LETTER : Philip: phone-in polls off target

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The Independent Online
Sir: The contention ("Sorry, but I still think I'm right", 20 December) that the GMTV and Radio 5 telephone pools indicate a shift in public opinion on gun control compared to NOP's October research is silly.

Like all responsible polls, NOP based its conclusions on questions asked of a sample of people designed to be representative of the population. A "telephone poll" reflects the views of a self-selected assortment of people who just happened to be tuned in and sufficiently interested to pick up the phone. As Polly Toynbee notes in connection with the Today Personality of the Year vote ("What's wrong with the BBC today"), such exercises "only test which interest groups have the fastest fingers on their telephone buttons".

ALLEN COOPER

Walton-on-Thames, Surrey

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