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. Would it not be wonderful to be a fly on the wall to witness the meetings between David Cameron and Jean-Claude Juncker this weekend?

    There’s a wonderful irony in it : if Juncker is a big enough individual to forgive the Cameron campaign against him then he proves Cameron wrong – he is clearly able to be fair and open to those who disagree over the future direction of the union; if he holds a grudge then in a sense he proves Cameron right – he’s too partisan for the job! Who’d be PM? No idea what to wish for!

  2. @ Maura

    Just in case if you missed this bit with Juncker

    To be honest. The words are right, but that slight pat as a punishment for illiberal democracy? …

  3. @ Alec

    Are you really putting up arguments against genetically defined classes/castes? Why?

  4. Roly

    Typically, those who think in stereotypes think that people are easily divided into typical groups with typical characteristics.

    Typically, that means they concentrate on only one typical feature and not others.

    Bloody typical!

    (Me – I like the Sikh tradition which continues every day at the Glasgow Sikh Temples, and presumably all the others, of feeding the poor of all religions and none, instead of killing people. But then I’m a typical leftie)

  5. Bonkers!

    Came to look for polls and found ‘Nature vs Nurture’ instead. People really are bored in this new world of polling silence.

    Think I’ll run away quickly.

  6. @ Gary O

    Please don’t! There was a decent discussion about polls too. And some meaningful expressions of political views with some decent evidence.

  7. Not to mention a discussion of 1950’s boys’ comics.

  8. @ Bill Patrick

    Indeed. I have never known about them. But I looked up, and got wiser. It was very interesting.

  9. Laszlo

    If its the ‘revelation’ that the Tories improved on their woeful performance amongst ethnic minority voters at the 2015 GE then I suggest that is not that surprising. Not sure what more we can get from that poll though.

    The Conservatives put a lot of effort into selecting a more diverse range of candidates and also spent a lot of time and effort ‘wooing’ the Sikh community.

    Alec – I don’t think Lab has any Sikh MP’s – not sure about Lords but a Sikh leader is unlikely in the next 10 years on that basis.

    Bill – did chuckle at that. Sadly didn’t get all the references as I was a child of the 80’s so a different generation of comic books. I suspect you’d not be interested in borrowing my collection of Action Force and Transformer comics. :-)

  10. For Bill, and anyone else who wants a trip down memory lane re older comics see :

    Always thought I was quite into comics but never heard of most of these.

  11. Gary O

    “The Conservatives ……… spent a lot of time and effort ‘wooing’ the Sikh community.”

    I don’t know how influential the Sikh political party – Sikh Federation (UK), founded in 2003 – is within the Sikh community, but it’s intent is to work with all political parties to further its manifesto.

    Their endorsement of the SNP in April may have had some influence in Glasgow (or not). We can’t tell from the tiny Scots sample in the Survation poll,

    Even the distribution of the Asian vote can hardly be seen as definitive on those numbers, though those quoted aren’t surprising.

    SNP 45% : Lab 33% : Con 15% : UKIP, Green, LD 2% each.

  12. To be fair to Candy, just because someone chose to be a librarian or gem engraver or French teacher doesn’t mean they didn’t have the potential to be good at maths. It can simply mean that circumstances or other interests led to a different path.

  13. “Came to look for polls and found ‘Nature vs Nurture’ instead. People really are bored in this new world of polling silence.
    Think I’ll run away quickly”


    Provided it doesn’t dominate it’s interesting to read what others think. Dunno about you, but I don’t have too many convos about politics in the real world, or even about nature vs nurture. Sensitive topics Brits often avoid. And then there are things one might find interesting, scratching a geeky itch, but you can’t exactly bring up at a dinner party. E.g. hydraulic gradients. Plus it makes discussions of polling etc. a bit easier if you know a bit of peeps hinterland, where they’re coming from, when things get a bit fractious…

    (And sometimes, you learn useful stuff!! Like how to make your own Limoncello…)

  14. peeps’

  15. Gary O,

    I was a child of the 1990’s, but inherited a bunch of Transformers stuff from my older siblings.

