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National’s polling hypocrisy

Written By: - Date published: 7:29 pm, October 27th, 2009 - 45 comments
Categories: labour, national - Tags:

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 ‘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.]

45 comments on “National’s polling hypocrisy ”

  1. mike 1

    On TV1 tonight Goff stated that this (polling) used to be done by professionals but it’s cheaper for us to it.

    Couldn’t agree more with old 5% there. Makes you wonder why we let these bloody amateurs run the country down for 9 years…

  2. Pat 2

    “…John Key has gone very quiet on the issue…”
    “…By this morning Key had gone to ground on the issue…”

    Yep Key is definately hiding from the issue. Or he is in Asia doing PM stuff. One of the two.

    • Eddie 2.1

      Um, look at his weak comment on RNZ. Russel Norman was going in for the kill, Key basically had nothing to say. A far cry from the thundering denunciations we were hearing on Sunday.

  3. Pat 3

    “…If you’re going to poll just pay UMR to do it for God’s sake…”

    Assuming your party has got the money to pay UMR. Presumably money was the reason why Labour was using volunteers with fake names and a fake company.

    I guess Labour have learnt their lesson and from now on will use volunteers with fake names and a real (albeit non-descript) company.

  4. Ron 4

    It really isn’t an issue, is it? The media do it regularly, other companies do it, political parties do it. By not revealing who they are they get a slightly more uncluttered response, I imagine.(how many double negatives was that?)
    It has BECOME an issue because key waded into it. Idiot.

  5. TightyRighty 5

    If you want to make an issue out of nothing, at least take one lesson from farrar. you need to have at least one piece of believable evidence backed up by a whole lot of spin, then people will believe. this is a lame attempt, i seriously thought you were better than this.

    • Eddie 5.1

      You are sensitive about this aren’t you? It’s not spin, it’s a genuine question. A former National supporter has given us detailed information about National’s polling activities under English. Easy enough for him to deny it.

      I have no interest in defending Labour, I think Barker’s actions were stupid even if hardly worthy of the condemnation we’re hearing in the media. What I am interested in is seeing the same standards apply to National as they demand of Labour.

      • TightyRighty 5.1.1

        not really, as i have said, provide some real proof and i’ll back off. but only seems to be unsubstantiated rumour? give me some more detailed information eddie, i think it’s important, you know, to apply the same standards of reporting as the media do. you don’t want the msm showing you up do you?

        • Eddie

          Media use anonymous sources all the time. They also have access to politicians to ask them follow-up questions, unfortunately we don’t. Bill can end the speculation by denying the claims. So far he hasn’t done that, and I don’t think he will.

          • TightyRighty

            so any allegation, if not denied, is then true? has anyone even asked bill english if this has happened? or is he going to have to trapse over here and answer to innuendo and hearsay? if you don’t have the info, you don’t really have a story.

            • Eddie

              I don’t think you understand what a blog is, or you’re intentionally trying to misunderstand it.

              The claims made here have as much weight as you choose to give them. I wouldn’t convict Bill in a court of law based on a guest post on The Standard, but an enterprising journalist might like to ask him a few questions.

              And it goes without saying that I wouldn’t be putting the claims out there unless I had confidence in the source’s integrity.

            • TightyRighty

              ok, so give me some more information so i can reassure myself that it’s not BS. think of me as the journalist who you think should be asking Bill English the tough questions.

              Eddie, what information or proof do you have to back up your allegation that national has also been as deceptive as labour over the internal polling conducted in ministers offices, and where can the public see such proof?

            • Eddie

              It’s not The Standard‘s policy to reveal our sources.

  6. Sorry it was not a fake company. As long as the word “Limited” was not used no law was broken. And if they said it was the Labour Party then the result would be skewered.

    If the nats want to debate this maybe they could tell us how Curia is being funded.

    • Herodotus 6.1

      Your statement is deflective for the actions. Why cannot someone either say this is what we did and we are NOT ashamed, embarrassed and we will continue to do so, OR this was misleading and we are sorry. Which ever may be applicable.

      • Ari 6.1.1

        Reading the paper this morning, it seems like that’s exactly what the Labour Party is doing.

