Thursday, August 7, 2014

Concerns mount over the role of No-friendly pollster Ipsos-Mori in hand-picking the audience for the STV leaders' debate

Ipsos-Mori are not merely one of the two most No-friendly pollsters in this campaign. They've also played two other unique roles. Firstly, they've secretly carried out internal polling on behalf of the UK government and paid for by the tax-payer, the results of which were disgracefully shared with the No campaign, effectively meaning that the No campaign's private polling has been subsidised by the public purse. And secondly, in spite of the rather obvious conflict of interest, they were commissioned by STV to hand-pick an audience for Tuesday night's debate between Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond. The idea that nobody is entitled to raise the odd eyebrow about this is risible - can you imagine what the reaction would have been if STV had used Panelbase, a pollster which tends to produce Yes-friendly results and which counts both the SNP and Yes Scotland among its clients?

Since Monday, a number of specific allegations have been made about Ipsos-Mori's conduct, and other related shenanigans -

* Yes supporters who were originally selected for the audience were turned away at the venue, after being told that the paperwork had not been cleared by Ipsos-Mori. Some were reduced to tears. They were replaced by No supporters.

* Ipsos-Mori have pinned the blame on STV's own security.

* No campaigners were present at the queue, offering helpful "suggestions" for questions that audience members might like to ask Alex Salmond.

* Some of the No supporters in the audience were "bussed in" and have no vote in the referendum itself.

* At least one of the five-strong panel of "undecided voters" that appeared on ITV News after the debate to give their verdict is a known No campaign activist.

* Ipsos-Mori made determined efforts to contact a particular teenager by telephone, because they were short of people in his age group for their sample. When they finally made contact, they asked him for his voting intention, and immediately after he said he was voting Yes he overheard the interviewer being told to terminate the call and to use a "technical fault" as an excuse.

It's obviously impossible to know how much of this is true - the suggestions of audience members being bussed in from south of the border do seem rather fanciful. But given the sheer number of complaints that STV have apparently received, it does seem likely that there's at least some truth in the claims of audience members being turned away at the venue. And just from observation, a good number of the questions that were asked could easily have been scripted by No campaign staffers.

It goes without saying that it is incumbent on the BBC to ensure that there is no repeat in the second debate at the end of this month.

* * *

UPDATE : Thanks to the person who contacted me this morning and pointed me in the direction of a first-hand and on-the-record account of what happened on Tuesday from Neil Gillespie -

"A very interesting read on all the comments about the man who was refused entry to the live debate, the bullshit the fact that he's a NAT spreading propaganda, copied and pasted and that the whole thing was made up to deflect from Alex Salmond's poor showing. Well the reason why you wonder why I find this interesting is because I was that man.

A little background about myself:

I am a firefighter of 18 years, aged 42 married with four children. Professionalism, honesty and integrity are things that I hold in high regard. I was selected, along with a No voting friend of mine from Barrhead Main street by a representative from Ipsos Mori to attend Tuesday night's Debate. I was really looking forward to it. I had to get the night off as I was working. I received a text from the Ipsos Mori rep 20 minutes before the opening of 18:30 hrs asking if I had received a call from STV today. I hadn't. She replied to say that this would be a problem and that I wouldn't get in! I tried anyway. Here is a rough transcript of the conversation:

I was asked by a STV Rep for my Name.

I said Gillespie.

He said, John, we spoke today.

I said, No its Neil.

He replied, I don't have a Neil Gillespie. Who contacted you to attend this evening.

I said the Rep from Ipsos Mori Name.

He replied. You are the third person to mention her name. I'm afraid that your information was never passed on to us and as a result that you wont be getting in this evening.

I argued with him telling him that I had taken time off and that a mistake had been made.

I was still refused entry.

I had the Ipsos Mori Rep's Mobile number from her text to me and I called her to see what she had to say.

She stated that this was all bullshit and that she had given them the details the Thursday before. She said that she would phone her boss in London and find out what has happened.

I walked down the steps of the auditorium and felt deflated. I was gutted.

5 minutes later she phones me back.

This next bit took me back.

She said that all of the Yes voters and undecided persons that she had put through to attend the event were not contacted and instead STV had replaced them with their people, No people. This came from high up in STV.

I will repeat that as this is the important part.

She said that all of the Yes voters and undecided persons that she had put through to attend the event were not contacted and instead STV had replaced them with their people, No people.

This made my blood boil. I was and am still livid. I have spread this everywhere I can. Please share it, it needs done. Oh and one last thing, my No voting friend who was vetted at the same time I was, what happened to him...

He was in the audience, he got a call from STV, he was allowed to attend! So the bullshit response from STV stating that Ipsos Mori hadn't passed on the details is exactly what it says on the tin...Bullshit.

I have made formal complaints to STV and Ipsos Mori and I am still awaiting a reply from this. I wouldn't lie about this, I could lose my job if I was caught out lying about something as important as this. I will chat with anyone on here as to the post and any other referendum issues. I am a passionate Scot who loves his country and this is just another example of the lengths the powers in Westminster will go to, to win this referendum."


