Saturday, September 27, 2014

A high information island

A guest post by Bibbit Blair

I was a YES polling agent on 18th September, in Kilmory Hall, Arran. I was there at 6.45 to witness the (empty) ballot box put in situ. I was there at 10.05 pm when it was sealed. Another YES person and I took turns being at the polling station all day. We decided to do our own very unofficial exit poll, between us. We reached our tallies based on: people volunteering info, seeing badges, people taking our leaflets, people not taking our leaflets (including people glaring as if we were trying to hand them a dead rat), one woman shouting that I was breaking the law, as I could not ‘electioneer’. When I explained that my presence had been checked at 6.45 that morning by Council officials, and offered to show her my polling agent card she went off grumbling. Her husband simply looked embarrassed. Shrill Home County (that’ll be a NO then). By the way there was no ‘NO’ polling agent at our polling station.

I asked the council officials number of voters and they advised that, barring postal votes, a maximum of 340 voters could turn up to vote. We counted 300ish voters. The overall vote we reached in our very imperfect way was 67% YES 33% NO. So we were feeling confident YES were going to win for many reasons, as our wee demographic should have been a strong NO area, ie. the vast majority of our voters seen were over 55, with a good number over 65. (Of course the 16-17 year olds would have been away at college by then and voting postally or by proxy but very few 16-17s sighted). We are in a rural area, traditionally Tory farming types and finally, a very high proportion of non ‘Scots-born’ reside on Arran. So we were pretty stunned at what we were tallying up. Before tea-time it was the NOs ahead by about 52-48. but there was a big surge of voters between 5-7 pm which turned it round for YES. We reckoned the non-Scots, very surprisingly, voted by a very narrow margin in favour of YES. The farmers also surprised us, as their vote was also split 50-50. The story seemed to be repeated across the island and people at the count on the mainland advised us that again unofficially (as Arran is in a ward with Ardrossan) that the ballot boxes from Arran were a YES win by about 55% YES to 45% NO, the opposite of the Scotland-wide result...

So why did we buck the trends with our older population (hundreds retire to Arran, very few young families can afford to stay here), non-native Scots population? Well it was probably offset by a very high proportion of artists/creative types who predominately vote YES, a very well organised Arran for YES group, but I think the clincher was simply that the Arran population educated itself online rather than relying on papers. You see we often can’t buy papers, so as an island we have slipped into a habit of not doing so. Ferry service in winter months means papers don’t get put in shop shelves until 1 o’clock, so people go online for news, far more than other demographics who can buy papers anytime, all day. We also had a star studded cast of Yes celebrities coming to Arran all through the campaign and the public really engaged with that process in halls, etc. (Dr Whitford, John Swinney, Kenny Gibson, Patrick Harvie, Lesley Riddoch, the two boys who did the Scotland Yet documentary, among others.)  All the 16-17s were for YES. As I said most of their Tory/Labour grannies were NOs.

So no doubt about it when the truth is sought the people vote YES. We really need a Scots news channel on Freeview and also a paper even if the latter is just for a short period before an election or referendum.


  1. I'm not 100% sure, but I think the final unofficial results given for Arran above include postal votes.

  2. We won the referendum - the BritNats hacked into the 32 local authority electoral registries and added all the names necessary and then downloaded and sent off postal votes. This was ALWAYS going to be a stolen result because the giant open barn door to fraud was a gift to the British state. There is no point in even recounting phoney votes because they are phoney.

    Salmond had a poll showing YES victory and was expecting to make a victory speech and we end up 10% points behind instead of 10% points ahead as Salmond's poll showed. A 20 point gain by the Britnats - bllx.

    They stole it and we will never win a referendum whilst this corrupt banana republic voting system continues.

  3. This tells you what happened

  4. *
    Stevie, No won narrowly even on votes cast on the day. The postal vote system does desperately need to be tightened up, but a) there is no evidence of widespread postal vote fraud in this case, and b) even if there had been fraud it wasn't what swung the result.

    All of these wild conspiracy theories about vote-rigging are simply distracting attention from the real flaw in this democratic process, which was media bias.

  5. Anon : That article is mostly rubbish, but it does contain a small number of valid points. In an ideal world, there would have been conventional exit polls, just to check whether there was any discrepancy between what was being picked up on the ground and the final result. And there are credible grounds for concerns about what happened in Glenrothes.

    But if we were going to conclude that a national referendum was rigged, we'd need something far more concrete than the wildly speculative notions in that article.

  6. Oh God, not another thread infested by the conspiracy nuts. I swear, I'm beginning to believe the conspiracy is to hoax Yes activists into believing they won the referendum to stop us from addressing the real issues about why we lost. Which was basically media bias as James said, including the biassed media letting the No campaign away with murder.

