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. BZ

    Or perhaps this Lehrer gem?


    Apposite, certainly, but one is spoilt for choice in the Lehrer canon. There’s another good contender here. Goodnight.

  3. It may not be very nice but if we insisted Politicians resigned every time they were caught telling porkies I think we would have a lot of by elections in the coming years.
    To be fair to the Lib dems they are certainly not the only politicians to do it, there have been examples from across the political spectrum where people have been caught in lies, or they were ‘economical with the actualité ‘ or they ‘over firmly denied’ something.

    Politics may well be better if our Politicians knew that if they were caught in a deliberate lie for political purposes they would be sacked, but I doubt it will happen.

  4. The only reason for giving the conspiracy theory houseroom is nicolas strident “lock cameron out of downing street “line .

    It became the soundbite of the debates and i know from discussions within my own family that it was the key element in determining VI.

    NS must have known the likely consequences in england and could have chosen to say it in a less strident manner.

    Ok snp might have only won 50 ish seats but now the view will grow in conspiracy circles that the snp delivered a tory uk government.Such views are potentially dangerous for the snp in the medium term.

    Stories like salmonds involvement in EU negotiations are already being put about.

    Labour will elect a more streetwise leader so the same coalition of interest shouldnt work in 2020-tho the capacity of the english voter not to see the wood for the trees should not be underestimated.

    Nicola will be working hard to persuade the new tory leader to do the FFR deal post EU referendum .If there is no deal FPTP might deliver a very hung parliament in 2020-quite how the unionist parties would play that election is anybodys guess at this stage.

    Ultimately the tories have to take the snp on as they threaten the uks permanent seat in the security council whatever the electoral gains in england of feigning indifference.

    It will be interesting to see whether any labour or libdem leadership candidates reflect on any of this or whether they keep their thoughts to themselves.

  5. Or this one

    It occurs to me that if the pollsters could work together and iron out the problems which cause their election predictions to differ from election results, then we shall be able to avoid these very expensive and divisive exercises every five years, and referendums on all and every issue could be replaced by polls which would be much cheaper and more easily organized.

  6. @Sunreada

    “The only reason for giving the conspiracy theory houseroom is nicolas strident “lock cameron out of downing street “line .
    It became the soundbite of the debates and i know from discussions within my own family that it was the key element in determining VI.”

    I don’t think that it amounts to a conspiracy theory as such because that would require the SNP and Conservatives to have been actively colluding in the campaign, which is far fetched. It’s more a question as to whether while acting independently:

    a) Sturgeon realised the impact that it was having in England but didn’t mind which means that her public stance was designed to mislead

    b) Sturgeon didn’t realise, which means that she effectively just acted as a useful idiot to Cameron.

  7. Phil no doubt the snp would say thats a very english way of looking at it.

    But the snp does not now hold the balance so has no real negotiating power.

    You wonder what EM thinks

    If only I had said “thats a very interesting idea nicola -we should do lunch sometime”.

    Would labour have done any worse -murphy,alexander and balls would have lost anway.But blair etc would have gone beserk.

    Ironically kendalls pitch to be blair circa 2006 has credibilty if you think scotland is intrieveably lost.Cooper kinda looks irrelevant almost hoping something will turn up (pro business thats what you need).

    Burnham will have to be bold from the start ,if he starts in the autumn the english voter might take some notice My government will merge social care into the nhs budget and rachel will work out how to pay for it without increasing anyones tax or not replacing trident.Simples.

  8. The April Public Finances are an encouraging backdrop to the Budget.

    I wonder if that £12 bn of welfare cuts will be magically reduced?

    Interesting that DC attended the launch of Steve Hilton’s new book ” More Human: Designing a World in Which People Come First,”.

    Now that the pre GE tension between Hilton & Crosby is history, if DC ever gets the time & space to follow the Hilton philosophy, he can render the Labour Party unnecessary .

  9. Colin there will always be a left wing party it will just have another name.

    There are always consequences in life tho politicians pretend there arent.

    Solve one problem create another -there is no promised land this side of the grim reaper.Tho things would be a lot better if everyone did as I told them comrade.

