Friday, February 12, 2016
The movement has been enough to push "Leave", for the first time, into a slight lead in the online average of the Poll of Polls - although that may well underestimate the true strength of the Outers, because most of the polls in the sample were conducted before the details of the deal emerged.
SCOT GOES POP POLL OF POLLS
Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
50/50 ONLINE/TELEPHONE AVERAGE :
Remain 48.1% (-0.3)
Leave 39.3% (+0.3)
ONLINE AVERAGE :
Remain 41.6% (-0.7)
Leave 42.6% (+0.7)
TELEPHONE AVERAGE :
Remain 54.5% (n/c)
Leave 36.0% (n/c)
(The Poll of Polls takes account of all polls that were conducted at least partly within the last month. The online average is based on ten polls - four from ICM, two from YouGov, one from Survation, one from Panelbase, one from BMG and one from ORB. The telephone average is based on one poll from ComRes and one from Ipsos-Mori.)
Thursday, February 11, 2016
1. The process by which establishment figures, especially journalists, explain to members of the general public which matters are, and are not, of interest to the general public.
2. The process by which journalists explain that members of the public who investigate for themselves matters which they incorrectly think are of interest to them (especially matters which may shed light on the motivations and priorities of journalists) are mentally unstable.
Pressure mounts on Cameron : is he really going to betray The Vow, and risk reopening the independence question?
The negotiations on the fiscal framework have become a game of chess - both sides would prefer a deal, but both are trying to manoeuvre themselves into the most favourable position if a deal isn't possible. The London Tories want to be able to say -
"We tried everything possible to deliver The Vow, but the SNP sabotaged the whole process with ridiculous demands."
While the Scottish Government want to be able to say -
"The Vow has been betrayed. Nobody told No voters they would only get the new powers they were promised in return for a £3 billion cut in Scotland's budget."
As you can see, either way The Vow won't have been delivered, so this game is far more dangerous for Cameron than it is for Sturgeon. At best, he can find a plausible excuse for his own failure to keep his side of the most important bargain London has ever struck with the people of Scotland. At worst, the charge of a deliberate betrayal of The Vow will stick, thus bringing about one of the two obvious casus belli for a second referendum that we always knew were possible (the other being Brexit).
At the moment, the game seems to be moving decisively in the Scottish Government's direction. With six out of the ten members of the Smith Commission (including representatives of four of the five parties involved) saying they broadly agree with the Scottish Government's interpretation of the 'no detriment' principle that was at the heart of the Smith package, it's going to be almost impossible for Cameron to establish a narrative of The Vow being sabotaged by the wicked SNP. He now has two choices - make a more credible compromise offer, or accept the consequences of his government's double-dealing.
For my own part, I actually take a different view from the majority of independence supporters on social media - I very much want a deal to be struck, even if it involves some compromise. I want the Scotland Bill to come fully into effect, so that we have something tangible to show for the success of the Yes campaign. But even I accept that we can't take that at any price, and at the moment the price looks far, far, far too high.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Labour 20% (n/c)
Conservatives 16% (-2)
Liberal Democrats 6% (-1)
Labour 19% (n/c)
Conservatives 15% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 8% (n/c)
Greens 6% (-1)
No 47.9% (+2.8)
Even when different firms seem to have an in-built 'house skew' towards one side or the other, it is of course still possible for all firms to broadly agree with each other on the direction of travel. As this is the third (arguably the fourth) consecutive poll from an assortment of firms to show some movement towards No, an interesting question is whether we now have convincing evidence of a real swing, or whether it could just be an illusion caused by normal sampling variation. The reality is that we don't have enough information to go on yet. The swing showed by Panelbase looked like an innocuous reversion to the mean, because the previous poll had been unusually good for Yes. The YouGov findings may have been more significant, because the Yes vote was below its recent 'normal range'. But with Ipsos-Mori, it's impossible to reach any firm conclusions, because this is only their second post-referendum poll on independence, so there's no way of knowing whether a 52% Yes vote is 'unusually low' for the firm or not.
Just as Panelbase did recently, Ipsos-Mori have sought to test whether Britain's exit from the European Union would lead to any change in public opinion on independence. They've found the same relatively modest increase in support for Yes that Panelbase did - but of course Ipsos-Mori's basic Yes vote is higher than Panelbase's, leading to a much more commanding Yes lead when Brexit is assumed...
