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When I read the latest Register of Ministers’ Interests, i noticed lists of entries for various MPs who had been paid £50 here and £75 there on various dates by certain polling companies. These include YouGov, ComRes, Ipsos MORI, Harris Research and more.

A poll by a polling company finds that the public believe in polling, despite their errors.

A look at the polling companies’ own websites doesn’t reveal, on a first inspection, which polls they might be being paid to answer. Polls I can see say they are weighted to represent the public. (Towards the end of writing this, I found that this could be revealed by putting “Surveys of MPs” in their search boxes).

I decided to try and research this to find out what is going on. On face value, polls appear regularly in the mainstream press, such as for Channel 4, the Sunday Mirror, the Express and the Independent. What do these polls say?

The general slant of these polls seem to be to heavily suggest that the Conservatives are ahead of Labour by quite a percentage. Are these designed to make supporters of other political parties lose face, give up or change their vote strategically?

For example: Here is a poll run by Ipsos MORI called:”Levels of pessimism for future of NHS, policing and education highest for 15 years”, which seems to want people to understand that:

Nearly two in three think that the quality of public services have got worse over the last five years, according to a new study from Ipsos MORI. Meanwhile, pessimism for the future of the NHS, policing and education are at record levels.

This is the poll of pollsters, when the bosses of 10 polling companies try to predict how many seats will be in parliament in 2015,

So what effect does that have on the voter? On the surface, it suggests that people have not been happy with the last 5 years of government and the cuts to spending on the NHS, education and policing. But is this a thinly veiled attempt to justify selling schools, the NHS and policing to private contractors?

It seems that polls are a vehicle being paid for in an attempt to influence voters via the mainstream press. Why are MPs being paid to enter polls that are surely to gauge the opinion of the general public? Or what are MPs surveyed about? Here are MPs paid by ComRes from Bo to Ha.You may notice some interesting trends.

One MP’s entry for polls answered for ComRes

Mr Peter Bone of Wellingborough is a Conservative.As shown in the screengrab. No mention is made of his fees being donated.

Mark Durkan of Foyle (Social Democratic and Labour Party in Ireland) has been paid by ComRes eight times in 2016. All fees paid to charities or community organisations.

Julie Elliott of Sunderland Central has done 7 polls for ComRes earning her £575 in 2016, She stands for Labour. Julie has helped YouGov out with 9 polls for which she was paid in 2016. All her fees are paid to her constituency party.

Chris Evans of Islwyn is a Labour MP, whose website suggests he is very active in his constituency standing up for fairness for his constituents. He technically stands for the Labour Co-operative Parties, where he has been endorsed by both Labour and the Co-operative Party. As well as writing for a boxing magazine, Chris has been paid to answer 5 polls for ComRes in 2016. I’ve tweeted him to ask if he will reveal what these polls are. All his fees from surveys are donated to community organisations.

An American poll company talks about the sources of potential errors in polling. So why are the same 62 MPs used for all MP surveys?

Paul Flynn of Newport West in Ireland has answered 13 surveys for ComRes and states that all fees were donated to charity. He is also Labour and he writes a blog. Paul Flynn is prolific with polls, answering 3 for ipsos MORI and 8 for YouGov.

Another Labour Co-operative MP is Mike Gapes, who has done 8 for ComRes and 2 for YouGov. He donates his fees to Redbridge Organisers, a branch of his constituency party.

Interestingly, another Conservative, Cheryl Gillian for Chesham and Amersham has earned four times for ComRes and there is no mention of her fees being donated. She is one of the longest standing female Conservative MP in parliament, first elected in 1992.

The Economist on Twitter showed Labour and Conservative neck and neck 38 days before the 2015 election. The Economist polled the poll companies to compile this.

Glen John, Conservative MP for Salisbury, has entered 11 polls for ComRes and 2 for YouGov. There is no mention of fees being donated and he has rental income over £10,000 for a flat in London and shares worth over £70,000 for an IT and communications company.

I am trying to steer clear of bias in this blog, so as I’ve only got to G in the alphabet Therefore I will list names,parties, number of surveys and whether they are donated or not to see if there is a pattern.

