Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A little more on that record-breaking TNS poll

Just a quick note to let you know that I have a new article at The National, with more analysis of yesterday's TNS poll, which gave the SNP an unprecedented 62% of the Scottish Parliament constituency vote.  You can read it HERE.


  1. A rather different tone in the headline. Do you get any say on that, James?

  2. Someone else said the under 55's polled 71% SNP. Is that correct?

    1. SNP share of constituency VI (ex-DK, wouldn't vote etc):

      16-24 - 80%
      25-34 - 67%
      35-44 - 69%
      45-54 - 67%
      55-64 - 57%
      65+ - 39%

    2. There is clearly more to this than age-related risk aversion. Its to do with opposite experiences of "union".

      To one generation, the union will always mean Bevan, Churchill, and fighting off Nazi invasion.

      However, to their children and grandchildren, the union will always mean poll tax, privatisation, wasted oil revenues and illegal wars.

    3. I don't think many 16-24 year olds are voting on the basis of the poll tax, privatisation or lost oil revenues in all honesty - even illegal wars is going back 12 years now. That sort of rationale probably explains a much older vote (35-44 and above).

      I think it's less about issues and more about electoral dynamics. Younger voters tend to be more willing to back parties that challenge the mainstream and that's what the SNP are doing at present.

    4. I agree. Sorry, I should have speicifed, it was the 25-55 yo's I was referring to.

      They do *not* vote to challenge the maintream. They are the tax payers, the house buyers, the business starters, the parents,

      They *are* the mainstream. And they're voting SNP.

  3. The wording of the TNS questioning is such that I wouldn't read much into the results.

    Neither poor nor good

    The highest 'poor' was 29% meaning everyone else was generally happy. If you were not happy, you'd not pick 'neither poor nor good' as an option. If you had no real complaints you'd pick that option.

    If you changed the question to a simple 'satisfied' vs 'dissatisfied' one, as normally used, the SNP would be getting the up to 7 in 10 sat values Sturgeon has in recent polls.

    Sure the SNP should not be complacent and should be seeking to improve on those 'good' levels, however, for a party in government for 8 years, their polling is incredibly positive.

  4. What struck me about the 'issues' polling is that the largest camp, by a long way, is the one that doesn't have an opinion either way. "Education? Eh dinnae ken mate. Eh'm jist votin' SNP fur the indy, like".

    You could argue the Scottish public are as thick as pig shit for not noticing or caring about the many SNP screw ups. You COULD argue that.

    However, let's not. Let's just say that the Scottish public are still bewitched by nationalism. A situation that will not last forever - especially once Nicola Sturgeon rules out a second referendum in the 2016-21 parliament. All indications are that she will do. Then, you'll get the split - a large chunk of SNP voters breaking away to form their own, hardline party. This is already happening.

    Come 2021, if you're still not over indy, you'll have about four pro indy parties to vote for.

    Welcome to unionism :0)

    1. You're dreaming, Aldo - she's not going to rule out a second referendum. It would contradict everything the SNP have said over the last eleven months if there isn't at least a conditional pledge for a referendum in the event of Brexit.

      And we'll be "over indy" on independence day.

    2. Brexit isn't going to happen so that's not going to go down well with the militants, is it?

      "When the planets align, with a blue moon and a comet present in the sky and three wise men appear bearing gifts, then we will have our referendum"

      The fundamentalists will go absolutely mental and there is no telling what they might do. A new party has been established and people are tearing up SNP membership cards already. The SNP is just not hardline enough. This means the SNP - our party of government in Scotland - actually has some sensible people in it. Phew!

      You'll be "over indy" on independence day. You don't speak for the other 4.3 million registered voters who, in a timescale of 5 years plus, will easily have moved on to something else.

    3. You don't speak for the other 4.3 million registered voters who, in a timescale of 5 years plus, will easily have moved on to something else.

      Such as?

      My folks voted Yes in 1979. Here we are, 36 years later and they haven't 'moved on'. In fact they're more supportive of indy now.

      That's your problem. This isn't a new passing fad. It's being creeping slowly in one direction since Scotland briefly felt British (for the first time in the history of the union) in the post-war consensus 1950's UK.

      Britishness peaks in those born in 1945 (see 2011 census national identity versus year of birth). They are 70 years old now; hence the over 65's are the only group which in majority back the union.

      Tick tock.

