The pollsters couldn't call the election, and they can't call the EU referendum - Spear's Magazine

The pollsters couldn't call the election, and they can't call the EU referendum

Why should we trust Ipsos MORI after their dismal performance in May, asks Stephen Hill

'We Want to Stay in EU, Voters Tell PM' screamed the headline of the Evening Standard on Friday night's edition, before anyone knows what the EU deal to be offered by Cameron actually is. This is the latest body for the Yes-vote fifth column, to join the ranks of the CBI, the FT, the unions and the overpaid FTSE 100 CEOs and all their flunky PR advisers and hangers-on.

The headline was based on a poll by Ipsos MORI, who should know the pitfalls of doing things the wrong way round, following their disastrous mis-calling of the general election.

The questions this time round were:

1. 'The exact wording expected to be on the voting slips in the poll': sorry, the exact wording expected to be …? The Referendum Bill's first reading has generated a plethora of amendments already; the second reading is still months away; then the bill must go to the Lords; then the Parliament Act may have to be invoked, and so on. Nobody today has any idea of the exact wording expected.

2. Should the UK remain a member of the EU? Impossible to know until we know the terms.

3. Would you vote now to stay in or get out? Ditto.

4. Are you confident DC will get a good deal for Britain? Please define 'good' first…

If you go to the bottom of these futile questions, and add the 12 per cent don't-knows to those 57 per cent who are not confident that the PM can get an (undefined) 'good deal' for Britain, you could be looking at a majority of up to 69 per cent who could want out. Now, what was that headline saying?

Who cares about polls anyway? It's the result that counts, as Cameron's victory in the general election showed, much to the discredit of all the pollsters in the UK, who got it plain wrong. Hands up those pollsters who said Cameron would win outright. What, none?

If they can't get it right in the UK, what fat chance have they got of getting even half-right in the EU – when we know what the question finally is, that is? My own view is that it will be a close call right down to the wire.