Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Of polls: newsworthy and unnewsworthy

Of polls: newsworthy and unnewsworthy

Mori: a six point Tory lead.  ARS: a seventeen point Tory lead.  Two polls then, one of them newsworthy, and one of them not.  This is a story of narratives boys and girls, and I would understand if you want to duck out now – knowing my predilection for these things.

The media is bored.  The big story has been the same now since the bottled election all the way back in 2007 – Labour are going to lose the election, and the Conservatives are going to win it.  There’s only so much you can do with this story – only so many stories on potential splits in the future, or rumours about possibly unhappy backbenchers you can write.  It doesn’t help, of course, that the party, sensing victory is just around the corner are, for the most part, playing down tensions and avoiding arguments.  Yawno.

But look!  A poll!  That shows Labour almost within touching distance!  Incidentally, take a moment to see how terribly demoralised Labour must be to view a poll that shows them on the same poll rating achieved by William Hague in 2001 as a success.  But anyway, this poll opens up a whole variety of possibilities – a Hung Parliament!  Now that’s a story…

Cue for a whole range of ‘what happens if…’ articles, variously looking at minority Governments, kingmaking Lib Dems, coalitions, whether Cameron can survive as leader – the list is endless.  And everyone in the political media is breathing a great sigh of relief that they don’t have to rehash the same ‘what will Cameron’s first cabinet look like?’ articles for the next six months.  Such a relief is it that, when a more recent poll indicates that Labour are every bit as friar-tucked as we all thought, no-one even looks up from their new article about whether Cameron is now more like Heath or Wilson.  Some stories are too good to let go of, even when they’re nonsense.

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