Sunday 10 May 2015

Of BBC bias, opinion polls and oyster catchers

The BBC very obviously feels deeply embarrassed at having fallen (eagerly) for the pre-election opinion polls, nearly all of which showed Labour and the Conservatives to be neck-and-neck for at least the past six weeks. [Only one (suppressed by either the pollster or the Daily Mirror, presumably assuming it to be a rogue poll) predicted the actual result - a Conservative majority.]

Andrew Marr sounded particularly aggrieved about the polls during BBC One's election night coverage, and returned to the theme during his paper review this morning, fervently urging his journalistic "comrades" (as he called them) to pay much less attention to the polls in 2020. (A striking televisual moment).

There's been a lot of discussion about the failure of the polls to predict the extent of the Conservatives' victory over Labour, but I think Janet Daley at the Sunday Telegraph hits the nail most squarely on the head.

She argues that ordinary voters have been "browbeaten" by the Left into being reluctant to share their real views - and being a blogger about BBC bias I'd, naturally, pin a fair amount of that brow-beating onto the BBC.

Time to confess to something I've only previously confessed to Sue (as I'm somewhat ashamed of about it myself, but as I'm among friends...): 

I've been canvassed twice in the past year - not by polling companies, but directly by the Labour Party. The Conservative-held constituency of Morecambe and Lunesdale was one of Labour's top targets in 2015, so they were really after my vote. On both occasions I said I'd be voting Labour - even though I've never had the slightest intention of voting Labour. I felt embarrassed to say otherwise. (Plus they were so nice that I didn't want to spoil their day by saying I'm a right-winger who would sooner chuck himself into a pit of pissed-off, Owen Jones-admiring cobras than vote for Ed Miliband). Only afterwards did I cheer myself up (as I hate lying, and came out in a profuse sweat whilst doing so) by dreaming that I might possibly be throwing an amusing spanner into Labour's calculations - and, thus, their chances of winning - by my absurdly, toe-curdlingly dishonest answers. 

I was a very shy Tory there, wasn't I?

Now, the Lord Ashcroft polls showed a growing lead for Labour's Amina (peace be upon her) in Morecambe throughout the election, so it wasn't just the Labour Party's polling. Her lead (peace be upon it) grew from around 4% to 6% in the final week of the campaign. (I wasn't keen on her as I'd read her Twitter feed, bashing Israel and being less than robust on free speech after 'Charlie Hebdo'). The Tory MP for Morecambe, David Morris (a hairdresser who used to play in Rick Astley's backing group), therefore, looked like permatanned toast. Morecambe's talismanic Eric Morecambe statue appeared to be about to wave goodbye to Mr Morris, singing 'Never Gonna Give You Up' ever-so-sarcastically, and instead to take up the classic Morecambe and Wise tune 'Bring me BDS against the Zionist Entity'.

And yet, come election day, David Morris triumphed in Morecambe - and did so by over 4%. He actually boosted his majority. I got my automatic rifle out, ran out into the potholed streets and cried 'Allahu Akbar', firing happily into the air (accidentally killing dozens of Morecambe Bay's beautiful oyster catchers in the process). The Eric Morecambe statue sang 'Bring Me Sunshine (and a Permatan)' to Mr Morris's delight, and I joined in, ululating loudly. 

And that makes me think that one heck of a lot of Morecambe folk (other than me) were, as Dead Ringers put it, completely lying their arses off to the pollsters.

Shy Tories...and shy Kippers...must be legion (or at least plentiful enough to flummox the pollsters and the commentariat).

BBC Question Time audiences are said, by right-wing panelists like James Delingpole, Janet Daley, Nigel Farage and Toby Young, to contain plenty of right-wingers, but we rarely seem to hear from them. Does the Left brow-beat them into silence? Probably. 

And the same phenomenon may also account, in a different context, for the total failure of the polls prior to the Scottish referendum, to get anywhere near predicting the near 11% margin of defeat for pro-independence supporters.

Some pro-union supporters obviously felt brow-beaten by, how shall we put this? passionate pro-independence opponents into keeping their true feelings hidden too. (The fact that around 50% of Scots didn't vote for the SNP in the general election is something else that should be borne in mind here. We're probably hearing much less from them too #shyScottishunionists).

Now, where does the BBC (by a very, very long chalk, the UK's most dominant media outlet) come into all of this?

Well, if you've been reading this blog (and blogs like News-watch and Biased BBC), you'll already know the answer to that question.

No media outlet in the UK - Murdoch-owned or otherwise - comes within a country parsec of the BBC's reach on the British public, news-wise. And it has a pronounced left-liberal bias on a whole range of subject (though not necessarily on everything).

This is a TV and radio broadcaster, after all, that, it emerged in the course of the largely-pro-BBC, BBC-funded Prebble report, really did censor phone-in callers who expressed strong reservations about immigration (on Radio 4's Any Answers), because they felt such opinions might cause offense. (I'm still surprised that this admission hasn't been raised merry hell about by anti-BBC bias campaigners - as Sir John Major might have put it. It seems quite extraordinarily damning to me).

