Scientific poll vs. hijacked poll

Charlie Brooks’ column in today’s Telegraph warns readers to ‘expect fireworks as hunting rears its head‘. As comment pieces in that paper go, it’s quite well balanced.

Brooks brings a number of issues to bear in the article, not least the amount of parliamentary time spent on the hunting debate in the last decade or so. Talking to Members of Parliament – including a Conservative MP we met with yesterday – it’s clear that for many of them, the prospect of spending yet more time on the issue fills them with dread despite the fact that everyone knows that any attempt to repeal the Hunting Act will involve many more hundreds of hours’ debate in both Houses.

He also mentions the tragic death of Trevor Morse in Warwickshire earlier this year. This case of alleged manslaughter has yet to come to court and the facts will bear out in due course. Whilst the League was not involved in this tragedy, we offered our condolences at the time.

The key element to Brooks’ article relates to opinion polling with, as he says, both sides of the argument ‘claiming that their own view represents that of the country as a whole’. This is true, of course, but he devalues his article with the two recent polls he quotes.

He quotes the polling by Ipsos-MORI (commissioned by the League and IFAW) which ‘showed rock solid support for a continued ban – not just from the general public (75 per cent), but even among Tory supporters (62%) and country-dwellers (72%)’. He then says that the way in which the polling was conducted – by beginning with questions about dogfighting and badger baiting – led to the high figures opposing hunting whilst these are ‘two abhorrent activities that no right-minded person wants to see legalised. Neither is linked in any way to fox hunting’.

We beg to differ. We know that there are certainly links between badger baiting and some of the most unpleasant elements of fox hunting circles. And at the end of the day, what is the difference between setting a dog on a dog and setting a dog on a fox, or a dog on a hare, or a dog on a stag?

The Ipsos-MORI polling is often dismissed simply on the basis that it was commissioned by a charity which is opposed to hunting. But this is simply preposterous. Most opinion polling is commissioned by a body with a view on one side of the issue, and this is why companies such as Ipsos-MORI are subjected to a great deal of independent scrutiny to ensure their independence and to ensure their research techniques are rigorous and accurate. To suggest that the figures are skewed simply because we commissioned them are just silly and the last line in defence when you just don’t have anything else to say.

If you want unscientific polling that’s been utterly skewed, take a look at this Guardian poll from a month ago, and then have a look at the websites trying to encourage pro-hunt people such as this one, this one, this one, this one and … you get the idea. Hijack rather than science.

The column ends with Brooks saying that it is ‘doubtful that the League Against Cruel Sports will be able to muster as many troops as the hunting supporters during the election’. Well Charlie, we’re not trying to. We are mobilising our supporters in key constituencies as part of our Keep Cruelty History campaign, and making the public aware of how candidates are saying they would vote on a repeal of the Hunting Act. But it’s true we’re not mobilising people under a misnomer such as ‘Vote OK’ which mobilises hunters to canvass on behalf of pro-hunting candidates without actually mentioning hunting.

The League doesn’t need to hide behind hijacked polls or names that suggest we are what we’re not, simply because we have the public on our side and we are clearly the voice of the majority.

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    lindammadnil said,

    There were anti hunt websites encouraging voting on the Guardian poll too.,

    One of the interesting and very important factors that polling doesn’t generally reflect is HOW MUCH people care about a subject.

    Perhaps that is what the Guardian poll showed. Ie that even if there are fewer pro than anti more of the pros care a lot more.

    It’s worth noting that in a democracy the numbers for and against an individual issue are not what counts. What counts is the number of votes that are swayed by an individual issue.

    This is where the recent poll suggesting that a large number of people ‘might’ switch their votes based on candidates support for hunting is interesting. This has to be weighed against all the competing issues.

    I very much doubt that many people will switch their votes based on hunting.

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