Faced with such a bizarre statistic (‘Never in the history of surveys has toast been more popular. World In Action finds out why’) sceptics would most certainly ask all sorts of questions: how were those surveyed chosen? Do they have a vested interest in the making of toast (father’s a baker/mother sells toasters)? Were they drunk at the time? Were they all Brits? How many people approached over and beyond the 1,000 who responded told me (who was conducting the survey) to fuck off and stop wasting their time? There are endless questions, and if you really are interested in the science, practice and protocol of when, where, how and why to conduct surveys, what different kind of surveys can be conducted, for what purpose and what can be done with results thus obtained this blog really isn’t for you.
I’ve been rattling on about surveys and what a load of cack their results can be if we don’t handle them with extreme care because I’ve come across a survey conducted in Germany which makes interesting reading (if you are interested in the things that interest me, that is - when, at work, we get letters from readers who begin by telling us ‘Reading about so and so, I was reminded of an amusing incident that happened...’ you can be absolutely bloody certain that there is nothing at all in what follows that will tickle the funny bone of any reasonably sane man or women in the slightest). It appeared in the Bild, usually trailed as ‘Germany’s Sun’, but, in fact, modeled by its original publisher Axel Springer on what was then the Daily Mirror long before the Sun started up. But calling it ‘Germany’s Sun’ will give you a fair idea of who its readership are. (And Bild is a broadsheet, by the way, not a tabloid, and oddly it works rather well.)
What Bild did was to mimic a general election - one is due in Germany this September - in view of the founding of a new ‘political party’ (though I like to think of it - and, whatever they say, UKIP - as pressure groups). That party is Alternative Für Deutschland, which, broadly, wants an end
put to all the German taxpayer-funded bailouts for the Med countries (they have started calling them Rotweinländer - red wine countries) and for Germany to return to the D Mark. It is still, however, in favour of Germany remaining in the EU and would even countenance a small eurozone made up of ‘more responsible’ countries. Phonelines were opened at 8am and closed at 6pm and readers were asked to phone in an register who they would vote for if there were a general election.
Here are the results:
- Union (CDU/CSU): 42pc
- Alternative für Deutschland (AfD): 19pc
- SPD: 17pc
- Bündnis 90/Die Grünen: 7pc
- FDP: 6pc (Incidentally, the FDP - more or less the Lib Dems in trendier specs - almost always - like the Lib Dems - do badly both in surveys and at elections and it is always touch and go as to whether they will cross the 5pc threshold. They always do, of course, because the Germans can be quite kind and like to help a man when he’s down)
- Die Linke: 5pc (generally communists who can’t or don’t want to call themselves communists/spotty students who can’t get a shag)
- Eine andere Partei (Sonstige): 2pc (any other party - Ostfriesenwitz Gemeinschaft/Freibier Gesellen/Die Klo Partei, that kind of thing)
- Piratenpartei: 2pc (The previous disaffected lot, now superseded by the Afd)
So my first caveats: that 19pc is strictly of all those Bild readers who could be bothered to ring in to take part. So, for example, it does not include those who might have thought the whole exercise something of a gimmick and so did not take part (an obvious point, of course, but still worth explicitly making). Then it would be worth knowing the political and cultural views of those who responded, which, of course, we can’t and don’t. That, too, is relevant. If in a survey of Wogs Out! members a whopping 89pc were in favour of everyone who was not of the purest white skin tones being kicked out of Britain, we wouldn’t be at all surprised and the only worthwhile question to ask is: why were 11pc not in favour? But the survey would tell us absolutely nothing about the general attitude in Britain to immigration over the past 100 years. I don’t mean to get hoity-toity about Bild, but you are unlikely to find its readers discussing the finer points of psephology of a night in the pub.
Is there anything Bild’s survey can tell us. Well, to state the bleeding obvious, more of those readers to took part (see above) say they would vote for the ‘let’s leave the euro’ Afd than would vote for the ‘let’s keep the euro’ Opposition SPD. One might venture to suggest that a head of steam is most certainly building up in Germany over the taxpayer funded bailing out of the red wine countries, but, well, it really is difficult to quantify.
The only sensible observation is the one our politicians always make when they do badly in an opinion poll: ‘Look, as far as I’m concerned the only poll that matters is the one of our electorate on polling day’. Afd is thought to draw its support from across the board, and it is fair to assume that all three main parties - actually, in Germany, it should now be all four as Die Grünen do quite well these days - would see some of their supporters deserting them and expressing their anti-euro frustrations. If more established pollsters come up with results suggesting that AfD support is growing, the most likely effect would be for the CDU/CSU, the SDP and the FDP to consider amending their euro policies accordingly. Whether they would do so, of course, is another matter entirely. Because for all their efficiency, the Germans do have the occasional blind spot.
. . .
The Home Office was in touch late last night and has asked me to perform a public service. And I agreed. It seems there has been some concern in recent months that one John Ward aka The Slog and a self-styled debunker of more or less everything which takes his fancy is in danger of becoming far too self-important. ‘Self-importance’ (which doctors know as loquens bolloccitis) is not, in itself, dangerous and is quite a common affliction. Extreme cases, however, can cause concern
Knowing my slight acquaintance with Mr Ward and that of late I have had dealings with him, and that I regularly publish a blog on the net, the Home Office has asked me whether I would, on its behalf, agree to carry regular bulletins on the state of Mr Ward’s condition and his blog. I am, of course, only to glad to do so, and if there’s a knighthood in it for me at the end of the day, so much the better.
So I shall do my best to keep an eye on Mr Ward and his witterings on his blog and keep you all posted.