This is an updated version of a post from way back before the 2010 election, which I felt needed another airing. Thankfully comments along these lines don’t turn up very often in the comments here, but I see them with depressing frequency on Twitter when poll results are released…

1) The polls are ALL wrong, the real position is obviously X

Er… based on what? The reality is that opinion polling is pretty much the only way of measuring public opinion. We have some straws in the wind from mid-term elections, but they tend to be low turnout protest votes, don’t tend to predict general election results and are anyway quite a long time ago now. Equally a few people point to local government by-elections, but when compared to general election results these normally grossly overestimate Liberal Democrat support. If you think the polls are wrong just because they “feel” wrong to you, it probably says more about what you would like the result to be than anything about the polls.

2) I speak to lots of people and none of them will vote for X!

Actually, so do pollsters, and unless you regularly travel around the whole country and talk to an exceptionally representative demographic spread of people, they do it better than you do. We all have a tendency to be friends with people with similar beliefs and backgrounds, so it is no surprise that many people will have a social circle with largely homogenous political views. Even if you talk to a lot of strangers about politics, you yourself are probably exerting an interviewer effect in the way you ask.

3) How come I’ve never been invited to take part?

There are about 40 million adults in the UK. Each opinion poll involves about 1,000 people. If you are talking about political voting intention polls, then probably under 100 are conducted by phone each year. You can do the sums – if there are 40,000,000 adults in the UK and 100,000 are interviewed for a political opinion poll then on average you will be interviewed once every 400 years. It may be a long wait.

4) They only interview 1000 people, you’d need to interview millions of people to make it accurate!

George Gallup used to use a marvellous analogy when people raised this point: you don’t need to eat a whole bowl of soup to tell if it is too salty, providing it is sufficently stirred a single spoonful will suffice. The same applies to polls, providing an opinion poll accurately reflects the whole electorate (e.g, it has the right balance of male and female, the right age distribution, the right income distribution, people from the different regions of Britain in the correct proportions and so on) it will also accurately reflect their opinion.

In the 1930s in the USA the Literary Digest used to do mail-in polls that really did survey millions of people, literally millions. In 1936 they sent surveys to a quarter of the entire electorate and received 2 million replies. They confidently predicted that Alf Landon would win the imminent US Presidential election with 57% of the popular vote and 370 electoral votes. George Gallup meanwhile used quota sampling to interview just a few thousand people and predicted that Landon would lose miserably to Roosevelt. In reality, Roosevelt beat Landon in a landslide, winning 61% of the vote and 523 electoral votes. Gallup was right, the Digest was wrong.

As long as it is sufficent to dampen down sample error, it isn’t the number of people that were interviewed that matters, it is how representative of the population they are. The Literary Digest interviewed millions, but they were mainly affluent people so their poll wasn’t representative. Gallup interviewed only a few thousand, but his small poll was representative, so he got it right.

5) Polls give the answer the people paying for it want

The answers that most clients are interested in are the truth – polls are very expensive, if you just wanted someone to tell you what you wanted to hear there are far cheaper sources of sycophancy. The overwhelming majority of polling is private commercial polling, not stuff for newspapers, and here clients want the truth, warts and all. Polling companies do political polling for the publicity, there is comparatively little money in it. They want to show off their accuracy to impress big money clients, so it would be downright foolish for them to sacrifice their chances with the clients from whom they make the real money to satisfy the whims of clients who don’t really pay much (not to mention that most pollsters value their own professional integrity too much!).

6) Pollsters only ask the people who they know will give them the answer they want

Responses to polls on newspaper websites and forums sometimes contain bizarre statements to the effect that all the interviews must have been done in London, the Guardian’s newsroom, Conservative Central Office etc. They aren’t, polls are sampled so they have the correct proportion of people from each region of Britain. You don’t have to trust the pollsters on this – the full tables of the polls will normally have breakdowns by demographics including region, so you can see just how many people in Scotland, Wales, the South West, etc answered the poll. You can also see from the tables that the polls contain the right proportions of young people, old people and so on.

7) There is a 3% margin of error, so if the two parties are within 3% of each other they are statistically in a dead heat

No. If a poll shows one party on 46% and one party on 45% then it is impossible to be 95% confident (the confidence interval that the 3% margin of error is based upon) that the first party isn’t actually on 43%, but it is more likely than not that the party on 46% is ahead. The 3% margin of error doesn’t mean that any percentage with that plus or minus 3 point range is equally likely, 50% of the time the “real” figure will be within 1 point of the given figure.

