The Labour lead in tonight's poll of 40 Tory-Labour marginals was 8 per cent; Ashcroft has showed an average 9.8 per cent lead in 37 of these seats. Photo: Getty.
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ComRes suggest Labour’s summer leads in the key marginals are intact

We can compare tonight’s poll with Ashcroft’s seat-by-seat polls of Tory-Labour marginals.

For daily news, analysis and polling, explore May2015.com.

 

Tonight’s poll from ComRes for ITV is more interesting than most. It gives us an insight into one of, if not the, key election questions: what will the swing be between the Tories and Labour in May? More specifically, how many Tory-held seats will Labour win?

The news is encouraging for Labour – far more than the potentially temporary national poll spike three pollsters handed them on Monday. ComRes have grouped voters across the 40 most marginal Tory-Lab seats: 25 are those the Tories won by the narrowest majorities in 2010 (the most “marginal” seats), and 15 are the closest marginals won by Labour. It has then worked out the popularity of the parties across those 40 seats.

This doesn’t give us any insight into how the parties are doing in these individual seats, as Ashcroft’s seat-by-seat polls do, but we can compare ComRes’ vote shares with the collective vote shares given by Ashcroft’s polls.

This gives us an idea of whether the critical poll leads Ashcroft handed Labour earlier in the summer are still in tact. The data, in so far as it goes, suggests they are.

Ashcroft has polled those 25 Tory-held seats (and 18 others), as well as 12 of the 15 Labour seats ComRes polled. The average lead he handed Labour in those 37 seats was 9.8 points. ComRes tonight gave Labour a very similar 8 point lead across those 37 (and three more Labour-held seats Ashcroft hasn’t polled, because they will likely show strong Labour leads).

This is interesting because Labour have fallen slightly in the national polls since many of these Ashcroft polls. His 12 polls of Labour-held polls came out in May, his first 12 Tory-held seat polls were released in July, the next 8 came out in August, and 12 more (5 of which we are interested in for this comparison) were published in October.

This is how Labour has fared in the national polls since late July.

If that slight national dip hasn’t affected Labour in the marginals that matter, the party could still be on course to win many of the seats Ashcroft’s polls have handed them leads in.

Explore May2015.com.

Harry Lambert was the editor of May2015, the New Statesman's election website.

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Calum Kerr on Governing the Digital Economy

With the publication of the UK Digital Strategy we’ve seen another instalment in the UK Government’s ongoing effort to emphasise its digital credentials.

As the SNP’s Digital Spokesperson, there are moves here that are clearly welcome, especially in the area of skills and a recognition of the need for large scale investment in fibre infrastructure.

But for a government that wants Britain to become the “leading country for people to use digital” it should be doing far more to lead on the field that underpins so much of a prosperous digital economy: personal data.

If you want a picture of how government should not approach personal data, just look at the Concentrix scandal.

Last year my constituency office, like countless others across the country, was inundated by cases from distressed Tax Credit claimants, who found their payments had been stopped for spurious reasons.

This scandal had its roots in the UK’s current patchwork approach to personal data. As a private contractor, Concentrix had bought data on a commercial basis and then used it to try and find undeclared partners living with claimants.

In one particularly absurd case, a woman who lived in housing provided by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation had to resort to using a foodbank during the appeals process in order to prove that she did not live with Joseph Rowntree: the Quaker philanthropist who died in 1925.

In total some 45,000 claimants were affected and 86 per cent of the resulting appeals saw the initial decision overturned.

This shows just how badly things can go wrong if the right regulatory regimes are not in place.

In part this problem is a structural one. Just as the corporate world has elevated IT to board level and is beginning to re-configure the interface between digital skills and the wider workforce, government needs to emulate practices that put technology and innovation right at the heart of the operation.

To fully leverage the benefits of tech in government and to get a world-class data regime in place, we need to establish a set of foundational values about data rights and citizenship.

Sitting on the committee of the Digital Economy Bill, I couldn’t help but notice how the elements relating to data sharing, including with private companies, were rushed through.

The lack of informed consent within the Bill will almost certainly have to be looked at again as the Government moves towards implementing the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

This is an example of why we need democratic oversight and an open conversation, starting from first principles, about how a citizen’s data can be accessed.

Personally, I’d like Scotland and the UK to follow the example of the Republic of Estonia, by placing transparency and the rights of the citizen at the heart of the matter, so that anyone can access the data the government holds on them with ease.

This contrasts with the mentality exposed by the Concentrix scandal: all too often people who come into contact with the state are treated as service users or customers, rather than as citizens.

This paternalistic approach needs to change.  As we begin to move towards the transformative implementation of the internet of things and 5G, trust will be paramount.

Once we have that foundation, we can start to grapple with some of the most pressing and fascinating questions that the information age presents.

We’ll need that trust if we want smart cities that make urban living sustainable using big data, if the potential of AI is to be truly tapped into and if the benefits of digital healthcare are really going to be maximised.

Clearly getting accepted ethical codes of practice in place is of immense significance, but there’s a whole lot more that government could be doing to be proactive in this space.

Last month Denmark appointed the world’s first Digital Ambassador and I think there is a compelling case for an independent Department of Technology working across all government departments.

This kind of levelling-up really needs to be seen as a necessity, because one thing that we can all agree on is that that we’ve only just scratched the surface when it comes to developing the link between government and the data driven digital economy. 

In January, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and the New Statesman convened a discussion on this topic with parliamentarians from each of the three main political parties and other experts.  This article is one of a series from three of the MPs who took part, with an  introduction from James Johns of HPE, Labour MP, Angela Eagle’s view and Conservative MP, Matt Warman’s view

Calum Kerr is SNP Westminster Spokesperson for Digital