Category Archives: Minutes

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 2015

The Meeting was held at GfK NOP on 23 March 2015

Present:

  • John Curtice, President
  • Nick Moon, GfK NOP, Secretary
  • Simon Atkinson, Ipsos MORI
  • Anthony Wells, YouGov
  • Johnny Heald, ORB
  • Damian Lyons Lowe, Survation
  • Tom Mludzinski, ComRes
  • Laurence Stellings, Populus
  • Ivor Knox, Panelbase

Apologies:

  • Bill White, Lucid Talk
  • Harris Interactive
  • Mindmetre
  • TNS BMRB

Minutes:

The minutes of the last meeting were agreed.

Officers’ Report:

Mindmetre were approved as new members during this year.

There were two complaints during the year, but only one case where the Executive Committee asked someone to provide information they had not already provided. In the other case clarification from the member showed that the poll was not covered by BPC rules.

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, though in most cases the Rule 2.7 outlined below would take Ashcroft polls out of BPC rules.

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

One impact of this decision is that Lord Ashcroft would not be eligible to be a BPC member.

Financial Report:

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.

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

Motions

Nick Moon tabled four amendments to the BPC rules:

5.3. The President will take the chair at the AGM and any EGM. In the absence of the President, members present at the meeting will nominate a chairman for that meeting. Members may also appoint the President, in advance of the meeting, to cast their vote by Proxy according to their instructions.

5.7 subject to the agreement of two thirds of members, amendments to the Objects and Rules may be made via an email vote if there is agreed to be sufficient urgency

2.6.2. The rules of disclosure apply to all polls published in the UK by BPC members, irrespective of where they are conducted. The rules of disclosure do not apply where the survey organisation has no responsibility for the design of the survey or of the analysis, and all weighting of the data is according to client instruction

2.7. Any member of the BPC responsible for conducting a private survey that has entered the public domain, with the BPC member identified by the client, will acknowledge having conducted the survey.

All were passed unanimously.

In the case of 2.7 it was agreed that it would be good practice for members to say “no comment” rather than deny having conducted the poll

Any Other Business:

John Curtice reminded members about the date when the 28 day rule for elections would come into effect, and also said that Sunday polls should ideally be on the pollster’s website on the Sunday.

Nick Moon reported that Companies House were disputing our right to use the words “British” and ”Council” in our name. Members need to write to Companies House to say that the BPC includes all relevant practitioners, and that there was no competing body.

There was some discussion as to whether BPC should hold a post-mortem conference after the election. It was agreed that we would ask for a slot at the Political Communications s conference on 17/18 June.

It was agreed that the BPC table on the accuracy of the polls would define a final poll as a poll that was conducted entirely before the polls open, and included at least some fieldwork on the Tuesday

It was agreed that the Management Committee would decide whether a separate report on any on-the-day or hybrid polls would be necessary.

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 2014

The Meeting was held at GfK NOP on 14 February 2014

Present:

  • 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

Apologies:

  • Andrew Cooper, Populus

Minutes:

The minutes of the last meeting were agreed.

Officers’ Report:

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.

Financial Report:

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.

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 2013

The Meeting was held at GfK NOP on 21 March 2013

Present:

  • John Curtice, President
  • Nick Moon, GfK NOP, Secretary
  • Peter Kellner, YouGov
  • Simon Atkinson, Ipsos MORI
  • Nick Howatt, TNS-BMRB
  • Martin Boon, ICM
  • Damian Lyons Lowe, Survation
  • Keiran Pedley, ComRes
  • Bill White, Lucid Talk

Apologies:

  • Chris Eynon, System Three
  • Jonny Heald, ORB
  • James Endersby, Opinium
  • Michael Simmonds, Populus

After reading the apologies received Nick Moon relayed the sad news that Anne-Marie Hill, of Marketing Means, and her fellow director Graham Dumper died of unrelated illnesses during 2012. The company continues, but is going in a new direction, and will not be polling in the near future, so has resigned from the BPC.

Minutes:

The minutes of the last meeting were agreed.

Officers’ Report:

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 three complaints since the last AGM concerning BPC rules of disclosure, all concerning the required information from published polls not being on the member’s website by the deadline set in the Rules. In two cases the information was made available immediately after the complaint, and in the other the information was already on the website by the time the complaint was received having been posted soon after the deadline.

