That’s enough fantasy politics. ‘Margaret Thatcher Day’ is not a vote-winner

By Lord Ashcroft

It is sometimes remarked that the centre ground of politics is not the same thing as the common ground. There is some truth in this. Overall, most people want to vote for parties that seem sensibly moderate rather than those that have veered too far one way or the other, but this does not mean that on any given issue – crime, immigration, the NHS – the centre of gravity of public opinion is always in the middle of the spectrum.

Yet politicians should beware of using this argument as an excuse to pursue preoccupations of their own which few voters share. A good example of this occurred at the end of June in the form of the so-called Alternative Queen’s Speech, a raft of measures (why do measures always arrive on rafts?) put forward by a number of Tory backbenchers which are, according to Peter Bone MP, designed to “recapture the common ground, where most views are”.

I decided to put this contention to the test in a poll. (more…)

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

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

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…)

Oborne strikes again

By Lord Ashcroft

For the second time in a year I find myself under attack from Peter Oborne. Last June the redoubtable Telegraph columnist claimed I had been against the formation of the coalition from the start, which was wrong, and that I was trying to push the Tories to the right, which was also wrong. I was very happy to correct his misapprehensions.

Peter’s new assault is equally wide of the mark, and I am pleased to be able to set him straight once again. He now asserts I am “engaged in an open, menacing and extremely public campaign against David Cameron”. (more…)

The Tories can’t afford to waste another six months

By Lord Ashcroft

The year started promisingly enough. The government’s mid-term review aimed to show what had been achieved and set the agenda for the rest of the parliament. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Europe speech was supposed to clear the decks and allow us to talk about the things we were elected to do.

So much for all that. My latest poll, conducted over the past weekend, shows the last six months to have been a missed opportunity to make progress on the things that will determine who wins in 2015.  (more…)

Enough! Time to behave like the governing party we want to be

By Lord Ashcroft

Was last week good for the Conservative Party because it proved that only the Tories were committed to an EU referendum? Or bad, because we seemed obsessed with the subject and excessively fond of arguing amongst ourselves? Either way, we were surely all glad when the weekend arrived. At least, that is, until we woke on Saturday to read of swivel-eyed-loon-gate, the latest in a seemingly unending series of ploys we seem to devise for tripping ourselves over. (more…)

Trident: The SNP shoots the messenger

By Lord Ashcroft

The reaction to my poll last week on Scottish attitudes to Trident has been fascinating, and telling. It is an article of faith for the SNP-CND axis that Scots are overwhelmingly and passionately opposed to nuclear weapons. My survey showing that most Scots want a replacement for Trident when it comes to the end of its useful life, and that more are in favour of the UK’s nuclear submarines continuing to be based in Scotland than are opposed, has therefore caused a bit of a flap. (more…)

CND are not the best people to ask what the Scots think of Trident

By Lord Ashcroft

As I never tire of pointing out, it is always worth looking twice at any survey that seems to show that the public support the agenda of whoever commissioned it. Perhaps not at all surprisingly, a recent poll about nuclear weapons conducted in Scotland for CND is a case in point. (more…)

Not being a party of government helped UKIP yesterday. Will it in 2015?

By Lord Ashcroft

Well that could have been worse. A lot better too, certainly, but let’s keep things in perspective. The UKIP performance is by far the most striking feature of the local election results, and I will come to that, but there are other things to observe.

First, there is nothing remarkable about a governing party losing ground (though there is also no guarantee that it will be regained in time). The overall result, if not the precise losses, could have been predicted the day after the 2010 election. (more…)

If things are so bad, why aren’t more people saying it’s time for change?

By Lord Ashcroft

As campaigning for the local elections reaches its climax, one particular poll finding has caught my eye. A ComRes poll for the Independent conducted last weekend found 58 per cent of voters saying the government’s economic plan has failed, and so it will be time for a change of government in 2015. The Independent described this as a boost for Labour, but my reaction was different. “58 per cent”, I thought. “Is that all?”