Saturday, August 10, 2019

Nothing has changed: vote-splitting in Holyrood elections is still a mug's game

So I've just been catching up with today's news (gleefully announced by Kenny "Devo or Death" Farquharson) that Wings Over Scotland editor Stuart Campbell is pondering the idea of setting up a new pro-independence party to stand in the 2021 Holyrood election, in direct competition with the SNP.  As you know, I've always been very sympathetic towards Wings, but I'm not going to be a hypocrite about this: vote-splitting in Holyrood elections is still a mug's game, irrespective of whether we're talking about a Wings party or RISE or any other small party.  What do I mean by vote-splitting?  I mean people who want an SNP government, but are lured into wrongly thinking they can somehow maximise the number of pro-independence seats by only voting for the SNP on the constituency ballot, and giving their list vote to another pro-independence party.

You might recall that analysis by John Curtice suggested it was possible that "tactical voting for the Greens" was directly responsible for costing the SNP their overall majority in 2016 - without vote-splitting by SNP supporters, the SNP could potentially have won an extra two list seats, which would have given them an overall majority of exactly one.  Vote-splitting enthusiasts like Kevin Williamson had been absurdly claiming for months before the election that the SNP were absolutely guaranteed to win at least 65 of the 73 constituency seats, and therefore didn't need any list votes at all.  Kevin was proved hopelessly wrong about that, as many of us had pointed out was pretty likely.  You just can't know in advance how many constituency seats a party will win - opinion polls are snapshots, not predictions, and often they're not even accurate snapshots.  A few percentage points one way or another can make the difference between winning 50 constituency seats and winning 20.  And if you don't have a clue how many constituency seats a party is going to win, by definition you also don't have a clue whether that party will be in desperate need of as many list votes as it can possibly get.

How much difference would it have made if the SNP had got their overall majority in 2016?  It's impossible to know, but it would at least have made a psychological difference, and the debate over whether the mandate for a second independence referendum is a "real" mandate might have followed a slightly different course.  (Doubtless the unionist parties would have still come up with some excuse for denying the mandate, but they'd have really been scraping the bottom of the barrel.)  I don't want us to repeat the mistake of 2016 by giving the unionist parties any more gift-wrapped excuses.

The biggest danger of the proposed Wings party is that it might fall between two stools, ie. it could take enough votes on the list ballot to do the SNP and the Greens significant damage, but still fall below the de facto threshold for winning any seats itself - in other words, it could lead to a net increase in the number of Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat seats.  We don't yet have enough information to judge whether that is likely to happen, but I have to say I'm a tad sceptical that the Wings party would top 5% of the list vote. Stuart has today pointed to Panelbase polling showing that Wings is a highly recognised 'brand', with only 45% of respondents saying they had never heard of it.  But the reality is that online polling is likely to produce skewed figures on that sort of question, because people who read a great deal about politics are disproportionately likely to join volunteer online polling panels.  Don't get me wrong, there's no doubt that Stuart has an absolutely enormous following - but Esther Rantzen and Robert Kilroy-Silk are also both household names, and they still failed to break the mould of British politics when they attempted to do so.  It's always a mistake to underestimate people's tendency to revert to the major parties in a key election.

I'd imagine Stuart would point out that his proposed initiative isn't just about attempting to game the Holyrood system - it's also being mooted because the SNP aren't pursuing independence strongly enough at this moment of national crisis, and are also in danger of disappearing into a US-style identity politics quagmire.  Voters, he would say, are crying out for an alternative.  And I'm not going to deny that if we ever reached the point where it was rational to conclude that the SNP are never going to be serious about delivering independence, I'd probably be looking for an alternative myself.  But we are a long, long, long way from reaching that point, especially when the bulk of the SNP membership are itching for action on independence as soon as humanly possible.  I'm not any keener on the identity politics stuff than Stuart is: for example, it's now (at least on paper) SNP policy to introduce the Swedish model on prostitution law, which I've always felt infantilises women and is discriminatory against men.  But there's a bigger picture here, and that sort of thing would never make me walk away from the SNP.  You're never going to find a party with a set of policies that you can agree with 100% on every dot and comma.

Imagine what would have happened if Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and the rest of the Labour left had prematurely concluded during the Blair years that the game was up and that they should set up a new socialist party to compete with Labour.  Would they have achieved anything?  Well, the new party might have recorded a respectable 3% or 4% of the vote in general elections, thus making it easier for the Tories to win.  And that would have been about it.  They'd never have got anything like as close to power as they did in June 2017.

117 comments:

  1. I believe its only an idea under consideration, hopefully he can be convinced the idea is utter folly.

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  2. I think it would make more sense to stand as 'YES Independence Party'. Everyone will know what it stands for. No disrespect to Stu, but the 'Wings' brand might put some folks off.

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  3. If the SNP don't deliver a route to indy soon, then a 'Scexit' party is inevitable, if simply to scare them into taking the finger oot like Farage did tae the Tories.

