A blow has been struck against skulduggery and knavery in the political polling business after the exposure of Rick Barker’s sneaky survey techniques and his advice to volunteers to use false names.
Today he is reported as saying Labour will tell its pollsters to use their own names in future.
This doesn’t mean the bugger is unrepentant, because –
he appeared to defend the use of a company front-name, not associated with the party, as a better way to get reliable data.
Mr Barker told reporters yesterday that he had not intended to deceive, and the suggestion to use false names was aimed at making the pollsters feel more comfortable.
He had not used one himself, but had told workers: “for example, I could be Bill”.
The pollsters had also been told to say they were calling from Data Research, though that company was deregistered 12 years ago. Mr Barker said he hadn’t known it was deregistered, but recalled Labour had used that name in the past.
So what did he think he was up to?
The intention was to get data on how people felt about issues in various areas, which is a very legitimate thing to do in politics.”
If pollsters said they were from Labour, people might not answer honestly. “No political party uses its own name directly when it underakes polling,” he said.
And who paid for this exercise in deceit?
Why, we all did as taxpayers.
Calls were paid for with taxpayer funds out of the leader’s budget – within the rules for seeking opinion, but not for canvassing.
Acting Prime Minister Bill English properly pointed out that polling should be done openly.
“Labour are usually lecturing other people about being upfront, so I think in this case they need to explain what they are doing.”
Polling on public interest matters was paid for out of parliamentary money, but party support polling was funded by the party.
Alf doesn’t have to bother with pollsters in Eketahuna North. He is such a popular bloke, and his constituents are such clever and clear-thinking people, that he can always be sure of being returned to Parliament with a handsome majority