All To Play For

Publication date 26 September 2023.

The speed of Rishi Sunak’s advance to 10 Downing Street is without precedent in modern British politics. In the middle of 2019, he was an unknown junior minister; seven months later, he became Chancellor of the Exchequer; and by October 2022, he had secured the highest office in the land. Aged forty-two, he was Britain’s youngest Prime Minister for more than 200 years. He was also the fifth person to occupy the post since 2016.

Michael Ashcroft’s carefully researched biography – first published in 2020 and now fully revised and updated – charts Sunak’s ascent from his parents’ Southampton pharmacy to the University of Oxford, the City of London, Silicon Valley and Westminster before assuming the most powerful job in the country in chaotic circumstances.

It is the story of a clever and hard-working son of immigrant parents who marries an Indian heiress and makes a fortune of his own; a polished urban southerner who wins over the voters of rural North Yorkshire; a fiscally conservative financier who becomes the biggest-spending Chancellor in history; and a fastidious political operator tasked with fixing the nation’s problems and reuniting the Conservative Party while grappling with an economy in a state of flux.

Casting new light on Sunak’s tense working relationship with his predecessor, Boris Johnson, All to Play For shows what makes the Prime Minister tick ahead of a general election whose outcome will have profound consequences for Britain’s future.

See the March issue of Britain at War for Lord Ashcroft’s new gallantry 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 March issue of the magazine has four pages on the life and career of  Squadron Leader The Reverend Herbert Cecil Pugh GCwho was decorated for courage and self-sacrifice during the Second World War.

Pugh was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, on November 2 1898. Usually known to family and friends as “Cecil”, he served as a medic on the Western Front during the First World War. (more…)

One year on, my polling shows how optimism is growing in Ukraine

Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine a year ago today. My latest polling reveals how optimism has grown in Ukraine, how Putin has so far largely kept control of the narrative in Russia, and how the British and American public see their country’s role in the conflict.

Allies and aid

Asked whether various countries and organisations were doing enough to help, nearly three quarters of Ukrainians in our survey said yes for Britain; 71% did so for the US.

Read more …

A year on from the invasion, Ukrainian resolve is stronger than ever

Published in the Daily Mail on 24 February 2023.

I first visited Ukraine in 2018 to meet soldiers in the trenches of the Donbas region in the east, who were defending their country from Russian-backed separatists. I have been fortunate to return several times, and I’m in Kyiv again today to show my support on the anniversary of the invasion.

Nobody who has followed events over the last year could fail to be moved by the resilience and determination of the Ukrainian people. My latest polling only underlines that.

Most people here are prepared for the war to last months or even years longer, and I have found no appetite for any compromise with Russia or trading territory for peace.

‘Victory is the 1991 borders [the official territory declared when Ukraine proclaimed itself an independent state, free from the USSR] and joining NATO, as well as returning Crimea to Ukraine. That is a minimum,’ as one Kyiv resident said.

Read more …

Nicola Sturgeon and political gravity: my latest polling from Scotland

Published in Holyrood magazine on 13 February 2023.

To the four prime ministers who have quit Downing Street since Nicola Sturgeon took up residence at Bute House, the First Minister must have seemed enviably immune to the laws of political gravity. If those laws now seem to be reasserting themselves, my latest poll of over 2,000 Scots helps explain.

Much of Sturgeon’s success lies in her skilful positioning as a powerful voice for Scotland against an indifferent or hostile Tory Westminster. In the row over the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, that strategy has backfired. My research highlights two main reasons why.

The first is that Scots disagree with her about the issue itself, and that many side with Westminster over Holyrood on the fate of the Bill. Only just over one in five (22%) support the Bill and think the UK government was wrong to block it; nearly twice as many oppose the reforms and support Rishi Sunak’s decision to step in. Scots are nearly twice as likely to prefer a law made in Westminster that they agree with to a law made in Scotland that they oppose (in fact nearly a quarter of 2019 SNP voters would rather have the former). The controversy over transgender prisoners only underlines the Scottish government’s miscalculation.

Read more …

See the February issue of Britain at War for Lord Ashcroft’s new gallantry 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 four pages on the life and career of Chief Petty Officer Ernest Herbert Pitcher VC, DSM, who was awarded his decorations for courage during the First World War.

Pitcher, who was born in Mullion, Cornwall, served in the Royal Navy during the 1914-18 conflict as a crew member on Q-ships. These vessels were Britain’s answer to German U-boats as Q-ships were armed decoys disguised to look like merchant ships. (more…)

As the world marks liberation of the Nazi concentration camps… the forgotten heroine of the Holocaust who smuggled 2,500 ghetto children to safety in coffins, suitcases… and even a toolbox

Published in The Mail On Sunday on 22 January 2023.

  • Irena is all but forgotten despite the fact that she saved around 2,500 children
  • She died in 2008 with brief tributes to the bravery of ‘The Angel of Warsaw’

The pretty, dark-haired young woman in a nurse’s uniform felt her heart thump inside her chest as she presented her identity papers to the Nazi soldiers guarding one of the few entrances to the Warsaw Ghetto.

It was the summer of 1942 and the truth about the Germans’ brutal genocide of the Jews was becoming horrifyingly clear. The knot in her stomach shifted slightly as the guard gruffly waved her inside. Agonisingly, she knew that if the truth of her secret mission was revealed, she would be tortured by the ruthless, sadistic SS and then shot. (more…)

Mapping the Future: The American Political Landscape and the Road to 2024

As the new Congress convenes, I have brought together into a single report the research I conducted during the campaign for the November 2022 elections. Its implications go well beyond a single set of midterms. The model that we use, and the findings reported here – based on a poll of 20,000 Americans and extensive focus groups in the key states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida and Arizona – help us understand the landscape of opinion in the United States, the divisions that continue to define American politics, and the forces that will be at work in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election and beyond.

The research also helps explain why the red wave scheduled for November never materialised, despite economic pain and voters’ clear view that the country was heading in the wrong direction, with the Biden administration’s policies making things worse rather than better. Our analysis shows that we saw, in effect, one midterm but two elections, with different parts of the electorate voting according to completely separate sets of perspectives and priorities. Meanwhile, as the exit polls confirmed, nearly as many voters treated the election as a referendum on the former president as on the incumbent – hence the result that seemed to defy political gravity.


See the January issue of Britain at War for Lord Ashcroft’s two new bravery articles

Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC has two major articles on gallantry in the new issue of Britain at War, the country’s best-selling military history monthly magazine.

The January issue has eleven pages on the “Dynasty Warriors” – three men from two generations of the same family who were all awarded the Victoria Cross (VC).

The Gough family’s achievements entitles them to be regarded as Britain and Ireland’s bravest-ever family. It prompts the question whether courage is hereditary.

The January issue of the magazine also has Lord Ashcroft’s latest “hero of the month” article: four pages on the life and career of Boy 1st Class John Travers Cornwell VC. (more…)

She faced down Hitler, the Red Army AND the Dresden firestorm

Published in The Mail On Sunday on 01 January 2023.

Now the moving story of Britain’s wartime heroine who turned up at her family’s doorstep three years after being declared dead is revealed by author and historian LORD ASHCROFT.

There is nothing in the wording of the memorial plaque at the North London crematorium that hints at her remarkable life or the tender post-war love affair that she shared with her husband.

The inscription simply reads: ‘In memory of wonderful parents Leslie Mould 31.8.19 – 28.3.15, devoted husband of Magdalene Mould 4.1.26 – 20.12.02. Reunited in love for eternity in God’s kingdom.’ (more…)

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