27 Oct 2009

Labour promises not to poll under false pretences again

10:18 pm on 27 October 2009

The Labour Party admits it made a mistake by allowing volunteers to use false names when polling members of the public.

It follows revelations that volunteers used false names and the name of a former company, Data Research, that Company Office records show has not operated since 1997.

The party did a three-night polling trial to find out what issues people wanted the party to raise in Parliament.

MP Rick Barker - who was overseeing the trial - told the pollers to say they were from Data Research and suggested they use false names if they wished.

Mr Barker admits it was a mistake to suggest people use another name when conducting the poll, but says it was to make people feel more comfortable.

He says there was no intention to deceive. Data Research has been used by Labour in the past and he was unaware that it had been deregistered.

Labour leader Phil Goff also admits it was a mistake to allow the volunteers to use false names, but says he had no idea the company in question had folded.

Mr Goff says the decision to use volunteers was an experiment, but given the controversy around it, the party will probably revert to using a professional polling company in the future.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says that what Labour did is simply not the right thing to do. If pollsters are not telling the truth about who they are, he says, then that's lying.