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. @Laszlo

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

    Um actually, all of them died for the Crown. As I never tire of pointing out, it’s the British Army, not the Army of the United Kingdom: the “British” part refers to the Crown. This is why Irish and Nepali people can join and fight without becoming UK citizens


    “…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…”

    Um actually, as frankG has pointed out, that’s not actually the case for the NI Conservatives. It used to be that there was no such thing as “the Conservative party”, in the sense of a legally cohesive single body. instead there were many different local bodies who endorsed candidates who stood under a single manifesto and when elected took the Conservative whip. This is why Cameron had such trouble imposing candidates: he had no legal authority to do so. Things have tightened up now, but even so a Conservative candidate standing in South Down is as much a member of the Conservative party as David Cameron.

    It’s even worse than you think. In 2010 UUP stood under a joint ticket with Con, and the Ladbrokes predictions for 2010 included a predicted UUP winner in NI. Had he won, we could no longer have derived UK numbers by just adding 18 to the GB numbers.

  3. WB

    “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.”

    That sums up very well how the GE affected my take on matters. I suspect that had a great influence on the outcome.

  4. Danish election coming. In what must be political first the government which looks like it could lose, if the polls are correct, has called an early election.

  5. BM11, I am about to research this election for my own pleasure and interest; I expect finding English language OPs and methodology could be a challenge!

    Is there a specific reason, that you know of, as to why an early election would be called if it is looking like the incumbent will lose power? Did momentum rapidly change since the election was called?

    I do wish we had more exposure to foreign affairs in our media… Most interesting, and certainly a breath of fresh air from our politics ! DKPR anyone?!

  6. Millie its because there is a big labour membership in london which voted for DM in 2010.Watch where the nominations from mps in london go -is burnham getting his fair share.

    Whilst its not so true in london ,it used to be said elsewhere the safer the seat the smaller the party membership.So there are many more members in london than in the north.

    Also now that trade union political levy payers dont get a vote as of right and the electoral college has been abolished OMOV helps the blairites.DM would have been elected under this system if it had operated in 2010.

    In my view young liz has to say more about her views of the future rather than point scoring about the past,in particular how to square the circle of different politics in scotland ,in the north and in the midlands and the south.

  7. J Stephenson

    I’m not sure that calling an election 3 months before the latest possible date counts as particularly “early”.

    Some background here

  8. 07052015

    Point well made. I nearly added to my post that we must not confuse members with activists. I suspect the membership is more ‘Blairite’ than those who go knocking on doors and attend party meetings. If you add to the Kendall vote those on the centre left who are prepared to compromise their principles in order to win, then a significant pro-Kendall constituency might emerge.

    Then there are those who think that Labour must move on from the past and need a fresh face. And to top it all, there are those who think it is time for a female leader, and that this will be electorally popular.

    I suspect that Kendall can retain Labour’s strength in the North and Wales, but Scotland is a different issue. Instinct tells me that the Scots are not quite so left-wing as is sometimes suggested, and that a ‘further to the left than the Nats’ approach is not a given, but I confess to know little on this, and prefer to listen to those who do.

    As I write this, the thought occurs that Kendall’s very freshness might appeal north of the border, rather than ‘more of the same’ from Labour.

  9. Millie,

    For some Scots, Labour’s primary problem is that they are too left-wing, but for others it’s mainly because Labour is unionist (not going to change anytime soon) and for others it’s that Labour isn’t “out for them”. Labour’s best bet is to try and change the minds of the latter group, I think.

  10. QS trade union bill inc provision for contracting in -1927 all over again.

    Looks like bipartisan approach to party funding is over.

  11. Bill P

    Thanks, that sound’s eminently reasonable.

  12. It still early considering usually governments hold out to the last week or two. And a different season.

  13. We should remember that the Scottish Labour party’s main policy of note is removing universal provision from a number of policy areas the SNP campaigned on.

    I don’t think Scots are that left wing, I think they just want things that work. Truth is the Tories died in Scotland and North of England because they cut and never replaced major economic pillars.

    Universalism makes sense when you are providing services to the very people who pay for those services. Argument for higher taxes maybe but the drive to cut the people who use government services and implement means testing always strikes me as a waste of resources.

