What do British Muslims really think? – Methodology

ICM poll of British Muslims

…. So how do you conduct a poll of British Muslims? With difficulty – there is no ideal way, no route that does not include compromises and result in skews and biases. British Muslims are around about 5% of the population, distributed unevenly around the country. Some groups within the community will have come here only recently, and perhaps have poor English.

That’s difficult to poll in an affordable way – let’s go through the possibilities. The first would be to go to a very large database of people of known demographics (such as the existing panels of YouGov or another internet polling company) and recruit Muslims from there – this is the easiest route, the company will already know the religion of their panellists and at 5% incidence you’ll probably be able to get enough. The problem is that the British Muslims who join an internet panel are probably skewed towards the well integrated, people who have been here for years or generations and speak fluent English.

…. Even if that does make a difference though, and views of other British Muslims are less distinct from the rest of British society, this poll should give us a good guide to the 50% of British Muslims who live in areas with a comparatively high Muslim population. [UKPollingReport] Read more

Our survey of Muslims was as thorough as can be

Miqdaad Versi (What do Muslims think? This skewed poll won’t tell us, 12 April) undermines his own arguments. This poll, in my view – and confirmed by one of ICM’s high-profile competitors, no less – is the most rigorous survey of Muslims that has been produced for many years. The president of the British Polling Council has confirmed that ICM followed the standard methods for polling ethnic minorities in the UK. The poll comprises over 1,000 interviews, selected using classic and orthodox random-location face-to-face techniques that are the bedrock of the highest-quality research undertaken in the UK.

Online polls depend on people voluntarily signed up to a panel to receive questionnaires. If we’re being generous, fewer than 0.5% of the total Muslim population are signed up to such panels. Yet Mr Versi cites the value of one such survey, while deriding ours which represents 51% of the Muslim population.

Telephone polls of Muslims depend on people previously researched and willing to be recontacted, while “snowball” techniques seek additional interviews from their friends and family – hardly delivering much in the way of legitimate representation. [The Guardian] Read more

Misleading, irresponsible and dangerous; why Phillips and co should apologise for ‘What British Muslims Really Think’

…. The programme is compelling, drawing on survey data and delivered with urgency and authority by Trevor Phillips, one of the few public commentators guaranteed to have his voice heard on issues of race, ethnicity and multiculturalism in Britain. Channel 4, Trevor Phillips, and ICM Unlimited, the company commissioned by Channel 4 to conduct the survey, make the emphatic, but wholly inaccurate, claim that this is the largest survey of Muslim people in Britain. And they use this claim to draw unfounded conclusions about the views of Muslim people in Britain.

There have been a number of surveys that have included as large, or larger, samples of Muslim people in Britain over the past decade, which have been well designed and provided good evidence on people’s experiences and attitudes.

These include Understanding Society, the Ethnic Minority British Electoral Survey and the Citizenship Survey In terms of size, the survey they use is by no means unique. However, it is unique in having three fundamental flaws in its design, any of which would lead to serious errors. The conclusions drawn from this evidence are misleading, irresponsible and dangerous.[Manchester Policy Blogs: Ethnicity] Read more