    I also inherited an Action Force mini-book and only discovered much later that it was all GI Joe stuff remarketed for an international consumer base.

    I used to get annoyed at my parents’ preference for hand-me-downs in clothes, toys, books etc. rather than buying any of the latest stuff, but it was an early introduction to history. And I don’t just mean the back pages of the Eagle- the adverts and many of the stories instantly raised questions, like why a space captain was smoking a pipe and had a personal servant in space.

  16. Though I did get to enjoy the X-Men along with my peers, which with hindsight was a very good introduction to many of the political issues that would dominate the next 20 years. At the time, it was more interesting for having more complicated stories than its rival TV series or comics.

  17. On the other hand, from about 1960 to 1977 is a blank for me in terms of boys’ culture.

  18. The Con asian vote boost thing is non-Muslim vs Muslim and explains some of the surprises in the London seats.

    All the voting moves in London (in their different local directions) were ethnicity/identity based as would be obvious if polling included race/religion.

  19. Good Morning All, the morning after we found out which team has made it through to the Premier League where they will face AFC Bournemouth in Boscombe next season.

    CARFREW: Are there polls out which ask if we know what a dinner party is? However, in my little world we do talk about polls, nature v nurture, the death of organised churches and the emergence of new ones.
    On polls for Labour I think Yvette Cooper may be the stop Andy and stop Liz candidate.

  20. Yes chrislane at last some good news for ed balls ,but it looked to me as if the snp green alliance comfortably beat the reds yesterday.

    I see JP has laughed at the aspirants waffle about aspiration and Polly cries into her cappuccino here .

    As the smokies are saying today ,what might have been.

  21. OLDNAT

    @” I like the Sikh tradition which continues every day at the Glasgow Sikh Temples, and presumably all the others, of feeding the poor of all religions and none, instead of killing people. But then I’m a typical leftie”

    I expect the Sikhs who laid down their lives in two world wars did too-Lefties or Righties . But when their military duty demanded , not having the luxury of that preference which you now enjoy, they gave their lives so that you could now enjoy it.

  22. Carfrew

    I was originally a Social Policy/History teacher. I became a maths teacher because there was a shortage of them and someone dicoveredd I had a Maths A Level. Well, that and the £24.50 an hour rate of pay.

  23. @Chrislane

    “CARFREW: Are there polls out which ask if we know what a dinner party is? However, in my little world we do talk about polls, nature v nurture, the death of organised churches and the emergence of new ones.”


    According to Sir Ken Robinson on Ted talks, peeps in education don’t often get invited to dinner parties. *

    You might talk nature vs nurture, but what about the good stuff, like hydraulic gradients, Thorium, road naming conventions, the ins and outs of Barnett, eh?

    (In my world we seem to talk mostly about music, and what new things might be happening…)

    * if peeps haven’t seen Sir Ken’s talks, worth a watch and funny too…


    I was originally a Social Policy/History teacher. I became a maths teacher because there was a shortage of them and someone dicoveredd I had a Maths A Level. Well, that and the £24.50 an hour rate of pay.”


    There was no shortage of maths teachers at my school. If anything, we had too many of ’em!!

    More maths teachers = smaller class sizes = much more maths homework…

  25. Chuka and his team have endorsed young liz.

    Good letter explaining why tho very thin on policy consequences .Essentially blairite -whatever it takes to win we will do -but the nod to a federal uk and electoral reform is interesting if the next parliament is hung.

    Doesnt look good for yvette tho she has fleshed out her policies further than the other two.

    All three (cant see creagh getting enough) will appeal to voters but imo will find PMQs daunting tho even here cameron might find it more difficult against a feisty woman.

  26. @Carfrew

    I feel obliged to post the best counter I’ve seen to Ken Robinson’s line of argument:

    As the subheadline says, “Man who doesn’t teach kids or run schools tells us how to teach kids and run schools”. Well, quite.

