Daily catch-up: stupid questions in opinion polls, in the House of Commons and in job interviews

A surprising theme emerges in today’s round-up of news from around the internet

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1. The Absurd Opinion-Poll Question Award is won by YouGov, for asking: “Do you think Jesus would support or oppose renationalising the railways, so they are run in the public sector rather than by private companies?”

Most people (56 per cent) said they didn't know, which was a rough approximation of the obvious answer, but the only one available; 38 per cent said He would support nationalisation, and 6 per cent that He would oppose it, which seems to confuse “What Would Jesus Do?” with “What Do I Agree With?”

More relevantly, perhaps, Peter A Russell reminded us: “He arrived by Virgin.”

2. Second Stupid Question of the Day was asked by Andrew Turner, Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight, of David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions.

“Does my right hon. Friend believe that Tony Blair should get a global legacy award from Save the Children for taking us to war unnecessarily in Iraq?”

The Prime Minister did not remind his hon. Friend that he had voted for military action in Iraq. He was only too aware that those people who disagreed with that decision had found yet another ingenious way of saying so. Therefore, he avoided the question:

“The remarkable thing about that award is that Tony Blair got it from someone who used to work for Gordon Brown. Obviously the person who gave the award knows about peacemaking and peacekeeping, but it is not for me to get involved.”

Unfortunately, in his eagerness to appease the haters, Cameron slandered Justin Forsyth, the head of Save the Children UK, who had nothing to do with Blair’s award, which was made – last week, but it takes the Not-in-My-Namers a while to catch up – by Save the Children in the US.

I know facts are pointless once the red mist of sanctimony descends (just as British Future observed that facts are useless in trying to change people’s minds on the subject of immigration), but Tony Blair’s office did try to remind us of some of them, and John McTernan mentioned some others.

3. I have reviewed James Cronin’s new history of the Anglo-American conspiracy that runs the world. Actually it is a sane and balanced account of the special relationship and how it has shaped the world, mostly for the better, since the Second World War. The haters won’t like it much, either. 

It also has some fine footnotes.

4. More polling news. There was some confusion yesterday over a ComRes poll of 40 marginal seats, showing Labour 8 points ahead in those seats. This is not the same as saying that Labour is 8 points ahead across Great Britain. In those seats, Labour and Conservative were level in 2010, when the Tories had a lead in national vote share of 7 points. So this poll suggests that Labour is one point ahead nationally – in other words, roughly what the average GB polls suggest.

Also, Michael Ashcroft teased us by pre-announcing a constituency poll he has carried out in Doncaster North, Ed Miliband’s seat. The poll will be published today, and he says it will show UKIP in second place, “so if Tories tactically vote for UKIP Miliband loses”. Given that Miliband had 47 per cent of the vote last time, UKIP would have to be running him a pretty close second to make this a serious threat.


5. Stupid questions, part III. I am very much enjoying Randall Munroe's What If? book (sample illustration, right), subtitled, Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions.

6. And finally (stupid questions, part IV), thanks to Alex Dawson for this:

If asked in a job interview to describe yourself in three words why not try “violent when disappointed”?