Friday, September 5, 2014

Run that past me again?

I got the latest of several emails from Tory millionaire grass-roots group "Vote No Borders" the other day (in spite of never having signed up for their mailing list!), and it was entitled "Why build another wall?"  Which is a good question, but an even better question is "Why not take that up with your colleagues in the No campaign such as Home Secretary Theresa May, who are the only people to have ever actually proposed anything other than a completely open border between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK, albeit only as a transparent ruse?"

Oh, and a question I'd quite like to ask "Vote No Borders" myself is : I take it this inspiring vision of a world without borders also includes the border between France and England, which I had to tediously queue up to get through at Calais only a couple of weeks ago?  Admittedly it was quite fun walking up to the stern UK border guard while wearing my little Yes badge, but even so.  Mr Cameron, tear down this wall!

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Alex Massie is continuing with his "equal opportunities irritant" approach to referendum blogging, with one or two posts designed to get on the nerves of No supporters being reliably followed by one or two posts designed to get on the nerves of Yes supporters, and so on into infinity.  Which is fair enough, but he gave the game away when in a perhaps unguarded remark at the end of his latest piece, he described himself as a "normally jaded unionist".  Question : why did the BBC allow any sort of "unionist" to take part in a high-profile TV debate a few months ago on the specific basis that he was an "undecided voter" in a referendum on independence?

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Stephen Daisley's irreverent articles for the STV website have been a breath of fresh air in recent weeks, but if his piece on the "town hall debate" the other night is anything to go by, let's hope to God he never becomes ITV's political editor.  He seems to be suffering from the Tom Bradby syndrome of projecting his own political instincts onto an imaginary "average voter", and therefore assuming that absolute personal bias constitutes perfect objectivity.  Apparently normal people were all utterly bored by what Patrick Harvie said about the prospect of children being burned to death by the UK's Trident nuclear warheads.  Well, if you like, Stephen, we could always pretend that Trident sings children a lullaby to gently send them to sleep - it would be a lie, but a pretty lie all the same.  The reality is that the Hiroshima bomb, which was many, many magnitudes less powerful than a modern British nuclear weapon, incinerated countless children as they sat in school classrooms.

Ironically, Stephen concludes his article by charging both campaigns with ignoring the big issues of debt and the affordability of pensions.  Forgive me, but isn't the avoidance of a nuclear holocaust, and the virtual extinction of the human race it would entail, a weightier issue still?  Crushingly boring to you, Stephen, I know, but...

Oh, and Stephen also praises Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson to the skies for her "moving words" about the military.  So no problem at all with her gaffe about the UK needing nuclear weapons to "stand tall in the world", ie. weapons of mass destruction justified purely on the grounds of national prestige.  Just remind me - what did we say we were invading Iraq for?

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The reaction of a Scottish Labour spokesman to the decision of the RMT union membership to back a Yes vote -

"Six trade unions, representing 130,000 people across the public and private sector in Scotland, are in favour of a No vote on September 18."

Yes, those unions may represent 130,000 people, but how many of those 130,000 people were actually balloted before the unions decided their stance?

"Even this ballot did not show a majority in favour of independence - 56% of people who voted didn't support a Yes vote."

'Even' this ballot?  As opposed to all the other ballots that didn't take place, I suppose?  In case you're wondering, the 56% figure refers to the fact that there was also a "no position" option on the RMT ballot - 44% of members voted Yes, 41% voted No, and the remaining 15% voted for no position.  That does of course mean that 59% didn't support a No vote, which I can only presume must be EVEN WORSE than 56% not supporting a Yes vote?


  1. Great article as usual James. I don't know if you got caught up at all in the faux-Panelbase poll release last night. Some tweet announcing the Daily Record's Friday edition would have a Yes-lead poll on the front page caused a bit of a stir, although it was later proven to be false. Shame though, a Yes-lead at this point in time would be absolutely fantastic.

  2. The amazing thing about that 'rumour' is that it was easily traceable back to tweets from Labour trolls Duncan Hothersall and Jamie Glackin - that's how reliable it was!

    Even if the Yes lead had existed, it would have been stupid to waste the Record front page on it - it's such a golden opportunity to make our case.

  3. Great point. Do you think they'll release the Panelbase poll from last week, or do you think they'll just sit on it? I'm interested in seeing YouGov's poll this Sunday; surely anything less than last week's YG poll wouldn't be taken too seriously, or perhaps I'm just being overtly optimistic.

  4. "surely anything less than last week's YG poll wouldn't be taken too seriously"

    Oh, I think after an 8% swing over the space of a few short weeks we have to expect some kind of reversion to the mean - the Kellner Correction is still firmly in place, after all.

    I think if the Panelbase poll from last week was going to be published, it probably would have happened by now.

