Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Daily Fail

One side effect of the lack of proper regular opinion polling in Scotland is that whenever a sample of opinion does appear, even if it is just a sub-sample of a UK-wide poll, our rune-readers leap upon it like hungry jackals on a scabby carcass.

I should add a caveat to this - that is whenever the poll represents 'bad' news for the SNP, the particular aspect of the poll being used to justify this slant is picked over relentlessly in our glorious Scottish meeja. Meanwhile, whenever it represents a good result, by comparison, it is nearly always downplayed. Add to that the obligatory comments from the political parties, and no matter what the poll says, good or bad, you have the SNP putting a positive spin on it, and three other parties which go on to rubbish the SNP regardless.

There's a rather self-serving agenda at work here, which is being punted right now for all it is worth by some powerful forces. This agenda is that the choice for Westminster is a binary one between Labour and Conservative – the aim of which of course is to squeeze out alternatives as far as possible in the public mind.

Opinion polls are often used to try and lead opinion. Think on the polls which the Daily Record always come up with from some outfit called 'Scottish Opinion', which always show Labour way out in front after the first week or so of election campaigns in Scotland. Even though the polls never bear any relation whatsoever to the final result, the conclusion we are invited to draw at an early stage is that all other parties are out of contention, and only Labour can win the contest in question.

It's rare, however, to find a newspaper trying to rubbish the findings of its own poll, yet that's exactly what the Daily Mail seems to be up to. In the face of some decidedly unlikely-looking recent sub-samples which showed the Tories apparently neck-and-neck with the SNP for Westminster, the Mail commissioned a full-scale poll from Ipsos-MORI. Unfortunately for those who would see the forthcoming Westminster contest in those exclusively 'yookay' terms, this poll not only showed the SNP well ahead in Holyrood voting intentions, but also breathing down Labour's neck for Westminster.

Rather than relay this information on voting intentions, though, the paper – trumpeting the “more reliable data than other online polls produced in recent days” - found reason to try and portray the data in the worst possible light for the SNP:

Now, you could rejoin at this point that I really shouldn't expect anything better from the Mail and you'd be right to do so. How strange, then, to find that just a day after finding the SNP out in front for Holyrood and in contention for lead spot in the Westminster contest, the Mail was backpedaling, trying to claim that since their numbers were so “at variance” with the small Scottish samples of UK-wide polls, that this poll would now “arouse suspicion it may turn out to be a 'rogue' survey”.

The only 'evidence' of this being any kind of 'rogue' poll is that the Mail would dearly like it to be, so it can present the Tories as being on the up and the SNP as being on the way down. Nice try, chaps, but this goes down as an epic fail on your part.

For the record, and just to irritate the Mail, here are the poll numbers in question, based, lest we forget, on what they described on Monday as representing “more reliable data than other online polls produced in recent days”:

Labour - 34%
SNP - 32%
Tories - 17%
Lib Dems - 12%

And just in case you prefer things this way, here they are again, this time in glorious technicolour:


Anonymous said...

I've lived in both Scotland and America, and I can say that the Scottish Media as a whole is as bad as Fox News, or worse.

Every political article we read is absolutely loaded with opinion and editorialising.

Fox News keep opinion out of their actual news segments, and American print media does a good job of keeping commentary where it belongs: the Editorial section.

Maybe I'm just viewing the past through rose-tinted glasses, but this is in stark contrast to the very fine media we used to have in this country.

And now, I worry that we're going the way of Australia! By some accounts (mine being one), we used to be better at Journalism than America.

I want our old media back.

Richard Thomson said...

Thanks for the comment, Anon.

It's the blurring of the lines between editorial and reporting which annoys me most.

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt that the Scottish press and media is anti SNP. But I would also say that it is anti Tory from the prespective that it is poisonously pro Labour!

The caveat I further add is that it is pro Unionist but I susupect that position might change if Labour Party position alters following the General Election where despite what the opinion polls are saying I expect them to go down to a heavy defeat!

Rony said...

I'm trying hard to get a an SNP site up for the election.
Any chance of a link to
Reciprocal link to you a certainty.

Richard Thomson said...



Anonymous said...

Will there be any Scotland-only polls before election day?

Richard Thomson said...

I don't know, Anon. you can cheerfully ignore any that come our way from 'Scottish Opinion', though.