8 ) Polls always get it wrong

In 1992 the pollsters did get it wrong, and most of them didn’t cover themselves in glory in 1997. However, lessons have been learnt and the companies themselves have changed. Most of the companies polling today did not even exist in 1992, and the methods they use are almost unrecognisable – in 1992 everyone used face-to-face polling and there was no political weighting or reallocation of don’t knows. Today polling is either done on the phone or using internet panels, and there are various different methods of political weighting, likelihood to vote filtering and re-allocation of don’t knows. In 2001 most of the pollsters performed well, in 2005 they were all within a couple of points of the actual result, in 2010 the pollsters overestimated Lib Dem support, but were very accurate on the gap between Conservative and Labour.

9) Polls never ask about don’t knows or won’t votes

Actually they always do. The newspapers publishing them may not report the figures, but they will always be available on the pollsters’ own website. Many companies (such as ICM and Populus) not only include don’t knows in their tables, but estimate how they would actually vote if there was an election tomorrow and include a proportion of them in their topline figures.


145 Responses to “REPOST: Too frequently asked Questions”

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  1. @ Hannah

    “..a child which is genuinely wanted by society will usually also be wanted by its mother.”

    I think that’s simplistic.
    —————————–
    There has been quite a lot of research into the reasons women have for terminating pregnacies &/or giving up their children for adoption. They rarely say: “I just couldn’t be @rsed having [another] one.”

    Women far more often fear their family or society’s reaction; &/or they cannot afford [another] child.

    I include things like their career being set back as included within society’s reaction.

    I accept there will be exceptions: e.g. athletes & dancers who are concerned about the physical consequences for their career; & that there are women who simply do not ever want to be a mother under any circumstances – so there are exceptions. Which is why I said “usually” rather than always.

    Therefore, I don’t think that I am being overly simplistic in saying that a child which is wanted by society will usually also be wanted by its mother. But I’m open to persuasion, if you can point me to some studies &/or surveys which contradict those which I’ve seen.
    8-)

  2. @ Amber Star

    “Read SoCaL’s comment, to which I was responding.”

    I’m sorry I started this conversation. I can understand the differing viewpoints on abortion even if I don’t agree with them. But attacking contraception and attempting to rape women by mandating vaginal probes….that’s just enraging.

  3. @ SoCaL

    Yes, I usually steer clear of this topic but the attempted legislation you referred to – which sought to violate & humiliate any woman who dared to consider having a legal medical procedure – enraged me to the point where I could not keep a lid on it!
    8-)

  4. It’s a given that abortion will always be used used for family planning purposes – because no form of contraception is perfect. So there always has to be a back-up. This even applies if abortion is illegal – women will still take that option either to protect the future of their existing children or for a better life for those they may have in future[1].

    What is bizarre, as shown in the row about gender-determined abortions, is the belief that a woman’s right to choose should be judged according to her reasons. If women have the right to choose, they have the right to choose – as a female ruler once said we should have no desire to look into [wo]mens souls[2].

    Of course the ‘pro-life’ position can be just as hypocritical. Most of those opposed to abortion will make exception for victims of rape, incest and so on. Here abortion becomes virtuous (or at least acceptable) because the woman’s motive is ‘good’.

    So if a woman wants a sex-determined abortion that’s her right. If the reason is for family balancing, there is the danger that the resultant desired child after N brothers/sisters will turn out to be an appalling spoilt princess/brat, but that’s more a reason for compulsory abortion in that case.

    If it is for socio-economic reasons as in India, selective abortion is only to be encouraged, indeed I think it should be subsidised, so not just the middle-class can use it. A severe shortage of girls will soon raise their value (especially if coupled with no cutbacks for female education) and dowries will become a male attribute.

    A similar logic applies to SoCal’s thought experiment about a ‘gay gene’. If prospective parents are prepared to abort a foetus because it might be gay, then thank God[3] because that’s the last place you want a gay child to be brought up. Actually an abortion for any reason would be good news because clearly we want less of such people.

    [1] Obviously this even applies to women who loathe children for whom a better life for their future children would be not to be born in the first place. For those who cry that there are eager adoptive parents wanting those kids, I can only say that we’ll take you seriously when you start offering up your womb or your wife to fill the gap in the market.

    [2] Obviously if you don’t believe in souls in the first place, this is an even better reason not to interfere.

