“I suspect Woodward sniggered to himself at how easily he got away with it.”

Via Newshound. I agree with Eamonn McCann’s acknowledgement of “the aptness of Lord Ken Maginnis of [Drumglass] (if I may be so familiar) in asking last week who had sanctioned and/or worded the question put to the public in the opinion poll just before the vote on devolution of policiing.” That would be this poll. Not that the OFMDFM poll was any more rigorous. Hansard records the written questions and answers here. Although, I’d point out that the cost of the poll was not “more than £60,000” as reported, it was £16,215. From the Derry Journal

It is very likely, to put it no higher, that a majority of people, if asked in an honest, objective manner, would have backed devolution of policing anyway. But honesty and objectivity goes against the grain of the Northern Ireland Office and against the political tradition from which Woodward comes.

Had any minister in any other department of the British Government used public money in such a thoroughly disreputable way in an effort to influence a vote, there would have been uproar at Westminster and outraged editorials in every British national newspaper. But here in Northern Ireland, heaven knows, anything goes. I suspect Woodward sniggered to himself at how easily he got away with it. I suspect he has been doing a lot of sniggering lately.

And, for the record, those written questions and answers from Hansard

Northern Ireland Office: Opinion Polls

Questions

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which Northern Ireland Office minister determined the requirements of and sanctioned the opinion poll conducted by the Northern Ireland Office during the week beginning 1 March. [HL2638]

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland approved the opinion poll.

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which minister or official in the Northern Ireland Office devised the wording of questions used in the opinion poll conducted during the week beginning 1 March; and what was the full wording of the questions. [HL2639]

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The questions in the opinion poll conducted on 5 and 6 March were approved by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The questions were:

Ql. Who do you personally think is best placed to make decisions on policing in Northern Ireland?

Q2. Overall do you support or oppose the agreement to transfer policing and justice powers to the Executive at Stormont?

Q3. I believe we should transfer policing and justice powers to Stormont so that the Executive can get on with the job of improving life for everyone in Northern Ireland. 1. Agree 2. Disagree 3. Don’t know

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much the recent poll carried out for the Northern Ireland Office about the transfer of policing and justice powers to the Executive cost; how many people were polled; and when. [HL2655]

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The poll carried out by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) cost £16,215, involving 1,000 people. It took place on 5 and 6 March 2010.