04/03/2010 · 5:43 pm
“Don’t panic – we’re doing much better in the marginal seats” – that was one of the ways in which Conservatives sought reassurance in the face of a distinct recent narrowing of their opinion poll lead over Labour.
Well, we decided to test that out. We’ve surveyed opinion in a key group of marginals, and very interesting it is too. The headline is that yes, the Conservatives are indeed ahead in those marginals – but by very much less than they were a year ago (when we last surveyed them).
And even though the swing to the Tories in these seats is a bit bigger than the currently indicated national swing, the findings suggest that the outcome would make the Conservatives the single largest party but probably short of an overall majority.
The interesting thing is, of course, that the drive to bring extra efforts to bear on the marginal seats is the very strategy which the billionaire Michael Ashcroft has been putting his money into.
So judging from our poll findings [claim Channel 4] , is it a strategy that is delivering something but not enough? And the question raised by our poll is: is the strategy delivering something, but not enough?
As for Lord Ashcroft himself, a couple of developments today. First, the donations of over £5m to the Conservatives from one of his companies, have been ruled “legal and permissible” after an investigation by the Electoral Commission.
And today, we also learn from the party’s defence spokesman, no less, that David Cameron has known for a month about Ashcroft’s tax status.
And I believe that William Hague [the vague] knew all along since his nomination of this person to the peerage that he was unlikely to pay UK tax. Why otherwise would he avoid answering the question about Ashcroft’s tax position thus far?
It is all very secretive, sinister and so-conniving.
No wonder the youngsters have lost faith with electoral participation.
So we now know that it has taken the Tory leader four and a half years to find out, and the party 10 years to discover, the tax status of their deputy chairman.
In the meantime, the party is struggling to get over its messages about anything else because every shadow ministerial appearance ends up with a cat and mouse chase over who knew what and when about how his tax status squared with the solemn and binding assurances he’d made in order to get his peerage.
So tell me what is the difference between Tony’s crony Lord Levy levying ‘cash for Peerages’ and Conservatives seeking donations for Peerage?