I hope this is not the first step in the state regulation of polling

I hope this is not the first step in the state regulation of polling

The House of Lords announced last week they would looking into opinion polls, The Lords say

The results of political opinion polls have become an increasingly prominent feature of British politics, caused by parties reacting to changing economic and social trends, the media seeking more frequent measures of parties’ standing, and technological innovation and falling costs in the polling industry. In the period between the 2010 and 2015 general elections, over 2,000 voter intention polls were conducted by polling companies—on average more than one poll per day for five years. Meanwhile, as the use of social media and online sources have increased, their influence on political discourse has also grown.

There are a variety of ‘official’ ways in which the general public is encouraged to get online to influence political discussions in Parliament. In recent years, there has also been a growth in the number of independent websites and digital publications which encourage political dialogue and support online campaigns. While both political polling and social/digital media undoubtedly have an effect on political discourse, relatively little work has been carried out to assess the combined effects of both. An ad hoc committee might therefore wish to consider how the two factors interrelate, as well as how each issue affects politics on its own.

One of Lords involved in this is Lord Foulkes who has in the past ‘has tabled a private member’s bill bringing the multi-million-pound industry under the control of a state-appointed regulator rather than the current self-regulatory body, the British Polling Council. The state regulator would be empowered to consider whether polls should be banned in an election period.’

State regulation of polling is a huge concern for me, I fear it will lead to pollsters being unable to present their findings that turn out to be accurate, for example general election polling by Survation or YouGov’s model would be impermissible with this idea.

As for banning polls during an election period, that would likely lead to inaccurate and ill informed speculation and hints which would help nobody, least of all the voters or the political parties.



Comments are closed.