A rather bizarre article in the T&A today, about a survey Philip Davies sends out to all 18 year olds on their birthday, along with a card (awww).
The headline of the article is that supposedly no one who answered Davies’ survey said they ‘strongly agreed’ that they felt valued by society. This plays nicely into an article that can bemoan the plight of the youth today who get blamed with all societies ills, before the media goes back to hounding them for being hoody-wearing, alco-pop drinking layabouts.
It also means that Philip Davies can be portrayed as an MP who really ‘cares’ about young people. I’m not saying he doesn’t, merely that it’s a completely rubbish article.
Think about it – if no one answers that they ‘strongly agreed’ then that suggests at least one person answers that they ‘agreed’ (presuming the choices ranged from Strongly Disagree, to Disagree through to Strongly Agree) they felt valued by society. On top of which, the very presence of the question leads you to say you don’t feel strongly valued by society – who does? I can’t think of a single age group that would answer that question in the strongly affirmative.
Worse is to come however. The article also mentions in passing and completely without context, that not a single youth wants cannabis legalised! Now think to yourself, why is that question even being asked in the first place, and why is it considered newsworthy that of all the 18 years olds who could be bothered to reply none of them wanted cannabis legalised? Isn’t it implying that as an 18 year old you’re more likely to be smoking cannabis and wanting it legalised? Don’t you think that the presence of the question works on the assumption that you’re more likely to say yes, and as such it would be more newsworthy if you said no?
I’m not saying Davies actually sat and wrote this and thought ‘Oh I know, 18 year olds smoke cannabis let’s put a question about that in there’, but I do find it quite funny that an article about youths feeling undervalued also casually implies they would be more likely to want cannabis legalising and therefore more likely to smoke it. It’s also worth pointing out that a large number of teenage cannabis smokers will probably not consider if a good use of their time to send in surveys to MPs, so it’s not remotely representative either.
The other funny part of the article is where Shipley’s 18 year olds reveal views suspiciously similar to that of their MP. Most do not want to be more involved in ‘Europe’ (Newsflash: The UK is part of Europe) and also want to keep the pound.
Well given that we don’t know the wording of the question, but we do know Davies’ rather negative attitude towards the EU (as opposed to the continent of Europe as a whole), I’m going to suggest that the wording of the question may have been more along the lines of ‘Do you believe we should continue to hand over powers to the EU and away from our own country?’ than ‘Do you think we should co-operate more with the EU to help co-ordinate responses to today’s challenges such as international terrorism and climate change?’. So how do you feel people will respond to both of those questions? I’d expect a majority of any group of 100 people asked would answer no to the first question and yes to the second, and not feel that they contradicted each other. I also feel confident that politicians both pro and anti-EU would use those questions to back up their own beliefs and arguments.
The ultimate moral of this story, I guess, is that you can pretty much get surveys to come back with the answers you want them to come back with.
NB As an aside, is anyone else really, really tired of Tories banging on about keeping the pound? I don’t know anyone who thinks we should have the Euro, and I don’t know anyone who particularly cares. It’s fighting old battles – move on, everyone else has.