What on earth were they thinking…

Yes Minister on how to rig Opinion Polls… Now take a look at this? I am not sure what on earth the City Council was thinking, but this is exactly the kind of skewing of public opinion mentioned in the episode. Okay, it’s an online poll rather than a carefully designed and controlled survey of local opinion. But best practice dictates the Council should be trying to find out exactly what the populus actually think, rather than leading them towards what the council clearly already thinks. Allowing yourselves to be seen to be that close to a single private vested interest is a very bad idea. More later…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • That poll has to be a mistake, it has to be. I suppose if they want they could register the no votes by the amount of people who have voted yes and then subtract it by the numbers of unique visitors to hit the site today.

    Brilliant spotting. Online poll FAIL!

  • Glensman


    Talk about surrounding yourself with yes men!

  • wild turkey

    At first glance I assumed it was the John Lewis website!

    The retail sector isn’t exactly booming these days. The supposed 2000 ‘jobs created’ has to be balanced by probable extensive job losses elsewhere. Net additional jobs created? A shitload less than 2000.

    An O-level statistics student would get a fail if they designed a survey like this. However, the survey does give a powerful, if unintentional, insight into how Lisburn ‘City’ (FFS!) Council sees the outworkings of choice in a, uh, democracy.

    Oh yeah, I assume the ratepayers of Lisburn, existing retail businesses included, are paying for this crapola? Did I hear anyone mention judicial review and/or the Audit Office?

  • Brendan,Belfast

    Well I just checked and so far they haven’t changed the page on the site. Hearling the buffon Trevor Lunn on the radio this morning was cringeworthy. He desribed it as a petition and asked whythey should seek alternative views in a petition.

    Trevor – the web site, which your voters and ratepayers are paying for, clearly describes an “online poll.”

    “Lisburn – a city for everyone (who agrees with the council on this issue……)”

  • Hogan


    If anyone has an email address can they send the above link to Trevor Lunn?

    You couldn’t make it up! (unless of course you are writing a classic hit 1980’s comedy series, in which case you can.)

  • Driftwood

    I remember the phrase from portadown news

    Lisburn, A City* for everyone**

    *not real size
    ** excludes catholics

  • bollix

    great spot there!

    it seems like the type of “vote” you might get in Stalinist russia – “Do you agree that productivity is increasing – Yes”

    vote, within the ordinary meaning of the word, implies a choice between 2 or more options. No choice means no vote.

  • cynic

    But it gets worse. There is no protection against multiple voting so, if so minded, you can just keep clicking yes as many times as you like and it will all count.

  • That poll can’t be serious? Surely the lack of a ‘no’ is an omission, no matter how Freudian (er … did Freud say anything about online polls?).

    OK – the surrounding info is all in favour, but I don’t beleive it’s not a bit of a cock-up…..

  • And let’s not let Belfast off the hook, here, even if they did win the Slugger Award as ‘Best Council’.

    On p22 of their Winter News Mag for all citizens (both hard and soft copy versions) – see
    http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/citymatters/docs/winter08.doc they have a cracker of a poll – reproduced below:

    Your views
    We want your views to help us improve how we deal with our customers. Please take a few minutes to fill in this short questionnaire.

    How would you find having a single contact number on which you could contact us instead of a range of numbers? Please tick one box:

    Very useful ٱ
    Useful ٱ
    Neither useful nor not useful ٱ
    Not useful ٱ
    Not at all useful ٱ

    Why do you say that?

    How useful would you find a ‘one stop shop’ facility for accessing all council services in one place? Please tick one box:

    Very useful ٱ
    Useful ٱ
    Neither useful nor not useful ٱ
    Not useful ٱ
    Not at all useful ٱ

    Why do you say that?

    Please return your completed questionnaire to:
    Belfast City Council
    Belfast BT1 5BR

    You can also provide more detailed information on our website at
    http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/customerservice or email customerservice@belfastcity.gov.uk

  • http://www.lisburncity.gov.uk/sprucefield-development-poll/

    How (frighteningly) unbelievable: “yes” the only option!

    But what about the dicey logic: “However, if the planning application is unsuccessful, it will mean a loss of over 2000 jobs…”

    Wow, so while a successful application “will POTENTIALLY create 2000 jobs” (my emphasis), an unsuccessful application means 2000 currently employed are out on their ear.

    I can’t think of anything at this corporate level delivered so sloppily.