Churchill used fruit to understand the concept of swing, leading pollster says


Winston Churchill had to play with pieces of fruit to understand the concept of election swings, the UK’s founding pollster has revealed.

Sir David Butler said Churchill “struggled” to understand the change in vote share between the two main parties when he explained it to him as a young pollster in the run up to the 1951 general election.

Butler, then 25, was summoned to the Leader of the Opposition’s home in Hyde Park Gardens to give him advice four days before the snap election was called by a Labour party rife with internal division.

Following the inconclusive result of the previous election, in which the Conservative Party won 43.4% of the vote, Churchill, now 76, feared that this would be his last chance to become Prime Minister again.

Despite promising change on popular issues such as rationing and house building during the 1951 campaign, he sought expertise from the new science of psephology to improve his chances of success.

Sir David Butler, who went on to invent the famous ‘Swingometer’, founded the discipline in 1945 when he became the first person to turn British constituency results into percentages.


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