    That for me is the SNPs success at Holyrood; Universal policies. Labour flip flopped around these in 2011 and their opposition will likely cause them issues in 2016 as well.

  14. next time Labour have power (probably through coalition) they should just introduce state party funding

  15. Labour backbenchers not distinguishing themselves during Queen’s Speech debate so far… lots of voter-blaming and Tory-bashing that doesn’t quite seem appropriate to the first debate after being thrashed. Harriet Harman’s speech was better judged.

  16. Interesting to see Mr. Speaker having to explain to the Hillbillies how to behave.

  17. @Colin

    I’m glad he got in early. Seemed to knock them down. Whilst they seem to think clapping is ‘modern’ and ‘anti-establishment’ the reason they don’t allow it is, I assume, mainly because it wastes time. Besides, is clapping really anti-establishment?

  18. JACK

    He left it twice I think.

    Like a number of “conventions” in the house which are sneered at by the new anti-establishment , established MPs, there are good reasons for having them.

    In this case, as you say because it wastes time. I have many reservations about Bercow-but one thing you have to give him is his determination to give backbenchers time to be heard.

    I presume thats why he pointedly told the SNP clappers that HE would ensure they are heard when they have something to say.

    The few Holyrood sessions I have watched actually seem much more controlled by procedure than convention. Perhaps they find that difficult to adjust to.

    No doubt Bercow will help them :-)

    Other than that, it was all pretty civilised I thought.

  19. @Colin

    I like Bercow a lot as Speaker. He may not be a particularly nice man (I don’t know) but he’s been superb at protecting the House and especially backbenchers. He is also very good at balancing tradition and appropriate progress.

  20. Tony Blair resigns as middle east envoy to be campaign manager for young liz.

    Ok I made the last bit up.

  21. @Colin

    The few Holyrood sessions I have watched actually seem much more controlled by procedure than convention.

    The noticeable difference in Holyrood is routine time limits on speeches, which seems to me to work well. Holyrood is based on the Westminster system, of course, but a lot of the things that were convention in Westminster were either thrown out or made explicit in the rules. Give it a few hundred years and I’m sure Holyrood will have a collection of traditions and conventions of its own ….

  22. JACK

    I agree


    Is “time limits” a difference. Bercow regularly applies time limits to questions after the front bench have finished-as he did today.

  23. Blessed be the Danes and Mrs Kinnock in particular. They will only have a three week two day campaign.

  24. Lots of SNP MPs still in the chamber… reckon they’ll be trying to get a maiden speech or two in tonight

  25. “Tony Blair resigns as middle east envoy”

    Terrified at what will happen there now, if he’s not envoying any more.

  26. @ Martyn

    I’m glad you started with “actually” :-). You get the point.

  27. Tables for the YG/SP Full Scottish poll on indy are now published.

    While the “less/more likely” question, about SNP including referendum in the 2016 referendum, is of as little use as these questions normally are, the options of “No difference, I would vote SNP anyway” and “No difference, I would not vote SNP anyway” are marginally useful.

    People do vote differently in different elections, and these responses allow some measure of that.

    1% of 2015 SNP voters won’t vote SNP for Holyrood.

    Of those voting Con/Lab/LD in May, the % definitely voting SNP for Holyrood are Con 2% : Lab 4% : LD 6%.

    In terms of actual voters, that’s three times as many 2015 “Unionist” party voters voting SNP in 2016 as 2015 SNP voters not voting SNP for Holyrood.

    It will be interesting to see whether such movements are confirmed by a more straightforward measure once Holyrood VI is being polled.

  28. @ Sunreada
    “QS trade union bill inc provision for contracting in -1927 all over again.
    Looks like bipartisan approach to party funding is over.”

    Sources tell me that Trades Unions are already contacting their members to secure these opt ins. Actually, this hasn’t come at a bad time for TU’s as they are already having (under new Labour rules) to contact members to get them to opt in to jonining the Labour party. The two issues actually dovetail if you think about it.

  29. FRASER

    You do talk a lot of nonsense. A party which averages around 15% in Scotland has not died.

  30. Labour have got over 6500 new members since election according to an email I have got today from Sadiq Khan. Read somewhere there has been over 30000 thousand new members since the election nationwide. Could have an effect on the labour leadership election.

