Did the pollster find out something that is politically inconvenient?
Last week the internet pollster, YouGov, carried out what appears to have been its first ever media-commissioned survey of Labour party members. These party-specific polls have proved to be extraordinarily valuable in the past – so much so that in the Tory leadership races of 2001 and 2005 YouGov got the final results to within 1%.
But at the weekend there was just a fleeting reference to the survey in the Sunday Times which simply said “..A YouGov poll of Labour party members for The Sunday Times today shows only 25% think Prescott should give up now. Most, 56%, think he should stay on until Blair steps down.”.
No detail of any other question was made public by the paper. I wrote to the YouGov boss, Peter Kellner, asking for further information about the rest of the poll – something which pollsters are required to provide under the terms of the British Polling Council code.
Peter sent me back a spreadsheet showing two questions which were..“As you know, John Prescott was elected deputy leader of the Labour Party in 1994, and appointed Deputy Prime minister in 1997. The next two questions concern these two positions.
First, when do you think he should resign as Deputy Prime Minister?..
And when do you think Mr Prescott should resign as Labour’s deputy leader?
The dead giveaway is the term “..the next two questions” which clearly indicates that this was part of a wider survey. This can now be seen on the YouGov web-site
You would, however, be quite hard-pressed to find a link to it on the site because it appears as 6/6/2006 John Prescott’s Future [ Daily Telegraph ] … PDF. with no reference at to the commissioning newspaper. Was this mis-listing just a mistake?
I cannot believe that the Sunday Times would have commissioned such a survey of Labour members without asking about the Labour leadership and views of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Why is this information not being provided? Did the poll find something that was politically inconvenient?
If the full data is not forthcoming I will make a complaint to the British Polling Council.
PB.C regulars will recall our little spat with YouGov over the privately commissioned polls during the Lib Dem leadership contest which were the subject of partial leaks. In that case YouGov was entitled to keep the survey confidential. Because this poll was in the Sunday Times then different rules apply.