Letter: Dangerous message about Millwall

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Sir: It is well known that publication of selective and misleading canvass figures and polls can be used to create a bandwagon effect in by-elections, and this probably helped the BNP in Millwall last September. Your reporting of the findings of the recent Institute of Community Studies poll under the headline 'Local people 'expect BNP win' in east London' (1 April) could well have an equally damaging impact.

The poll showed Labour with 53 per cent and the BNP with 20 per cent of those who expressed support for a specific party. It confirms that Labour's support has strengthened since last September. Even after making adjustments to the data on the basis of the most pessimistic assumptions, Labour is still in the lead in Millwall. The table of findings that you published makes this clear, but the interpretation that you chose to place on them conveys a very different and potentially dangerous message.

We are not complacent about the task we face in the Isle of Dogs. Over recent months we have been putting an immense amount of effort into rebuilding the Labour Party's strength locally, selecting good candidates for the coming elections and winning the support of the majority of islanders.

The ICM poll confirms the progress we are making. It also shows that with a great deal more hard work over the next five weeks, we can ensure that the BNP is defeated decisively on 5 May. Is it too much to expect the Independent to highlight these findings rather than to seize on one pointer in the opposite direction?

Yours sincerely,

NICK RAYNSFORD

MP for Greenwich (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

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