The day after the election the British Polling Council announced it was going to have an inquiry into what went wrong with the polls, we’ve now got some more information about how the inquiry is going to proceed. Over on the National Centre for Research Methods website they have announced the membership of the inquiry team, timings and terms of reference.

The Chairman of the inquiry, Pat Sturgis, was announced earlier this month. The rest of the team include several names who regular readers will be familiar with: Steve Fisher from Oxford University who ran the ElectionEtc model and worked on the exit poll, as did Jouni Kuha of the LSE, Will Jennings of Southampton University who is part of the Polling Observatory team, Jane Green of Manchester University who is the current Director of the British Election Study and Ben Lauderdale of the LSE who did the ElectionForecast model that was on Newsnight and 538. The rest of the inquiry team are Nick Baker of Quadrangle Research, Mario Callegaro of Google and Patten Smith of Ipsos MORI.

The terms of reference for the inquiry are to assess the accuracy of the 2015 polls and investigate the cause of any inaccuracy, whether it’s connected to inaccuracy at previous elections, to look into the possibility of herding, to see if enough information was provided and communicated to people about how polls were done and what they meant and make recommendations on how polls are conducted and published in the future and on the rules and obligations of the BPC.

The inquiry are inviting written submissions via their website, and there will be a public meeting on the 19th June – it’s due to report to the BPC and MRS by the 1st March next year.

571 Responses to “Details of the polling Inquiry”

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  1. @ Roland

    All those soldiers died for the British Empire and not for Britain. Just as my compatriots died for the AH Monarchy and not for Hungary, the Russians for keeping the bits of the prison of nations, not for Russia. The French for Alsac and Lorraine, not for France, the Germans for a larger loot of the colonies, the Italians for Karinthia and a bit more, qnd then the small predators like Belgium…

    And when we use the names of the nations, they are in fact a tiny political and business elite.

    It is an absolute shame that none of these have ever been persecuted, although laws existed.

  2. @Roland

    Not my site to care. Glad you finally got your point across. I thought a peoples’ worth being measured in soldiers was the stuff of the middle ages, or at least Victorian times.

    Shows you what I know.

  3. I’m off from this discussion. Apologies. Just I got a bit hot seeing that Lord Palmerston and Cecile Rhodes were still well and alive.

    So, apologies.

  4. Lazlo

    It’s quite like old times for me! The League of Empire Loyalists were still quite voluble when I was a young man, and it’s quite reassuring to see that some still exist.

    However, having done my bit of teasing, I’m happy to leave them spluttering, expostulating and penning irate letters to the Times. :-)

  5. OldNat, on the previous page you asked others what freedoms people would have had if… I don’t know anything about WWI but I think that I can hazard an answer to what if the British had won the American War of Independence and the colonies had remained as such. I think that two groups would have benefited enormously, Black slaves and Native Americans.

    One of the issues in that war was that the colonists wanted to spread out westwards. However, the British had reserved that land west of the colonies and east of the Mississippi for the Native Americans and were keen to keep their loyalty. I suspect that white colonization would only have occurred on a willing seller/willing buyer basis, so while some colonial towns and cities would have emerged, huge tracts of land would have remained under the control of the tribes. Had the British seized what is known in this reality as the Louisiana Purchase during the Napoleonic Wars, I think that Britain would have been keen to encourage its colonists to settle that land as a way to truly conquer French America.

    With regard to the slaves, they’d have been granted freedom 30 years earlier than they were in this reality and, if the British prepared well, there’s every chance that a bloody civil war would have been avoided. Perhaps there still would have been the Texas War of Independence and maybe the Republic of Texas might still exist today. When Texan slaves would have been freed is very hard to guess and it’s possible that the practice may have lingered for many years.

    My guess is that the US would eventually have been granted dominion status but it may have been later than Canada because of the issues raised by the Revolutionary War.

  6. the germans lacked the numbers to execute the Schlieffen plan, hence why the right flank of the pivot ended up east of Paris.

  7. Statgeek

    Interesting graph but wrong headline maybe as UK includes N Ireland.


    DUP 184,260 votes in 16 seats average 11,516

    SF 176,232 votes in 18 seats average 9,791

    UUP 114,935 votes in 16 seats average 7,183

    Should all come before UKIP, LD, PC, Green

    There again you could change the headline from UK to GB and then it would be correct.

