Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sorry, Mr Wishart, but you are factually wrong: there is no "indy-gap"

So, with a certain amount of weariness, I've taken a look at Pete Wishart's latest 'contribution to the debate' on the timing of a second independence referendum (at least this time it's not a phoney 'right of reply').  First things first: let's deal with the outright inaccuracy which essentially proves that Pete hasn't been bothering to properly read the many responses to his previous articles.  As I and others have pointed out to him again and again and again, his notion that there is a so-called 'indy-gap' (meaning that there is supposedly far less support for the holding of an early referendum that there is for independence itself) is simply not borne out by the evidence.  Both of the two most recent polls, from Ipsos-Mori and Panelbase respectively, have shown that support for an early referendum is essentially identical to support for independence.  But Pete isn't letting the evidence get in the way of his mythologising, and yesterday doubled down by ludicrously claiming that: "Optimal conditions are not when a significant gap exists between support for independence and support for an ‘early’ independence referendum. Every test of public opinion has shown that this gap is real..."

Every test?  What?  If the two most recent opinion polls on independence do not qualify as 'tests of public opinion', what the hell is he even talking about?  Pete can't be allowed to get away with this false claim indefinitely - he's been proved factually wrong on the 'indy-gap' point, and as the old saying goes, he's entitled to his own opinions but not to his own facts.

The alarm bells in the cynical part of my brain were ringing when I saw that Pete had started his post by noting that it was a good thing that the SNP depute leadership contest looked set to be dominated by the issue of indyref timing.  Pete of course pondered the idea of standing himself for depute on a "delay" platform, but decided against it because he didn't have enough support to mount a credible challenge.  I do hope that he isn't now planning to misrepresent a hypothetical victory for Keith Brown as an endorsement of "delay".  It's true that Mr Brown had until recently come across as the most sceptical of the three candidates about an early indyref, but he was always a long way from Pete's position of actively campaigning for the current mandate to be allowed to expire.  Personally, I'll be voting for Chris McEleny because I want to give the most emphatic thumbs-up possible to an early referendum, but regardless of which candidate wins, there will be no endorsement of the Wishart position.  I believe the Wishart position is essentially an unelectable one, and I also believe that Pete clearly acknowledged that fact by pulling out of the race.  You can't stand aside because of lack of support and then still claim a proxy victory later on.

In the second paragraph of his post, Pete says this: "We are so close to securing our historic objective that to throw away a victory that we’ve so patiently and constructively worked for over the decades through impatience would be the worst type of defeat." Would that really be the worst type of defeat?  What about if we opt not to use our mandate for a referendum, and then fail to secure another mandate for another twenty years?  (Twenty years is, after all, a mere four elections, and given the way the Additional Member System works, it's far from implausible that the pro-indy parties in combination could repeatedly fall just short of the magic number of 65 seats, even if the SNP itself remains relatively popular and manages to stay in minority government.)  And what if over that interminable period, there are prolonged spells where the polls make obvious that a referendum could have been won, but we're powerless to do anything about it because we don't have the parliamentary arithmetic to call a referendum?  That's a defeat every bit as real as a defeat in an early referendum.  It takes independence - you know, the prize we've so patiently and constructively worked for over the decades - off the table for a generation, and it does so because we threw away a golden opportunity out of fear.  How is that sort of defeat any better than one that we might suffer by having the moral courage of using our mandate and actually trusting the verdict of the electorate?  It plainly isn't any better.  It's a million times worse.  Democracy is something we should be running towards, not away from.

Pete says: "I want to see evidence [the referendum] can be won."  That's a bit disingenuous, isn't it?  He doesn't want evidence that it can be won, because we already have that.  He actually wants evidence that it definitely will be won, which is a lovely idea, but in the real world no such evidence is even possible.  Huge and rapid swings in public opinion happen frequently during the official campaign stage of referendums around the world, so even if Yes started out with 65% support, there would be no guarantees of victory at all.

He also says: "I want [the referendum] held at the time of our choosing when the optimum conditions are in place for success."  Again, the certainty of being able to hold the vote at the time of our own choosing is a beautiful thought, but is completely impracticable unless he's planning to abolish parliamentary elections.  The main barrier to being able to hold a referendum at the best possible moment is the possibility that there will be no pro-independence majority at Holyrood after 2021.  It's Pete who is arguing we should just recklessly take our chances with that, and his only justification is the absurd claim that if we can't win a pro-indy majority at Holyrood, we wouldn't have been able to win a referendum anyway.  Really?  If we win 48% of the seats in the 2021 election, it would be completely impossible to win 51% of the vote at any time between then and 2026?  A seven-year-old child would be able to spot the flaw in that argument.

