Google+ Followers

Thursday, 11 October 2012

George Gallup and British Intelligence

According to a secret report published by the British Security Coordination (The Secret History of British Intelligence in the Americas, 1940-45), George Gallup was recruited to work for British Intelligence in 1940 as part of its campaign against the America First Committee:

As the campaign against Fifth Columnists in the US continued, BSC was able, through the Gallup Poll, to see how its progress was affecting American public opinion. The results, as polled by Gallup, were most gratifying. On 11 March, only 49% of the American people thought that Britain was doing her utmost to win the war. On 23 April, this proportion had jumped to 65%, although no important naval or military victory had occurred during this period to influence the public in Britain's favour.
Gallup's assistant, who eventually joined the staff of BSC, was able to ensure a constant flow of intelligence on public opinion in the United States, since he had access not only to the questionnaires sent out by Gallup and Cantril and to the recommendations offered by the latter to the White House, but also to the findings of the Survey Division of the Office of War Information and of the Opinion Research Division of the US Army. The mass of information which BSC collected in this way was obviously of interest to London. But it was most immediately useful in helping the British Information Services, the Embassy and the Consulates throughout the country to plan effective counter-measures against anti-British propaganda in the United States. The BSC reports were described by one Department of the Embassy as "the most reliable index of Anglo-American relations available".

Gallup himself was by no means unreservedly pro-British, but BSC's contact was able to dissuade him from publishing the results of certain polls which would have had a damaging effect on British prestige. It would have been unfortunate, for instance, if Gallup had released to the hundred or more newspapers which published his findings the fact that only 50% of the British people believed that Britain was doing her utmost to win the war and only 54% believed that America was doing hers. Yet these were the results of a poll conducted by Gallup's representative in England in 1942. Nor, again, could it have proved other than harmful had it become generally known that a large number of Americans were in favour of immediate self-government for India and of the formation of a Palestinian army.  

No comments: