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Lynton Crosby call for banning election polls is wrong

By Editor
May 17th, 2015 at 10:10 am | Comments Off on Lynton Crosby call for banning election polls is wrong | Posted in Uncategorized

Interviews from Lynton Crosby (the true election professional) are all too rare. But he has stepped forward over the weekend to provide some fascinating analysis of the latest UK General Election.

Much we agree with. But where we disagree with the “Wizard of Oz”, is his call for “…public polls to be banned for the “two or three weeks” before a general election because of their potential impact on the result…”

First and foremost “bannning” something should never be the first instinct of any lover of free markets. Banning stuff has unintended consequences.

In this instance the unintended consequence of banning the publishing of opinion polls for the last couple of weeks of any election, would be to create a two tier system. Those that have information, and those that don’t.

The ban on published polls would not stop opinion polls being commissioned (by banks, political parties, the media and other privileged groups). It would simply deprive us, the average voter, from knowing what those polls said. An “information rich elite” vs “voting public ignorance”.

We would be subjected to an endless chorus of pundits, commentators and journalists alluding to information they “had seen” but “could not report” that pointed in one direction or another. That would not enhance transparency and debate, it would mean the political classes claiming they “knew” stuff that we did not. That does not assist democracy, it merely deepens the gulf between “us” and “them”.

In all likelihood, Mr Crosby probably has the best polling methodology in the UK. So it makes sense for him to use this opportunity to call for such a ban. And he is sufficiently canny to know that planting the suggestion of a ban now may take root – and to his advantage in years to come. We are sure he would much prefer to be able to selectively leak, come May 2020 that “Conservatives insiders believe it is a close race” or “Senior figures inside Conservative HQ believe they are well ahead” – according to his preferred strategy. Fair enough Mr Crosby, but don’t expect us, your average voter, to agree.

What we want it is better polling. It seems to us that the problem with the polls at this election was not necessarily “shy Tories” (wic may explain 1% of the error), so much as the cartel of opinion poll companies tweaking their methodology constantly to keep in step with the pack. For example, polling company Survation has already admitted that it suppressed a poll conducted late in the General Election because the results seemed so “out of line” with previous research they had conducted and the results being reported by their peers that they decided not to publish. Lessons learned we hope.

So we say we would rather that bans, let ’em try again next time, We’d much rather that, than exist in a 2 week vacuum with the political elite spoon-feeding us with whatever spin they wish to serve up.

Polling aside Mr Crosby has many excellent points to make and makes for an excellent read. You read the full interview with him here.

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Public health and public opinion

By Editor
February 20th, 2015 at 11:58 am | Comments Off on Public health and public opinion | Posted in health

Interesting insight into British attitudes to public health policies going into 2015. Here’s a taster…

When asked explicitly whether they believe in personal responsibility or government intervention,  the British public strongly supports personal responsibility over ‘nanny state’ regulation.

70% agreed “Individuals should be responsible for their own lifestyle choices and the government should not interfere”.

Those opposing the ‘regulating and taxing high-calorie food and drink’ outnumber supporters by nearly 2 to 1 and there appears to be little appetite for further intervention in lifestyles. Only 2 in every 10 people thought that “there should be more government regulation to stop people making unhealthy lifestyle choices”.

Tellingly Lib Dem voters were almost always more likely to support government intervention and UKIP voters were almost always the most resistant. Lib Dem voters were consistently most likely to believe that taxes on cigarettes, air travel and all forms of alcohol were too low whereas UKIP voters were consistently the most likely to believe that these taxes were too high.

However, even amongst Lib Dem voters, higher taxes and financial incentives were supported by only a minority. And interestingly, half of all Lib Dem voters actually support the owners of pubs and private members clubs being allowed to have a private room for people to smoke in if they want to.

The findings come from a  ComRes Poll commissioned by the Institute of Economic Affairs. The fieldwork for the poll was carried out between 9th and 14th December 2014 with a representative sample of 4,135 adult British residents and provides interesting food for thought as we head toward May 7th… find out more here.

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