    [[3] Or Gods. Or not.

  5. Apologies for the end of the last post. Obviously I shouldn’t have written:

    Actually an abortion for any reason would be good news because clearly we want less of such people

    I should have written fewer.

  6. Good Morning.

    Busy day today, with a gathering in St John’s RC Cathedral in Portsmouth, for a couple of hundred people hoping to join the Church at Easter.
    Then the Triple Crown match.

    On the challenging topic of Abortions. I think:
    i. If the unborn child does have a soul, and even Mr Dawkins thinks we might have souls, then Abortion must be questionable at least- Temples of the Holy Spirit we are.

    ii. The use of the word ‘baby’ or ‘child’ rather than foetus in the case of female abortions is significant.

    LOCAL ELECTIONS.
    No sign here of a Labour advance. Lib Dems out performing their poll ratings

    Have a good weekend Amber and Hannah

  7. Chris,
    “i. If the unborn child does have a soul, and even Mr Dawkins thinks we might have souls, then Abortion must be questionable at least- Temples of the Holy Spirit we are.”
    However policy should always be based upon the idea of the burden of proof. Prove that we have a soul *and* the foetus has a soul *and* something negative will happen to that soul if it’s body is extinguished (you could be working under the assumption of reincarnation – where that soul would move unharmed to another body), then we’ll ban abortions.
    Equally if I called for a giant statue of Zeus to be built, to help with the draught in the South-East, the burden of proof would be on me to prove that it works before we waste tax-payers’ cash.

    This is one of those things where opponents of secularism confuse atheism and agnosticism – agnosticism is the default position for all, as we can’t truly *know* anything, we can only assume what is ‘true’ or ‘false’ based upon relative probability.
    So when a scientist says something is true, they mean ‘Given the evidence, the probability is that it is true” or inversely, ‘Given the evidence, the probability is that it is false’.
    So atheism is the position that there is no God because there is no proof of God, but if there were sufficient proof then we would no longer be atheist.

    So the argument ‘even Mr Dawkins thinks that we might have souls’ is misleading – because he’s using ‘might’ in the sense that there is a possibility of it, but that we do not have souls because there is no proof.
    Just as he would say that there might be a teapot on Mars that we have not yet found – it’s possible, but so unlikely that we can say (until sufficient evidence is provided) that the claim is just not true (i.e the probability is small).

    Not only is the ‘burden of proof’ good policy, but it is also the basis for our legal system and the idea of due process – you cannot be convicted of a crime except if the evidence proves that you did ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ (i.e according to a reasonable level of probability).
    Using the ‘might have a soul’ argument in court would be equal to me claiming that fairies put the gun in my hand and forced me to shoot – they would reject the argument for lack of evidence of fairies.

    Or to rephrase the original argument as ‘If Eris exists and does not want us to toil, and even Mr Dawkins thinks this might be true, then labour must be questionable at least’.

    “ii. The use of the word ‘baby’ or ‘child’ rather than foetus in the case of female abortions is significant.”
    It is an interesting point – much like those opposed to workfare calling it ‘slavery’ – it’s purely to gain an emotive, rather than rational response.
    So calling a foetus at the point of contraception, ‘a child’ (or workfare slavery) is to avoid a real discussion of the issues involved.

  8. First Med. Gulls back at Rye Harbour NR.

    Spring.

    It starts again :-) :-) :-)

  9. Once on a telephone interview I was asked my age, which I replied was 20 in my effeminate “gay” sounding voice. The interviewer then proceeded to assert that “you are underage right” to which I replied ” no I am of voting age, I am 20, two zero, twenty”, again she replied “but you are not of voting age” then ended the call. I am 100% certain as to point 5 and 6 in your liust that the interviewer did not want what they may have suspected my response to be. Evidently I would have said UKIP, but I am thinking other parties were assumed. There is really no way to prevent number 6 on your list because the interviewers are people themselves with bias .

  10. Also,I get that your list of items supports your profession, but if they were all true then why are polls always different and sometimes very different than results? Often polls also lead opinions in a certain direction as well, which of course why the various politicians are desperate to be seen as on top.

  11. @Hannah

    “Oh dear, this argument really rubs me the wrong way. It fundamentally confuses intrinsic and extrinsic value. Conceptualising women as commodities to men and society that can appreciate and depreciate in value depending on the market is the problem not the solution. #Fail.”