  1. "It's obviously impossible to know how much of this true"

    *Some* of the allegations *could* be substantiated with digging. I tried to get the guy tweeting that one of the Undecideds was a BT campaigner to put up some evidence but he got evasive and strangely protective of the campaigner. He didn't want her to 'get abuse' but, scout's honour he was definitely telling the truth.

    In the last week, the conspiracy mongers have really ramped up their output, what with the whole #ClairRidge thing.

  2. "It's obviously impossible to know how much of this true"

    But let's post it anyway without evidence, without following up too hard on it, and leave it out there.

    Just like the massive UK Government IPSOS-Mori poll asking leading questions? Remember that we weren't going to keep quiet about this outrage? Until you did keep quiet on the outrage when it turned out that none of that was true.

  3. Commentor : It could equally be argued that the biggest conspiracy theory of all is to suggest that all of these accounts are invented. Some people may be lying or embellishing. But ALL of them? Frankly, I doubt it.

  4. "Just like the massive UK Government IPSOS-Mori poll asking leading questions? Remember that we weren't going to keep quiet about this outrage? Until you did keep quiet on the outrage when it turned out that none of that was true."

    Do pay attention, old chap. I haven't gone quiet on the subject - I repeated exactly the same suggestion on Monday night. I think it's highly likely to be true, and your claim that it "turned out not to be true" is a load of utter tripe, isn't it?

  5. Do pay attention, old chap. I haven't gone quiet on the subject - I repeated exactly the same suggestion on Monday night. I think it's highly likely to be true, and your claim that it "turned out not to be true" is a load of utter tripe, isn't it?

    It was the STV one before the poll. People in the comments already said it and that seems to have been confirmed on the night of the debate when the STV poll was released.

  6. Anon : A small hint - when it's been pointed out to you that you haven't been paying attention, it might be helpful if you actually read the relevant post before commenting further. I dealt with that specific point in my post on Monday night - the STV poll quite plainly CAN'T have been the one that people were reporting being interviewed for (with the exception of one specific commenter who answered questions that were in line with the STV poll).

  7. Things like this are extremely difficult to prove. It would take a great deal of time; chances are the proof would be found well after the referendum. It's right that sites like this one keep an eye on questionable practices. Trouble is there are so many of them - the vast majority, I would argue, emanating from the No campaign.

  8. Hi, interesting article because my friend told me yesterday, that two of his friends, one travelling from Edinburgh and one travelling from Ayr, were both turned away on their arrival. They were told that they were no longer required.

  9. We all knew that BT / UK Gov would fight dirty. It should surprise nobody that they will go to any lengths to keep hold of the cash cow which is Scottish oil & exports.

    Without us the rUK is in big trouble. I am starting to worry over the additional 800k ballot papers.

  10. Assuming Ipsos-Mori record all their calls like most call centres, then all the young man has to do is put it in a Data Subject Access Request and he should be able to receive the recordings.

  11. "In the last week, the conspiracy mongers have really ramped up their output, what with the whole #ClairRidge thing.

    The anonymous commentor (who is obviously not a No campaign troll) is absolutely right!! These conspiracy lunatics are even trying to suggest the was something called the #McCrone Report which proves conclusively that... (and surely THIS is the most far fetched conspiracy theory of ALL )

    ...Westminster Governments would LIE to the scottish people??? Are they mad?? How can anyone possibly take that idea seriously? The very notion that Nick Clegg would ever lie to the public. Utterly preposterous!! That David Cameron or little Ed Miliband might be telling lies just to try and further their political careers?!?

    No, it is simply too unthinkable and fantastical a notion to dwell on a second longer.

    These conspiracy mongers can't possibly think the scottish public will fall for a conspiracy as barking mad as that. Can they?


    Alternatively, the feeble comedy Britnat trolls are getting even more amusing and desperate and they need to step up their game since they just sound like out of touch twats now.

    Oh, and I personally have some information about Mori polling James. Something you may well find interesting which I shall post later.

  12. Given the level of controversy surrounding IPSOS-Mori's role here, would it not be wise for the company to make a statement refuting the allegations, and perhaps giving some explanation for at least some of the reports.

    As you say, James, it's unlikely that there is no truth at all in any of this.

  13. James, your argument then is "There are so many allegations that the sensible position is to assume at least some of them are true"

    OK fine. I disagree with that, but the Fake Undecided is absolute dynamite if true. Therefore it isn't true (because if it were, we'd know about it). The responsibility for proving allegations is with those making them. Until they do, assume the allegations are false.

  14. Mick Pork, you're a laughable angry internet fool. I wasn't surprised to see an insinuation that I'm a No campaign troll from you. Frankly, get fucked, prick.

  15. This is merely an example of how I personally have experienced Mori operating in the run up to the referendum. I shall let James and others decide whether this sounds like the usual practice from a competent polling company, or whether it is a small though telling indication that the blind faith in some of the polling companies the No campaign have been displaying may not actually be merited.