The truly 'pragmatic' thing to do is recognise that we have a mandate, that it's a precious thing that may not come our way again for a very long time, and that it therefore shouldn't be lightly squandered.  That doesn't mean holding a referendum next week - it means choosing the best available moment between now and May 2021, when the mandate expires.  That's where the centre of gravity for pragmatism lies - and not in the pie-in-the-sky notion that there will be some ideal moment in the distant future where the stars will align perfectly for a nailed-on victory, and that all we have to do is wait long enough for this magical process to occur.

Pete claims: "[Optimal conditions] are not when we are less than one year away from having lost over one third of our independence supporting MPs to candidates who had as their main campaigning message ‘No to a second referendum’". The problem with this theory is that we don't know what would have happened if the SNP had stood up to the uncompromising nature of the Tory message with an equally uncompromising "Say Yes to an Indyref" message of their own. It's possible that a third of the MPs wouldn't have lost if that had been done. Pete has previously claimed he has canvassing evidence that there was no appetite for a stronger pro-indy message from the SNP, but you'll have to forgive me if I'm a tad sceptical about anecdotal claims from a less-than-objective source. What we do know from polling evidence is that large numbers of people who voted SNP in 2015 went on to abstain in 2017. That suggests to me that there were a lot of people out there who wanted to be inspired, but didn't hear what they were looking for.

Pete says: "Optimal conditions are also not when a majority of our fellow Scots continue to tell us they still oppose independence by a significant margin when public opinion is tested." Sorry, but what is a "significant margin"? It's only a few weeks since an Ipsos-Mori telephone poll produced figures of Yes 48%, No 52%. Is Pete seriously arguing that four percentage points - a lead that is within the standard margin of error - is a "significant margin"? (It's true that Panelbase have shown a bigger gap since then, but that's simply a 'house effect' of a different firm's methodology. Nobody knows the true state of play in exact detail, and it's perfectly conceivable that Ipsos-Mori is right and that public opinion is split roughly 50/50.)

Pete claims: "That last five percent we need to win over in a renewed referendum will be the hardest five percent we have ever had to convert. It is a five percent that is deeply dug in with over five years of intense debate about our countries constitutional future." Hang on, hang on. If these No voters are as hopelessly entrenched as Pete claims, why have there have been several polls since 2014 (including one as recently as last year) showing Yes with more than 50% of the vote? It doesn't make sense, does it? In reality, polling trends since the last referendum clearly show that there is sufficient fluidity and volatility among the electorate for either side to have a realistic chance of winning. It just depends on who fights the most effective campaign.

Unfortunately, if Pete gets his way, we'll run away from the battle and we'll never find out what would have happened. But when another twenty years have passed and no referendum has been held and independence is further away than ever, at least we'll be able to console ourselves by saying "we didn't lose a second time". (So what?)

51 comments:

  1. I have to wonder if he was always as cautious. Losing those MP's must have been a little traumatic but not surprising to most of us.

    People were not enthused or engaged and having the SNP scared to defend itself by not mentioning indy or letting the other parties talk about devolved areas in a GE, simply turned many off.

    Also, who is 'advising' the party?

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  2. Whilst I do agree with you James, for me the overriding issue is a moral one. I simply cannot accept funding through my taxes successive WM govts who are completely bereft of morals, both domestically and internationally. This means I want a referendum as often as it takes to get away from this abomination. Keep up the great work.

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  3. I think this debate has run its course and there is nothing to be served by returning to it. Pete's just defending his POV but his POV is an outlier.

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  4. I agree with all of that. The raison d'ĂȘtre of the SNP is independence. It’s the reason I’ve voted for them since I could vote. EVERY SINGLE ELECTION should be about independence and they let the Unionist parties stand on a ticket of no to indyref2 and hardly even mentioned it. I will be totally gutted if they let the mandate expire and don’t know what I will do at the next election. Probably abstain is my feeling at the moment.

    Apart from anything else, we should have a referendum every time we have a party in government who won a mandate. The problem is the scottish parliament will be abolished after brexit.

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  5. He's gone native. No longer pro-indy but now indy-but.

    End of story.

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  6. Completely agree with you James. Getting as tired of Pete Wishart's delay mantra as I am with Henry McLeish's Federalism fairy tale.

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  7. “Let the mandate expire” is a euphemistic was of describing breaking an election promise. I won’t vote for a party that promised us a choice and never gave us one.

