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.