Saturday, May 30, 2020
All things being equal, I'll hopefully begin my attempts to commission a poll on Monday, so if you have any brilliant suggestions for questions, now is the time to put them forward. My tentative plan is to ask the standard independence question, plus the Westminster voting intention question, and then four (or possibly five) supplementary questions. I know it may seem odd to ask for Westminster voting intentions when it's the Holyrood election we have on the horizon, but remember that Holyrood polls take up two questions (constituency ballot and list ballot), so would leave less space for supplementary questions. The main thing is that we'll get a sense of the direction of travel (if any) from a Westminster question.
Last time around, it was just after the election and the supplementary questions practically chose themselves. This time I've got lots of ideas, but it's trickier to know which are the most important topics to be asking about at this precise moment. So even if you don't have any specific suggestions for questions, feel free to give your thoughts on which general topics would be best, and why.
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Leading SAGE members make clear that the UK government have ceased to "follow the science", and are making a political choice to accept a large number of avoidable deaths
Thursday, May 28, 2020
We'll give it a whirl and see how it goes. Last time around I contacted five different polling companies, and they each quoted different prices, so even if we fall a bit short of the target figure, it may still be possible to run a poll if I shop around a bit and limit the number of questions.
Click here to go straight to the fundraising page.
Hi, my name's James Kelly, and I run the pro-independence blog Scot Goes Pop, which has a particular emphasis on opinion poll analysis. You might remember that back in January, I decided to step into the breach due to a mysterious lack of polls on independence since the general election. With your help, I commissioned a poll from Panelbase which confirmed, as we all suspected, that there had been a significant swing to Yes as a result of Brexit becoming an inevitability.
In recent days, there has been another landmark event with the potential to cause a major shift in public opinion. The revelations about the Prime Minister's chief adviser, and his subsequent refusal to resign, has led to hurt and anger among millions of people who have made considerable personal sacrifices to obey the lockdown rules since March. We already know that the Conservative lead in Britain-wide polls has fallen sharply as a result, and it's reasonable to wonder if it may have caused some No voters in Scotland to think again about independence.
A number of people have asked me to put that to the test by commissioning a second Scot Goes Pop poll on independence. If this crowdfunder is successful, that's what will happen. The new poll will ask the standard independence question 'Should Scotland be an independent country?', and will also ask for party political voting intentions to see if those have been altered by the events of recent days. There will be room for a few supplementary questions of interest to the Yes movement - I have some ideas, but I'll ask for suggestions before making a final decision.
Before you donate, bear in mind that there's no guarantee whatsoever that the poll will show a swing to Yes. Just because we may feel that's intuitively likely doesn't mean that we're right. The purpose of the exercise is to find out one way or the other - although if by any chance there is a boost for Yes, the poll could provide some useful momentum for the independence campaign as lockdown restrictions are gradually eased.
Bear in mind also that there's always a chance that an independence poll could suddenly appear in a newspaper at any time. Even if that happens, I'll take the Mastermind approach of "I've started so I'll finish". There would still be considerable value in a 'second opinion' from a further poll, and the supplementary questions would still be well worth asking.
Click here if you'd like to donate.
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Stunning telephone poll finds almost TWO-THIRDS of the Scottish public want a second independence referendum
(Incidentally, Ben Page subsequently deleted his tweet, so I'm not sure if he accidentally broke his own firm's embargo.)
There's also a GB-wide YouGov poll showing a collapse in the Tory lead from fifteen points to six. Given that Keir Starmer's personal ratings suggest the public are warming to the new Labour leader in spite of his lack of charisma, I suspect the Labour resurgence south of the border could be here to stay, and may have further to run. So the big question for the SNP is whether they can hold their commanding lead in Scotland in a new environment where Labour look like credible long-term challengers for power. So far, they're managing to do so, if the Scottish subsample from the poll is to be believed -
SNP 54%, Conservatives 20%, Labour 16%, Greens 4%, Liberal Democrats 3%, Brexit Party 1%
Scottish Labour will doubtless be banking on a turnaround once the crisis subsides and Nicola Sturgeon no longer has the advantage of being a 'war leader'. But they shouldn't make any assumptions - there have been spells since the autumn of 2014 when Labour looked like serious contenders under both Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn, but the SNP have maintained some sort of lead throughout.
