7 FEBRUARY 1964, Page 17


SI11,—To ask the question 'Do you think that Liberals are still gaining ground, losing ground, or holding their own?' is but asking one man for his opinion of the opinions of other men. If Mr. Sheldon-Williams believes that the percentages of the replies to this question are a measure of what other men think (whereas they are merely a measure of what some men think other men think) he will believe anything. To take a simpler example, the percentage of replies to the question: `Do you think there are still people in this world who believe it to be flat?' throws no light on the percentage of the world population who are flat-earthists. All that the National Opinion Poll Survey proves (the 22.3 per cent of 'Don't know' being an obvious misprint for 2.3) is that on a question of fact (whether ascertainable or not), of all those questioned those who did not know the right answer were at least 55.1 per cent and considerably more_if the Liberals have not performed the almost incredible feat of precisely 'holding their own.'