Lord Ashcroft – once the bête noire of Labour activists and marginal seat holding MPs – has been reinventing himself recently. And his hugely in depth polling has certainly been helpful (and often positive) for Labour.
According to the latest Ashcroft “mega-poll” out today, 39% of the British public want a majority Labour government. It was conducted 6 weeks ago (an age in Westminster terms) but its findings are stark. Only 30% of those polled want a Tory majority government, and only a miserable 13% would like to retain the current Tory-Lib Dem Coalition.
But when you start stacking the numbers up it begins to look even worse for Cameron, because that means when the “squeeze” begins on swing voters (and there is no greater squeeze point than a general election) 57% of voters would like a Labour or Labour-led government, compared to 43% for a Tory or Tory-led government. And although the Tories will no doubt point to the individual leadership advantage Cameron enjoys over Miliband (in some polls at least) – a 14 point advantage is still more than significant.
Worse still for Cameron, as Mike Smithson has noted, a Tory majority is only the third choice option for the British people, after a Labour Majority, and another coalition (either red-yellow or blue-yellow). That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of the Tory Party (perhaps they’ve come across some of their backbenchers?).
Meanwhile, and perhaps conveniently, as the poll is released Lord Ashcroft has also popped up in the papers this morning. The Daily Mail has rehashed a story from last week’s New Statesman about the Tory peer meeting with Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander.
Yet what’s interesting is not so much that the meeting took place (which is of course noteworthy) but that it describes Alexander as “one of the architects of the party’s 2015 campaign”. Whilst Alexander was Labour’s 2010 general election co-ordinator, it’s not yet certain that he’ll play a similar role in 2015, although as we’ve reported before it’s no secret that he wants it. This reference in the Daily Mail could be a simple misunderstanding, or it could be the leadership sending a message that Douglas will be playing a key role in the General Election campaign. Or perhaps it might of course be Alexander trying to talk himself into a position that he covets.
Certainly if he were to take over as Labour’s election strategist, he would have to replace Tom Watson – which the West Bromwich MP is unlikely to be keen on.
Watch this space…