Week 19: Prat – the Pollsters

by Ray_North on May 11, 2015

prat_iconThis week’s Prat award goes to the Pollsters, yep, every last one of them.

I don’t like polling much – I understand its relevance, but I fear that one of the reasons why our politicians are so unimaginative is because they spend most of their lives in terror of how the polls will react to one utterance or other.

I also fear that it creates a herd mentality – 2000 people who can be arsed to respond to a pollster, suddenly cause thousands of others to doubt themselves, or reinforces them in a particular way. Some might say that’s a good thing – but not me, call me old-fashioned, but I like the idea of a politician actually believing in something, and actually taking the time to think it through and argue it properly.

Politics is, after all, about people, not polls.

The pollsters have had an absolute stinker – every man jack of them predicted a hung parliament last week, and put Labour and the Tories at neck and neck – not a single one predicted the result. And these are, supposedly, academics, statisticians and experienced pollsters, people who are paid, I assume, fairly handsomely to take soundings, make sense of them and produce them. And, it is an important role – as a result of the pollsters nonsense, I’m pretty sure that political decisions were taken that had a fundamental effect upon the strategies of the parties, promises will have been made, decisions taken – for the pollsters to be so wrong is significant, they should hang their heads in shame.

Alas, we’ve had little contrition so far – indeed, one pollster yesterday was saying how, the political polls are always ‘rough and ready’ anyway, because they have to be conducted so quickly, whilst another (Survation) was saying how they did actually record data which accorded with the final result, but thought that it was too weird so they didn’t publish.

I have one word to say – prat.

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