    You could also specify ‘per seat contested’ to be absolutely correct

    Also the Speaker’s seat is not officially a Con one

  8. Laszlo

    “But where I got suspicious was the 73% turnout rate for Black voters. If it’s true, it would be great. Somehow I’m doubtful.”

    Definitions maybe.

    From past experience I’d have guessed at West Indies descent having roughly the same (fairly low) turnout as WWC however people from more clan-based societies often have a clan bigman who encourages everyone to vote in various ways.

    So if “Black” in this poll was 1/2 west indian descent with a (guessing for example) 50% turnout and 1/2 a more recent clan-based group with a 100% turnout then the average over both groups would be 75%.


    Creativity in schools.

    My school (inner London comp.) the teachers didn’t teach grammar and punctuation because they said it was bad for creativity.

  9. Statgeek

    Your graph could have been reduced to a single column if you followed Malcolm Bruce’s classification of all MPs as li-ars.

    Average number of votes to elect a li-ar – 46.942.

  10. Reading back over the thread

    “I noted that too-I would be interested to know what it is in the Hindu/Sikh ethic which leads in a different political direction.”

    Part of it is the different class backgrounds (on average) of the source population distorting the numbers e.g. low skilled refugees or low skilled people specifically imported to work in textile factories vs for example Ugandan Asians who were mostly business people in Uganda.

  11. “”What the hell does that mean, ‘aspiration’? I hear a lot of the candidates talking about it. They’ve clearly got aspiration, but what the heck does it mean?”

    John Prescott :-) lol

  12. from back in the thread

    “The question now, I suppose, is why the Tories are still a long way behind with Muslims and Afro-Caribbean voters.”

    Look at the SES and break “Asian” down into religious grouping (with religion not being directly about religion but as a proxy for ancestry).

    You should see Black and Muslim having a lower SES (on average) than Hindu/Sikh/Other.

    Anybody who’s “done” politics in the cities should know all this.

    (Also the split existed before but it was Lab/Lib not Lab/Con so it’s part of the Lib collapse.)

  13. “What the hell does that mean, ‘aspiration’? I hear a lot of the candidates talking about it. They’ve clearly got aspiration, but what the heck does it mean?”

    It means
    1) reading/writing/arithmetic
    2) trade skill
    3) **** off and leave us alone

    Sadly in my world which was the British army until I was 35 years old,
    military success/failure is an important factor. Of course, had I lectured in French Dramatic Art 1735 – 1795, it would be vastly more attractive to the majority on this site. I however do not apologise. If it is of no concern of yours what is posted on this site, why did you trouble to question me?

  15. @FrankG

    It’s the UK, not GB. All parties listed, with exception of UKIP did not put candidates in NI. There are Con and Green NI parties, but they are separate from the main UK ones.

    The UKIP bar includes the 10 seats that they put candidates in N. Ireland, and also factors in that they did not put candidates into 18 Scottish seats.

    Of course each party bar refers to ‘per seat contested’, which includes the fact that Lab and Lib did not contest Buckingham, but UKIP and Greens did. For the purposes of my charts, I include Buckingham’s speaker data as Conservative.

    Seats contested out of 650:

    Con 632
    Lab 631
    Lib 631
    UKIP 624
    Green 568
    SNP 59
    PC 40

    My not including the NI parties on that chart doesn’t invalidate the data as UK data. I do have the NI data, but given that NI has eight non-UK parties, my charts will look pretty silly with 15 bars (16 if you include the Indy candidate that won in NI) . I will put all the NI parties on NI-specific charts.

    So blame UKIP. :))

  16. LAZSLO
    Another round of thanks to you regarding my sadly lacking education. You stick to the Habsburgs my friend. I do not need a central European to tell me about British soldiers and what motivated them.

  17. Roly

    You are funny. :-)

  18. @Roland

    Refer to last post to you. Thought that was the end of it.

  19. 1955 BBC General Election results programme now on BBC Parliament.

  20. @ Colin

    Thank you for advice to turn to the client or the polling company with my doubt about the ethnic voting.

    I got a very detailed and polite reply from British Future and I’m really appreciative of it. However, it is clear, and they say it, that my questions are for the polling company.

    Now, if clients are so reliant on the impeccability of the supplier (it is not about this particular case!!!), then there is a major issue.

