Mainstream media polling company accused of corruption over links to Owen Smith’s campaign

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A market research company that conducts monthly voter-intention polls for The Daily Mirror and The Mail on Sunday has been accused of corruption over apparent links to Owen Smith’s Labour leadership campaign.

Survation donated £1,600 to key Smith backer Gloria De Piero’s Constituency Labour Party (CLP), as revealed by Heavy Metal Politics. Sitting on the strategy board of Blairite pressure group Progress, De Piero penned an article in Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun, “begging” its readers to join the party in order to vote for Smith.

On 21 September, former Labour MP George Galloway expressed suspicion about the donation on social media:

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Galloway and others are suspicious because the donation is not the only link between Survation and Smith.

The leadership hopeful used Survation’s headquarters to administer his campaign’s London phone banks. And Smith’s phone-bank relationship with the polling company may well go beyond the capital.

In an embarrassing gaffe, Smith’s campaign team accidentally leaked the login details for his phone-bank operation in early September. Scott Hardy (who administers his phone banks in Hull, Bradford and Leeds) is considered to have made the mistake, leaking the password: ‘Survation’.

Survation said they were “unable to comment” on any arrangement with Owen 2016. The information remains “confidential” without the client’s permission.

As well as phone banks, private polling was carried out by the Smith campaign on two occasions. This was used to suggest that the Labour leadership challenger had a good chance of beating current leader Jeremy Corbyn. This is totally at odds with other public polls that predict a clear win for the incumbent. Disregarding transparency, Smith has refused to release details of which company carried out these private polls. When asked if Survation had conducted private polling for the Smith camp, Director of Research Marius Mosoreanu said that wasn’t the case – ‘as far as he was aware’, anyway.

But Team Corbyn suspects that Survation is indeed doing polling work for Owen 2016. In mid-September, the incumbent’s campaign threatened to pull out of a Sky News leadership hustings over concerns about audience balance. Survation was used to construct the audience for the debate, which the Corbyn campaign raised as a potential “conflict of interest”.

Taking a step backwards from Labour, Survation was the polling company behind The Sun’s controversial front page claiming, wrongly, that one in five Muslims had sympathy for terrorists. The market research firm has since disowned the front page, stating that none of the reporting was “approved by Survation prior to publication”. But despite The Sun receiving thousands of complaints for inciting racial hatred, Survation did not rule out working for the publication again.

If the alleged collaboration between Smith and Survation is true, the implications go way beyond the Labour Party, as the polling company regularly conducts research for The Daily Mirror, Sky News and The Mail on Sunday. If there is nothing to hide, Smith’s campaign should just be honest about who conducted the private polling, and about the extent of its involvement with Survation.

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