Imagine that the UK as a whole votes to leave the European Union in the referendum when voters in Scotland vote to remain in the European Union. If this led to another Scottish independence referendum being held, how would you vote in response to the question ''Should Scotland be an independent country''?
The exact figures shouldn't be taken too seriously, because people tend to be bad at working out how they would feel about a subject in hypothetical circumstances. There's also a danger that some respondents may have felt that Brexit was "expected" to change their view on independence. So probably the most that can be said is that it's encouraging that Brexit seems to nudge more people towards Yes than towards No.
On the EU referendum itself, Ipsos-Mori have found that Scottish voters currently plan to back the "Remain" position by an overwhelming margin of 62% to 26%. STV's Stephen Daisley (who has refreshingly reverted to "non-zoomer analyst" mode, just for the day) has made a direct comparison between those figures and the most recent Britain-wide Ipsos-Mori poll showing Remain ahead by 55% to 36%. However, that could be quite misleading, because the Britain-wide poll took place entirely before David Cameron's failure to secure a credible deal with his EU partners. So the divergence between Scottish and UK public opinion could well be even more extreme (as indeed other pollsters have suggested it is).
To return to the Scottish Parliament numbers, the recovery in Labour's lead over the Tories for second place isn't as pronounced in the headline results as in the unfiltered numbers, and it's entirely caused by Tory slippage rather than by Labour progress, but it will still be a relief for Kezia Dugdale to see an up-to-date telephone poll giving her a 4% cushion. It's debatable whether the Tories really have slipped, though - the jump in their support in the November poll looked implausibly huge. Today's poll doesn't wipe all of those gains out, so we could simply be looking at a more realsitic estimate of the modest advances they have made over the last six months or so.
There's more bad news for RISE in this poll with time rapidly running out - just one person in the whole sample of 749 plans to vote for them. That's the same as the BNP, and fewer than Solidarity. The only polling firm that has offered RISE any limited cause for optimism is YouGov - but that may simply be because YouGov (as a volunteer online panel pollster) have a few core SSP supporters on their books.
* * *
SCOT GOES POP POLL OF POLLS
Today's update of the Holyrood Poll of Polls is arguably the most useful so far, because all of the polls that make up the sample were entirely conducted in either January or February. And there's no distortion in the trend this time, because no firms have dropped out of the sample or returned to it.
Constituency ballot :
SNP 52.4% (+0.6)
Labour 20.4% (n/c)
Conservatives 17.2% (-0.4)
Liberal Democrats 5.6% (-0.2)
Regional list ballot :
SNP 46.6% (+0.6)
Labour 19.4% (n/c)
Conservatives 17.0% (-0.2)
Liberal Democrats 6.8% (n/c)
Greens 6.4% (-0.2)
(The Scottish Parliament Poll of Polls is based on a rolling average of the most recent poll from each of the firms that have reported Scottish Parliament voting intention numbers over the previous three months, and that adhere to British Polling Council rules. At present, there are five - Panelbase, Survation, YouGov, TNS and Ipsos-Mori. Whenever a new poll is published, it replaces the last poll from the same company in the sample.)
And here is the independence Poll of Polls. Bear in mind that this one uses a slightly different methodology, so some of the fieldwork taken into account is much older.
MEAN AVERAGE (excluding Don't Knows) :
Yes 48.7% (-0.5)
No 51.3% (+0.5)
MEAN AVERAGE (not excluding Don't Knows) :
Yes 44.8% (-0.7)
No 47.2% (+0.2)
MEDIAN AVERAGE (excluding Don't Knows) :
Yes 47.9% (n/c)
No 52.1% (n/c)
(The independence Poll of Polls is based on a rolling average of the most recent poll from each of the firms that have polled on independence since the referendum, and that adhere to British Polling Council rules. At present, there are six - YouGov, TNS, Survation, Panelbase, Ipsos-Mori and ICM. Whenever a new poll is published, it replaces the last poll from the same company in the sample.)