    Several months ago I was first contacted by Mori via my landline. After the standard introductory spiel the questions moved to which age bracket I was in. After telling the employee he paused and then informed me they needed the 16-24 age bracket and he apologised for bothering me. I politely thanked him and thought no more about it. After all, I know perfectly well that is who the pollsters seem to be having difficulty reaching.

    About a month or two later I was again contacted by another Mori employee by my landline and the same standard introductory spiel was given. A little surprised I again told the employee which age bracket I was in and after a short pause yet again I was told sorry but Mori wanted 16-24 year olds. With a small amount of curiosity I again politely thanked the employee but chalked it up to coincidence.

    Until after another month or so had passed and, you guessed it, Mori calls me again. Now this time I'm afraid I could not help but be amused so I only let this employee get partway through his introductory speil when I politely stopped him and said "This is the third time I've been contacted by Mori. I can save you some time by telling you I will not fit the cohort you are looking for."

    There was then what sounded suspiciously like a *gulp* and the employee asked what age bracket I was in. I answered him, grinning now, as I knew what was coming next. Of course he was looking for the 16-24 age bracket and had to admit I was not who they were looking for. This time however, the employee apologised profusely since he had been told this was the third time of contact. He then asked if he could take down some preliminary details and promised to get back to me the next time they needed someone in my age bracket and were doing another poll.

    So far, so comical and inept. But now we have had at least one and more than likely two Mori referendum polls in the field, yet curiously enough I have not been contacted by Mori for either of them despite the promise from the employee.

    I have to say that if I had any doubts at all that these polling companies are entirely fallible and capable of error they have been removed completely from my own experience of them.

    A polling company is simply a business, prone to the same bad leadership, mistakes, incompetence, financial pressures and inducives from their customers that all companies are. Those who still do not yet understand that obvious fact need to get their heads out of their arse.

    2007 and 2011 were not a fluke. Nor have any of the many No friendly methodological 'tweaks' for the referendum yet been explained any more than figures behind the absurd "Kellner correction".

    This also certainly isn't about all the polls saying the same thing. This is about a HUGE difference in the polling so glaring that one polling company (YouGov) took the utterly unprecedented step of commissioning a poll with the sole purpose of using it to try to attack and discredit other polling companies.

    If you think that's remotely standard practice for a referendum then you know as little about the subject as our witless and impotent comedy Britnat trolls.

  16. I must admit the wee pretend hardman act from the twat of a No troll is riotously funny. It's like being threatened by a tory twit with a jolly good thrashing!


    Piss off son. You're fooling nobody here.

  17. The YesMen don't understand that when you make an outlandish claim, such as poll fixing, it's up to you to prove it's true, not to ask others to prove it isn't.

    But then again if you can't beat them join them...

    YesMen, can you prove Alex wasn't on hallucinogenic drugs when he started wittering about aliens in the live debate the other night - prompting much "wtf"-ery from all sides? Has he been probed on this? Or probed by aliens (fnaaar) :-)

    1. He was quoting the scare stories from Better Together. Have you not heard them?

  18. Ipsos Mori have just trashed their own reputation.

  19. Former Tory UK Defence Secretary Pillip Hammond (now Foreign Secretary staggeringly enough and even tipped as a possible next tory leader)

    His own words in the notoriously Yes friendly Daily Mail.

    Defence Secretary Philip Hammond stunned observers yesterday by declaring that a separate scotland would be more vulnerable to threats.. from space.

    The Tory Minister did not expand on his comment and a government insider said the nature of such threats was 'classified'.

    Britnat Twit, can you prove the UK Foreign Secretary wasn't on hallucinogenic drugs when he started wittering about aliens prompting much "wtf"-ery from all sides? Has he been probed on this? Or probed by aliens (fnaaar) :-)


    These No troll fuckwits really are a wee bit 'dolly dimple', aren't they?

  20. tch tch tch porky, you've made the schoolboy ufo / alien mis-classification error

    The Salmond of Knowledge referred to "aliens", whereas hammond organ referred to "unidentified" threats

    UFO's are Unidentified Flying Objects, if you're saying they're aliens, then they're not, by definition, Unidentified anymore, they become Identified Flying Objects (IFOs). Any tin-foil hatter worth their conspiracy theory knows that :-)

  21. "UFO's are Unidentified Flying Objects, if you're saying they're aliens, then they're not, by definition, Unidentified anymore, they become Identified Flying Objects (IFOs)."

    Can we prove the BritNat Twit isn't on hallucinogenic drugs now he's started wittering about aliens prompting much "wtf"-ery from all sides? Has he been probed on this? Or probed by aliens (fnaaar) :-)


    It's like shooting fish in a barrel. They just can't help themselves.

  22. SayNoToMenSpoutingAlienGibberishAugust 7, 2014 at 10:44 PM

    Oh no, I've been bamboozled by the tactic of someone completely missing the point. Are you a web-bot mick, 'cos you just seem to post other stuff you find on the web and add some text banter on the end :-)

    I'll just hang onto the cold comfort that there's not enough hate in scotland for a Yes win :-)

  23. Hi James et al.

    I didn't watch the debate as I'm a long way outside the STV region (by several thousand miles). So, I've consumed it entirely second hand by way of UK media.

