Zantac 150 On Sale Lipitor 20mg Tab Where Can I Buy Arcoxia A Href Order Viagra Online A Can You Buy Cialis Online

Are Conservatives testing smear messages against Libdems?


9:45 am - April 20th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


      Share on Tumblr

There’s something not quite right with the ‘push-polling’ story that I wrote about yesterday, highlighted first by Craig Murray and then Stephen Tall.

Here is the alleged question asked in a poll:

Nick Cleggs says the other parties are to blame for the MP scandals, he has taken money from a criminal on the run, many of his MPs have been found guilty of breaking the rules and his own party issued guidance on how to fiddle the expenses system?

After this was highlighted I emailed Peter Kellner of YouGov to ask whether this was ‘push-polling’.
Peter replied by saying:

As with all agencies, we ask all kinds of questions for all kinds of clients; some public, some private. For purposes of testing theories, messages or policies we will often test statements phrased one way for some respondents and phrased differently for others.

I later pressed again to ask whether YouGov did actually ask that question in a poll.
Last night he replied:

I can tell you that no such question has been asked as any part of any poll we have conducted for the media.

We do conduct separate surveys for private clients; we never discuss or disclose the questions we ask or the results we obtain.

Fair enough, they can’t disclose client info.

But yesterday afternoon the Guardian picked up on this story:

Anthony Wells, the YouGov political analyst running the poll over the weekend, said: “We test lots of messages and ask people in different ways to see which are the most effective ways to sell an idea. I cannot say who the client is but this was not part of the work we do for News International.”

No denial there that it wasn’t a YouGov question.

In fact, last night Stephan Shakespeare, CEO of Yougov, wrote on ConHome differentiating between push-polling and testing messages.

It’s a good article and I agree that this isn’t ‘push-polling’ as such because it probably wasn’t tested on a large audience. Similarly, Peter Kellner says no such question was asked in a poll conducted for the media.

YouGov is really the wrong target here because it’s very likely a political party is in fact testing this message. That is also the implication of Stephan Shakespeare’s article.

To which Sunder Katwala helpfully asks: Will positive Dave confirm he hasn’t been testing that negative message?

Didn’t the Conservative Party reveal last month that it was becoming a new major client of YouGov during the election? It was reported that this internal polling would provide additional rapid reaction polling of polling “within the day” on major announcement “enabling them to have whole ad campaigns ready to go for the next morning”.

We know the Labour party has no money. So… over to you Dave – have you been trying to figure out the best way to smear the Libdems?

If I were Nick Clegg I’d pay attention – there is someone out there who is really desperate and wants to smear him.

Ideally, he should now go on the offensive first and ask who is testing these messages. That might even neutralise any chances of negative messages coming out later if people are prepared for them.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Realpolitik ,Westminster

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


1. Sunder Katwala

Anthony Wells “would not confirm or deny the exact wording of the questions or reveal what other messages were being tested” but saying that “We test lots of messages and ask people in different ways to see which are the most effective ways to sell an idea. I cannot say who the client is but this was not part of the work we do for News International” is surely de facto confirmation that the question was asked, although the precise wording may not be 100% as quoted.

2. Mike Killingworth

What else can the Tories do?

You were scornful of my “dirty tricks” scenario the other day, Sunny. Are you still?

They’re idiots. Ask Hillary Clinton and John McCain how trying to douse the fires of hope went. This is not to say that Clegg is Obama, but he is bringing something different to the table, and this has created genuine optimism.

CDF: Blair was our Obama. Centre-rightist moderate with socially modernist tendencies, campaigning for power through a left-wing party because there was no longer any room for a centrist in the mainstream right-wing party. A Christian politician, excellent at image manipulation, skilled at exploiting a need for change, and perceived prior to election as much, much more of a left winger than they ever actually were. [1] The main difference I can see is that Blair was given an opportunity to swing radically to the right, and chose to do so; which Obama will hopefully avoid.

Clegg is something different again; he’s (more or less) an actual liberal leader doing well in an Anglo-Saxon political economy. “Liberal” has been an insult on both sides of the Atlantic since the 80s.

