This weekend the public have faced conflicting newspaper headlines about peoples voting intentions in this June’s UK General Election, as identified by major opinion polling organisations.
“Tory lead is slashed in half …. Bombshell MoS poll shows May plummeting by 11 points….denting hopes of landside” – The Mail on Sunday (a Conservative Party supporting newspaper!). [Conducted by Survation: Conservative 40%/Labour 29%/LibDems 11%/UKIP 11%/Greens 2%].
“Tories now on 50%, highest level since 1991” – Sunday Mirror (a Labour Party supporting newspaper!). [Conducted by ComRes: Conservative 50%/Labour 25%/LibDems 11%/UKIP 7%/Greens 3%].
Now these are directly conflicting, mutually exclusive, polling results, separated by just a day or two, so one or both MUST be wrong, surely? [So, MoS gives Tories just a 11% lead while the Mirror a massive 25% lead].
No doubt the pollsters responsible will say they have had different sample sizes and a different method of selecting the sample, but this difference is irreconcilable and cannot be simply explained by a normal ‘margin of error’, can it?
It is very strange as well that it is a Tory paper that says Labour’s chances are significantly on the up, and a Labour paper that says that the Tories are streaking ahead, don’t you think? Perhaps it is all a plan to give their opponents a false sense of security, eh?
Now, you might well wonder why what the pollsters say actually matters, perhaps? Well the short answer is that it indeed matters a lot, because politicians react to the polls and alter their policy, while many voters can also be swayed and influenced by the polls in how they subsequently cast their votes, can’t they? You see, there is a human trait to want to be in the ‘winning’ camp, or alternatively to switch allegiance and vote tactically to stop somebody winning, if the polls report that their preferred candidate simply can’t make it, or not bother to vote/switch their vote if their candidate is very far in the lead. Predictions can be, and have proven to be, inaccurate and may also be intentionally false, eh? (all that uncertainty simply contaminates the democratic election process, doesn’t it?
It is a fact that this year, of 44 published polls, the Tories averaged being ahead by 15 points and that has just increased to 18 points in the last few days since the snap election was agreed by parliament. A poll tracker shows the latest position as of 23 April being Con 44%/Lab26%/LD 11%/UKIP 10%/Green 4% [Tory lead 20%].
Now without doubt those polls will have influenced the Prime Minister in calling a snap election to receive a personal mandate, won’t they? Moreover, they will almost certainly influence what the Conservatives put in their manifesto which will now in all probability be annulling some previous manifesto commitments that got them elected in 2015 – like no longer retaining a triple lock on Old Age Pensions, and dropping a promise of not increasing VAT or National Insurance contributions, wouldn’t you say?
You see, in the back rooms of Westminster Conservative Campaign HQ, their calculators & spreadsheets are out to see what constraints they can drop and still get re-elected with an increased majority, aren’t they? At Labour’s Head Office in Westminster they will be analysing any move in the polls to determine the effectiveness of their challenge strategy, don’t you think? There can be no doubt that it is the published polls that shape the entire election process and campaign, surely?
When it comes to exit polls, it is actually a ‘criminal offence‘ here to publish, before a poll is closed, any statement about the way in which voters have voted in that election, where this statement is, or might reasonably be taken to be, based on information given by voters after they voted. This is certainly a most required requirement, but unbelievable in this Country no similar restriction applies BEFORE the poll starts and that allows the media to cynically manipulate the electorate during the campaign itself, and indeed on the very election day itself – why the hell is that, then?
The most glaring example of such a disgraceful interference in British elections, and a classic case of personal attack politics, has been the Rupert Murdoch Sun’s intervention on behalf of the Tories in 1992 with a major full front page headline of “If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights” which almost certainly killed-off the chances of that Labour’s much fancied candidate for PM. The tabloid newspaper was the most popular in Britain and had much the biggest circulation at the time, and following its relentless campaign against him (finishing with his image imposed on a lightbulb) , it certainly swung things in favour of an unexpected victory for anointed (?) PM John Major (following the demise of PM Margaret Thatcher). They followed-up two days with later with a front-page headline boast of “IT’S THE SUN WOT WON IT” just to rub-in the fact to the electorate that they had got away with undue influence over the result of the General Election.
Clearly, opinion polling should be banned before elections and the media prevented from unbiased reporting during that period also, wouldn’t you agree?
We believe that overseas some forty countries ban in some form the publication of pre-election polls [like say Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, Greece, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Venezuela, while in France all election polls are banned on polling day and the day before]. The pollsters claim it can’t be done here as private polls would be conducted and published on the internet – not if it was made ILLEGAL for anyone to conduct such a poll, eh?
[The money grabbing pollsters should be on a short leash following a wilful performance at the last General Election 2 years ago, and it doesn’t look if they are doing much better this time, does it?]