YouGov rejects Telegraph claim of Labour bias

Polling group at war with former partner.

The Telegraph is due to publish a story tomorrow questioning YouGov's reliability and claiming that the polling group's methods have a pro-Labour bias.

But over at the firm's website, the YouGov president, Peter Kellner, has issued a pre-emptive rebuttal of the claims, as put to him by the paper's deputy political editor, Robert Winnett.

Before we go any further, it's worth recalling that before signing a deal with News International this year, YouGov carried out regular surveys for . . . the Daily Telegraph.

Kellner's piece deserves to be read in full, but here are some highlights.

Asked by Winnett to explain the disparity between YouGov's figures and those of other polling firms, Kellner replies:

Comparing the average of our March results with those of our established rivals (ICM, Ipsos-MORI, ComRes, TNS), I calculate that the figures are:

* YouGov: Con 37%, Lab 32%, Lib Dem 18%
* Other companies: Con 38%, Lab 31%, Lib Dem 20%

The remarkable thing, given the variety of methods employed, is how close we are, not how far apart.

Elsewhere, Kellner responds to claims that the Sun rejected a YouGov poll showing a 1 per cent Tory lead.

He writes:

Untrue. Our daily voting intention polls started appearing in the Sun on February 18. To test our systems, we started asking about voting intention, never intended for publication, for some weeks preceding that. Our poll showing a one-point Conservative lead was one of these. (It was conducted immediately after Piers Morgan's interview with Gordon Brown which, I believe, caused a real but short-lived movement in voting intention.) But this finding was never destined for the Sun and therefore never rejected by it. The Sun has published every voting intention result we have supplied.

It's fascinating to learn that the poll in question (never intended for publication) did show a 1 per cent lead and that Kellner attributed this to Brown's interview with Morgan.

Let's wait to see if the Telegraph story contains anything new tomorrow but for now it looks likes Winnett's claims don't stand up.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn bids for the NHS to rescue Labour

Ahead of tomorrow's by-elections, Corbyn damned Theresa May for putting the service in a "state of emergency".

Whenever Labour leaders are in trouble, they seek political refuge in the NHS. Jeremy Corbyn, whose party faces potential defeat in tomorrow’s Copeland and Stoke by-elections, upheld this iron law today. In the case of the former, Labour has already warned that “babies will die” as a result of the downgrading of the hospital. It is crude but it may yet prove effective (it worked for No to AV, after all).

In the chamber, Corbyn assailed May for cutting the number of hospital beds, worsening waiting times, under-funding social care and abolishing nursing bursaries. The Labour leader rose to a crescendo, damning the Prime Minister for putting the service in a “a state of emergency”. But his scattergun attack was too unfocused to much trouble May.

The Prime Minister came armed with attack lines, brandishing a quote from former health secretary Andy Burnham on cutting hospital beds and reminding Corbyn that Labour promised to spend less on the NHS at the last election (only Nixon can go to China). May was able to boast that the Tories were providing “more money” for the service (this is not, of course, the same as “enough”). Just as Corbyn echoed his predecessors, so the Prime Minister sounded like David Cameron circa 2013, declaring that she would not “take lessons” from the party that presided over the Mid-Staffs scandal and warning that Labour would “borrow and bankrupt” the economy.

It was a dubious charge from the party that has racked up ever-higher debt but a reliably potent one. Labour, however, will be satisfied that May was more comfortable debating the economy or attacking the Brown government, than she was defending the state of the NHS. In Copeland and Stoke, where Corbyn’s party has held power since 1935 and 1950, Labour must hope that the electorate are as respectful of tradition as its leader.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.