web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > Opinion Polls

Lord Ashcroft: Was it really ‘Brexit wot lost it’ for Labour?

John McDonnell was first with the theory, as soon as the exit poll had stunned the nation. “Brexit dominated the election,” he said. “I think people are frustrated and want Brexit out of the way.” The theme was taken up over the hours and days that followed, culminating in the claim Labour “won the argument” and that Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership had nothing to do with the party’s worst result since 1935. Brexit alone was to blame.

Well, if this is the result you get when you win the argument, we can only imagine what losing it would look like. But what about the idea that the result can be put entirely down to Brexit, rather than the broader questions of policy and leadership that usually go into people’s voting decisions?

It would be absurd to deny that Brexit played a big part in the result. My election-day post-vote poll of 13,000 voters found the idea that a Conservative vote was most likely to lead to “the Brexit outcome I wanted” topped the list of broad explanations for Tory voters’ decisions – but only 37 per cent mentioned it as the single most important reason, and a third of them didn’t mention it in their top three. The view that the Conservatives “would do a better job of running the economy” was close behind, as was their view that Boris Johnson would make a better Prime Minister.

But even though Brexit policy was a clear dividing line between the parties, this cannot be disentangled from Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership on the issue, or lack of it. Since the referendum, voters have found Labour’s policy muddled and unclear. Time and again, people told us in focus groups that they suspected Corbyn really wanted to leave the EU but wouldn’t say so. They understood that he was caught between his mostly Remain MPs and activists and his many Leave voters, but that didn’t make him seem any stronger or more decisive. When telling us what they understood Labour’s policy to be – usually in terms like “they will negotiate a new deal and then have another referendum and campaign against it,” if they knew it at all – they would often do so with a smirk which betrayed what they thought of it. Corbyn’s ultimate declaration that as Prime Minister he would be “neutral” on the biggest political question facing the country simply invited derision.

It is true that only 64 per cent of 2017 Labour Leave voters stayed with the party last week (just as 66 per cent of 2017 Conservative Remainers stayed loyal to the Tories). Certainly, Brexit was important to these people, and as we found week after week in our focus groups, many were torn over whether they could bring themselves to vote Conservative. But Corbyn made their decision to do so easier, not harder.

Regularly we heard that he was an ultra-left-wing, backward-looking, 1970s throwback with terrorist sympathies and no fondness for Britain, who had at the very least failed to deal with antisemitism in his own party and simply did not have the qualities to be Prime Minister. Many former supporters told us they could not vote Labour in its current form, Brexit or no Brexit. Indeed, in our post-vote poll, only 14 per cent of Conservative voters said they would have voted differently had Brexit not been on the agenda, and only a quarter of them said they would otherwise have voted Labour.

But even though Brexit helped some Labour Leavers away from the party, how to explain the defections among its 2017 supporters who voted Remain? Sixteen per cent of 2017 Labour Remainers declined to vote for the party last week – twice the proportion of Conservative Leavers who failed to vote Tory – despite the adoption of a policy on the supposedly overriding issue of the election which was designed to keep them on board.

Perhaps the starkest evidence of all on this question came midway through the campaign, when I asked voters what, if anything, they feared about a new Conservative or Labour government. In third place for Labour, “their plans might damage business and the economy.” Second, “they would spend too much and get Britain into more debt.” And top of the list? “Jeremy Corbyn being Prime Minister.”

We should understand why many in the Labour Party want to hold fast to the idea that Brexit alone cost them the election. After a traumatic setback, it is only human to grasp at the most comforting explanations that come to hand. It is also a regular habit of losing political parties, as we saw with Labour in 2010 and, let us not forget, with the Conservatives after 1997, who took years, not days, to grasp the reasons for their predicament. But the longer Labour clings to its consolation theory, the more distant will be the first step on the road to recovery.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

A good election for the pollsters, but most still under-estimated the Tories

Following a couple of elections in which the pollsters have come in for considerable flak for mis-calling the final outcome, last Thursday proved what must surely have been a welcome corrective.

As Sir John Curtice points out in today’s Daily Telegraph, several companies got the result almost exactly right and ten “put their reputation on the line” by publishing polls conducted very close to polling day.

YouGov’s Anthony Wells, writing on UK Polling Report, has provided a handy summary of those final surveys, which we have listed below in the order of their projected Conservative share (rounded to the nearest whole number).

  • Deltapoll: CON 45%, LAB 35%, LDEM 10%, BREX 3%
  • Survation: CON 45%, LAB 34%, LDEM 9%, BREX 3%
  • Opinium: CON 45%, LAB 33%, LDEM 12%, GRN 2%, BREX 2%
  • Ipsos MORI: CON 44%, LAB 33%, LDEM 12%, GRN 3%, BREX 2%
  • Kantar: CON 44%, LAB 32%, LDEM 13%, BREX 3%
  • Panelbase: CON 43%, LAB 34%, LDEM 11%, BREX 4%, GRN 3%
  • Qriously: CON 43%, LAB 30%, LDEM 12%, GRN 4%, BREX 3%
  • NCPolitics: CON 43%, LAB 33%, LDEM 12%, GRN 3%, BREX 3%
  • YouGov: CON 43%, LAB 34%, LDEM 12%, GRN 3%, BREX 3%
  • ICM: CON 42%, LAB 36%, LDEM 12%, BREX 3%
  • SavantaComRes: CON 41%, LAB 36%, LDEM 12%
  • BMG: CON 41%, LAB 32%, LDEM 14%

It is interesting to note that, whilst several companies did get the Conservative share correct, the average still under-estimated it by two points. The spread is entirely in that direction, with a long tail of pollsters beneath the mainland Conservative share of 45 per cent but none erring in the other direction. Is this because there are still ‘shy Tories’, or is there another reason?

With a solid majority, which the polls largely forecast even if commentators and politicians alike refused to believe them, the polling industry can perhaps look forward to a few years of respite. Questions raised during the campaign about the impact of polls on the race, and whether they should be restricted during elections, will take on less urgency.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Lord Ashcroft: How Britain voted and why. My 2019 post-vote poll

Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC is an international businessman, philanthropist, author and pollster. For more information about his work, visit www.lordashcroft.com and www.lordashcroftpolls.com.

