House of Lords Committee on Political Polling and Digital Media: BPC Statement

The British Polling Council welcomes the interest of the House of Lords in the work on the polling industry through the creation of an ad hoc committee on political polling and digital media.

The Council has been working continuously in recent years both to promote transparency in the way that polls are conducted and to foster enhancement of the methods used. Most recently it has required its members to undertake and publish an internal inquiry into the methods used in 2017 election, at which many but not all polls overestimated the Conservative lead over Labour, and is committed to holding in the autumn a seminar at which these reports will be presented and discussed. The Council will be seeking to make the fruits of this and its earlier work, including the inquiry conducted by Prof. Patrick Sturgis into the performance of the polls in the 2015 election, available to the committee.

However, any inquiry into the role of polls in politics clearly needs to consider wider questions than the methodology of the polls, including the relationship between polling companies and the (typically media) organisations that commission polls, how the media report and use polls, and the role of the private polling that may be commissioned by political parties. We trust that the committee will also pay due attention to these wider questions about the role that opinion polls play in our politics today.