* * *
A few people (maybe four or five) have suggested that I should commission another opinion poll on independence soon. I was initially surprised by the idea, because of course there was a Panelbase poll on independence commissioned by Wings extremely recently. However, that was pre-Cummings, and the theory is that there may have been a boost for Yes as a result of that lovely day out in Barnard Castle. To be honest, I'm not at all sure whether it's a good idea to be attempting a crowdfunder in the middle of a pandemic when people are struggling so much, but if anyone has any strong views on the subject, feel free to leave a comment below, and I'll assess whether there's enough appetite for it. Bear in mind that there's never any way of knowing when an independence poll might suddenly pop up in a newspaper anyway.
There might well be a more optimal moment later in the year, but I've got an open mind, so let me know what you think.
* * *
This is outrageous. Think of all the distortions the BBC put out during the independence referendum, quite possibly affecting the result. No trace of regret after 6 years. But a factual statement about Cummings? They cravenly back down within HOURS.https://t.co/oer5M4JYut— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 27, 2020
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Carlaw left with nowhere to go, as new Scottish poll reveals a severe lack of confidence in London's handling of the crisis, and almost total backing for the Scottish Government's approach
Sunday, May 24, 2020
Matt Hancock hung Professor Neil Ferguson out to dry when he breached the lockdown rules. Dominic Cummings' position should now, in a rational, logical and consistent world, be utterly untenable. #CummingsResign— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 22, 2020
It's odd how Cummings has so many "friends" willing to make fools of themselves to defend him, but none to help him with childcare.— Chris Dillow (@CJFDillow) May 23, 2020
Some of the US networks long ago lost patience with Trump's lies. The BBC should stop pussy-footing around: the facts here are that Cummings *did* break the lockdown and that Hancock's and Harries' claims to the contrary are incorrect. There's no unfairness in reporting facts.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 23, 2020
Unbelievable. They are literally changing the guidance live to accommodate Cummings’s violation. In front of our eyes. Amazing.— Nesrine Malik (@NesrineMalik) May 23, 2020
Neil Kinnock once said: "I would die for my country, but I would not let my country die for me." Cummings is letting his country die for him. If the lockdown rules have to become meaningless just to get himself off the hook, that's what'll happen, no matter how many people die.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 23, 2020
It's not just the synchronised dishonesty, it's the sheer vehemence with which they said something they knew to be untrue - presumably scripted. Jenny Harries joining in was unforgivable. This is not what a functioning democracy looks like.https://t.co/iGiEc4IKCk— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 23, 2020
If it now emerges that Dominic Cummings ran around the streets of Durham licking random pensioners, Cabinet ministers will queue up tomorrow to tell us that licking pensioners was the only right and decent thing to do, and that those of us who didn't do it are morally bankrupt.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 23, 2020
STAY ALERT > LICK A PENSIONER > PROTECT YOUR KID— DevoForIndy (@DevoForIndy) May 23, 2020
I wish the government had explained to us that self-isolation could take the form of a city break. Lockdown could have been great for tourism.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 23, 2020
Re: Dominic Cummings and his corona carrying 250 mile trip. Is anyone reminded of that bit in animal farm when the rules start to get amended in the dead of night to suit the pigs and the animals are mostly too daft to notice.— Richard Nicholson (@ShowFarmBaron) May 23, 2020
March 2020: "The government has one simple instruction - you must STAY AT HOME."— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 23, 2020
May 2020: "When my adviser caught coronavirus, he didn't stay at home like some layabout. He got on his bike, and looked for childcare..."
Scottish Tory Twitter Watch (update).— Alan Ferrier (@alanferrier) May 24, 2020
Zero tweets from:
Jackson Carlaw for 38 hrs
Ruth Davidson: 40 hrs
Murdo Fraser: 41 hrs
Annie Wells: 36 hrs
Adam Tomkins: 83 hrs
Jamie Greene: 34 hours
David Duguid: 33 hours@ScotTories: 40 hrs
The extraordinary behaviour of Cabinet ministers yesterday (not to mention 'adviser' Jenny Harries) was strikingly similar to what you'd expect if a Mafia boss was pulling the strings.https://t.co/R9aLvyR2ag— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 24, 2020
Does anyone feel foolish for asking Dominic Cummings to resign now that we know he acted "legally and with integrity"? I'm surprised the Pope hasn't been in touch about sainthood, quite frankly.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 24, 2020
Is this the new Get Out Of Jail FREE CARD.— jimtlogan (@loganjimt1) May 24, 2020
“You can’t arrest me officer I was following my instincts.”