[1] Including by me. I didn’t figure out until the appointments started to come through that Obama was a blue-tie Vinnick rather than an African-American Santos.

5. Mike Killingworth

[2] To answer my own question. I’m reading Smithson’s prep school dorm blog (I do it so you don’t have to) and at present their suggestions are

– rely on some weird theory of stock market chartists to prove to their own satisfaction that the LD surge will have subsided by polling day giving the Tories a double digit lead;

– a variant on this: Clegg as “Jedward” (I am a bit stuck here as I don’t watch much TV);

– a rather sinister suggestion, given that lots of the prep school boys are market traders, that if the election doesn’t produce a majority Conservative government they should engineer a run on the pound (“worth little more than toilet paper” according to one of them) to force a second election. Mind you, I do take the view that power lies with finance capital rather than the people, so I don’t know that this is a laughing matter.

Only another 300+ posts of this kind of muck to wade through…

6. Flowerpower

In what sense is

…taken money from a criminal on the run, many of his MPs have been found guilty of breaking the rules and his own party issued guidance on how to fiddle the expenses system…

a ‘smear’ exactly?

7. Sunder Katwala

I admit i am confused by Mike Smithson, though can’t really explain the mystery.

For years, he has declared that he is a LibDem, and a party member from the start. I remember he was very clear that he would leave the party and have nothing to do with them if they ever took up my Lab-Lib coalition offer!
“If this happened, which I don’t think is likely, I, for one, would leave the party that I have been a member of since its foundation and throw everything at campaigning against what I would see as a betrayal”

So he is clearly a LibDem. However, he has been so warm about David Cameron that I have heard some people wonder whether he is a tory-leaning LibDem, or closet Tory. I don’t know him myself so have never been able to judge that.

But I do now detect some cognitive dissonance. Every other LibDem in either the real world or online is giddily jubilant about the current polls, even if they are not sure it will last. Its a bit like England heading into the world cup semi-finals or something.

The one and only LibDem where I find it difficult to detect any such jubiliation is Mr Mike Smithson. Perhaps he is just being professional in analysing the race; perhaps he has declared his betting positions on the site and the LD surge is not good for him. Or perhaps he’s been jubilant that his party looks on the brink of something really new and I’ve just missed it?

So I really don’t know, but I am a bit confused by that.

8. Mike Killingworth

[7] My view of Smithson’s politics is that he is a Tory but for one issue: Europe. He wants the maximum integration (including the Euro) ASAP. Why this matters so much to him I couldn’t say.

It’s a true “smear” though, isn’t it?

The idea that the LD’s are “above the fray” is simply laughable.

(Doesn’t mean it’s not effective…)

Cjcjc: No. It’s an accurate one, though.

“A criminal (who is now on the run but was not then) gave money to the Liberal Democrats decade ago. After being exonerated by the due process of the law from any wrongdoing or corruption, the LibDems were also permitted to retain the cash, by the same legal process. The Liberal Democrats like every other party issued expense claim rules to its members. This is also true of most businesses.”

That would be a true smear. It is accurate, it gives a true impression of what happened and it publicly associates the Liberals with criminality, thus meeting the “smear” criterion. It does not attempt to phrase the truth in such a way as to create an impression of sleaze while remaining factually accurate, which is what the quote you’re responding to is explicitly designed to do. There is a clear indication of why the issue might cast doubt on the integrity of the party. There is also a clear indication of why it doesn’t.

A “true smear” might look like this.

“An individual has for a minimum of a decade been known by the Tory leadership to be a tax evader and an organised criminal through his ownership of Belize. That individual continues to be an immense and possibly fraudulent contributor to Tory electoral successes. The Tory party have rejected frequent calls for his prosecution, or at least for his beginning to pay tax here. They are backing his bid to buy another British protectorate as his personal fief.”

All statements in this paragraph are true. They are also all accurate. They give a reasonable picture of why the Tory association with Lord Ashcroft can be seen as a ‘smear’ against the Tories.

But a merely ‘accurate’ smear using the same individual’s details might look like this:

“Lord Ashcroft controls the streets of Belize by using the Church and the Mob as a double-bind. Through his links to both organised crime and diocesan corruption he can rule his bannana republic absolutely; and with the British government on his side, he can do so with impunity. Stop Call Me Dave and Where Is Osborne: Vote Tory, Get Corruption!”

