Poll dancing again

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‘The implications of these polling numbers in politics and society, are incredible..!’

Throughout his 40 year career in journalism – for our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry political stories and polling results have always featured strongly, and this is underlined by reports now that a new survey suggests MPs are about to pass a historic vote finally decriminalising abortion. 

Earlier Phil described how he was helped to break into the South Wales Echo office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and making clear that the ‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.

He has also explored how poorly paid most journalism is when trainee reporters had to live in squalid flats, the vital role of expenses, and about one of his most important stories on the now-scrapped 53 year-old BBC Wales TV Current Affairs series, Week In Week Out (WIWO), which won an award even after it was axed, long after his career really took off.

Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge of history and teaching the subject is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and some of those he has interviewed.


He has disclosed as well why investigative journalism is needed now more than ever although others have different opinions, how the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown played havoc with media schedules, and the importance of the hugely lower average age of some political leaders compared with when he started reporting. 


For people everywhere, but particularly for women, these are historic times.

A survey by the polling company YouGov indicates that MPs may vote in favour of a landmark ruling next month which will, finally, decriminalise abortion amid a surge in the number of women who are facing police investigation.

Polls indicate that MPs want to decriminalise abortion

The majority of parliamentarians apparently believe that women should no longer be prosecuted for ending a pregnancy beyond the 24 week legal time limit, with less than a quarter in favour of criminal action.

Absurdly, women can still be jailed under the 1861 Offences Against The Person Act if they have an abortion outside set circumstances – but an amendment to The Criminal Justice Bill, which is due to be voted on, will change all that nonsense.

The numbers don’t look good for the Tories…

In this polling has been central, and it highlights for me how important those surveys have been in covering political stories.

I look, now, with interest at those polls which show what may be about to happen in the UK parliament, as well as an average of them that point to a huge victory for Labour over the Conservatives at the next General Election (GE).

The polls put the Conservatives about 20 points behind Labour, and may mean that the opposition could be on course to win DOUBLE the Tories’ vote, and almost four times the number of seats.

A group of academics with ‘UK in a Changing Europe’, published a 150-page survey of public opinion, showing the Tories lagging behind on every axis.

Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have a lot to think about

The polling firm JL Partners issued a report which was simply entitled ‘Implosion in Blue’.

It is the same if you narrow down the figures to Scotland, where the extraordinary problems (some legal) affecting former Scottish National Party (SNP) leader and one-time Scottish First Minister (SFM) Nicola Sturgeon, have dragged down her party to the advantage of Labour.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar celebrates a by-election victory for his party

For example, one poll has put Ms Sturgeon’s net trust rating at -19, and the SNP’s numbers have been cut by four points to 33 per cent.

It reveals that the main beneficiary appears to be Labour.

In the Scottish Parliament (SP) the opposition party’s leader Anas Sarwar looks on course to be the next SFM.

In another poll conducted by the Scottish Election Study (SES), it has been revealed that Labour recorded their first lead at Westminster over the SNP in Scotland in almost a decade. The survey found that 38 per cent of voters would back Labour at the next GE compared to 32 per cent for the SNP – the party’s first lead since 2014.

Polls may suggest what could be about to happen

In another recent poll for YouGov/Times the SNP were just ahead, but Labour were hot on their heels. In terms of Westminster voting intention, the SNP led Labour by only four points, at 36 per cent versus 32 per cent. This represented the lowest SNP vote share since 2018, while for Labour it was their best result since the 2014 independence referendum.

Polls have been wrong in the past, as they were notoriously in the 1992 exit poll which showed the Conservatives short of a majority, but they have been massively refined in the years since and are unlikely to be far out now – especially if you take an average of all of them.

This just shows how important they can be for journalists like me, and, now, for women…


The memories of Phil’s astonishing decades-long award-winning career in journalism (when political stories and those about polling figures, were all-important) as he was gripped by the rare disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!

Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.

Tomorrow – how we have been monitoring another important political story, as it’s disclosed that a favourite to take over from Rishi Sunak has been condemned as a ‘hypocrite’ for attacking the 20 mph speed limit in Wales, when she has herself admitted to a court driving over the limit.