    I did say I was uncomfortable with the argument. My point is that since cultural norms such as dowries are based in precisely that concept, the way to address them is by applying the same ‘logic’.

  12. @Roger Mexico

    “I should have written fewer.”

    Shame. I hoped you were espousing amputation or beheading of bigots :)

  13. In an ideal world everybody would be heakthy, wealthy and wise, and all pregnancies would be welcome, maybe even planned, and babies born into a world of opportunity and love.

    But even if we did live in that world, who am I to tell a pregnant girl/woman that they must go through with a pregnancy and have a baby?

    As the father of two daughters it horrifies me that somebody would choose to abort a baby because it is female (but it would be just as bad the other way round). But the whole decision seems horrifying when you have the luxury of choices.

    Aborting a foetus on the grounds of sex seems wrong to me. But the same applies…who am I tell tell a woman she must go through with a pregnancy?

  14. (Opens door, sticks head round, whispers “Omigod, they’re still talking about abortion”, shakes head, closes door quietly, goes to work)

    (sotto voce) regards, martyn….

  15. Pops in for a chat, hears the conversation, leaves.

  16. “polls are very expensive”

    Anyone mind if I ask for a ballpark figure? Not that I’m going to commission one, I’m just imagining how much of an expensive dickaround it would be if I had the money.

  17. @ Old Nat
    Pops in for a chat, hears the conversation, leaves.

    ———————————————————–

    I often feel like that when the country where Macbeth was made Thane of Cawdor is the topic of conversation. It takes all sorts…
    8-)

  18. “oldnat

    Pops in for a chat, hears the conversation, leaves.”

    Ditto.

    The abortion issue is pretty much settled in the UK. In the US, it is being talked about due to the religious beliefs of some of the Republican Presidential candidates.

  19. Reminds me of the conversation-stopper when a boring snooty person approaches Peter Sellars at a cocktail party asking “And what do you do for a living?”

    Later in the film the inspector (for it is he) is removing from his hotel room, a dead body in a laundry basket… another quest turns to him in the lift and jokes “What have you got in there then – a dead body?”

  20. @R Huckle

    “The abortion issue is pretty much settled in the UK.”

    Please can someone tell Nadine Dorries and her ilk?

  21. Dig’em Frog – about £300 a question.

  22. @tingedfringe – “… the idea of the burden of proof.”

    That can equally be a turn off – it can get to be a dull, earthbound, remorseless tyranny of logic. People tend to “prove” things to their own satisfaction in each successive paradigm of science.

    A lot of people, not just poets, will continue to talk about “soul”, “spirit” and “the breath of life”.

    There have been plenty of experiments to determine how much the soul weighs – roughly equivalent to a bird’s feather according to tradition.

  23. @Robin
    “This situation is directly analagous to the one the pro-lifers argue to be the case. It is asserted that an entity, incapable of independent life without drawing on the body of another entity, has the right to those resources irrespective of the wishes of the host.”

    This argument would appear to be equally valid if it was used to support infanticide (at least for the first year or two after birth). Are you sure that’s what you want to be arguing?

    @SoCalLiberal
    “My opinion, which is worth precisely zero to the political debate, is that most anti-abortion campaigners are batsh*t crazy & do their own cause more harm than good.”

    The ones who make headlines tend to fit your description, but I doubt it’s true for pro-life campaigners in general – the vast majority will be people who occasionally go on a pro-life event, rather than people who get worked up as if it’s the only political issue that matters.

  24. Most of us thought this issue was settled in the UK but it has been stirred up again by a Telegraph ‘investigation’ of private clinics in which they allegedly found some clinics (or rather individual doctors at clinics) were willing to terminate for reasons of gender, despite this being illegal in the UK (the private clinics were allegedly ‘falsifying’ the paperwork & putting something else as the reason). The Telegraph got this story by sending a young girl who is “happily pregnant” to request a termination because she didn’t want a girl – i.e. lie to the doctors.

    But it does not appear to have raised a public storm against terminations or against private clinics which allegedly perform procedures for reasons which are not legal in the UK. Because, perhaps people in the UK understand the situation better than the Telegraph appear to. Why do I say this?

    Because, in saying women have a right to chose, people are referencing the US legislation. The right to chose in the UK is vested in the medical profession who are tasked with ‘looking into the souls of [wo]men’ (as Roger Mexico put it) & determining whether the mental health of the mother would be best served by terminating.

