After a turbulent few weeks, where do Johnson – and Starmer – really stand with the voters?

By Lord Ashcroft

This week’s local elections take place against the backdrop of leadership plots and follow perhaps the most politically turbulent few months since the Brexit wars. My new research, including an 8,000-sample poll and focus groups with 2019 Conservatives in different types of seat throughout the country, shows how voters have reacted to the recent controversies and where Boris Johnson, Keir Starmer and their parties now stand in relation to the voters.

Partygate: is it over yet?

Just under half of all voters (47%) including nearly one in five 2019 Tories, said they thought “breaking the rules is a very serious matter, and Boris Johnson should resign”. This included more than 3 in 10 (31%) of those who switched from Labour to the Conservatives at the 2019 election (more…)

Three reasons why Boris Johnson can survive the public’s anger at Partygate

By Lord Ashcroft

This article first appeared in the Mail on Sunday.

Looking at my latest polling it is easy to see why many believe Boris Johnson’s Downing Street days are numbered.

My new 8,000-sample survey shows the opposition ahead not just on traditional Labour issues like the NHS and public services, but on supposedly Tory territory like immigration and crime. Voters say they are more inclined to trust Labour to run the economy.

When it comes to the premiership, Keir Starmer rates higher than Johnson in nearly all areas: communicating effectively, leading a team, formulating effective policies, having the right judgment in a crisis – and doing the job of prime minister overall. Apart from willingness to take tough decisions for the long term – a double-edged sword that can suggest callousness as well as realism – the Conservatives lag Labour on all other qualities we asked about: unity, values, being “on the side of people like me”, having the right priorities and (disastrously for a centre-right party) competence.

The government’s response to rocketing living costs has hardly helped (more…)

For now, Russia backs Putin and the invasion – but younger people are sceptical of the Kremlin line

By Lord Ashcroft

Two weeks ago I published survey in Ukraine that showed the determination of its population to defend their country and their view that Britain was doing more than most allies to help.

My latest poll, conducted by telephone in Russia from a neighbouring state, comes with two obvious caveats. The first is that the Putin regime effectively controls what Russians see and hear about the “special military operation” in Ukraine – and this is on top of two decades of Kremlin propaganda for the president and his works. The second is that with protests crushed and prison terms for anyone accused of spreading of “fake news” about the war, many might be cautious in talking about their views to a stranger. We also know, however, that a crisis can often prompt a surge of national loyalty.

With those health warnings, the survey suggests that Putin has managed to shape Russian opinion strongly in his favour – at least for the time being. Here are the main findings.

 

Most Russians back the invasion of Ukraine – but they don’t claim all of it

76% said they support the “special military operation” in Ukraine, with more than half (57%) saying they do so strongly. (more…)

My new book on the NHS – and what the voters really think about their favourite institution

By Lord Ashcroft

My new book, published tomorrow, could be my most controversial yet.

No, not that one. I mean Life Support: The State of the NHS in an Age of Pandemics. In it, my co-author Isabel Oakeshott and I ask hard questions about how good the National Health Service really is, and what needs to change if it is to offer the consistently high quality of care that patients and taxpayers deserve.

An objective study of a public institution ought not to be controversial, but any attempt to offer an unvarnished view of the NHS today will inevitably be seen in some quarters as an attack. Life Support is no such thing, of course. (After all, I spent a year campaigning, successfully as it turned out, for a rare collective award of the George Cross for the NHS and its staff). Nor is it an argument for doing away with the principle that services should be free at the point of delivery, which would be politically impractical even if I thought it a good idea, which I don’t. Rather, it is a rigorous study of the NHS as it really is today – the good, the bad and the ugly – based on detailed on-the-ground research and hundreds of interviews with health professionals and others (more…)

Ukrainians want to stay and fight, but don’t see Russian people as the enemy. A remarkable poll from Kyiv

By Lord Ashcroft

We have all seen the extraordinary bravery and spirit with which the people of Ukraine have responded to Putin’s brutal invasion. The results of a survey which, somewhat to my astonishment, a research firm in Kyiv was able to conduct for Lord Ashcroft Polls in the past few days only add to my admiration.

You might think an opinion survey is a rather trivial distraction given the magnitude of events that are unfolding. If so, let me say that our partners in Kyiv were pleased to have the work and – most importantly – the chance to show the world something of what Ukrainians are thinking and feeling as they defend their country. These are the main findings:

Ukrainians want to stay and fight.

Only 11% of Ukrainians agreed “if I could leave Ukraine safely tomorrow for another country I would.” Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) strongly disagreed. Only 1 in 20 (5%) of those aged 65 or over said they would leave if they could (more…)

Parties aren’t Boris’s only problem – his voters want real change

By Lord Ashcroft

The front page of Wednesday’s Daily Mail bewailed “a nation that’s lost all sense of proportion”. The paper remains a good barometer of opinion for a large chunk of the population, and many people will have nodded with approval at the headline.

The splash cited a political class fretting over the Prime Ministerial birthday cake while Russia prepared for war, but this was not the only incongruity at hand. Readers might also have wondered whether a lengthy investigation into alleged Downing Street parties was the best possible use of the Met’s time, especially given that this news emerged on the day a woman was murdered in broad daylight on a London street by a man who by all accounts ought to have been in its custody. Perhaps they also considered it curious that the fate of a leader who owed his position to nearly 14 million votes and an 80-seat majority in parliament seemed to depend so heavily on the judgment of a civil servant. If Boris Johnson survives it, the last few weeks might look quite bizarre in retrospect.

But that is not dismiss the charges against the PM (more…)