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Ashcroft poll suggests that the Tories might do better under AV than first past the post

20 July 2010

A Lord Ashcroft poll of marginal seats suggests, intriguingly, that the Tories could do as well—if not better—under AV than first past the post. Now, this is, obviously, just one poll. But it is the first one that looks the effect AV would have in all the various types of marginals.

My first reaction to this poll was that it was striking that Ashcroft had chosen to publicise it, most of his polling remains private. His decision to public it suggest that, at the very least, he is not vehemently opposed to AV.

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This poll will lead to more Tories taking a closer look at AV. The traditional Tory view has always been that AV is an anti-Tory voting system. But the more polls like this one and the YouGov one for the Spectator that show that it is not—at least at the moment—the more likely it is that some Tories will come round to it.


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  • HoustonTexan

    Wow, I came on this site to take a gander at how our friends across the pond are dealing with their political issues. Interesting. You are very polite when disagreeing with each other. We on the other hand have nut balls galore trying to scare the crap out of the entire nation with fear mongering on a daily basis…mostly based on fantasy! I like your way a bit better. I am a bit ignorant in regard to your parties and such but you just don’t appear as mad at each other as we are now. It’s High Noon here!


    First of all James, I would make the point that at least Lord A does make his poll results available while you and the Speccie still fail to do so, even now 11 days after your house mag piece was published.

    I was, and still am, looking forward to seeing the details of your YouGov poll to sexamine geographic and demographic variances. If you do want to make these polling details availble to us perhaps you would kick someone’s arse without delay and get it done.

    Of course the key pasage in your mag piece is: “Strikingly several of those around Cameron are beginning to think that it would be good for for the Tory Party if Clegg’s side triumphed in the referendum.”

    Wel of course they would think that and of course that is what Dave himself thinks which is why the referendum is to be held on the most favurable date for a “yes” vote.

    This is all part of the continuing sellout of the Conservative Party with Dave & co being entirely happy with having to retain the HRA, not having to repatriate power from Brussels and generally being nicely accomodating to the EU, jacking CGT up, retaining ad infitum the 50% rate and rawing more people in at 40% and,of course, retaining and implementing Harperson’s piece of ultra PC social and economic engineering – The Equalities Act.

    The daft thing of course is that the Liberal Party of today will probably bear no resemblance to that of 2015. Clegg will be long gone as leader as will any coalition and the Party will have turned even further leftwards and daftwards to shore itself up.

    So far as Cameron and the Clique are concerned though, the most damning thing from the Ashcroft and from all other polls is that Labour are polling at 35/36%. Astounding may be, but an accurate reflection of Cameron’s failure as a political and opposition leader who had the chance to kill off Labour for decades and massively flopped.

  • Ahmed Khan

    @Fergus Pickering – For goodness sake get a live and stop behaving like demented caveman. The British Government is Tory with the David Cameron as the PM. This is a fact !!! You have to face reality. Stop living in your imaginary cloud cuckoo land.

  • Snowman

    Victor Southern @ 8.40:

    You explain please why should I bother to vote if my voting doesn’t make ANY difference to the outcome whatever, ha? The pollsters go it spot on arguing that the result of any election under FPTP gets decided by some 50,000 voters in few marginals. You call this democracy, then?

    Under the AV system my vote gets counted whether my first choice wins or not.

    Anan @ 2.43:

    cast your mind back to the beginning of the 90s, the Tories were forced to cut the bloated Public Monster by some 4-5%, the great unwashed didn’t like it abit, the pain the cuts engendered contributed to the party’s losing the count in 1997.

    this time round, the cuts are likely to be more than twice as harsh, (not finalised until October), accompanied by tax hikes, will start biting the most probably from the 2nd half next year, peaking in 2012.

    You reckon then the Coalition will be hailed as the saviour of the nation when it’s all over, do you?

  • TomTom

    The Great 2011 Banking Crisis lies ahead – £390 billion of re-financing to rollover Debt and HBOs collapsed because it couldn’t roll over £160 billion.

    So let’s see how the Winter goes and how many strikes herald the Annus Horribilis of 2011

  • Alan

    Yes indeed, I really wonder why the Tories are said to be so opposed. The “Alternative Vote” – known here as preferential voting – has been in place in Australia for almost 90 years; and for the majority of that time, conservative parties have governed. All those right-wing votes that bleed to UKIP come home; all those Labor voters who “strategically” vote Lib-Dem will return to the fold; the third party will wither away (no third party has EVER polled as strongly in Australia as the Lib-Dems do in the UK) and the two-party system is actually strengthened.

  • Victor Southern

    Snowman – it should not be necessary to point out to you that in any voting situation one can only regard the votes of those who do vote. Should I be even more trite? Then let me say that those who do not exercise their franchise are to be disregarded.

    I actually cannot remember the time when a majority of all of those entitled to vote did so for one party. Simple arithmetic – 80% of the electors vote and 60% of those vote for the winning party. Result – only 48% of those “entitled to vote” supported the winners.