James Gray. Conservative. North Wiltshire: ComRes 6. YouGov 9 Ipsos MORI 2 Populus 7 plus rental income from 3 properties. No mention of donation of fees.

Neil Gray. Scottish National Party. ComRes 4. Fees donated to charity and local organisations.

How representational are polls of people’s views when they are caught on the hop?

Andrew Gwynne. Labour. Denton and Reddish. ComRes 9 Ipsos MORI 2 (fees donated to local campaign fund) and YouGov 6 (fees donated to local campaign fund).

Labour MP David Hanson for Delyn, ComRes 8 YouGov 8 and a one off fee from Ipsos MORI for “Winter MORI Survey 2016, which was donated to the Labour Party in Delyn. He donated winnings from William Hill to charity.

At this juncture, an actual poll of 440 MPs is shown. (“Sample” of 440 = 62, perhaps). These polls were taken face to face in the MPs Westminster Offices and is weighted to reflect the balance of power. Here is a snap shot of what MPs were asked and their responses, which is interesting on the whole Brexit question.

As this study reveals quite a lot of information and another blog may be required for a summary of findings, I will do 2 more MPs and their usage of poll survey fees and other interests if they stand out. The last 2 are both conservatives, but they seem to be very different from each other.

Rebecca Harris. Conservative for Castle Point. All fees donated to charity. ComRes 6. YouGov 7 and what looks like the Ipsos MORI Winter survey. (1). She stands for more people in parliament with business experience and she backs this up with her own career before she entered politics: Looks like A Good Conservative!?

Rebecca spent the majority of her working life in business, principally with Phillimore & Co, specialist publishers of British local history (including publishing titles on Hadleigh, Thundersley, Canvey Island and Daws Heath). At Phillimore Rebecca worked in various aspects of the firm including warehousing, as a delivery driver and Sales Rep. She joined the Board as Marketing Director in 1997, a position she held until the sale of the firm in 2007.

Simon Hart. Conservative. Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire. ComRes 6. YouGov 6 and MORI 2. No mention of donations to charity. He also earns as High Net Worth Consultant for Countryside Alliance being paid £30,000 a year for 8 hours work a week. He is a member of the United and Cecil Club, a dining club formed in 1949 (following the merger of 2 much older organisations) with close links to the Conservative Party. Members have previously been accused of using a loophole to make large donations to the Conservatives without declaring them. Simon Hart received two donations totally £5000. Finally, a private donation was made by businessman Fraser Duffin (article about donation to refurb a restaurant) of £10,000. Not said for what.

An example of a survey of MPs opinions to possibly back the motion to add a third runway at Heathrow, that was publicised in the mainstream press.

In summary, out of the first 3rd of MPs:
* Many surveys have been completed and paid for.
* Apart from Rebecca Harris, the Conservatives do not mention any donation of fees, but the Labour ones do, although not for fees from every polling company.
* The only poll declared to be amongst MPs is the Winter MORI Survey 2016.
* That more of the Conservative MPs had private donations, rental income, shares and other local business and club associations.
and
That the polls themselves suggest they are funded to give weight to parliamentary action, such as selling the NHS, policing and education to private contractors. 

Suggestion of flat denial as ComRes employee asks for proof of links between Tories and opinion poll companies. But that isn’t the main story.

On a last note. ComRes Chairman Andrew Hawkins appears to be on Twitter to respond quite aggressively to bloggers questioning or raising concerns about opinion polls, fees paid to MPs and transparency about political leanings within poll companies, bias and what polls MPs are being paid to answer. What are they about. One on the list of MP surveys is about whether they will take a holiday abroad. In one Tweet sent to blogger Buddy_Hell with what seems to be a flat denial that MPs are paid for ComRes surveys.

Here is a list of surveys of MPs done by ComRes.

It may be worth noting that the opinion companies do not
* Poll all MPs. They poll the same ones each time.
* I just went through the whole register and counted 62 MPs on the Register of Interests have completed many surveys for ComRes.,Typically, they are the ones also completing for YouGov and Ipsos MORI as well.

 

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