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PASC calls for more polling when setting strategy

The Public Administrations Select Committee (PASC) has published a report calling for Government to use deliberative polling to inform the national strategy.

Committee chairman Bernard Jenkin MP said: “Deliberative polling explores how respondents might evolve their views after they are informed with different arguments or information.”

Such an approach can engage the public in the UK’s national interests and provide nuanced answers about questions of policy.

He explained: “Our polling explores what people feel about the UK’s role in the world; on what things people feel that governments should spend more or less money; and in particular, whether they think renewing the for Trident submarines is right. PASC makes no collective comment on the substance of the opinions expressed, but the results are most interesting.

“Polling always has limitations. There is no substitute for genuine thought and strategic planning in government, but our research shows that this kind of iterative or deliberative polling can offer powerful insight into the views, values and attitudes that shape public opinion on national strategic issues. Most political polling takes a snapshot. You don’t get an idea about how stable or unstable peoples’ views are, or what has determined those views.

“We called, in a recent report, for better, genuine public engagement in policy making, not the phoney consultation on things that have already been decided that has become the norm. We recommend that the Government begin to use deliberative polling as a means of better understanding what sort of country we want to be.”

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