    That said, as an exercise in rhetoric, I think that his TED talk is excellent.

  27. @Alisdair

    Oh yeah, I didn’t post it as a recipe for educational nirvana. Ken may have a point about creativity, but whether he has the remedy is something else.

    The article you posted though, is misguided in itself, however, making one the classic errors in education we see repeated in schools all over, in focusing on providing “opportunities” to be creative. Much more beyond that is needed, but not many know how to do it. Because it’s rather tricky…

  28. @Carfrew

    Indeed, it just triggered my automatic suspicion of anyone who claims to have all the answers (see also: almost every Education Minister ever). Teaching is really hard, and growing up can be really hard too, which I think means schools will always have lots of perceived problems — it’s difficult to know when these are actually problems with the system, or whether they would occur regardless.

  29. Reports that Unite might only endorse burnham if he commits to anti austerity and pro trade union policies.

    He has already said he wont take trade union cash for his campaign.

    Some interesting analysis from luke akehurst on labour list .Points out that labour share of the vote in the north west only marginally down on 2005 but won ten fewer seats in 2015.Says labour not only has a scotland problem but a midlands and wales problem too.

  30. @Alisdair

    Education embraces so much, that it is indeed difficult to have all the answers. Improvements can frequently be made without having all the answers, however, whether it’s improvements to the system or within it. The nature of these improvements and why they quite often don’t happen is a rather lengthy topic, of course…

  31. Chuka’s endorsement seems to have made a significant difference to the betting.

    Kendall now only 15/8, after 5/2 yesterday, with Burnham drifting to evens and Cooper also longer at 11/2.

    It looks like a two horse race, Burnham for the centre/left and old school, and Kendall for the Blairite modernisers.

    Kendall has momentum, of that there is no doubt, but she may have peaked a bit early, as she will now be subject to intense scrutiny. That, of course, is no bad thing. Labour need to know who/what they are voting for.

  32. MILLIE.
    Good Afternoon to you, from a hot seaside town, where The Tories hold both seats and all Council Seats, as they do in Poole and in Christchurch.
    I think Kendall is more for the new school, and, as you say, Andy is for the old school.
    I hope Ms Kendall gives Andy B a brief to put into detail his idea of integrating health and social care.

  33. @Maura,

    Juncker ran on a platform that specifically[1] acknowledged the concerns of the Brits and his desire to accommodate them. The disagreement between Cameron and Juncker stems more from opinions on how the rest of Europe should deal with each other, rather than the place of the UK within the EU. In terms of the renegotiation, Juncker is an ally rather than an antagonist: it’s getting the rest of the EU28 to cooperate that’s going to be the problem.

    I suspect the referendum campaign will revolve around ad hominems: the Germans will be presented as brutal, the Greeks as victims, the French as socialist cowards, the EU as corrupt bureaucrats that vish to take over zer wurld, Pinky. This upcoming year will not be fun…


  34. Labour, and particularly the unions, seem to be learning little about how to run a leadership election campaign without placing the new leader on the back foot from the start. Labour also have a redistribution problem which means they will have to win nearly thirty seats just to stay where they are now.

    But this assumes that Labour should try to win by picking off 2015 marginals. The SNP clean sweep in Scotland suggests that this may not be the only tactic or even the best one.

  35. It is possibly to teach children maths largely by using computers. My understanding is that many children love this – they have to have their time on the computer programme limited each week!

    We need to use new technology to engender a step change improvement in mathematical skills in the UK. Not least, this may eventually enable adults to understand and interpret opinion polls better!

  36. ‘We need to use new technology to engender a step change improvement in mathematical skills in the UK.’

    Agreed – too much of education policy is steeped in the past.

    Frankly foreign languages; why bother the whole world speaks English.

    Imperial measures – irrelevant in the world of business so why impose it in schools.