  5. But polls supposedly reflect reality and the momentum is with Yes so I wouldn't expect a reversion to the mean. It ought to the same or slightly better. But since their 61:39 poll I have no faith in YouGov and think the Kelner correction does allow them to fiddle - so who knows?

  6. Survation's next poll is Sept 11th

  7. I think we may see a slight increase in the Yes vote. As this poll will also take into account the BT patronising lady ad as well as the yes scotland one.

  8. 'isn't the avoidance of a nuclear holocaust, and the virtual extinction of the human race it would entail, a weightier issue still?'

    Absolutely it is and you wont find anyone who disagrees with you but the chances of nuclear war won't be in any way affected by the result of this referendum so what is the point of raising it?

    On an unrelated point I am also curious why you think a report of a Yes vote would be 'wasted' on the Record. I know it's pro-union but would that not make it all the better for Yes? If you're talking circulation it is a close rival to the Sun and, alongside it, one of the only two mass circulation Scottish newspapers (Metro and the Mail lag far behind)

    But perhaps you meant 'wasted' now when it would be more fruitful nearer the poll?

  9. Sorry in last post I wrote 'report of a yes vote' I meant of course 'report of a pro Yes poll'

  10. 'Sorry in last post I wrote 'report of a yes vote'

    Freudian slip?


    By the same argument, we might ask why the No campaign didn't use its chance in the Record to show a 'Blow for Salmond' poll. Would have taken the shine of Friday's Yes edition...

  11. "but the chances of nuclear war won't be in any way affected by the result of this referendum"

    How do you work that out? Is it a figment of my imagination that Europe's biggest concentration of nuclear weapons is on the Clyde, not on the Thames or the Mersey?

  12. Not a proper poll or anything, but the Record is using voting buttons within its online articles and at time of writing this, Yes is leading No by 89% to 11%.

    I know it's self selecting and not scientific, means nothing, all of that, but still. It looks nice. :-)

  13. How do you work that out? Is it a figment of my imagination that Europe's biggest concentration of nuclear weapons is on the Clyde, not on the Thames or the Mersey?

    Yup. Europe's biggest concentration of nuclear weapons is (and always has been) at our nuclear weapons manufacturing and storage facility in Aldermaston in Berkshire.

    Smack in the middle of the Home Counties and around a hundred or so miles from London.

  14. Anon : Nice try.

  15. While there is some risk at aldermaston the main risk is not a nuclear explosion as such, it is the constant rumoured discharges from nuclear submarines (sure someone can supply background) along with the big one... an accident in the mating, movement or storage of assembled Trident missiles leading to uncontrolled rocket ignition/burn and cascade burning off/spreading of highly refined nuclear material held within the warheads over wide areas. That and being a target for others.


  16. James wrote : How do you work that out? Is it a figment of my imagination that Europe's biggest concentration of nuclear weapons is on the Clyde, not on the Thames or the Mersey?

    I am not even sure if this is true but it matters not at all if it is to the question which is whether the referendum result affects the overall prospect of nuclear war. You seem to think it would though you offer no reason why. Nuclear war might be triggered by a number of things though (if you compare Ukraine with say the Cuban missile crisis it doesn't really seem to be as dangerous an issue as it once was) But what on earth difference does it make whether missiles are relocated some miles south on a small island to the overall PROSPECT of nuclear war. None whatsoever. If America moved one of its arsenals from North Carolina to Texas so what? Would you jump for joy at the receding of the nuclear threat? I somehow doubt it.

    Of course I accept you want to be rid of the things from Scottish soil and I don't blame you but I repeat, that makes no difference to the question at hand. In my theoretical comparison a North Carolina native might be mildly happy they were less of a target but not a single citizen there would ever think 'ah the threat of global nuclear war has receded'. So why do you?

  17. You might find that it isn't only faslane that has been having 'leaks'....there are old sub's stocked up at Rosyth.

    Mate works down there occasionally (oil), they spilled something into the water, phoned the harbour master, who sternly told them 'THAT is the least of my worries'

    Says it all. We can move the subs/trident but getting rid of these old hulking radioactive pieces of shit is another issue completely.

    P.s. Why you think Yes would give a poll to the record, you clearly have no idea of the contempt those at the record have for the SNP.

  18. Chalks

    I don't know if you meant me, but I certainly did NOT think Yes would give a poll to the Record. Many people on this site did however. I only raised it because I wondered why James thought it would have been wasted there. Surely it would have been all the sweeter for Yes. But who cares really since I agree it is all irrelevant anyway and was never going to happen.

  19. James,

    Not a try, merely a fact that anyone can verify for themselves with a minimum of basic research. No need to take my word for it, sorry it doesn't suit your agenda.