    4. Aldo : Ah. So what you meant was "She won't rule it out, but in my personal opinion it's unlikely to happen anyway, so that's much the same thing as her ruling it out." The Nostradamus disclaimer.

    5. "That's your problem. This isn't a new passing fad. It's being creeping slowly in one direction since Scotland briefly felt British (for the first time in the history of the union) in the post-war consensus 1950's UK."

      Statements like this really need to be backed up by evidence. The Scottish Social Attitudes survey, for instance, has asked views on independence going back to 1999 and it hasn't been a steady line in one direction. It's actually highly variable: support for independence was highest in 2005 at 35%, but had fallen to 23% in 2010, then was back up to 33% by 2014 (and 45% voted for it in September some months later).

      The polling itself in the campaign illustrated that - if attitudes on the subject are stable we shouldn't have seen Yes jump from a seemingly impossible position in the summer of 2014 to a position where they were actually leading polls with weeks to go.

    6. @Brawn

      You seem to misunderstand the concept of 'long term'. I'm talking about multi-decade changes and the slow decline of British unionism in Scotland. Sure polls on the short term fluctuate, but in the long term unionism is dying in Scotland. The empire and religion (Protestantism) were the main reasons for it; one is long gone the other no longer a major factor in Scottish life.

      The post-war consensus forged a new British social solidarity purpose as the empire declined and gave Scots, for the first time in the history of the union, a British identity on top of their Scottish one. This has been in long term decline, with Britishness peaking in those born into the post war consensus world in 1944. A Britain creating the welfare state, NHS, building social housing, giving you a job in nationalised industries.

      Here you go. % of people with a whole or partial British identity by year of birth from the 2011 census:

      1996 20.8% (15 years old in 2011)
      1995 21.4%
      1993 21.6%
      1989 21.2%
      1984 22.4%
      1979 24.9%
      1974 26.5%
      1969 26.7%
      1964 27.3%
      1959 29.1%
      1954 30.7%
      1949 33.0%
      1944 34.4% (peak)
      1939 33.2%
      1934 31.8%
      1929 30.8%
      1926 28.8%

      ‘Scottish only’ is highest in the children of devolution generation, with those born in 1996 72.2% Scottish only, compared to 62.4% of the population as a whole.

      This is why it is only the over 65s which still in majority back the union. They are still too British. They are likewise the least supportive of the SNP, with our children of devolution the most…

      Of course you can look at the rise of the SNP too. Sure it has it’s peaks and troughs, but overall the picture is one of being essentially non-existent in the British Scotland 1950’s to being a significant force from the 1970’s onwards as the post war consensus collapsed, to blossoming under devolution as the Labour movement died and Scotland diverged politically from the rUK.

      Then of course you have 52% Yes to devolution in 1979 evolving to 74% in 1997, with 64% voting for max devo on offer. Polling has up to 7 in 10 for devo max now, so support has grown further in the long term for this.

      52% in 1979 meant 48% backed full Westminster rule. That’s around 5% now.

      Oh and the SSAS has not asked the straight Y/N indy question for years, it has asked multiple choice options on indy vs devo vs status quo etc.

      The union is dying in Scotland. Unless Wesminster gives it a clear purpose and unites it in social solidarity – which requires a big leftwards jump – it is finished. Only a matter of time.

    7. You've stated that I've misunderstood what long-term means, but I'm struggling to see why quoting identity figures from 1926 to 1996 (nearly 20 years ago) is more illuminating than quoting annual views on independence over the last 15 years using by far the most respected attempt to measure attitudes in Scotland that we have.

      Even if we want to quote figures on identity rather than support for independence, the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey has been asking that on an annual basis as well. The British identity figures in 2014 were 23%, which is pretty much bang on what it was 30+ years ago if your figures are accurate (I'm not sure what source you're taking that from). The last 15 years of SSA figures actually show a small increase in British identity (it's been as low as 13% in 2000 yet was 24% in 2013 and 23% in 2014). Scottish identity peaked at 80% in 2000 and fell to 65% by 2014. Again the picture is a murky one, not the linear trend you're trying to argue for. I see absolutely nothing in those figures to backup grandiose predictions about the trend in public opinion over the next 10-15 years.

      Ultimately the real point here is that supporters of political movements usually put great stock in their party being the party of the future. We used to make similar arguments about the Tories in the 1980s when they had disproportionate shares of older voters. They were supposed to have died out 20 years ago yet they've just won a majority with, you guessed it, disproportionate shares of older voters. The only thing we can be certain about in politics is that making concrete predictions about what people will be thinking in ten years is nigh on impossible.

