Thursday, February 26, 2015

Murphy's comfort blanket melts away as SNP race to 16% lead in terrific TNS-BMRB poll

Although the last full-scale Scottish poll from TNS-BMRB was ludicrously misreported as showing a narrowing of the gap when it showed no such thing, it was nevertheless fair to say that it offered some small hope to Labour, because it meant there was at least one polling methodology that suggested they were vaguely within striking distance of the SNP.  That comfort blanket has now been dramatically snatched away with the publication of tonight's new poll from TNS, which shows a much bigger SNP lead of 16% - very much within the range we've been used to seeing from all other pollsters apart from Ipsos-Mori.

Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 general election (TNS-BMRB, 30th January - 22nd February) :

SNP 46% (+5)
Labour 30% (-1)
Conservatives 14% (-2)
Greens 3% (-3)
UKIP 3% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 3% (-1)

Is there a chance that TNS have tweaked their methodology, I wonder?  They very foolishly introduced the discredited 2010 weighting procedure in their last poll, and if they've now reversed that decision, it would be extremely easy to explain the apparent movement towards the SNP.  Assuming there hasn't been any methodological change, though, there are basically three possible explanations for tonight's result -

1) There has been a genuine big increase in SNP support over a short space of time (probably no more than a couple of weeks).  That seems unlikely, given that the recent Survation poll showed a slight drop in the SNP lead.

2) The last TNS poll was a freakish outlier, and we're now seeing that the firm's methodology will typically produce results very similar to most other firms.

3) We're looking at an extreme example of normal sampling variation, with Labour being flattered by the last poll, and the SNP being flattered by this poll.  If that's the case, the TNS methodology will typically produce a lower SNP lead than other firms, but the divergence won't be quite as great as the last poll suggested.

But whichever explanation you favour, it's murderously hard to reconcile this poll with there having been any upward trajectory for Labour of late.  At best, their deficit has remained fairly static, which self-evidently isn't good enough with the clock ticking away fast.

TNS are of course the only pollster that still use the old-fashioned face-to-face data collection method, which is the reason we were always particularly excited when they produced a good result for Yes during the referendum campaign - it dispelled the worry that the only encouragement we were getting came from pollsters that were reliant on volunteer online panels.  Fortunately we don't have to fret in that way at the moment, because by far the best results for the SNP in recent months have come from a "real world" pollster - namely Ipsos-Mori, who poll by telephone.  Nevertheless, it's still reassuring to have proof that the face-to-face method is also capable of producing an enormous SNP lead.

UPDATE : As usual, it turns out that some of the TNS fieldwork is already quite a bit out-of-date - it started towards the end of last month, which (bizarrely) means that it overlaps to a small extent with their last poll.  Admittedly it didn't conclude until four days ago, so we've seen a lot worse than that.

*  *  *

Having seemingly given up on the unionist parties getting their act together in time for the election, Kenny "Devo or Death" Farquharson has a brand new line in wishful thinking, which goes like this : Don't worry, it doesn't matter if the SNP win a truck-load of seats, because a mysterious forcefield will prevent them from having any actual influence.  He's pinning his hopes on a couple of assumptions - a) that good old British fair play will not permit Labour to take office if they are the second-largest party, and b) if Labour are the largest party, they will choose to do a deal with the Liberal Democrats and the DUP rather than the SNP.

There are, you won't be surprised to hear, a few small flaws in this reasoning -

1) If Labour and the SNP hold a majority of seats between them, and yet the Conservatives are deemed the "winners" in the London media due to being the largest single party, something will have to happen for David Cameron to remain Prime Minister.  The SNP will sure as hell be voting against the Tories' Queen Speech, so if Labour simply do the same, Cameron will be constitutionally obliged to resign, and the Queen will immediately invite Ed Miliband to form a government.  The ONLY alternative is that Labour abstain on the Queen's Speech - which will be tantamount to voting in favour of a Tory government taking office.  Are we really expected to believe their rank-and-file members (let alone their power-hungry MPs) will be sanguine about them doing that, particularly in an era of fixed term parliaments when they will be effectively condemning themselves to five more years in opposition?

2)  The idea of a three-way Labour-Lib Dem-DUP pact is just barking mad.  It's a complete non-starter.  The only way the Liberal Democrats will countenance a formal deal is if it produces a stable majority, thus ensuring the concessions they win in coalition negotiations are worth the paper they're written on.  Most likely, that means they will only enter a deal with Labour if the two parties between them can command an absolute majority.   If there is to be an additional partner, though, the DUP will be just about at the bottom of anyone's list of preferences.  They can't realistically be relied upon to stick to anything beyond a very short-term deal, but that's not the half of it - if Kenny genuinely doesn't understand the stigma they carry, he's beyond all hope.

3) There's no reason whatever to assume that Labour, if they're the largest party, will have an alternative to dealing with the SNP available to them even in theory - the arithmetic may well ensure that the only other option would be a grand coalition with the Tories.

