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Opinion polling objectivity

I tabled an amendment to an Commons Motion raising concerns about opinion polling because of the leading nature of a MORI poll about the University Hospital Trust in Birmingham adopting foundation status.  The letter to Bob Worcester of MORI below, explains my concerns.

Bob Worcester
MORI House
79-81 Borough Road

Our ref:            OTH/MORI/ID
Date:                18 June 2004

Dear Bob,

You may be aware of Barry Sheerman MP’s Early Day Motion, number 1294 OPINION POLLING.  I am writing to draw your attention to the amendment that I tabled to the motion, which refers to the poll undertaken by MORI last November on behalf of the University Hospital Trust in Birmingham on the issue of foundation trust status (MORI/JN21013/sda).  A copy of the EDM and my amendment are attached for ease of reference.

In this particular piece of work of yours, respondents were taken through a series of questions highlighting apparently virtuous qualities which they were then invited to approve.  These characteristics, summed up as “greater local freedoms” were then attributed to foundation hospitals and interviewees were asked if they support or oppose the idea of foundation hospitals.  If this is not leading people into giving the required answer, I don’t know what is!  I was shocked to discover that a reputable organisation like MORI was prepared to stoop to this level.

Can you confirm that the methodology used in this case does not comply with MORI’s normal policy and practice and give assurances that the use of leading questions in opinion polling will not be repeated?

Yours sincerely,


EDM 1294A1








after 'results', insert ', such as the University Hospital Trust in Birmingham on the issue of foundation trust status,'.


EDM 1294








That this House regrets the decline of self-regulation of public opinion polling companies in the United Kingdom; is deeply concerned that there are no sufficient checks on the integrity of polling or polling organisations; further expresses concern at the proliferation of non-scientific/empirical polling, in particular the use of techniques designed to secure the results favoured by those who commission the polls, and lack of transparency in the methodology employed; and calls on Her Majesty's Government to conduct a thorough investigation into the integrity, honesty and professionalism of the polling industry and, if indicated, introduce regulation.


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