Will the Tories really get Brexit done? Who proposed which policy? What if you had to choose a Johnson government or a Corbyn one? Week 4 of my General Election Dashboard

By Lord Ashcroft

My latest 4,000-sample poll, conducted between Friday and Monday, finds little change in the overall picture, with Labour continuing to do better among its former voters than was the case at the start of the campaign.

The most noticed specific election stores of the last few days were promises of extra nurses, the Channel 4 climate debate, the Labour antisemitism controversy, and the question of whether Boris Johnson will be interviewed by Andrew Neil (more…)

‘Does he want to be PM, really?’ ‘It was worse than Prince Andrew’ ‘She has bagpipes playing in her head all the time.’ My election focus groups in Scotland

By Lord Ashcroft

My general election focus groups this week take us to Scotland, and three seats the SNP are hoping to regain after losing them in 2017: Aberdeen South and East Renfrewshire, both won by the Conservatives two years ago, and Glasgow North East, now one of Labour’s seven constituencies north of the border.

 

Fairy godmother

Of the manifestos launched in the days before this week’s groups, it was Labour’s that had made the biggest impression on our undecided voters. Whether they had voted Conservative, Labour, SNP or Lib Dem in 2017, their general view was decidedly sceptical: “Corbyn’s £80 billion reminded me of the £350 million on the side of the bus. It worries me that a large proportion of the population will believe it;” “If you combed your way through all the manifestos you could drive a bus through all of them. But the Labour one is astonishing; I’ve never seen anything like it (more…)

Would you vote tactically? What worries you most about a Tory or Labour government? What would actually happen under Johnson or Corbyn? Week 3 of my General Election Dashboard

By Lord Ashcroft

My third general election survey shows the Conservatives still ahead on the fundamentals, but there is some evidence that Labour is managing to firm up its vote among 2017 supporters at the margins, with Labour Leavers showing slightly more reticence about switching to the Tories.

When we ask people how likely they are to vote for each party on a scale from zero (definitely not) to 100 (absolutely certain), the Conservatives’ average likelihood score is unchanged at 36. Labour’s is up from 25 last week to 28, the Liberal Democrats’ down from 17 to 15, and the Brexit Party’s (asked of respondents in non-Conservative seats only) down from 11 to 9 (more…)

My perspective on the UK and US elections – and how politics ended up like this

By Lord Ashcroft

This is the text of a speech I gave in London last Friday covering the background to the current political situation on both sides of the Atlantic, and my perspective on the UK and US elections.

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I don’t know if it’s significant that you have asked me to speak about the political situation on the anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, Margaret Thatcher’s removal from Downing Street, and Angela Merkel’s appointment as Chancellor of Germany. We are living through what feels like a momentous time in politics, not just in this country, and I have spent some time trying to make sense of the disruption – and in particular, what the voters make of it all – through my opinion research on both sides of the Atlantic (more…)

‘It’s insulting people’s intelligence.’ ‘The government is paying, so we are.’ ‘It’s so overwhelming, I feel quite sick.’ My election focus groups in Alyn & Deeside, Wrexham and Newport

By Lord Ashcroft

This week’s round of general election focus groups took us to three more Leave-voting, Labour-held seats of the kind the Tories will need to build a majority, this time in Wales: Alyn & Deeside, Wrexham, and Newport West.

 

Unleashed

What campaign news had caught people’s attention in the last few days? “I saw a thing on Twitter with Michael Gove in his constituency. He was surrounded by a load of 60 or 70 year-old white pensioners, and it said ‘unleash our potential’. I thought, what kind of message is that?” “Free school meals. I think that was from Labour;” “The Conservatives want to bring back foxhunting;” “Corbyn wants to nationalise the railways;” “Various ones have jumped on the climate change agenda, but I don’t know who’s said what. To be honest I’ve heard more from Greta Thunberg on that;” “I’ve seen clips on Facebook of Labour people knocking on doors and getting a mouthful;” “The police – the Conservatives took 20,000 away but now they want to put them back;” “Didn’t Corbyn say something about putting the minimum wage up to £10 an hour?” “I think Labour said they were not going to restrict immigrants coming in. They’re going to continue with free movement, whereas the Conservatives are saying it’s not fair on people from outside the EU;” “There was something about a four-day working week. I reckon it would just mean doing four 12-hour shifts;” “It’s insulting people’s intelligence. I’m going to be working 7.30 till four, four days a week with three days off, for the same wage? It’s bollocks, isn’t it?” (more…)

