I know I often write articles on the “numbers” we are presented with: the polls, the bookies’ odds, the punters predictions and so on. I promise you that in this article there will only be the sketchiest reference to numbers. The aim of this article is to consider whether we are being presented with accurate numbers (and other information) or not in the mainstream media when it comes to the General Election, and the effect of that.
The present crop of polls seem to average UKIP out at around 15% nationwide support as the graphical summary shows on this constantly maintained Wikipedia page. If that were evenly spread, UKIP would not win a single seat. However, we know it is not even. The polls give us coarse regional breakdowns, which combine areas of diverse UKIP support, like “South East” includes London (low UKIP support) and East Anglia (high UKIP support). That still doesn’t give us a true picture, although a few polls have gone down EU regions, but even that is not fine-grained enough to pick out our hot spots (or even the Lib Dems hot spots).
There are also the various adjustments and weightings they apply to the raw data. The most invidious, one that is not being denied now, is that the “Don’t Knows/Refuse to Answer” poll responders have their numbers redistributed to the other parties… in the ratio of the 2010 General Election result… when UKIP got just 3.1%. Of course, this is the last time they can pull that trick: in 2020 (or earlier?) they will have a far more substantial 2015 result to reference.
There are other adjustments, which may or may not give scope to suppress our apparent vote share.
While the pollsters are quite open about it, they produce multiple tables for different ways of cutting the data. One table always shows the total number of (adjusted) votes per party without reference to the “likelihood to vote” responses, the other then adjusts it further (quite justifiably) by only counting the more likely voters. This actually benefits UKIP, as UKIP voters and older voters have a greater propensity to actually get out and vote. What is key is which table the newspaper chooses to publish in its’ headline – yes, sometimes they use the one without this adjustment – if it suits their political purposes.
Also, we have seen the emergence of a new kid on the block lately with Survation. Their polls seem to give a stronger indication of UKIP support, as they do prompt for UKIP in the polling question, which the others do not. In fact, Comres did an experiment, two polls at the same time, one UKIP-prompted, one not, which showed UKIP gaining 5% more (eg 15% to 20%) with the prompt. Comres are back to unprompted polls, and Survation seem to have gone out of favour, although oddly The Mirror still uses them.
Meanwhile, the evidence of our own eyes and ears leads us to believe a somewhat different picture. Go and look at the comment columns on Breitbart, The Telegraph, The Express and The Mail: 90% of readers are pro-UKIP, bar the trolls. Also, The Mail seems to have given up with its’ “Green Arrow Fix” campaign, partly due to an online campaign by UKIP member Bob Gage with this site.
Even papers like The Independent and Guardian are getting a smattering of UKIP supporters. The Mirror often runs political polls on its’ anti-UKIP articles, which then attract UKIP support at over 50%.
When we go out on the streets and in public places, our ears tell us something different to that which the polls are saying. Far more than 15% are saying they’d vote UKIP, and if they aren’t that direct, the things they complain about indicate they are susceptible to our pitch – if only they could hear it fairly presented. That’s a whole matter on its own, the media bias in trying to suppress factual and positive news about UKIP while focusing on the negative.
And when generous donors such as Alan Bown fund a constituency poll, again the results are markedly different, and of course Clacton and Rochester gave us actual results markedly different from what the polls were saying.
I know it’s wise not to spout conspiracy theories, as you might be labelled a crackpot, but there does seem to be plenty of evidence that the political, polling and media industries are trying very hard to load the dice against us in ways which are easily detectable. One has to ask if other mechanisms are at work, more sinister ones, with more manipulation, but let’s not explore that in more detail, as we just don’t have the facts.
There is one final factor, and it is one that could work in our favour on 7th May. In my own canvassing at By Elections and locally, there are a certain number of people who will admit that they’d like to vote UKIP, but they are afraid too for fear of being branded “racist” by others. This shows that, for some, the campaign of misinformation from the hard left and others is reaching some receptive ears. However…
Let me remind ourselves of the anecdote told about the 1983 election when Margaret Thatcher won an unexpected victory after the Falklands War. Basildon (before boundary changes) was always regarded as a weather-vane seat – the way Basildon voted was the way the nation went. Consequently, the local council ensured they were amongst the first to declare… and David Amess (who is now Southend West, my opponent) won for the Tories and the media went into overdrive predicting a Tory victory, which indeed did happen.
But, why? The anecdote goes as follows:
“Basildon man went into the polling booth and put his right hand on his heart, thinking he should vote Labour to be caring. Then he put his left hand on his wallet and voted Tory.”
So, in 2015, when UK man (sorry, ladies, haven’t been able to work out an analogy for you) goes into the polling booth, they will realise at that moment no one need ever know who they voted for, and:
“They’ll put one hand on their heart and consider Labour, then one hand on their wallet and consider the Tories, then move the first hand to their b*lls and vote UKIP.”