Neil Kinnock: Sheffield Rally: 1992 General Election
Labour bias +6.5% IGNORE; UKIP bias +4.9% PROTEST
For nearly a decade and a half the opinion polls have had, when tested against real General Election results, an average pro-Labour bias of 6.5% and there’s been hardly a whisper from Labour MPs. The bias led to political gamblers making huge errors and losses at the 1992 General Election in which Neil Kinnock, above, made what amounted to a pre-election victory speech a few days ahead of his own party going down on votes by 8%.
Now, for the first time since then, we have a pollster showing a bias to Labour that’s down to 2.1% and large numbers of Labour politicians are protesting in an ongoing campaign.
Ostensibly they are focussing on an over-estimate of 4.9% in the Euro Elections for UKIP, but is their real concern that what has been a given of British politics for so long – the pro-Labour bias of UK opinion polls – is no more?
The essence of their position would seem to be that it’s OK for the polls to consistently over-state Labour by 6.5%, but not to make errors of 4.9% with other parties.
What pollsters report, particularly in the run-up to an election, has a huge effect on the voters and it is not always the party that’s reported to be in the lead that benefits.
Figures that are just plain wrong help nobody and it is not just political gamblers who have got an interest.
That is why the recent comments have made such depressing reading. They seem to be attacking some of polling firms because they are not reporting what they want to hear.
The internet pollster YouGov has come in for stick and there is little doubt that it is not as good at predicting vote shares for the smaller parties than it is for the Conservatives and Labour. The UKIP figure was an exaggeration and YouGov seem to record the Lib Dems at much lower levels than the other polls or much higher.
But for the first time in a decade and a half political gamblers have a proven and reliable guide to how the main two parties are doing. Let’s be thankful for this and be just a bit wary of the pollster’s figures for the Lib Dems and the smaller parties.
US ELECTIONS UPDATE. The latest polls show big leads for John Kerry. This follows some recent polls showing a Bush recovery and has happened in spite of a huge anti-Kerry ad campaign by the Republicans. The latest prices have him at 2.1 or 2.2. For some reason the Iowa price has taken a steep drop. Our call is BACK KERRY.
Picture – http://news.bbc.co.uk/furniture/vote2001/in_depth/election_battles/92sheffield_rally.jpg