    The article about Arran is very interesting. A community without daily newspapers. Hmmm.

  7. Hi James, thanks for the Arran report, it makes me very happy that the Isle voted yes as it is one of my favourite places and I really thought it might have gone the other way.

    As to the postal vote I have grave concerns about how open to fraud it is.

    I am with those who feel it is far too widespread and should be confined to the sick, disabled, off shore workers and armed forces.

    I believe that the sampling that has gone on amounts to serious interference in the electoral process.

    The unionist side were able to strategize unfairly at every stage in the last fortnight of the referendum.

    This, combined with their command and contol of the media (operation shock and awe) ensured that there was no chance of a free and fair vote.

  8. So now even Scot Goes Pop has become a stooge of the British establishment colluding with vote rigging.

  9. "We reached our tallies based on: people volunteering info, seeing badges, people taking our leaflets, people not taking our leaflets"

    I think they just counted wrong.

    I come home with my pockets full of latter day saints tracts not because I'm a mormon, but because I live near their church and i don't want to kick up a fuss if I meet any - oh cheers, yeh, deffo, yeh, cheers, erm, bye. I kick up a fuss online instead :-)

  10. Saynotoyesmen : You should read things more carefully before you post. This isn't a "the result was wrong" article. This is an "Arran voted Yes in the recorded results" article. Sorry to disappoint you.

  11. Amazing how any attempt to expose the evil of government interference in Democracy is labelled a "conspiracy theory"

    There was an article in the Grainyard showing how the more information voters had the more they voted Yes. It was another of those that didn't allow comments of course. Strangely selective at Carrol towers.

    NO won. If they did win. By absolute control of the media. One weekly title taking a gamble for increased sales doesn't make the slightest difference against the avalanche of lies.

    Lies that can only be paid for by OUR TAXES being used to prop up the lie machine.

    And some people are proud to live under such a regime.

  12. Anon : I've pointed out the extreme media bias myself - I certainly wouldn't describe that as a conspiracy theory, it was plain for all to see.

  13. Another 16 point lead for the SNP in today's Yougov.

    Makes you wonder whether the below is about protecting MSP jobs from the May 2015 P45 lot.

    Civil war looms as Lamont backs devolution for Scottish Labour

  14. Copied from Wings Over Scotland

    Bunter says:

    28 September, 2014 at 2:32 am

    Its so far down no-one will be reading this but here goes,
    We are 100% yes website, most of the admin are in men only clubs; we thought this was going to be a fair vote but now we know it was not, all our ballot papers backs were blank I even raised this with a supervisor at Mastrick polling station in Aberdeen who stated as far as she was aware all Aberdeen polling stations papers were blank, yet here we are police now investigating, crown office now investigating soon the EU the entire vote is or was a complete shambles and to trust it you would have to be nuts in the extreme.
    The person who was in charge panicked after day one and released a statement that it was fair?
    Now there are countless enquiries going on all over Scotland and people still say the no’s have the no’s have it well somehow that looks like only if it was rigged, all the no side was saying they won it before the count yet no exit poll was ever taken all over Scotland, why was that?
    Because it would have been miles out of the rigged poll results!
    the one that really sticks out are the snp heartlands you have to wonder at the results, fire alarms that emptied buildings but officials seen doing paperwork on TV , who were they?
    Full coverage continues on

    See these as well

  15. Congrats to Bibbit. As an agent myself we had considered doing a rough count but the numbers simply prevented it. It was an incredibly busy polling station where I was and we did actually have some No agents during the day but they only did a couple of hours each. Most of the time they weren't there while it was fully manned by Yes. Elsewhere I can confirm there were a great many stations with zero No campaign presence whatsoever for the entire day on the west coast.

    "We really need a Scots news channel on Freeview and also a paper even if the latter is just for a short period before an election or referendum. "

    Both very worthy goals and just plain good for democracy but they sure ain't cheap so it will be medium to long term. I appreciate some of the plans for internet TV channels, streams, youtubes etc. but the fact of the matter is the internet presence is already strong so it needs to be print media and Freeview to reach a different demographic.

    I'm also looking forward to a proper cross-party grass-roots campaign to finally end the unfair TV Tax and bring the BBC into the 21st century with a reasonable and fair subscription based pay model like every other pay TV channel has to do.

    It is simply unfair and grotesque in 2014 to force the poorest and most vulnerable in society to pay the TV Tax under threats of fines, criminal records or even imprisonment simply because the BBC refuses to move to a subscription based model whereby the people have the right to CHOOSE whether to pay for and watch BBC output.

  16. Fair enough, they were told unofficially. But is there anywhere officially the results are broken down more than just the 32 districts? I've seen counts per constituency for edinburgh in the EEN but nothing else.