  • DZ

    Has anybody asked the Aussies if they like their preference voting system? They have kept it for more than 50 years, so maybe they think it works. My Aussie pals are more attuned to political nuances than most of my British friends,so maybe they know something that we don’t.

  • Tarka the Rotter

    Hi Fergus, just what I needed-a slap in the face with a wet kipper first thing in the morning (a metaphorical kipper, obviously!). No, I did not go to sleep during the election but I appear to be having nightmares now…

  • Richard of York

    When one dribbles like a speccy, once a day is not enough…..added to the bowel and bladder problems I believe most speccies would be better off in perpetual showers.
    Just a suggestion…toodle pip.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Tarka, this isn’t a TORY government you know,even if the Beeb keeps on saying that it is. Did you go to sleep during the election and just wake up now? Tories like you and me will just have to swallow certain camels. And, Snowman, I do not like being referred to as ‘the great unwashed’. I bath every day, I will have you know. Us oldsters like to keep clean.

  • Anan

    Well we shall see. Either way, with the current Labour leadership “contenders” it won’t matter what voting system we end up with – the Labourite marxists will be shriveled up and the Labour party destroyed soon.

    With its wisdom, common sense, the will to govern rather than just rule, astuteness and fleetness of foot, the Liberal Conservative Coalition will be in power for a very, very long time. I look forward to 50 years of Labourite opposition.

    Now, just thinking about it, the “Contenders” sounds like a good name for a crappy 1970s BBC spy drama – the Milibands, Balls, Burnham, Hattie the Harpie-person and the rest of the Labourite jokers would fit right in there!

  • Snowman

    ‘Ashcroft poll suggests that the Tories might do better under AV than first past the post’.

    not after the great unwashed tasted the bitter pill of the cuts and stuff, I reckon.

    Anan @ 10.57:

    Nope, my blogging friend, you wrong. The great unwashed seem more astute than you, they’ve had enough of governments of minority dictatorship. At the last count, even the combined popular vote of the two Coalition partners doesn’t push the endorsement above half of the registered electorate; in 2005, the Blair’s lot got in with healthy majority in the House yet only some 23% of those eligible to vote backed him.

    The FPTP’s dead, kaput, finito, parrot-like.

  • Anan

    Sigh, enough with the polls already.

    The yougov polls were only pretty accurate in the end because of the psychological impact they had on the population – if you keep predicting a hung parliament long enough, the ignorant masses (who are the majority of the voters of this nation) will begin to think that is what “others” want and will vote along those lines – ie actually turning up and voting Labour in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the Tories from coming to power. Well they failed anyway.

    Returning to this, since when has Ashcroft been running polls? And anyway, until the AV system is in place – something which appears more and more unlikely with each passing day – there is very little point in running these hypothetical polls. An AV based system is probably the height of unpredictability, while FPTP and PR are easily predicted by polling (if that polling is carried out in an unbiased manner that is – something impossible from a company whose founder/manager’s wife is a Labour Baroness!)

  • TrevorsDen

    Well known polling commentator ‘Morus’ has disagreed with this interpretation on Iain Dale and Con Home.

  • Peter Holttum

    Its obvious AV will assist the conservatives. Australia have had AV for 80 years or more, and still get Menzies, Howard etc. It will make the centre right party much less authoritarian. Its the “battlers” not the “bankers” who will rescue this country from meltdown.

  • Boudicca

    I have posted several times that AV is likely to favour the Tories.

    AV (unlike PR) will not result in the minority parties gaining seats in Westminster. It gives the impression that ‘every vote counts’ but realistically the minority parties (UKIP, BNP, Greens etc) won’t gain enough first-time votes and will be eliminated; the second votes will then be distributed.

    It is generally accepted that most UKIP supporters are ex-Conservatives and most BNP voters are ex-Labour. It is reasonable to assume that they will revert to type for their second choice. ie UKIP voters will put the Conservative candidate as their second choice. On the basis of the last election, that would have been enough to turn about 21 extra seats Conservative … and Cameron would have had his majority. The ‘missing’ Tory vote will have been recouped.

  • Mycroft

    I hate this approach to the question; one should try to make up one’s mind as to which is the best system, irrespective of party advantage or disadvantage. And besides, the fact that a system may benefit a particular party at one time does not mean that it will necessarily do so at another time.

  • Cogito Ergosum

    I suspect there is a plot here to persuade Conservatives to support AV. Therefore I am suspicious.

  • paulg

    Im inclined to think this anti-tory bias theory is professed by people who don’t truely believe in the strength of our arguments.

    The conservatives cannot always be proved right but, some how, no one see the validity of their arguments.

    But still, we need to discuss the pros and cons more.

  • Tarka the Rotter

    Yeah? well, they don’t deserve to be if Lansley is going to introduce the compulsory death tax, which he said he wouldn’t do pre- election. If this government don’t stick to what they say in order to wim votes, then what is the f—–g point of any of it? It’s OUR money for God’s sake… will the state kindly go —- itself?

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