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  4. Also, you don't stand for a national election on a single policy. Do that and you'll lose.

    I would never vote for that, not for Holyrood. What the fuck are you going to be spending my taxes all the rest of the time you are there? What if you vote for Tory policies? If you've no manifesto, how will I know you won't do that?

    The only place for a Scexit party would be union elections, i.e. Westminster. That's where UKIP and Brexit could get the message across; union elections.

    Scots MPs are banned from the UK cabinet anyway, and upon a Yes vote are dispensed with. So perfect.

    Aslo, keeps SNP MPs from getting comfortable down there.

    Scexit MPs can of course just vote to cause as much trouble as possible.

    There's even the grand committee vote tae withdraw Scotland from Westminster option. That's where your single policy could be used; electoral mandate the auld way.

    Holyrood is for our schools, hospitals etc.

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  5. I don't think people vote SNP on the list because they're desperate for an SNP government. They just think it will bring independence closer, the SNP is a means to an end. And they do a pretty good job too.

    You seem to be suggesting that the need for coalition and consensus-building is a bad thing. Why? It seems to me that when the Greens have disagreed with SNP policy, they work together constructively and get results. It might be a compromise, but it tends to make more people happy. And that sounds good to me.

    So I see nothing wrong with an SNP-Green vote-split. And I would argue that the Greens have better brand-name recognition than Wings, and would even stand a chance of picking up a few unionist voters (something that a Wings party could never do in a million years).

    I worked the numbers for the last Holyrood election, and if every single Green list vote had gone to the SNP, we would simply trade the 6 Green MSPs for SNP versions (for the same total of 69 pro-indy seats out of 129).

    But if things went the other way, the SNP would drop to 59 (down 4), while the Greens would have got a 37 (up 31). That's 96 pro-indy seats out of 129.

    Absolutely giant psychological difference.

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    1. If we can return from Narnia, just for a moment or two, I think you've actually misread the blogpost to some extent. I made clear that when I talked about vote-splitting I was referring specifically to people who want an SNP government. If people want something else, by all means they should vote for something else, as long as they're aware that the list vote is the more important vote and that it should be given to a voter's first choice party, regardless of whether that's the SNP, the Greens or any other party.

      I'm sure you're intelligent enough to realise that the figures you mention at the end of your comment are in the realms of utter fantasy and could only ever be achieved with the help of a mind-control ray.

      "You seem to be suggesting that the need for consensus and coalition-building is a bad thing."

      If that's a convoluted way of saying that I think it's a bad thing for the Yes movement that the SNP no longer have an overall majority, then the answer is yes. I absolutely do think that, and I'd have thought the reasons are self-evident.

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    2. James – I don’t think your response answers the reasoning of people (like myself) who favour an SNP government but who, for various reasons, positively prefer a minority SNP government to a majority one.

      There is nothing necessarily irrational in this position: it all depends on your specific goals and the weighting you assign them. In the short term (pre-independence) voting for the Greens offers a possible way of nudging the SNP in the direction of more environment-friendly and less business-friendly policies.

      In the long term (post-independence) I see cultural and social diversity, no less than biodiversity, as intrinsically valuable. Consequently I would like to see the widest possible range of voices heard in public debate and in parliament, and I would vote to maximise the number of parties represented.

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    3. "James – I don’t think your response answers the reasoning of people (like myself) who favour an SNP government but who, for various reasons, positively prefer a minority SNP government to a majority one."

      You're right, I'm not taking that into account, because it's not possible to simultaneously vote for an SNP minority government while voting against an SNP majority government. I'm not sure an electoral system that would allow you to do that has yet been devised.

      If you vote SNP on the constituency ballot, you're "risking" the SNP winning a majority in constituency seats alone. But if you vote against the SNP on the list, you're risking no SNP government at all.

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    4. James – I think you underestimate the degree to which risk is integral to voting. As far as I can see, there is only one way of casting a risk-free vote – to treat your vote as an existential statement: “This is who I am, and damn the consequences”. If you vote instrumentally, in the hope or expectation of achieving some desired policy outcomes, you are inevitably operating in a probabilistic world of risk and uncertainty.

      As of this moment, in a Holyrood election I would vote SNP at constituency level, Green on the list. Of course there’s a risk that the result will be a majority SNP government but it’s a risk I am happy to take. From my perspective this is a sub-optimal outcome, given that my preferences are 1) minority SNP; 2) majority SNP; 3) anything else. But it's still a reasonable outcome. Satisficing is sometimes more rational than maximising.

      In general, my argument is that people should avoid voting (and thinking) tribally. People should weigh up the probabilities as best they can in the light of their own preferences and their local circumstances. They won’t always make the right choice and they won’t always get what they choose. But that’s democracy, and life.

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  6. I believe the SNP says a wings party is irrelevant because the mandate for indyref2 will be used in 2020. Which is fair enough, as long as that happens.