There is no statement in this smear that is not true; the church and the drug gangs in Belize are both linked to Ashcroft (see Private Eye). I have my “two or more sources” who were working as teachers through the church there, and who have personal experience of how the double-bind is applied. It is common knowledge that Hague knew Ashcroft had no intention at all of paying the taxes demanded by his peerage.

Ashcroft *is* corrupt, and he *is* the personal backer of the Cameroon experiment. However, it is absolutely untrue to suggest that electing Cameron would result in Belize-style Ashcroftism within the term of the next parliament. To actualy engineer a Britain as broken as they want you to believe it is would take them at minimum 30 years. So this second smear is not “true”; but it is 100% accurate.

Another “true smear” might look like this:

“The Labour party has sponsored a culture of Cash for Influence, and has promoted unelectable individuals to the peerage so as to get them into the Cabinet. The Labour Party has directly intervened against 3rd World judiciaries who attempt to investigate government corruption, in order to protect the interests of corrupt British companies.”

Or another:

“The Labour Party in government and the Tory Party in opposition have collectively voted for institutional corruption in politics.”

Or another:

“The Labour Party and the Tory party have both sponsored [1] wars of aggression.”

Do you now see what I mean? True smears say something that is both accurate and true. Accurate smears only have to say something that’s accurate enough not to result in a libel prosecution. The attack on LibDem finances is not a true smear, but it is an accurate one.

[1] As in, voted for in Parliament, i.e. sponsored.

*cough*

There is no statement in this smear that is not true; the church and the drug gangs in Belize are both linked to Ashcroft (see Private Eye).

Should read “accurate” for “true” there. Sorry.

You were scornful of my “dirty tricks” scenario the other day, Sunny. Are you still?

I just didn’t think anyone would take that smear up. I’m not saying Tories are not going to try and smear though.

13. Golden Gordon

Cjcjc, the Rush Limbaugh of LC
Flowerpot brain is the Glenn Beck.
Can we out smear the yanks.
I think we can


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. loveandgarbage

    Excellent post: RT @libcon: Are Conservatives testing smear messages against Libdems? http://bit.ly/bg6218

  2. Cornelius Griffiths

    RT @libcon: Are Conservatives testing smear messages against Libdems? http://bit.ly/bg6218

  3. Justin McKeating

    Just re-signed up to YouGov… http://bit.ly/91Hyzs Let see if I get any of this… http://bit.ly/ajcaG4

  4. LLPaulJ

    RT @libcon: Are Conservatives testing smear messages against Libdems? http://bit.ly/agvXQb

  5. J Clive Matthews

    I thought Peter Tatchell usually campaigned *against* crimes against humanity – now he's perpetrating one: http://bit.ly/ajcaG4

  6. earwicga

    RT @libcon Are Conservatives testing smear messages against Libdems? http://bit.ly/cda8uy

  7. Liberal Conspiracy

    Are Conservatives testing smear messages against Libdems? http://bit.ly/bg6218

  8. SFDiplomat

    RT @libcon: Are Conservatives testing smear messages against Libdems? http://bit.ly/bg6218

  9. lornaspenceley

    RT @libcon: Are Conservatives testing smear messages against Libdems? http://bit.ly/bg6218

  10. topsy_top20k

    Are Conservatives testing smear messages against Libdems? http://bit.ly/bg6218

  11. Johnny LeVan-Gilroy

    RT @libcon: Are Conservatives testing smear messages against Libdems? http://bit.ly/bg6218

  12. unslugged

    I smell Cashcroft money > RT @libcon Are Conservatives testing smear messages against Libdems? http://bit.ly/bg6218

  13. Political Tweeter

    RT @libcon: Are Conservatives testing smear messages against Libdems? http://bit.ly/agvXQb #iagreewithnick

  14. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by libcon: Are Conservatives testing smear messages against Libdems? http://bit.ly/bg6218

  15. Christopher Kavanagh

    RT @libcon Are Conservatives testing smear messages against Libdems? http://bit.ly/cda8uy





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.