Apparently the new TNS-BMRB referendum poll, which we were originally told to expect mid-week, has been brought forward. I'm still not sure exactly when to expect it, because there's been no rhyme or reason to when they've released polls in the past - they've occasionally done it at weird times like the middle of the afternoon, but it'll probably be tonight.
Those of you who follow the increasingly confusing utterances of our old friend Mike "can't be arsed" Smithson may have spotted that he's been bigging up this poll to an absurd degree, almost according it Stalingrad-style significance as the poll which will finally settle the dispute over whether YouGov are right (meaning there has been a very dramatic and very recent swing to Yes) or Panelbase are right (meaning there has been relative stability over the last couple of weeks). Let me be clear - that is absolute nonsense. I don't say that because TNS-BMRB aren't a credible pollster, but simply because a large part of their fieldwork will be hopelessly out of date. On past form, they will have started conducting interviews for this poll the best part of a month ago, not all that long after the first debate, when the media were still churning out fairy-tales about a "Darling win". And of the aforementioned points about the swing YouGov are showing, the most important one is that it's very recent - meaning that even if it's 100% real, there's no way that TNS can realistically hope to pick it up.
I've no idea what the trend will be in this poll, but we can safely assume that any movement is likely to be modest, simply because of the dates. The last poll showed Yes on their second-highest level of support of the campaign so far with the No-friendly TNS methodology - they were on 42% and No were on 58%. Admittedly, the turnout-filtered figures were somewhat more Yes-friendly, putting Yes on 45% and No on 55%, but those figures have proved to be much more volatile over recent months.
A cynic might wonder if Smithson understands all of this perfectly well, and is only making a song and dance about TNS because he's already got a bogus "No comeback" narrative up his sleeve. Incidentally, a more interesting point that he's made is that TNS always tack their referendum polling onto their much broader consumer surveys. I wasn't previously aware of that, and it sets a small alarm bell ringing in my mind, because I seem to recall reading many years ago about a polling firm in the 1979 general election that produced far, far higher Conservative leads than anyone else, and were ultimately proved wrong. They couldn't understand where they were going astray, because in principle their methodology was perfectly standard, but the suspicion was that because they were geared as a company towards consumer surveys, unconscious biases in the selection of people to interview were making themselves felt.
UPDATE (4.30pm) : The early hints about the TNS poll are contradicting some of what I said above, with one person in the know apparently describing the results as a "sensation". See the comments section below for more details.
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I think we have a new turbo-charged definition of the word 'fickle' -
London media yesterday : Over the next ten days, NOTHING matters apart from saving the most glorious political union the universe has ever seen. NOTHING.
London media today : Royal baby! Royal baby! Royal baby! Coo! Coo! Kate! Wills! Coo!
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A special message for readers in Wales - a cross-party event in support of a Scottish Yes vote will take place outside the Senedd in Cardiff Bay on Saturday at 2pm. Speakers will include Leanne Wood (leader of Plaid Cymru), Pippa Bartolotti (leader of the Green party in Wales), Ray Davies (a Labour councillor from Caerphilly), Amy Kitcher (a former Liberal Democrat candidate for both Westminster and the Welsh Assembly), Jamie Wallace (from the SNP), and Andrew Redmond Barr (from National Collective). There will be live entertainment at the event, which will be positive and uplifting in nature to counteract the wall of media scare stories.
I must say it's particularly encouraging to see the support that Green politicians in both England and Wales have been giving to the Yes campaign - I initially feared they might prove to be slightly ambivalent.
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I was out and about in a very sunny Glasgow on Saturday, once again sporting my elephant-sized Yes badge, and I happened to notice Bad Romance being performed in St Enoch's Square as I walked past. I was facing the wrong way, so I've no idea if the real Zara Gladman was there in person, but I did wonder if it was entirely wise to be singing a song that goes : "No, no, no, no, no, oh no, gonnae no, oh no, no, no, no, I'm voting NO-OH-OH". That may be just slightly too subtle a pro-Yes message for a random passer-by to fully appreciate!
Later on, I was on a train, and a slightly drunk young woman (I keep meeting them, but this one was Irish) asked me if I'd like to eat her chips for her. I said 'no thanks', and she looked disappointed, but then she saw my Yes badge and her hopes were renewed. "Yes?"
She was still talking about it a few minutes later : "Well, I've done my best to give them away - this guy says Yes, which I agree with him about by the way, but he says No to chips." At that point, my heart finally melted, and I ate a couple of her chips, while listening to her brilliantly explain the referendum to a seven-year-old boy : "Suppose I told you that if you wanted to have crisps on a Friday, you could decide to have crisps on a Friday, would you say Yes to that? Or would you say No, and choose to be part of a bigger group that might force you to eat haddock?"