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  • Lawrence Bailey

Surveys suit someone’s purpose

It’s heartening when someone takes the time to get in touch about something I’ve written - even when they take me to task.

This time, it was the comment in last week’s column that ‘research-based’ surveys you see published in the media are almost certainly connected to a commercial, political or social agenda.

I’ve responded privately; pointing out that the practice isn’t necessarily a negative one but that it’s advisable to make a distinction between independent research and the commissioned variety.

As it happens, some helpful examples helpfully surfaced this week.

You may have seen claims published yesterday that systems which provide access to cash in the UK are "falling apart".

The statement is attributed to a “hard-hitting review” by finance experts. Those experts are commissioned by an organisation called Access to Cash Review – a special-interest group promoting the social benefits of readily accessible cash. The research was sponsored by cash machine network operator Link.

All that said, it’s an impressive and thoughtful piece of work that has taken evidence from businesses and charities across the UK.

The conclusion is that the poorest and most vulnerable are least likely to benefit from a cashless society. Whatever your reaction to that claim, it makes a welcome change for a body seeking to influence decision-makers to be upfront about its aims and allies.

Elsewhere, as the great and the garrulous were noshing it up at Buckingham Palace this week, a special survey was published to coincide with 50th anniversary celebrations of the Prince of Wales investiture.

I’m not for a moment suggesting a pro-royalist conspiracy behind a BBC poll whereby 50% of participants wanted to retain the title associated with the monarch’s first-born.

Nor do I dispute, by inference from another result, how less than a third of those asked are of a republican tendency.

Yet when I compare that to the outright mockery which accompanied the recent re-naming of the second Severn Crossing I can’t help feeling that the answers – or maybe the questions posed – might have been just a bit selective.


Welsh rugby is divided by a common purpose

When the merger between Neath and Swansea rugby clubs was first mooted, the situation was pretty black and white – if you’ll pardon the expression – with far more local opposition than support for the proposal.

Emotional considerations tend to outweigh objectivity. So it’s to be expected that just such a situation arises over the planned melding of the Ospreys and the Scarlets.

This regional initiative was always going to generate more heat than light. It will not be helped by those who think their role is to fan the flames rather than report the essentials.

Far better informed people than me are asking the hard questions as to how much longer a professional game can survive in a funding environment just a couple of steps removed from feudal patronage.

I’m pretty sure that the underlying financial reasons for this understandably unpopular merger will emerge in time. Meanwhile, the key players involved have their work cut out in countering the perception that something is being taken away rather than added to Welsh rugby.

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