    8. Wait for this year's SSAS. The anti-Scottish attitude of the Tories could well have swung things markedly in terms of people's responses.

      People tell porkies to the SSAS depending on the political weather. It's why the figures vary a bit from year to year*. After all, people do not change their national identity from one year to another. You are better taking averages over devolution; that matches the census (for example, add the SSAS Moreno 'SnB' and 'mStB' averages and you will get the census 'Scottish Only' total).

      *Also, the Moreno 'Scottish - not British' etc approach in the SSAS encourages porkies by pitting one against the other. For example, saying you are Scottish not British implies you think there is inherently something wrong / bad about Britishness and, by implication, anyone who is british. It makes you sound a bit racist. Hence, when the political climate is tense, you will see decreases in that grouping for example.

      In contrast, the 2011 census (where my figures came from) was a free choice (you could write whatever you wanted rather than being forced to pick) form done alone on the privacy of your own home. Likewise the census was a poll of every single home in Scotland rather than a survey of of say 1500 volunteers like the SSAS. Also not views as political unlike the way the SSAS is; it asking about political party affiliation etc.

      I'm not making concrete predictions. It's just we appear to have gone full circle with the 'yellow' vote peaking again once more. Last time that happened, we had the 'Home Rule' bill for Scotland (within the empire). Only WW1 stopped that. That was for a devolution far in excess of what we have now. We are now back to that position following the collapse of the empire and destruction of the post war consensus solidarity - i.e. the purposes of the union - so what is happening has historical precedent.

    9. On the topic of the SSAS... I'm surprised we've heard so little from the 2015 one. Normally, identity data is dated in January, i.e. the last lot was Jan 14.

      All we've had, which might serve as an indicator of a reaction to the Tories anti-Scottish attitude / post iref SNP rise is this:

      "If you had to choose between the two, would you rather describe yourself as British or Scottish?"

      62(+4)% Scottish
      31(-5)% British

      From March 2015 with changes on December 2014.

      Given ICM heavily underestimated the SNP win in that poll (43% when the others had it bang on, on average), figures are probably more pro-scottish than that, although there is clear trend of Britishness falling and Scottishness being more 'admitted'.


  5. Come 2021, if you're still not over indy, you'll have about four pro indy parties to vote for.

    Erm, you realise that under PR (for Holyrood, the source of irefs), that would not present any real issue if it did happen right?

    It didn't matter in 2011 for example when people could vote for the SNP, Greens, SSP, Solidarity, Margo... 5 different indy 'parties' there.

    1. Although I would guess Aldo is trolling and I'm not in any way agreeing with him here, what you've said isn't accurate. The de facto threshold for a party getting a seat in a Holyrood region is somewhere around 5% of the vote, assuming they don't win a constituency seat. If you had say four parties each polling 5% nationally it's quite possible they won't win many/any seats despite accounting for a fifth of the overall vote.

      There's also the issue of coalitions - it's far from a certainty that parties that had split from one another would be able to produce a stable government just because they agree on independence. You have to pass a budget for one thing, which isn't going to be possible if we end up with a centre-right and a radical left party on the Yes side. Parties tend to split for a reason and it's not easy to bridge that gap afterwards.

      But is there any reason to think such a split will happen? At the moment, no in my opinion. If it did happen it absolutely would be a big problem though and nobody should be under any illusion about that.

  6. If those parties begin contesting constituencies, then you have a problem. The majority of Holyrood seats are constituency based, first past the post. A fragmented nationalist side would be likely to suffer the same fate as the current unionist bloc - out of power, or, in the event you actually do attain a majority, too divided to put it to any use.

    1. The SNP can rebrand as anything they want although their natural home is with the Tories.

  7. Actually, under PR, having 4 pro indy parties would be wonderful. The SNP to continue as Social Democrats, some right wing populists to erode the Tory vote, a radical left party a la Podemos/Syriza to stop any Labour comeback in its tracks and the Greens to be, well, Green. Between them they'd probably ensure a permanent pro-Indy majority in Holyrood. :-)

    As many irefs as it takes. ;-)

    1. That isn't actually a good thing, Brian. The strength of the SNP is due to it being the only mainstream Indy party.
      If the vote gets split, it could allow Unionist parties to sneak a win.

