It’s long been contended by supporters of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that polls are biased against him – and in particular, polls by YouGov. Those supporters would agree with Peter Hitchens’ famous analysis of polls in general:
YouGov was founded by Tory Minister Nadhim Zahawi and former ConservativeHome owner Stephan Shakespeare, so suspicions among left-wingers run high.
Labour and especially Corbyn supporters have long criticised YouGov’s polling, but the company tends to keep its methodology cards close to its chest. However, a poll published today is so weak, such a stretch that it’s hard to read it as anything other than an attempt to further damage Corbyn.
The poll is titled ‘A tale of two parties – what we learned from our Labour membership survey‘ and claims to contrast the attitudes of supporters of Corbyn and those of his challenger in the Labour leadership contest, Owen Smith – which of course immediately raises the question ‘Why now?‘, given that the leadership contest finished almost 6 months ago.
The most suspicious item in the whole thing is a ‘pie chart’ supposedly showing differences in where the loyalty of each set of supporters:
At first glance, the difference looks stark – especially with the chosen strong red colour used to denote loyalty to the Labour Party rather than to its leader or a mixed position. But a closer look shows the methodology to be full of holes:
By its (deliberately?) poor construction and presentation, the poll portrays the party’s right-wingers who voted for Smith (or more realistically, ‘anyone but Corbyn’) as loyal to Labour while implying that those who support Labour’s direction under Corbyn are depicted as more of a ‘personality cult’.
A poll so catastrophically badly-constructed makes it hard to see beyond two possibilities. Either YouGov is monumentally incompetent at designing and interpreting polls – or this is a ‘smoking gun‘ of the fact that Peter Hitchens’ reading of the situation is accurate and it’s not meant to measure anything, but rather to influence readers of the article (or more likely, of articles in newspapers opportunistically exploiting the pie chart) into a negative opinion toward Corbyn.
In a poll of YouGov employees and owners, I wonder which one they’d prefer to be seen as.
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