        • Herodotus

          Which paper is this so I can read this on line, I am interested in which direction Labour have taken?
          Thanks Ari

          • Tigger

            Dom Post today has an editorial slamming the practice as though Labour are the only ones who’ve ever done it (also page 2 piece on Barker).

            Honestly, at least do some damn research, Dom Post!

            • mickysavage

              The reasons are for the protection of the interviewers. I am aware that a few senior public servants are Labour supporters. When they help the party they do not want their identity being made puublic. No doubt the comment was made in that context. Not a good look but not a hanging offence either.

  7. Come on eddie.

    Howls of outrage when the right tried to use the “they did it too” line when Nat MP’s were in the spotlight. Surprised to see you there for stoop to such a tactic.

    What about Barker’s lies to the media? Are there situations where it is OK to lie? I assume this only applies to Labour or left MP’s?

    felix comments yesterday did make me think. Sadly, all that’s happened is that we seem to have reversed sides and roles with equally hypocritical behaviour on both sides. I also think it’s fair to say these exchanges are being played out on the fringes which the general population is largely disinterested.

    It’s sad because the economic challenges we face along with the well documented (at least here!) climate challenges would suggest that now is the perfect time to be having a some serious debates about long term decisions and directions.

    • Eddie 7.1

      Nowhere have I attempted to defend Barker. Read the post, I even explicitly criticise him. I’m just saying that if National wants to get on its high horse and demand transparency from Labour it should be prepared to answer questions about its own polling activities.

      Seriously, sometimes I wonder about the reading comprehension of some of the righties here.

    • Ari 7.2

      “They did it too” isn’t a valid defense, but it is a valid criticism if you admit that your side was wrong to do it as well.

      Right-wing bloggers tend to use “they did it too” as a defense. Eddie is using it as a criticism of National’s attacks on Labour over this. There is a big difference.

  8. To get things into perspective I think the following are really important issues where the current Government is failing us:

    1. Its sabotaging of all of the country’s climate change policies,
    2. Its sabotaging of Auckland’s democracy,
    3. Its destruction of our education system by, for instance, cutting very good programs such as ACE and giving this money to private schools,
    4. Its undermining of workers rights through ACC reform, the 90 day fire at will bill and various other policies.

    The following are not:

    1. The anti smacking referendum,
    2. Whether or not Phil Goff rode a bike when he was younger,
    3. The state of John and Bronagh Key’s relationship,
    4. Whether Labour volunteers conducting a poll used their correct first names or not.

    Perspective would be good.

    • Daveski 8.1


      I’ll disagree with your views on 1-4 but I agree entirely that the debate is no longer on the issues but on matters of perception. I don’t think this is a post election issue either but a trend over many years.

      The dumming down of the media has a role to play as does news and entertainment … or should that be entertainment as news???

      So couldn’t agree more – perspective would be good.

      • Herodotus 8.1.1

        I concur. Yet we get this from Labour. Is this not confirming an earlier post from here “Everyone is doing it…” hundreds of thousands of families…. (see below) If we are to have real issue debates then can we also have committment not to feed us crap. Selwyn Pellet (Posted Bty T Mallard) had 2 interesting posts on issues that I think relate to NZ. yet how many have a grasp of what is being referred to.
        Perhaps there are far too many issues of min thought just junk food topics. How about focusing on real issues ACC, Govt depts spying, ETS & EFA to name a few.
        Trevor Mallard says:
        October 27, 2009 at 5:49 pm
        Piggy – there was substantial change in child poverty through working for families for example where hundreds of thousands of families were lifted over the poverty line.

  9. Ianmac 9

    A few years ago I was polled. The questions seemed to have a bias towards National but I was not sure. So I asked the man who he was working for. He said he didn’t really know. I asked him if it was for National but he hung up. Have wondered though but can’t prove anything.

    • Mac1 9.1

      Ianmac, I too was polled by a National phone canvasser a few years ago. Her first question was whether I knew who the present National MP was. Answer, “Yes”. Another question. “Do you know who the new National candidate is?” Answer. “Have you forgotten who she is?”
      About this time the National canvasser, as she ‘fessed up, and I was told later by her daughter too, twigged that she was talking to an opposing candidate.

      I also know that the Brethren push polled in our electorate in 2005. One of my activists had that experience.