Liberal Democrats 7%
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Me : Subrosa (pro-independence blogger)
Ruth Davidson : Heather Peace (actress, musician and gay rights activist)
Jeremy Corbyn : Syam Ahmedarino (seemingly random bloke from Malaysia)
Leanne Wood : Colin Nosworthy (Welsh language campaigner)
Stephen Daisley : Matt Roper (STV Digital Editor)
George Osborne : David Cameron (Prime Minister)
Willie Rennie : Caron Lindsay (Scottish Liberal Democrat activist and blogger)
Alex Salmond : Kirk J. Torrance (SNP new media strategist)
Brian Spanner : Euan McColm (popular journalist)
Patrick Harvie : Adam Ramsay (Green writer/blogger)
Gerry Adams : Shaun Tracey (Sinn Féin press officer)
Incidentally, I noticed as I was scrolling through various accounts that David Cameron still follows Douglas Carswell, which is rather sweet.
The Usual Suspects : So, Mr. G, what did you do when you saw these abusive tweets?
Mr. G : Well, I scoured the internet for any clues as to the real identities of the people that wrote them.
The Usual Suspects : Oooh, that's a bit weird.
Mr. G : Why?
The Usual Suspects : Because nobody CARES who these totally random, uninteresting individuals are! No normal person would waste perfectly good brainwaves even thinking about them, let alone expend any energy trying to discover any information about them. OK, so what did you do then?
Mr. G : Well, after I found out where they lived...
The Usual Suspects : What, seriously? You found out where they lived? Oooh, that's creepy. And then what?
Mr. G : I went round to their houses to confront them.
The Usual Suspects : ARE YOU BLOODY JOKING? That's sinister.
Mr. G : But why?
The Usual Suspects : Because...look, we were all in total agreement yesterday that the Scot Goes Pop reader who took an hour out of her day to go to Ardrossan beach was a complete nutter, but what you've done is far, far worse. We're so creeped out right now, we can't even begin to tell you. Can we at least assume that it ended there?
Mr. G : Well, no, obviously I published the conversations I had with them.
The Usual Suspects : You did WHAT?
Mr. G : And also I published their real names, and lots of juicy personal details about them and their families.
The Usual Suspects : FAMILIES?
Mr. G : Oh, and I sent around a photographer to take unflattering pictures of them when they weren't looking.
The Usual Suspects : Wha...? Are you mentally ill? You need help, Mr. G. Have you anything at all to say in your defence?
Mr. G : Yes, as a matter of fact I do. My name's Graham Grant, I work for the Daily Mail, and the seven Twitter users I unmasked were all supporters of Scottish independence.
The Usual Suspects : That puts an entirely different complexion on matters, Mr Grant, sir. Your article was a must-read, and entirely justified in the public interest, no question at all. Our humblest apologies. Would you like a seat in the House of Lords?
* * *
PS. And, yes, I know that some of the Daily Mail's "Cybernat 7" hadn't even written anything abusive. One of them was Melissa Iacone, for pity's sake.
Monday, February 8, 2016
By the same token, I'm deeply grateful to "Brian Spanner", Euan McColm, J K Rowling et al, because their affected "hilarity" over the subject (which I've been privately offered some very intriguing interpretations of) helped this blog to its highest level of traffic in a single day since the general election period last spring. In all honesty, I'm a bit miffed it wasn't even better than that, but it seems even the magic of Hogwarts has its limitations.
Incidentally, I'm excited to inform you that I actually spent an hour or so on Ardrossan beach last year when I was killing time waiting for the train after a delayed ferry back from Arran. I'm sure I took some pictures, so I'll study them closely and let you know if I spot any misogynists lurking in the seaweed.
"On July 7th 2015, Mr Spanner sent this tweet:
"Tonight I will be mostly sending weird pictures to my neighbour's unsecured wireless printer."
In it you can see he tweets the image of the local wifi networks he’s getting from his mac. (In case you’re not a mac user, I am and can confirm that this is what the network list looks like on one.)
So whoever he is, he’s not skint.
If you look at the top network, you can see that there is a wee mark to the left of it. This is the back end of a tick, indicating that this is the network he’s actually attached to.
There is a website called WiGLE which collates SSIDs for wifi, so I checked this network and it flagged as being based in Ardrossan, next to the beach. It was spotted at this address on the 6th April 2015. Below is the info from WiGLE on it. Beneath the WPA logo are the coordinates.
So, being a belligerent and nosey sort of person, I went down to Ardrossan with my laptop to look for it. And indeed it’s still there. It can be detected fleetingly from the main beach road of ************** Road but it can very reliably be detected from a side street called ***************. Map attached and pics of my picking the network up. I have a wifi scanning file that confirms it, if anybody requires proof."
