A charity is not allowed to take part in political campaigning, especially during an election period. This wasn't a simple poll. It contained a hugely loaded question which YouGov should have refused to ask...
In 2002, a senior Conservative Party politician described the party as having been regarded as “the nasty party”. The current Conservative leader has sought to rebrand them as the “Compassionate Conservatives”. Do you think the Conservative pledge to hold a vote on whether to make the hunting with dogs of deer, hares and foxes legal again is MORE in keeping with a ‘nasty party’ or a ‘Compassionate Conservative’ party?
A ‘nasty party’ - - - - - 56%
A ‘Compassionate Conservative’ party - - 23%
Don’t know - - - - - 21%
How is that not a "push" question? YouGov is an excellent polling company, but they have sullied their reputation with this. I emailed Steve Taylor with two questions...
1. Explain to me why this press release is in accord with your non political commitments under the Charities ActHere are his answers...
2. Why do you wish to alienate all Conservative Party supporters?
1. You are right that we are a charity, but we are also a Registered Third Party with the Electoral Commission. We conducted polling to highlight how David Cameron is out of touch with public opinion on the issue of hunting. That is right and proper for us as an organisation with a legitimate interest in that area.
2. We do not wish to alienate Conservative supporters and you are right to point out that we count a number of Party members amongst our supporters, and alienation is not our intention. We have conducted this polling simply to highlight how out of touch Mr Cameron is on this subject. All our supporters would expect us to do that.
The LAS has a legitimate viewpoint. They are quite within their rights to commission polls on the hunting issue. But draw your own conclusions as to why they conducted this push poll with only four days to go until polling. David Cameron has said there would be a free vote on hunting in a future Parliament. Frankly, stunts like this will only serve to harden opinion against the agenda the LAS wishes to promote.
Charity, my arse.
UPDATE 4pm: The Charity Commission has been in touch with me and left the following comment...
The Charity Commission, as the independent regulator for charities in England and Wales, is aware of this issue and looking into it to see what regulatory role, if any, there may be for us. We will not comment further on this specific case at this stage, but guidance for charities on campaigning (called Speaking Out - CC9), and guidance for charities during election periods, is available on our website HERE.