Why were these wise warnings on St Helena’s airport ignored?

First published on ConservativeHome.com on 21st February 2017.

Whatever the future holds for the island of St Helena – and I hope it is a long and happy one – there is no doubt that mistakes have been made relating to its new, but massively underused, airport (pictured in the background, right).

The errors are costly ones, too: if the problems of strong and unpredictable winds really cannot be overcome, then at least £285 million of taxpayers’ money will have been squandered. Even if these “wind shear” difficulties can be successfully managed, many islanders will have suffered great financial hardship as a result of gearing up to an influx of tourists who, as yet, have never arrived.

But could, and should, the issues caused by St Helena’s unique topography have been foreseen? In the aftermath of my revelations last June about why planes were not able to land at the airport, it emerged that Brian Heywood, a former British Airways pilot, had written to David Cameron as early as August 2010 to warn him that the planned airport was in danger of being untenable. (more…)

‘I got big hopes for that man’: Michigan voters on two weeks of President Trump

Earlier in the week I asked my Twitter followers what we should ask the voters who helped send Donald Trump to the White House. Many of the answers were along the lines of, “do you regret it yet?” Judging from my focus groups in Macomb County, Michigan – which backed Obama in 2012 but last year swung behind the Republican, helping him to win the state by just 0.3 per cent – the answer is a resounding “no”.

“He certainly is going down his list of promises and checking them off one by one,” one Trump voter told us. “He made promises and he’s going right at it right now.” No-one was surprised that he had taken his unorthodox style from the campaign to the presidency (which can’t make life easy for the press secretary, Sean Spicer: “he’s got some cojones too!”) – but if that sometimes made them uneasy, most accepted it as part of the package: “I think because he’s in office, that’s what you’re gonna get. Do I want that? No. Do I want the change? Yes.”

Read more …

Ashcroft In America podcast – President Trump’s first two weeks

In the latest edition of the Ashcroft In America podcast we hear from voters who supported Donald Trump on what they think of the new President and the controversies of his first days in office, and Hillary Clinton supporters on why they think she lost. I interview Jennifer Granholm, the former Democrat Governor of Michigan, on how her party can oppose the new administration and start winning again, and Saul Anuzis, former chairman of the state’s Republican Party, on what we can expect from President Trump.

Listen to PodCast …

See the February edition of Britain at War for Lord Ashcroft’s new bravery article

Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC has had his latest “hero of the month” article published in Britain at War, the country’s best-selling military history monthly magazine.

The February issue of the magazine has a two-page write-up on the life and bravery of Acting Flight Sergeant Thomas Mottershead, who was awarded the VC for outstanding bravery during the Great War.

Mottershead, who was born in Widnes, Lancashire, enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps in August 1914 and soon proved himself an excellent and courageous pilot. (more…)

So, no pressure: What America expects from President Trump

“Now we have to deliver,” President Trump told Republican colleagues yesterday. As my latest polling shows, his voters agree.

Last year my Ashcroft In America research – compiled in my latest book, Hopes And Fears: Trump, Clinton, The Voters And The Future – helped explain how the United States came to choose its new president. My new poll of more than ten thousand American voters, completed on the eve of the inauguration, shows what they expect from him.

Read more …

‘The voters had their eyes wide open’: my presentation to the IDU on Trump’s election

This is the text of a presentation I gave yesterday at a meeting of the International Democrat Union in Munich, summarising my research on the US elections.

Good afternoon everyone. This event is very well timed, since the research I am about to share is described in more detail in my new book, which is out this week. It is available from Amazon or direct from Biteback Publishing. I am sure you will all take the chance to help a struggling author.

As you will know, my interest in polling goes back some twelve years, when I decided to look into the question of why the Conservative Party kept losing elections. Since that time, most of my research has been focused on British politics, but the contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton demanded a closer look.

Read more …

Hope for St Helena

This article was first published on Conservativehome.com on 17 January 2017.

It had been more than 68 years since I last set foot on St Helena, famously the fortress home to Napoleon Bonaparte after his exile, yet I quickly learnt that some things do not change.

Its 4,500 residents are as friendly, fun-loving and relaxed as ever: strangers say a cheery “hello” in the street, drivers wave to you from the open windows of their cars, houses remain unlocked at night because the crime rate is so low and ignition keys get left for days in unlocked, parked vehicles.

St Helena, a volcanic island that first erupted out of the South Atlantic some 15 million years ago, may be one of the remotest places on earth but it is also one of the most welcoming. “Saints”, as residents are affectionately known regardless of their diverse ethnic origins, religions or creed, rarely fail to live up to their name. (more…)

‘Hopes And Fears: Trump, Clinton, The Voters And The Future’

In the weeks before the presidential election my polling team conducted focus groups in seven swing states listening to voters talk about the decision that lay before them. At the same time, a poll of nearly thirty thousand Americans revealed more about the country that sent Donald Trump to the White House. (more…)

See the January edition of Britain at War for Lord Ashcroft’s new bravery article

Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC has had his latest “hero of the month” article published in Britain at War, the country’s best-selling military history monthly magazine.

The January 2017 issue of the magazine has a two-page write-up on the life and bravery of Private David Ross Lauder, who was awarded the VC for outstanding courage during the Great War. (more…)

Ashcroft In America podcast – The Transition

In the latest edition of the Ashcroft In America podcast I speak to three top Washington reporters – Molly Ball of The Atlantic, Dan Balz of The Washington Postand Anna Palmer of POLITICO – about the transition and what we can expect under President Trump; plus Stephanie Cutter, former adviser to President Obama, and Republican strategist Jeff Larson talk about what they think the future holds for their respective parties.

Listen to PodCast …

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