The Meeting was held at GfK NOP on 14 February 2014
- John Curtice, President
- Nick Moon, GfK NOP, Secretary
- Peter Kellner, YouGov
- Simon Atkinson, Ipsos MORI
- Nick Howatt, TNS-BMRB
- Johnny Heald, ORB
- Martin Boon, ICM
- Damian Lyons Lowe, Survation
- Katherine Peacock, ComRes
- Bill White, Lucid Talk
- Adam Drummond, Opinium
- Ivor Knox, Panelbase
- Andrew Cooper, Populus
The minutes of the last meeting were agreed.
The application for membership that was pending at the last AGM was subsequently approved and Lucid Talk have now become members. An application was received and approved from Panelbase during the year and they too are now members.
There have been two substantive complaints since the last AGM concerning BPC rules of disclosure, one concerning the required information from published polls not being on the member’s website by the deadline set in the Rules and one about potentially misleading reporting of poll details. In the first case the member had not realised that disclosure was also required for non-political surveys conducted by BPC members, and made the information available as soon as they were reminded that it was. John Curtice advised members that if they were unsure whether a survey fell under BPC rules they need not proactively put full details on their website, but they must be prepared to make them available on request.
In the second case the member had used the computer tabulations as the means of making the full question wording available — a perfectly acceptable practice — but had added extra codes generated during the office coding process to the list of answers, thus making it appear that these options had been offered to respondents rather than just the two options that were actually on the questionnaire. The member published a clarification. Members were generally reminded that if using tabulations as the means of showing question wording, it must be made clear if they include answer options not offered to respondents.
There have again been complaints about polls conducted by members but concerning matters outside the BPC’s jurisdiction, such as question wording, and these have received a response outlining what the BPC does and does not set out to do.
John Curtice reported that he had repeated the earlier invitation to Lord Ashcroft to join the BPC, but had not had a reply. There was then a discussion about how much input members had to have to a poll conducted for Lord Ashcroft before they were obliged to make details available under BPC rules. It was agreed that Nick Moon would circulate a note about this.
John Curtice also reported that he had written to the Yes and No campaigns in Scotland, drawing their attention to BPC rules.
An application for membership had been received during the year, which led to a discussion about what exactly constituted a “polling organisation” as in the BPC Rules. It was agreed that there were two conditions that must be fulfilled by an organisation wishing to join the BPC:
- must be operationally independent — eg not itself a proselytising organisation,
- must conduct polls for more than one client.
At the start of 2012 BPC had £7,089 in the bank. During the year there was membership income of £500 and bank charges of £60. The balance at the end of 2012 was £7,529. However there is cheque for £240 for the website that has not been cashed. Also, invoices for the reduced 2013 membership fees will be sent out with the 2014 invoices, and if all these are paid there will be an additional £350 of income. This means that the balance sheet at the end of the year is £7,646, although Chairman’s expenses have not yet been submitted for the 2013 AGM.
Sub-Committee on Disclosure:
Nick Moon and Simon Atkinson have both been on the sub-committee since its formation, but as they are now Officers they need to be replaced. It was agreed that Martin Boon and Andrew Cooper would be invited to join. Martin was present and agreed, and Nick Moon will write to Andrew.
Motion on 2013 membership fees:
As had been signalled at the previous AGM, the strength of the BPC’s finances led to a motion being proposed by Nick Moon and seconded by Simon Atkinson that membership fees should be reduced to a nominal £25 for 2013 before reverting to normal levels for 2014. The motion was carried unanimously.
Election of Officers:
John Curtice was re-elected unopposed as President
Nick Moon was re-elected unopposed as Secretary
Simon Atkinson was elected unopposed as member of the Management Committee.
Any Other Business:
Although they had not been presented according to the timelines required by the BPC rules, members agreed to discuss two motions proposed by John Curtice. The first concerned the following motion passed at the 2010 AGM.
With effect from 28 days before any referendum held in the whole of any of England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, members will endeavour to publish on their web-site full details (as specified in the council’s rules of disclosure) of any poll that ascertains the voting intentions of the public in that referendum (in all or in any part of the relevant territory) within 18 hours of initial publication.
The new motion proposed was:
“Further to the motion passed by the council at its 2010 AGM on the publication of polls on referendum vote intentions, the council resolves that in the case of the Scottish referendum due to be held on 18 September 2014, the stipulations of that motion should exceptionally apply from 16 weeks immediately prior to polling day.”
John Curtice explained that the effect of this motion would be to expect that the details of polls be published within 18 hours from 29 May onwards. Although purdah will only begin on 21 August, 28 days before polling day, a number of organisations, including the BBC, are regarding the whole of the 16 week period in which campaign expenditure as regulated as the period during which ‘campaign rules; should apply. Given the intensity and partisanship of the campaign, it would seem wise for BPC to fall into line with this practice. Most pollsters are already very quick off the mark, but not all polls published on a Sunday are getting put up before Monday.
The motion was carried.
The second proposed motion sought to apply the same rules for the timing of election polls to the European elections, not previously covered. The motion was :
“With effect from 28 days before any elections to the European Parliament, members will endeavour to publish on their web-site full details (as specified in the council’s rules of disclosure) of any poll that ascertains the voting intentions of the public in that referendum (in all or in any part of the United Kingdom ) within 18 hours of initial publication.”
John Curtice explained that it was likely that there would be more polling for the 2014 European elections than previously, and there was logic to bring the European election into line with BPC rules on other major elections. The effect in 2014 would be to introduce the 18 hour rule from 24 April.
The motion was carried.