    2. There's absolutely no evidence of the vote being split. The Greens are getting their due from the tree-hugging fraternity, the SSP isn't really troubling the scorer, and the SIP doesn't actually appear to exist at all.

    3. A split with a big overlap is a bad thing. A split that allows a broader combined appeal might not be though.

    4. As said above it would be borderline impossible for this kind of arrangement to produce a stable government. You would of course be able to pass legislation to hold a referendum on independence, but it's hardly realistic to think a Podemos style radical left party could sit in government with a centre-left party (SNP) and a radical right party. Greece is the closest thing to that with the Independent Greeks and Syriza but that's a government produced by a unique crisis and would be fundamentally unstable under normal circumstances.

    5. It doesn't have to produce a stable government, it has to produce a majority for a referendum as and when required. It will be fiendishly difficult for one centre-left party to keep getting majorities at Holyrood. If SNP popularity declines before we get independence then I want there to be other pro-Indy parties from other places on the left-right spectrum to fill the gap, not a swing back to the old Unionist 3.

      To be clear, I certainly don't want the SNP to split. I want a credible opposition to emerge at Holyrood, but that opposition to be pro-Indy.

    6. That's fine as a one off, but long-term people aren't going to continue backing parties that can't get into government. The entire modern independence movement essentially owes its current strength to the SNP winning the 2011 election and it did so not on an independence ticket, but on its decades long attempt to establish itself as a credible party of government.

      Split that into a series of opposition parties that have an inability to cooperate with each other on issues beyond independence and we'd essentially be taking away one of the core reasons why the movement has been successful in the first place. I'm not convinced this new "SIP" is a viable entity going forward - it seems to be little more than a press release - but if it were it would be completely self-defeating in my opinion.

    7. To be even clearer: I don't want the SNP to split! :-)

      How about a Labour split though, to produce a genuinely left pro-Indy party and a Unionist rump?

      I agree the SIP thing looks entirely counter productive and destined for speedy irrelevance.

  8. Having four pro union parties hasn't done much for the unionist side. The only reason the SNP have done so well so far is that there is one main nationalist party plus two wee tiny parties riding on their coat tails that only run on the list. Should that situation change then the nationalists may find it very difficult to get a viable majority capable of pushing for and winning an independence referendum.

    The next 8 months will reveal the SNP's agenda for the ensuing 5 years. Depending on what they come up with, all hell could break loose. You know that as well as I. Splits and schisms do not help political movements. Judean Peoples' Front-ism doesn't make you stronger - it just makes it far easier for the Romans to kick your erse.

    And, again, you know that as well as I.

    1. Lab + Con + Lib got 44% of the vote in 2011 and 44% of seats.

      In what way did splitting that vote 3 ways harm them?

    2. As for Scotland falling in love with the Tories and the union again. Well, given this love has been wilting for 60-70 years and now only resides in the over 65s (the one group to still identify modestly as British), I think a return to the glory days of the union is a big ask. We should know within around 4 years anyway, when simple coming of age vs passing away should yield a natural majority without any helpful assistance from the English Tories.

  9. The poll numbers are huge. 80%, and even 57% are massive, massive numbers. Even the over 65s on 38% would be enough to win an election for most parties. There's no denying it that the SNP are incredibly popular.

    The popularity is down to quite a few factors in my opinion including ;

    a)SNP core support - always will, have and intend to vote SNP. The core vote/support of the party.

    b)Good will from Yes voters - many who were non-political, or even voted Labour up to the Indyref and now opted to vote for the SNP.

    c)The 10-15% who think the SNP have done a decent job/support the SNP, but voted No to independence.

    d)No credible opposition.
    Labour - a shambles of a party. Viewed by many of their ex-support as liars/deceptive, and have no leading lights waiting to rule the party (in Scotland).
    Lib Dems - a busted flush. Let's be honest, if they return 5 MSPs in May that'll be a good result. They could well be wiped out!
    Tories - whilst some may like Davidson. Utterly toxic and for talk of a Tory bounce, their core vote will and has remained for years in Scotland 12-15% of the vote.

    SIP - Scottish Independence Party will make next to no impact if any at all in the Holyrood elections. Much like the Free Scotland Party that Jim Fairlie (ex SNP) set up or was aligned to in the mid 00s.