John Curtice reminded members that the required information should not just be on the member’s website, but should also be easy to find.

One member contacted the Officers about a grey area concerning disclosure and was advised how to deal with this with the client. The matter was then resolved.

There have 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.

Financial Report:

At the start of 2012 BPC had £4,259 in the bank. During the year there were outgoings of £625 (£284 for the website, £172 for Chairman’s travel expenses, £3 for AGM expenses, and the remainder for bank charges). There was income of £3,450 during the year, all from member subscriptions. The balance at the end of 2012 was £7,090.

Sub-Committee on Disclosure:

At the last AGM it was agreed that Patrick Sturgis would be invited to replace David Butler, and John Rentoul to replace Peter Riddell, as members of the sub-committee. Nick Moon has written to them and both have agreed. John Curtice has written to both David and Peter thanking them for their service.

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:

Two pieces of communication have been received concerning members’ practices of prompting or not prompting for UKIP at voting intention questions. It was agreed that this was entirely for members to decide, but that it should be clear in any publication of polls whether UKIP had been prompted or not. It was further agreed that members would advise the Secretary of their current practice, and a statement would then be added to the BPC website giving the norm, while making it clear that members are free to use alternative approaches.

John Curtice announced he had got an ESRC grant to fund a website to collate data from polls on Scottish devolution and requested members to give him poll info in advance of publication, under embargo, to assist with this.

It was agreed John Curtice would write to Lord Ashcroft inviting him to join.

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 2012

The meeting was held at GfK NOP on 16 February 2012

Present:

  • John Curtice, President
  • Nick Moon, GfK NOP, Secretary
  • Antony Wells, YouGov
  • Simon Atkinson, Ipsos MORI
  • Nick Howatt, TNS-BMRB
  • Pru Shelton, ComRes

Apologies:

  • Martin Boon, ICM
  • Jonny Heald, ORB
  • James Endersby, Opinium
  • Phil Stubington, RS Consulting
  • Michael Simmonds, Populus

Minutes:

The minutes of the last meeting were agreed

The website has been partially updated, but the AGM minutes have not yet been uploaded and this will be done shortly, along with the 2010 accounts, and the 2011 accounts when complete.

John Curtice reported that he had not felt there was any need for a press release on polls in the AV referendum.

Officers’ Report:

There has been one application for membership since the last AGM. This was received fairly recently and is still in progress. An application was pending at the time of the last AGM, from Survation, which has now been approved and they have now become members.

There have been no complaints since the last AGM concerning BPC rules of disclosure. There have 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. There was also a complaint (not about a member) about a survey research ’scam’, which was passed to the MRS.

However, John Curtice did point out that on two occasions he had written to member organisations asking them for information that should, under BPC rules, have been on their websites, and the information was never supplied. One request was never acknowledged and on the other occasion the information as promised but never received. It was noted that if members delayed in supplying information to the BPC President, other people may have to wait longer. Members are thus reminded to ensure they respond promptly to requests for information covered by the disclosure rules.

Financial Report:

Bank statements have now been received covering the period from Jan 2010 onwards, though for the last few months only notices of advice of charges have been received, despite the Bank being chased, and so the 2011 accounts are still provisional.

The 2010 accounts show membership income of £2,150 and outgoings of £495.71 — travel expenses for the Chair for the 2009 and 2010 AGMs. This produced an excess of income over expenditure of £1,654.29 and a bank balance of £2,875 at the end of the year.

There are some membership dues outstanding for 2011 and copy invoices have been issued for these. Assuming all are paid, and there are no unexpected expenses on top of bank charges and the Chair’s expenses for the 2011 AGM of £90.55, the estimated excess of income over expenditure is £2,089.95, leaving the BPC with funds of £4,964.74.

Our outgoings have been limited since the AGM was switched to GFK NOP, thus avoiding considerable cost. The BPC needs to have funds in hand so it can run educational conferences both pre and post the next general election, but there seems little benefit in building a mountain of cash. It was agreed, and notice is hereby given, that a motion will be presented at the 2012 AGM to reduce membership fees for the calendar year 2013 to a nominal £25.

Sub-Committee on Disclosure:

At the last AGM it was agreed that members of the sub-committee would be approached to see if they were still willing to be on the sub-committee, it being some years since they first agreed.

This has now been done and all but two agreed to continue. David Butler and Peter Riddell have stood down.