I surveyed over 13,000 people on election day who had already cast their vote to help understand how this extraordinary result came about. The results show who voted for whom, and why.

The demographics

Westlake Legal Group 1-Demographics Lord Ashcroft: How Britain voted and why. My 2019 post-vote poll Postal voting Opinion Polls Lib Dems Labour Party Comment Campaigning Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP 2019 General Election   Labour won more than half the vote among those turning out aged 18-24 (57 per cent) and 25-34 (55 per cent), with the Conservatives second in both groups. The Conservatives were ahead among those aged 45-54 (with 43 per cent), 55-64 (with 49 per cent) and 65+ (with 62 per cent).

Men chose the Conservatives over Labour by a 19-point margin (48 per cent to 29 per cent), while women did so by just six points (42 per cent to 36 per cent).

The Conservatives won among all socio-economic groups by margins of between 6 points (DEs) and 20 points (C2s).

When did you decide?

Westlake Legal Group 2-Timeline Lord Ashcroft: How Britain voted and why. My 2019 post-vote poll Postal voting Opinion Polls Lib Dems Labour Party Comment Campaigning Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP 2019 General Election   More than half of voters said they made up their minds within the last month, with a quarter saying they did so within the last few days, including 16 per cent saying they decided on election day or the day they filled in their postal ballot. Labour support was higher among those making up their minds within the last week of the campaign.

Westlake Legal Group 3-Vote-by-timeline Lord Ashcroft: How Britain voted and why. My 2019 post-vote poll Postal voting Opinion Polls Lib Dems Labour Party Comment Campaigning Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP 2019 General Election

How easy was the decision?

Westlake Legal Group 4-Ease-of-vote Lord Ashcroft: How Britain voted and why. My 2019 post-vote poll Postal voting Opinion Polls Lib Dems Labour Party Comment Campaigning Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP 2019 General Election   39 per cent of all voters said they found their decision harder than usual. Labour (42 per cent) and Lib Dem (56 per cent) voters were more likely to say they found the decision harder than usual than those who voted Conservative (32 per cent). Those who voted Conservative and SNP were the most likely to say they found the decision easier than usual, with 27 per cent of voters for both parties saying they found it much easier than usual.

44 per cent of Remain voters said they found their decision harder than usual, compared to 35 per cent of Leave voters.

Tactical voting

Just over a quarter (26 per cent) of all voters said they were trying to stop the party they liked least from winning, including 43 per cent of those who voted Lib Dem and 31 per cent of Labour voters. One in three Remain voters said they were voting to stop their least preferred party compared to 18 per cent of Leave voters.

Westlake Legal Group 5-Tactical-voting Lord Ashcroft: How Britain voted and why. My 2019 post-vote poll Postal voting Opinion Polls Lib Dems Labour Party Comment Campaigning Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP 2019 General Election   Overall, 72 per cent said they were voting for the party they most wanted to win, including 82 per cent of Conservatives, 74 per cent of SNP voters, 67 per cent of Labour voters and just over half (54 per cent) of Lib Dems.

39 per cent of those trying to stop their least preferred party voted Labour, 30 per cent voted Conservative and 20 per cent voted Lib Dem.

Where did 2017 voters go?

Westlake Legal Group 6-EU-and-2017 Lord Ashcroft: How Britain voted and why. My 2019 post-vote poll Postal voting Opinion Polls Lib Dems Labour Party Comment Campaigning Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP 2019 General Election   84 per cent of 2017 Conservative voters stayed with the Tories, with eight per cent going to the Lib Dems, five per cent going to Labour and two per cent going to the Brexit Party. 79 per cent of those who voted Labour in 2017 stayed with the party, while nine per cent went to the Conservatives, seven per cent to the Lib Dems, two per cent to the Greens and one per cent to the Brexit Party. Three quarters of 2017 UKIP voters switched to the Conservatives, with 11 per centgoing to the Brexit Party.

Best Prime Minister

Westlake Legal Group 7-Better-PM Lord Ashcroft: How Britain voted and why. My 2019 post-vote poll Postal voting Opinion Polls Lib Dems Labour Party Comment Campaigning Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP 2019 General Election   49 per cent of all voters said Boris Johnson would make the best Prime Minister, with 31 per cent naming Jeremy Corbyn and 20 per cent saying they didn’t know. 95 per cent of Conservative voters named Johnson, while 76 per cent of Labour voters named Corbyn. Lib Dem voters named Corbyn over Johnson by 26 per cent 19 per cent, with 55 per cent saying they didn’t know.

The issues

Westlake Legal Group 8-Reasons-for-vote Lord Ashcroft: How Britain voted and why. My 2019 post-vote poll Postal voting Opinion Polls Lib Dems Labour Party Comment Campaigning Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP 2019 General Election   Asked to choose their top three broad reasons for their decision, Conservative voters were most likely to say their party or leader “was the most likely to get the Brexit outcome I wanted” (68 per cent), “would do a better job of running the economy” (64 per cent), and that the leader “would make a better Prime Minister” (58 per cent).

The top reasons Labour voters chose were that they “trusted the motives of the party I voted for more than those of other parties” (65 per cent), that they “preferred the promises made by the party I voted for more than the promises of other parties” (59 per cent), and that they thought Labour would do a better job of running the economy (though only 39 per cent chose this as a reason). Only 19 per cent of Labour voters said that believing the party would get the Brexit outcome they wanted was among their top three reasons for doing so.

For Lib Dems, the most important reason was “trusting the motives of the party” (62 per cent), followed by getting “the Brexit outcome I wanted” and that they “preferred the promises” made by the Lib Dems (both 53 per cent).

Asked to choose from a longer list of issues which three had been the most important in their voting decision, 72 per cent of Conservative voters named getting Brexit done, with 41 per cent naming the NHS, 29 per cent naming the economy and 25 per cent choosing having the right leadership or the best PM. For Labour voters, the NHS was by far the most important issue, named by 74 per cent; 28 per cent mentioned stopping Brexit or getting a second referendum, while 27 per cen t mentioned poverty and inequality. Among Lib Dems, 65 per centmentioned stopping Brexit or a getting second referendum, 58 per cent mentioned the NHS and 30 per cent mentioned climate change and the environment.

