Sunday, 15 June 2008

And you shall reap what you sow...

. In the midst of the turmoil surrounding David Davis and the contentious decision not to stand against him by Nick Clegg there comes a poll, by ICM, reported on Political Betting. Much has been made of the 11% swing. The poll shows that people (wrongly in my view) believe his actions were principled but they still don't support the principle he is standing on. They agree by 59-33% that Britain is a 'nation of snoopers' but it is worth pointing out that this is a complaint made often by Daily Mail editorials so it doesn't show a mass epiphany in favour of civil liberties.It doesn't show widespread support for his position of 42 day detention without charge. It shows support for his decision which follows logically if you accept people think its valiant but not the policy.

Now to the 11% drop. The key thing here is that the question that was asked; how would you vote in a general election? Nobody can reasonably argue given the question that the 11% we lost will now come back; it's turned Tory blue and intends staying that way. So the concrete question is once has Nick Cleggs decision benefited either the cause or the Party?



GavinS said...

It is fair enough to think, as you do, that the decision not to stand is the wrong one. (I disagree)

Equally, your interpretation of the poll data is ridiculous and the headline hysterical. You aren't comparing like with like - to do so, you would need to have an H&H poll of similar sample size, taken before Davis massively boosted his personal profile and we took our decision (for better or worse). Many, many other things have happened since the 2005 General Election.

Then, after jumping to one conclusion to suit your own prejudice, you opt to assume that people's poll answers today reflect a firm and fixed judgement that they will stand by in a General Election probably 2 years hence. If we reacted like that to all the opinion polls we (and all other political activists) might as well take a long holiday!

Darrell G said...

Firstly, not my best written piece i concede (got to love the code still being in their). However I will stand by the conclusions on two grounds;

I conclude about the general election because that was the question that was actually asked. The polled were not asked how they would vote in a by-election but in a general election; thus it is entirely fair to say we have lost 11% support on our position of 2005. Now, please tell me what else has happened that could explain an 11% swing. Davis is polling about 8% above the national Conservative Party which is a high margin. I am sure you will also find few comparable swings in the local elections so what is up with saying that this is a direct result of our recent unwillingness to challenge Davis?

The first point also stands; the polled werent asked about their stance on 42 days but on whether they supported the descision which most naturally did because they believed it was a principled one. Support for the indvidual descision in no way necessarily equates to support for his position on 42 days.

gavins said...

Yes, but all political opinion polls ask about the next General Election. They still reflect how people intend to vote on that particular day, and it is still our job to change that! People - me included - are more fickle than we would probably like to believe.

As for whether anything else has happened since 2005, well there's been quite a lot. The Tories have been doing quite well, we haven't (I expect) been running an election-intensity campaign non-stop (although I'm sure we will do when the time comes). We've changed our leader twice, and we've selected a new candidate locally.

I don't think any of that will actually have had that much effect - but the huge increase in David Davis' profile and the (overall positive) reaction to his decision will have done. I doubt whether our fielding a candidate would have had much bearing on the predictable upsurge in David Davis' popularity in his own constituency, some of it at our expense in the short term. Fielding a candidate may well have played more negatively for us (and perhaps elsewhere too) if we appeared to be obstructing his 'courageous' gesture and/or being opportunistic.

I just think you're affirming your own view from the evidence because that's what you want to make of it. I don't think any one poll with no remotely recent point of comparison could prove or disprove any number of conjectures about this very unusual situation.

It is a very unusual situation and I don't expect it will be repeated any time soon. More or less uniquely, I think we will have a better chance in H&H 2010 by sitting this one out.