Last week, while sharing despair at Twitter throwing itself into another frenzy over a crossbreak of less than fifty respondents Sunder Katwala suggested to me that it might be a good idea to put together a post summarising the things not to do when writing about polls. I thought that was a good idea. This probably isn’t the sort of post Sunder was thinking of – I expect he envisaged something shorter – but nevertheless, here’s how NOT to report opinion polls.

1) Don’t report Voodoo polls

For a poll to be useful it needs to be representative. 1000 people represent only themselves, we can only assume their views represent the whole of Britain if the poll is sampled and weighted in a way that reflects the whole of Britain (or whatever other country you are polling). At a crude level, the poll needs to have the right proportions of people in terms of gender, age, social class, region and so on.

Legitimate polls are conducted in two main ways. Random sampling and quota sampling (where the pollster designs a sample and then recruits respondents to fill it, getting the correct number of Northern working class women, Midlands pensioners, etc, etc). In practice true random sampling is impossible, so most pollsters methods are a bit of a mixture of these two methods.

Open-access polls (pejoratively called “voodoo polls”) are sometimes mistakenly reported as proper polls. These are the sort of instant polls displayed on newspaper websites or through pushing the red button on digital tv, where anyone who wishes to can take part. There are no sampling or weighting controls so a voodoo poll may, for example, have a sample that is far too affluent, or educated, or interested in politics. If the polls was conducted on a campaign website, or a website that appeals to people of a particular viewpoint it will be skewed attitudinally too.

More importantly there are no controls on who takes part, so people with strong views on the issue are more likely to participate, and partisan campaigns or supporters on Twitter can deliberately direct people towards the poll to skew the results. Polls that do not sample or weight to get a proper sample or that are open-access and allow anyone to take part should never be reported as representing public opinion.

Few people would mistake “instant polls” on newspaper websites for properly conducted polls, but there are many instances of open access surveys on specialist websites or publications (e.g. Mumsnet, PinkNews, etc) being reported as if they were properly represenative polls of mothers, LGBT people, etc, rather than non-representative open-access polls.

Case study: The Observer reporting an open-access poll from the website of a campaign against the government’s NHS reforms as if it was representative of the views of members of the Royal College of Physicians, the Express miraculously finding that 99% of people who bothered to ring up an Express voting line wanted to leave Europe, The Independent reporting an open-access poll of Netmums in 2010.

2) Remember polls have a margin of error

Most polling companies quote a margin of error of around about plus or minus 3 points. Technically this is based on a pure random sample of 1000 and doesn’t account for other factors like design and degree of weighting, but it is generally a good rule of thumb. What it means is that 19 times out of 20 the figure in a poll will be within 3 percentage points of what the “true” figure would be if you’d surveyed the entire population.

What it means when reporting polls is that a change of a few percentage points doesn’t necessarily mean anything – it could very well just be down to normal sample variation within the margin of error. A poll showing Labour up 2 points, or the Conservatives down 2 points does not by itself indicate any change in public opinion.

Unless there has been some sort of seismic political event, the vast majority of voting intention polls do not show changes outside the margin of error. This means that, taken alone, they are singularly unnewsworthy. The correct way to look at voting intention polls is, therefore, to look at the broad range of ALL the opinion polls and whether there are consistent trends. Another way is to take averages over time to even out the volatility.

One poll showing the Conservatives up 2 points is meaningless. If four or five polls are all showing the Conservatives up by 2 points, then it is likely that there is a genuine increase in their support.

Case study: There are almost too many to mention, but I will pick up up the Guardian’s reporting their January 2012 ICM poll, which describes the Conservatives as “soaring” in the polls after rising three points. Newspapers do this all the times of course, and Tom Clark normally does a good job writing up ICM polls… I’m afraid I’m picking this one out because of the hubris the Guardian displayed in their editorial the same day when they wrote “this is not a rogue result. Rogue polls are very rare. Most polls currently put the Tories ahead. A weekend YouGov poll produced a very similar result to today’s ICM, with another five-point Tory lead. So the polls are broadly right. And today’s poll is right. Better get used to it.”

