I think I have been conned but there is £200 coming my way.
The ever inventive, resourceful sellers of infant formula have spotted a new marketing ploy, I believe. It is probably an imitation of a cunning one used by Republicans in the current Presidential Elections.
Voters are turned off by the Robocall direct messages from political parties but are flattered and seduced into taking part in a public opinion poll. These are different. Party workers used the questions to drip poison into the voter’s ears. It all subtle and no one lies. But they are probably in breach of the industry’s codes.
Typical questions are
‘If you heard that Obama is a Muslim, would that alter your voting intention?
If you heard Obama was associating with terrorists would that change the vote?
Do you know Obama's middle name is 'Hussein'.
The doubt is spread probably more effectually than direct canvassing when allegations of this kind would be beyond the pale.
In what seem like a similar technique, I was called yesterday to take part in a poll on infant formula. I had some time on my hands and strong views on the subject so I agreed. The first section was quotes on the present restrictions on the sale of dried cows’ milk for babies. These include prohibition of any advertising that suggests that formula milk is superior to mothers’ milk. I was invited to condemn the restrictions as being oppressive. I refused and said they did not go far enough.
The next line of questioning was to ask my opinion of views allegedly expressed by a 'midwife', a 'nursing mother', a 'doctor' and a 'pharmacist'. All the comments were negative about natural milk and positive about formula milk. It was then that I smelled a rat.
The questioner told me the poll was to ‘selected opinion-formers.’ Advertisers find it expensive to get through to us. I regard myself as immune to advertising persuasion. I never attend receptions or other promotional events. But here I was a getting subliminal messages to promote the interests of formula. This could be a new way of hitting the advertisers target at a relatively low cost. My view is that formula has many disadvantages over mothers’ milk and should be used only as a last resort.
I agreed to answer the questions on the promise that £200 would be paid to a charity of my choice. Add to that the cost of the interviewers and the total bill would be about £300. That is better value that other targeted promotional stunts.
I will follow this up because it undermines the ethics of the industry and is wholly disreputable form of advertising.
A unique meeting of Welsh Labour MPs and AMs took place today and yesterday in Newtown, Powys.
Although it was arranged only in last fortnight, re-arranged diaries ensured that there was a great turnout from both bodies. I went because I had lamented the lack of contact in the past. Among the participants were Rhodri Morgan, Andrew Davies, Peter Hain, Alun Michael, Jane Hutt, Edwina Hart and Wayne David.
The event was a resounding success that strengthened the common ground between the assembly and parliament. The prospects for both bodies to work together more productively was thrashed out. Five members will submit reports to a follow-up meeting in January.
The close contacts and the convivial atmosphere contributed to an extremely worthwhile event.