft National Poll: Con 30%, Lab 31%, Lib Dem 8%, UKIP 19%, Green 5%

ANP line graph 141208

By Lord Ashcroft

Labour lead by a single point in the final Ashcroft National Poll of 2014, conducted over the past weekend. The party is down one point since last week on 31%, with the Conservatives unchanged on 30%. The Liberal Democrats are up one at 8%, UKIP up three at 19% and the Greens and the SNP each down one at 5% and 4% respectively. (more…)

The importance of being salient

Salience chart 141207

By Lord Ashcroft

Like all set-piece events in the political calendar, Wednesday’s Autumn Statement has dominated the attention of the Westminster media. As is also the case with such events, most people will not have noticed that it happened, let alone what was in it.

That is not to say it doesn’t matter – just that the measures it included and the overall economic message it conveyed have to be reinforced in the Conservative campaign for the five months until polling day. (more…)

Ashcroft National Poll: Con 30%, Lab 32%, Lib Dem 7%, UKIP 16%, Green 6%

ANPline141201

By Lord Ashcroft

Labour lead by two points in this week’s Ashcroft National Poll, conducted over the past weekend. Though Ed Miliband’s party are static on 32%, the Conservatives are up three points to 30%, bring the Labour margin down from five points to the narrower advantage we have seen in recent weeks. It is also the first time in five weeks that the combined vote share of the two parties has exceeded 60%. (more…)

Ed Miliband and Doncaster North: a correction (and apology)

By Lord Ashcroft

One of the most important principles behind my polling is transparency. All the data from my polls is published for all to see. This is important as it shows the research is done properly, and allows anyone who is interested to get the maximum possible value from the work.

The slightly more uncomfortable but nonetheless crucial side of transparency is that people can see when a mistake is made. Unfortunately that was the case last week in my poll of Doncaster North. (more…)

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…)