The sequence of release for the polling
Polling for the constituencies of Cambridge, Redcar, Sheffield Hallam and Wells formed the basis of an article in the
newspaper on 27 May and therefore had to be released in
full by ICM under article 2.6 of the British Polling Council rules.
But despite being the second poll to be completed, the details of the poll for Twickenham were only released the following day when Oakeshott referenced it as part of his resignation statement. This is further confirmation that the Twickenham poll was, in the words of Vince Cable, “a private local poll for general election planning” that was never intended for publication and was only divulged following an unexpected and fairly catastrophic turn of events from the perspective of the peer.
Disclosure of the results to Cable and Munt
Given public statements on the Twickenham poll from both Vince Cable and Lord Oakeshott, the results would presumably have been passed to both Cable and his election campaign manager shortly after they were received from ICM by Oakeshott. In his interview with the BBC, Cable also reveals that his parliamentary aide Tessa Munt was informed of the results of the polling in Wells by himself and Oakeshott:
“In one particular case concerning my parliamentary private secretary, Tessa Munt from Wells, we sat down and discussed the details with her.”
A ‘sit down’ meeting with Tessa Munt would suggest that the figures from the polling were discussed in some detail. Given the strategic value of constituency polling and the close political relationships between cabinet ministers and their parliamentary private secretaries, it would seem extraordinary for Munt not also to have been provided with either a paper or electronic copy of the full tabulated figures and that these would be passed to her campaign manager. Indeed, Munt is defending a majority of just 800 at the next election.
The status of the polling under categories 4 and 5 of the rules
On the basis of publicly available information, it is clear that: 1. The polling of Twickenham and Wells was commissioned by Lord Oakeshott in a personal capacity and not by the Liberal Democrat federal, regional or local parties. 2. The results of these polls were related to Vince Cable and Tessa Munt. 3. The value of a constituency poll is certainly above the threshold for declaration under categories 4 and 5 of the rules governing disclosure of financial interests. 4. The fieldwork for the Twickenham and Wells polls was finished by ICM on 16 April and 18 April respectively, both more than six weeks ago. 5. The polling was not declared on the Register of Members’ Financial interests as of three days ago on 2 June.
Nick Clegg and Lib Dems face wipeout in damning opinion poll verdict, Patrick Wintour and Nicholas Watt, Guardian, 27 May 2014 http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/may/26/nick-clegg-and-lib-dems-face-battle-for-survival
British Polling Council rules http://www.britishpollingcouncil.org/objects.html