    Shakespeare? Ok for those studying A level English literature but why force everyone else to study it – even those in bottom sets have to do it. When did you last visit a Shakespeare play (so long as you are not a Librarian nor an Arts graduate)? The point of secondary schools should be to develop a love of reading, not put people off. See Australia – they dropped’ high culture’ texts bar (for the pre University year) in the early 1970s…

  37. Starting to get some interesting charts form the data (dozens of charts – several interesting – will release once I have an idea how best to sort them all).

    Here’s one of the more unusual ones –

  38. @ Statgeek

    Great graph – didn’t Plaid do well!

  39. @Colin
    Well said. It is so, very easy to make light of the freedoms we enjoy based on the extreme sacrifice of others. Of course sitting in a great place of worship watching and listening to words of love and acts of charity, is rather better than lying in a filthy hole in Flanders or Burma, with your left leg hanging off. Lets all go and throw paint over Montgomery and Churchill.

  40. Statgeek
    I don’t quite understand what you are asking me about the Scottish propensity to blow their own bagpipes regarding – anything really. But certainly the magnificence of the Ochiecokle Foot or or whatever formation, is always lauded as something above and beyond the other nations regiments within the British army. The Scots are now so small due to poor recruitment and a surfeit of Tongans and others, they really don’t count much.

  41. Colin/Roly

    Can you outline quite which freedoms that we now all enjoy would have been extinguished had the Schlieffen Plan worked and the Triple Alliance had won the First World War? (Not WWII, but WWI)

    At the same time you might suggest to the citizens of the USA how their freedoms would have been enhanced had the colonists lost their Revolutionary War.

  42. OLDNAT

    Your comment about people who think in stereotypes reminded me of something which happened years ago:
    An acquaintance of our family tended to begin many of his pronouncements with the phrase ‘I always say that there are two sorts of people in the world…..’before going on to some stereotype or other. One day my husband interrupted to say ‘I always say that there are two sorts of people in the world – those who think there are two sorts of people in the world and those who don’t’

    I don’t suppose it was original but it made us laugh!

  43. MARTYN

    You’re right about the Juncker platform but Cameron’s campaign against him was very personal ‘he’s not the man for the job’ etc. Also his (Cameron’s) whole thrust was about Juncker as a ‘total insider’ pushing for ‘ever closer union’. I just think it would be interesting to see how it plays out now.


    I recently went on a course with someone who is a Major in the army and I was pretty shocked by what he said about the present state of the armed forces. He said that in a recent series of engagements they were desperately short of essential items and also that some of the young participants were almost suffering from malnutrition as the food was so poor. It seemed really shocking but I have no idea how typical it would be.

  45. OLD NAT
    Thank you for explaining that the Triple Alliance was a grouping of nations in the war of 1914-18, furthermore, are you telling us that the Schlieffen plan was in that war also ?

    As for your “typical Leftie” opinion about recent world history, a lot of men from across the British Empire died that you may have it.

    Nice to see you giving some credit to the USA. A few short years ago, I daresay you felt the USSR was a superior culture.

  46. MAURA
    Neither would I.

  47. @Roland

    So you are measuring the worth of a people on the number of soldiers it provides to the British Army?

    Still not getting what your whole point is. Are you saying that you think Scots think they are great and you disagree? If that’s so, why are you posting it on this forum?

  48. Maura

    Or, on this site –

    “There are 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand binary notation, and those who don’t.”

    or for classicists

    “There are II kinds of people in the world. Those who understand Roman numerals, and those who do not.

  49. @ OldNat

    You mean if Moltke had not modified the plan? I don’t think it would have mattered, from the perspective of the outcome of the war. Too much resources on one side (if for cutting through the French defence there would have been a peace treaty with German victory as the pro-German wing in Russia would have prevailed, Italy wouldn’t have entered the war, etc), then there would have been a war in 25 years. Oh, hang on …

    But as to freedoms and alike, there would not have been an iota difference. The criminal profiling of the dominant players would tell it to any police inspector.

    Yes, I think you have accurately picked up my meaning. Like much else that is posted between polls, it does not belong on this site.
    I therefore unreservedly apologies to you.

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