...a blog by Richard Flowers

Friday, July 28, 2006

Day 2033: What do the Polls Mean?


…when they say:

"Słoń pokrywał w partiach futra"

Oh, that's Poles!

I must offer my congratulations to Mr Black Peter, Prince of Arboria, for offering a challenge to our Emperor, Sir Mr the Merciless. This is very BRAVE of him, if a little UNWISE.

I do hope the kingdom of Arboria does not get blasted into flinders as a result of this!

It looks like quite a lot of Liberal Democrat chums are already flocking to Black Peter's banner… although most of them in order to tell him to put it away before anybody sees.

Oh no! Too late!

No, I do not mean that my favouritest MP, Sarah Teather, is strapping on her red leather flying harness and warming up War Rocket Ajax – I mean that ever-watchful journalists, never straying far from their computers if a story will come to them, are already on to Black Peter's revolt and have reported it in the main stream media. And also the Grauniad.

There is a certain amount of IRONY here, because it seems that it may have been the Grauniad's reporting of their ICbM opinion poll that flushed Black Peter out in the first place.

Now, I have asked Daddy Richard to look at the opinion poll data which can be found on the ICbM website here: zzap!

Daddy Richard is a little bit CONFUSED. More than usual.

It seems to him that the figures that are UPSETTING everyone look like this:

Con: 39% (+3) Lab: 35% (nc) Lib Dem:17% (-1)

But when he checks, those figures it's a bit hard to follow because ICbM do not show their workings. They seem to start from the UNWEIGHTED BASE, that is, the RAW figures that ICbM get just from the people that they telephone.

The ICbM people do some maths to juggle the proportions of people based on age and income and on what they remember voting last time and this gives WEIGHTED figures. These are supposed to better represent the whole population, and in fact these appear on the next line on the report and give the following positions:

Con: 37% Lab: 34% Lib Dem:18%

Now, this is a bit STRANGE, because these figures would tell a RATHER DIFFERENT story to the ones that the Grauniad chose to use. Using these figures, it is Lord Blairimort's New Labour that is going down. Mr Balloon's Conservatories are not gaining so much and they are gaining from Lord Blairimort and Sir Mr the Merciless is holding his position.

And compare this with today's YouGov poll – normally the most biased against the Liberal Democrats – which ALSO shows our poll rating unchanged, NOT down, AND showing Mr Balloon dithering, not steaming ahead, and you might start to think that something is, in fact, up!

Actually, Daddy Richard would have liked to look at the June figures, but the ICbM website has got the WRONG LINK there – and give you the background data for August 2004. Which confused Daddy EVEN MORE!

However, ICbM then do some MORE maths on the figures to take into account how likely to vote people say that they are.

And this is where we have had a bit of a SLUMP. Compared to May (remember June is missing somewhere) when 66% of Lib Dem voters were really keen, saying they were 9/10 or 10/10 likely to turn out and vote, now only 55% of our voters are that enthusiastic. Similarly, people only half hearted about voting (saying there's a 6/10 or 5/10 chance of them getting out) have increased from 14% to 21%.

So this is the hidden message: while Lord Blairimort's voters are drifting off to Mr Balloon, Liberal Democrat Voters are drifting off to SLEEP!

This is not something that should come as any kind of SURPRISE to us – we all know that the media hardly ever give the Liberal Democrats any coverage unless the Representation of the People Act comes along and threatens them with a BIG STICK. We all know that the Today Programme likes to use the Liberal Democrats to fill the early no-one-listens-to-them post-farming six a.m. slots and saves their "prime time" eight a.m. interviews for Lord Blairimort's strawman du jour or Mr Balloon's PR chum of the moment.

This is why we have to generate our own news! So go and deliver some Focuses and work off your angst that way!

As for Mr Black Peter and his band of rebels, do not be dismayed. We are a Liberal Party and we can stand to have a little bit of VIGOROUS KNOCK-ABOUT DEBATE.

But it is far too early to say that the wheels have fallen off: Sir M is still putting them back on from the last time!

Do not be too concerned about the media trying to pin a label on us. We are pulling ourselves together again after a bit of a time of it, since the last general election. It is quite right and proper that people should throw ideas and even criticisms into the melting pot.

Sir Mr the Merciless is a tough old boot who doesn't need obsequious North-Korean-esque kowtowing to the leader. This sort of barracking will not worry him; I am sure he has brutally annihilated worse things in his time.

Sir Mr the Merciless wants us to focus on FREEDOM – freeing people from the burden of unfair tax, freeing people from Lord Blairimort's big-brother society, and freeing people from the fear of being blasted into the void… until such time as he grows weary of them.

Once we get to our Conference in BRIGHTON the policy commissions will have laid out our choices and Sir Mr the Merciless will have given the party new direction. It is an EXCITING time even if some people are a bit NERVOUS while we go through this process. But it IS a PROCESS. At the end we will have reassessed our priorities and retuned our key policies!

So, only one fluffy cheer for Black Peter's bravery – but three cheers for being in a party where we HAVE brave people. Even when they are a bit silly sometimes too.

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