    The key now for the SNP is to strike a balance. It's blatantly obvious from HQ and the main people in charge that the SNP do not want another referendum for the foreseeable future, but with the 100k plus new members (where many will) this could cause a challenge for the SNP - not so much as parties like SIP challenging them, but how many of the new members will renew their fees after the conference, if there is no commitment or even discussion on another referendum? Which if we are led to believe by the press, there will not be.

    The SNP need to strike a balance. That balance surely is plans to hold a Home Rule referendum at somepoint in the next parliament? This would also keep the SNP 'controlling' the game against the Tories/Wesminister due to polls showing a majority of Scots back Devo Max/Home Rule (usually in the 60s support for everything devolved barring foreign/defence).

    Picture the scene, Scotland votes yes to Home Rule. How woul the Tories cope with that?

    Regards a second referendum. I want independence yesterday, but right now is not the time to go for another referendum. Although the SNP need to include something in their manifesto about it having the right to call for one under certain circumstances.

    At the same time, we cannot wait forever. I don't believe we'll ever see polls showing 60% plus support for Indy, or if we do, it'll be 15+ years from now, and the SNP's or a pro-independence party beinghoneymoon period or being in power to call for a referendum will not last that long. No matter how crummy Labour are, or extinct the Lib Dems will be.

    Remember our parliament was set up with the intention of parties not having majorities. And mainly that party was the SNP, and to stop what happened on the 19th of September 2011.

    I'm going on a bit, apologies, but, to sum it up, we have to bide our time the now, but we cannae wait too long, or our chance will be gone.

    1. I would add another category of voters to that: the casual apolitical voter. It's an often overlooked aspect of politics that a very large number of voters aren't political zealots who think about the subject 24/7, but simply passive voters who merely pick the least worst option every four/five years.

      That vote used to go to Labour. To rebrand a slogan, they had the "if you don't know, vote Labour" vote sewn up in general elections for years. Now that's changed and in many ways the SNP have become the default/uncontroversial option. When that happens you end up with genuinely dominant parties - they're backed by their own supporters passionately and by the rest of the electorate passively in a way that's very difficult for other parties to challenge.

    2. I disagree to some extent. I think a 60% + majority for independence is not a decade or more away. If we look at the immediate polling after the referendum (around September 2014- January 2015), there was a sizeable shift towards independence, reaching about 52-53%. Now that has receded to some extent, and we're looking at about 50% support in the more recent polls, but nevertheless the polls have shown a possible 53% of Scots supporting independence after the referendum. I don't think getting to 60% before another referendum is even introduced is impossible, but it all depends on how powerful the economic argument is for an independent Scotland (i.e. sorting out the currency issue).

    3. It may have evaded your brain cells but Scotland is a Nation in a Union. You do not seem to have a problem with the EU but you do with your next door neighbour the English. But you still want the pound that was agreed to.

    4. "it all depends on how powerful the economic argument is for an independent Scotland (i.e. sorting out the currency issue)"

      It's about more than the currency issue. The economic case at the moment seems to be little more than "GERS? Pah, that's a load of rubbish, stop listening to unionist scaremongering".

      So long as GERS, which like it or not is the gold standard in this debate, is showing a large gap between what we generate and what we spend, the economic case is going to be a weak one, even if the currency issue is addressed. The case is substantially weaker today than it was during the referendum campaign in that sense - due in no small part to the oil price drop.

      No doubt I'll get irate comments for saying that, but that's the basic battleground on the economy and anyone who is honest about it would accept Yes has more chance of winning if the SNP wait until the economic figures are more supportive of independence. Coming up with rhetorical arguments to ignore all of the figures might work when you're preaching to the converted, but you can hardly expect to win an economic argument in a referendum campaign if your only point is to claim all the figures are biased/wrong (particularly when the last referendum had the SNP building their entire economic case on GERS).

    5. GERS doesn't cover everything. A lot of the information is in Westminster's Hands and they are well known for, shall we call it creative accounting? How come you don't know this?'

    6. Its odd that the "too poor" brigade keep banging on about SNP lies, but say "SNP built their case on GERS, so GERS must be right!" Its a flat out contradiction.

      And its not the only one. You could hypothesise that if - IF - the UK government had gone out of its way over the last 40 years to undermine Scotland, by deindustrialisation and centralising wealth, increasing the north/south divide, then you would see bad GERS figures. Such as a deficit of minus 8%! Yet we are told GERS tells us that we need to stay in the union?

      Well that doesn't make any sense either!

      "see that medicine you've been taking for 300 years...hasn't worked yet...let's give you some more."