It was sound advice not to hand-wave away polls that bring unwelcome news, but unfortunately in this case the poll probably was an outlier! Those two polls showing a five point lead were the only ones in the whole of January to show such big Tory leads, the rest of the month’s polls showed the parties basically neck-and-neck – as did ICM’s December poll before, and their February poll afterwards. Naturally the Guardian didn’t write up the February poll as “reversion to mean after wacky sample last month”, but as Conservative support shrinks as voters turn against NHS bill. The bigger picture was that party support was pretty much steady throughout January 2012 and February 2012, with a slight drift away from the Tories as the European veto effect faded. The rollercoaster ride of public opinion that the Guardian’s reporting of ICM implied never happened.

3) Beware cross breaks and small sample sizes

A poll of 1000 people has a margin of error of about plus or minus three points. However, smaller sample sizes have bigger margins of error. Where this is most important to note is in cross-breaks. A poll of 1000 people in Great Britain as a whole might have fewer than 100 people aged under 25 or living in Scotland. A crossbreak made up of only 100 people has a margin of error of plus or minus ten percent. Crossbreaks of under 100 people should be given extreme caution, under 50 they should be ignored.

An additional factor is that polls are weighted so that they are representative overall. It does not necessarily follow that cross-breaks will be internally representative. For example, a poll could have the correct number of Labour supporters overall, but have too many in London and too few in Scotland.

You should be very cautious about reading too much into small crossbreaks. Even if two crossbreaks appear to show a large contrast between two social groups, if they are within each others margin of error this may be pure sample variation.

Pay particular caution to national polls that claim to say something about the views of ethnic or religious minorities. In a standard GB poll the number of ethnic minority respondents are too small to provide any meaningful findings. It is possible that they have deliberately oversampled these groups to get meaningful findings, but there have been several instances where news articles have been based on the extremely small religious or ethnic subsamples in normal polls.

Extreme caution should be given to crossbreaks on voting intention. With voting intention small differences of a few percentage points take on great significance, so figures based on small sample sizes, that are not internally weighted, are virtually useless. Voting intention crossbreaks may reveal interesting trends over time, but in a single poll are best ignored.

Case study: Again, this is a common failing, but the most extreme examples are reports taking figures for religious minorities. Take, for example, this report of an ICM poll for the BBC in 2005 – the report says that Jews are the least likely to attend religious services, and that 31% of Jews said they knew nothing about their faith. These figures were based on a sample of FIVE Jewish respondents. Here is the Telegraph making a similar error in 2009 claiming that “79 per cent of Muslims say Christianity should have strong role in Britain”, based on a subsample of just 21 Muslims.

4) Don’t cherry pick

In my past post on “Too Frequently Asked Questions” one of the common misconceptions I cite about polls is that pollsters only give the answers that clients want. This is generally not the case – published polling is only a tiny minority of what a polling companies produces, the shop window as it were, and major clients that actually pay the bills want accuracy, not sycophancy.

A much greater problem is people reading the results seeing only the answers they want, and the media reporting only the answers they want (on the latter, this is more a problem with pick-up of polls from other media sources, papers who actually commission a poll will normally report it all). Political opinion polls are a wonderful tool, interpreted properly they allow you to peep into what the electorate see, think and what drives their voting intention. As a pollster it’s depressing to see them interpreted by chucking out and dismissing anything that undermines their prejudices, while trumpeting and waving anything they agree with. It sometimes feels like you’ve invented the iPad, and people insist on using it as a doorstop.

It should almost go without saying, but you should always look at poll findings in the round. Public opinion is complicated and contradictory. For example, people don’t think prison is very effective at reforming criminals, but tend to be strongly opposed to replacing prison sentences with alternative punishments. People tend to support tax cuts if asked, but also oppose the spending cuts they would require. Taking a single poll finding out of context is bad practice, picking poll findings that bolster your argument while ignoring those that might undermine it is downright misleading.

Case study: Almost all of the internet! For a good example of highly selective and partial reporting of opinion polls on a subject in the mainstream press though, take the Telegraph’s coverage of polling on gay marriage. As we have looked at here before, most polling shows the public generally positive towards gay marriage if actually asked about it – polls by ICM, Populus, YouGov and (last year) ComRes have all found pretty positive opinions. The exception to this is ComRes polling for organisations opposed to gay marriage which asked a question about “redefining marriage” that didn’t actually mention gay marriage at all, and which has been presented by the campaign against gay marriage as showing 70% people are opposed to it.