The Brexit effect

Westlake Legal Group 9-Top-issues Lord Ashcroft: How Britain voted and why. My 2019 post-vote poll Postal voting Opinion Polls Lib Dems Labour Party Comment Campaigning Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP 2019 General Election   73 per cent of those who voted Leave in the EU referendum voted Conservative, while 16 per cent voted Labour and four per cent for the Brexit Party. 92 per cent of 2017 Conservative Leave voters stayed with the Tories. 64 per cent of 2017 Labour Leave voters stayed with Labour, while 25 per cent switched to the Conservatives.

Labour took 47 per cent of the vote among those who voted Remain in the EU referendum, while the Lib Dems took 21 per cent and the Conservatives took 20 per cent. 66 per cent of 2017 Conservative Remain voters stayed with the Conservatives, with 21 per cent going to the Lib Dems and eight per cent to Labour. 84 per cent of 2017 Labour Remain voters stayed with Labour, while nine per cent  went to the Lib Dems.

One in twenty (five per cent) said they voted Leave in the 2016 referendum but now think we should remain; 13 per cent said they voted Remain but the referendum result should be honoured.

Nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of Conservative voters said they voted Leave and wanted Brexit to happen as soon as possible; a further 18 per cent said they voted Remain but wanted the referendum result to be honoured. 61 per cent of Labour voters and 76 per cent of Lib Dem voters said they voted Remain and still wanted to prevent Brexit happening if at all possible.

Westlake Legal Group 10-Party-by-EU Lord Ashcroft: How Britain voted and why. My 2019 post-vote poll Postal voting Opinion Polls Lib Dems Labour Party Comment Campaigning Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP 2019 General Election   80 per cent of Leave voters who wanted to get on with Brexit voted Conservative, with 11 per cent choosing Labour and four per cent the Brexit Party. More than half of Leave voters who now wanted to remain voted Labour (58 per cent), with 14 per cent going to the Lib Dems and another 14 per cent to the Conservatives. Remain voters who wanted the referendum result to be honoured chose the Conservatives over Labour by 62 per cent to 23 per cent, with eight per cent going to the Lib Dems. Among remainers who still wanted to prevent Brexit if at all possible, just over half (56 per cent) voted Labour, with 26 per cent going to the Lib Dems; five per cent of them voted Conservative.

Westlake Legal Group 11-Vote-by-brexit-enthusiasm Lord Ashcroft: How Britain voted and why. My 2019 post-vote poll Postal voting Opinion Polls Lib Dems Labour Party Comment Campaigning Brexit Party Brexit Boris Johnson MP 2019 General Election   15 per cent of voters said they would probably have voted for a different party had Brexit not been on the agenda at this election. This included 28 per cent of those who ended up voting Lib Dem, 14 per cent of Conservatives, and 11 per cent of Labour voters. 2016 Leave and Remain voters were equally likely to say they would probably have voted differently had it not been for Brexit (16 per cent).

Half of Labour voters who would have voted differently had it not been for Brexit said they would probably have voted Lib Dem; 52 per cent of Lib Dems who would have voted differently had Brexit not been on the agenda said they would probably have voted Conservative.

Postal votes

We found 38 per cent saying they had voted by post. The Conservatives won 48 per cent of postal votes, with 29 per cent going to Labour and 13 per cent to the Lib Dems. 41 per cent of Conservative and Lib Dem voters voted by post, compared to 34 per cent of Labour and 33 per cent of SNP voters.

Full data tables are available at LordAshcroftPolls.com

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Henry Hill: YouGov lowers its Tory expectations in Wales and Scotland – but other sources disagree

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve spent quite a bit of time examining the electoral landscapes facing the Scottish and Welsh Tories in this general election.

Each received an entry in our comprehensive battlegrounds series, whilst this column has looked at what YouGov’s first MRP poll augured for the Party and, drawing on that, the question of whether the Welsh Conservatives could get their campaign back on track.

Yet since then there’s been a final round of fresh evidence (or omens, depending on your faith in polls), and it once again poses interesting questions.

(As a lot of polling is conducted on a Great Britain basis which excludes Ulster, I won’t cover it here. Our battlegrounds profile for Northern Ireland, which includes a link to the latest LucidTalk poll of the Province, was published yesterday.)

Is something afoot in Scotland?

In my previous column on YouGov’s first MRP poll, one point I kept coming back to was how different was the story it told both from general expectations before the campaign began and from on-the-ground feedback from activists.

The same is true for the second one. Despite a general sense that the wind is in the sails of the Scottish Conservatives, YouGov has them going backwards.

Where in the first poll they were on track to hold 11 of their current haul of 13 seats, it is now only eight. On top of losing Stirling and East Renfrewshire – and the latter is widely viewed as an implausible win for the SNP – they are now forecast to lose Angus, Gordon, and Ochil & South Perthshire (confusingly the Times graphic has the SNP winning Moray, but that appears to be a glitch). These losses are partially offset by a predicted gain from the SNP in Lanark & Hamilton East.

Meanwhile Scottish Labour, which just a couple of weeks ago were staring down the barrel of a near-wipeout, are forecast to retain five of their current haul of seven seats, including fending off a rumoured Tory upset in East Lothian.

This conflict between YouGov’s forecasts and the wider narrative of the campaign could mean that the pollster has identified trends which have flown almost entirely beneath everyone else’s radar. Or it could mean that they have mis-calibrated their model and got it wrong – we’ll find out tomorrow.

If they are right, it will pose hard questions both to campaigners and commentators – from many parties – about our ability to read a live election campaign, not to mention trying to work out where the Labour recovery came from and why the Conservatives slipped back in the closing weeks of the campaign.

Conflicting auguries for the Welsh Tories

In Wales, the second YouGov report is also disappointing reading, albeit less so. The Conservatives are still forecast to win back their by-election loss of Brecon & Radnor, reclaim Vale of Clwyd, and make an historic advance by winning Wrexham.