    And it looks to me like they've done a pretty fine job of expectation management/manipulation.

    I guess given the one-sided views of mainstream press/media that was always going to happen.

    Before the debate it was written pretty much everywhere that Salmond was expected to trounce Darling by the Yes campaign. Though I didn't actually see anyone from the Yes campaign predicting it. So, the consensus media constructed their own narrative arc : High expectation of Salmond, Salmond doesn't meet media's reported high expectation, media reports Salmond not meeting expectations.

    Entirely circular, and pretty much independent of any content in the debate.

    Very nicely done, I guess you could say, although I suppose it would be difficult to fail from such a postition of strength.

    I guess the positive thing fromt he Yes point of view is the decline in the importance of the traditional media. I guess the thing will, in the end, be won on getting out the vote. Hopefully enough people are already energized enough to resist the media onslaught.

    Anyway, good luck!


  24. Hammond's threats from space will not refer to outer space, but to military concern that space-based weapons could in future be used to knock out satellites and thus cause terrestrial mayhem as communications go down. To speak of aliens is us on the Yes side having swallowed our own spin - need to do better!

    Two street views from Govan on the debate.

    One, a teenage neighbour who phoned the next morning to say what it had been like having been selected for the audience. She and she said, others there like her there, were: a) surprised at (what they perceived as) a high proportion of English accents, b) a high proportion (again in their perception) a high proportion of middle class people, many "who were doctors". I asked if she meant medical or academic doctors, and she thought the latter. c) From the said demographics, a sense of a sneering attitude, especially when a question was asked about Gaelic language.

    The other, a musician, who asked what I thought of the "dreadful" debate but said, "The good thing is that it's telling us we can't rely on Salmond. We've got to win this ourselves." He pondered whether it might even have been a deliberate strategy by Salmond to defuse Salmond - as if a kind of self-discrediting of the Great Leader syndrome.

    I would add that the teenager has one English parent and is not anti-English but seemed to be aware that this demographic, like middle class demographics, are disproportionately No inclined, thus suggestive of sampling bias. Such awareness is widespread in Govan. Nothwithstanding the proximity of Ibrox I hear a lot of people saying "nearly everybody I know is voting yes." When I ask how come that's not reflected in the polls, they say "because the polls aren't reaching the likes of us." When I suggest that the pollsters aren't stupid - that they compensate for people without landlines, or who have never voted before, or who took themselves off the electoral roll back in the days of the Poll Tax - they roll their eyes, and all of a sudden I become very aware of my own middle classness while, at the same time, scratching my head as to whether I'm being biased by being in a Yes bubble.

  25. Commentor : "The responsibility for proving allegations is with those making them. Until they do, assume the allegations are false."

    OK, in that case I'll continue to assume that your allegations about "conspiracy mongers" are false, because you've certainly failed to substantiate those,

  26. "To speak of aliens is us on the Yes side having swallowed our own spin - need to do better!"

    I had thought the meta satire I was employing on our Britnat troll might have had more purchase on here of all places.

    Watch the debate section. Listen to the words. The exact words used by Salmond. Now come back and tell me who it is who was spinning and who it is that fell for it.

    Never believe the spin from the unionist press or you end up doing precisely what the Britnat twit did and he didn't even know it. (which is why it was all the more amusing)

  27. "From the said demographics, a sense of a sneering attitude, especially when a question was asked about Gaelic language."

    I felt really sorry for the young woman who asked that question, because she obviously knew she was asking it in the wrong section, and was tying herself up in knots trying to relate it to pensions. If only she'd been lucky enough to be called in a free-for-all segment she would have been fine.

  28. Sorry Mick - had an 18 hour day so can't get my head around meta-satire (not your fault). Indeed, I see that at this late hour I wasn't even able to get my head around writing coherent sentences - but hope the points made are clear enough.

  29. Absolutely no need to apologise Alastair. You are far from the only one on the Yes side not to have noticed. Which some will say is still the fault of Salmond for bringing it up, yet I think not on balance. When I get asked I tell those asking all about Hammond (Tory Defence Secretary and now Foreign Secretary never forget) and what he said. No more no less. It has the desired effect just as much as the "Forces of Darkness" does. What it lacked on the night was the widespread knowledge of the incidents among the scottish public for it to be really effective. Now we have the chance to tell them if they ask and I have no problem telling them because it's not Salmond sounding hysterical, it's the Tory Foreign Secretary and the No campaign.

    Are there better things to go on in the future? Sure. But No won't stop banging away on the only subject they care about nor will they worry that Darling's own words on currency make him look a fool when an audience is actually allowed the time to digest them.

    As long as Yes keep talking about currency the actual substance of the issue really doesn't matter to No as long as they can shriek "What about Plan B!" The answers are immaterial to them. Above all they want to keep raising the question as a scare tactic as often as possible.

    Your experiences from the post-debate are extremely interesting Alastair. One thing though..

