What my focus groups of wavering Tory voters said about the leadership race

As MPs prepared to begin the process of narrowing the field of leadership contenders this week, I conducted focus groups in two rather different Conservative seats – leafy Putney and leave-y Thurrock – to see what wavering Tory voters made of the race.

Just as there were mixed views about Theresa May’s tenure in Downing Street – “she was in an impossible position and had no loyalty from her party;” “it was her choice to take that position and she made mistakes;” “history will be kind to her because she stayed strong in an absolute shitstorm” – there were varying degrees of optimism as to whether her successor would be able to get out of the Brexit rut.

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Terror in the skies: How a VC was won in the air above France


First published in the Daily Express on 13 June 2019.

SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS ago today one of the most remarkable stories in the history of the VC unfolded in the skies over France. Historian Lord Ashcroft on a tale of bravery and survival.

Just a week after D-Day and in what promised to be a relatively routine night-time bombing mission, the crew of an Avro Lancaster heavy bomber took off bound for northern France.

They were a closely-knit, seven-strong crew who had been on many sorties together.

Two gunners, Warrant Officer Andy Mynarski and Pilot Officer Pat Brophy, had formed a particularly strong bond, isolated as they were from the rest of the crew in their positions towards the tail of the aircraft.

Every time they successfully returned from a mission, they ­celebrated by having a slice of their favourite lemon meringue pie, made by one of the cooks on the base. (more…)

“Candidates are supposed to pay attention to the voters’ backstory, not the other way round”: my E2 Summit speech

Each year Mitt Romney puts together a meeting of ‘experts and enthusiasts,’ the E2 Summit in Utah. This year he invited me to speak about what my research had to say about political disruption in Britain and America, its causes and consequences. This is what I had to say:

In recent years, political change has arrived in some unexpected forms in both our countries, and it’s hard to know what to expect next. I have spent some time trying to make sense of the disruption through my opinion research on both sides of the Atlantic.

This began 15 years ago when, as a longstanding donor to the Conservative Party, I decided it was about time someone made a proper study of why we kept losing general elections – usually after being reassured by the party hierarchy that we were on course for a famous victory.

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See the June issue 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 June issue of magazine has four pages on the life and career of Company Sergeant Major Martin Doyle VC, MM, who, within a year of the announcement of his main decoration, was fighting against the very country that had bestowed the award upon him. (more…)

D-Day hero: The story of the only soldier to be awarded Victoria Cross on Normandy beaches

First published in the Daily Express on 03 June 2019.

ON June 6 1944, more than 155,000 courageous Allied servicemen, including my own dear father, took part in the D-Day landings as part of Operation Neptune, the largest seaborne invasion in history. However, amid endless stories of courage, just one of these men was deemed to have displayed such outstanding gallantry that he was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), Britain and the Commonwealth’s most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy. When the fighting was at its heaviest on Gold Beach, one of the five chosen for the invasion of Normandy, Company Sergeant Major Stanley Hollis showed his northern grit and determination. (more…)

My Euro-election post-vote poll: most Tory switchers say they will stay with their new party

Since polling opened in the European elections I have surveyed over 10,000 voters to ask how they voted, why they chose the party they did, and – at least as of this weekend – what they see themselves doing at the next general election.

Who voted for whom?

More than half (53%) of 2017 Conservative voters who took part in the European elections voted for the Brexit Party. Only just over one in five (21%) stayed with the Tories. Around one in eight (12%) switched to the Liberal Democrats. Labour voters from 2017 were more likely to stay with their party, but only a minority (38%) did so. More than one in five (22%) went to the Lib Dems, 17% switched to the Greens, and 13% went to the Brexit Party.

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One D-Day landing craft, two officers and the whim of fate that saw my dad live

First published on 26 May 2019 in the Mail on Sunday.

It was dawn on Tuesday, June 6, 1944. In a landing craft filled with a sense of fear and trepidation, two officers from very different backgrounds crouched low to avoid the inevitable incoming fire. In an earlier confidential briefing, the men had been warned to expect 75 per cent casualties – dead and wounded – as they charged up Sword Beach as part of the D-Day landings.

They had, understandably, kept that grim prediction from the rank-and-file as they prepared for their role in the largest seaborne invasion in history: codenamed Operation Neptune, it involved more than 155,000 men. (more…)

See the May issue 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 May issue of magazine has four pages on the life and career of Sergeant George Monk, who was awarded the Military Medal (MM) for gallantry during the post Second World War Malayan Campaign and for what his official citation described as “a brilliant little action”.

George Monk, who was born in June 1922, enlisted into the Suffolk Regiment in October 1941. During the Second World War, he served both at home and in North West Europe with his regiment and the Royal Artillery, the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment and the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. (more…)

Simba goes wild! Joyous first photo of big cat rescued from farm raising lions for slaughter

Article in Mail on Sunday – 05 May 2019

  • Big cat Simba was dramatically rescued from the ranch where he was being held
  • The lion’s life had been saved by undercover investigators led by Lord Ashcroft
  • He was saved just hours before another hunter was due to arrive to kill him

With his glorious golden mane, magnificent Simba cautiously surveys his new kingdom as he stalks through dense bushes. (more…)

Lord Ashcroft’s exclusive revelations about “horrific” captive-bred lion farming

Lord Ashcroft, the former Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, has made a series of major revelations about the captive-bred lion industry in South Africa.

In the light of his exclusive disclosures, Lord Ashcroft called on the South African Government to halt the “horrific and abusive” activity of “lion farming” and urged the UK Government to bring in new import laws to discourage the practice. (more…)

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