Pro-Brexit survey is a long list of loaded questions

A poll on the House of Lords and Brexit, doing the rounds today, apparently shows the upper house is seen as out of tune with the public, would be wrong to try to stop Brexit and so on.

A glance at ComRes’s data tables is enough to throw up doubts about the results (the tables were published promptly after the Mail ran the story, so credit on that).

The fundamental problem is that the questions were nearly all one-sided agree/disagree questions, with each one loaded against the Lords and Remainers. A couple of examples:

  • It would be wrong for the House of Lords to try and thwart Brexit [“thwart”!]
  • It is wrong that the House of Lords has already voted against the government on Brexit 14 times
  • There are currently 780 members of the Lords compared to 650 MPs in the Commons. This is too many

If you really want to measure public opinion you ask a question that presents both sides of an argument equally, then allow respondents to choose which they are closer to. Or if you really have to ask agree/disagree questions, the collection of the questions should be balanced so you’re not pushing a particular argument and you can compare the skewed questions against each other.

A good guide of a fair poll is that you shouldn’t be able to guess the view of the organisation commissioning the poll from the questions. This clearly fails that.

The poll was done for a new pro-Brexit campaign called “We, the People”. Their website gives few clues about who they are, other than that the Fitzrovia-based outfit is a “grassroots campaigning group” that wants to “remind the liberal metropolitan elite of the ‘other Britain'”.

After the barrage of anti-Lords and pro-Brexit messages, respondents are given the opportunity to describe the Lords in terms like “out of tune with the will of the British people”  and “an outdated throwback”. They do unsurprisingly well.

The poll hasn’t broken any rules, but surveys with such skewed questions hardly help rebuild trust in the industry.

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  1. Jed Marson says:

    This is a political enticement and recruitment tool disguised as a questionnaire and should be investigated by the police as it is subversion against the constitutionally established House of Lords.

    I’m all for reform of the Lords including elected segments but I can say that to engage people. I can’t create a false impression as that does.

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