Northernheckler's Blog

A Yorkshireman's adventures in the big Smoke

The bitterest Poll ?

I write this seeing news of the opinions polls to be published in the Sunday press being trailed on Saturday night – as has become traditional

There’s plenty of Tory triumphalism about – and who wouldn’t be ? 45% with a clear 19% between them and Labour 19% Tory lead in News of the World/ ICM poll would produce Commons majority of 170. And if the public were supposedly tired of the traditional 2 parties, then there’s no relief at all for the likely benefactors from that disillusionment – the Lib-Dems – who appear to have gone into meltdown.

This seems odd to me though. Last June, at the time of the European elections, it was difficult to find anyone outside the ranks of Labour diehards, to say they would vote Labour – the opinion polls as I recall (& I haven’t checked back – maybe someone would like to) reflected this, and the results at the ballot box did too.

It hasn’t been the same this last couple of weeks though – the conversations I hear on the train, in the staff room, just around and about – have been saying things like what a pillock Andrew Marr was asking Gordon Brown about pain killers.

Things like how much more inspired Gordon Brown was at the Labour party conference than they thought he was.

And when the Conservatives started their conference the floodgates opened and everybody – but everybody – I’ve talked to or overheard talking seems to be worrying about what the conservatives will do if they get elected, going on about how bad it was under Margaret Thatcher, and wondering how we could do anything to avoid it. I really have sensed a big change in the general mood.

The polls though don’t seem to show this – exactly the opposite in fact. Which bewilders me. So much in fact that I really don’t believe them.

OK – I’m a Labour supporter, and I admit that it’s hard to stomach bad news, I concede also that there’s always an element of wishful thinking in judging the political mood of the nation. It just doesn’t feel right though – I’ve been around a while and seen polls and governments come and go. The latest poll results feel very out of kilter with what’s happening.

But could Poll results be rigged ? Is it feasible ? Despite my low opinion of some of the news outlets – particularly the Murdoch empire, and the Mail – I’ve always more or less had trust in them not to fake opinion polls.

I just wonder that’s all.

To come back though to those staff room conversations worrying about the Tories, I’ve found it very interesting to hear what people have to say. Particularly as they’ve not been politics geeks like me – or like the people who are likely to read this (sorry but that’s what we are !). Most people have precious little interest in politics until they have to be interested – but those people are the ones whose votes will determine the next Government.

These people seem to be saying that they don’t want the Tories back. They don’t necessarily want Labour either though – although a commonly held opinion seems to be “better the devil you know” . It seems rather that people are instead saying – we want something new and different.

My school site manager put it best I felt (a little paraphrasing here – I can’t remember it verbatim) :

“The government system we have now is the same one we had when Disraeli and all them geezers were around. We’re all walking round with iPhones & lap tops, and they’re calling each other names sitting in an old building. We’ve got all this technology, and we stick with a system that’s hundreds of years old, and involves folding up pieces of paper and sticking it in a tin. The only time I ever use a pencil is when I vote. I don’t want to do this anymore – I want something new and better”

I think there are lessons to be learned from that. I think Labour would do well to heed them. Actually I think all the parties would  – I just hope that Labour does it first.


October 10, 2009 - Posted by | idle banter, politics | , , , ,


  1. We are heading for a massive defeat. It would help if the party was not run by no nothing politics student apparatchiks who think Twitter is the way to fight an election.
    Sorry to say it too but the time has come for Gordon to step down and limit the damage, that way we might save a few seats.

    Comment by Chris | October 10, 2009 | Reply

  2. A lot can happen – and I hope it will.

    I’m a long way past being a student, but I wouldn’t have any involvement in politics on any level were it not for Twitter. If people knock on my door I tell them to clear off, if they shove leaflets through it they generally end up binned before they’ve been read.

    Twitter is one way (not the only way) of reaching different audiences, and tempering the influence of the press.

    Thanks for the comments, and thanks for reading my blog.

    Comment by northernheckler | October 10, 2009 | Reply

  3. Glad to read this. Glad you wrote it. We need to question more received opinion – and nothing is more received than an opinion poll.

    Comment by Mil | October 10, 2009 | Reply

  4. […] The bitterest Poll ? « Northernheckler's Blog – view page – cached I write this seeing news of the opinions polls to be published in the Sunday press being trailed on Saturday night – as has become traditional — From the page […]

    Pingback by Twitter Trackbacks for The bitterest Poll ? « Northernheckler's Blog [] on | October 10, 2009 | Reply

  5. I agree. Labour voters were pretty open at the Euro elections that they were not going to come out and vote Labour. Some voted other ways (as one woman said to me on the doorstep: ‘I’m so angry, I’ve even thought about voting Ukip.’) but most stayed at home ‘this time’.

    The mood is different now. People are approaching me and saying things along the lines of ‘You have to win next time, we don’t want the Tories back.’

    Comment by JR | October 11, 2009 | Reply

  6. But where were you and what people were you overhearing/talking to? The very fact that those people were talking about politics suggests they were the sort of people to actively take an interest. What about all those people who aren’t active but who will still vote on limited information?

    If conducted well, the poll will have taken a cross-section from all people, some of whom are the sorts of people you rarely come into contact with.

    Can’t remember which year and who but one poll before an American Presidential Election was very confident before being completely wrong. Why? Because it was conducted by telephone, and the very people who were unlikely to have a telephone were the very people who were likely to vote for the eventual winner.

    All polls should be taken with a pinch of salt.

    Though, I’m afraid, I believe the Tories will win by a landslide. Not because people will vote for them, but because people will be voting against Labour.

    I look forward to a system where we all vote for people we like, not against people we don’t.

    I’ll probably be voting for my incumbent MP, because he’s good. He happens to be Labour.

    Comment by Phil | October 18, 2009 | Reply

    • The people I was talking to were people who wouldn’t normally give two figs about politics – which is why it struck me as odd.

      It concerns me how well we accept polls without really knowing what checks and balances to give them rigour there are.

      I think there’ve been similar wildly inaccurate polls in the UK – and I once knew a woman who worked in Conservative Central Office who still thought that John Major had lost the election half way through election night – according to their polls.

      I think you’re right that people will be voting AGAINST Labour rather than FOR anything in particular.

      But as I say – a lot can happen between now and then. I mean General Galtieri could invade the Falklands again or something.

      Comment by northernheckler | October 18, 2009 | Reply

  7. Oh, and anyone who thinks Twitter can’t play a significant role in campaigning really doesn’t understand social media. It’s where I get most of my news these days. Indirectly it’s how I found this site.

    And it’s full of exactly the sort of people that Labour need to convince if they’re to hold onto power – people who will never vote Tory but might vote Labour. If Labour don’t use it they could lose a lot of votes to the LibDems and Greens, who also have a significant presence.

    Comment by Phil | October 18, 2009 | Reply

    • I fully agree Phil – do I follow you on Twitter ? I’m at @northernheckler.

      Comment by northernheckler | October 18, 2009 | Reply

  8. […] the meantime, Northern Heckler has a nice take on the current opinion polls. It’s not like the Europeans – most certainly […]

    Pingback by How a mirror saw the smoke that is the Tory chimney stack » | May 24, 2012 | Reply

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