Do the political opinion polls matter?

Today’s Independent runs quotes from Sandra Gidley, Lembit Opik, Bob Russell and myself alongside their latest political opinion poll report.

Here’s the full length (i.e. 3 sentences rather than 2 sentences) version of what I said to them:

Politics isn’t about winning elections, it’s about implementing policy – and Liberal Democrat ministers are getting to do that day in, day out regardless of what that week’s opinion polls say. Winning elections certainly also helps in politics, but with the next general election years away, national voting intention questions don’t mean very much this far out. After all, three months after the 1979 general election Labour was in the lead in the opinion polls and we all know how the next 18 years turned out.

Those 18 years saw the creation of the SDP, the near but not quite eclipse of Labour in 1983 and four general election victories in a row for the Conservative Party.

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