Having previously led the charge on the Labour polling story, John Key has gone very quiet on the issue now that a former National supporter has blown the whistle on National doing the exact same thing.
Thanks to this former supporter we know that under Bill English’s leadership National told volunteers to say they were from â€˜Gallagher Research’ (which appears to have never existed as a registered company) and use fake names as they conducted public polling.*
This practice is understood to have continued for some time and, short of a denial, may well still be happening.
The change in Key’s approach to this issue has been revealing.
On Sunday he was in full man-of-principle mode, thundering that it was ‘a serious matter’ and demanding a full inquiry in the Herald. On Monday The Standard published a guest post from the former supporter criticising the practice, but pointing out National’s gross hypocrisy.
By this morning Key had gone to ground on the issue. Gone was the talk of the inquiry, and when given a free kick by Radio NZ this morning all he had to say was that ‘claiming that your name is Bill when it’s really Rick I would have thought was problematic.’
Now it’s been shunted on to Bill English to front, because frankly he hasn’t got any credibility worth preserving. That’s not helped by the hypocrisy of English demanding openness and transparency from Labour when he’s been doing the exact same thing himself.
I doubt we’ll be hearing any more about Key’s inquiry now. But if we do, we should demand that it also includes a thorough investigation into the National Party’s polling practices, including the role of Gallagher Research and any other front group National has used, past or present, to deceive the voting public. After all, it’s all about openness and transparency, isn’t it?
* A commenter in that thread claims ACT has done the same.
[In case there was any doubt, I don’t support using the names of non-existent companies for polling, though I can understand why a person might not want to give their real name. I’ve worked in call centres and it’s common practice. This looks to me like a case of amateur behaviour from Rick Barker that would have only produced unscientific results anyway. If you’re going to poll just pay UMR to do it for God’s sake.]