Straw poll

The first polling results on Jack Straw’s veil remarks are now being released, with an ICM-Guardian poll showing 53-36 public approval.

Obviously this is nowhere near the 97% recorded by a nonsense Express “poll” but that’s all you can expect from Britain’s worst newspaper. More disgraceful was BBC Radio’s Five Live conducting a similar exercise and parading the results as “news”. Far from the Guardian-reading liberal establishment of right-wing paranoia, it seems the BBC are increasingly adopting the values and standards of the hate-fuelled fiction-filled “mid-market” tabloids.

Nonetheless it is worth questioning the question that the Guardian posed: “Do you think Labour minister Jack Straw is right or wrong to suggest that veils worn by Muslim women create a barrier between Muslims and other people?”

This picks out one particular comment by Straw and one that is harder to disagree with. Obviously the veil can be a barrier to communication, but so can lots of things. The poll did not actually ask to what extent people felt that the veil in particular was an issue.

Perhaps the results of a question like “Should rich powerful white men tell impoverished ethnic minority women who have come to them for help what they’re allowed to wear?” would be instructive.

ICM also found a majority believing that Muslims needed to do more to integrate, though funnily enough the Guardian neglected to poll on whether the rest of Britain might need to do more to accept Muslims.

Also interesting are the demographic differences, with an alarming minority of over-65s in favour of banning Muslim women (you read that right – the poll only asked about banning Muslim women)  from wearing veils outside their home. The 18-24 age group, on the other hand, didn’t even agree with Straw that the veil created a barrier.

The other interesting thing is the gender breakdown – men are significantly more likely to agree with Straw than women. In fact, only a minority of women agreed with him.

The saga has also had an impact on his YouGov public approval ratings, which have shot up by fifteen points to make him the most popular Labour politician (though that’s still only a net rating of zero).

YouGov have also released their post-conference trackers. Labour seem to have had the most successful conference, with a broad rise in ratings. The Tories actually went down slightly on the “clear what they stand for” attribute during their conference.

But Cameron’s NHS strategy has had some reward, with the Tories up on “best NHS policy” giving them a narrow lead. The last year or so has been a dire period for the government on the NHS, with approval levels for what has always been Labour’s strong point in what may well be the lowest trough in polling history.


10 Responses to Straw poll

  1. elephunt says:

    Driving back from Old Trafford last night I had the misfortune to tune into to BBC 5 live’s ‘discussion’ about Jack Straw and the fall out from his comments. For a few minutes I thought I’d tuned into the dreaded ‘Talksport’ as listeners rang in with their ‘examples’ of pushy ‘ethnics’ .It was dreadful and a real shock to hear such clap trap on the BBC.

  2. Hughes Views says:

    Mild mannered Jack wasn’t ‘telling’ anyone what to do; he was ‘asking’. The difference is huge…

  3. Well, for me, the highlight of the recent Radio 5 discussion(s) on this in recent weeks has been the hilarious people who ring in saying they’re ‘scared to criticise Muslims in our own country’ but are, apparently, bravely battling those fears on national radio.

    The first bit of this:
    “Also interesting are the demographic differences, with an alarming minority of over-65s in favour of banning Muslim women (you read that right – the poll only asked about banning Muslim women) from wearing veils outside their home. The 18-24 age group, on the other hand, didn’t even agree with Straw that the veil created a barrier.”
    is quite bizarre.

    It’s wonderful to see the Guardian as a ‘liberal’ newspaper summarily dumping the concept of equality before the law. Although it does serve to remind is of what a bunch of spineless bourgeois arseholes they are.

    Thank goodness for the kids! They may be fat and semi-literate but at least they’re not bigots.

    Given that, given the proportion of Muslims in each age group, 18-24s are likely to spend a much bigger perecentage of time actually interracting with Muslim women wearing the veil than over 65s, so you’d think their views might count for something.

    Unfortunately they won’t, not when there’s so much good old-fashioned hating to be done.

    Where are you supposed to go in modern Britain if you don’t hate Muslims but don’t want to glorify Hamas either?

  4. Elephunt – I don’t know if it’s just me but I’m sure I’ve noticed a recent trend of the BBC engaging in press-style tactics from meaningless polls to quoting people out of context and so on, as well as following whatever the pack thinks is the story of the week.

    Brian – I’ve worked for an MP and done surgeries, and often the people there are desperate for your help. Sure, Jack only asked, and I’m not saying he did it in anything other than a nice way, but the power relationship makes me at best uncomfortable about making such a request, I have to say.

    Bobblehat2000 – a good question…you’re always welcome at The Daily!

  5. Matthew says:

    Harry – who are you asking to battle with you? Are you asking The Daily to “step outside”??

  6. Nick says:

    Ah, A Very British Coup – I saw a great TV adaption of that once.

    However, I can’t help but have a slight suspicion that this Harry Perkins is a John McDonnell astroturfer. Perhaps I’m over-cynical though.

  7. Passing Tory says:

    An interesting post. In polls, or indeed petitions, you will usually get the response that those who ask the question want. Hence the implication from the Guardian/ICM of barriers being created. Your own proposed question of impoverished women being told what to do would of course get a different response. It is of course equally misleading!

    There are millions of Muslims who reject extremism and violence. Let us from all political parties work with them and reject the few who would seek to destroy us, our democracy and our way of life.

  8. I don’t think anyone in this discussion is suggesting that we accept people who support extremism and violence.

    Unless you’re suggesting that wearing a veil is an extreme or violent action, though, this discussion isn’t about these things.

    One problem with the current discussions about Islam is the failure to extrapolate the two seperate issues around (a) Muslims who have a very traditional or deeply conservative approach to their religion, and (b) Muslims who have an axe to grind on foreign policy (and do so in a violent way).

    Both groups – to the extent that they are groups – include a lot of people who fall into one camp but not the other and seeing the two things as a blur doesn’t really help anyone.

    As you say, though, most Muslims in Britain don’t fall into either of these categories.

  9. Passing Tory – actually agree with you on all of that, and of course our proposed alternative question was not meant to be a serious proposal, just a flippant way of illustrating that very point!

    The potential of polls to mislead, or be misinterpreted, often in both cases deliberately, is one of the reasons that we write about them so often.

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