    Pete Wishart is perhaps at the bargaining stage of denial. He thinks if he promises the electorate not to push a second referendum they will have mercy on him and preserve his seat. It doesn’t work like that. Plus it’s not an honourable way to behave.

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  8. Wee Pete is one of our many secret agents in the Jock nat si English hating fascist camp. He will be promoted by our magnificent Queen to the Order of the Garter. We know every move you fascists make. We even know the colour of your erse wipes.

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  9. Another excellent post on this matter from James. FWIW I'll be voting for Chris McEleny in the depute election.

    The SNP has done incredibly well over the years in its pragmatic, evolutionary approach. However, I strongly believe now is the time for revolutionary tactics.

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  10. Is it possible that Wishart is testing the water on behalf of the SNP? There has surely been sufficient objection to the idea that Nicola will take note and plan accordingly.

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    1. I thought this when he put his name forward as depute candidate - suggested a long wait to indyref2, no-one was interested ergo report back to HQ to take that option off the table. But if that was the case why does he keep pushing it ? Every time the SNP get elected it is on a ticket of Independence, so we could have indyref every 4 years if conditions allowed. Unfortunately thanks to Brexit the conditions might stop occurring so we have to take them when we can. That's why I'm voting for Chris for depute

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    2. Go an dae the dishes hen an the lavvie needs cleaned.

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    3. "Every time the SNP get elected it is on a ticket of Independence"

      Erm...so how come that a few years after the 2015 General Election took place we're still part of the UK?
      Good to be rid of the majority of unionist politicians, of course, but perhaps the SNP 'went native' at that point. (Always discounting those who are quite comfy in a European Parliament heading towards Ever Closer Union.)

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  11. It's now or never....

    Fast forward to the year 2028......I used to live in a country called Scotland......it does not exist anymore...

    It's now or never..

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    Replies
    1. Stay away knobend you are not welcome.

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    2. Thank you so much for your reply...it's a first from you....want to play, that is if you think you are good enough to play with me...remember you will have to raise your game. I play to win and I destroy people like you. x

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    3. I thought you were Elvis at first.

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    4. aaaw, I've gatecrashed your party and your response is a feeble attempt at humour. Is that it, is that all you can muster. I'm beginninng to wonder if you are 'worthy' of my attention.
      I will give you another chance to redeem yourself.

      At what age did you realise you hated your Mother?

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    5. Och ye sound like wonderful chap. If yer erse wis an orange ye wid suck it.

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    6. Seek professional help. Immediately.

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    7. Oh gwc2 first a feeble attempt at humour then insults. You know I have a soft spot for you and you should look at me as your mentor not your enemy. I want you to be firing on all cylinders when the campaign for indyref2 starts. So, this is your first lesson in the art of trolling. Are you ready, good.
      Never become too one-dimensional in your responses. People get bored and don't take you seriously and they think you are intellectually inadequate.
      You tend to become very defensive when challenged. A persons defence mechanism kicks-in when they feel threatened which causes internal anxiety which then manifests as feeble insults or an attempt at being humorous.

      Lesson over for today.

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  12. Remember the EU "migrants" lose their vote after March 2019

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    Replies
    1. EU migrants are not Scottish.

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    2. Neither are you.

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  13. It's pretty clear whats happened. The SNP have become an established mainstream party. They are a party of government and devolution. Yes their dream goal is independence, but it's something they have put 3rd on their list instead of 1st.

    Pete is the prime example of an MP who is actually supposed to try and lose his job not cling on. By losing I mean achieving the end of WM control of Scotland.

    Alas we now have a bunch of politicians elected to bring independence, but afraid to mention it.

    I am a life long member of the SNP, so I have every right to criticise. This is not the same party that won it's first term in 2007. This party is no longer radical and rebellious.

    We need to remind the SNP that we elected them to fight everyday for independence. We have tried the softly , softly. Now it's time for full on attack.

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    1. 70K a year is hard to throw away and even Jocko the English hating nat si can turn. They do have such a cushy number and you Scottish Nationalists are to
      blame. Political reform at Holyrood is needed. Cut the MSP'S by half. Do away with Scottish MP'S. The Scottish MSP'S could represent the Scottish people by video link at Westminster. End the gravy train folk and fund public services.

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    2. Relying on surveys or polls to decide the time of the Indyref isnae just daft, it's clearly open to abuse and manipulation.
      Pete's point of view is no better than anybody else's.
      Let's keep the heid whilst the Tories are constructing the case for independence for us.