But where two weeks ago they were apparently on track to win Anglesey (‘Ynys Môn’) for the first time since the mid-Eighties, the MRP odds now have them in third. None of the other gains they were anticipating to make from Labour at the start of the race are tipped to fall – although they are neck-and-neck in Delyn and just a few points short in both Bridgend and Alyn & Deeside.

This is a strong level of continuity with the previous poll, and if true poses the questions I raised in last week’s column. But it is not the final word on the subject.

Step forward Professor Roger Awan-Scully, of Cardiff University, and his Welsh Political Barometer poll. This is the main, regularly-conducted Welsh opinion poll and it ought to be familiar to readers of this column.

According to him, Labour are on track for an “historic shock” in the Principality. Whilst the Opposition’s vote share has recovered to 40 per cent, he found the Tories on their heels at 37 per cent. This would apparently be the strongest Conservative vote share in Wales since 1900 – before the universal franchise.

Were this to be true, tomorrow night would play out very differently. The Party would not only pick up Brecon & Radnor, Vale of Clwyd, and Wrexham but also Alyn and Deeside, Bridgend, Cardiff North, Clwyd South, Delyn, and Gower. Meanwhile Mark Williams would take back Ceredigion from Plaid Cymru, which YouGov thinks is deeply improbable.

Such results would cut Labour’s representation to 20, just half of Welsh seats, whilst the Conservative would wrack up a better result than their previous high-tide mark at the 1983 election. By contrast the last Welsh-specific poll, on November 25, forecast Labour to lose just four seats.

Once again, we have a fascinating conflict between YouGov’s model and another source, in this case the well-established Welsh Political Barometer. Which is right? It isn’t just a fascinating academic question (although it is that): the MRP model has played a very prominent role in shaping public understanding of the campaign. If parties have based strategic choices on it, and it turns out to be wrong, that could have profound consequences for the result of the election.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Lord Ashcroft: The limits of tactical voting – why all Brexiteers should vote Conservative tomorrow

Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC is an international businessman, philanthropist, author and pollster. For more information about his work, visit www.lordashcroft.com and www.lordashcroftpolls.com.

A funny thing about elections is that people’s expectations of what the result will be can affect what the result actually is.

There have been hints of this in my polling over the course of the election campaign. The survey I published yesterday found more people expecting a Conservative victory than was the case last month. At the same time, enthusiasm for switching to the Tories among some critical voters – the things that makes such a result possible – has diminished.

There could be several reasons for this. But one might be that with Boris Johnson apparently safely on course for a majority, some may feel they don’t need to sully themselves with a Conservative vote.

In focus groups over the last few weeks we have witnessed how agonising many Labour voters find the choice this year: people who want to get Brexit done and feel Jeremy Corbyn’s version of the party has ceased to represent them, but struggle with an ancestral injunction never to vote Tory. The idea that they can have the outcome they want without having to vote for it must be a tempting one to embrace.

The problem is that it is an illusion, and one that represents a serious threat to the Tories’ chance of getting the majority that would drag politics from its three-year quagmire.

New analysis from YouGov, based on over 100,000 interviews in the past week, highlights the danger. Having forecast 359 Conservative seats two weeks ago, they now project 339 – a Tory majority of 28, down from 68 in the initial estimate. The model’s margin of error means another hung parliament is well within the range of tomorrow’s possible outcomes.

If this new forecast makes Tories nervous, it at least has the effect of clarifying the choice.

Naturally, there will be previous Conservative voters who are not enthusiasts for Brexit and find that Boris is not their cup of tea. The kind of people you might expect to find in, say, Putney – a seat which YouGov now predicts to fall to Labour, having projected a Conservative hold two weeks ago. Esher & Walton is now classified as a tossup between the Tories and the Lib Dems, whose leader has been increasingly clear that she will not support Johnson in a hung parliament, which leaves only one alternative.

It is hard to see many people in such places enjoying what Corbyn and John McDonnell have in store for them. I hope anyone considering using their ballot to make a point against the Tories will resist the temptation unless they really do relish the idea of a Corbyn government – because that is what they could get.

But perhaps the biggest threat to a Conservative majority tomorrow is not from those who oppose the party’s central policy, but from people who support it. YouGov’s seat-by-seat data reveals 48 seats in which Labour’s lead over the Conservatives is smaller than the projected vote share for the Brexit Party.

The Brexit Party’s argument has always been that they can win in places the Tories never have. This is debatable enough: the Conservatives never won in Mansfield or Stoke or Gower, until they did, and historic Tory gains are forecast in Bishop Auckland and Bolsover.

But tragically, the Brexit Party threatens to prevent the Tories regaining seats they lost just two years ago, like Bedford, Lincoln, Keighley, Bury North, Vale of Clwyd and Warrington South. These are constituencies the Conservatives should be able to count on this time, but which could be kept in Labour hands by a split in the pro-Brexit vote.

So, if you’re tempted to vote for the Brexit Party, let me appeal to you. Forget the wrangling about whether there should have been a pact, and who should have stood down for whom. The decision is upon us. Whether you think it deserves any or not, the Brexit Party is projected to have no MPs. On Friday, these seats will have Conservative MPs, or Labour ones. The Tories will have a majority, or they won’t. Boris Johnson will keep Corbyn out of Downing Street, or he won’t – and as a result, Brexit will happen, or it won’t.

This election can have one of two possible outcomes: the Conservatives and Brexit, or Labour and no Brexit. If you’d prefer the first, that’s what you should vote for.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Red Swan…or Conservative landslide…or…

We’ve been here before – and recently, too. Today’s YouGov MRP poll may be “wrong”: that’s to say, its data may not represent what happens on election day, either because voters change their minds substantially, or the findings will be out of date by then, or are simply mistaken.

It doesn’t follow that because this particular MRP was right in 2017, so to speak, it will necessarily be right this time.  Other MRP polls were wide of the mark two years ago.  And one conventional pollster, Survation, got it right (in other words, its final poll mirrored the actual result).

When all that is said and done, however, the poll is roughly where one might expect.  We noted in our final campaign summary last Friday that Labour’s support had risen according to the polls.  The most simple explanation is that a swathe of the party’s supporters are coming home.  Lord Ashcroft’s latest election dashboard suggests the same.

