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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mandelson attacks Open Europe

Hmmmm. We seem to have hit a nerve with our poll of 1,000 businesses published in the FT yesterday. Interviewed on the BBC’s PM programme in response, Peter Mandelson got seriously tetchy about Open Europe. He claimed “This was a poll designed by and conducted on behalf of the no to Europe campaign, very hardened anti-Europeans... designed by the no campaign even though it was technically carried out by ICM.” No Peter - dont hold back, tell us what you really think.

Apart from the usual rantings about how anyone who criticises the EU in any way is obviously a fanatical Europhobe, Mandelson went on to say that an independent poll by YouGov proved that business still thought the EU was doing just great.

What he didn't mention (and the BBC didn't point out) was that the 'independent' poll he cited was carried out for the pro-euro “Business for New Europe” (BNE) group, (chaired by Mandelson's best mate Roland Rudd).

Mandelson said their poll "showed 68% believed the single market has been good for British business... so I think if you go to those business leaders... you get a very different view to the impressions - and I quote impressions - found by this poll for the no to Europe campaign.”

But hang on a minute. BNE polled just 50 business people. So when Mandelson talks about what “68% of business” thinks what he really means is just 34 people. In other words, his claim that “business leaders” overwhelmingly think the EU is doing a great job is based on a lead of just nine people. Obviously this piece of statistical nonsense went totally unchallenged on the BBC…

Challenged later in the interview to name a single regulation the EU had repealed as part of its much-hyped “deregulation drive”, Mandelson was unable to give a single example. So much for 1997-style instant rebuttal.

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