    "When I suggest that the pollsters aren't stupid - that they compensate for people without landlines,"

    In my experience at least they're having more than a wee bit of trouble handling people with landlines. So I'm not too sure I fancy their chances getting to a generation who view life without a mobile phone with startled incomprehension. ;-)

    We're all in a bit of a bubble to be fair. Ever more atomised society and all that. It's the ability to reach out beyond that bubble and I have no doubt at all that Yes is doing that vastly more effectively than No ever can.

  30. Better wear double strength tin foil hats for the next debate....

  31. Kerching! That must be worth another 20p from McDougall HQ. Top class paid trolling, sir!

  32. My apology, Mick, was for not getting your meta-satire. I was well aware of where the threat from space had come come from in the MOD. It is the spinning, or more probably for most people, the jumping to the assumption that this was Project Fear playing the "aliens" card that troubled me. It was funny at the time when interpreted in this direction when Hammond introduced the issue. Salmond was maybe trying to be funny by raising it again and playing to a particular segment of the undecided vote. But most people just thought "Beam me up, Scotty" - that, and the fact that any mention of pandas was so worn out that it had already long since become a shibboleth for journos recently arrived in Scotland and not knowing that we've all already heard (and made) the joke 10 times.

    I have a passion for "truth and integrity in public affairs". The fact that the Yes side played games spinning Hammond's warning by playing it out as being about aliens as distinct from attacks on satellites came back and bit us. Karmic retribution (but don't tell my Free Kirk friends I used that Hindu notion).

    In my work which includes lecturing on nonviolence - on seeking to take away the roots of war - I speak a lot to senior military including those at the UK Defence Academy. They tell me (it's not classified) that space war, aimed at knocking out terrestrial communications hardware, is viewed with concern as an emergent frontier. Hammond was not therefore at quite the same level of paranoia as the "forces of darkness" Robertson. A grounded response - one that would have shown the Yes side treating No with the respect that, in all fairness, they deserve (and require for us to earn respect) would have asked: what likely enemy would want to knock out Scotland's communications, thus leveling a serious case for Scotland to develop capabilities in space war? I've not noticed any Yes commentator asking that question because they were all too busy being tickled pink by press cartoons about the aliens coming.

    An independent Scotland, rid of Trident, is not likely to have mega-enemies. Even if it did, that level of warfare would require technologies at a Europe or NATO level rather than a British level (although come to think of it, it raises a niggle in the mind as to what might be the full spectrum of functions of the proposed UK space centre, that might be based in Scotland).

    In a social context recently (not a formal staff college situation) I pressed a general as to what the only real threats to an independent Scotland might be. Islamic terrorism? ("Oor Humza's" doing good preemptive work in seeking to defuse that one nonviolently.) Putin boarding our oil rigs? (Fight him with an army of Rabbie Burns scholars). Come on, I argued, we're living more and more in one world than one of Cold War imperialism - don't frame a new world with the old order. Seriously, what credible military threats?

    I think he kind of agreed, because the only threat he could suggest was an enraged militant wing of the Orange Order. To which I said, with visions of resurgent Jacobites against King Billy: "And what good would an army (or Trident) be in that situation?" Anent which, see my Bella piece at

    Anyway, I'm off on holiday today and wife is threatening a computer ban. Sorry if no more engagement on replies on this thread. Wife??? What was that about the only source of real threats? (It's her way of love-bombing).

  33. I have it on good authority that the 'businessman' whose only concern was that wee Eck had been 'snide' is a Labour Party supporter from Jackie Baillie's bailiwick. He was recognised by a local SNP activist. Someone on twitter has confirmed the name of the better together activist that appeared as a 'neutral' on the panel unfortunately I can't find that tweet right now.

  34. Anon : Yes, the 'businessman' had 'No campaign plant' written all over him.

  35. Oh dear, aren't our new found visitors busy!
    How are you SNTYM ?
    Have you seen the latest polls?

    They are not nationwide so may have slipped under the radar somewhat, but interesting all the same.

    ICM poll reporting that Yes has gone ahead of No in the Highlands and Islands.

    ICM poll reporting that Yes has gone ahead in North East Scotland

    This poll reporting Yes is 9% ahead in the South of Scotland.

    Now I don't have details, but I'm sure there has been a poll that showed Yes ahead in Glasgow, and It's repeatedly claimed that Yes is ahead in Dundee...

    So don't you feel the net closing in?

    I do, and it's lovely!!! :-)

  36. I watched the debate in the pub. Even the no voters were laughing at the "snide" no plant in the audience, it was so obvious, I don't know who it is that they think they are kidding.

  37. Way off-topic but possibly interesting: I was reading the other day about the recent Swiss referendum on immigration quotas. It's quite a striking example of the phenomenon of people telling pollsters what they think they want to hear ... and a shy yes. ;-)

    (I have to say that it's a bit different as without going too far into Swiss politics, the party proposing the referendum, *does* have a very conservative to borderline racist outlook.)