    So the Telegraph may not have scored the ‘sensation’ they think they have. Because the doctors probably didn’t ‘falsify’ the paperwork as alleged. They simply made a clinical judgement that a young woman who found “infanticide of little girls” to be acceptable (I paraphrase one doctor’s question put to the woman) was in a state of mental health which would be best served by terminating the pregnancy. And this is a clinical judgement which doctors are both expected & entitled to make in such circumstances.

    I am going to make this my last comment on this topic because I can see that I have worn out my welcome (which I pretty much knew I would when this topic kicked off).
    8-)

  25. So – to change the subject. There is a really interesting Spectator article about House of Lords reform.

    Ignore, if you can, all the lead-in about ‘tensions in the Coalition’ & consider the potential effect on the LibDems in the public’s eyes were they to vote for the NHS Bill (unpopular with the public) but throw their entire political capital behind grabbing themselves a 15 year balance of power in the HoL.

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/essays/all/7668073/irreconcilable-differences.thtml

    It really is an interesting article for all who are politics followers.
    8-)

  26. “Spectator article about House of Lords reform.”
    ———————
    I read it but found it confusing in places. On the one hand James Forsyth says “we are witnessing the beginning of the end of the Coalition”. But later on says “To be sure, no one thinks the coalition is in danger of an imminent collapse”.
    Or is he sure it is doomed and it’s just a matter of timing?

    Maybe he is convinced that the ‘marriage’ is more like “mirage” and will not last until 2005 but how many LD MPs will force an early GE when half of them may end up on Mr Landsley’s Workfare scheme?

  27. Daughter prods my ribs and says not Mr L – apols.

  28. @Amberstar
    If it’s a genuinely proportional system, it’s possible that voting intention for the Greens, UKIP, and the Nationalists will rise enough that the Lib Dems don’t quite hold the balance of power in the Lords. Especially if Scotland votes no to independence.

    But then, if the Lib Dems are behind the bill, it might well be STV with relatively small numbers of seats in a constituency, and hence do the minor parties a disservice.

  29. @ Ozwald,

    It is confusing about the Coalition lasting/ not lasting which is why I mentioned that folks might not want to pay much attention to that aspect.
    8-)

  30. Coalition comes down to staggering rewards throughout the life of the agreement. First it was AV for the HoC, in return for boundary changes… now The Spectator suggests it is PR for HoL, in return for the boundary changes.

    Which comes first?

  31. @Amber
    Yes, thanks, I should have paid more attention to your caveat. James Forsyth’s references to his ‘jungle drums’ sources were interesting and tantalizing.

    Is it more likely that we will hear the sound of creaking timbers in another 12 months or so when honorable members can see a GE on the horizon? Then those with small majorities begin to weigh up their future prospects of another term, or perhaps the likelihood of them walking the plank!

  32. @ Green Christian

    One would think that the LDs, having had their fingers burned on AV, will have made fairly sure that the Lords Reform would achieve what they want it to. If not, then they are either very principled or thick as planks!

    I do not believe that they can get the legislation through without Labour backing because it seems almost certain – if the article’s writer has a good source – that there will be a Tory rebellion.

    I’d think that Labour’s ‘price’ for backing the reforms & putting them beyond the reach of a rebellion will be that the LDs vote against the NHS Bill or succeed in having the competition section removed. The Tory ‘price’ for proceeding may be that the LDs vote for the NHS Bill in its entirety.

    So, I think that the LDs are not going to get their reforms. They will troop through the lobby & vote for the NHS Bill, on the promise of Lords Reform. Then the Tory backbenchers will ‘stiff’ them by voting against – even though it is in the Coalition agreement.

    The LDs will be seen by the public as having backed an unpopular NHS Bill for the sake of Lords Reform – & they possibly won’t even get the reforms at the end of the day!

    Funnily enough, despite the alleged weakness of Ed Miliband, I think that he could deliver the entire Labour vote on Lords Reform, were the LDs to vote against the NHS Bill.

    But it wouldn’t be enough, unless the Tories who want the NHS Bill dropped, want it dropped enough to see the LDs vote against it, then deliver on the Coalition agreement re Lords Reform anyway.