70 comments:

  1. Looks like last poll was an outlier, and TNS are now falling in line with the other pollsters.

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  2. "Liberal Democrats 3% "

    I never get tired of reading that.

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    1. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Do NOT underestimate calamity Clegg and his ostrich faction's ability to make an utterly hopeless situation even worse.

      Clegg and his westminster bubble spinners are so utterly clueless and out of touch that they somehow didn't realise that Norman Lamb, Carmichael and Clegg's recent undemocratic and lunatic rants against the SNP would play incredibly badly.

      A bunch of unprincipled yellow tories arrogantly abusive at the mere idea that scotland's biggest party would have a say in government! Yeah, it's a complete fucking mystery why that would go down badly and the lib dems are polling at a comical 3%. LOL

      Meanwhile Murphy's amusing Eggpocalypse rolls on inexorably. Now we have witless Labour spinners attempting to explain why the SNP would ever let little Ed have his way on everything. I don't think they've quite caught on that little Ed is very far from popular and that the SNP will have no qualms whatsoever in voting down harmful or incompetent Red Tory legislation.

      Not that the twit Cameron is faring that much better. Both Labour and the tories look utterly incapable of getting a majority in May. Nor is the campaign going to favour them. Little Ed and the cowardly fop on the campaign trail? Oh dear! I don't think that's going to be a crowdpleaser somehow. ;-)

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  3. Oh dear! Hahaha!

    The ''Only 10% behind. Murphy bounce" has turned into the "Cybernats have infiltrated the polls"

    It's just a poll, but looks tremendous.

    Keep chapping those doors.

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    1. Altogether now...

      Chap every door for me
      Banish Ed Balls from me
      Children of Scotland are never alone
      For we know we shall find
      Our own peace of mind
      For we have been VOWED
      A land of our own!

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  4. Cochrane: "...another poll, by TNS on Tuesday, suggested that the SNP lead, whilst still huge, had been halved to ten per cent."

    Alan Cochrane in Telegraph article 12 Feb confecting the decline of the SNP and the rise of Labour. Perhaps someone would inform him of the latest TNS poll, just to burst that burdensome bag of wind.

    Would do it myself but I'm banned and for some reason Alan isn't returning my calls.

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    1. Not just the dark prince Cochrane but the whole meedja - they either can't understand or wilfully misunderstand how polls work and so they're forced to row back when the long anticipated Murphy bounce again turns out to be composed of so much vapour.

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  5. Danny Alexander MP fails to put 2 words on the cover of his election leaflet: "Liberal" and "Democrats".

    I wonder why?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2970162/Take-break-like-break-Danny-Alexander-pins-election-chances-toe-curling-garish-pamphlet-including-recipe-sausage-butternut-squash-stew.html

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  6. Part of the "movement" between the two TNS polls will be due to the fact that their first poll found an outlandishly high level of support for the Greens in Edinburgh / Lothians. According to the first poll they were on 6% nationally, with about half of that support in that one region. The Greens do have some support in Edinburgh and usually get an MSP elected from that region, even when they are struggling in some other places, but that poll was way off in that regard.

    The straw that Mike Smithson is clutching to is that 25% of certain to vote responders in the TNS poll say they are undecided, implying that Labour still have a good chance of turning things round. The problem with this theory is that this level of undecideds is much lower than in GB as a whole. According to a tweet by Ben Page (Ipsos Mori) yesterday, the level of undecideds in GB is about 50%, whereas in 1992 it was 18%.

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  7. YouGov sub-sample: SNP 42, Lab 24, Con 17, Others <7.

    Pretty much in line with the long term averages. Down-weighting is more normal today.

    http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/3g0o8930ye/YG-Archive-Pol-Sun-results-260215.pdf

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  8. James,

    I think there is a lot of people who comment on this page that need a dose of reality in terms of the post-election landscape. I've not read Farquharson's piece but consider:

    1) If the Tories are the biggest party there will be PLENTY of people in the Labour Party who want to use that as a platform to get rid of Ed rather than help make him PM. If they have also been tanked in Scotland this would give these elements almost the ideal platform to return the party wholesale to its true religion of unadulterated Blairism. Do not assume that Labour will have the collective stomach or desire to form a government if they are not the biggest party. The fact that this would require co-operation with the SNP, while a huge problem for many of them, is far from being the biggest stumbling block in this situation.

    2) If Labour is the biggest party with a little to spare, the Tories wouldn't be able to outvote them even if everyone but the SNP decided to back them. In this circumstance the SNP would have no leverage at all unless it is prepared to go back on its 'no support for the Tories' pledge.

    So one entirely plausible scenario at each end of the swing pendulum where the SNP would have no influence in forming the government. Indeed scenario 1 is much more likely than a formal grand coalition because there is more or less an ideological grand coalition in place already on most of the major issues.

    You need only examine the change in language from the SNP leadership since the Autumn to see that they understand that it is very likely, even probable, that the SNP will not have any say in who is the next PM.

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    1. On your last paragraph... I've personally not envisaged any sort of formal coalition between the SNP and e.g. Labour. Even a C&S arrangement seems unlikely. A grand Lab-Tory agreement to freeze the SNP out is probably more likely.

