A Hole Comments
Making It Count from A Hole Comments
As you watch a politician tanking terribly in the polls being aggressively interviewed on television you can sense it coming, the political response that possibly above all others has stood the test of time, “the only poll that counts is the one on election day”
An absolute profusion of future usage is guaranteed since David Cameron used it after the UK election to such telling and convincing effect.
It is time however to analyse whether this most cherished of political pronouncements which is right up there with “I want to be absolutely clear about this” and “the Prime Minister has my unequivocal support” can actually be justified as fair and accurate comment.
The implication is that only the polls on election days can cause politicians to lose their jobs and that the polls published every week or two between elections are irrelevant or inaccurate.
The polls that led to Julia and Kevin being stabbed did not take place on election days. The same applies to those which almost caused the spilling of Tony. I’m sure none of them would agree with the proposition that these polls didn’t count.
Constitutional experts are only now beginning to realise that the polls published between elections have a very important role in the democratic process. They are a sign to the party in government that the electorate are reluctant to wait until an election for a prime minister or premier to be sacked and if they’re forced to they’ll send the whole government packing with him or her.
The inescapable conclusion is that non-election polls are absolutely vital in a democracy. Without them for example the concept of faceless men might never have become such an invaluable force in prime ministerial succession planning.
It’s true that non-election polls may sometimes be wholly inaccurate but that’s not the point. Their critical role is to propel prematurely to the back bench prime ministers and premiers who are plonking.
So next time you hear a prime minister or premier saying “the only poll that counts is the one on election day” you’ll know first and foremost that he or she is in trouble, hoping against hope that the party aren’t currently considering a tap on the shoulder or an activation of faceless men and hoping desperately that the assertion will be as unusually accurate as it was when David Cameron uttered it.