The datasets from Monday's ICM poll have finally been released, and along with confirming that the "spiral of silence" adjustment did indeed reduce the SNP's lead slightly, they also provide voting intention numbers for next year's Scottish Parliament election, and for a hypothetical second independence referendum.
Scottish Parliament constituency ballot :
SNP 46% (+2)
Labour 26% (n/c)
Conservatives 13% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 6% (n/c)
UKIP 5% (-1)
Greens 4% (n/c)
Scottish Parliament regional list ballot :
SNP 42% (n/c)
Labour 26% (+1)
Conservatives 14% (+2)
UKIP 6% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 6% (n/c)
Greens 5% (-3)
What's fascinating here is that, although we see the familiar pattern of the SNP lead being somewhat lower on the list, that isn't tied to a big list vote for the Greens. The small number of SNP constituency voters who opt for a different party on the list are breaking for a variety of parties, with as many going to Labour as to the Greens. That doesn't help Labour, though, because they lose almost as many votes on the list as they gain.
If there were a fresh referendum on Scottish independence tomorrow, then how would you vote?
It's difficult to make much sense of these figures, because we have no baseline to work from - this is the first time ICM have asked the independence question since referendum day. We can't even make a direct comparison with their pre-referendum polls (which on the face of it often produced very similar numbers to these) because the methodology has changed - in line with other firms, ICM have now introduced weighting by recalled referendum vote. This has led to people who recall voting Yes being significantly weighted down in this poll, from 469 to 423. No voters have been upweighted, albeit by a more modest amount. So, as we've seen from all the firms, it looks like Yes have made substantial progress from ICM's pre-referendum polls (with the exception of the rogue 54% Yes poll on the final weekend) once you take account of the new methodology.
However, the headline numbers as reported are obviously less good for Yes than we've seen in any other poll since September. That difference may be caused by ICM's methodology, or by random sampling variation, or simply by the political composition of ICM's panel being slightly different. To put it in perspective, there have been nine independence polls since the referendum - four have shown a Yes lead, four have shown a No lead, and there has been one tie. It simply isn't possible to know whether Yes or No are in the lead, although we do know that it's a very tight race.
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I think I may have to scream - Alex Massie has tried it on with his barmy "jury trial" wheeze yet again.
"As it happens, I think the BBC did scrutinise the Yes campaign’s claims with greater vigour than it did those made by the No campaign. I’m neither sure that could have been avoided, nor that it was necessarily the wrong instinct. It was the Yes campaign – and the Scottish government – that were proposing a significant change to our way of life, after all...the burden of proof was on the Yes campaign and the jury – press and voters alike – were entitled to ask that the case for independence be made beyond a reasonable doubt. That, in other words, it be subject to a criminal, not civil, standard of proof."
Memo to Mr Massie - if you want to spout this kind of nonsense, please at least attempt to back it up by identifying the portion of electoral law which states that fair and balanced TV coverage is not required or even desirable in a referendum campaign "because it's kind of like a jury trial". You may be searching for some time. As for the remark about bias being "unavoidable", that reads a bit like someone saying : Yeah, OK, your pet poodle was shot. It wasn't a pleasant thing to watch, but hey, what could the gunman do? He just felt his finger squeezing the trigger, it must have been gravity or something. Bummer.
Massie also claims that Salmond implied in his new book that Henry McLeish had betrayed his country, which - not to put too fine a point on it - is a pretty bloody outrageous distortion. Because Salmond said that McLeish had been torn between loyalty to party and country, we're invited to believe that McLeish's eventual decision to side with his party must automatically mean that he's being branded a traitor to Scotland. I suspect Massie would struggle to make that tenuous logic stand up in a court of law (how ironic).
"Scottish politics is a faith-based business these days...How else to explain the fact that, according to a recent YouGov poll, 56 percent of SNP supporters think plummeting oil prices are neither good nor bad for Scotland?"
There's a pretty straightforward answer to that question if you're remotely interested in listening, Alex - some Yes voters simply aren't as obsessed with oil as the average right-wing unionist commentator, and won't have been interested in the question. Others will have spotted a mile off that they were being fed a leading question, and weren't prepared to play along with that little game.
"Of course Salmond was so convinced Yes were going to win that it comes as some surprise to discover that Scotland actually voted No. It certainly seems to shock him."
Perhaps it did, but that pales into insignificance when compared to the shock of the discovery that "undecided voter Alex Massie" - who took part in a high-profile BBC referendum debate on that specific basis - had in fact been a dyed-in-the-wool unionist all along. You could have knocked me down with a feather.