Political Leadership

Protesting against the state visit does Britain no favours, and Trump no harm

By Lord Ashcroft

Last week, thousands of people took to the streets of London and other British cities in opposition to President Trump’s planned state visit to the UK. The weekend was rounded off with a predictable burst of celebrity sniping against Trump at the Oscars. No doubt this made everyone concerned feel better. But there are perhaps two things above all that reassure Trump voters that they made the right decision in November: squealing Hollywood liberals and noisy protesters – especially abroad.

This ought to be obvious to anyone who knows anything about voters of any kind, let alone American ones (more…)

Post-Brexit Britain and the new regime: the voters react

By Lord Ashcroft


In the space of a month, Britain has voted to leave the EU, the Prime Minister has resigned and been replaced by a new one, Cabinet ministers have been unexpectedly sacked or promoted, the Leader of the Opposition has lost a vote of no confidence and is being challenged for his position. I decided to ask the voters what they thought of it all.

In the last couple of weeks (allowing for a break to watch the rival drama on the other side of the Atlantic), we have conducted focus groups with different kinds of voters – remain and leave, and from various parties – in Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow. These were part of a continuing project on the new political landscape that I will launch in September, but here is a snapshot.

First impressions of Theresa May as Prime Minister were very positive (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

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…)

Twenty minutes of Miliband

By Lord Ashcroft

Over the weekend Nicolas Maduro, socialist president of Venezuela, announced that he was forcing a local chain of electronics stores to sell its products at cheaper prices. Maduro is now seeking the power to extend this policy to other goods, in an attempt to “protect the people from the bourgeois parasites”. Maybe it’s true after all, I mused to myself on hearing the news: Ed Miliband really is setting the political agenda. (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…)

A memo to Nigel Farage

By Lord Ashcroft

Dear Nigel,

As you know I have taken quite an interest in UKIP’s fortunes, and what they portend for the Conservatives. I have followed your career with interest, and I must confess I always enjoy your contributions. I particularly liked your joke that you worked hard in the City of London for twenty years, at least until lunch time.

But there is one thing I wonder about. What exactly are you up to?


Farewell Margaret Thatcher – a colossus of British politics and a dear friend

By Lord Ashcroft

I have numerous memories of Margaret Thatcher and all of them are fond ones. To me, she was not just a colossus of British politics but also a fiercely loyal friend when I was under fire. Her death today, aged 87, has saddened me greatly.

I credit Margaret Hilda Thatcher with rekindling my interest in politics after I had drifted away from it for well over a decade. I had admired her from afar long before I knew her – and not just because she was Britain’s first (and to date only) woman Prime Minister. (more…)

Why a Tory onslaught on Ed Miliband could backfire

By Lord Ashcroft

David Cameron is falling in voters’ estimation. Last weekend YouGov found his net satisfaction rating – the number thinking he is doing well, minus the (rather greater) number who think he is doing badly – is the same as Ed Miliband’s. No survey has put Miliband ahead on the question of who would make the best prime minister. Nevertheless, the latest figures are causing angst in Tory circles.