The Church of England have released a poll they claim shows the vast majority of people believe in the power of prayer, when it does no such thing. There is nothing at all wrong with ICM’s actual polling, which asks people “Irrespective of whether you currently pray or not, if you were to pray for something at the moment, What would it be for?” (emphasis is mine). A perfectly reasonable question, asking people what they would pray for, if they were the sort of person who did pray.

However, the Church of England have gone rather rogue in interpreting the results, deciding that everyone who gave an answer to ICM’s hypothetical question of what people would pray for if they prayed must therefore believe in prayer – putting out a press release claiming that “Four out of five British adults believe in the power of prayer”. The Telegraph has gone on a similar flight of fancy, declaring “Six out of seven people still believe that prayers can be answered despite a dramatic drop in formal religious observance, a study has found.”

In a population where only around half of people believe in a god at all, any claim that 80% of people believe prayer works should ring alarm bells anyway. For the record the last poll I can find that actually asked whether people believed that prayer worked was by YouGov for the Sun in 2012. That found 31% of people believed that prayer worked in some way (that is they thought prayers were heard by God, or were physically answered in some other way), compared to 45% who did not and 25% who weren’t sure.

Hat tip to Alex Hern at the New Statesman for spotting it – his own mockery is here.

Meanwhile this morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun had topline figures of CON 30%, LAB 41%, LDEM 13%, UKIP 11%. The thirteen points for the Liberal Democrats is the highest that YouGov have shown them since November 2010. While all the usual caveats about individual polls apply, it is indicitative of a broader underlying trend – since the end of last year there has been a definite uptick in levels of Lib Dem support in YouGov’s daily polling. Last autumn YouGov were typically showing them at 8-10%, in recent weeks they have typically been showing them at around 11-12%.


317 Responses to “No, 80% of people do NOT “believe in prayer””

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  1. @PaulCroft

    That QF match was one of the best i have ever seen, Gigg’s goal at the end was stunning.

    Those were some great times in football

  2. Bettison crucified by IPCC. If he escapes scott free by the simple ruse of retiring early on full pension, I will be disgusted. He retired the moment he was referrred as far as I can see.

    Amazing to see so many years of high level deceit unravel at last.

  3. I’m astonished that people think that governments have any lasting significant effect on the economy, one way or another.

    0.3% off the price of a pint isn’t going to change much is it?

  4. Some positive news on growth in the services sector this January and, despite contraction in the manufacturing sector, this better than expected performance in services may pull us out of a triple dip recession this quarter. There’s also speculation that the manufacturing sector will bounce back a little from April onwards according to the CBI’s latest monthly industrial trends survey. Exports on the rise, apparently. Green shoots, maybe?

    As for the polls, the last few YouGovs are converging uncannily, and belatedly, with most of the other polling organisations, now detecting upticks for both the Lib Dems and UKIP, and showing the Tories on 30, or just below, and Labour on 40, or just below. The UKPR rolling average (Con 29 Lab 39 Lib Dem 11 UKIP?) feels like the true national picture to me with the range much narrower now YouGov is coming into line with other pollsters. A smaller range gives a more reliable mean in my view, although we always have to beware of the YouGov preponderance and ubiquity.

    I’ve thought for some time that the combined Con/Lab VI on YouGov was way too high (sometimes edging 80%) and I don’t think the two Leviathans of British politics can expect to garner much more than 70% of the total votes cast in future General Elections. Those days are over and the 67% they mustered between them in May 2010 could well be just about as good as it may get. Nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales, UKIP and the Lib Dems will divvy up the 30% plus that goes elsewhere. Of course, how that 30% or more divvies up will have an awfully big say in who grabs the electoral spoils in 2015. On current boundaries, Labour could win big on 37% of the vote.

    On another subject, but one regularly debated on here, I’m delighted the BBC have chosen this time to run their documentary series on the NHS. It first aired on Tuesday and, called fittingly “Keeping Britain Alive”, the eight part series, certainly on the evidence of the first episode, will prove a timely antidote to the politically and ideologically inspired doom-mongers who thought the Mid Staffs scandal had given them the perfect opportunity to dance on the grave of the NHS. An imperfect institution, but a wonderful one all the same that performs thousands of little life enhancing and life saving miracles every hour of every day of our lives. And not a credit card in sight either.

