Elections

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…)

‘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…)

State of the Nation: my new polling on the political landscape and the battle lines for the next election

By Lord Ashcroft

The Conservative Party conference that opens today takes place at a more volatile and unpredictable time than any previous gathering I can remember. My new research, including an 8,000-sample poll, helps to make sense of what is going on by showing what the voters themselves make of the unfolding drama.

 

The Brexit Saga, part 94

When asked what they would most like to happen with Brexit, nearly eight in ten Conservative Leave voters choose Boris Johnson’s position of leaving the EU on 31 October with or without a deal. However, only 32% of them think this is the most likely outcome. One in five of them think we will leave after the current deadline, and nearly a quarter believe we will end up remaining in the EU. Overall, 36% back the PM’s policy, including six in ten 2017 Conservatives, nearly seven in ten Leave voters overall, and more than half of Labour Leavers. A further 15% said they would prefer to leave with a good deal even if this meant waiting beyond October, and nearly four in ten – including three quarters of remainers and just over half of Tory remainers – said they would like to see the UK remain in the EU (more…)

The public’s verdict on our political class? They waver between fury and contempt

By Lord Ashcroft

This article was first published in the Mail on SundayThe full report and data tables are below.

On the face of it, the government is in real trouble. The Supreme Court ruling against the Prime Minister follows a succession of parliamentary defeats, defections, expulsions and daily headlines about turmoil and chaos. But it is a good rule of thumb in politics that the noisier it gets, the more it pays to take a step back, a deep breath, and a good look at the bigger picture.

My latest research, published today, looks at the fundamentals: how voters have reacted to the drama not just of the last few weeks but the years since the referendum, and how this week’s events fit into the longer story. For many people, and not just among those who backed Leave in the increasingly distant 2016 referendum, that story is one of frustration and failure – or, worse, deliberate actions to delay Brexit for as long as possible or stop it altogether. That is the context in which many see the Supreme Court’s decision. Many of the Brexit supporters we spoke to were not so much angered as bemused by the ruling: “they seem to have made up a law and found Boris guilty of breaking it (more…)

My Euro-election post-vote poll: most Tory switchers say they will stay with their new party

By Lord Ashcroft

Since polling opened in the European elections I have surveyed over 10,000 voters to ask how they voted, why they chose the party they did, and – at least as of this weekend – what they see themselves doing at the next general election.

 

Who voted for whom?

More than half (53%) of 2017 Conservative voters who took part in the European elections voted for the Brexit Party. Only just over one in five (21%) stayed with the Tories. Around one in eight (12%) switched to the Liberal Democrats. Labour voters from 2017 were more likely to stay with their party, but only a minority (38%) did so. More than one in five (22%) went to the Lib Dems, 17% switched to the Greens, and 13% went to the Brexit Party (more…)

Capital Punishment? The Conservatives and the 2018 London elections

By Lord Ashcroft

The local government elections on 3 May 2018 will be the first big test of voters’ opinion since they deprived the Conservatives of their majority in parliament last June. Among the most closely watched results from the authorities across Britain will be those from the 32 London boroughs.

Ten of these are currently under Conservative control, including the party’s two local government flagships: Westminster, run by the Tories since its creation in 1965, and Wandsworth, in Tory hands since 1978, even though, during the Blair years, all three of the borough’s MPs were Labour.

My latest research – including a 3,000-sample poll and focus groups in eight boroughs over the last month – has explored in detail how London voters see things, both locally and nationally, as the May elections approach.

The backdrop to the London elections is not propitious for the Conservatives (more…)