The Argus has published a poll that puts Labour in the lead in Brighton Pavilion.
The Green’s Jason Kitcat has rubbished the poll and spent a great deal of bloggage slagging off the use of graphs by every party but the Green Party. Methinks the lady doth protest too much. The Brighton Politics Blogger‘s take is here.
Every party uses polls, graphs and stats to make their point in the material sent out to voters. In Brighton, the Greens use 2007 council and 2009 EU votes to make the point that they’re riding the crest of a wave. They also use a 2009 poll of about 500 people to show they’re doing well here. The Conservatives are using a poll of GPs to suggest they’re the party of the NHS. Labour uses the result of the last General Election in 2005 to suggest that the Greens are well behind the Tories.
It’s a nuanced business. It’s fanciful to imagine that people vote for councillors and MEPs with the same concerns in mind as electing an MP to Westminster. The 2005 General Election was fought 5 years ago on different constituency boundaries. The voters aren’t all GPs. If a party commissions a poll (however venerable the pollsters are) they only want it to show they’re winning. I’ve worked in marketing long enough and commissioned surveys so I know that polls can be legitimately held to prove whatever you want them to say. As is so often the case, Sir Humphrey makes the point so well:
Polls are polls. Past performance is yesterday. We need to compare apples with apples. Methodological quibbling and sampling squabbles aside, the Argus poll is independent and credible. It also provides a few useful reminders:
The People haven’t spoken yet..
The Greens enjoy telling us how they’ve already won the Brighton Pavilion seat. They use the council or Euro elections or their own polls to show they’re a shoe-in. They claim to be the bookies’ favourite and recent campaign material would have you believe that they are a dead cert. It’s a rather presumptuous approach.
I don’t reckon that people much like being told the result before they’ve cast their ballot. Equally, while some pundits have written off Labour locally, this poll shows that’s evidently not the case. The Argus poll reminds us all that bookies, bloggers, pundits, pollsters, candidates, journalists and polticos don’t decide the result. That’s the voters’ privilege and until 10pm on election day, they haven’t spoken. Until then every vote is up for grabs. I love that: game on!
It’s a General Election, stupid.
The 2010 General Election will decide one crucial question: will Labour or the Conservatives form the next government? Talk of a hung parliament means that every vote and MP counts. Brighton’s choice of MP could make all the difference. It’s an amazingly powerful argument on the doorstep: your Labour vote could tilt the balance nationally. From my experience lots of people who have previously voted Green in local elections realise that a national contest is a different matter and much more important. Plenty of previously Green voters are saying to me that they’ll be voting Labour to keep the Tories out.
It’s a fascinating and exciting race here in the City-by-the-Sea. This is a hotly contested three way marginal seat: the Labour, Tory or Green candidate can win. If people tell you otherwise, they’re trying to mislead. Let’s stop second guessing the voters and insulting their intelligence with all this silly chat about opinion polls. They’ll tell us the result in due course. That’s democracy, man.
Disclosure: I’m a rank and file member of the Labour Party in the Brighton Pavilion constituency.