Five Reasons To Doubt Lord Ashcroft’s Polls

Lord Ashcroft grabbed the headlines once again today when he unveiled his seat-by-seat polls in Scotland and added fuel to the speculation that the SNP will deliver a Labour rout in May.  His polls are different because he looks at individual constituencies not the national picture.

The headlines today paint a joyous picture for the SNP and there is no doubt that they will do well.  The Ashcroft poll suggests that they will win 50 of the 56 59 Scottish seats.  Aggregate polls suggest that the number will be nearer forty. So are there reasons to doubt Ashcroft?

  1. He is a Tory peer and a lifelong supporter of the Conservatives who is estimated to have donated as much as £10m to the party. We might be forgiven thinking that he’s tempted to spin for them.
  2. In his three national polls this year the Conservatives are ahead in two (by 6 points in one) and level in the other.   If you look at all the other polls over the same period it’s nine-four in Labour’s favour.
  3. His polls are snap shots at a specific point in time so can’t really be relied upon other than at the time they are published.
  4. He calls into question his own methodology. “Most of my constituency research is focused on marginal seats. But in post-referendum Scotland, the concept of a marginal seat is rather obsolete”.
  5. The UK General Election 2015 Blog thinks that there is a problem in the weighting of today’s results. Labour is ahead amongst over 65s in Scotland “The over 65s are going to be the most likely to vote it is accepted by everyone. Yet in Lord Ashcroft’s poll he weights the respondents down in his survey for the over 65s from 28% of his actual respondents to 18% of the actual figures used”.

One prediction on which it is difficult to cast doubt is that LibDem Danny Alexander, number two in the Treasury and member of the coalition’s gang of four ‘The Quad’, will lose his seat. According to Ashcroft he is behind in the Inverness seat he has held for a decade by 29 points. If even half-true, it’s an impossible hill to climb.



The Secrets of the House of Commons

Tonight at 9.30pm on BBC2 a new television documentary, ‘Inside the Commons’ reveals behind the scenes parts of Parliament never seen by the public.

The Palace of Westminster has 1,000 rooms and three miles of corridors and is often referred to by insiders as Hogwarts.  Seasoned veteran Liberal Democrat Charles Kennedy admits to still getting lost in the building. The four part series goes onto the floor of the Commons chamber, allowing viewers to see exactly what MPs see during debates.

It took six years to persuade the authorities before they agreed to the series.  David Cameron talks about his dread of Prime Minister’s Questions;  “there isn’t a Wednesday that you don’t feel total fear and trepidation about what is about to happen. I think prime ministers have always felt that.”

There was opposition to the documentary from some MPs who have a “general hatred of the media” in the wake of the expenses scandal, and who made it clear they were against the project.

Sir Robert Rogers, the Commons clerk and chief executive (who resigned in 2014) deals with the the need to conserve the building and at the same time bringing its facilities, including communications technology into the 21st Century. “We’re trying to run a modern parliament in a Victorian building.”

The first episode of Inside the Commons is on BBC Two at 9pm on Tuesday 3 February and runs for four weeks.

Play Hello Kitty with Douglas Carswell MP

UKIP’s first ever elected MP may be about to gain notoriety of a different kind based on his latest tweet to his 27,000 followers.  He has just invited them to join him in a game of Hello Kitty World.

Come play Hello Kitty World with me! Kittt

At the time of writing he hasn’t commented on his tweet but I’m sure we will get one of the following explanations:

  1. My acount was hacked
  2. My daughter was using my phone
  3. This is what happens when you let too many people into our country

We’re guessing at number 2 but whatever the explanation Carswell, as a prolific blogger who embraces digital communications, should know better.  At the time of writing it has received dozens of replies, been retweeted nearly 500 times and received 100+ favourites.

It won’t be the last social media gaffe of the election and Carswell will be adding passwords to his phone and PC, that is of course unless he does just want a game of Hello Kitty World.

UKIP’s Farage is Back on the Beer

Nigel Farage, who likes a tweet almost as much as he likes a drink, revealed on Twitter today that was enjoying a pint after being off the beer for January.

He didn’t let the grass grow under his feet posting at five minutes past midnight  “As of this moment I’m returning as a fully paid up member of the drinking classes! #dryjanuary #DryJanuaryIsOver”.

It remains to be seen whether his campaigning style will alter now that he is back on the sauce. “I am very lucky – I am a drinker, often quite a steady one. I am a boozer, but I am not an alcoholic. And that is the point”.