      But then being in a UK government is not the goal for the SNP. Getting a majority of Scots MPs is, as that would mean Westminster has no real democratic mandate to govern Scotland. The more SNP MPs, the more this is the case. Scotland would have voted nationalist (or at least devo max-ist) and not unionist (or at least 'status quo-ist').

      Now of course Westminster could just try to run roughshod over an SNP Scots majority, but all that would do is shore up support for indy / hand the SNP a justification for calling another iref, e.g. post 2016. Certainly, a majority of SNP MPs being overruled on policy affecting Scotland to which they objected would equate to England ruling Scotland as some sort of colony. While we vote for British (largely English) parties (Lab, Con, Lib) that can't be argued. If we vote for Scottish ones, everything changes.

      Very few in the Westminster bubble seem to get this. I'm sure the SNP do but are not going to big it up given the scale of the threat to the UK it represents lest they scare off those not quite so bold on the indy issue. Better to just talk about potential influence on policy....possibly working with Lab etc.

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    2. It would be interesting to ask in a poll whether Scots believed that UK parties would entertain some sort of deal with the SNP. Polls do suggest people favour e.g. a deal with Labour, but do people really believe that can happen?

      If the SNP win a majority of seats and are frozen out, in all probability the union will end fairly swiftly. The union requires consent and shared governance. When we vote unionist, that's what we are doing, even if our 'British' (essentially English as by force of numbers that what the big three are) MPs end up mainly in opposition.

      If Scotland's 'Scottish' MPs, elected in majority, are not allowed a say, then the union must end. If the SNP are frozen out then this becomes obvious to the electorate; 'you are a colony and get no say in governance'. Might be sufficient to tip the balance into clear Yes majority territory.

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    3. I don't disagree with you but if it's the case that SNP win the majority of seats on 40% of the popular vote, would the Westminster parties not justify themselves by claiming to be governing for the majority who voted for unionist parties? It's obviously disingenuous but not unlikely.

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    4. Anon : I disagree with both you and Scottish Skier over this. The aim of the exercise is direct power/influence at Westminster, and that's desirable, achievable, and highly likely if the arithmetic falls in the right way.

      I'm fairly sure your point 1 is wrong - "unreconstructed Blairism" is above all else about power for its own sake. The likes of Tom Harris will be shouted down this time - five long years in opposition have concentrated the mind.

      I'm absolutely certain your point 2 is wrong. The SNP will have huge leverage over Labour in that scenario - Miliband would be left as the head of a zombie government if he tries to cut the SNP out. His only escape route would be an early general election at a propitious moment - and because of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, he would need the support of another party to bring that about.

      I see no evidence at all for your claim that the SNP "understand" that they are likely to have no influence. My own view is that the dose of reality is needed by those who think that the SNP can achieve their objectives by remaining "pure" and never dealing with anyone at Westminster. Depending on the arithmetic, difficult and messy decisions could be just around the corner - but they'll be worth it.

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    5. SS and Anon (and myself) I think are viewing this as just the next ste in the long term political drift of the two Countries. Once the populations of 'Britain' see themselves unequivocally voting Scottish (or English) then the Union is effectively over. Either we dominate them politically (once in a hundred years and totally unacceptable to Westminster as we can now see) or they dominate us. 'No significant Unionist party representation' in Scotland makes that apparent ALL the time, as opposed to once in a blue moon IF the electoral arithmetic for the rest of the UK happens to be favourable.

      If the SNP follow your logic James, they will have lost sight of thier founding principle for short term power based on fortuitous electoral circumstance in the UK that is by it's very nature beyond their control. Remember, what Westminster giveth, Westminster taketh away as soon as their electoral game allows. It's those underlying truths that the SNP will understand I am sure. If not, they would be condemning themselves to the Lib Dem 'burn bright personally by brightly burning down our party' philosophy and I just don't think the SNP are even close to that kind of Westminster induced venality.

      Also, I have been banging on about this since the referendum but, folk should look at how the Czechoslovak referendum, which produced roughly 65% vote in both Countries to stay together, resulted in a harmonious break up only a few years later. That, in my analysis, was simply down to each country, for the first time since their union, democratically voting for political parties that geographically represented their own countries national interests.

      I.e. No Czechoslovak parties were elected within the two countries, only Czech and Slovak ones representing Czek and Slovak National Interests first and foremost. The public wanted Union, but on their own countries terms. The politicians of each country could see that it needs compromise to strike such a deal. Slovakian politicians were no longer willing to subsume Slovak National interests into a Czech dominated Union. Czech politicians understood that scenario was definitely not the same as the previously Czech dominated 'status quo' type of Union that was implicitly voted for by the Czech electorate, in their half of the referendum result. As a result they also walked away.

