Every week one of the major pollsters sends me details of what the public told them when they asked them to name a news story/ event from the past week. The results are always interesting and sometimes rather surprising.
I think politicians and their advisers can all too easily become obsessed with the news headlines and what is in the news and how it is reported. Of course polls are under scrutiny at the moment after their all round failure to suggest a Conservative victory in the general election and as I reported earlier this week their inquest has now concluded they interviewed too few Conservatives. Their sample was not representative. With this sort of news poll the results are less likely to be affected by a slightly skewed sample. It is the overall picture that matters. People are invited to name a story and they are not prompted.
In the latest poll 2,015 adults in Great Britain aged over 18 were interviewed online between 20th and 21st January. I can tell you the most noticed story in the past week was the death of the pop artist David Bowie. Not surprising his death led the news bulletins and was covered across the print media. So what percentage of people do you think mentioned this story? Answer tomorrow!
The filming in Bury market yesterday went well. We were filming for a programme called Superfoods scheduled to be shown later in the year on Channel 4.
The presenter was amazed how popular her plate of black pudding samples was. Fortunately for the her, the recording crew and me it did not take too long for us to interview a number of people who were happy to speak up on camera about the benefits of eating black pudding. I am grateful to all those who agreed to their interviews being used. As someone who is on camera everyday in the Commons and has done hundreds of tv interviews I did not give the consent aspect much thought but I appreciate that agreeing to appear in a programme is not for everyone.
I guess most of what we filmed will finish up on the cutting room floor ( so to speak – the days of cutting rooms are long gone!) but it will be interesting to see how the final programme appears. It will give Bury some more publicity that is for sure.
Later today I am due to take part in filming for one of Channel 4’s programme ‘Superfoods’. Following on from the news that black pudding should now be regarded as a’superfood’ I called for a debate on the health properties of eating Bury Black Pudding in the House of Commons. That was two weeks ago. Last week MP’s for other black pudding producing constituencies started to speak up for their product. Yesterday, I made it clear that Bury Black Pudding is the best and asked for a debate on the export potential of Bury Black Pudding. This is not as far fetched as it my sound. Last week when I visited the Bury Black Pudding Company factory they explained to me that their black pudding is now being exported around the World.
Today the main question time is questions to DCMS – the Department for Culture Media and Sport.
Many times I enter the ballot for questions without success. Not surprising as, even excluding the government there are over 500 MP’s who could enter for the couple of dozen or so slots available. Today however I have been successful I both my substatntive application and my topical question, so two bites at the cherry.
My first question is about help for amateur sports clubs after the recent floods. I will raise the problems faced by Ramsbottom United FC and Ramsbottom CC. As for my topical question I plan to raise the ongoing problem of nuisance phone calls.
Yesterday the Labour Party released details of its own investigation in to why they did not do as well as they expected in the general election and the pollsters also released the results of their inquiry why the polls they carried out did not show the Conservatives in the lead.
Even the final exit poll was not completely accurate as it only suggested the Conservatives would be the largest party rather than have an outright majority. Few will be surprised by the finding that they polled too few Conservatives and too many Labour supporters. Getting the sample right is something which is much easier said than done. Modern society is so complex that identifying a representative sample with around a thousand people is incredibly difficult.
I tend to look just at the general trend of polls. If there are several polls all using different methods which point the same way then that suggests to me that finding could be right. In the end in elections there is only one poll that really matters and that is the one on polling day itself!
I attended most of the debate in Westminster Hall yesterday which was held because of the petition Parliament has received signed by over a half a million people calling for the American politician Donald Trump to be banned from the United Kingdom. By instinct I am reluctant to ban things. In the main I take the view that individuals should be free to make their own minds up about what to eat, what to drink, what activities to undertake and so on. Equally, when it comes to the security of the United Kingdom it is clearly right that the Home Secretary should be able to prevent people coming in who she reasonably believes may cause us harm. I do not think Donald Trump falls into this category although I have no doubt he has offended some people including some MP’s by the things he has said. My view is that we have freedom for speech in this Country and that means people have the right to say things which may offend some people.
The main business in the House of Commons today is the Second Reading debate of the Energy Bill. The Bill enacts another of the Conservatives pledges in the manifesto – to end the subsidy to onshore wind farms. In addition to this the Bill also formally establishes the Oil and Gas Authority as an independent regulator of the oil and gas sector. The Bill will also mean local authorities will have more say on any new applications for onshore wind turbines.
The oil and gas sector makes a large contribution to the UK economy even though production of North Sea oil has fallen in recent years. The idea behind the Oil and Gas Authority is to maximise the economic recovery of petroleum from UK waters as part of what is called the MER UK strategy. The current low price for oil on the world markets means that the need for the oil industry in the UK to operate efficiently is greater than ever.