Poll myths dispelled

Where do these myths come from (Letters, 1 January)? Myth one: my old friend Jim Parish states "the catastrophic 6-7 per cent drop in Labour support occurred before the rally (sic) and was - I am reliably informed - known in Sheffield that night (April 1)."

Oh really? All three polls, showing a seven, six and four-point Labour lead, were published the very day of the rally, from fieldwork over the previous three days, the ICM poll entirely on 31 March. The only other poll Jim could have heard about would have been the private poll done for the Labour Party on 1 April by NOP, which may or may not have shown the "catastrophic drop" he refers to, but if it did it was in variance with the NOP poll done for the Independent conducted on 31 March and 1 April, which recorded a 2 per cent Labour lead.

Myth two: as to the assertion by Nigel Dickinson that "Bob Worcester said right up to the 1997 election that the polls predicting a Labour landslide were wrong", can he be speaking about the same Bob Worcester who predicted a Labour landslide in September 1995 (as well as the 1 May election date, the lowest turnout since the war and the doubling of LibDems seats in the House), whose Reuter's panel estimate mid-campaign was 101, whose poll in the Independent on Sunday was headlined "Labour landslide", whose poll for the Times on 1 May predicted "180-plus", whose ITN exit poll forecast 157, and who on over 100 radio and TV appearances during the election consistently predicted a Labour landslide? To repeat Dickinson: "What a load of bollocks."

Robert M Worcester
Chairman, MORI