It was agreed that Patrick Sturgis would be invited to replace David Butler, and John Rentoul to replace Peter Riddell. Nick Moon will write to them.

John Curtice will write to both David and Peter thanking them for their service.

Pro-Activity re New Members:

It was agreed that the BPC’s aims were best met by it being as broad a church as possible, and it was agreed that we should approach non-member organisations that had conducted more than one-off polls to invite them to join.

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.

Elections and Referendums:

John Curtice reminded members of the resolution from the 2010 AGM about the 18 hour disclosure rule. This will come into effect on 5 April 2012 for the London Mayoral and Assembly elections. He asked members having polls published in Sunday newspapers to make sure they had made arrangements to ensure the rules are complied with.

Any Other Business:

John Curtice drew the meeting’s attention to recent GB-wide polls that had been used to provide figures — and often headlines — for Scotland only. Members are reminded that included in the information that must appear in any press report of a poll is not just the sample size, but also the universe covered. If a national poll is used as the source for publication of Scotland-only figures it is not sufficient for the technical details section of the poll write-up to read “{company} interviewed 1,000 people by telephone from {date} to {date}.” It must read “{company} interviewed 1,000 people across Great Britain by telephone from {date} to {date}.” If the whole story is only about Scotland then ideally the actual Scotland sample size should be given, but as a minimum it must be possible for people at least to deduce the broad scale of the Scotland sample.

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 2011

The Meeting was held at GfK NOP on 28 March 2011

Present:

  • John Curtice, President
  • Nick Moon, GfK NOP, Secretary
  • Peter Kellner, YouGov
  • Simon Atkinson, Ipsos MORI
  • Nick Howatt, TNS-BMRB
  • Gregory Absalom, Opinium Research
  • Caroline Lawes, ComRes
  • Martin Boon, ICM

Apologies:

  • Jonny Heald, ORB
  • Anne-Marie Hill, Marketing Means
  • Phil Stubington, RS Consulting
  • John Poole, RG Clarity

Minutes:

The minutes of the last meeting were agreed

Officers’ Report:

There was one complaint made to the BPC since the last AGM. This involved surveys referred to in a press release which the member understood were not in the public domain. It was agreed that they were in fact covered under the terms of disclosure, and the member duly supplied the data to the complainant, thus closing the matter.

There have been two applications for membership since the last AGM. One, from RG Clarity, was approved and they have now become members. The other was received fairly recently and is still in progress

John Curtice reported back on the conference on opinion polling and exit polling organised jointly by BPC and the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods in November. The event was a success and was very useful for outsiders. John thanked all who took part.

Nick Moon and John Curtice have undertaken a search of member websites to measure compliance with BPC rules. None were fully compliant, but most were good. One common theme was the lack of a link to the BPC website. Individual reports will be sent to members about their own websites.

Financial Report:

The change of signatures on the account has now finally been ratified, and Nick Moon will shortly be in possession of the statements and cheque books. He will prepare a financial report and circulate this for comment. Invoices for membership for 2010 and 2011 will shortly be sent out, and members were asked to pay promptly.

Election of Officers:

John Curtice was re-elected unopposed as President

Nick Moon was re-elected unopposed as Secretary

Andrew Cooper has resigned his position as member of the Management Committee because of his new role at Number 10, and Nick moon will write to thank him for all his work on behalf of the BPC. Simon Atkinson was elected unopposed to replace him.

Elections and Referendums:

John Curtice reminded members of the resolution from the last AGM about the 18 hour disclosure rule. This will come into effect on 7 April for all polls concerning voting intention in the elections for the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly, and also for the AV referendum.

Any Other Business:

There was a discussion about the BPC website. It was decided not to spend money “modernising” it at this stage, but it was agreed that it should be updated with details of new members, and of the resolutions passed at the last AGM. In the interests of transparency it was agreed that AGM minutes and financial reports should appear on the website. It was agreed that consideration be given to updating the “Journalists’ Guide to opinion Polls” on the website.

Nick Moon will communicate with the members of the Sub-Committee on Disclosure to establish if they are still prepared to serve if needed.

It was agreed that it would left to John Curtice’s discretion whether a press release was needed on the performance of the polls at the AV referendum.

It was agreed as BPC policy that the best way to measure error in final election polls is to take the average of the errors on share of the vote for Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, and “others”.

The next AGM will be held in February 2012.