WHAT MATTERS MOST: Whose truth for the taking?
I typically ignore Peter Wickham’s comments directed at me, simply because they do not stimulate me intellectually.
The most recent comments caught my attention because of the pollster’s commitment “to provide a frank assessment of the truth”.
Whose truth, may I ask?
About six months ago, CADRES conducted a poll that allegedly showed the “public” preferred Chris Sinckler to Freundel Stuart and Mia Mottley to Owen Arthur as leaders of the Democratic Labour Party and the Barbados Labour Party, respectively.
Wickham indicated at the time that the details of the survey could not be made public, as it was done for a private client; yet a frank assessment of the truth leaked out.
Now six months later, the public learns that “in fact, the summary judgement of the [June] poll, which was carried out in [only] four constituencies . . . clearly states that Sinckler is ‘most favoured’ in these ridings and that this speaks to a national preferential trend in our opinion”.
It is not a frank assessment of the truth to draw a conclusion on the leadership of a political party on the basis of a survey which was conducted in only four constituencies – as admitted by the pollster.
Furthermore, it is impossible to speak of a trend when the survey cannot be compared with previous surveys; and in those surveys Sinckler never emerged as a serious candidate for leadership.
Sinckler did not run in the 2003 general election after he had lost on two occasions in 1994 and 1999.
The article went on to state that “CADRES emphasized that the survey was not national, but based on its localized investigations, it was recommending that the DLP explore these findings at the national level at the earliest opportunity and specifically seek to elucidate the leadership situation with a view to identifying the source of Stuart’s unpopularity in the hope that these issues can be addressed before the polls in 2013”.
What a frank assessment from a survey that was not national!
It is now clear that the June 2011 survey was done for a client with interest in the Democratic Labour Party and it revealed a swing against the party in the four constituencies surveyed. The swing was enough to cause the party concern with respect to the national political environment.
So the pollster made the issue leadership in the two parties.
What a convenient summary judgement!
The “modern tools of political science and strategy” with which I am unfamiliar are very much in evidence. These tools may be summarized in one word: self-interest, with which kingmakers in politics are very familiar.
Mr Wickham, it is not a frank assessment of the truth to say that “commentators are intelligent enough to understand that I [Peter Wickham] simply present public opinion and as such I am but a humble messenger.”
If you are simply a humble messenger, then there is no place for drawing false conclusions from insufficient data.
What is most fascinating about the June 2011 CADRES poll, which was not designed to deal with the issue of leadership, is that it is the first poll since the national poll in the week preceding the 2008 general election. In that poll, notwithstanding the evidence against the Government at the time, the poll showed that Owen Arthur was the preferred leader to David Thompson.
Remarkably, Sinckler, who is now the face of increased taxation, taxes on allowances and the NIS debacle, has become Wickham’s man for leadership. The pollster is entitled to his choice but not entitled to point to insufficient data in order to support his choice. On the other hand, Arthur is not his choice.
It is now abundantly clear what are the modern tools of political science and strategy. First, identify the objective and then do whatever is necessary to achieve it which includes unlimited access to the media.
In essence, political strategy takes a preferred product and markets the hell out of it with little or no regard to its adequacy.