      To me at least, the similarities are striking, except for the 'UK' exacerbating factor of England being 10 times bigger than Scotland (as opposed to Czech only being roughly twice the size of Slovakia at the time of their amicable split).

      braco

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    6. It's easy to dress up the preference for powerless purity as "a noble refusal of short-term political gain", but I don't think that's what it's about at all. I can't think of a greater betrayal of the SNP's founding principles than to turn down a God-given opportunity to achieve real power for the Scottish Parliament, just because of fear.

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    7. Show me an example of that being achieved by a minority party in Westminster history and I may well agree with you James. I just can't see one. I want to be convinced but Westminster is set up like a Casino. They love and welcome 'high rollers' because they know that any losses they make are only loans. In the end the system they have set up delivers the profits. Maths. Similarly, Westminster's greatest anti democratic tool is time. Next election the tide will have turned. Next election, fire will have turned to apathy. Next election focus will have been lost and he minority interest of part politics will once again hold sway. This is how the establishment understand the world and this is the way the establishment has set u the political system to represent the world as they see it.

      We must not fall into the trap of thinking these extra ordinary times do not have a sell by date on any achievement. Negotiation is for Independence only. Anything else has already been hedged for by the 'house' .

      braco

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    8. There's nothing special about Westminster - a no overall majority situation works in the same way there as in any other parliament. If you want an example, the Liberal Democrats achieved STV for local government in their second coalition with Labour at Holyrood.

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    9. By the way, if you believe that the passing of time is our enemy and that fire will turn to apathy, that's EXACTLY why we can't walk away from this opportunity. It would be utterly crazy, bordering on suicidal.

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    10. Just to add an example. The Unionist screaming about the referendum is not about their win. It's about the fact that the YES movement was able to create a wave, ride it up the beach AND MOST IMPORTANTLY TO THEM, plant our flag for all to see at that high water mark. It's that, extra parliamentary truth that scares the bjesus out of them and it's that fact that they have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to rubbish as simple weakness on BT and Governmental leadership in the run up to the final vote. Rogue poll etc. etc. Nothing to see. Buy time. Ignore. Refuse to acknowledge. etc. That's the Westminster way.... and it's worked (up until now)

      braco

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    11. 'Their second coalition with Labour at HOLYROOD.' I rest my case.

      (Sorry I don't have bold or italics facilities at the mo so not trying to be rude :-)

      braco

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    12. I've already dealt with that point - there is no difference between a no overall majority situation at Westminster and a no overall majority situation in any other parliament.

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    13. Except of course that in Westminster 'no over all majority' is a once in a blue moon statistical oddity. In Hollyrood the same could be said for majority government. When Labour did the deal with Lib Dems on LOCAL GOVT. electoral STV, and they did so under the pressures of knowing exactly how they had set up the Holyrood system of 'governance' to work.

      Answer me this James. Do you think the Labour party in Scotland would have cut that same deal if a party had already shown (like the SNP did in 2007) that minority government was in fact more than possible? As ever, lack of imagination and total belief in SYSTEMS were the unionist parties downfall in devolved Scottish politics. We are entering non-DEVOLVED politics now. If not careful, we could mirror that Unionist misunderstanding of devolved realities, by the SNP assuming their tried and tested DEVOLVED political techniques will naturally be effective at Westminster's fixed tables and long concocted web of 'British Democracy'. This is the reality we face in the next Westminster Parliament. It's dangerous to see it in any other terms.

      braco

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    14. "Except of course that in Westminster 'no overall majority' is a once in a blue moon statistical oddity."

      Which is precisely why your demand of "show me an example at Westminster" is so absurd - if hung parliaments at Westminster were more common there would be any number of examples.

      "Do you think the Labour party in Scotland would have cut that same deal if a party had already shown (like the SNP did in 2007) that minority government was in fact more than possible?"

      Yes. It was always known that minority governments could work, and many people were pressing Donald Dewar to go down that road in 1999. His preference (and the preference of Blair and Ashdown who were breathing down the necks of the negotiators) was coalition.

      The remainder of your point looks like sophistry to me - I can't see any logical basis for it at all. A no overall majority situation works in much the same way in a non-devolved parliament as it does in a devolved parliament.

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    15. My 'demand' is only absurd if you conveniently over look the structural differences in each of the 'parliaments' electoral systems. The deck is stacked in favour of 'strong governments' (non democratic minority rule) at Westminster and stacked in favour of coalition government at Holyrood. Confusing that basic reality due to current (historically anomalous) UK polling, is exactly the danger I am trying to underline.

      As far as accusations of 'sophistry' are concerned, I think you are confusing argued opinion for sophistry. Quite insulting from my side of the computer, and if unintentional, quite embarrassing from yours.

      braco

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    16. "My 'demand' is only absurd if you conveniently over look the structural differences in each of the 'parliaments' electoral systems."

      OK, I'll accept that would have some logic to it if you really believe there is any prospect of Miliband successfully cutting and running by holding an early second election, and winning a Labour majority. I do not believe there is any such prospect.

      I'm sorry if my reference to sophistry bothered you so much, but I don't see what I have to be embarrassed about. It's incredibly frustrating arguing against a position that doesn't have any real substance to it, and there comes a point where I have to call a spade a spade.

