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Monday, July 28, 2008

Skewed polling? Ask the Commission

The Irish government has had a lot to say this weekend about Open Europe and our poll questions, but nothing at all to say about the results of the poll.

In an effort to present the whole thing as "extraordinarily skewed" (his words), Europe Minister Dick Roche went to great pains to deny that it had ever been reported that Sarko had said there should be a second referendum (See here, here and here to jog your memory of the Europe-wide coverage of his comments).

Just in case anyone is interested in a poll that really was biased - how about the Commission's recent Eurobarometer survey on
Ireland's reasons for voting no?

As the Telegraph's Brassneck blog reminds us, the Commission, refusing to make public the full results of the poll (unlike OE which published its poll in full from the outset), briefed a handful of journalists that 40% of those who had voted no did so because they didn't understand the Treaty.

The papers then ran stories with headlines like this in the Times: “Irish voters failed to understand the Lisbon Treaty”, citing a figure from the EU Commission stating that, amongst No voters, “40 per cent blamed the fact that they did not understand the treaty.”

But when the Commission finally did release the poll in full, on 20 June - after the crucial EU summit had concluded - it emerged that it had lied to the press, and that the number of people saying they hadn't understood the Treaty was in fact 22%.

Why did the Commission arbitrarily double the number of people saying they didn't understand the Treaty, making the Irish appear ignorant? And why wasn't it followed up in the press?

So the European Commission spends millions of euros in taxpayers' money (this year its Eurobarometer budget is €5.5m) fielding polls whose results and publication it is free to manipulate. That's fine. It's when think-tanks in
London spend a couple of thousand euros of private funds to ask voters how they feel about the possibility of a second referendum that you have to start accusing people of "outside interference".

Makes perfect sense.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's disgusting.
I've been too busy to search and post, but fortunately you keep informed and informing.