Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Singing From The Same Hymnsheet

OK, my forecast was completely wrong on both our boys. They do have one thing in common, however. In the week that Hazel Blears warned that a general election could be just "16 months away" our watchees both have digs at the Conservatives. Conincidence? Perhaps.

The more I think about it, the weaker Nick's thesis seems to be. I think the Frank Luntz Newsnight had some effect, but not nearly enough to conclude that "show-business made David Cameron leader of the opposition." And if the honeymoon period is finally over, that's not to conclude that Clarke or Davis would be any more popular. In sum, Nick was pertty much talking rubbish.

Aaro, by contrast, comes up with a column with which I completely agree. (I'm not going to lose the tag of being 'the nice one' this way, am I?) I've been frothing at the Today programme when this Tory family nonsense comes up.

Perhaps it is a gigantic failure of imagination on my part, but I cannot see how -- unless the subsidies and penalties were huge -- such policies would make a jot of difference. Middle-class people -- Conservative MPs even -- are prepared to take huge cuts in their standards of living so that they can divorce their spouses. They maintain second homes, move into poky flats, pay absurd lawyer’s fees, endure social embarrassment and huge upset, and all so that they don’t have to live with their once-chosen mates. Judged on an actuarial basis such behaviour is mad.

My imagination fails there too, Dave. One of his very best. I think home affairs and social policy are strengths of DA's, it's when he considers 'abroad' that he goes wrong.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Political Betting, the consensus is that (i) Nick is talking rubbish and (ii) he lifted it at least in part from this article in the Times by pro-Brown pollster Deborah Mattinson. cf:

Mattinson: "The focus group is a widely practised technique: a small group of people, usually six to eight voters, have a discussion moderated by a market research professional. Ideally, the voters are from a similar background so that the group dynamic allows for everyone to speak out truthfully. By contrast, Frank Luntz’s research for Newsnight featured 30 or so individuals drawn from a wide range of backgrounds. It was impossible to moderate fairly — we can see in the film that only the more assured or the loudest tended to contribute, with the effect of leading the whole session into “group think”. This flaw was compounded by the repeated use of shows of hands; secret ballots would have given the quiet dissenters a way to better express themselves."


"But British pollsters tell me that Luntz's work for Newsnight shouldn't have been allowed to influence a parish council election, never mind the future of a great party. If you can't follow their case against him, their overall explanation is easy to grasp: a well-run focus group could never fill 15 minutes of airtime. It would be too boring. To begin with, standard focus groups have six to eight members, but a handful of people isn't an impressive sight on television, so Newsnight had Luntz meet 28 voters. Focus groups are also meant to be focused. Market researchers want volunteers from a similar background so the guinea pigs will lose their inhibitions about speaking freely in front of strangers. But Newsnight mixed up people who had always voted Tory with people who had once voted Tory and people who had never voted Tory. The danger of a large and diverse group is that the loudest voices will dominate and a herd mentality will take over... The standard way to stop easily impressed interviewees going along with the crowd is to have secret ballots. Luntz and Newsnight didn't use them because a show of hands looks better on TV."

12/12/2006 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

I think home affairs and social policy are strengths of DA's

Except he has a somewhat blasé attitude to civil liberties, in my view.

12/13/2006 07:06:00 AM  

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