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    17. 'OK, I'll accept that would have some logic to it if you really believe there is any prospect of Miliband successfully cutting and running by holding an early second election, and winning a Labour majority. I do not believe there is any such prospect.'

      VS.

      'It's incredibly frustrating arguing against a position that doesn't have any real substance to it, and there comes a point where I have to call a spade a spade.'

      All in one reply James? You honestly don't see why an accusation of sophistry would 'bother me so much'? Do you understand the word 'sophistry' and the philosophy that underpins it?

      You seem to be 'finding it incredibly frustrating' arguing with someone who has a well formed view and is happy to explain it. Even if that requires doing it over and over again. I am looking for new perspectives on this, I am, It's just that I have not heard one from you yet.

      braco

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    18. "You seem to be 'finding it incredibly frustrating' arguing with someone who has a well formed view and is happy to explain it.

      No. What I find frustrating is that I have yet to hear a credible position from you at all. If you think that Westminster is different for some mysterious reason, please explain in concrete terms what that reason is. I've partially conceded the point about the electoral system, although I don't think that applies in this case. Anything else?

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    19. It depends how many Scottish Labour MPs are left, if the SNP can win what the polls are predicting leaving Labour with less than 15 MPs. Then I reckon a coalition deal might be possible.

      1. SNP allowed to vote on Trident
      2. SNP get Constitutional Affairs with responsibility for implementing Smith, with leeway to 'improve'

      The reason I say depending on the number of Scottish Labour MPs is they will make trouble over Smith and SNP additions but if there are few left they will be licking their wounds and not able to launch a strong enough attack or defeat SNP plans with a rebellion.

      The ideal is
      315 Labour (10 Scots)
      45 SNP

      So Ed doesn't need the Scots MPs for a majority

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    20. I mean he doesn't rely on Scots Labour MPs for a majority. And SNP can vote No on trident renewal. Only when you post do you see all the mistakes.

      By the way what about 'what colour is this dress' captcha

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    21. I haven't had that one yet, but I had the one that went -

      "This is a photo of sushi. Please identify the other photos of sushi.

      You have not identified enough photos of sushi. Please try again.

      You have not identified enough photos of sushi. Please try again."

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    22. I think what you are missing Braco is that we have a promise, neigh a vow from Labour on this. The SNP have to give them a chance to deliver as the Scottish people asked to give the UK one last chance.
      If they refuse devomax when the Scottish people have explicitly demanded it tells the Scottish people that the UK will never reform. I think the SNP need to do two things -
      1/ make the 2015 election a plebiscite on devomax
      2/ win 2016 and hold an actual referendum on devomax if Labour are not budging.

      to win an independence referendum we need to conclusively prove that Scotland has tried everything and so independence is the only option left.

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    23. I think "devomax or it's another referendum" is a reasonable position for the Scottish Government to take. It could even be put as "If you give us real devomax (FFA) we wont' hold another referendum for 10 years".


      (They would never deliver anyway, but it forces their hand)

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    24. James,
      'No. What I find frustrating is that I have yet to hear a credible position from you at all. ..... I've partially conceded the point about the electoral system, although I don't think that applies in this case.'

      Sophistry and Logic are both Ancient Greek philosophies. ;-)

      braco



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    25. I'm allowed to prefer one to the other, though.

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    26. Grim and Luigi,
      I agree with both of you but that's not what is being put forward by the SNP yet.
      I will of course support the SNP in May no matter what their manifesto says (within reason), but that's at the core of the whole problem that James and I have been butting horns over all afternoon. After a first past the post election, the electorate has little or no say in the 'negotiations' that will rule them for the next term, hence all the vote X get Y shite. In a proportional system we have (or supposed to have) parties and understand parties, as essentially consensual in nature. The deals in a properly proportional system in Scotland for example would obviously have been between SLAB and the SNP. The situation we find ourselves in is a great example of how far from proportional representation a country can get while having a proportional (effectively) electoral system. Systems, no matter the system are easily abused by the key agents of that system. The culture and attitude of politicians are always, in the final analysis key. We are only sending a max of 59 out of 650 house of commons seats. All I am saying is that no matter the culture of our 59, the 591 will decide. On all things.

      braco

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    27. James,
      yes, just trying to find out which (through deduction, of course).

      braco

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    28. Hopefully I've made the deduction as straightforward as possible.

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    29. Well that'll teach me to post my opinion on here!!!

      The point about numbers of MPs is that they don't dictate anything, they just make some things possible. Post-election agreements are about political will. In my judgement there is no way Labour will tolerate Miliband losing the election, then make him PM in a deal which puts them at the beck and call of the SNP for 5 years. To most of them that would not constitute power anyway and they'd still have Ed.

      The only prospect for an Labour/SNP deal is if Miliband actively pursues this option now by cutting Murphy loose and writing Scotland off to the SNP. He may also then be able to redeploy enough resources to win a few extra seats in England which would make his position more secure.