  10. I find most difficult to stomach the inherent conspiracy being exercised in Cameron’s statement that he has a ‘mandate’ to demand reforms in the EU or in the EU’s relationship with the UK, when the subject matter and intent of reforms is and was not known or understood to the electorate. While it might not be the case that that the reforms he seeks are eventually identified to mean primarily defence of the untrammeled capacity of the City to run the world financial markets, on the other hand it may. The issue is not would that be right or good for the UK and the rest of the world but what basis does this any reform of the EU or its relationship with the UK have in the understanding or wish of the electorate? That the existence of a mandate is more in a Tory conspiracy than in electoral parliamentary politics will be evident if one examines what “reform” of the EU would have meant to Labour or the LD, an agenda totally different both in intent and in substance – equally not understood to the electorate.


    I didn’t say there wouldn’t be a Labour Party-just that a Hiltonian policy approach could take Conservatives a long way into Labour territory.-EN’s “pre-distribution” for example.

    I mean a Centreist Labour stance of course-not a Statist ,Command Economy stance. There will always be someone somewhere trying to float that boat again & again.

  12. Colin,

    Be careful what you wish for. Governmental positions tend to determine terms of debate. As “The Centre-Right Party”, whatever the Conservatives adopt as policy would become the definition of the Right in this country. I would think that a Conservative Party adopting Blairism would push the terms of political debate well to the left of where you sit.


    Are you really saying that this PM has no mandate from the electorate to facilitate control of UK immigration by re-defining /tweeking EU rules on Free Movement?

    Given the significance of immigration in the voters list of priorities & the GE debate, I think you will struggle to deny that mandate.

    In any event, if the EU concedes to -or finds ways to meet-Cameron’s objections, then we can assume, can’t we, that the benefits are perceived as Europewide ?

  14. Mr Nameless

    I think these terms -Left & Right are meaningless to the average voter.

    That is why Hilton’s approach ( fringe as it may be in certain aspects) appeals to me-because he is thinking about what people want in their lives & from the “elites” who rule them.

  15. @Statgeek

    North East was 100% correct.



  16. Re: Cameron’s EU benefit plans

    The fundamental question from an EU law perspective is does restricting social assistance to Worker A, from Member State A, make it less likely that worker A will accept a job offer in Member State B.

    The answer probably depends on the length of the restriction.

  17. COLIN
    I concede that Cameron’s various proposals for imposing direct or indirect control of immigration are well directed to the demands of a maor part of the electorate, of the right wing of the Tory party and of UKIP, but I will wait to see whether electoral benefit to the Conservative party any effect on immigration are the main outcome in respect of immigration of any reforms he does manage to negotiate. Remember that the CBI and the City and the economic and labour statistics bear out the economic benefit to the UK and to its revenues of immigrant labour. While, for example, he is right to point to the need for recent E.European states joining the EU swell the flow and will increasingly do so, they tend to have high levels of graduate job seekers and specific training and educational levels needed in the3w

  18. Sorry, add

    in the UK’s burgeoning economy. We sell to those states as well as accepting their surplus skilled labour into our better structured economy.

  19. Well, the EU negotiations won’t be easy, but they will probably good humoured with Juncker.

  20. JOHN

    No one in the Conservative Party , that I am aware of is advocating a cessation of immigration-even if that were legally & logistically possible.

    So the CBI’s concerns aren’t really relevant. As I understand it, the policy is to try & put immigration under UK control so that the economic benefits of the country ( rather than of the migrant perhaps) can be the criteria for entry.

    Of course, Employers will also have to be accountable for the “national good ” as well-it may not always be equated with the corporate advantages of low paid immigrant workers.

    On the wider point , it seems clear that there is a vast tide of humanity fleeing from poverty & war in Africa & the Middle East , which views the open democratic economies of Europe as their only hope.
    I don’t see how we are going to stop it-or cope with it.

  21. LASZLO

    The stakes couldn’t be higher for Cameron.

  22. RAF
    “….does restricting social assistance to Worker A, from Member State A, make it less likely that worker A will accept a job offer in Member State B.
    The answer probably depends on the length of the restriction.”

    Mainly though on wage levels. The current average wage in Romania is about 2,300 RON (Romanian New Leu) per month – about 350GBP. Youth unemployment level is 23.5%. My guess is that you would accept dubious shelter and security and no social welfare (pretty much what you currently experience anyway) to come over for any job that offered a let’s say a modest five times that, and ten times if you are a graduate.

  23. @ Colin

    Yes, it’s true. Even higher for the UK. I hope DC is a better negotiator (or has better advisers) than John Major was.