  31. BM11

    If only we knew how many members Labour had before the election, then we’d know if 6.500 was a significant addition or not.

    It would be useful to know how many had left too.

  32. Also, in Denmark they already finished their first party leaders’ TV debate, in which all parties participated, even the newest one, which has no seats. A lesson?

  33. AW,

    Any chance of a UKIP target seats page sometime please?

  34. Labour Uncut celebrating the work of a former UKPR regular –

    A centrist MP who is backing Burnham, but is yet to be announced, echoed these concerns,

    “Andy is being defined as the left-wing choice, he needs to balance out his support. Idiots on Twitter like Eoin Clarke aren’t helping.”

    Eoin Clarke is a well-known hard left Twittervist and has been tweeting prolifically in support of Burnham.

  35. Rather surreal scenes in the Commons tonight. CON and LAB MPs talking from virtually empty benches to an audience of 30+ SNP MPs in to support colleagues making maiden speeches.

  36. Democracy –

    It’s here:
    I just haven’t updated the menus to link to it yet

  37. @ OldNat

    Thanks for that. Eoin as hard left, that’s something about Labour Uncut really … Well, people can change of course (what was it? Four years ago? Then he was pretty much mainstream Labour and articulate), and I don’t follow Twitter.

  38. AW,

    That’s great – thank you.
    Apologies for underestimating your thoroughness!

  39. I think the 6,500 is London only.

    I have very strong doubts about these figures. I know someone who joins the Labour Party every time there is something important for the person, then leaves in about 3 months. Still, the person doesn’t go to other parties.

  40. Anyone thinks Eoin is hard left has very dodgy political compass……

  41. CMJ

    I temporarily unfollowed Eoin during the election, as he was filling my time line with endless tweets about the election in England, but he is restored now.

    I presume Labour Uncut must be hard right if they think he is hard left!

  42. I will not be posting every change in the Lab leadership odds, but it is noteworthy that Kendall has shortened again today, with Burnham drifting. They are now effectively joint favourites at roughly 5/4. Quite a remarkable shift in opinion/expectations.

    Cooper still 11/2 and Creagh still available at 50/1. Creagh’s Newsnight interview can’t have helped – not a car crash, but very ‘play it safe’ for a rank outsider. It would appear that she is not in the leadership contest to win, but presumably to raise her profile.

  43. Is there a possibility that some of the new Labour party members are actually supporters of other parties who just want to vote for the Labour leader they think is most likely to be unelectable?

  44. @Pete B

    At £3 to vote, I wouldn’t be surprised.

    I am party of group supporting PR. It has been mooted that if one Labour candidate comes out strongly for PR, we could join as a supporter and try to get then elected.

    Of course I would never do anything of the sort. It’s most improper :-)

  45. Very impressed by the SNP speeches tonight.

  46. CMJ
    (btw that always makes me think of Christopher Martin-Jenkins)

    Only £3 to join the Labour party? UKIP is £30. Can one be a member of several at once, or do they make you swear on the bones of a saint that you aren’t a memeber of another party?

  47. CMJ

    I wonder which is cheaper – £3 to be a Lab pal, or say you’ll pay the political levy (for appropriate TUs) then cancel it straight after voting.

  48. As the topic is still officially (not FIFA) about the polling enquiry, just a quick thought about the response from the client about a poll I enquired.

    They recited all the findings (actually not all), while saying that they don’t know how the polling company got to the result (including the dubious use of crossbreaks). Now, I would never, ever do that. There was also an odd sentence that the poll confirmed that more research was needed and so forth. So, two things: there is a confirmation bias and a legitimation bias on the side of the client. These are probably just general cognitive issues.

    So, does the enquiry include not only methodological issues, but The clients’ ignorance of what was reported them (while echoing it)? Such a behaviour could introduce all kinds of biases.

    If I work with a firm, most questions, apart from my conclusions, are not about the data, but my methodology, and sometimes it gives me a real sauna when I use proxy measures (mind you, the issues I work with are rather more important for the firms than the polling for charities or newspapers).

  49. Eoin is a very passionate person but I think he tweets too much.

  50. @Oldnat

    That is very possible too.

    Of course, parties need to be open, but entryism is a risk here.

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