In the autumn of 2016, BMG Research was commissioned by the Labour Party to provide polling and related guidance, becoming the Party’s appointed polling organisation.
On Sunday morning 29th Jan 2017, whilst presenting on ITV’s “Peston on Sunday”, Allegra Stratton displayed polling results and implied that they had been compiled by the party’s internal polling organisation.
Displaying the results on the screen, Ms Stratton stated to Mr Corbyn:
“does it hurt?…this is the one that your lot found, this is your internal stuff”
The implication being that the results were compiled from a survey undertaken from within the Party and had therefore been leaked. No attempt was made to state the name of the polling organisation, or to comply with British Polling Council requirements, as detailed below.
The claim made by Ms Stratton was therefore misleading in a number of ways.
Firstly, the source credit of the chart displayed to Mr Corbyn, live on air, had labelled a different research agency, not BMG Research. The organisation concerned is not the Party’s appointed polling provider but was suggested by Ms Stratton as being such.
Secondly, although ITV are accustomed to reporting polling results, in this instance it appears that the reporting of the research did not comply with some of the basic rules that bind member agencies of the British Polling Council in reporting their work. For instance, how many people were surveyed? Who commissioned the work? What were the fieldwork dates? And so on. ITV have complied with these requirements on previous occasions.
To recap on BPC requirements, Section 2.1 states:
“All data and research findings made on the basis of surveys conducted in the United Kingdom by member organisations that enter the public domain, must include reference to the following:
- Client commissioning the survey;
- Dates of interviewing;
- Method of obtaining the interviews (e.g. in-person, telephone, internet)
- The universe effectively represented (all adults, voters etc)
- The percentages upon which conclusions are based;
- Size of the sample and geographic coverage;
Also, section 2.3 states:
“Public opinion polling organisations reporting results will endeavour to have print and broadcast media include the above items in their news stories and will in any event make a report containing these items together with full computer tables of the results available on their web site within 2 working days of the original release.”
Also, section 2.6 states:
“Organisations conducting privately commissioned surveys have the right to maintain the confidentiality of survey findings. However, in the event the results of a privately commissioned poll are made public by the organisation [its employees or agents] that commissioned the survey, such results will be deemed to have entered the public domain and procedures outlined above will be followed in respect of those findings. The client and survey organisation may keep other findings (that have not been published) confidential except where such findings are relevant to the topics covered in questions that have entered the public domain or where the question order is relevant to the published results. The research organisation must place other relevant data on its web site within 2 working days of the original release of the results into the public domain in order to place such information into their proper context. If other findings cast doubt on those that have been published, then the agency must also release those findings”
We therefore request, in good faith, that ITV set the public record straight by both acknowledging the contents of this statement, stating that the results were not in fact internal Party polling conducted by BMG Research, and by detailing some of the information required to be reported as standard, including sample size, fieldwork period and the name of client who commissioned the poll as well as the research agency.