Heaven only knows why the anti-lockdown nutters have been whingeing about "house arrest" for weeks. According to the govt, we were always always able to go wherever we wanted, see whoever we wanted, do a spot of sightseeing...oh, and any rules were entirely optional anyway.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 24, 2020
I spent this weekend refining our contact tracing analysis. One of the things that’s always stood out is that for these targeted measures to work, we need public adherence to isolation/quarantine to be very high. But I fear it’s now going to be far more difficult to achieve this.— Adam Kucharski (@AdamJKucharski) May 24, 2020
The huge problem for PM Johnson is that he has driven a cart and horses through any contact tracing programme. Why will contacts contacted by SERCO call centres self-isolate for 14 days rather than 'follow their instincts'?— Anthony Costello (@globalhlthtwit) May 24, 2020
Just seen the UK government's ad on Facebook for anyone with symptoms: "Do not leave home, except to get tested." Surely it's got to be updated to say: "Follow your instincts, but do not drive further than 300 miles."— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 24, 2020
Who is really running the country?— Devi Sridhar (@devisridhar) May 24, 2020
To slightly misquote Mrs Thatcher: "Advisers decide and ministers comply."https://t.co/VRyCQSFWPp— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 24, 2020
Cummings clearly been in Downing Street all afternoon telling @BorisJohnson what to do. We are living in a state run by an unelected political adviser who has made the PM his puppet & operates above the law. Really. Quite. Frightening— Joanna Cherry QC (@joannaccherry) May 24, 2020
The Conservatives effectively lost the 1997 election in September 1992, because of Black Wednesday. They may have just lost the 2024 election. They may also have lost Scotland forever.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 24, 2020
Thursday, May 21, 2020
"1) A party that exists for reasons other than perceived tactical advantage. If your Party Election Broadcast is an embarrassing three minute monologue about the d'Hondt formula, you're going wrong somewhere.
2) A party that is not organised on the Il Duce principle. Any party with aspirations to hold the balance of power in our national parliament must be controlled by its members, rather than being the personal possession of its founder - regardless of the magnetic hold that individual may have on his followers."
In fairness, I get the impression that the new ISP (which stands for Independence for Scotland Party, and not Internet Service Provider) will meet the second condition. It seems like a fairly collegiate outfit, and although I'm not entirely sure of the process by which Colette Walker was selected as leader, I would imagine that's merely an interim arrangement and that there'll be a democratic internal vote at some point. But the signs are not so good as far as the first condition is concerned. Ms Walker's article in The National contained the usual bogus claims about the Holyrood electoral system that are so familiar to us from a million RISE press releases in 2016. Even more troublingly, a strong sense of entitlement came through from the article, as if the SNP somehow owed smaller pro-indy parties a favour and should get out of the way by no longer actively seeking votes on the regional list ballot. We should be extremely thankful that the SNP didn't go down that road in 2011, because without the sixteen list seats they won in that election, there would have been no overall majority and quite possibly no independence referendum in 2014. Even the four list seats they currently hold are a crucial component of the pro-indy majority at Holyrood. If too many SNP voters were to drift off to fringe parties on the list next year, that could in the nightmare scenario lead to a unionist majority.
I was accused in 2016 of wildly underestimating the potential of RISE to win list seats. As it turned out, I hadn't underestimated them at all, and they didn't come within light-years of taking even a single seat. History is repeating itself now and I'm being accused of underestimating the ISP - and I fully expect to be proved right once again. But let's suppose for the sake of argument that I'm wrong and that the ISP do have some sort of chance of clearing the de facto threshold of 5% and thus winning list seats. If there's any possibility of that, it should start showing up in opinion polls over the coming months - and I must emphasise that I'm talking about credible opinion polls that give parity of esteem to all parties, rather than Mickey Mouse poll questions that ask "would you consider voting for this party?" If by the end of the year the ISP are polling at, say, 7% or 8% on the standard voting intention question, they'll be perfectly entitled to conclude they have a fighting chance of winning seats and could end up helping the cause of independence rather than harming it.