    Anyway, the similaritites:

    - one party and popular sentiment backs yes
    - all other parties, the media and the establishment backs no
    - yes is decried as racist and economically harmful
    - initial polls show strong yes support, overall v close
    - under media bombardment, strong no support takes over, a month before poll it's N+15
    - as vote approaches it tightens, but at 2 weeks out it's still N+7

    ... and the actual result is Y+0.3!

    Google in french - "Initiative populaire contre l'immigration de masse" sondage is a poll.

  38. I've found that in English for those who don't speak enough French.

  39. Alastair, surely the key point is that was cannott assess the credibility of the threat Hammond raised because he refused to expand on it and according to his government sources it's classified.

    Without any details this nebulous threat from space is still a fantastically remote possibility and as such it is the perfect example of Project Fear scaremongering.

    Given that extremely limited information and secrecy, all we can therefore do is guess that Hammond was probably talking about the threat from some kind of satellite interception weapon system. That above all is why we simply cannot engage in the kind of debate you would like to see.

    The UK Tory Defence Secretary obviously did not want a measured discussion on this or he would have given the scottish public at least some cursory details of what he was talking about. Instead it suits him and Project Fear to raise the spectre of yet another nameless and supposedly serious threat and then shut down any rebuttal of it with the perennial Westminster favourite of "it's classified".

    So I'm afraid I disagree with you that we should have given Hammond's scaremongering more respect since he quite clearly had no intention of treating the scottish public like adults by giving us the necessary information to assess precisely what threat he was even talking about, never mind the most salient details of it.

    What Project Fear want is endless speculation on vague and unspecified threats to scotland. Their big problem is that they are forever asking us to trust them when trust in westmintser is in laughably short supply from the scottish public.

    The satellite business is worth many billions worldwide and scotland has already proved it is poised to take advantage of the abundant technical expertise we have in the field. It is therefore incumbent on the UK Defence secretary to be far more forthcoming than to make vague threats that likely refer to satellites but which cannot be responded to seriously and in detail when they are met with "it's classified" as the rote response.

    Nor are these tactics limited to the weaponisation and militarisation of space. Trident is a huge concern to scottish voters which you rightly mention Alistair. Yet it too has been subject to intense secrecy over the years. The details of the targeting and just how reliant it is on U.S. technology are crucial when assessing just how 'independent' this weapon of mass destruction really is and precisely who the U.K. government think it is deterring or would ever use it to attack.

    The full spectrum dominance the U.S. like to speak of is named that because it includes the full panoply of orbital platforms and satellite interception. It is China who are putting vast resources into countering and matching the U.S. capability in this area. That being the case the scottish public will have to decide whether any supposed theoretical threat of a chinese attack on scottish satellites is credible enough to keep us from voting to be independent. After all, we can only guess at why being independent would somehow make that chinese aggression against scotland any more likely than it is now. Same thing goes for Trident.

  40. It seems to me, Mick, that Scotland will be a relatively rich, small, relatively unimportant northern European country.

    There are others. Iceland, Norway, Faroes, Denmark/Greenland, Sweden, Finland.. and many more. They all enjoy high living standards and a good lifestyle.

    And they are all relatively small, at least in population terms and relatively insignificant as "powers".

    How do they manage this threat from outer space, or whatever, without the Uk's broad shoulders and sharing the risks?

    Maybe (for God's sake why) the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary could answer that.

  41. Sorry for the O/T post but I'm wondering if someone can help me... A rather smug NO supporter I know has been making a big noise about the current betting odds. Now, I know people have mentioned on this site that the odds are a factor of both probability and the scale of bets that have been placed, but I'm not sure I understand how this works and consequently why my no supporting friend should not quite so cocky? Could someone please help explain this? Thanks.

  42. Whether the No campaign likes it or not tris they are going to have to come up with a far more credible response to the stunningly obvious point you raise.(which in no way belittles you raising it I hasten to add) Scots know plenty of other countries like us manage perfectly well and indeed flourish without being treated like children by a discredited and mistrusted westminster establishment.

    For all the shrieking about 'plan B' from the BritNats the fact of the matter is currency has a mere 2% salience as the most important issue. This while seemingly endless westminster austerity is the elephant in the room. One which Cameron, Clegg, little Ed and the unionist media are self-evidently terrified of talking about and desperate to ignore.

    Foreign Affairs is just yet another area that No are going to wish they could ignore and the reasons why are well worth setting out on today of all days.

  43. So now Obama is launching air strikes in Iraq with military intervention a reality again.

    This after he promised "no boots on the ground" and promptly sent 300 special forces boots very firmly onto that ground. Has the U.K. sent any special forces boots on the ground? We simply don't know because the Tory Foreign Secretary, Defence Secretary and PM won't tell us. Though since we now know just how early it was that the UK sent in boots on the ground to Libya, (current status basket case with widespread carnage - military intervention backfired there too amazingly enough) it's a fairly safe bet that there is.

    The westminster promises that they don't want to start Iraq 2.0 with ever escalating military intervention are starting to sound hauntingly familiar and hollow.

    Case in point.