      It is exactly the right play in his current situation but I'm not sure he has the killer instinct for it.

      By the way, I'm not saying that the SNP will (or necessarily should) run away from influence but I am saying that I think it is unlikely they will have much influence to exercise.

      Whatever happens, as others have pointed out, so much is outwith the SNP's control that it would be ridiculous to base a strategy on wielding any power at Westminster.

      The lines that Sturgeon is running with now; campaigning for an alternative to austerity and the ability of SNP MPs to represent their communities and Scotland recognise that because they can be followed through regardless of the overall outcome. Contrast this with 'holding Westminster's feet to the fire' or 'delivering Devo-Max' which are utterly dependant on wielding influence.

      Much better to force Westminster's hand in terms of pre-referendum vows, pre-election promises or post-election commitments through wielding power at Holyrood. All that requires is the necessary language in the SNP manifesto for 2016 that says 'Westminster will deliver or we go to the people again' (and winning in 2016 of course :-) ).

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    30. "Well that'll teach me to post my opinion on here!!!"

      There's a severe danger I may answer back, yes, but unlike a good many other blogs, opinions are not censored here.

      "Whatever happens, as others have pointed out, so much is outwith the SNP's control that it would be ridiculous to base a strategy on wielding any power at Westminster."

      Nobody is suggesting that the SNP shouldn't have different strategies for different eventualities that are outwith their control. But what really would be silly is to allow fatalism to get in the way of having a strategy for the most favourable potential outcome, and thereby missing the opportunity of a lifetime. The Liberal Democrats plainly didn't have a proper strategy for achieving constitutional and electoral reform in the event of a hung parliament in 2010, and look at the price they've paid.

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    31. Anon,
      keep posting please! (;-) and good analysis (in my view). Thanks

      braco

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    32. Braco, can't we just wait and see whether time's on our side or not?

      Demographics *may* take care of this entire issue for us, e.g. the grisly fact that death will claim 100k more No votes than Yes voters every year, to say nothing of the massively pro-indy young replacing them on the register. Dunno if this is a minority view, but I'd happily wait an extra five years if it meant winning iref2 with 60+%.

      As for the fire diminishing, a Devomax referendum as suggested above would surely help, especially if accompanied by a question on a high-stakes subject such as sovereignty. And as also mentioned above, WM treating Scotland with contempt will also fire people up.

      The breathing space in the second half of this year will also be key if we're to wrest the movement back from the party old guard and give it back its spirit and ambition. (I do of course agree that if everything settles down again to snoozeville party political bullshit then the fire may die off quickly).

      But let's say you're right and it becomes clear that the fire is indeed fizzling out and that we're running out of time. Then at that point the parties and movement can decide whether to call iref2.

      TLDR: we *might* run out of time and fire, but so far so good, hermano.

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    33. Hi Sean,
      I agree with every point you, Grim and Luigi are making. All I am pointing out is that none of these points are being set out in SNP manifesto commitments yet. I don't see the need for them to do it either, seeings as they have successfully cornered my (and everybody elses) pro indy vote come May. If I were leading the SNP, I certainly would not want to tie my hands with electoral promises that are not required to be made in order to win big. My point is not being made from an SNP (or any other political party) leadership point of view though, it's from a grass-roots Scottish Indy ASAP point of view, only.

      braco

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    34. P.S. I never said we would run out of time or passion or fire etc. What I said was 'This is how the establishment understand the world and this is the way the establishment has set u the political system to represent the world as they see it.'

      We are not acting within their 'understanding' and that's why they certainly have the fear. ;-)

      braco

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    35. If devomax is not front and centre of the manifesto and campaign then Westminster can say that it's not what the Scots want.
      It has to be crystal clear that this is what Scotland wants. We know it from polls but we need real votes.
      When Westminster fails then we have our proof that reform of the UK is impossible.

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    36. That gets to the crux of my point James in that so many contributors here and elsewhere see the extraction of significant concessions/delivery of Devo Max following the election as the only game in town. Reading some comments you would think the SNP only has to turn up on May 7th to secure home rule.

      I'd be delighted if it turned out that way but the politics are stacked against it even if the arithmetic might look feasible.

      Raising expectations is fraught with difficulty even when you are in total control of your destiny. I think Nicola has realised the danger, likely learning from her experience of Glasgow CC in 2012, and has radically toned down the messaging.

      I suspect that this has not really been commented on because our wonderful media has been so obsessed with Murphy and the Manics that they simply haven't noticed the change in emphasis from the SNP.

      But it seems that some SNP supporters haven't really noticed either. Here's hoping they do so soon and get with the programme.

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    37. This seemed to be a very long debate about how much influence we could expect even a rampant SNP to have. I think braco seemed to be under the impression many of us thought the SNP would get everything they want. Actually I thought most Yes people were pro-indy because we recognise that we indeed send only 59 MPs down and even if they could be bothered trying to do things for us, we have no influence. I thought this was one of the central tenets of the pro-indy argument.

