The following letter was written by Miqdaad Versi, Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, author of an article in the Guardian “What do Muslims really think? This skewed poll certainly won’t tell us” (link here). The Director of ICM, Martin Boon, subsequently wrote to The Guardian to challenge the critiques raised of the polling done by Channel 4 – link here. Miqdaad Versi subsequently responded to Mr Boon’s points, which are laid out here.
Martin Boon (Director of the ICM poll http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/apr/12/our-survey-of-muslims-was-as-thorough-as-can-be, 13 April) seems to have misread my article.
My primary concern is the way the poll is interpreted given that, as Mr Boon acknowledged, its construction is limited and skewed in specific ways. It is clear that the areas surveyed are disproportionately poorer and more conservative. Would Mr Boon not recognise that poorer or more conservative areas may potentially have different views than richer areas?
In the same way as weighting for factors such as gender is to try and reflect the audience being polled, and not because of pre-existing assumptions about the views of a particular gender, would Mr Boon therefore agree that it is very reasonable to challenge the assumption that the limited poll – whilst extensive and thorough – is necessarily reflective of British Muslims as a whole?
Furthermore, when trying to understand any poll results, especially one conducted on a small group in the country where there are inherent challenges, does it not make sense to also look at other evidence, even if limited, such as other polling data so that any conclusions are well founded? It is not clear why Mr Boon believes this undermines the argument being made.
And finally, it is unclear why Mr. Boon does not acknowledge the serious differences between the control group polling and that of British Muslims as highlighted in the initial piece, significantly limiting what can be derived, in particular related to the exceptionalising of Muslim communities.
Whilst my call to ICM when researching the piece yielded no information (I was told no information about the poll or its methodology could be shared), I hope that the above clarifies Mr. Boon’s concerns about my piece.