At any rate, the YouGov MRP headline finding is a Tory majority of 28 – down from 68 last time round.  Our media colleagues are making much of the consequent possibility of a hung Parliament.  And no wonder: journalists love a contest. They are making rather less of that of a Conservative landslide.  (John Rentoul tweets that if the YouGov MRP has the same relationship to the final result as in 2017, thid election will produce a Tory majority of 44.)

As we wrote last week, Labour could yet produce a “Red Swan”. “[It] could yet close the divide for a mix of reasons: if there is large-scale tactical voting; if the vote distribution works for it; if its ground campaign is sufficiently strong; if the polls are “wrong” – and perhaps above all if there is differential turnout that favours the party,” we said.  And if the YouGov MRP is picking up a late swing.

Boris Johnson would have to be unlucky for such a combination of events to occur.  But even a mix of some of them might do for him.  He would see the seats that the YouGov MRP find competitive between the two main parties fall overwhelmingly to Labour.  And the Tories fare poorly against the Liberal Democrats and the SNP, too.

All in all, a Conservative win is still the most likely result.  But if the YouGov MRP, the Ashcroft dashboard and other polls are accurate, it is less likely than it was.  Just as Johnson wouldn’t have been entirely happy with his bigger lead last time, so he won’t be entirely unhappy now.  A closer race means more incentive for Tory voters to turn out.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Lord Ashcroft: Will victories for Johnson and Trump herald the triumph of conservatism?

This is a text of a talk I gave last week to the International Democrat Union, the global alliance of the centre right, looking at the challenges the conservative movement will face whatever the result of the current round of UK and US elections.

The title of this session is ‘Conservatives at a Crossroads – where do we go from here?’ This is always an excellent question, but when deciding where to go and how to get there you first need to know where you are.

At first glance, we seem to be in a good position. In the US, the Republicans control the White House, the Senate, and most state legislatures. In the UK, the Conservatives have been in government for nine and a half years and, according to the bookies and most pollsters, look set to get a new mandate with an overall majority.

But when we look in detail at the research – both on current elections and over the longer term – we can see hazards that the conservative movement is going to have to navigate on both sides of the Atlantic, and which will apply in different ways in all the countries represented in this room.

Let’s start with the election in the UK.

Westlake Legal Group IDU-1 Lord Ashcroft: Will victories for Johnson and Trump herald the triumph of conservatism? US Republicans U.S Presidential Election 2020 Opinion Polls Lord Ashcroft donald trump Conservative Party Comment Boris Johnson 2019 General Election

In common with other polls, my surveys find Boris Johnson maintains a comfortable lead over Jeremy Corbyn as the best available Prime Minister. Only a quarter of voters think Corbyn would do a better job. The Conservative team is also more trusted to run the economy, and when we force people to choose between a Conservative government led by Boris Johnson or a Labour government with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister, at this stage we still find a clear – if not overwhelming – preference for the former.

Westlake Legal Group IDU-2 Lord Ashcroft: Will victories for Johnson and Trump herald the triumph of conservatism? US Republicans U.S Presidential Election 2020 Opinion Polls Lord Ashcroft donald trump Conservative Party Comment Boris Johnson 2019 General Election

And when we ask how likely they feel they are to vote for each party on a 100-point scale, we see Conservatives retaining much firmer support from their 2017 voters than Labour or the Liberal Democrats. While Conservative Remain voters are less sure about their vote than Tory leavers, as a whole they are still more inclined to stick with the party than abandon it – partly because they think the referendum result should be honoured, and partly because they think Brexit will be a walk in the park compared to having Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street.

The fundamentals, then, are clearly in Boris Johnson’s favour. But recent polls have found the Labour vote firming up, and even with a week to go it feels as though this election is somehow not settled yet, with many uncertain voters still to make up their minds.

But even if we do get the Conservative majority most analysts expect, we should not take this is a wholesale endorsement of the Conservative Party, or of conservatism itself.  We need to take a much longer view. As in other countries, the political situation we have in Britain today is the result of a long series of disruptive influences: the Iraq war, the expansion of immigration from the EU, the scandal over MPs’ expenses, the financial crisis and the years of austerity that followed it, the Brexit referendum and parliament’s inability or unwillingness to implement the result have all been steps on the path to this point.

A good way of exploring the effect of these developments is to chart them on a geo-demographic map like this one.

Westlake Legal Group IDU-3 Lord Ashcroft: Will victories for Johnson and Trump herald the triumph of conservatism? US Republicans U.S Presidential Election 2020 Opinion Polls Lord Ashcroft donald trump Conservative Party Comment Boris Johnson 2019 General Election    

The vertical axis represents security, which includes measures of wealth and wellbeing such as income, house value, occupation, education and health or disability. The horizontal axis represents diversity – a combination of factors including ethnicity, population density, urbanity and housing tenure. All these measures are derived from census data. By combining this information with election results and poll findings, we can study how opinion and voting behaviour varies – sometimes in unexpected ways – between people depending on their life situation and location.

Westlake Legal Group IDU-4 Lord Ashcroft: Will victories for Johnson and Trump herald the triumph of conservatism? US Republicans U.S Presidential Election 2020 Opinion Polls Lord Ashcroft donald trump Conservative Party Comment Boris Johnson 2019 General Election    

Here we see the constituencies won by the Conservative, Labour and other parties at the 2017 general election plotted on such a demographic map. Conservative seats dominate the less diverse but more prosperous top-right quadrant, with Labour holding all but a handful of seats in more diverse, less well-off territory.

Westlake Legal Group IDU-5 Lord Ashcroft: Will victories for Johnson and Trump herald the triumph of conservatism? US Republicans U.S Presidential Election 2020 Opinion Polls Lord Ashcroft donald trump Conservative Party Comment Boris Johnson 2019 General Election

But when we look at how those same constituencies voted in the EU referendum, we see the country divided along completely different lines. In demographic terms, Leave support was centred in the poorer and less diverse parts of the country, with support for Remain heavily concentrated in richer, more urban centres and university towns. In terms of attitudes, the divide over Brexit was much more along cultural lines than along traditional left-right ones.