      Could be it be different in May? Maybe, but I am not holding my breath about it and I don't think James or anyone else here is either. But what a big SNP plank does do, even if it doesn't wield much influence in the end, is lay out in the clear blue sky for those last few people who really do believe this is an equal union. Maybe the SNP will extract some things, I don't know, but I see the real aim as being to show doubting Scots how little influence they have, that Westminster parties do not care to give Scots any influence at all, and that the system is broken (or, at the very least, is no friend of the smaller nations within it).

      This is a long way of saying that I see the situation is win-win with a big SNP vote. Either we get some of the things we want, or it is shown that we cannot get anything we want at all. No need to get hung up on achieving influence unless you only want to play within the Westminster system.

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  9. That's kind of true, but it doesn't matter. Labour government relying on Tory votes when they could have worked with the SNP? Unionist parties uniting essentially to say "if you vote SNP, you will never be allowed any power here"? Two parties with minimal representation in Scotland deciding on what powers Scotland should get, even as the SNP have stood on a platform of significantly greater devolution and win a majority (potentially a pretty substantial majority) of seats in Scotland? (Hell, there is a slight possibility the SNP may win a majority of VOTES across the country.)

    A Labour Party that backs the Tories is dead across the whole UK. Any party that refuses to recognise Scotland's "settled will" will be dead up here. And if the SNP DO get any power, they can push for increased devolution, an end to Trident and probably more besides. Ultimately, Labour would have to go to the Tories for support on renewing Trident. If Scotland is mostly SNP by that point, how colonial will THAT look? "Well we know you all voted for an anti-Trident party but we rather like having our mass murder capability stationed on your lovely lock. Because fuck you Scotland."

    Unless something radical changes between now and the election, I'd put money on us winning a second referendum during the next Scottish parliament.

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    1. Exactly. Get campaigning folks. This is the most important UK General Election in Scotland's history. Don't get complacent!

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  10. I posted this on the WoS website but think this deserves diffusing

    Apoligies if you have read it over there.

    ED Miliband is today going to announce a GE giveaway of reducing the fees charged by English, (Welsh and N Irish?) universities from £9K to £6K per annum.

    He will pay for this by reducing the tax breaks for OAPs, presumably those who have an income stream, unless IDS defects to Labour.

    So, OAPs in Scotland subsidise English fees in English universities?

    Just like, in reverse, Smurfy’s mansion tax to pay for 1,000 to ad finitum new nurses in Scotland. The London press and the usual letter to the editor writing class in England went apeshit.

    Will the MSM is Scotland call Smurfy out on this one?

    I am not holding my breath

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    1. Was just saying the same thing.

      If Murphy's mansion tax / extra nurses is a valid analysis, then so is this.

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  11. You only need to look at Jim Murphy's campaign tactics, to work out what the Labour Party have been told by voters:

    'The Labour Party put London/South England, before Scotland'

    We have all watched in amazement as the Labour/MSM machine have re-written recent history, and Jim has waxed lyrical about how much of a Working Class Patriotic Scot he and Labour are!

    The fact we haven't saw the Murphy bounce, should not surprise us, however can it be that the Patriotic Labour Party have stemmed the flow of support out of the party?

    What I mean is that a lot of people have family history/loyalty to Labour, and want to hold on to that tradition, as some people may even feel they would be betraying dad/granddad/grannies memory, if they walked away from Labour.

    So this new found patriotism has 'allowed' a lot of uncertain voters to continue supporting Labour, with the hope that 'this time' they will indeed return to Labours roots, and again protect and champion the needs and rights of the working class.

    We know it's garbage and I even think labour loyalists know it's garbage, but if Labour refuse to go into coalition with the SNP and let a Tory government into power, it will be proof that it's garbage, and will finish off what's left of the Labour Party, in Scotland.

    I hope the priority of the SNP in power, is to get some control of our pathetic media, as it is clearly not fit for purpose and has become no ore than a campaigning tool for the Labour Party.



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    1. I am with you as regards voting socially; with a conscience.

      The SNP have replaced Labour in Scotland wrt social conscience. In fact, not only in Scotland.

      Labour is finished, it is just that they don't know it. The fact that they don't know that and what to do to regain their core values says it all. Self entitlement.

      It is comin, for aw that.

      Hasta la revolucion, Baby.

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  12. To an extent,the perception of the "union" by many Scots has already gone.
    When the unionist cabal tell Scots that they will not allow Scotland to have any say in how the British state is run by clkaiming that they will not deal with an elected body of MPs not of their liking,then the game is up.
    They are making clear to Scots that as far as Westminster is concerned,we don't count and are only tolerated so long as we continue to support London based parties.
    Some union.

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    1. I concur with you,its all for England & Harry and such! but not for democracy,but title and monarchy.

