The Guardian today has the results of a Populus poll for Best for Britain, apparently leaked without their permission. It found “almost a third” of respondents who would less likely to vote Labour if the party was committed to stopping Brexit, compared to 25% who said it would make them more likely – presumably the opposite of the headline finding the client was hoping for.

As regular readers will know, I think “would policy X make you more likely to vote Y” questions are of little or no worth anyway. Many respondents use them to indicate their support or opposition to the policy in question, regardless of whether it would actually change their vote, and you typically find a substantial proportion of people who say it would make them more likely to vote for a party already do so (and many of those saying less likely would never do so anyway).

This means the response from Best for Britain in the Guardian write up about the picture being skewed by Conservative and UKIP voters, while it may sound like special pleading, is probably quite right. I expect the third of people saying they’d the less likely to vote Labour are indeed probably largely Conservative and UKIP voters who wouldn’t vote Labour anyway. On the other hand, the people saying more likely are probably largely Labour voters who are already voting Labour – it’s why it is such a poor approach to the question.

In the meantime, it’s a reminder of why one needs to be a little cautious about polls commissioned by campaigns. You can never tell what other polls they did that they never released. It is the job of pollsters to make sure the actual questions are fair and balanced, but ultimately it’s often up to clients whether they keep a poll private, or stick it in a press release.


5 Responses to “Leaked Populus poll on how opposing Brexit would impact Labour support”

  1. AW

    Sound advice on such polls.

  2. I thought Saturday was not a messaging day for you, Howard.

    It seems you are watching the message board very closely, worried that Hard Brexit is slipping into oblivion.

    But I can agree on the soundness of AW`s message.

  3. I think the DTel is quite over-the-top with this headline:

    “”Rage of the Tory grassroots and why Brexit betrayal will consign party to oblivion””

    But it is certainly a good day for me with a successful posting of a batch of plant records on the national data base, a research paper reporting moorland research in proof, a good football score, the Tories in disarray, and some sleuthing confirmed.

    However, pride comes before a fall, and tomorrow may well bring a slip on this nasty ice, Labour and SNP in even more disarray, car keys stopping working again, power steering failing again, etc. Or worse, the internet down and UKPR stopped.

  4. @Davwell – odd reporting also from the DT, when we learn from Opinium that 55% of Con voters now back May’s deal.

    42% of all voters now back leaving with no deal, if May’s deal fails, but 43% favour a delay, in the same circumstances.

    I would suggest that everyone has a listen to the audio link posted on the last thread by @Pete – reported here – https://soundcloud.com/dmitry-grozoubinski/no-deal-brexit-dmitry-grozoubinski-with-adrian-chiles-and-friends-bbc5live

    This is an all too rare but quiet, lengthy and intelligent review of trade issues relating to Brexit from Dmitry Grozoubinski, an Australian, former government negotiator for them at the WTO. He is independent, foreign, and these factors should allow us to lend some credence to what he says.

    I like this, because he doesn’t attempt to answer anything he doesn’t know about, so is only discussing trade impacts from Brexit, and makes clear that although these will be negative – ‘not optimal’ as he says – this doesn’t mean that their are not other good reasons for leaving the EU. He also suggests that some deregulation could be good for business.

    The two stand out points he makes is a thoughtful demolition of the idea that trade will carry on as now under Article 24 of GATT. This is something that two parties have to jointly present to the WTO, as a precursor to a full trade deal. The UK cannot invoke this in isolation. Given the EU’s determination to protect their single market, he is very clear that Article 24 is a bogus argument.

    The second big takeway is a similarly logical destruction of the ‘they need us more than we need them’ argument.

    This kind of expert analysis is much needed, as trade is the one key area remaining where leavers suggest a big potential win for the UK. Grozoubinski makes clear that experience tells us that the UK will not be able to replace what we have currently got with new trade deals, and that trade should not be viewed as a positive Brexit effect under any foreseeable circumstances.

  5. @Davwell – “It seems you are watching the message board very closely, worried that Hard Brexit is slipping into oblivion.”

    He was obviously only half engaged. If he had been fully engaged, he would have retracted his posts from 2016 that explained how the decision from Nissan to build the X-Trail in Sunderland was a vote of confidence in Brexit Britain.

    Maybe that will come tomorrow?

    Jesting aside, the news that it is being switched to Japan is interesting. It isn’t an out and out win for remainers – switching to the EU would have been. Equally, it doesn’t give leavers any relief.

    If, as seems likely, this is in response to both Brexit and the recently agreed EU/Japan trade deal, it highlights a number of issues that blur the arguments for both sides.

    Firstly, for leavers, there is no doubt that Brexit is hurting the UK, and companies think this will continue. That’s pretty bad news. Secondly, if you are relying on new trade deals post Brexit, then should we expect more relocation of high value business, once we remove trade issues? That’s an awkward sell.

    For remainers, aside from the schadenfreude, they can’t be too happy, as this happened under EU membership. If the EU is going to continue to develop new trade deals – which it will – will we see the same problem?

    My guess, however, is that politically the timing and iconic nature of Nissan gives remainers so much more help than leavers at this time. Much will depend on the precise announcement, and whether any hints are given to the future of Nissan’s current operations.

    I’m probably completely wrong, but Nissan tend to be very good at keeping announcements quiet until they are formally presented. This suggests a deliberate leak, aimed to maximise interest. I know one or two Sunderland friends and northern media people who are of the view that something more is brewing, as Nissan feel badly let down by HMG.

    this could be something or nothing, but in the current political fragilities, one eye catching announcement can have a major political impact.