In 2017, Theresa May called an early general election in the hope of reassembling the Brexit-voting coalition under the Tory banner. In fact, she got the worst of both worlds.

Many Remain voters deserted the Conservatives because of Brexit. But most of the Leave-voting former Labour voters who were supposed to take their place refused to fall into line with what they saw as the party of cuts. This explains why – so far! – no party has since been able to assemble a majority electoral coalition.

One important feature of the last election was that the Conservative voting coalition was older, whiter, more working class, more socially and culturally conservative and with fewer graduates than it had been before. This was also seen in the distribution of seats, with the Tories losing places like Kensington and Canterbury but making gains in former industrial Labour heartlands like Mansfield and Stoke. We can expect to see that process continuing this time round.

This is obviously a double-edged sword for the Conservatives. For many years, the party used to have long, solemn debates about how to attract more working-class voters, and the fact that the Conservatives are competing and winning in seats where they have never done so before is, in that sense, a real achievement. At the same time, though, a Conservative Party that ceased to be the natural home of affluent suburban professionals would have a lot of hard thinking to do. Like a business, a party should beware of taking a bigger share of a shrinking market.

I think there are two more hazards for the Conservatives, even if they emerge victorious a week today. One would be to conclude that the Conservative Party is regarded with any kind of fondness. We get a flavour of that from a question I asked earlier in the campaign about what attributes people associate with each party.

Westlake Legal Group IDU-6 Lord Ashcroft: Will victories for Johnson and Trump herald the triumph of conservatism? US Republicans U.S Presidential Election 2020 Opinion Polls Lord Ashcroft donald trump Conservative Party Comment Boris Johnson 2019 General Election

Of the main parties, the Conservatives are seen as the most willing to take tough decisions for the long term – with around one third of voters saying this is true of the party. They also lead – just – on having the right priorities for the country. Only 16% – one-six per cent – say the Conservative Party is “competent and capable”. The fact that this is enough to put it ahead of both Labour and the Liberal Democrats tells you a good deal about how the voters see our political class at the moment. Meanwhile, for all their faults, Labour are considered by far the more likely to want to help ordinary people get on in life, to stand for fairness and to have their heart in the right place.

This makes it much harder than it would otherwise be for lifelong Labour voters to switch to the Conservatives. In our focus groups, we see people genuinely agonizing over whether they can bring themselves to vote Tory, even though they want to get Brexit done and think Jeremy Corbyn would be a terrible Prime Minister.

All this means that of those Labour voters who do decide to switch to the Conservatives, many will do so simply to get Brexit done, intending to switch back as soon as it’s out of the way and Labour once again has a half-way acceptable leader. It would never have crossed their minds to vote Tory otherwise. In other words, we will probably see a temporary and transactional swing to the Conservatives, rather than a conversion to conservatism.

So, having cast a pre-emptive shroud over the Conservative Party’s celebrations, let me turn briefly to the US.

Like the Conservatives in Britain, President Trump and the Republicans have been lucky in their opponents. My polling since 2016 has consistently found around one in three Trump voters saying they were voting mainly to stop Hillary Clinton, rather than positively endorsing The Donald. And in my most round of research to mark a year until the election I found little enthusiasm for most of his potential challengers, even among likely Democrat primary voters. Joe Biden seemed to lack new ideas and have too many “senior moments.” People worried about the health of Bernie Sanders and few warmed to Elizabeth Warren, and even Democrats worried about the cost of their healthcare and college plans. Many thought Pete Buttigieg was smart, constructive, and likeable, though some worried about his relative youth and inexperience.

Meanwhile, most of those who voted for Donald Trump say he has met or exceeded their expectations. They point to a thriving economy, conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, a firm stance on immigration and border control and what they see as his determination to stand up for America in the world.

But there are Republicans voters in play. These are most likely to be found among those who previously voted for Barack Obama; those who were voting mainly to stop Hillary; and the moderate suburban voters who switched sides or stayed at home in last year’s midterms to give Democrats control of Congress. Many of these voters are weary of his antics, and some worry about what a second term would bring. They are open to an alternative.

Westlake Legal Group IDU-7 Lord Ashcroft: Will victories for Johnson and Trump herald the triumph of conservatism? US Republicans U.S Presidential Election 2020 Opinion Polls Lord Ashcroft donald trump Conservative Party Comment Boris Johnson 2019 General Election

 

At this stage, many national polls suggest that any one of the Democrat frontrunners could beat President Trump next November. And these figures from my October poll show around one in five Obama-Trump voters saying they might vote for Warren or Mayor Pete in a head-to-head with Trump, and one in four saying they could back Biden or Sanders.

But at this stage, such findings should be taken with a wheelbarrow of salt. Most voters have other things to think about and will not properly tune into the process at least until they have a firm nominee to compare against the President. But speaking to undecided former Trump voters last month, we found that the main message that drifts across from the Democrat camp is “free this, free that.” While healthcare is one of their biggest concerns, they worry about the tax implications of Medicare for all and free college. Suburbanites may yet decide they like their hard-earned dollars more than they dislike Donald Trump’s Twitter feed.

Many of them also feel that the Democrats still regard them as a “basket of deplorables” for having had the temerity to vote for Trump in the first place. This still rankles, and makes it harder for the party to recruit them. And while they still broadly see President Trump as a change in the right direction, the current most likely alternatives sound to many like either a change back to how things were, in the case of Biden, or a change in a wrong and potentially threatening direction, in the case of Warren and Sanders.

Meanwhile, we have the diverting spectacle of the impeachment hearings, which Democrats see as the final demonstration of Trump’s unsuitability to be President, but Republicans more often see as the culmination of a three-year witch hunt.

All of which means, in my view, that the 2020 election is still very much in the balance. But as in the UK, even if Trump carries the day next November, there are broader questions that should give American conservatives pause for thought. One of these is how support for the two parties has shifted in recent decades.

