Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Beware Papers Bearing Push Poll Gifts

Down in the dumps New Labour is now capturing the media narrative, rallying flagging troops and calling in favours to diss Dave. Leading the charge today is the Indy, pushing the boat out with a push poll. Beware of pollsters and papers bearing gifts. Opinion polls are a double edged sword.

Election weary voters are bogged down in the fog of a phoney war, vividly illustrated in the latest 'exclusive' ComRes poll for the Independent.

A scant glance shows Tory support back into single figures, New Labour narrowing the gap.

But the figures are Con 38%(nc), Lab 31%(+2), LibDem 19%(nc). The narrowing of the lead is down to New Labour increasing its support, not a tide turning move against Cameron.

To be expected voters' intentions are starting to harden as the election draws near and traditional Labour supporters come off the fence.

But such a poll fits in well with the New Labour media narrative of a narrowing of the polls, Dave on his downers and the country being pushed over the cliff with a hung parliament.

And it allows Brown's bruiser, Whelan, to rally the faltering faithful and twitter away: "Tories will be spluttering in their caviar and cornflakes when they read Sylvester, Riddell, Stephens, Grice and Richards. All turn on Cam."

Er, not quite. Maybe caviar at your private boarding school, Charlie boy. But the poll also shows New Labour is failing to make significant inroads. A seven percent lead is a whopping margin this close to polling day - but not enough to overturn an inbuilt anti-Tory election system with a landslide majority.

Opinion polls are only as good as the samples, weighings and questions asked - or as Wells at UK polling points out - the questions not asked.

The election will be won and lost in the marginals. Here all parties' private polling is kept well under wraps, though the current predicted outcome is a Tory majority of around 70.

But the poll allowed the Indy to splash the New Labour narrative all over the front page with a Tory bashing 'no confidence in Cam" headline and gleeful copy.

Only it doesn't.

As both Smithson and Wells have been quick to point out - the headline is not justified in analysis of the polling questions. "For readers might be surprised to learn that participants in the survey were not asked whether they had confidence in Tory economic polices."

The headline 'Vote of No Confidence in Tory economic policies' appears to be based on the finding that 82% believe that “Mr Cameron should be clearer over what he would do about the economy” with 13 per cent disagreeing".

The Orange Party has said many times before that Cameron was having it too easy, kissing babies, trying to look cool, sitting back and watching New Labour tear itself apart as a decade of failure and disaster blew up in their faces.

Shining a searing light on Cameron's Conservatives is just what spin doctors ordered and voters wanted. But handled well without 'bobbing around like a cork' and voters may be able to spot a grain of trust which is where the key battle ground between Cameron and Brown lies.

New Labour is now deeply entrenched with its crony tentacles and placemen reaching out far and wide, as Oborne has pointed out, not least in the media classes.

Seizing on a 'good news' event and milking it for all its worth - at the same time keeping Liability Brown well out of the way until he can make the guest appearance coming over all statesmanlike, seems to appeal to much of the media.

But pumping out Brown sauce and knocking Cameron is all part of the ploy to Brownbeat election weary voters into submission. Dave needs to heed Mandy's advice - get a grip and be bold. Tories have enough cash to splash around to come up with a few killer strategies without fluffing their lines.

The free for all can continue right up until Bottling Brown names the day. Then strict election impartiality laws kick in for broadcast news. The MSM will be forced to come out, come down and take sides, taking their hacks and commentators with them.

Opinion polls will come thick and fast. And not all interpretation will be as blatantly biased as that of the Indy.

Old Sophocles summed it up after the crafty Greeks pulled a fast one on the Trojans: "Nought from the Greeks towards me hath sped well, 
So now I find that ancient proverb true, 
Foes' gifts are no gifts: profit bring they none."

Mid pictures: Private Eye

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