30 March 2007

Phoney consultation: stupid questions

One way to identify whether a question in a consultation exercise is designed to elicit your genuine views (i.e. your views before manipulation by the "consultation"), rather than being designed to elicit your agreement to the preferred outcome, is to consider how stupid it feels giving the opposite answer to the one which appears to be expected. (Of course, if the questions are designed properly, you shouldn't get any feeling of what is expected.)

Here are three questions from the enforcement section of the Green Paper on 16-18 compulsion:

Do you agree that there should be a system of enforcement attached to any new requirement to participate, used only as a last resort?

— "No, I think we should have compulsion but without any enforcement."

Is it right that the primary responsibility for attending at age 16 and 17 should rest with young people themselves?

— "No, I think they should take no responsibility at all."

Do you agree that if a parent of a young person is helping them to break the law, it should be possible to hold them accountable as well?

— "No, I think it's perfectly okay for parents to help children break the law."

If you do decide to express your views on the Green Paper online, I suggest you put "no response" to questions like this and express your disapproval of the inbuilt bias in the comments box. (I sincerely hope Ipsos MORI weren't responsible for these ludicrous questions. Mr Page?)