Leaving aside the merits of the particular questions, the Telegraph stable has dutifully reported all the polling commissioned by organisations campaigning against gay marriage – here, here, here and here. As far as I can tell they have never mentioned any of the polling from Populus or YouGov showing support for gay marriage. The ICM polling was actually commissioned by the Sunday Telegraph, so they could hardly avoid mentioning it, but their report heavily downplayed the finding that people supported gay marriage by 45% to 36% (or as the Telegraph put it “opinion was finely balanced” which stretched the definition of balanced somewhat) instead running heavily on a question on whether it should be a prority or not. Anyone relying on the Telegraph for its news will have a very skewed view of what polling says about gay marriage.

5) Don’t make the outlier the story

If 19 times out of 20 a poll is within 3 points of the “true” picture, that means 1 time of out 20 it isn’t – it is what we call a “rogue poll”. This is not a dispersion or criticism of the pollster, it is an inevitable and unavoidable part of polling. Sometimes random chance will produce a whacky result. This goes double for cross-breaks, which have a large margin of error to begin with. In the headline figures 1 in 20 polls will be off by more than 3 points; in a crossbreak of 100 people 1 in 20 of those crossbreaks will be off by more than 10 points!

There are around 30 voting intention polls conducted each month, and each of them will often have 15-20 crossbreaks on them too. It is inevitable that random sample error will spit out some weird rogue results within all that data. These will appear eye-catching, astounding and newsworthy… but they are almost certainly not. They are just random statistical noise.

Always be cautious about any poll showing a sharp change in movement. If a poll is completely atypical of other data, then assume it is a rogue unless other polling data backs it up. Remember Twyman’s Law: “any piece of data or evidence that looks interesting or unusual is probably wrong”.

Case study: Here’s the Guardian in February 2012 claiming that the latest YouGov polling showed that the Conservatives had pulled off an amazing turnaround and won back the female vote, based on picking out one day’s polling that showed a six point Tory lead amongst women. Other YouGov polls that week showed Labour leading by 3 to 5 points amongst women, and that that day’s data was an obvious outlier. See also PoliticalScrapbook’s strange obsession with cherry-picking poor Lib Dem scores in small crossbreaks.

6) Only compare apples with apples

All sorts of things can make a difference to the results a poll finds. Online and telephone polls will sometimes find different results due to things like interviewer effect (people may be more willing to admit socially embarrassing views to a computer screen than an interviewer), the way a question is asked may make a difference, or the exact wording used, or even the question order.

For this reason if you are looking for change over time, you need to compare apples to apples. You should only compare a question asked now to a question asked using the same methods and using the same wordings, otherwise any apparent change could actually be down to wording or methodolgy, rather than reflect a genuine change in public opinion.

You should never draw changes from voting intention figures from one company’s polls to another. There are specific house effects from different companies methodologies which render this meaningless. For example, ICM normally show the Lib Dems a couple of points higher than other companies and YouGov normally show them a point or so lower… so it would be wrong to compare a new ICM poll with a YouGov poll from the previous week and conclude that the Lib Dems had gained support.

114 Responses to “How not to report opinion polls”

1 2 3
  1. Colin

    “Talk of a collapse in confidence in LOndon is wide of the mark.”

    Nice to see people remaining confident that “”Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand” was a false prophecy.

  2. @Smukesh

    I agree.

    I can vaguely recall news reports dating from a few years back in which it was commented that the increasing divergence of LIBOR from base rates since the start of the financial crisis was worrying and (it was assumed) seemed to indicate a reluctance of banks to lend to each other and a general lack of liquidity.

    If this had reached the wider public, it’s perfectly understandable and indeed reassuring then that “senior figures within Whitehall” were not standing idly by but prompting the BoE to make enquiries into what was happening to LIBOR.

