Media ignored Indy Poll because it was poorly worded and “leading” claims BBC polling expert

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  By Martin Kelly
 
A polling expert who regularly appears on BBC Scotland has defended the Scottish media’s decision to ignore a recent survey that covered aspects of the independence debate, insisting the poll was poorly designed.
 
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Professor John Curtice described a poll commissioned by pro-Independence website Wings over Scotland as “leading” and defended an almost total media blackout that followed the poll’s publication.

According to John Curtice, who is Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, the poll contained mistakes he claimed meant that it did not receive the media coverage other similar polls have enjoyed.

Citing one question which contained a reference to space monsters, the academic said: “I think in truth, that I think for many journalists when they looked at it went ‘hang on are these guys really serious?’ “

According to Professor Curtice, the addition of the space monster option – which was contained in a question about Trident and possible attack threats – was designed to lead the respondent and appeared biased.

The academic added: “In truth, that question above all undermined the credibility of the opinion poll,”

The polling expert argued that the constitutional stance of the website itself compounded what he said was a mistake.

“Given that the source of the opinion poll is indeed a pro-independence website they couldn’t frankly afford to make that mistake.”

However Professor Curtice’s claim that the inclusion of space attacks justified the virtual news blackout that met the poll’s publication has been challenged by the man who commissioned the poll, who pointed to examples of flippant poll questions which were given significant media coverage.

Writing on his website, Stuart Campbell, who also featured on the Good Morning Scotland programme, said:

“He [Professor Curtice] may have been subtly making a point about media bias when he noted that the infamous “space monsters” question gave the press an excuse to doubt the poll’s credibility as serious research, but otherwise the comment doesn’t stand up very well in the light of the fact that most Scottish newspapers HAD happily just covered a poll comparing the prospects for independence to that of humans landing on Mars.

“And only a few days earlier we’d taken part ourselves in a YouGov one on otherwise serious political issues which ended with the question ‘Do you trust men who wear red trousers?’, and which was also widely reported in the press.”

Professor Curtice also criticised the pro-independence Yes Scotland campaign who he claimed were withholding polling details whilst releasing information based on the results.

“In my view that kind of selective releasing of alleged opinion polling does not necessarily add to the value of the independence debate.”

However the academic’s claim that the information published by Yes Scotland is from “alleged polling” has already been refuted by the pro-independence group which, responding to similar attacks by the anti-independence group Better Together in June this year said:

“Clearly, the No campaign does not understand the difference between private research and public polling,”

Stuart Campbell and Professor John Curtice being interviewed