Sunday 8 March 2009

Secret Sunday scoop exclusive

No, we haven't got one either. But the Sunday Telegraph reports on the "leak" of a "secret poll" carried out by Compass, among Labour party members, highlighting the finding that "Harriet Harman is less popular than Peter Mandleson".

Except, as Anthony Wells points out, the top secret findings were being kept "under wraps" with no plans to make them public through the cunning ruse of publishing them on the YouGov website.

The poll doesn't ask about popularity either. Instead, it tells us who Labour members think is doing a good job in government. (Perhaps the Telegraph would go into classes of eleven year olds and ask 'who is good at maths and English' to find the most popular student?)

So the findings are interesting, mainly because they are not screamingly newsworthy.

What comes across most clearly is strong support for the major figures in the government, with three-quarters thinking Brown (77% to 21%), Darling (73% to 24%), David Miliband (74% to 19%) were doing a good job, with smaller clear majorities saying the same about Mandelson (62% to 30%), Harman (58% to 32%) or Jacqui Smith (56% to 39%).

More broadly, Labour members are pretty moderate lefties, critical on the post office, though with more supporting than opposing the government on welfare reform, wanting reforms of regulation but not a socialist revolution.

There were two questions about Peter Mandelson. Labour members accurately place Mandelson somewhat to the right of Gordon Brown - with broadly similar proportions seeing Mandelson as left-of centre, centrist or right of centre. At the same time, most Labour members think he is doing a good job for the government.

Ask sensible questions; get sensible answers. Getting them accurately reported may be another thing.

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