Mr Andrew Cooper’s arrival at Downing Street has brought an admirable wish to speak truth to power to the centre of the government.Tthe results of some of the polling lies behind the recent decisions to change policy. The polls did not just do for some of the more hotly contested changes to the NHS, but also have warned the government not to go soft on sentencing, and to take controlling immigration very seriously.
A good pollster can warn a government off doing things which are currently unpopular. This may often be the best advice, as they may be unpopular for a good reason. Their unpopularity might grow if you persevere with the policy – as past governments discovered with the ERM, the Community Charge, the Iraq war and political correctness agenda of Labour. The politicians in receipt of the polling also need to avoid killing off projects that are unpoppular in prospect, but which may well be in the national interest. Sometimes political leaders have to stand and argue their case. If they are right, the public will come round to support them. Some of the important reforms put through in the 1980s that have stood the test of time and are now accepted would have polled very badly at the time.
There are a number of policies that Conservatives would love to see submitted to the polling test. How much support is there for EU bail outs? How popular are the climate change policies and carbon taxes? How much support would there be for a less intrusive relationship with the EU, and for asking the UK people what they think of that relationship?
Bring on the polling. It could make politics more exciting, and make the government more popular, if used intelligently. What would you like to be submitted to the poll test?