    I may write to Survation, I have to set my priorities right with work and other things, and for them the questions would have to be formulated more precisely.

    Thank you, Colin, again, because your advice and the response from British Future helped me to trust British civil society more than I would have otherwise done.

  21. “All those soldiers died for the British Empire and not for Britain.”

    Generally speaking soldiers die for banksters and oil companies but occasionally – when you’re not being pimped out to banksters and oil companies – you do actually fight for your nation’s survival and/or well-being which (at least in my opinion) makes up for for being pimped out to bankers and oil companies the rest of the time.

  22. @ MrJones

    I stick to my promise, and I don’t offer any more arguments. Apologies.

  23. @ Mr Jones

    On Black voting

    This is interesting and vey much in the line of the response I got from British Future (well, a few logical connection needed, and I think that there is an even bigger methodological issue after receiving their answer, but it is about Survation).

    I still have doubts of 73% participation. If I have the time to formulate my question (in the next couple of days – not at all certain) and Survation answers we will know more. However it was NOT an ethnic polling, only that the ethnic proportion was boosted (I don’t think that Anthony would like to comment, but it would be interesting). I would really like to see the design (or better not – I have some really tight deadlines in the next two months).

  24. Bill P
    “On the other hand, from about 1960 to 1977 is a blank for me in terms of boys’ culture.”

    You’ve missed out young ‘un.

    Go and look up my monicker. Punk Rock in comic form.

  25. Statgeek

    For your info:

    The Northern Ireland Conservative party is a section of the Con party in the same way as the Scottish Conservative Party and the Welsh Conservative Party. The Northern Ireland Green Party is allied to the Green Party but not part of it.

    The Northern Ireland Conservative Party fought in 16 of the 18 NI seats. The NI Greens only contested 5 seats. UKIP of course contested 10 seats.

    I agree that including NI does ‘blur’ the UK charts, but that is why it would be better not to include them in your stats at all but instead to amend the headline to GB.

    Given Bercow’s alleged comment that ‘if he was not speaker then he would sit as an independent’, perhaps it would be more accurate not to include his votes or seat as Con, but as an Independent or as Speaker, which is the label under which he contested the seat.

  26. Oh well some three weks after getting 22 Councillors elected to Tendring District Council (home of Douglas Carswell), the UKIP group leader has resigned and the group has split into two, UKIP and UKIP Tendring!

    They took their time!

  27. @ Norbold

    Indeed it took them long time. I’m surprised that there are only two factions.

  28. Rumours going about that the Repeal of the Human Rights Act will not be in the queens speech because Gove has realised it would not pass.

  29. Old nat is that the one where the tories got loads of seats in scotland -did it really happen ?

  30. 07052015

    The Unionist/Liberal Unionist alliance gained 1 seat in 1955 compared with 1951, giving them 36 (29 Unionist : 6 Liberal Unionist) of Scotland’s 71 seats – and 50.1% of the popular vote.

  31. @ Mr Jones

    My comment on not engaging was purely about WW1.

    On polling. Effects of policies on polling – at any time.

    I’m actually intrigued by the relationships between polling companies and clients right now. In the meantime … There is plenty of time for the referendum, national elections, and then the elections (and the odd by elections and local ones and also an EU ones, which is quite an interesting one if it happens).

  32. Sorry 7 Liberal Unionists.

    The Unionist high point was in 1935 with 58 of 73 seats (48 Unionists : 10 National Liberals).

  33. Lefty Lampton,

    I’d never heard of it, but 2000 AD is obviously familiar to me.

  34. Chris Lane

    Good morning from the most beautiful of south coast resorts on a glorious day

    Belated congratulations on your promotion – unanimous opinion in my local is that you will grace the top tier with your attractive style of play. And further congratulations to your excellent manager. To think that Exeter City were giving you a regular pasting not that long ago.

    Very interesting developments in the betting markets. I recall that support for the Tories in the run-up to the GE was explained by the greater wealth of Blues supporters. It turned out to be intelligent betting.

    Is the same true of the Labour leadership contest? Can it be Tories backing Liz Kendall? Or is she really strongly favoured by Labour members?

    She is now a startling 13/8 strong second favourite, behind Andy Burnham who is drifting again and is now odds against at 6/5. Some firms also have Kendall at 6/5. Yvette Cooper is still a distant third at 11/2 and Mary Creagh a very distant 50/1. Clearly the bookies doubt that she can get the required 35 MP support.