    I’m reluctant to take Mr Diamond’s account at face value – rather than an e-mail, it’s his own transcript in words he no doubt chose carefully after the conversation, in a bank which seems to have made a merit out of falsehood. But in so far as it goes, and in so far as we can read between the lines, what I find of concern is the implication that but for such prompting Mr Tucker would not have made the phone call on his own initiative. Was the BoE asleep on the job? And also of concern is an implied reluctance to act on Mr Diamond’s request to convey back the reality (“oh that would be worse”).

  3. ALEC

    @”It’s about the future of the country, not our political parties.”

    Actually it’s about the brief for the Joint Committee, which is :-” “building on the Treasury Select Committee’s work and drawing on the conclusions of UK and international regulatory and competition investigations into the LIBOR rate-setting process, consider what lessons are to be learnt from them in relation to transparency, conflicts of interest, culture and the professional standards of the banking industry.”

    In addition, of course :-

    SFO are looking at whether there are any criminal prosecutions that can be brought,

    Martin Wheatley, the Chief Executive designate of the Financial Conduct Authority is to review what reforms are required to the current framework for setting and governing LIBOR including looking at whether participation in the setting of LIBOR should become a regulated activity;

    The Banking Reform Bill, proceeds & can be amended as appropriate.


    @”Nice to see people remaining confident that “”Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand” was a false prophecy.”

    Had you seen the interview in question you would not have misunderstood.

    The point being made was that authorities are “acting on them”-notably that the disastrous tenure of the FSA was coming to a close, and the Banking Reform Bill would stop casino bankers running banks which ordinary people , and the countries economy, rely upon.

    @”Nice to see people remaining confident that “”Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand” was a false prophecy.”
    Had you seen the interview in question you would not have misunderstood.
    The point being made was that authorities are “acting on them”-notably that the disastrous tenure of the FSA was coming to a close, and the Banking Reform Bill would stop merchant bankers running banks which ordinary people , and the countries economy, rely upon.

  6. @ Old Nat

    There are 2 things which are significant:

    1. I (Diamond) asked if he could relay the reality, that not all banks were providing quotes at the levels that represented real transactions, his (Tucker’s) response “oh, that would be worse”.

    The above suggests to me that Paul Tucker was declining to pass on the message from Diamond that other banks were (systematically?) submitting lowball estimates of their interbank lending/ borrowing costs. Paul Tucker may be asked about whether or not he made the Labour Government, or the FSA, aware of Diamond’s allegations.

    2. Mr Tucker stated the levels of calls he was receiving from Whitehall were ‘senior’ and that while he was certain we did not need advice, that it did not always need to be the case that we appeared as high as we have recently.

    So who were the senior Whitehall figures? Guido is putting Shriti Vadera in the frame but she denies ever discussing Libor rates with Tucker; Ed Balls is reminding everyone that he was Schools Minister at the time; Alistair Darling was Chancellor but of course “Senior Whitehall figures” need not be in the government they could be treasury ‘mandarins’.

    I expect Osborne has quite a few staff searching through the records from the time; indeed it was a leaked – but fairly innocuous – treasury Libor review paper authored by Lady Vadera which has got Guido all excited.

    Paul Tucker, of course, is the person who can answer that question – unless he ‘can’t recall’ to whom he was referring & there are no BoE notes with which to refresh his memory of these calls which he was receiving from ‘senior Whitehall figures’.

  7. Presumably Gordon will be called to descend from Mount Olympus ?

  8. @Smukesh
    Once we see some polling on the issue (Sunday Times?), I’m pretty sure that the idea of a full judicial inquiry will be the preferred course of the public. The media narrative will come back to the question of whether one goes ahead.

    I suspect that within the coalition, the Government’s proposal is a fudge – Clegg probably wanted a full judicial inquiry, Cameron none at all, so they split the difference and agreed to an inquiry by politicians headed by Tyrie of all people. Cameron will have been pleased at that outcome, if that’s what happened. And in yet again toeing the line in the parliamentary vote, the LDs will be seen to be backing the wrong side and suffer the consequences.

  9. @PHIL
    `And in yet again toeing the line in the parliamentary vote, the LDs will be seen to be backing the wrong side and suffer the consequences`

    And they want Labour to vote for Lord`s reform-the cheek of it.