  24. @ John Pilgrim

    The fastest growing intra-EU migration to the UK is from the EU15, but it of course includes Greece.

    One of the major UK retail chains advertises 3 quid an hour jobs in the UK in Bucharest … (After deducting the keep.

  25. LASZLO

    He will need to be-yes.

    But they will need to be too-they must know that complete rejection of UK’s requests , and the humiliation of it’s Prime Minister, will not avoid a Referendum, but might precipitate “the wrong” answer to it.

    And since this will not be an EU administered referendum, they won’t be able to demand that we vote again & give the “right” answer.

  26. COLIN

    Easy. Improve their share of the industrial economies,, educational, technical skills base and production systems and widen free trade, by inter-state unions such as the EU and ASEAN.
    Where migration is taking place in extreme and exploitative situations, do the same in minor scale in repatriation and reintegration programmes as models, using existing aid investments, as in Libya at present for future extended development under their own sovereign and regional programmes.
    I.e. long-term reform, not band-aid.

  27. LASZLO
    “One of the major UK retail chains advertises 3 quid an hour jobs in the UK in Bucharest … (After deducting the keep.”

    I might go over. Shelf-stacking in Bucharest might be quite fun for a bit.

  28. @ John Pilgrim

    Nice one :-)

    So, in Bucharest (and also in Transsylvania – where a lot of people speak Hungarian, this how I picked it up. I can’t speak Romanian unfortunately) they advertise jobs in the UK for 3 pounds an hour (after deducting cost of accommodation, food, and tools of work – the latter one is commonly used by agencies).

  29. At least amazon is now paying uk tax -eds economic policy is working !!

  30. John

    I don’t agree that it is easy.

    My response is in Moderation.

    If it stays there-I simply remind you that these people are fleeing from wars as well as economic deprivation.

  31. Where is Virgilio, when one needs some insight when it comes to elections on the Continent?

    The Spanish mayoral elections look very interesting. I wonder what the polls say?

    And then of course the Irish referendum – looks like done.

  32. @Laszlo

    “One of the major UK retail chains advertises 3 quid an hour jobs in the UK in Bucharest … (After deducting the keep.”

    Yes, that’s one of the big loopholes in the minimum wage that unscupulous employers exploit. Advertise a job notionally at the minimum wage but then deduct inflated amounts for all sorts of costs which effectively mean that the employer is paying a lot less. It reminds me of when my son, fresh out of uni and needing cash, signed up to clear litter after the V festival only to find that he ended up being paid well below the minimum wage because he didn’t untick the box marked “insurance”.

    I can’t imagine that our new “business friendly” government will want to put a stop to that for one minute. It’ll quietly carry on taking the side of the CBI which wants nothing to disturb the supply of cheap labour from the EU while talking the talk about renegotiating EU treaties and so on.

  33. Somewhat ironic that Eric Joyce is calling for Carmichael to resign and fight a by-election rather than “remembered as The Great Li-ar and nothing more” –

    But being hypocritical doesn’t make you wrong! :-)

  34. @ Phil Haines

    One of the food packaging companies in the Midlands managed to pay 75 pence an hour after deductions – it was under Labour. Although the practice was stopped (then?), there were no penalties at all.

    A meat processing company (making chops for supermarkets) set such conditions of quality and quantity for agency workers that the hourly wage is unlikely to be above 2.50 (less the cost of knives!)

  35. Any polling about what people think Cameron might get out of these EU negotiations? ie not a lot , something useful or exactly what he wants?

  36. @ KeithP

    I don’t know. YouGov is polling for Eurovision Song Contest (it’s a remotely European issue though).

  37. @Laszlo

    To be more precise it was under “big-business-friendly-intensely-relaxed-about-getting-filthy-rich” Labour. The sort of Labour some want to return to.

  38. @ Phil Haines

    Yes, it is true. However, the unions made no effort either (they could have tried) – well, some shop stewarts wanted to … This is how it came out.

  39. @Colin

    I thought you were smarter than that. There is no such thing as an “EU administered referendum”. All the referenda you refer to were conducted by the member state according to their own rules and on their own volition. The EU has neither the staff nor the capabiity to hold a referendum in a member state and has not got the power to “demand” anything. The phrase “EU administered referendum” is in the same category as “lizard administered Presidential election”: an analogy for polemic purposes, not a description of a fact.


