More on Glasgow East

Mike Smithson has managed to get hold of the tables for the Progressive Scottish Opinion poll in Glasgow East.

Looking at the tables, Progressive Scottish Opinion do not appear to have used any political weighting when weighting their sample. Politically their raw sample appears to have been pretty much the same as ICM’s, whose weighting had the effective of weighting the SNP sharply downwards and the Liberal Democrats very strongly upwards. As a result, the Progressive Scottish Opinion sample contained a lot more former SNP voters, and a lot fewer Liberal Democrats than ICM’s.

It also looks as though Progressive Scottish Opinion did not make any attempt to weight or filter people by their likelihood to vote. In a contest likely to be won on a very low turnout, this is questionable. However, while turnout filtering normally works against Labour, in ICM’s Glasgow East poll it helped them – their supporters were more certain to vote than the SNP’s.

The irony is that Progressive Scottish Opinion used a methodology that should have produced significantly better figures for the SNP than ICM’s method, yet they ended up showing a larger Labour lead than ICM did.

We’ll know if either of them are close to the result on Thursday. Personally I would be dubious about reading too much into any polls of the contest: the severe social deprivation and likely atrocious turnout make this constituency a formidable challenge to pollsters.

ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian has topline voting intention figures, with changes from their last poll, of CON 43%(-2), LAB 28%(+3), LDEM 19%(-1). The poll was conducted between the 18th and 20th July.

We’re getting some contradictory messages from the polls this month. Populus and ICM are both showing Labour recovering from their nadir, YouGov and ComRes show things pretty much as they were. Of course, it’s easy to exaggerate the differences – the broader picture is still that all are showing the Conservatives up in the 40s and Labour in the mid to high 20s.

The other questions in the poll revealed the deep pessimism over the economy that has become typical in recent polls. 61% are not confident about their finances, 60% say they are cutting spending and 80% think we are headed for recession. David Cameron and George Osborne now have a 19% lead over Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling on which team people most trust to run the economy.

For those who got excited about that 5% for the Greens in Sunday’s ComRes poll. they are at 2% in this poll.


Yesterday’s News of the World included an ICM poll of under 25s about knife crime. Considering that the British Crime Survey doesn’t include juvenile crime, and that while actual stabbing will very probably end up as recorded crime figures, people carrying knives, or waving knives about probably won’t, it gives an interesting view of exactly how widespread knife crime amongst young people is.

48% of young people thought they themselves were at risk from knife crime, with 36% disagreeing. Only 4% admitted themselves to having carried a knife “for protection”. With polls asking young people whether they have done illegal or socially unacceptable things, I often ponder whether any interviewing effect will be a positive or negative factor – will young people be embarrassed to admit to things, or will they boastfully tend to exaggerate such things? In this case the poll was conducted online, so the interviewer effect should not have been a major factor. A bigger stumbling block is that the stereotypical demographic of knife carrying youth – surly, illiterate hoodies hanging around the streets – probably aren’t the sort to have found themselves on an online panel recruited through telephone market research.

Asked if they knew other people who had carried or carry a knife, 25% of young people said they did, including 30% of under 20s. That still probably isn’t a particularly high number – ICM didn’t ask if they knew someone who habitually carried a knife, or if it was someone they knew well. Some of those yes’s could be no more than a vague aquaintance taking a knife out once to show off. More meaningful was the 11% of under 25s who said they themselves had been threatened with a knife. 37% said they knew someone who had been threatened or attacked with a knife.

Asked why they thought young people carried knives, 47% said peer pressure, 27% protection and 23% to threaten or rob people with.

There was overwhelming support (93%) for the police being able to stop and search people who they thought were carrying knives. Considering that opposition to more stop and search usually hinges on issues of targetting and racial considerations, support was not significantly lower amongst ethnic minority respondents (91%).

62% said that prison sentences would be the most effective deterrent to knife crime. 75% thought that the present sentencing guidelines for carrying a knife (a maximum sentence of 4 years plus a fine of £5000, but with no automatic prison sentence) were too soft, with 71% supporting a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years. Asked about the idea of a 9pm curfew for under 18s, a majority (53%) were opposed. Perhaps more surprising was the proportion of young people in favour, even amongst under 20s, 35% supported the idea.

ComRes have a new poll in the Independent on Sunday. The topline voting intention with changes from the last ComRes poll are CON 45%(-1), LAB 24%(-1), LDEM 16%(-2) (the drop in support for the main parties, interestingly enough, seems to have benefited the Green party, up on 5%, hich will be interesting if it is reflected in any other polls). The poll was conducted between the 16th and 17th July.

The Tory lead is steady at 21 points, which aside from the Populus poll this month seems to be the wider picture at the moment: no change, with a Tory lead at around about twenty points.

The poll also asked people whether they agreed with the statement “The Labour Party will lose the next election regardless of who leads it”. 68% agreed with only 22% disagreeing. This doesn’t actually tell us much about what would happen if Labour did change their leader – people are not good at predicting how they would react to hypothetical events, most of the respondents to the poll probably have very little idea who people like – say – James Purnell are, let alone what he would do as PM or how they would react. What it does tell you is quite how many people think Labour have already lost the next election, a lot of people are clearly alreay writing them off.

ComRes also found 74% of people wanted troops withdrawn from Iraq as soon as possible, with 18% disagreeing.

Progressive Scottish Opinion have produced a second poll for the Glasgow East by-election. As with ICM, it shows a substantial Labour lead with voting intentions of LAB 52%, SNP 35%, CON 7%, LDEM 3%. The poll was conducted between the 14th and 17th July, and interviewed 509 people.

Progressive Scottish Opinion are not registered with the BPC, so they are not obliged to publish results. Some people get very sniffy about pollsters who aren’t registered with the BPC. It should be pointed out that membership of the BPC isn’t compulsory – it’s a voluntary agreement between the pollsters who produce high profiles polls for the media agreeing to publish their tables and answer questions. Companies outside it are often perfectly reputatable companies, often highly experienced, working inside MRS rules and codes of conduct. There’s nothing stopping them releasing their tables either if they wish to (hint!)

The downside is we don’t know things such as how the poll dealt with turnout, or don’t knows, what weighting they used and so on. We don’t though if they faced the same problems ICM did getting a representative sample. Thus while it seems likely that this poll is backing up ICM’s findings and showing a substantial lead, we can’t be certain that it isn’t just using some form of methodology that is more generous to Labour.