  10. Captain Rehab 10

    Dudes, check out the doco about the 1996 Wellington central election “Campaign”. There’s a scene in it where we actually see this kind of polling taking place with the candidate hovering over the shoulder of the caller. I can’t remember if it’s Labour or National doing it but back then it was hard to tell the difference anyway.

  11. snoozy 11

    what’s this with another bill passed under urgency- this time breaks? Dude we want our democracy back!

    when was the last time we had a general strike? Or the last time if ever the government resorted to urgency to ram this amount of stuff through? Roger Douglas blitzreig tactics. Needs to badly be checked.

  12. I thought you lot had moved on from the ” I know we did but so did they” defense after the electoral thumping last year.

    The real story is the fact that labour is broke and the fact that Barkers immediate response was to lie through his teeth. Another trait that I thought would have been given up on after last year.

    It appears nothing has been absorbed, which is a bit of a pity really because while these feeble attack lines are being hatched you lot have failed (miserably) to do anything for the telecom techs.

    • “They did it too!” has been nearly exclusively the cry of embarrassed kiwibloggers reeling from Key repeating at times almost identically the same things that Farrar has beaten well out of proportion and used to personally attack Clark in a 3 (going on 4) year delusional tanty, starting around the time of Nationals 2005 election loss.

    • Eddie 12.2

      Barnsley, read the post. I’m not defending Barker, I’m asking National to abide by the same standards they’re demanding of Labour.

  13. we know that under Bill English’s leadership National told volunteers to say they were from ‘Gallagher Research’ (which appears to have never existed as a registered company) and use fake names as they conducted public polling.

    1. Wellington City New World isn’t a registered company. So what? That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Maybe it was a partnership. A sole trader. A trading name for the National Party. Something else? The companies register is evidence of company registration and little more.

    2. I can confirm the Gallagher Research story. I polled for National while a student. Paid pretty well. But we weren’t told to use fake names.

  14. RedLogix 14

    Still a total non-story.

    There is nothing wrong with using pseudonyms in a public setting. We do it on blogs all the time.

    There is nothing wrong with using a front name to obscure who is doing the poll, in order to gain a less biased result; this would appear to be almost universal practise. Professional pollers such as Curia or UMR never explain who is really paying them for their work.

    No-one is being materially disadvantaged, there is nothing to criticise or apologise for.

  15. TightyRighty 15

    with respect to redlogix above. I think there is something to apologise for. Eddie has made this up. if he can’t reveal any new information or proof, then this post and the other post are total BS. apologise to the people eddie. show us your standards and you ethics.

  16. TightyRighty 16

    no, but his version differs from “the classic liberals” and eddies, did you read the last line of his comment? it seems that was the crux of eddies and the bs artists posts, that national did exactly the same. I never said national don’t conduct polling under a company name, i see no problem with that, but they never used fake names, and they paid their staff. where is labour on the minimum wages of their “volunteers”?

    The standard has all the info, so just release it.

    edit: just saw that the dom post has an editorial on this issue, not a single mention of accusations of National “doing it too”, they must pay their staff and use real names or, possibly, it would be reported

    • Eddie 16.1

      You’re a bit oversensitive there Tighty. Clearly we can’t reveal our sources, but we wouldn’t have put this out there unless we have reason to believe it is genuine.

      It is not The Standard‘s policy to reveal our sources.

      Graeme has confirmed the polling under the front company Gallagher research occured, but in his case he wasn’t told to use a pseudonym.

      Like I said, this could easily be cleared up with a denial from National.

      • Pascal's bookie 16.1.1

        Dompost also reports that National used the name “Access Market Research” in ’96.

      • TightyRighty 16.1.2

        pathetic. your full of it. you said you had new information. don’t reveal your source, reveal that. but you can’t can you? so i call BS

  17. Selwyn Pellett 17

    It was wrong of Labour to do what they did. I understand why, but dont do it a again.

    The new polictics of this country going forward, I hope will be about genuine integrity. It’s okay to make a mistake but front up on it. We all make mistakes and thats typically not the issue, covering it up is.

    National has almost certainly done the same thing but so what? It was wrong, man up and move on.

    As to the issues facing the country, this must rank as number 780,000,000,001 in order of importance.

    Lets focus on how we can build a better country as we have some serious work ahead of us on that score.

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