    Something is up.

    I wonder whether Labour supporters are thinking, ‘we have five years, she will either fly or crash and burn, so we can take a chance’. And if necessary dump Kendall in two years time.

  35. @rolandgatinoise Thank you for your service, I have the upmost respect and admiration for anyone who serves, or has served.

    Please do not take note of the usual snide remarks given by certain members. Your service is most appreciated, and some of the best people I have ever hired are ex-service men and women; the work ethic from them is second to none.

    Jolly good day ahead with the queens speech, will be a fascinating event as always! HRA will stand for another year it seems.

    Polling – When can we expect EU polls to begin? I would have thought they would begin in the next few weeks, but I can not say I’m sure as I have nothing comparable.


    What a pleasant surprise to read your post here on this sunny morning.

    One has to constantly remember that this place is not demographically weighted :-)

  37. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the 1955 election on BBC Parliament last night. They showed the surviving bits of footage which is only about three hours but including a lot of results. In no particular order highlights included:

    – David Butler’s appearance as chief psephologist, 60 years before his cameo appearance on the 2015 show
    – The aforementioned Butler confidently predicting the result (with no exit poll to help him out) after just one result – Cheltenham. In the event he significantly overestimated the CON majority.
    – The Liberal campaign organiser suggesting ahead of results coming in that the situation on the ground was much better than pundits had predicted. They finished up with six seats, exactly the same as in 1951. He didn’t offer to eat his hat.
    – An academic in the Glasgow studio holding an oversized pointing stick (and not pointing it) whilst introducing viewers to the situation by referring to a map of Scottish constituencies. His main point was that Scottish politics had been extremely stable in recent years.
    – A Liberal spokesperson (they seemed to interview them disproportionately to their importance) predicting Labour would soon be displaced as the principle opposition. He didn’t offer to eat his hat.
    – The UUP candidate in North Down winning 50,315 votes (97%) in a straight two-way contest with Sinn Fein. This majority increased in 1959.
    – Two historians discussing the results in armchairs in front of a warm-looking fireplace in a room at New College, Oxford.
    – Much concern about voter apathy after turnout dipped to 77%.
    – Newspaper journalists (or press men as, in these pre-feminist days, they were described as) reflecting that Labour had struggled to reach out beyond their core vote.
    – Clement Attlee – still Labour leader – hardly being mentioned at all during the bits of coverage that were shown. Anthony Eden also wasn’t covered much.
    – The first TV appearance of the swingometer, not in the main studio but by a reporter in Southampton trying to show the swing across both Itchen and Test after boundary changes.

  38. @Millie
    “Is the same true of the Labour leadership contest? Can it be Tories backing Liz Kendall? Or is she really strongly favoured by Labour members?”

    Time will tell. In policy terms she seems to be the dynamic candidare but without any consistency. In the last couple of days she has been backed by Chuka and the New Statesman, suggesting she definitely has a constituency within the party.

    “I wonder whether Labour supporters are thinking, ‘we have five years, she will either fly or crash and burn, so we can take a chance’. And if necessary dump Kendall in two years time.”

    They would be taking a chance on an unknown quantity. However, I don’t think dumping ever works, so they need to make sure it’s a calculated risk and not just a roll of the dice.

  39. I’d take what the bookies say with a pinch of salt. As we saw with the GE they are rarely working off any hidden knowledge, rather they are consolidating all of the polling, anecdotal and intuitive info that is out there. Kendall has got a lot of coverage and seemingly secured the moderninising vote, Cooper’s campaign has struggled to break out so they’ve adjusted their odds accordingly.

    So far I think the fact that AV is used isn’t being considered much by commentators. You could find that by being less polarising Yvette Cooper secures a lot of second preference votes and that brings her into play. My sense, though I speak as an outsider so can’t be too confident in saying this, is still that Burnham will win fairly comfortably though.

  40. @Colin good morning to you as well! I hope you are having a fine day, and looking forwards to the QS! I sadly will miss the first 30 minutes in a meeting, but I plan to have it on once I return!

    I do knowthat many a person can not contain their views, and feel the need to force them upon other users… I feel the right/center are much better at maintaining their partisian silence!

    The armed forces is a very important topic to me, with my brother-in-law continuing to serve from the age of 18. I know hsi work goes far deeper than defending bankers and oligarchs – as someone said.

