Just realised I’ve missed an Ipsos MORI poll of Scottish voting intentions here, MORI’s first Scottish voting figures since the general election.

Westminster: CON 14%, LAB 40%, LDEM 13%, SNP 29%
Holyrood Constituency: CON 11%, LAB 37%, LDEM 13%, SNP 34%
Holyrood Regional: CON 12%, LAB 38%, LDEM 12%, SNP 29%

The poll also asked if people in Scotland supported the release of Abdelbasset Ali al-Megrahi one year on. 35% think it was right, 54% wrong. This compares to 42% right and 45% wrong when MORI orginally asked back in 2008.

At the start of the week the Daily Mail ran a headline saying only 20% of people thought David Kelly committed suicide. The Mail claimed it was an overwhelming rejection of the official verdict – it wasn’t actually quite as overwhelming as it seems, by only mentioning the 20% the Mail implied that a large percentage of people thought he didn’t commit suicide, in fact a large majority of people told Harris they didn’t know whether David Kelly committed suicide or not, the proportion of people who disagreed with the statement that he committed suicide was only around 22% (the tables aren’t on the Harris website anymore, so I’m taking the figure from memory – apologies if it’s a point or two out). The Mail could equally have headlined the poll report “1 in 5 disagree that David Kelly committed suicide”. Though actually, that itself would still have been quite a striking finding.

The way Harris asked the question on David Kelly was perfectly valid, but considering alternatives I thought their way was quite likely to show a high score for people rejecting the suicide explanation – it is likely to be easier for a respondent to say they disagree that Kelly committed suicide than to actually say he was murdered as part of some conspiracy. The proportion of people who thought David Kelly was murdered would surely be lower than 22% if asked outright? So we asked.

We ran a question on the YouGov daily polling and reasking the question YouGov first asked back in 2003 during the Hutton inquiry. Now, I don’t think the wording YouGov used is perfect either. For starters, if I was writing it from scratch, I’d have given people the option of saying other or none of these. However, since YouGov had asked the question back in 2003 I wanted to use the same wording to draw direct changes.

Back in 2003 11% of people thought that David Kelly was murdered, 75% that he committed suicide (most thinking he had done so due to the pressure placed upon him) – given it was at the height of the controversey, only 14% said don’t know. Looking at the same question now 30% of people think David Kelly was murdered, 32% think he committed suicide and 38% don’t know – meaning in the 7 years since his death the proportion of people thinking he was murdered has almost tripled. The Daily Mail’s headline was rather sensationalist, but the underlying fact is that a large minority of people do indeed think Kelly was murdered.

Not of course, lest I be misunderstood, that this makes it any more likely that he was.


Two more polls from last night. ComRes has a new voting intention poll for the Mirror and GMTV. Topline figures are CON 39%(nc), LAB 33%(nc), LDEM 15%(-1), so virtually no change from their poll in the Indy a week and a half ago, and still showing Labour somewhat lower than other companies.

YouGov’s daily tracker meanwhile showed figures of CON 42% LAB 37% LD 14%, with the Conservatives maintaining a lead of 4-5 points or so.

One thing I missed from the ICM poll last night, they asked an AV voting intention question and found the contest neck and neck. 45% supported AV, 45% opposed it. This is very much in line with the YouGov poll on Monday showing the No campaign just one point ahead.

There is a new ICM poll in the Guardian tomorrow that probably isn’t what David Cameron hoped for on his 100th day in power. Topline voting intention figures are CON 37%(-1), LAB 37%(+3), LDEM 18%(-1). This is the first time an ICM poll has shown Labour catching the Conservatives since October 2007 and the election that never was.

Despite this rather striking finding, the Guardian’s report concentrates upon the findings on the economy, which is rather more positive for the government. 44% thought the government was doing a good job on securing the economic recovery, compared to 37% who thought it was a bad job. 42% thought George Osborne was doing a good job, 33% a bad job (a net approval of +9). ICM’s approval rating for the government stands at +10 (the difference between this and the narrower figures from YouGov will be at least partially the wording – YouGov ask if people approve of what the government is doing, ICM ask if they are doing a good job. ICM’s wording probably picks up people who think the government is doing a competent job at something they don’t necessarily agree with).

Many years ago Teletext (those of you over 25 will remember it) used to have phone in polls on issues of the day. On occassion they would ask voting intention, and it would invariably show the Conservatives on about 80% of the vote even in the midst of Blair’s greatest popularity – presumably because only elderly Tory voters bothered to ring into Teletext polls.

I was rather reminded of it by this from Sky News. Conducted on their own panel it has voting intentions of Conservative 43%, Labour 24%, Liberal Democrats 8% – repercentaged to exclude don’t knows and wouldn’t votes, it works out at CON 50%, LAB 28%, LDEM 10%, Others 13% – so while reputable pollsters are showing a Conservative lead of between 2 and 6 points, Sky’s panel are showing a lead of 22 points. That rings alarm bells to say the least.

This isn’t actually a voodoo poll in the purest sense, it was conducted using a panel, rather than an open access “red button” poll (although there is no indication of whether there was an attempt to draw a representative sample from within the wider panel) – but the sample looks very ropey and there is no apparent attempt at proper political weighting. There are sparse demographic details in the results, but the 2010 recalled vote break shows 44% of the sample voted Tory, compared to 17% Labour and 18% Lib Dem. For context, established polling companies like ICM weight their polls so that 25% of the sample is people who voted Tory in 2010, 21% Labour and 16% Lib Dem.

You sometimes get fun little red button polls on media websites, but they normally come with disclaimers that they are not properly represenative polls. In contrast, Sky have it as the headline on their website, liberally sprinkled with quotes from their Chief Political Correspondent Jon Craig about what it would mean if repeated at a general election. Sigh.

Ignore (and for journalists out there, this summary by Peter Kellner from the BPC website about when to pay attention to a poll is always worth revisiting).

UPDATE: Jon Craig’s blog here at least starts by acknowledging “Now I know the sniffy ones among you – yes, you know who you are – will say it’s not a wholly scientific, weighted opinion poll and all that.” On one hand, I’m pleased he’s added the caveat. On the other hand, one is rather tempted to reply that you shouldn’t bloody publish it then. Wanting polls to be scientifically weighted is not some odd personal fetish or the pedantry of pollsters and statisticians in ivory towers, it’s that all that makes a poll meaningful is that it is representative of the wider population, through proper weighting and/or sampling. A poll that doesn’t do that is just the views of an arbitary 1500 people, who do not necessary represent anyone but themselves.