  10. Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer between June 2007 and May 2010, has been talking to Channel 4 News.

    He said that he was not one of the “senior figures” at Whitehall who were alleged to have expressed concern back in 2008 that Barclays was reporting excessively high daily borrowing rates in the weeks after the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

    “I’d find it astonishing that bank or Treasury would ever suggest this,” said Darling, referring the suggestion that Paul Tucker of the Bank of England had passed on the supposed concerns of the Whitehall officials.
    Alistair Darling seems not to have been asked about whether or not Paul Turner communicated Bob Diamond’s allegations about ‘systematic’ rigging to Darling or anybody in the treasury or government.

  11. The Bank of England’s version –

    The Bank’s position is this: “It is nonsense to suggest the Bank of England was aware of any impropriety in the setting of Libor. If we had been aware of attempts to manipulate Libor we would have treated them very seriously.”

    In other words – Diamond’s notes of the conversation are a work of fiction.

  12. Amber

    Thanks for that.

    I said that I wasn’t sure about “Whitehall” meant in the coded language that people at that level use.

    Does Whitehall include the entire government apparatus, or does it refer only to the Civil Service (who may be acting on ministerial advice, or semi-independently).

  13. @RHuckle
    “I asked the question the other day, as to whether the polls leading up to a 2015 GE, will prove to be least accurate in polling history ?

    Reason for this.

    1) Boundary & Constituency changes
    2) UK & EU economic woes ( votes to other parties including UKIP)
    3) The health of the UK economy. People split on whether the coalitions policies have made matters worse or better.
    4) Coalition government fallout. ( LD’s possibly split and arguments between LD & Tories)
    5) Possibility of NHS candidates being fielded.

    There are probably more issues to list, but I am not sure pollsters will be able pick up the various issues that may affect the outcomes in constituencies up and down the country.”

    Boundary changes will affect how votes translate into seats, but it’s extremely unlikely that boundary changes will cause enough new tactical voting to affect national vote share, and most of the other issues are things that you’d expect to show up in polling data anyway (NHS candidates are only likely to affect a handful of constituencies- they’ll make about as much difference to national polls as Dr Richard Taylor did).

  14. Amber

    “In other words – Diamond’s notes of the conversation are a work of fiction.”

    As Mandy Rice-Davies once famously remarked they “would say that, wouldn’t” they.

  15. @ Old Nat

    Yes, the use of senior Whitehall figures seems intentionally vague, either by Tucker or Diamond.

    Given Diamond is American, he may have used it in the way that American’s use the Whitehouse to mean everybody in the President’s administration up to & including the President himself. And that seems to be the way the media are interpretating it.

    Over here, it’s more commonly used to mean the civil service, treasury etc. & doesn’t necessarily include government ministers, MPs, Lords etc.

    I’m not sure what the BoE using it would mean; my first reaction was: that’ll be the treasury ‘mandarins’ – i.e. civil servants – it was only when the media began saying it implied government involvement that I asked myself the question which you’ve raised with me.

  16. @OldNat

    Given that this whole scandal is about a business culture at Barclays that saw systematic falsehood as a virtue, why shoud anyone consider every word of Diamond to represent the gospel truth?

  17. @ Old Nat

    Mandy’s comment is one of my all time favourites. :-)

  18. @PHIL

    The funny thing is Bob Diamond in his evidence to the Select Committee is claiming he din`t think Paul Tucker was suggesting Libor mainpulation.But his deputy Jerry del Missier misinterpreted the email and briefed traders that they should manipulate Libor.

    `So essentially it`s a communication failure` ;-)

  19. How to predict opinion polls:

    Con 33.2
    Lab 43.3
    LD 8.9

    That’s how!

  20. Phil

    “Given that this whole scandal is about a business culture at Barclays that saw systematic falsehood as a virtue, why shoud anyone consider every word of Diamond to represent the gospel truth?”

    Given that London appears to have been the centre of very dubious banking practices, and politicians happily took the tax revenue from that activity, why should anyone consider every word of bankers or politicians to represent the gospel truth?

