One article says Labour’s lead is down – another says it isn’t
A new NOP poll in the Independent shows a drop in the Labour lead from 9% to 6% – or does it? It all depends on which of the paper’s commentators you believe.
The Strathclyde politics professor, John Curtice, describes the poll in these terms:- Labour currently has a six-point lead over the Conservatives in our NOP poll, enough to ensure that Mr Blair would be re-elected for a third term with a substantial majority. But the lead is three points down on our previous poll in November. And equally importantly, it is three points less than at the 2001 election
But Andrew Grice writing in the same paper reports it this way:- NOP’s headline figures, with the “don’t knows” excluded, show Labour retaining the nine-point lead it enjoyed in The Independent’s previous NOP survey in November. Labour remains on 39 per cent, the Tories are unchanged on 30 per cent and the Liberal Democrats up one point to 21 per cent.
So Curtice says NOP puts Labour 6% ahead – Andrew Grice says its 9%. They cannot both be right.
Anybody considering making a bet on the basis of this new poll would be well advised to buy the actual paper to look at the table themselves. It is quite unprecedented for a poll to be reported like this in the same paper and it is hard to work out what has gone wrong.
Meanwhile Populus in the Times shows a 5% Labour lead. The figures are LAB 38 (+1): CON 33 (N/C): LD 20 (N/C) and follows the pollster’s change in methodology last month which increased the Labour margin by 3%. Given the poll was carried out over the weekend it shows that the Blair-Brown spat is not having an electoral effect.
The Times’s statement that Tony Blair’s personal ratings are at their highest level in a year have to be read in the context of last month’s weighting change which had a major affect on the Populus number. The only valid comparison that can be made is with last month.
The main thrust of the Independent’s report on the NOP poll is how much better Labour would be doing without Tony Blair in charge.