But the much more likely scenario is that they'll be polling somewhere between zero and 3%, and will be firmly on course to win no seats. Now, admittedly, even at that stage there'll be no absolute proof that the mission is doomed, and they might still nurse the hope that the official campaign period will turn things around - but that's pretty unlikely, given that they'll be excluded from the leaders' debates, along with all of the other disadvantages fringe parties face. With no pre-campaign breakthrough in the polls, the rational thing to do would be to abort the whole plan and not put up list candidates after all, because the balance of probability would be that any votes they take will be wasted and will thus harm rather than help the pro-indy side (ie. by making it harder for the SNP and Greens to win list seats). Or at least, that would be the rational call for anyone who regards independence as the absolute priority. If they push ahead in spite of knowing that they're likely to cause harm, we'll be entitled to conclude that their priorities actually lie elsewhere.
In a nutshell, my advice to the ISP would be what Jo Grimond famously said to the Liberal party in the 1950s: "get on or get out". In other words, there's no point in a fringe party existing just for the sake of it. If there's a realistic chance of making a positive difference, by all means put your heart and soul into it and make it work. But if there's no realistic chance, and if you discover from the polls that you've been caught in a Twitter bubble all along, then for heaven's sake step aside before you cause any real damage.
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
So what could possibly have given Sarah Smith the impression that the First Minister is somehow having lots of fun? The specific claim was that, although Ms Sturgeon insists her decisions have been driven by scientific advice and not politics, she is in fact relishing the chance to diverge from London policy. No evidence was provided to support this suggestion - which is hardly surprising, because no such evidence exists. Ms Smith was given total licence by the BBC to speculate and editorialise from a partisan anti-SNP perspective in front of millions of viewers, and without any right of reply.
What's so stupid about this incident is that it's blindingly obvious to anyone who has paid attention since March that the truth is the polar opposite of Ms Smith's claim - the First Minister was in reality determined to remain in lockstep with London, and did so for several weeks, even though that meant disregarding all of the key recommendations of the World Health Organization. It took a catastrophe of near-biblical proportions for her to finally accept that London didn't know best on this occasion - and even then she diverged from Boris Johnson's decisions with the greatest of regret and reluctance. She would infinitely have preferred Johnson to have compromised in order to maintain a UK-wide approach.
It's bad enough for a BBC correspondent to drop all pretence of impartiality and shove their own political opinions down viewers' throats - but when they're just plain factually wrong at the same time, that really is unforgivable.
* * *
To return briefly to the subject of the previous post, my eye was caught by this claim from Kevin McKenna in the Herald -
"A wide-ranging poll conducted this week for Wings Over Scotland by Panelbase has already produced one astounding conclusion: that the number of SNP voters who’d be willing to sacrifice power for the sacred goal of independence has dropped from 82% to 59%. It bears out my worst fears for the future of the independence movement: that the party which alone is defined by this has now become so dazzled by the trinkets of high office that it’s fast losing the stomach for the fight."
That's highly misleading on one count, and inaccurate on another. The poll quite simply didn't ask whether voters would "sacrifice power for independence". It didn't ask them whether they would prefer power or independence. It didn't ask any other variant of that question either. It instead asked whether people would vote Yes or No to independence under wildly implausible hypothetical circumstances, and didn't give them any opportunity to explain their reasoning. By far the most likely explanation for people getting cold feet about independence in the specified scenario is that they were concerned that Scotland might not be competently governed if the SNP suddenly ceased to exist. They therefore concluded it would be a risk too far. I doubt if it even occurred to them that they were "sacrificing power", and quite right too - ordinary voters don't have much power to sacrifice, and they generally don't have any control at all over the political party they vote for.
The direct inaccuracy is that the figure has "dropped from 82% to 59%". That suggests the result is being compared to a previous poll that asked a similar question - but it isn't. No such previous poll exists.