    Amber excepted, there is a wee bit of defensiveness in the posts of Labour partisans on this issue. I recognise the wording – I’ve seen it from supporters of every party when they feel that their party might be under threat.

  21. Mandy’s comment, in context and at the time, was great.

    The problem now though is that it has just become a cliche for the disbelieving cynic: there are times when people say “that” simply because its true, as well as convenient.

  22. A little bit more information from Alistair Darling:

    Asked if the Bank of England had ordered the banks to lower its rates he said: “I would find it absolutely astonishing that the bank would ever make such a suggestion and equally I can think of no circumstances that anyone certainly in departments for which I was responsible – the Treasury – would ever suggest wrongdoing like this.”.

    He added: “At the time these calls were made in 2008 it was just after Lehmans had collapsed, and just after the bank rescues, one of the things you looked at was how much it was costing banks to borrow because that gave you an assessment of their financial standing that is why it was so critically important.”

    He said the way to get the Libor rate down at the time was through policy such as credit guarantee scheme, and the special liquidity scheme.

    A spokesman for another minister at the time, Lady Vadera, said: “She has no recollection of speaking to Paul Tucker or anyone else the Bank of England about the price setting of Libor.”

    But the YG and ICM figures are very different all the time

  24. SMUKESH.
    Good Evening.
    I agree with you about the hatchet job fears

  25. Chris Lane,

    I only meant YouGov, and tonight…

  26. MICHAEL.
    Yes, I guessed that.

    Why is YG so far away from ICM? It must be more than the methodology and mOE?

  27. @CHRISLANE1945

    With Lib Dems seemingly clear a judicial inquiry is not needed,little else but to wait for what`s to come…I suspect Labour would not be that keen to call for tactical voting like they did last time.

  28. Chris Lane,

    More than margin of error, certainly. But surely that means we have to put it down to differences in methodology…

    The only other explanation I can think of is some sort of divine intervention.

  29. EM’s line should be that if any Labour members were involved let them be exposed by an independent judge in a full public inquiry. What do the Tories have to,hide?


    You may be too young to remember the circumstances in which Mandy made that comment – and why its essential truth has ensured that it continues to be quoted.

    That someone denies being involved in some activity is no evidence that they weren’t, or were, involved.

    Prisons are full of people who “didn’t do it”.

    Evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, is what is required. Amber is far too wise to suggest that the BoE was actually innocent because they suggest that it was. She is also a clever commentator, who is happy to leave that implication hanging in the air.

    An honest soul, she would have said exactly the same thing if it had been a Tory Chancellor overseeing this debacle. Wouldn’t she?

  31. 7% lead


    It’s not very useful to the rest of us who aren’t party loyalists for Con/Lab that the argument is being conducted in terms of party advantage.

    That may contribute to the perception of so many people that politicians and their supporters don’t give a damn about anything except their wee group winning.

  33. ON:

    You miss my point and I am [un-] comfortablyold enough to remember it all thanks.

    I repeat, its a jolly good cliche, but aiming it, in a knee-jerk response to virtually anything anyone you oppose [and I don’t mean you personally] says does NOT offer any proof that they are lying, although it clearly implies it .

    I am sensible enough to also realise that it also doesn’t mean they are therefore telling the truth but have always found it an irritating “mud sticks” comment to throw at people – even those I don’t approve of myself.

    My point was extremely simple: just because someone says something that is convenient for themselves cannot and should not lead to people implying they are lying – it can just be true.

    I hope you can agree with that.


  34. Okay, I did pretty badly tonight, so will drink an extra bottle of beer by way of penance. I’ll be on top form tomorrow with an amazingly accurate:

    Con 33.7
    Lab 43.1
    LD 9.1

  35. @OLDNAT
    `It’s not very useful to the rest of us who aren’t party loyalists for Con/Lab that the argument is being conducted in terms of party advantage.`

    Fair point.

  36. AMBER
    @”Lord Turner, head of the FSA, is an Osborne appointment.”

    How did that work ? :-

    “On 29 May 2008, it was announced that he would take over as Chairman of the Financial Services Authority.[6] He took up this post in September 2008 for a five year term to succeed Callum McCarthy.”