Such a broadcaster has hardly encouraged 'shy Tories' and 'shy Kippers' and 'shy anything that doesn't meet with the BBC/Left's approval people' to speak their minds without fear of being shamed by the BBC/Left. If it had, we'd have seen Question Times like the one from Leeds in the last week of the election far more often, wouldn't we?


  1. The BBC has some explaining to do. How did it arrive at that audience for the Leader's Question Time?...because it bore no relation to any other BBC audience ever seen on QT. None of them seemed shy Tories, shy Kippers or shy anything.

    In fact my feeling is that someone was given a real bolloxing about the ridiculously biased audience for the Challengers debate and, in response, went and "overshot the runway".

  2. Or is it simply that we're so used to BBC audiences being stacked to the left that, when, for once, we get a balanced audience, it 'feels' as though it's stacked to the right? Jeremy

    1. Yes, that's it. There may also have been a bit of lying on the questionnaire to get in. Also, you have to wonder if the totally independent but actually very influenced by the BBC production staff misjudged just how much anger there would be against Clegg from people identifying as Lib Dem supporters, and especially misjudged just how different normal human beings who normally support Labour are from BBC bubble-dwellers. I bet the hostile reaction to Miliband's self-destructive angry rant about how proud he was for Labour's overspending came as much of a surprise to the BBC as it did to Miliband.

      Their own bias made them misinterpret everything, I think.

    2. It was inevitable as soon as they decided to 'create' balance by vetting via the bbc impartiality filter.

      For sure this does mostly result in the right... make that 'correct' audience make-up in their minds, but it can on occasion be tricked by the determined.

      Quite how they think any group volunteering to attend such a stage-managed event would in any way represent, ordinary, busy, get-on-with-it, shy, reticent, thoughtful voters was and remains one of many of the BBC's bread and circuses conceits.

  3. I suggested something similar to Janet Daley's theory in a reply to David Preiser, here, on 8th May...nice to know the mainstream press is following us! Jeremy

  4. Noted that Janet Daley was in the dock yet again, yesterday on some BBC show pony called Dateline.
    Poor woman has called it right for years in the Telegraph, called it right in the election run up-and even spoke to the Fabian Society about how they were screwing up and alienating a nation.
    Not only all that-but her views now had over half the electorate backing her.
    But this is the BBC-so Owen Jones, a Marc Roche from Le Soir, a Beeb chairman and a bland Yank mobbed and harangued, talked over and scorned her.
    The French Hollande-lite eejit was pricelessly stupid and Jones-as ever-wouldn`t listen to anything a hated Tory would tell him.
    Clearly the Left isn`t, cannot or will not listen-and so deservedly will be finished with the next UKIP surge.
    Good riddance to the lining of historys dustbin that is the Low Bore Pardee!

  5. Your great part of the world featured on Newsnight last week.
    Eric Morecambes old chauffeur coyly said he`d not tell the BBC who HE`D be voting for...but Eric was a Tory.
    So we`d never have let him on the BBC these days-but his chauffeur clearly was a Tory too.
    One of those "shy Tories" that the BBC would never countenance existed, until the polls told them otherwise.
    It`s as if 1992 never happened isn`t it?
    The fact that my local MP(Beverley Hughes in 2004) had a holiday home within sight of where those poor Chinese cockle pickers died in 2004-that was one of those seismic "coincidences" that ensured I`d never vote for Labour again-and ensured a hatred for their project that won`t abate.
    Snake heads come in Guardian shape triads as much as in Liverpools Chinatown...the public sector shills, advocacy groups and the Hampstead liberal classes are all Labour now has in its pocket.

  6. Whilst the election aftermath and post-mortem continues in full flow on Liebour’s official propaganda arm, the McBBC, the candidate for Morecambe and Lunesdale, Amina Lone, perfectly fits the McBBC narrative. Like Craig, this is also my constituency.

    Amina Lone is a single mother of four of Kashmiri, Muslim descent. She was parachuted in to Morecambe by Liebour from Manchester on the cynical assumption that the local people would identify with a single mother of Asian descent. Unfortunately for Liebour, the ethnic and religious mix of the constituency is one of the least diverse in the country and the public is not stupid.

    In addition, whether it was due to good fortune or luck, David Morris, the sitting Conservative MP, delivered the Heysham Bypass which had been over thirty years in planning and dispute by local action groups (and the newts). The bypass promises to bring more jobs, tourists and businesses to the local area. Labour’s message, on the other hand, was one of negativity; even in her speech conceding defeat, she didn’t have the grace to go without a dig or two.

    The local public spoke and returned David Morris as MP, with a previous small margin, to one with a majority of over 10%. If the McBBC and its former masters want to know reasons why their “progressive” message was rejected, a good start would be to look at Morecambe and Lunesdale and rip down those walls of arrogance. I for, one, am not holding my breath.


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