NEWS14 August 2019

Telegraph Brexit ComRes poll provokes criticism

Brexit Media News Public Sector UK

UK – The Telegraph is facing criticism from the research industry for claiming that the prime minister has the support of ‘more than half of the public’ to ‘deliver Brexit by any means’, in its reporting of an opinion poll conducted by ComRes.

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The poll, which surveyed participants on their views about whether parliament should be suspended to ‘deliver Brexit', was splashed on the Telegraph’s front page yesterday ( 13th August).

The paper reported: ‘The ComRes survey for The Telegraph found that 54 per cent of British adults think Parliament should be prorogued to prevent MPs stopping a no-deal Brexit.'

The question from the poll asked participants whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: ‘Boris needs to deliver Brexit by any means, including suspending parliament if necessary, in order to prevent MPs from stopping it’. 

Less than half ( 44%) of respondents agreed with the statement, 37% disagreed, and 19% said they did not know. ComRes interviewed 2,011 GB adults online between 9th-11th August for the poll.

Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos Mori, tweeted: "Telegraph reporting taking the piss by ignoring "don't knows" to present an apparent majority."

James Endersby, chief executive at Opinium Research, also commented on Twitter: "This is a highly misleading use of polling data. Yes it’s 54% who actually have an opinion, but that’s not representative of all of us if you go & leave out the group of undecideds/DKs from the data/calcs. Not nationally representative & therefore false."

Will Jennings, professor of political science and public policy at the University of Southampton, criticised the survey design, saying that the question itself was leading. In a tweet, he wrote: "There is way too much going on in the survey question and it is leading as well."

The Market Research Society’s Code of Conduct states that when undertaking data collection, members must ensure that ‘participants are not led towards a particular point of view'. 

Jane Frost, chief executive at the Market Research Society, said: "MRS works hard with the Royal Statistical Society and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) to prevent misuse of data in communications.

"More information can be found in the joint best practice guide for using statistics in communications."

Andrew Hawkins, chairman at ComRes, said in a statement: "Our poll for The Telegraph tested the statement that ‘Boris needs to deliver Brexit by any means, including suspending parliament if necessary, in order to prevent MPs from stopping it’.  Excluding those who declined to offer an opinion, 54% of respondents agreed with it and 46% disagreed."

Hawkins added: "There are no hard and fast rules to excluding don’t knows – whether to do so is a judgment call, but what is important is that the reader must be able to see for themselves."

The Telegraph did not respond to requests for comment.



5 years ago | 1 like

the issue for me is not just about excluding Don't Knows (which after all there is precedent for in political polling - even if in this case it is completely inappropriate), my bigger concern is the Yes Minister style questionnaire where this question follows a series of other questions which help to condition respondents into agreeing with something that other survey evidence suggests a majority disagree with. This is shoddy. All parties concerned, ComRes and the Telegraph should be ashamed

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5 years ago | 1 like

Boris needs to deliver Brexit by any means... Of course he does; for his political survival. Had the question been "Should Boris Johnson use any means, in order to prevent parliament from stopping a no-deal Brexit.", the answer might have been different.

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