    This series is one of the reasons why I continue to defend both the BBC and the NHS to the ends of this earth.

  5. The Lib Dems will I expect purely campaign on their achievements in government, claiming all the policies which people see as positive

    -I suspect you will be right should save paper on printing more than a 1 page manifesto too!

  6. Bettison crucified by IPCC. If he escapes scott free by the simple ruse of retiring early on full pension, I will be disgusted. He retired the moment he was referrred as far as I can see.
    Amazing to see so many years of high level deceit unravel at last.

    -I think you will find He referred Himself.

    Also please remember that having a case to answer is not a finding of guilt.

  7. “I think you will find He referred Himself.”

    I think attempting to spin it that way was classed as gross misconduct by the IPCC. They are publishing their report exactly so that I can judge for myself.

  8. BBC:
    Deborah Glass, deputy chair of the IPCC, said: “It was the IPCC’s view at the start of the investigation, as it was the view of his Police Authority, that Sir Norman’s actions, if proven, fell so far short of what is expected of a chief constable that dismissal would be justified. “The evidence uncovered during the investigation supports that view.

    “While we cannot bring this case to misconduct proceedings, we can publish the evidence and our conclusions, so that the public can judge for themselves.”

  9. BlueBob

    It was the semi: Arsenal were magnificent in those days – On MUs heels in both league and cuo. A long league run of wins was halted when they drew 1-1 at Leeds with Nigel Winterburn unfairly sent off after a Hasselbank dive. That just about ended their chase.

    In the semi they fought back in the first match and again in the replay. Even after the penalty save [last minute!!] they had Utd on the ropes in extra time and looked destined to win with MU players hobbling.

    The goal – absoutely stunning – hurt me for years.

    Funny thing is Utd could have lost all three trophies that year. It made me believe in the “meant to be” syndrome.

  10. CB11

    @”Green shoots, maybe?”

    Well if it is-no thanks to the Osbornian digit waving hopefully in the air.

    If it isn’t -yet another false dawn in the story of Osborne’s total failure on all fronts.

    ………..think I’ve got that right for our regular readers .

  11. There’s been a lot of rumours flying around about The Sun backing UKIP in 2015. I noticed that @sun_politics tweeted latest yougov poll with the message that this was UKIP’s highest score yet.

    I wonder what impact on UKIP’s polling an endorsement from The Sun would have?

  12. @Colin,

    If there are signs of recovery, no credit to Osborne.

    If there aren’t, it’s Osborne’s fault.

    Aren’t you the objective one!

  13. STEVE2

    Used to be -but a training course laid on by Alec ( of this parish) put me back on the straight & narrow.

  14. NICKP

    I am not defending the individual concerned. I don’t know any more about the case than I have seen published.

    Rather my concern is with the process of being found guilty by media

    Having a case to answer, whatever the case in common with being charged with a crime isn’t the same as a finding of culpability or guilt.

    Just because we might suspect that someone has ulterior motives isn’t proof that they did.

    Of course if the allegation is proven then I would like to see redress too.

  15. @Steve
    “I am not defending the individual concerned. I don’t know any more about the case than I have seen published.
    Rather my concern is with the process of being found guilty by media”

    The IPCC have pretty heavily flagged up Bettison’s gross misconduct.

    Even the barest research into his appalling behaviour during the Hillsborough coverup would show any reasonably minded person his persistent perfidity.

  16. Interesting divergence in today’s Yougov between the number of people who say they would vote Labour (40%), the number who say Miliband would make the best PM (22%) and the number who say they would like a majority Labour government (only 28%).

    My guess is that the eventual outcome in 2015 will lie around the midpoint in the spectrum between 28% and 40%, i.e. 34%, depending on how the economy pans out in the next 18 months.

    Put in C33/L34/LD18 with an historically high 15% for other and you get Labour 8 seats short of a majority.

  17. une thread nouveau

    I can’t see any evidence why Lab should get 34 and Con 33 in 2015.

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