So what happened to Slugger’s great ‘scoop’ of last night? Well, first thing I tune into “What is says in the Papers” on Morning Ireland and… well, nothing… Then I go and look at the thread, and Dewi reports Mike Smithson at Political Betting (who’s parted with £100 on the strength of the same ‘tip off’ I got) is now suspicious its an elaborate hoax…
So I give the guy I spoke to at Gael Poll last night, Tom Prenderville, who points out to me that he never said it was going to be into today’s Sun… but stands over absolutely the fact that the paper ran with a similar poll last year… What I had was a press release sent out to all the major tabloid publications in Ireland and all the significant No campaigners… Most of them, it seems, had the good sense not to touch it with a barge-pole…So that strange methodology I mentioned last night (and which should have triggered my own good sense)… The researchers were friends of the organisers who in turn interviewed people in their social groups, paying some attention to the spread of social class… It is, in effect a huge straw poll of the friends of Gael Poll, a derivative project of a pretty extreme ultramontane Catholic magazine, The Hibernian. In other words, if it measures anything accurately it has to be of the attitude of social groups surrounding one extremely anti Lisbon group indeed.
That is not in anyway an accurate measure of the national mood on Lisbon. That they got it dead on last time, may only be an indication of how their hinterland of folk matched that national mood, and perhaps something the journalists on the Sun may have been able to read across from their own instincts and soundings.
That they haven’t touched it this year suggest that attitudes may have hardened against those near the extreme of the debate, and the ‘polls’ more extreme variance from the national polling averages. But also that it is just as tight as both yes and no camps suspect…
So, as I have often rather pompously intoned in the past, speed kills. Sitting on the sharp end of what I thought was a good story, I neglected to do what I have often done in similar situations in the past: get a second sane opinion. That every newsroom in Dublin had the same story and saw through it demonstrates, that it’s not always the MSM that gets things wrong.
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