    I don’t even know how we got on this topic, I’m a few pages out. I’m not going to read back if it’s anything as bad as this page.

  41. Good Morning All.
    JACK SHELDON: Happy Days of 1955 Politics, though not in my household when I was a baby; but the Liberals quite high at six seats. Mr Attlee held on to the leadership to stop Morrison and Bevan and to give time to Gaitskell, having, sadly, for some, called the 1951 GE on the prompting of the dying King George V1.

    MILLIE: Good Morning to you, and we live in hopeful times, again; football wise, and if you think Liz K has a chance. Mr Burnham has had no MP nominations south of Warrington, although there are not very many of these species south of Warrington.
    Politics, like life, has a habit of moving on to new life.

    JSTEPHENSON: I entirely support the remarks you have made towards ROLAND. In fact since this is a political polling site it is worth recalling that sixty years ago Mr Churchill alienated many service men and women during the GE campaign that inspired my UKPR name.


    I am , frustratingly, confined to barracks for medical reasons at present , so will be watching the QS.

    The political battles in the House start today-it is going to be a fascinating parliament.

    Interested to hear of your military connection. I had one too-though not direct as Rolly does. Nevertheless , the knowledge that a relative could have been be called to arms-and death-and would have met the call without demur is a thought which never leaves one.
    The many War Memorials themselves speak eloquently of the price paid by those who serve the Sovereign in defence of the realm. They could question the cause, but just performed their duty.

    No comment-however “snide” goes completely amiss here though-I have been reading up on the history of conscientious objection. :-)

    Looking forward to some real political exchanges now-the erstatz version is no substitute.

  43. ……..”could NOT question the cause” !

  44. Queen’s Speech is going to have quite a lot in it by the sounds of it… every chance of a two year first session as in 2010-12 I’d think.

    Human Rights Act changes are being kicked down the road which is sensible… allows them to try and think up a sensible way of doing it. Right that they should go out of the blocks with key commitments, not the smallprint of the manifesto that could cause trouble with the backbenches. There is a counterargument for cashing in during the honeymoon but I’m not sure the type of people likely to rebel on this – Davis, Grieve, Cox, Garnier et al. – would be less likely to kick up a fuss at this stage. In fact they may be more satisfied if the government don’t give the impression of having rushed into something.

    The State Opening starts at 11.30 with the debate starting at 2.30

  45. Good Morning all

    I promise I was not away sulking because the polls were so wrong, especially after I made such a fuss about the importance of objective statistical analysis over gut feelings (apologies to the Other Howard). I have been in the care of the NHS having slipped a disc: this quite took my mind off the election result (a combination of pain and quite potent pain killing medication is my explanation). However I do wonder whether the problem posed by the election result will be solved by the review or whether we are a country of inveterate fibbers when it comes to answering pollsters?

    I continue with my recovery and ask all those disappointed with the result to remember that on 90% of how to run the country all parties agree: and I am sure that this election will not bode the end of civilisation as we know it.

  46. @Norbold,they did the same in the Caslte Point elections last year,some went CIIP,crazy really,I doubt they will be doing well again where I live.

  47. @FrankG

    Cheers for the info. Too late to change the spreadsheet now. :))

  48. It was indeed a fairly packed Queen’s Speech. The Specator have summarised the contents here: (as a pedant I have to call him up on calling EVEL a piece of ‘legislation’ – it doesn’t require legislation and will take effect through standing orders, probably changed sometime over the next fortnight).

    Mostly well trailed manifesto stuff but there are quite a large number of Home Affairs bills – there normally are but these could be tough to get through without amendments given the size of the majority. The Trade Unions Bill will also include a previously unannounced plan to change the opt in process for political funding of trade union subscriptions…

  49. AW – on the ball as ever – points out on Twitter that there was no boundary review legislation announced. None is needed but as things stand the Commissions will be drawing up boundaries for a 600-seat Commons. Legislation would be needed to revert to 650. This suggests this will not happen. Will annoy many MPs who will be left fighting each other for selection, be forced to move from the area they’ve build up strength in or miss out altogether.

  50. @all

    There is an online game show (originally a parody, now I’m not so sure) called “Um, actually”,[1] where people compete for the most excruciatingly precise contradiction of really arcane knowledge. I apologise in advance and retrospectively for embodying this meme so embarrasingly


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