    For political watchers, it is fascinating. For the public in general, I think that they will be unhappy about the LDs voting for the NHS Bill & will not see Lords Reform as worth the ‘trashing’ of the NHS.
    8-)

  33. Labour 44%, Tory 36% & LD 6%

  34. What?

  35. TINGED FRINGE.
    Good Evening. I am back from the 19-12 Triple Crown victory over England.

    Did you mean to write about a foetus being a child at the ‘moment of contraception’? I think not! LOL as kids say.

    The terms babies/ foetus is interesting.

    I see that the new controversy in the media is centred on female unborn babies. They are using the term baby.

    24 weeks is the limit, except for disabled babies,

    Why 24 weeks? The last day of 24 weeks = ok. And day one of the next week it is not? Philisophically illogical as well.

    I know it is a very emotive topic. In schools we are only allowed to put the pro abortion case in RE and PSHE lessons, in secular schools, understandably as there are 250,000 abortions a year. So many families have been touched by this tragedy.

    But Wales won, so all is right with the world. Now off to sing Cwm Rhondda in the pub.

  36. “@ Nick P

    What ?”

    Sorry that was my prediction for tonights Sunday Time YG. I managed to post while still typing.

  37. @ Billy Bob

    …now The Spectator suggests it is PR for HoL, in return for the boundary changes.
    ———————————————
    Obviously, Labour would vote against adopting the boundary changes in a heartbeat. But unless some Tories sided with Labour & the LDs, the Tories could force it through anyway, could they not? I’ve read that a few Tories are not happy about having to find a new seat but could adoption of the boundary changes, which will bring so much advantage to the Party, be an issue which enough Tories would vote against?
    8-)

  38. ‘Sorry that was my prediction for tonights Sunday Time YG. I managed to post while still typing’

    I seem to remember the same thing happened last week!

  39. @AmberStar – “Tories could force it through anyway, could they not?”

    I really don’t know. We’re back in rainbow alliance territory aren’t we? 8O

    306 vs 258 + 57

    SNP 6
    Green 1
    Sinn Féin 5
    Democratic Unionist 8
    Plaid Cymru 3
    SDLP 3
    Alliance 1
    Sylvia Hermon
    Speaker

  40. R Huckle,are you also known as Mystic Meg?Whatever,I
    find your predictions completely delightful.

  41. @ Graham

    It is my keyboard. Needs cleaning. Pain in the *um, while trying to type a letter.

  42. @ Billy Bob

    SNP 6 = profess not to care about Westminster but the boundary changes do reduce Scotland’s representation so, IMO, the SNP can’t vote with the Tories. They might abstain given the right incentives.

    Green 1 = Am I right in thinking that Caroline Lucas could lose her seat in the boundary changes?

    Sinn Féin 5 = Probably won’t come in over something like the boundary changes; if they do, I think they’d vote against. But will probably abstain as usual.

    Democratic Unionist 8 = usually vote with the Tories, don’t they? But maybe not to reduce Ireland’s representation.

    Plaid Cymru 3 = ? Can anybody provide some insight into what PC’s position on the boundary changes is likely to be?

    SDLP 3 = I think they’d vote with Labour/ LD

    Alliance 1 = ?

    Sylvia Hermon = I think would vote with Labour/ LD

    Speaker = Tory, when all’s said & done.

    8-)

  43. @AmberStar

    The 1979 no confidence motion was lost by the governent 309 votes to 310. The Wikipedia page explains the ins and outs.

    It precipitated the May GE, but Callaghan could only have gone on to October at the latest.

    We have heard talk of a transition (differentiation) stage before the 2015 election – a dissolution of the coalition and a move to minority government in the final year. It is possible the quad thinks that might look a bit lame and might decide to go out with a bang in 2014. Unlikely that the Tories would want it to happen any earlier, and not over boundary changes.

  44. Amber

    I continue to be surprised by the incompetence of the UK LDs compared to the Scottish LDs.

    In Scotland, the first devolved administration largely implemented measures that all the 3 main parties signed up to.

    In the second, the LDs held your feet to the fire over STV in Scottish local elections. That did gain them seats, though not as many as they would have wanted due to the rise of the SNP, it did deny Labour its stranglehold in local government that it had enjoyed previously.

    Why on earth their UK counterparts threw away a huge advantage for a referendum on something that neither they, their Coalition partners, nor the Opposition parties wanted, is the strangest political calculation I have ever seen.

  45. “Dig’em Frog – about £300 a question.”

    Thanks. And that actually sounds pretty reasonable, although I guess that’s probably because I’m an unreasonable person and hence assumed astronomical, economy-shifting sums of currency.

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