Coincidentally, popular journalist Euan McColm seems to have family that hail from Ardrossan and thereabouts, judging from a tweet on 23rd November 2012 -
Euan McColm : "our dads were saltcoats then ardrossan, i think."
Coincidentally, popular journalist Euan McColm once randomly mentioned the beach at Ardrossan in a Scotsman article -
"I’d have my man or woman outline a vision for the future from Stirling Castle, or Edinburgh’s Royal Mile or the beach at Ardrossan."
Coincidentally, popular journalist Euan McColm was the first person that "Brian Spanner" ever followed on Twitter, out of 300 million or so possibilities.
Coincidentally, popular journalist Euan McColm and "Brian Spanner" both use the C-word on social media far more frequently than the average person. (Come to think of it, the average person doesn't use the C-word at all.)
Hmmm. More than anything, I think this is a timely reminder that coincidences are just far, far more common than most of us realise. For example, did you know that in any given football match, there is a roughly 50/50 chance that two of the players will share the same birthday? With there only being 22 players on the pitch, and 365 days in the year, many people would think that the chances of that happening are only around 5%. But nope - it's 50%.
Makes you think, doesn't it?
Sunday, February 7, 2016
1) Westminster (which after all has far more social conservatives in it than Holyrood) might restrict access to abortion in England and Wales, while the Scottish Parliament keeps the Abortion Act 1967 unchanged in Scotland.
2) Westminster might keep the law unchanged in England and Wales, while the Scottish Parliament liberalises the law to grant greater abortion rights in Scotland.
3) Both jurisdictions might grant greater abortion rights, with one following the example set by the other.
Two of these three scenarios would lead (from the perspective that Labour claims to take) to improved rights for women in Scotland, while the other would mean that devolution of abortion law had directly prevented women's rights in Scotland from being eroded. If that came to pass, is it something that Labour would welcome? Or would they continue to insist on "equality" across Great Britain even when that amounts to an equal lack of rights for women?
If the latter, it seems to me there's a fairly obvious British nationalist agenda at play here, rather than a feminist one.
* * *
There was an interesting exchange on Twitter the other day between RevStu and Jamie Ross of BuzzFeed. RevStu asked Ross if he was comfortable with the "sneering protective wall" that the media had constructed around J K Rowling's abusive and misogynistic friend "Brian Spanner". Ross replied that he didn't think there was any protection, merely a "realisation that no one outside Twitter knows or cares about Brian Spanner". That's something of a circular argument, because there's one reason and one reason only why no-one outside Twitter knows or cares about Brian Spanner, which is that the media haven't told anyone about him. In fact, they went to extraordinary lengths to edit him out of their extensive coverage of Rowling v McGarry, even though that story made no sense whatever without him. Contrast that with their eagerness last year to out SNP candidate Neil Hay as "Paco McSheepie" - a Twitter troll account that was far, far less abusive than Brian Spanner, and that, again, nobody would have known or cared about unless journalists had told them.
It's not as if the media aren't in a position to out Spanner. After my two recent blogposts pointing out the astonishing and totally coincidental links between Spanner and popular journalist Euan McColm, I was struck by the large number of people who came out with a close variation on the following theme : "I have been told by someone I trust that it's not McColm." To state the bleedin' obvious, it's not possible to know for a fact that Spanner is not McColm (or Deerin, or Daisley, or even Rowling herself) unless you already know the guy's real identity. That means there are an awful lot of people out there protecting him. My strong impression is that many of those people are journalists, but even if that isn't the case, it would surely be pretty easy for the media to find out who he is and break the story. So why don't they? Was it really in the public interest to out McSheepie, but to protect Spanner? If so, why? Or would it be closer to the mark to say that Spanner is a mate of several leading right-wing journalists, and that they're happy to let him act with impunity?
* * *
I was at Murrayfield yesterday for my first ever Scotland-England game, and I fear I must report that triumphalist England supporters murdering what was once a perfectly respectable Christian song aren't any more lovable in the flesh than they are on TV. You might also be amused to hear that I was sitting next to a kilt-wearing, Scotland-supporting Brit Nat who was incensed that the announcer referred to God Save the Queen as "our visitors' anthem", and got his revenge by belting it out with the England supporters. He then proceeded to sing Flower of Scotland, but not quite as lustily. I suppose I've always known that people like that existed, but it was educational to come across one for real.