    "Defence Secretary Michael Fallon says he welcomes the US military intervention in Iraq but insists that Britain's role will be limited to supporting American operations in areas such as refuelling and surveillance"

    Limited for now, not for when this escalates further as it most assuredly will.

    I recall saying air-strikes and military intervention were next when Iraq exploded into full-scale bloodshed yet again. I also recall the westminster press and media pretending such a thing was hugely unlikely and we shouldn't worry about it.

    Turns out they were full of shit. Who would have guessed it?

    Do scots really want to get dragged into endless wars in the middle east for the next 10, 20, 30 years? At the cost of the deaths of ever more young scots servicemen and women? With our 'reward' being a pat on the head from the U.S. President to whatever idiot UK P.M. is in power at the time?

    I somehow don't think so and I'm 100% certain that westminster's Plan B for Iraq will not impress the scottish public either.

  44. Sounds to me as if the correct approach is to involve the police with a complaint about corruption.

  45. I thought Alistair might find this intersting.

    We've been here before Alistair. I suspect you remember something of the scandal and controversy the respected investigative journalist Duncan Cambpell uncovered with "the Zircon affair" and the Thatcher government's reprehensible response to it.

    For those Yes supporters who do not know about Campbell and the furore he stirred up it is well worth your time looking into it as his research on unacountable cabinet committees in westmisnter was no less shocking.

    Indeed does this sound familiar?

    "The 'Secret Cabinet Committees' was held in a vault by the BBC, who refused to release or broadcast it. After numerous failed attempts to access the tapes, the episode was remade for Channel 4 in 1991."

    Facts like these and the McCrone Report always make the BritNats acutely uncomfortable. They clearly expose the lies from the No campaign with their blind faith and naive insistence that we must always trust the westminster establishment and Government to 'play fair' and tell us the truth.

    Remind us all, how did that turn out for Iraq the first time around?

  46. Andrew : If the bookies have too much exposure on one outcome, they can artificially adjust the odds to limit any potential damage. The classic example would be a middle-ranking British player in the first round of Wimbledon - so many bets will be placed that the odds on that player will be shorter than the true probabilities would warrant.

    But it's also worth bearing in mind that the bookies also sometimes take a pounding because of a simple mistake in their own reasoning. As I always point out, Labour were 1/10 favourites to win most seats in the 2007 election for several hours AFTER Brian Taylor had reported that the SNP looked like sneaking it narrowly. The bookies had just made the schoolboy error of looking at how far ahead Labour were on the running seat tally, and assuming that they didn't need to investigate any further.

  47. Just a quick apology to Alastair for the inadvertent typos in his name.

    Also a plea to hear more from him after his holiday as if it wasn't already clear I find his observations and insights thought provoking and extremely valuable.

    Have a great holiday Alastair. :-)

  48. Thanks Mick Pork - while illicitly on wifi on the pier at Uig while wife distracted (actually, she's on hers too - so much for holiday resolutions). Some really bold Yes cars up this way including one with saltires on the facing edge of both wing mirrors, like a blue angel cruising down the highway.

  49. The conversation here is starting to sound very reminiscent of the Republican talking points in the run up to the Obama/Romney election.

    All of the talk was about "skewed polls" - about how the samples were wrong, the pollsters were biased, the weighting was wrong, etc. Various websites and commentators attempted to "correct" for these mistakes to show that Romney was going to romp home and win in a landslide.

    All the while, the bookies' odds reflected the polls pretty closely. In the end, the bookies were right and the result was very similar to the pollsters' predictions. The most boring, non-conspiratorial ways of looking at the data and assuming that the pollsters were roughly as accurate as usual and not biased in any particular way (such as those by the hyper-intelligent Nate Silver) turned out to be accurate.

    Frankly, the Republicans may have done better if they had focussed on what was turning the voters off of their candidate (quick clue - calling 47% of the population bloodsucking leeches who want to steal the rich peoples' money might annoy almost half of the electorate) rather than pretending that there were no problems and that they were going to win the election.

    Yes is behind in the polls right now. This isn't a problem, and there's definitely enough time to turn this around. But we don't get anywhere by pretending that these polling firms (who have their reputation on the line and would LOVE to be the ones who get the result right while their competitors flounder) are intentionally leaving enormous methodological errors in place!

  50. "The conversation here is starting to sound very reminiscent of the Republican talking points in the run up to the Obama/Romney election.

    All of the talk was about "skewed polls" - about how the samples were wrong, the pollsters were biased, the weighting was wrong, etc."

    That's almost a fair point, but you could also say it sounds very much like what the Conservatives were saying about the polls in the run-up to the 1992 election - and in that case they turned out to be right. This is a very unusual campaign because we already know for a fact that at least some of the pollsters have their methodologies wrong - because the figures from the Yes-friendly pollsters are quite simply irreconcilable with the No-friendly pollsters.

    As for the US, Silver was able to do what he did partly because of the peculiarities of the electoral college - if he'd been relying solely on national polls, the potential for error would have been that much greater.

  51. "The conversation here is starting to sound very reminiscent of the Republican talking points in the run up to the Obama/Romney election."

