Sunday, November 16, 2014

Blankety-Blank, Blankety-Blank. Blankety-Blank, Blankety-Blank. Super Max Game, Super Max Game, Super Max Game. Super Max Game!

I must have been living down a hole over the last week, because I somehow missed this notorious comment from Downing Street spokesman George Galloway about the Scotland v Ireland game at Celtic Park -

"Celtic fans welcome to support the country which colonised the land of their fathers then 'welcomed' us as immigrants like a case of Ebola"

Now I would never dream of imposing a Tebbit-style "cricket test" on anyone, especially not someone from the same community as me (although it has to be said Galloway's surname is considerably less Irish than mine).  But I don't think it's entirely unreasonable to expect a little intellectual consistency here.  If he really does see himself as Irish-not-Scottish, how does he justify the prolonged outbreak of synthetic anger he displayed in the TV debate with Jim Sillars a few months ago, after Sillars suggested he was no longer a Scottish MP because he doesn't represent a Scottish constituency?  And when he made his famous Promise To The Nation at the Hydro on behalf of Downing Street, he should really have phrased it a bit differently -

"As an Irishman, let me say this to you, my conquerors and oppressors - you are forgiven!  And as a gesture of reconciliation, I bring you a gift!  Not just Devo Max, but Devo....SOUP-per Max*!"

*Terms and conditions apply.  Offer only applicable until you vote No, and thereafter will be subject to rapid reinterpretation and convenient memory loss.  Your statutory rights are most definitely affected.

*  *  *


With today's update of the Poll of Polls, we revert to being totally reliant on Scottish subsamples from GB-wide polls (five from YouGov, one from Populus and one from ComRes).  In spite of that, the numbers have remained remarkably stable, with the SNP retaining a 17.3% lead over Labour.

Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 UK general election :

SNP 43.0% (-0.6)
Labour 25.7% (-0.4)
Conservatives 15.4% (-0.5)
Liberal Democrats 5.7% (+1.0)
UKIP 4.6% (-1.7)
Greens 4.4% (+2.0)

(The Poll of Polls uses the Scottish subsamples from all GB-wide polls that have been conducted entirely within the last seven days and for which datasets have been provided, and also all full-scale Scottish polls that have been conducted at least partly within the last seven days. Full-scale polls are given ten times the weighting of subsamples.)

The other day, I was taken to task on Twitter again - this time not by a troll, but by an Oxford political scientist (albeit one who has been known to spend a bit too much time in the company of "risk assessor" groupies for his own good). Basically, he was complaining about my use of subsamples in the Poll of Polls, which he described as "like being thirsty and drinking salt water because it's the only water around". I have to say I'm not remotely impressed by that line of argument - if the great and the good don't take Scotland seriously enough to commission regular Scotland-specific polls, then it's totally unrealistic to expect people who care about Scotland to ignore the only available evidence, however imperfect that evidence may be (and regular readers will be only too aware of the health warnings I've been monotonously putting on subsamples since I first started covering them on this blog in 2009).

Where does it lead if you do ignore that evidence? For starters, it led John Curtice a few weeks ago to misleadingly point to massively out-of-date Opinium polls as suggesting that the SNP had little chance of making a Westminster breakthrough, even though by then we were already snowed under by subsample evidence that correctly suggested the situation had completely changed, and that the SNP were well in the lead.


  1. James, would it be worth including the total number of respondents involved in the pooled subsamples? I'm guessing it's somewhere around 700 this time, would that be right?

    1. In this case it's well over 1000, because all seven polls had GB-wide samples of 2000 or so.

  2. Although Galloway (now) claims to be an Irishman, it seems that only one of his parents (mother) was of Irish extraction. He was born in Scotland and attended non-denominational primary and secondary schools, so although anyone can claim to be a national of any country, his position seems to be rather slim.

    1. What, he didn't even go to a Catholic school? In the west of Scotland? Amateur...

  3. James, he wasn't brought up in the West. He was born In Dundee, went to the schools I mentioned and never left Dundee for a number of years. Presumably when he won Hillhead for Labour he moved to Glasgow.
    There will be many people in Dundee laughing at his faux-Catholicism as he was denounced from a catholic pulpit when he was standing for a Council seat (and lost).

  4. I believe Galloway is now a Muslim (helps get elected in Bradford).

    A complete moron of the highest order

  5. This is a difficult issue. I personally think the hostility towards Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy by some people is completely out of order. A bit of football banter is fine, but if they want to identify with Ireland on the basis of descent then that's their choice. Nationality is pretty arbitrary at the best of times (which is why civic rather than ethnic nationalism is the only ideology that makes sense).

  6. Oh, absolutely - I didn't like the booing of McGeady at all. But it's a bit of a jump from there to what Galloway said.

  7. I used to kinda like Galloway. He is after all from Dundee, and he performed admirably against the US Senate, but he does really seem to have lost the plot in recent years.

    As for the YouGov polls - would it be considered a fair sample to add up the 5 subsamples each week and average them out? That way you have around a 1,000 people polled each week, over the space of a week.

    Latest week (last 5 subsamples) from YouGov has SNP at 45.0, Labour at 25.2