    I checked those south-west figures as you asked. The totals were not on the BBC page so they were not checked, but the parties and turnout were. They’re OK.

    Please note that sometimes you included independents in the “other” category and sometimes (Devon East) you did not.

  40. Incidentally, Colin outlines a possible route to a “out” vote. The Eurosceptics insist that the renegotiated position is an opening bid and a “Out” vote will engender a better offer. “Out” wins, the EU-ex-UK collectively go “oh, just f*** off already”, the UK flounces out, slams the door tearfully, screams “YOU NEVER LOVED ME ANYWAY” and leaves.

  41. @CMJ

    Cheers on the NE data.


    Cheers for the SW data. I include all Independents that got less than 5% of the VI in others.

    In 2010 I hummed and hawed about having a separate column for indy candidates, and found it annoying when there were more than one, and their combined totals were a tiny number of votes. So I came up with “ind.(sig)”, which applied to Indy candidates that received 1000 or more votes.

    This time I tweaked it to be 5% or more (a retained deposit). It’s an attempt to strike a balance between displaying (arguable) significant data and having the independents hidden within others. Bear in mind that I like to produce charts, and it’s generally better to have less data points in some of them.

    If you take David Cameron’s seat of Witney as a good example, there were 12 candidates, and seven of those took 960 votes between them. Two of those were Indy candidates and while one managed a whopping 94, the other only managed 12. :))

    In the case of the Devon East, being in 2nd place with 13,140 votes (24%) is pretty significant. Having it in others would lessen its significance and perhaps create questions.

    @Anyone Still Interested

    I’m doing Scotland, Wales and NI this afternoon. The only other outstanding English regions are ‘Eastern’ and East Mids, if anyone is up for more.

  42. MARTYN

    @”I thought you were smarter than that.”

    You will learn :-)

    …but you made me get off my butt & look at those Irish Referenda again.

    The second one was held after Ireland won guarantees from European Union leaders that Irish policies on tax, abortion and military neutrality would not be affected by Ireland ratifying the Lisbon treaty.

    DT reported thus :-

    “Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission who was confirmed in the job for another five years at the summit, said: “I’m especially pleased that we have agreed the Irish guarantees. This gives the Irish people all the guarantees they need.
    “It gives me all confidence we’ll get a ‘yes’ vote at the Irish referendum.”

    So this time , if they just get the protocols written first, we won’t have to go through the “Irish Option” :-)

  43. Will the enquiry be able to look at if polls asking preliminary questions about policies (in the context of 2015 Leaders and the Economy for example) more accurate with their VI numbers?

  44. Puzzler for those with a mathematical bent –

    Apparently this question has many higher exam (Scottish A-Level equivalent) takers moaning about it as ‘impossible’.

    My maths formulae days are long behind me, but the basic premise is that the frog slides down more than 50% of it’s upward daily distance, while the toad slides down less than 50% of it’s distance travelled.

    So the frog does not escape and the toad does. Does the maths stand up to the question(s)?

  45. I realise after all these years that the EU has been deeply unpopular in my party, (on the right at least) and has forced the rise of UKIP. I agree with Dave, big changes please, but lets stay in. What I have been fighting desperately for, is leaving the Eurovision Song Contest.


    “I wouldn’t be surprised if the result next May isn’t that much different to the sort of polls we are seeing now”.
    – DAVID (15th September 2014)

    “Yes, a dead heat looks to be on the way”.
    – CHRISLANE1945 (15th September 2014)

    “Not Swing Back theory again. It’s impossible for there to be a swing back to the Tories as there has been no discernible Tory>Labour swing in the first place.”
    – DRMIBBLES (15th September)

  47. Robin,

    Yes bit what happened to swing back to the LDs?

  48. @ JIM JAM

    Nice try but the simulation never portended to give an estimate as to how well the Lib Dems would perform. That’s because there was no post-war historical precedent for the Lib Dems in power.

    The ‘Swing back’ simulation was based entirely on the recovery tack record of post-war Tory parliaments.

    Here’s a link to last September’s ‘swing back’ simulation, which predicted a Tory lead of 6.2%. You and others poo-pooed it quite strongly I seem to remember…

    … and this is what James Peel had to say: “History is bunk. Robin you’re trapped in a 1980s mindset. The Tories will be lucky to get 265 seats.”

    If only that were true!

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