Thursday, May 14, 2020
Landmark Wings poll finds that the SNP's popularity is crucial to preserving the coalition of support for independence
Prematurely relaxing restrictions on so-called "low-risk" groups is an exceptionally high-risk thing to do - unless you can somehow totally segregate the generations, which you can't.
This is the sort of point that sounds sophisticated but is actually very silly. Allowing so-called 'low risk' people to be infected is in fact an extremely high risk thing to do unless you can keep them totally segregated from everyone else. And you can't.https://t.co/105uwSMsDz— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 13, 2020
It's not just that. The "low-risk" groups still die, just at a lower rate than the utter carnage among the elderly. If you infect all or nearly all of them you're again into a six-figure death toll.— Morag (@DrMoragKerr) May 13, 2020
I can't even begin to engage with that thread. England is doomed. I only hope we can avoid going down with it.— Morag (@DrMoragKerr) May 13, 2020
BREAKING NEWS: Preliminary results of Spain's seroprevalence study #ENECOVID.— Miguel Hernán (@_MiguelHernan) May 13, 2020
Antibodies for #SARSCoV2:
5% of Spanish population
11% in region with highest incidence (Madrid)
So far from herd immunity in country with 2nd largest number of cases after U.S. https://t.co/P8dpzaibuX
Bad news. Early results show only 5% of Spanish population exposed to virus so far, and already 27,100 COVID deaths. That huge iceberg we're all hoping for? Still no evidence that it's there. https://t.co/0zHkF7s4K6— Devi Sridhar (@devisridhar) May 13, 2020
Very similar to France. 5% overall but 11-12% in Paris and surrounding region according to Pasteur Institute.— Denis Coakley (@deniscoakley11) May 13, 2020
This is remarkable - Imperial College's central projection for Spain *a few weeks ago* was that 15% of the population had been infected. If that was a vast overestimate, it suggests that the mortality rate of this disease is pretty high.https://t.co/kNM20MDnLD— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 13, 2020
This surely must convince Govts that test,trace and isolate is the only way we have of controlling it's spread,otherwise we'll have more than the economy to worry about.— Colin Foy (@foy_foy29) May 13, 2020
This suggests just 5% of the Spanish population had antibodies— Fionna O'Leary, 🕯 (@fascinatorfun) May 13, 2020
Even in Madrid that was completely overtaken by COVID - just 11%.
Is the U.K. plan that we experience wave upon wave of this to *achieve* “community” immunity? Really?
With our eyes wide open? No anti virals? https://t.co/dt8BvX2PO2
@theSNPMedia— David Francis (@beith123) May 13, 2020
Please note the above.
To achieve "herd immunity" without a vaccine would mean UTTER CARNAGE in any country.
ANYONE who STILL believes that "herd immunity" GARBAGE should NOT be advising ANY Government.
What's the betting that Dr Jenny Harries will be a Tory peer within a couple of years? She's certainly put in the effort - it's nigh-on impossible to distinguish her from any other government propagandist.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 13, 2020
Extraordinary answer here.@CMonaghanSNP: "So, since there's a low degree of confidence, we are potentially putting together hundreds of potential vectors, that can then go and transmit. Is that correct?"— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) May 13, 2020
The DfE chief scientist: "Possibly, depending on school sizes."
Here's the DfE's chief scientific adviser Osama Rahman telling MPs on the science committee that it's not clear whether children transmit the virus any less than adults pic.twitter.com/W5F6UM9KmB— Emily Ashton (@elashton) May 13, 2020
Nicola Sturgeon says her decisions during this crisis have been motivated by the saving of lives rather than by politics. But apparently the Times cartoonist knows better. Mate, you demeaned yourself with the cartoon itself, but the explanatory tweet is just embarrassing.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 13, 2020
I live in the Borders. I’m not in the least confused & I’m offended that anyone would assume that I might be. I know where I live, I live in Scotland, therefore the advice I follow is the advice for Scotland. It isn’t even faintly confusing. Borderers are not stupid. https://t.co/pJPdkVZhMe— alison 🏴 🇪🇺 😷stay@home (@wittertalk) May 13, 2020
Someone should take the BBC to the DMZ in Korea. The "confusion" there would blow their minds.https://t.co/HQdLKAoI9k— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 14, 2020