      The fact is, if - IF - our revenue is 8% below expenditure - that would make us an eyebrow-raising outlier compared to most of Europe, even including former Soviet states. This is either (a) a damning indictment of the impact Westminster's long term macroeconomic policies have had on Scotland, or (b) a valid reason to doubt the figures themselves, given that there is little else outlier-ish about Scotland's relative needs and resources compared to similar countries in Europe. Or (c) a bit of both.

      GERS are estimates because the majority of UK accounting is (deliberately?) non-geographical. Its like splitting a plate of spaghetti.

      But the resources, the people, the infrastructure, the basics for a healthy economy are already in place in Scotland and are there for all to see. So to simply use GERS to decide whether you vote yes or no is just silly.

    7. Very good post. I agree with all you say and your point about 'looking around us" is a strong one.

      I was frustrated by the lack of response to the IFS pre-GE intervention which (successfully IMO) pushed the idea that Scotland carries a 7.6 billion black hole into the public consciousness.

      Now part of me laughs if this was meant to be positive argument for the union. But beyond the irony, I just don't believe these figures - the numbers don't match what I see around me.

      Is there any decent work being done (post oil price crash) which challenges the IFS financial basket case story? I think that getting a constructive alternative to the 'too poor' idea into general circulation is an important thing to be getting on with.

    8. "Its odd that the "too poor" brigade keep banging on about SNP lies, but say "SNP built their case on GERS, so GERS must be right!" Its a flat out contradiction."

      This is typical straw man stuff. Nobody is "banging on about SNP lies" I'm making the simple point that if GERS doesn't support independence (and it doesn't - no serious person would argue it does at this point) then the case for independence is weaker. It's a very basic point and yet, predictably, we've gone headlong into a rant about "too wee, too poor, too stupid" rather than simply acknowledging it.

      Is it really that controversial to think the argument for independence will be stronger if a referendum is held when the economic figures are more supportive of it? Is it seriously beyond us to simply take that point on board for what it is? The point about the SNP using GERS isn't designed to argue that GERS is perfect. They used GERS precisely because it was possible to make a case for independence with the figures at that time. It's not possible to do that today, hence the case is fundamentally weaker - given we don't have any better measure of our revenue/spending than GERS available.

      It's actually a point about timing, not independence per se. But as usual it's literally impossible to have limited conversations on specific negative points about independence without someone going into full "attack the unionist" battle mode.

    9. I don't think you understand how things work. A strong Scottish economy within the UK - thus good GERS - would weaken the case for independence, not strengthen it. If, after all, everything is super within the union, they why risk indy?

      Countries go for independence because they feel exploited... because their economies are being harmed by their external rulers. If they are being treated well and are booming, they will not seek independence. It is no surprise that indy in polls consistently was in majority in 1997-8 after nearly 2 decades of Tory economic destruction; likewise 74% Yes to devo.

      How quickly things move from here will depend very much on the Tories and the damage they do in the coming years. And they will do damage; for example, only two months into their majority and UK unemployment is up twice in a row after falling for 2 years under the coalition. Thankfully, Scotland continues to buck the trend, but when the Tories remove tens of billions from the economy with their cuts, hitting GDP hard, avoiding economic problems including rising unemployment, is going to be hard.

      Also, ~40% of C2DE voted No. Well, for many of these people, life is going to get really, really hard soon as welfare is slashed for them, notably tax credits. This is probably the main thing to watch. People will vote for indy when it looks like it can't be worse than what we have now as noted. Well, for these people, the UK is soon going to be a misery and with little to lose, indy will look like a decent choice.

    10. You've hit the nail on the head. We're not oppressed, we're misgoverned. Misgoverned in the sense that we don't have democracy, so long as England votes Tory and we don't; and misgoverned in the sense that however well the UK and Scottish economies are doing, we could still do far better than happens within the union if we had powers over our own economy. We're also misgoverned in the sense that our wealth remains ill-divided, and the consensus in Scotland is for a better redistribution of wealth and lessening of inequalities.

      But for those in the most vulnerable and weakest categories, the unemployed, the disabled, the perenially disadvantaged - that misgovernment IS oppression, and as neoliberalism in the UK continues to widen the gap between the poorest and the richest, those in that category - the oppressed - are growing more numerous.

    11. "I don't think you understand how things work. A strong Scottish economy within the UK - thus good GERS - would weaken the case for independence, not strengthen it. If, after all, everything is super within the union, they why risk indy?"