    You're correct, Faslane is a much bigger risk to us, Aldermaston is where we do the manufacturing of the Trident missiles (so we have a lot of hardware and finished systems), but it's much less dangerous in terms of a leak compared to the Faslane setup.

    I'd expect Faslane to much higher up the target list, but Aldermaston would be hit as well to knock out our stockpile and our ability to manufacture and resupply the subs, given we keep 2/3 of our fleet outside Faslane at all times.

  20. Anon : That was a less impressive try. Tell me, if it's so easy to verify your "fact", why have you failed to post evidence?

    And MY agenda? Let's talk about YOUR agenda, Mr Bravely Anonymous No Troll. We'll start with something easy - which political party did you vote for in the 2011 Holyrood election?

  21. I didn't, I was unfortunately non resident (the Oil Industry sent me to Africa for a few years) so I was not eligible to vote in the Holyrood election.

    But I would have voted Liberal Democrat if that helps you divine my sinister and secret agenda to point out something that's been one of the major public concerns of CND ever since they shut down Greenham Common.

    Britain holds a stockpile of 225 Trident warheads, of which 120 are considered 'operationally available'. The bulk of those 120 are held near Faslane, while the remainder of them, plus the other 105 non operational warheads, plus all our fissile material and missile construction capability is held in Berkshire.

    Faslane, while probably our number 1 target if anyone starts firing missiles at us, is not our primary nuclear facility. It's not a political point, just a fact of life.

    I would have hoped you'd just go 'Oh, didn't realise that, thanks' rather than assuming I'm an MI5 plant or something. It's not like it invalidates your argument.

  22. "I would have hoped you'd just go 'Oh, didn't realise that, thanks'"

    You actually didn't need to point out how arrogant you are - that was dripping off the screen from the first post. Why are you posting anonymously?

  23. Aye sorry Expat, it was more to the people that were posting about it happening.

    Absolutely no chance they would do it, it effectively wastes a page or two when you are appealing to labour voters, I doubt they care about a poll saying it is even or we are in the lead...

    Rumours of a Yougov poll in the sunday times...

    Without being confident of it, I fully expect a panelbase poll in the sunday herald to coincide.

  24. It's more than a rumour - YouGov have confirmed a poll is coming in the Sunday Times. A Panelbase poll has been in the field as well, but we don't know who the client is.

  25. Sorry James,must have missed the post regarding sunday times and yougov!

    There is only one client of panelbase now if Sunday Times has dropped em?

  26. They haven't been dropped by the Sunday Times - I'm going to post a correction soon because Ivor Knox sent me an email to clarify the situation. Basically the upcoming YouGov poll is for the Sunday Times UK edition, whereas the Panelbase polls have always been commissioned by the Scottish edition of the paper.

  27. The plot thickens!


  28. Expat : "You seem to think it would though you offer no reason why."

    I must say I find this approach to debate intensely irritating. Not only did I offer a reason, you almost certainly knew what that reason was likely to be before I gave it, so to pretend otherwise is rather tiresome.

    As for your rebuttal of the reason I supposedly didn't give, I suspect you also know that your own assumptions are open to doubt, because many experts (and in most cases these are not pro-independence experts) have questioned whether a relocation of Trident is even realistic. So a Yes vote may lead more or less directly to Britain disarming itself, which self-evidently will reduce the risk of nuclear war, mainly through building momentum for global disarmament. Even if the remaining UK does find a way of maintaining Trident in a new location, the moral example of what Scotland would have done should not be underestimated.

  29. (formerly Anonymous)I was surfing past via Twitter and saw the comment on Trident, which is one of my pet subjects. I didn't pay too much attention to the options on the form or I'd have typed in a name.

    Anyway, I'll be about my business. Best of luck with the referendum.


    See near the end:

    'According to one analysis of recent polls, on average only 39% of those who did not vote in 2011 propose to vote Yes, while 61% say they will vote No. This Yes tally is markedly lower than the average overall level of support for Yes in those same polls, that is 45%. '

    Now, I get that not everyone that did not vote in 2011 will not be a yes. This is a given considering the higher turnout for the GE of 60%....compared to 50% for the scottish....BUT that doesn't or shouldn't equate to such a difference?

    It would be helpful if Curtice could give the there is no source, is he just making this shit up on the spot?

  31. Polls take 2011 didn't vote (or said they did but likely didn't) into account. That's what past vote weighting is for.

  32. Polls ahead of 2011 took into account those saying they were planning to vote and those who said they were not. They're doing the same now.

  33. Usually around 70-75% of people say they voted in major elections. The difference between that and turnout is simply lying.

    Historical Scottish UKGE turnouts prior to the end of having a left party to vote for in the UK is ~75%.

    I think the turnout for the referendum will be similar to that with those that don't vote and those that never give a VI not voting as usual.