Have you decided yet? Who will win the debate? Will you put up with Boris to get Brexit? Week 2 of my General Election Dashboard

By Lord Ashcroft

In this pre-debate, pre-manifesto stage of the campaign, my latest round of polling finds no signs of a seismic shift in opinion so far. We find a similar picture to last week’s, including a clear lead for Boris Johnson over Jeremy Corbyn as best Prime Minister and, in a forced choice, an overall preference for a Johnson-led Tory government over a Corbyn-led Labour one. Leave voters, however, appear more settled in their voting decisions at this stage than remainers. There are some small changes, but most are well within the margin of error.

When we ask people how likely they are to vote for each party on a 100-point scale, we find the Conservatives’ mean score up slightly since last week from 33 to 36, with the other parties unchanged (more…)

Think this impeachment hearing’s the end of Trump? Don’t bet on it

By Lord Ashcroft

This article was first published in the Mail on Sunday

For now, all eyes are on the extraordinary spectacle of a televised attempt to impeach Donald Trump. Yet only a year from now, the presidential election will be over, the votes counted and the victory speeches made. By whom? Most polls currently suggest it will be a Democrat who finds himself or herself huddled with the a transition team while Mr Trump contemplates a return to his newly-chosen home state of Florida.

My advice is that anyone planning to bet their house on such an outcome had better line up a friendly neighbour with a spare room, just in case (more…)

‘He put the milk in before taking the teabag out!’, ‘He’s a proper nutcase’, ‘Who’s going to pay me for a four-day week?’ My election focus groups in Stoke, Bolton and West Brom

By Lord Ashcroft

Last week my election focus groups took us to three constituencies in which the Liberal Democrats were hoping to corner the market in disgruntled remainers. This week we have visited three Labour-held, Leave-voting seats of the kind the Conservatives are looking to regain in their quest for a majority: Stoke-on-Trent North, Bolton North East, and the seat held until recently by Labour’s deputy leader, West Bromwich East.

 

Oven-ready

Boris Johnson’s opening election broadcast, ostensibly filmed during his tea break at CCHQ, had garnered an unusual degree of attention. “I thought it was for Children in Need;” “I thought it was a joke at first, but some people will like that;” “He put the milk in before taking the teabag out!” “He said, ‘our deal is oven-ready, sling it in the microwave,’ and I thought, you’ve never cooked a thing in your life, mate, have you?” (more…)

Election priorities, best PM, preferred government, trust on the economy, best party on Brexit… introducing my General Election Dashboard

By Lord Ashcroft

Each week until the election I will publish my General Election Dashboard, showing the results of my weekly 4,000-sample surveys tracking the intensity of each party’s support among different kinds of voters, crucial measures like best Prime Minister, preference of government, best party on Brexit and what people have noticed in the news, as well as the reaction to topical questions as they arise. Together with my weekly focus groups of different kinds of seats throughout the country, this will help explain the dynamics of the campaign and the factors that will determine the outcome on 12 December (more…)

‘He’s a bit Trumpy for me’, ‘She seems quite right-wing’, ‘There’ll be riots in the streets!’: my election focus groups in Finchley, Cambridge and Richmond

By Lord Ashcroft

My general election focus group tour has begun with a look at three heavily remain-voting constituencies that the newly confident Liberal Democrats hope to take next month: Cambridge, which they aim to win from Labour, and Finchley & Golders Green and Richmond Park, both of which they hope to take back from the Conservatives.

 

‘A bit tantrummy’

There was not a great deal of excitement about the prospect of going to the polls again, and some doubted it was even necessary: “It’s a kind of vanity election. I think he was so annoyed he threw his toys out of the pram and said ‘right, let’s call their bluff, let’s call an election.’ I think he could have swallowed his pride and pushed that legislation through;” “He wants to know he was voted in by the people. He is quite an egomaniac so he needs to know that;” “It seemed a bit tantrummy.” But most conceded that with parliament as it was – and a PM chosen by his party rather than the wider electorate – an election was the only way to break the deadlock and move forward (more…)