Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Laughably hypothetical poll produces meaningless yet still deeply unimpressive result

(And: A curious job title conundrum)

‘News’ just in:

David Davis has won significant support for his decision to fight a by-election on the issue of 42 days' detention, according to a survey for The Independent. The nationwide poll by IpsosMORI found that 35 per cent of people would vote for the former shadow home secretary if they lived in his Haltemprice and Howden constituency.

That’s one of the most ridiculous ifs I’ve ever seen in an opinion poll. It’s up there with ‘If John McCain were facing Jed Bartlet for the presidency, but Hillary Clinton still refused to accept that she hadn’t really got the Democratic nomination, and terrorists had filled the Grand Canyon with cream cheese, how would you vote?’

Also, the idea that 35% support is “significant” is pretty dubious. In 2005, when his party was nationally a little behind Labour rather than miles ahead, Davis won the votes of just over 33% of his local electorate. The difference is within the margin of error. And it’s bloody irrelevant anyway because the people polled don’t bloody live there!

Ahem. I’ve been pretty critical of Davis’s byelection move, partly because I think it purports to focus on an ‘issue’ but does so by yoking – and subordinating – the issue to a personality. So, just for balance, here’s the website he’s just launched, should you fancy a gander.

Curiously, the word ‘Conservative’ appears only once on the site, several paragraphs down the ‘About David Davis MP’ page. Actually, it’s not accurate – and I’m not entirely sure it’s legal – for him to call himself that, as the whole damn point of the resigning/byelection thing is that he isn’t now an MP.

Sorry, I criticised him again. Oh well. He’s a big boy.

[Update: I am completely and utterly wrong about that last point. See in the comments. Apologies for incompetence and borderline libel.]

[Update 2: It's 5pm on Wednesday, Davis definitely, officially resigned several hours ago, and the 'MP' tag is still on his website. So, much like a stopped clock, I have now become correct - at least until they realise and change it. Think I'll quit on this point while I'm ahead...]


tim f said...

What a crap website.

Anyway, there can surely be no problem with describing himself as an MP, because unless I've missed something, he hasn't actually taken the steps necessary to relieve himself of his post yet.

Tom Freeman said...

Yeah, I've just realised that. Had thought he was quitting on Monday and then I'd not kept up with that changing. Oops.

Tom Freeman said...

And yeah, it's not a particularly impressive website but then it beats the pants off my blog. Pots that live in glass houses shouldn't throw black kettles and all that...

Anonymous said...

I’ve been pretty critical of Davis’s byelection move, partly because I think it purports to focus on an ‘issue’ but does so by yoking – and subordinating – the issue to a personality.

What a load of tosh.

What do you do when the entire democratic process has broken down?

The media and politicians are doing things that we do not like, did not ask for and do not know how to stop.

We are desperate for someone to do something to stop what is happening and when someone finally stands up and said he objects to what is happening, how do you help? - you complain about trivialities and philosophic points.

How bloody self-indulgent. GROW UP.

Tom Freeman said...

I suspect the mistake you’re making is in assuming that I share your basic position but am deciding to nit-pick about something else.

I don’t think the entire democratic process has broken down, I don’t think that an allegedly single-issue byelection improves the democratic process, I don’t think this is a good way of getting focus on the issue rather than the personality (when compared with a general election campaign where the parties fight hard on this), I think Davis and the rest of the Tories and the Lib Dems and a fair few Labour MPs have been standing up and saying they object for ages now, I think that if a majority of MPs vote for a certain policy then we should get that policy, I think that if people were really as worried about civil liberties as a lot of the punditocracy are then we’d have a Lib Dem government, and I think this whole byelection business will achieve nothing either for the quality of our democracy or for civil liberties.

I think it isa triviality and a distraction itself, and so I’ve complained about it. But you disagree, and that's fair enough.