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  13. I still cant get that easy feeling yet.The polls show but,tactile voting may come into it,but I think if we (SNP) get 15 or more seats,we will be doing well.I do hope for the landslide but as the old saying goes aye "I am hoping for the best but expecting the worst" and the worst I'd say is 15 seats,and hope for 50 although no matter how the polls go I cant think of us winning so many,could be a lot of wasted votes! a few lost boxes!or a huge amount of postal votes which I distrust everytime I see them in their thousands.Not to keep cribbing on we may find that the votes have been decided by others so that the Westminster party wins maybe only just to give a "good showing" but that is probably to much of being a conspiracy geek,it could be or not.(rearrange grammar as required etc)

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    1. I like the idea of tactile voting; might give it a try.

      'BROUGHTY FERRY MAN ARRESTED FOR GOOSING ELECTORAL TELLER'

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  14. I agree. Please, let's all be carful. There is still a long way to go & the usual suspects are just starting. These are the numbers from this site on the 27th Feb. 2011 and that was not the final result, was it?

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    1. Yep, I've always 20 seats would be a phenomenal result. You've got to sympathise a little bit with people getting carried away though.

      Having said that we absolutely shouldn't inflate expectations, by this date in 2011, the SNP had already largely closed the gap with Labour - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_in_the_Scottish_Parliament_election,_2011

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    2. I absolutely agree about expectations, although I did expect the gap to have narrowed quite a bit by now. Time is running out for Labour.

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  15. Populus sub-sample: SNP 43, Lab 20, Con 12, LD 10, UKIP 10.

    http://populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/OmOnline_Vote_27-02-2015_BPC.pdf

    Again, consistent with the recent sub-sample results - maybe Lab a little lower and UKIP a bit higher. I think UKIP have been doing a little bit better in the sub-samples in general lately - possibly eating into the rump Scottish Tory share?

    Unusually, no down-weighting of SNP identifiers at all, even though Scots were up-weighted a little bit..

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  16. On the issue of the need to isolate the separatists, let me see if I can put this in context.

    All George, Nigel, Dave, et al, are saying is that we are to be separate but equal. This is a political compromise with a storied international history.

    You can find precedent for this legal principle enshrined in US Constitutional Law and later endorsed by the SCOTUS in that celebrated decision, Plessy v. Ferguson.

    We have the textbook examples of its actual implementation in two advanced societies whose jurisprudences have much in common with our own. I speak of course of our cousins in the aforementioned United States and in South Africa.

    For the first 65 years of the 20th Century this grand experiment bestowed upon America unparalleled economic growth and a disciplined, respectful, society wherein everyone knew their place. The PM, the Chancellor, and the UKIP leader, only want what is best for ALL of us, including the indigenous peoples of the North.

    If we examine South African society between 1948, when the legal structure of apartheid was introduced, until some time before the evil of insurgent nationalism in the form of the ANC completed its destruction in 1994, we find a golden era of South African prosperity and order, that advantaged all of its peoples.

    Indeed, so successful and attractive a society that countless Britons, and indeed many jocks, emigrated there. All Mr Osborne, Mr Cameron, and Mr Farage, want to do is establish a similar apartheid in this family of nations that comprise the UK, that will ensure the peace and prosperity of all.

    Now, you jocks need not worry. Although they will no longer be allowed to participate in framing the bulk of British legislation (or indeed, any), they will have their own native assembly, where they can hear grievances and pass local laws affecting their indigenous population.

    The current arrangement at Holyrood will be ended to be replaced by a body composed of what in South Africa were called “tribal elders”. These greybeards will appoint a chief who will be answerable to their assembly. The the British Secretary of State for autonomous regions will have to approve the selection, of course.

    The existence of a “Scotland”, never more than a romantic fiction I think we’re all agreed, will cease to be recognised, to be replaced by the Northern Autonomous Region for Indigenous Tribes (clans).

    A system of pass books will be established so that migrant workers from the region can travel to Britain to take up employment. However, permanent residence in Britain will not be granted.

    We will be the envy of the world. A three centuries old family of nations, separate but equal, whose status is guaranteed by apartheid legislation. Now you can’t say fairer than that.

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    1. And I've just heard from the highest authority that you WILL be allowed to have a casino!

      Thought I should bring that good news to you, myself.

      Carry on.

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    2. Nice...

      very well done Christian. Thanks

      braco

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  17. This is getting quite hard to follow the threads. Can blogspot implement Discus and how much would it cost? I'd be happy to chip in to a fundraiser that improved the chat function.

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    1. I haven't looked into it, but I remember Smithson moaning about the cost of various commenting platforms when Disqus became unusable, so I would imagine they're not cheap. I doubt if it would be much of an improvement, and it would probably be slower to load.

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  18. WeSaidNoToYesMen :-)February 28, 2015 at 12:06 AM

    James, are you Peter Dow? If so, stop e-mailing me :-)

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    1. WeSaidNoToYesMen : Are you Jim Murphy? If so, stop emailing me. I'm serious, actually, I got a very chummy email from Jim the other day. We suddenly seem to be on first name terms, which is odd, because Blair McDougall always ignores me when I try to strike up a chat on Twitter. At least they're not all so rude.

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    2. Peter Dow was briefly at RGU when I was there. The only person I've ever known to get beaten by Re-open Nominations in a student vote!

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