Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Beware the siren call of a strong Green opinion poll

The Green blogosphere has been energised in the last few days by a new IPSO/MORI poll for Reuters which has placed the Green Party at an unprecedented 6% in voting elections, if a General Election was called tomorrow. This level of support in a poll is exciting, but I'm afraid we should refrain from cracking open the champagne quite yet.

Looking at the detail of the poll, we can see that it is from a relatively modest sample of individuals (1008) and the pollsters themselves give the health warning that that the percentage for each party's share has a 4% margin of error. In our case, this means we could have any figure between 10% or 2% of the vote.

The truth of it is, polls are fickle things and we may hear from another pollster tomorrow with a radically different interpretation, due to their use of a slightly different methodology. We honestly need a consistent period of time to see if these figures hold up. If we are still seeing these sort of figures in three months, we can start to trust them more.

One question that isn't answered by the poll is why we might have received a bump in our electoral fortunes. I'd be the first to argue that we deserve it, with well-publicised victories at the General Election and in the recent Local Elections. We have a distinct policy offer in comparison with the dour, negative stances of our political opponents. But if this polling data turns out to be true, we need to analyse it carefully to see where it stems from and then build upon it accordingly.

Such an increase in support wouldn't necessarily be translated nationally into new seats. We still have the First Past The Post voting system to contend with - and other parties, most notably the Lib Dems, have found themselves at the mercy of this. Let's not forget the vast gulf between Clegg-mania at it's height and the shocking paucity of new Lib Dem gains at last year's General Election!

At the end of the day, we mustn't wait for polls to deliver us power. We have to work hard, building relationships individually, voter by voter. In allhonestly, can the Green Party argue yet that we've worked hard enough to prepare sufficiently-qualified candidates to step forward into Parliament? I'm not convinced - we should put our energies into THAT and the rest will fall into place in it's own time.

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