Westlake Legal Group IDU-8 Lord Ashcroft: Will victories for Johnson and Trump herald the triumph of conservatism? US Republicans U.S Presidential Election 2020 Opinion Polls Lord Ashcroft donald trump Conservative Party Comment Boris Johnson 2019 General Election

This is how the Republican and Democrat vote has evolved over the last ten presidential cycles, from 1980 to 2016. It’s not a straight line, but the trend is very clear. In the Reagan era, Republican support was centred squarely in the top right quadrant of the map, among ‘high security, low diversity’ voters. Over time, this has drifted down to the bottom right, as the GOP’s centre of gravity has shifted to less prosperous rural and small-town America. On the other side, the opposite has happened. While always being rooted in more diverse populations, in economic terms the Democratic vote has grown steadily more upscale.

This is a more extreme version of the point I made about the way the Conservative voting coalition has changed in the UK. It has become a cliché to talk about the polarization of American politics, but the problem is that for some time, rather than trying to ameliorate those divisions, politics has emphasized and supercharged them. People often blame Donald Trump for this. But the truth is that, like Brexit in the UK, he is the latest in a long line of divisive political developments going back at least to the Clinton era. The 1994 Republican Revolution, the Clinton impeachment, the hanging chads of the Bush-Gore election, Iraq, the financial crisis, Obamacare and the rise of the Tea Party have all combined with the rise of talk radio, cable news social media to create the political atmosphere we have today.

That divided atmosphere always presents the temptation to behave in a way that makes the problem worse. Politics becomes ever more poisonous, and ever more removed from the practical problems that confront people in their daily lives, and the anxieties they have about their family’s future. You can win by emphasising these divides – but only for a time, and only at the cost of undermining support for the values and institutions which conservatives should be looking to preserve.

To conclude, I think all this evidence points to three broad conclusions for parties of the centre-right.

Westlake Legal Group IDU-9 Lord Ashcroft: Will victories for Johnson and Trump herald the triumph of conservatism? US Republicans U.S Presidential Election 2020 Opinion Polls Lord Ashcroft donald trump Conservative Party Comment Boris Johnson 2019 General Election

The first is that brand still matters, and perhaps more than it ever did. It is not always enough to be on the right side of an issue if voters mistrust your motivation and ability to deliver on their behalf. We won’t always be as lucky as Boris Johnson and Donald Trump in the opponents we face.

The second is that we must never assume the important arguments on things like capitalism, free trade and the market economy have been won, once and for all. Anyone who has reads the British Labour manifesto – and who sees the popularity of some of its policies on things like state ownership – will quickly see that this is not the case at all. And we should bear in mind that many in our own voting coalitions are not enthusiasts for globalisation, but are looking for more economic security.

The third is that we must not be trapped by the division and polarisation of politics and confine ourselves to our own corner of the demographic map. The most successful politicians in our era have been the ones to build the biggest and most enduring coalitions of voters. Not to identify divisions and exploit them, but to put their principles to work for the benefit of people in all parts of society. And if that sounds a bit soft and fluffy, let me say that the two leaders I have in mind are Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher – people of undoubted conservative conviction who kept pace with social and cultural change without alienating their core supporters, and who showed people who had never before voted for their parties that there was something in it for them.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

WATCH: “Some people don’t like the way I talk,” Swinson admits

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Chris Whiteside: A hung parliament with Labour and the SNP able to form a government is still a very real danger

Chris Whiteside MBE is Conservative health spokesman on Cumbria County Council and Deputy Chairman (Political & Campaigning) of North-West Region. He was Conservative parliamentary candidate for Copeland in 2005 and 2010.

As the election race heads into the final days, remember the curse of self-defeating expectations.

Like millions of people, I have already voted, putting my postal ballot into the box at the council HQ at the start of this week.

In the UK’s first December general election for nearly a hundred years, it is likely that postal votes will be even more important than usual – and since a lot of them will already have been cast, Labour would have to make a quite remarkable turnaround to win an outright majority in the last five days of the campaign.

That doesn’t mean the election is in the bag for the Conservatives.

Ironically, one of the things which could produce another hung parliament would be if everyone thought it was certain the Conservatives will win.

For 30 years an increasingly large cohort of the British public has been more and more disillusioned with politicians of all parties. This isn’t new, but those feelings of disillusionment and indeed betrayal have been boosted in the past three years. Although readers of Conservative Home might offer contrasting ideas about why the voters have good reason for this, it is unlikely that many people reading this will disagree with the view that voters have good reason to be distrustful of politicians.

Indeed, most of those who approve of Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn or Nigel Farage, or did so at the height or their respective popularity, saw them as anti-politicians.

My perspective on this election may be influenced by the fact that most of the campaigning I have been doing has been in Leave-voting areas of northern England, often areas which used to be solidly Labour. We are finding a certain proportion of the electorate has a positive view of Boris Johnson. What is much more striking, however, is the extent to which many former Labour voters are extremely hostile to Jeremy Corbyn.

This is likely to be an election in which many voters cast a ballot against what they don’t want rather than a positive vote for something they do. That is when the issue of self-defeating expectations comes into play.

If you are a voter who doesn’t like any of the main parties much, and are minded to vote for the party you think will be least disastrous, there may be a temptation not to cast a vote which would give them a huge majority. If there was an option on the ballot paper along the lines of “I want Boris Johnson to get a big enough majority that he can get Brexit done but not big enough to do absolutely anything he likes.” I suspect there would be an awful lot of votes in that box. But, of course, no such option is possible.

Some of the shock election results over the last few decades which have often been blamed on poor polling may have been at least partly due to voters having a late change of mind against the party they thought was going to win. From Neil Kinnock in 1992 to Theresa May in 2017, voters didn’t want the party they thought was heading for victory to get a big majority and voted to “clip their wings,” sometimes with the result that they didn’t win at all.

Marcus Roberts made a very good point on the ConHome Election Panel article, when he suggested that CCHQ might see the YouGov MRP survey as “the worst of both worlds” as it suggested a large enough Conservative majority to create the risk of complacency and make people think that there is no danger of a Corbyn government, yet that projected majority comprised a host of narrow and fragile projected leads in individual constituencies.

