Saturday, October 19, 2013

Ipsos-Mori subsample : SNP hold huge lead in Westminster voting intentions

I'm a couple of days late with this, but the latest GB-wide Ipsos-Mori poll of Westminster voting intentions contains very good news in its Scottish subsample -

SNP 41% (+7)
Labour 27% (-8)
Conservatives 25% (+7)
UKIP 4% (+4)
Liberal Democrats 3% (-6)

Of course individual subsamples are notoriously unreliable, so why does this matter? I think the main significance is that it confirms yet again that YouGov have become severe outliers in their Scottish sampling, calling into question their methodology. YouGov are the only major pollster that conduct a daily poll, and they frequently show thoroughly implausible figures for Scotland, with the Conservatives even occasionally finding themselves ahead of the SNP. It must have been months ago that the SNP were last in the outright lead in the YouGov daily subsample (admittedly I may have missed something when I was on holiday in late September), whereas other pollsters that only conduct polls once every few weeks have time and again shown the SNP in the lead. That tells its own story.

It really is time for Kellner and co to go back to the drawing board with their whole approach to polling in Scotland - independence referendum polling, Holyrood polling, Westminster polling, the lot. They ought to start by examining their practice of weighting all their Scottish figures by recalled Westminster vote, rather than by recalled Holyrood vote. It seems highly likely that some people who voted SNP for Holyrood in 2011 are falsely recalling that they also voted SNP in the 2010 Westminster election, which would inevitably lead to the SNP's polling figures being wrongly scaled down by YouGov's weighting.

Apart from anything else, the dubious figures YouGov are reporting for Scotland must be having a marginal distorting impact on their overall figures for Great Britain. That, at least, ought to be sufficient to spur a London-centric organisation into long-overdue action.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

UK government keeping it unreal

From the BBC yesterday -

"The new Scottish Secretary reckoned David Cameron should not take part in TV debates about the 2014 referendum with Alex Salmond as it would allow the SNP to present "a choice between a vision of Scottish social democracy and English Conservatism"."

You mean the SNP would rather have a debate that presents the choice faced by the electorate in its authentic form? The scoundrels! You tell 'em, Alistair - it's much more fun if we have a TV debate that pretends a No vote will somehow result in Alistair Darling replacing Cameron as UK Prime Minister, and will magically usher in a golden era of 'British social democracy' (now almost a contradiction in terms) for the first time since the 1970s.

"Alistair Carmichael said: "As prime minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron has an important part in Scotland's public life, but he's not a Scot.""

Er, yes, and that's kind of what we're deciding in this referendum, isn't it? Whether someone who does not represent a Scottish constituency, and who wouldn't get elected to government in Scotland in a million, gazillion years, should be allowed to continue playing an "important part in Scotland's public life"? Or to put it more bluntly, whether Cammo should be able to continue lording it over Scotland without a democratic mandate?

As Cammo's right (and the right of his Tory and Tory-lite successors) to rule Scotland is on the ballot paper in this referendum, shouldn't he be the one defending that system? Particularly, you know, as he once muttered something about "fighting with every fibre of his being" to keep Scotland firmly within Tory Britain? I'm beginning to have some doubts about just how many fibres were in his being in the first place...

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And from Channel 4 News, a timely reminder that Cameron and his successors are not the only external menace that will retain a presence in Scotland in the event of a No vote -

"The Trident missile, which is the principle nuclear weapon that Great Britain has, has some safety issues that were revealed in a report to Congress more than twenty years ago...the warheads are not on top of the missile as they traditionally are. They surround the third stage rocket engine, and that rocket engine has a propellent, a fuel, that explodes very easily if it's dropped. So I hope in Scotland that they're very careful when they're loading and unloading the missiles."

Oh great. I live just thirty miles from Faslane. Given that each Trident missile carries several warheads, and given that each warhead is about eight times more powerful than the bomb that obliterated the city of Hiroshima and indiscriminately snuffed out the lives of tens of thousands of civilians (including countless children), I suddenly don't feel particularly safe. Let's crack on with winning over those undecided voters, if only in pursuance of that most basic of Tory principles - the right to protect our own homes from external threats.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Something else you can do to help

I gave a mention the other day to one fundraising campaign that only has a short time left to run, so I might as well also give a plug to another one that has only just begun.  Rough Justice Films, creators of the brilliant Fear Factor and Top 10 Unionist Myths Debunked (which went viral after the No campaign stupidly tried to get it banned), are seeking £20,000.  With that money, they plan to -

1) Make a feature-length documentary to be released next summer.

2) Make a fortnightly short film giving a platform for advocates of independence.

3) Cover milestones in the referendum campaign that the mainstream media ignore.

4) Create a set of short viral videos aimed at winning over undecided Scots.

I don't know about you, but that sounds to me like pretty good bang for the buck.  If you fancy donating, or reading more about the fundraising drive, click HERE.

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Alasdair Stirling pointed out to me yesterday that TNS-BMRB had made yet another blunder in their latest poll, getting the weightings for 2011 Conservative and Liberal Democrat voters the wrong way round.  To be fair, John Curtice called them out on that mistake in his blogpost on the poll.  He also made this intriguing comment, which gives the lie to TNS' claim that they are coming into line with the practice of other pollsters -

"...they have adopted a somewhat different approach. One of the features of virtually any poll is that fewer people say they did not vote at the last election than actually did so according to the official result. In part this will be because the official figures exaggerate somewhat the level of abstention (some people will have died, others will be registered twice, etc.), in part because people who do not vote are reluctant to talk to pollsters, and in part because people may be reluctant to admit they did not vote. Given this complex of possible reasons – and given the greater likelihood that those who say they did not vote last time will not do so next time either – pollsters who weight by past vote typically do not attempt to weight their reported levels of abstention so that it matches the official outcome of the last election.

However, TNS BMRB have weighted their poll such that between them, the combined total of people who say they did not vote in 2011 or cannot remember what they did in 2011 matches the near 50% official abstention rate in that year. Whether those who said they cannot remember what they did in 2011 should be treated in this way is certainly debatable."

Which leads me to wonder whether TNS-BMRB have deliberately chosen such an idiosyncratic weighting method so that they can defiantly say to their critics from last month - "You see? Weighting by past vote recall only makes a very small difference to the outcome." It seems likely that if they had truly come into line with the methodology of a pollster such as Panelbase or ICM, the narrowing of the gap would have been at least slightly greater.