A delayed victory for polling transparency

A delayed victory for polling transparency

    The BPC rules that Ken’s congestion charge poll must be released

cc-charge-sign-rh.JPGJust before I went on holiday the British Polling Council made a ruling on the case against Ipsos-MORI for failing to provide the full data on an opinion poll carried out for Transport for London on the congestion charge.

This was highlighted here in February and was the first time that the council has had to hold a formal process over a alleged failure to follow its disclosure provisions. These broadly state that within two working days of a poll being published then the pollsters have to make available the full details – normally on their websites.

The Council have now ruled: “.. This Committee concluded that the findings of the survey did fall under BPC rules following release by the Mayor of London, and that Ipsos MORI did not act in conformity to these rules when it did not make available full details of the survey when it was requested to do so. This conclusion was accepted in full by the Management Committee of the British Polling Council..Ipsos MORI has accepted the findings of the British Polling Council and has apologised for not making the information available when requested. As Ipsos MORI has now made available computer tables from its survey, the full meeting of the BPC decided to take no further action against the company.”

The problem with this ruling, of course, is that the data was kept under wraps for a considerable period of time during a highly sensitive political period. If Ken did not want us to see it during the mayoral election campaign then he succeeded.

The British Polling Council’s transparency rules are an important safeguard for all with an interest in the political process. It helps stops the politicisation and possible distortion of data but there needs to be some faster way of dealing with these matters during election campaigns.

Looking at the poll findings and you just wonder why Livingstone would not let MORI issue the data in line with the normal disclosure process in the first place. There was nothing particularly contentious in it. It simply does not make sense and all the refusal did was to set up a lot of hares running that there were things in the poll that he did not want us to see.

Mike Smithson – on holiday in Spain

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