Perhaps the best argument we can use on the doorstep with any voter who doesn’t want any party to get a big majority is that the paralysed parliament Britain had from 2017 to 2019 and the last two and a half years of chaos is exactly what casting your vote against giving anyone a majority is most likely to produce.

I have been told that “senior figures” in the Conservative campaign think that a hung parliament is the most likely outcome of the election. There may be a degree of expectations management there, but I certainly think that a hung parliament with Labour and the SNP able to form a government is still a very real danger.

Meanwhile, the Labour party campaign seems to consist of an escalating series of ever more desperate and extremely expensive bribes which they are no longer even trying to pretend they have adequately costed or have any idea how to pay for. If this was coming from a normal political party we could assume they had lost any hope of forming a government and were making promises they didn’t expect to have to deliver. The Corbyn cult, however, is quite capable of believing their own fantasies. And, unfortunately, so is a proportion of the electorate.

But I want to end on a positive note. The nightmare of a hung parliament run by Jeremy Corbyn and the SNP is still a real possibility. But so is a Conservative majority. We have absolutely everything to play for.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Iain Dale: Gulp – here’s my prediction for the election result

Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and is a commentator for CNN.

Given my lamentable failure to predict the result of the last election, I have been somewhat nervous about making any kind of prediction this time. I am not alone. I haven’t seen any of the current class of political pundits make any sort of prediction. Well, let me clutch my pearls and get the ball rolling. The MRP/YouGov poll which got it so accurate last time, is this time predicting a Tory majority of 68. One political editor I know is convinced there will be a massive Tory landslide but is too scared to say it in public for fear of being ridiculed – a bit like I was in 2017. I don’t blame him! While there has been a narrowing of the polls in the last ten days, they all show a consistent Tory lead of 7-12 points, mostly around the 9-10 point mark. That is not enough for a landslide, unless there are some very different regional or individual constituency voting patterns. I also think it is still a worry that the Lib Dem vote could collapse even further, and Labour would be the major beneficiary of this. This could be countered by a further reduction in the Brexit Party vote in those very same seats. So as we stand today, with six days to go until polling day my prediction is that there will be a Conservative majority of between 20 and 30. If this comes to pass it will be enough for a full five year term. I suspect the Lib Dems will have been 15 and 25 seats, the SNP 47-52 and Labour around 230-240. In normal circumstances we’d then see Jeremy Corbyn resigning. He’d have lost two general elections and in this one he would have won 20-30 fewer seats than in 2017. How could he possibly cling on? Well, he may try to. Similarly, assuming Jo Swinson wins her seat – and that’s a big assumption – the knives will be out for her. To be frank, they already are. The Lib Dem campaign has been the worst they have fought in their 30 year existence. There are many people to blame for that but the buck stops with the leader, and the Lib Dems are almost as ruthless as the Conservatives at getting rid of failed leaders. If the SNP gets more than 50 seats they will see that as a further mandate for a second independence referendum. And you’d have to say they would have a point.

– – – – – – – – – –

The defection of four Brexit Party MEPs yesterday is a further sign that after only nine months, the Brexit Party has outlived its usefulness. It was a bitter blow to Nigel Farage, who has also had a dreadful election campaign. In fact, he’s been almost invisible. It’s as if he’s lost interest and realises that by standing down more than 330 candidates he made a massive strategic error. As luck would have it I interviewed him last night for an hour. I can’t tell you how it went because I’m writing this in advance of the interview, but you can catch it on the LBC Youtube channel. I suspect it was a pretty robust exchange. It certainly was the last time I did an extended interview with him during the European elections. Farage must be living under a big burden. If the Tories come up short because he has stood candidates in Tory-Labour marginals and let Labour in, he will be accused of losing Brexit. Because you can be sure of one thing. Unless there is a Tory majority government Brexit will be in real jeopardy. Real jeopardy. Wouldn’t it be the supreme irony if the man who did more to bring about Brexit than anyone ended up as the one who scuppered it?

– – – – – – – – – –

I have barely seen a poster in a window or a Correx board in a garden during this election campaign. This may be in part because people are more afraid of getting a stone through their window, but there’s another reason, too. One of the consequences of the Craig Mackinlay court case about election expenses in Thanet in 2017, is that all the parties are looking much more carefully about what they spend and the conventions which were approved of by the Electoral Commission. I am told that the cost of Correx poster boards could be written off over several elections, but now they EC has decreed that the whole cost must be born in a single set of election expenses. Similarly, cabinet ministers who used to go on regional tours, with the cost born by the national campaign, are being abandoned because the cost now has to be allocated to the local campaign. So unless they’re doing media rounds, most cabinet ministers are spending the whole campaign in their constituencies.

– – – – – – – – – –

Election night telly will never be the same again. For the first time in my adult life David Dimbleby will not be fronting the BBC’s coverage. Huw Edwards steps into the breach. On Sky News, Demot Murnaghan takes over the overnight shift from Adam Boulton, and will be joined by, er, John Bercow. Quite whether that will increase their viewing figures only you can guess. I’ll be fronting LBC’s election night programme for the fourth time, partnering Shelagh Fogarty for the third election in a row. This time it will a very visual effort. We’ll have Martin Stanford in a second studio with huge amount of graphics plus Tom Swarbrick and Theo Usherwood on camera too from the newsroom with our pundits. We’ll be streaming the whole thing live from 10pm-6am on the LBC website, Youtube channel, Facebook page and Twitter feeds. I hope you’ll join us for at least part of the night.

– – – – – – – – – –

This Saturday night I am spending the night sleeping in the open air in Trafalgar Square to raise money for homeless charities through the World’s Big Sleepout, which is the brainchild of Josh Littlejohn and former homelessness tsar Dame Louise Casey. Yes, some of you will no doubt accuse me of virtue signalling and worse, but do your worst. It’s like water of a duck’s back. Our rough sleeping crisis is there for all to see in London and other big cities every day of the week. And it’s also spread to many of our market towns, too. The next government needs to develop a proper strategy to alleviate the problem rather than the piecemeal efforts that have been deployed this far. So far I have raised more than £14,700, nearly three times my initial target. If you’d like to sponsor me just click here and donate whatever you can afford. Thank you in advance.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com