    Wrong. It has already been pointed out that we aren't talking about all the polls saying the same thing but a HUGE divergence in the polling between all the polling companies.

    A chasm so great and so glaring that YouGov actually took the absolutely unprecedented step of commissioning a poll with the sole purpose of attacking and discrediting other pollsters. This was because Kellner had made a his bizarre "Kellner Correction" to YouGov Independence polling and yet still will not release the figures and data that underpinned it. (a frankly bizarre level of secrecy that the other BPC members do not engage in) Survation were then forced to defend themselves from the YouGov attack which they did with no small measure of rigour and an entirely understandable level of irritation with Kellner's bizarre behaviour.

    That's the pollsters fighting among themselves NOT all under attack from one party like the Republicans.

    For that matter you only had to take a 5 minute look the spectacle of the out of touch G.O.P. circus to know Obama was going to win. Something a huge number of people did say at the time. Curiously we aren't being touted as a "hyper-intelligent" because we did so. ;-)

    "(quick clue - calling 47% of the population bloodsucking leeches who want to steal the rich peoples' money might annoy almost half of the electorate)"

    Absolutely right. Or as we in scotland get called by another name, "subsidy junkies". Which the ever helpful right-wing dominated press and some westminster politicians just can't stop themselves from calling us.

    As for the meat of polling analysis, when glaring methodological changes continually go without explanation do not expect them to be ignored here. However you choose to ascribe the factors behind them they matter. Pollsters get paid by their clients for every poll, not just the one that immediately precedes an election or referendum. Nor can you possibly expect the 2011 landslide election and upset in scotland not to colour how the pollsters are perceived and conducting themselves this time around. 2011 was only a mere three years ago yet there is STILL blowback and mechanisms built into UK GE polling because of the 1992 fiasco with the 'shy tories'.

  52. Heh, just noticed your preceding post James. At times we do seem to reach similar conclusions on some issues. ;-)

    Though to be fair at least we're nowhere near the comical level of synchronised tweets that we used to see on PB from the comedy 'greats'.


  53. I'm with YouGov and I used to be polled regularly on politics generally. For the last eighteen months there has been zilch. I probably gave the game away by consistently saying I voted SNP and would vote 'YES'.
    Not particularly 'scientific', but I know and my fellow travellers know, why I'm no longer asked for my views.
    YouGov are, to put it mildly, untrustworthy.

  54. I was contacted a couple of months ago by the BBC regarding a referendum programme to be broadcast for Portree. It was strange because the person phoning did not know why my phone number had come up on their contact list. I said it could be because I was involved in a local community enterprise or because I am small business man or even because of historic involvement with a school dispute with Highland Council.
    We chatted for a couple of minutes. I expressed interest in attending and the rep was delighted. We then got on to the matter of how I perceived the debate to be moving. I said in common with the polls I was generally noticing how many people were moving from No to Yes. The tone then changed. I was advised that 'we in the media believe that something different was happening'
    I was assured that I would be emailed information on how I could receive an invite. I heard nothing more.
    I did not pursue the issue because I was busy with work and other matters. I rather wish I had now.

  55. The polls are showing No ahead. So the polls must be dodgy.

    The debate didn't go well for Yes? So the debate much have been fixed.

    Aside the part of the post-debate poll that showed Salmond winning with undecided voters. That is obviously true. As are allegations made by Yes supporters of the aforementioned behaviour and anyone who asks for proof is obviously a No troll.

  56. "The polls are showing No ahead. So the polls must be dodgy."

    So you think that's why YouGov made their unprecedented attack the other pollsters then you dopey twat?

    "Aside the part of the post-debate poll that showed Salmond winning with undecided voters. That is obviously true"

    The No friendly pundit Curtice was certainly fooled into thinking it was true since he repeated it. Must sting quite a bit to know that all that hysterical foaming at the mouth by the unionist trolls and press was for absolutely nothing.


    You going to tell us all that there being No Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq is a 'conspiracy theory' as well, Britnat troll?

    Perhaps you should run along and tell Darling who was scaremongering about WMD long before he started scaremongering about currency. An issue that only 2% of scots consider the most important issue. What a shame.

  57. Hello James,

    I am wondering why this story isnt being covered in the media and if you are in the process of making it so?


  58. I know of only one person who has been contacted by IPSOS Mori via telephone - 3 times! Each time when she answered their question that she was intending to vote 'Yes' in the referendum, she was told each time that their poll was now over subscribed and they had their quota and she didn;t have to answer any more questions and the phone went dead!!!!!

  59. Just back in NZ now from 4 weeks home in the Highlands. Puzzled at the polls. Hardly found a single NO person in all that time who had a vote.
    For me it's a no brainer, positive attitude, seize the day, is what the issue is. Stay with the same crap that drove me away will continue to bleed Scotland dry,(and England too).
    Wish I had a vote but I trust the cognitively intact population of the land will prevail.
    We are lucky though, when the parliaments were first united, we had no say, it was the corrupt aristocracy, so the only option for the common man was to riot - and we did. Lets correct that historic injustice - Vote positive - YES