    WIKI on Adair Turner

  37. @Colin

    Do you not believe a full public inquiry into Banks and the Banking system is not only needed but what is in fact required? I suggesr you step outside your door and see what them public thinks about the behaviour and attitude of the Banks, and the lax regulatory system within which the investment bankers operate.

    This is not about a tarnished Diamond, but about a sector of economic life as lawless as the NWFP of Pakistan. No, there are laws, just no-one willing to enforce them (just like,the NWFP). But that’s just fine. We can’t upset the Bankers,can,we?


    And you seemed so young! :-)

    I’m happy to agree with your view of the phrase. However, it remains useful as a warning when there is a suggestion that someone might be innocent because they say so – or that someone else is guilty because their accuser has a motivation for saying that they are.

    One of the earliest lessons that any history student gets is not just to note what someone says, but why they might be saying it.

  39. Amber

    You may like Tom Shields’ Scottish citizenship questions: “Have you come a long way? You must be tired, would you like a wee cup of tea and a scone? ”

    So un-Edinburgh! :-)

  40. @COLIN

    It is interesting to see that two people can read the same thing and come to dramatically opposite conclusions…Perhaps it was misinterpretation on the part of a paranoid Labour supporter.

  41. @ Old Nat

    I think they were all in it together! ;-)

    Except for maybe Ed Miliband because I was there when he made his ‘predator’ speech & he seemed sincere. I’m still waiting to see what he says & does next regarding financial services regulation. He may yet disappoint me on this issue.

  42. RAF

    An interminable period of time spent establishing what people did , or others said they did-all to be refuted etc etc etc gets us no where.

    We have a regulator who with its dying breath at last is starting to regulate-soon to be replaced by something much more effective one hopes.

    We have a Bill going through Parliament which will put the high risk bankers in separate boxes.

    We have the police looking at whether they can prosecute.

    We have the new regulator at FCA deciding whether LIBOR setting needs regulating & if so how.

    We just need to get on with it-changing the banking structure & regulating it with rigour. There are plenty of people who know what needs to be done-they will do it when they get the powers & the cojones they should have had years ago.

    Andrew Tyrie will take no prisoners when he chairs the Joint Committee, and will extract all we need to know about the LIBOR business & the “culture” at Barclays.

    You don’t need a sodding judge to spend two years telling us all about how they screwed the customers over with PPI policies & made small traders go bust with INterest rate SWAP contracts-we just need a regulator who will stop them doing it again.

    Unusual penance! Nice though

  44. Amber

    I think they were all in it together! :-)

    Yep (and the SNP leadership as well). Unless one’s politicians are Nordic, Canadian or Australian, I can’t see that there is much party political advantage to be gained from the debacle.

    It does seem to me, however, that any country which relies on being a top international finance market, and allows that market to become corrupted faces really serious problems.

    Irish politicians were foolish in this regard. UK and US politicians don’t seem to have been much better.

  45. KEN

    I just didn’t get it when Agius resigned-he gets paid to ensure the right CEO is in place-he should have got rid of Diamond & set about re-establishing credibility.

    When I saw the painful interview with Randall, I understood how Diamond must have dominated him.

    Has anyone calculated how much shareholder value Diamond destroyed during his tenure ?

  46. Colin

    Has anyone calculated how much tax Diamond’s regime raised for the Treasury during his tenure? There may be some connection.

  47. COLIN………..Diamond was known as, ‘ Fuld-lite ‘ in some circles, and of course Dick Fuld destroyed Lehman Bros. I remember Gordon cutting the ribbon at the new headquarters of Lehman’s in Canary Wharf, and making a speech full of American banking jargon. Ironically, the building has just been taken over by JP Morgan where Tony Blair is now making £ 2.5 million a year as an adviser. :-)

  48. What an odd You Gov; Labour ahead in every cross-break but the lead is only 7%. :evil:

  49. PAUL BRISTOL……….We want efficient regulation, not over-regulation, political posturing is not helpful. :-)


    The current BBC Newsnight package on children transcends all politics and is more important than the Bankers in my view.

    And 10,000 children were taken away from parents last year due to abuse, by family members.

    All of us should be facing this modern slavery issue in the UK

1 2 3