      This is essentially the same thing as saying that more people will support independence when the economic figures suggest it will make us poorer rather than richer. There's a whole stack of poll data to suggest that's wrong, the most obvious example being the famous "£500 question". The results from 2013 for that question:

      1. Support for independence if it would "make you £500 richer": 52% in favour, 30% against

      2. Support for independence if it would "make you £500 poorer": 15% in favour, 72% against.

      There goes that theory... (incidentally the latest GERS report would equate to a shortfall of around £800 for every person in the country, the 2015/16 estimate produced by the IFS after the oil price drop would be around a £1,500 shortfall)

      What might be the case is that in a time of financial crisis people are more willing to back a change to the status quo, but that's a fundamentally different thing from saying GERS showing us having to cut our spending if we became independent is a positive thing for the independence campaign. Conceptually that's a weak argument at the best of times and empirically, as the poll evidence above shows, it's completely baseless.

      What the SNP's (highly successful) narrative during the referendum actually consisted of was claiming that Scotland was a prosperous country that could be doing even better outside of the Union and that most of the problems brought on by the crisis could be solved by the extra windfall. Put simply it was a case based on a positive vision of future prosperity, not (as your argument seems to be oriented toward) a negative narrative of blame - i.e. we're a cesspit of poverty and independence would make us even worse off in the short-term, but at least we'd be rid of the people who allowed us to get into this state in the first place. I really can't see any political strategist backing that over what the SNP actually did in the referendum.

      What we also have here is a rhetorical argument that has nothing directly to do with the subject we're discussing - namely that one of the standard defences whenever anyone cites the GERS figures is to claim that it's proof we're being mismanaged. If we weren't being mismanaged, the argument goes, we'd be generating far more revenue and therefore the figures wouldn't be the way they are. It's a completely disingenuous argument because the reason there's a shortfall isn't due to a lack of revenue, but to a large level of spending in Scotland relative to the rest of the UK. We actually generate more revenue than the UK average, we simply spend even more (for a variety of reasons) and that's why there's a shortfall.

    12. My argument was based simply on historical precedent. Countries which go independent are not normally booming economically. Unless you have some examples?

      This problem was probably the main issue for Quebec; it is quite prosperous as part of Canada so the argument mainly came back to language / culture alone, particularly as they are devo maxed. Still, support climbed from 40 to 50% in successive referendums.

      Anyway, are you saying that the economic destruction of the Tory 79-97 period weakened support for indy? I find that quite funny. Jeez, support for 'independence' in the form of devolution jumped from 52 to 74% even though Scotland emerged on its knees from the Thatcher-Major years.

      Anyway, watch the C2DE support for indy rise rapidly over the next few years as Dave and chums destroy their lives just as they did in the 1980's. 30 billion out of the economy is going to really hit them the hardest.

    13. When Norway voted to split from Sweden in 1905 it was booming economically or at least had grown considerably in cultural confidence and in industrial and commercial development since 1814 when it had gained a parliament. But it was argued that Swedish intervention was a brake on an expanding economy.

  10. Unionists are desperate to find, or invent, chinks in the SNP's armour. As unionists are fond of saying: wishing it won't make it so.

    1. I thought a chink was a foreign national however the chink is the Scots voting for the Union which the Nat si fanatics do not accept.

    2. sad racist behaviour on your part JG

    3. What has a Glesga Drunk and a Tank in Tianamun Square goat in common?

    4. Fun and racism with our troll of a thousand names. Bernard Manning would've been embarrassed to put that in his act.

      Coolheads Prevail

  11. Offly topical, but has anybody else noticed that the new brazzarina is a domestic abuser?

    Poisoning her husband and destroying his possessions would get you prison time if you were a man doing similar.

  12. It's ironic the troll uses a racist term to describe Chinese people. Then refers to the SNP as Nazis.

    I have come across the same with Newco fans. Calling someone a bigot for being a republican and not accepting subject status. These people have absorbed the racist mantra of the media , but haven't the wit to know what racism actually is.

  13. General question, James: will the ballot papers for the regional lists next year show the names of all the parties' list candidates?

    ISTR there were lists of candidate names available when voting in 2011, but can't recall whether they were on the actual ballot paper.

    Reason I ask is that I'm wondering whether such a list might actually harm Labour's list vote - seeing names like Curran and Mathieson on the Glasgow list would be quite the disincentive!