  17. "Another 16 point lead for the SNP in today's Yougov.

    Makes you wonder whether the below is about protecting MSP jobs from the May 2015 P45 lot.

    Civil war looms as Lamont backs devolution for Scottish Labour"

    It's about that Scottish_Skier but it's also very obviously about Lamont panicking now she knows the London Labour are out to get her. It's not as if it was hard to spot after the many blatant briefings against her during the labour party conference. She's pretty much dead in the water now and is fighting to keep her job.

    Still no sign of Eggman Murphy being happy to take over from her though. It's far more likely he wanted a promotion back to the shadow cabinet as a 'reward' rather than having to tackle the 'scottish' labour civil war and panic.

  18. Glasgow council have posted breakdowns by constituency on their website. All of them voted yes by narrow(ish) margins.

  19. The ballot papers in the Borders were all blank on the back too. It's just the way the council printed them. The degree of paranoia surrounding this is extraordinary.

    The police are investigating Ruth's apparent admission on TV that her campaign breached the law as regards secrecy of postal ballot opening. Nothing to do with ballot paper design.

    If an offence was committed, and I think it was, it was only about secrecy. It didn't affect the vote counting.

  20. Also well worth pointing out that the incompetent fop Cameron's new omnishambles over his own MPs and the kippers is somewhat unlikely to herald any kind of scottish tory surge. The groundwork and positioning for the long predicted and expected tory civil war and split over Europe continues apace.

    You add the conference shambles of Cammie to little Ed's pathetic conference and it's pretty damn clear that the 'Better Together' slogan is looking hilariously ironic with far greater speed than any of use thought possible.

    The lib dem conference is in Glasgow on Friday so after calamity Clegg and his yellow tory spinners trashed his parties reputation on Iraq expect that to be another cause of much hilarity. Some of Clegg's ostrich faction are already shrieking dementedly like mini Tony Blairs. They are demanding to know if lib dems who dare criticise Clegg and the Iraq war stupidity are "terrorist appeasers" with rhetoric like "are you with us or against us?". George Bush and the NeoCons would be proud of them. It's also absolutely certain to drive even more lib dems away from the small joke of a party Clegg has made it.

    Lest you doubt it.

    Callum Shannon ‏@callum_shannon 1h

    Lib Dems in meltdown according to today's YouGov poll: Labour 36%, Conservative 31%, UKIP 15%, Green 6%, Lib Dem 6%

    Yeah, I think they may already be noticing your chickenhawk warmongering Clegg, you inept tory poodle.

  21. I was a counting agent. The process was meticulous, fair, honest and transparent. Although low level mistakes and a bit of fiddling inevitably happen, the system is extremely robust at the macro level.

    There is no doubt whatsoever that we lost by about 400,000 votes. We need to analyse and understand the reasons for this, and fantasies that we actually won but were cheated out of the win are getting in the way. It's not helping.

  22. I know of another place that bucked the trend. Tweedsmuir. (As in John Buchan, Baron.)

    It's a tiny village and there are only 88 people registered to vote at the polling station. It looks like the sort of place that would be heavily No. Big houses and farms. It was No, but while most villages like that in the Borders were registering under 30% for Yes, the Tweedsmuir box came in at around 45% Yes.

    I really can't explain this, but it does fit with our impressions on the ground. I leafleted the village in the spring and didn't see many people. I didn't have an opinion. However a couple of weeks before polling day a friend went up there with the final booklet and the Wee Blue Book. She came back grinning all over her face saying people had been practically running out of their houses to get a WBB. The village was already surprisingly Yes.

    The only other thing she reported was that she called at the biggest, most aristocratic house in the place, and discovered a veritable hotbed of Yes sympathy. Whether these people had any influence I don't know.

    It would be interesting to know why some of these places bucked the trend, but it's probably not something we could replicate anyway.

  23. Rolfe, see this letter that states that there should have been a unique identifying number
    on the back of ballot papers. I am in the Scottish Borders and my postal ballot had one on the back.

  24. The thing is, I didn't notice anything on the back. I folded it and then looked at it and unfolded it to take another wee look at the cross in the Yes box, and didn't notice anything.

    I was at the count in Kelso and didn't notice anything on the backs of the papers. We were trained and advised by senior SNP officials and councillors, and nobody mentioned anything about looking at the backs of the papers.

    So it's possible I overlooked something, simply because I wasn't looking out for it. If I did, I overlooked it on all the papers I watched being counted.

    If I did that, how can I have any confidence in anyone else's declaration that there was nothing on the back?

    The papers were torn out of a book of papers, as usual. The polling clerk made a note of the individual number on the electoral roll as usual. What sort of scam is everyone suggesting anyway? It's paranoid.