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  14. Fred Dibnah Steeeplejack DeceasedApril 22, 2018 at 11:47 PM

    The British government need to extend the right to remain towards the Irish Republicans who left their perfect peado religious child abuse State and came to the mainland. Send them all back I say. Having a Celik season ticket and a UB40 is no proof to remain.

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  15. This is, I must be honest, one of those times when I cant get my head around a particular point of view (Wishart's). His views just seem thoroughly silly. I'm trying to see things from his perspective but to me it's like a person who's fallen overboard saying: we can't be sure the sharks won't get us if we make a dash for the boat, so let's stay in the water.

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  16. It is blindingly obvious that the lost votes for the SNP in the 2017 GE were by far due to a question of motivation and relevance on the part of the Indy-voting electorate, tied to a bit, and only a bit, of voter movement to the Tories by arch unionists in the Brit Nat parties. Recall that the BBC and the Press did everything to make the SNP an irrelevance in the GE.

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  17. I'll be voting for Chris McEleny in the depute election. Seize the Day !

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  18. Agree with Wishart or not, and I dont, one thing he has achieved is to confuse the Unionist parties (and us) about the timing of IndyRef2. Whether that was his objective or not, we'll probably never know.

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  19. Has nobody else noticed that labour has now absolutely, unequivocally and beyond all doubt in a fashion that even drunken Helicopter couldn't wiggle out of, adopted BNP policies.
    Making the 4 Saint's days into public holidays has been a manifesto commitment of theirs for years. Now the lovely old bigot Corbyn is copying them to curry favour with the english nationalists.

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    Replies
    1. Some of us might ask how the Scottish Nationalist cause came to be so overrun with Lennonists and politically corrects.

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    2. That you, troll? If so, you've deviated from script. Your Tory masters will be dispeased.

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    3. Is that Neil Lennon or Lenin.

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    4. Eat your cereal.

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  20. " Events dear boy, events". The Windrush revelations should really bring about the resignation of PM May.Her fingerprints are all over it, from her stint as Home Secretary up to the present. People with an interest in politics will view her callous attitude and ponder, what next? Devolution?It does seem so with the decision to test Holyrood's democracy in the Supreme Court. Consider the events in Salisbury, believable? The hurried symbolic Syria bombing, ignoring the Westminster parliament.behaviour of an incompetent and lying government.

    And what of people who take no interest in politics? Well the unfolding mess of Brexit, with it's financial penalties to households may well soon catch their attention. Again, PM May has her fingerprints all over Brexit. Rumour now of the UK conceding to stay in the Customs Union. If so,another scenario for May's resignation.

    And so I say, wait, watch, and listen. Two disasters for May and March 2019 is some way off as the earliest viable date for Indyref.

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  21. Now, I haven't read all the previous comments due to the large amount of Yoon dross wasting their time on here, but correct me if I'm wrong - the situation is...
    1. We postpone an Indyref indefinitely and its a generation till we can have a go again?
    2. We hold an Indy ref soon and if we lose, its a generation till we can hold the next one?
    Errr.....put me down for No.2 please. If you're going to back a horse, pick one that's in the race.

    PS as far as I'm concerned - I didn't sign up to the 'Once in a generation/lifetime/millennium/endoftheuniverse bollocks. That's the Yoons' idea. Mine is keep holding IndyRefs till we get the result we want. And we will.

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    1. Two defeats does tend to signal the end of secession movements. See Quebec.

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    2. Jocko English hating fascists like you will never see independence... You will be in your box and we will still be in the Union.

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    3. State of this and its palpable fear.

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  22. Quite agree. No referendum is an automatic win for No.

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    Replies
    1. The same goes for both. Reunification referenda could be attempted. Nothing is ever truly settled.

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  23. I’m afraid Pete’s views are that of the majority SNP MPs and that of the First Minister. There’s such a fear now in built and also many are protecting their jobs and position as MPs & MSPs. I’m afraid the only chance the Yes movement has any chance is to break free from its one party dominance. At any rate the current SNP and it’s leadership are slowing but surely selling it out!!

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    1. That vindicates me and all my comments about unnecessary politicians.
      Foodbank use up 15% in Jockland. Shame on the Nat si government.

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    2. State of this and its inability to attack its Tory overlords.

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    3. Ruth I am PregnantApril 29, 2018 at 12:07 AM

      When all is lost mention the Tories.

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    4. When all is lost, retreat to a post where comments ground to a halt days ago. State of this spineless wretch.

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