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    1. And just maybe,the whole point of it is to push the SNP along a wee bit.

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  7. Hmm. The thing is, Stu has descended right into the identity politics quagmire along with them, and more than the way his opinions on trans folk have become a lot more virulent since a few years ago when I defended him to people who were getting their info from smarmy wee gits like Ross Greer, it's the fact that the *way* he expresses his view on the issue make him look a rampant hypocrite.

    He now regularly deploys all the same disingenuous tactics and faults in reasoning that he quite rightly excoriates the unionist media for, and is either so committed to the position he's taken he's incapable of realising it, or just doesn't care.

    Stuart Campbell is a solid media analyst and opinion writer, even if sometimes these days I find some of his opinions distasteful, but I'd never vote for him or a spoiler party he sets up, he'd make a rubbish politician.

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    1. Part of the problem is the SNP are not seen as being proactive by a lot of people in pushing independence. What is needed and should have been started ages ago is a proper independence campaign (a referendum is a separate thing).

      It is this vacuum which is causing the problem and people are filling the space with their own action and if that takes hold, the SNP will not be able to control it.

      I hope I am wrong but I if a GE crops up in the near future, I simply find it hard to believe we are well prepared.

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    2. Could I just say to the anonymous commenter who posted a bitter personal attack on myself, Stuart Campbell and Peter A Bell in this space: that was a cowardly comment to post anonymously. It's been deleted, and don't ever bother posting anything like that again, because it will always be deleted. Whoever you are, you clearly have no sense of self-awareness whatsoever. You cite the directness of my reply to Steve Stanton above as proof that I'm some sort of awful person, and yet your own comment was infinitely nastier and more personal. I absolutely stand by my reply to Steve, which was robust and somewhat sarcastic (justifiably so, given the fantastical nature of Steve's point), but entirely non-personal. You may or may not be right that you'd never see that kind of directness in a reply from the editor of the other website you named: my own experience of that individual is that passive-aggression is more his style. If that's the sort of thing you prefer, by all means suit yourself. Each to their own.

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    3. Anon: I'm struggling to see how you could have misinterpreted the above as an invitation for a discussion. Please do not attempt to post here again. Thanks.

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  8. Just a thought this - suppose Rev Campbell and others set up a party to contest the list. And they call it something like "The Independence List" or whatever; AND suppose the SNP decided not to stand candidates on the list at all. The independence vote would not be split. If even half of those who voted SNP for the list last time voted for the new party, the new party would be on for as many as 20 or more seats, which is loads more than the SNP could ever be expected to win on the list.

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    1. Yes, but a) you can't blatantly cheat the system like that without incurring the wrath of the Electoral Commission, and b) the SNP are hardly likely to stand aside for the type of party being suggested.

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    2. So you say, and I haven't checked, but I would be very surprised if there was an actual rule which prohibited it. If there were such a rule, it would effectively make standing on the list compulsory, which is clearly absurd. I agree that there would perhaps be calls to change the electoral system, but I would have no problem with that - STV would suit me fine.

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    3. And although the SNP might not like being openly supportive of the good Reverend. If he was not involved in the management of it, what is wrong with awhat would amount to a pro-independence electoral pact? We have had many such electoral pacts in British election history. In fact there was one just a couple of weeks ago in a Westminster by-election.

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    4. Electoral pacts are absolutely fine as long as they're not attempts at cheating the system. If there was a joint slate standing in both the constituencies and on the list, that would be perfectly legitimate.

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    5. Sorry, just saw your earlier comment. Of course standing on the list is not compulsory. But what you can't do is stand aside on the list and urge your supporters to vote for another party.

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    6. For the record - I completely accept everything you have previously written (up to today) on the subject of attempting to "game" the list. You're dead right - it's a mugs' game. Provided that is that the SNP stand on the list. However, if a party who was likely to be highly over-represented on the constituency election (e.g. SNP) decided not to contest the regional list because they had entered into an electoral pact with another party (e.g. Reverend Stu's Wings and a Prayer List) I think the mechanics of the system are such that such a plan is actually quite likely to work. From what I can gather you appear to agree with me - or at least you haven't explicitly disagreed. Now you say that the Electoral Commission wouldn't allow it, however to the best of my limited knowledge, I don't think they would have any power to disallow it. I agree it makes something of a mockery of the electoral system as a concept, but absurdity is not in and of itself a defence before the law.

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    7. I would refer you back to the lengthy parliamentary discussions during the passage of the Scotland Act 1998 about the dangers of 'alter ego parties', ie. attempts to cheat on the list.

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    8. "Alter-ego parties" were not specifically outlawed by the Scotland Act. (Please correct me if I'm wrong.) However, even if they were someho against the rules, we wouldn't be talking about the SNP artificially creating a secondary party here, we would be talking about an electoral pact with a new political party.

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    9. I can't see the SNP ever making an electoral pact with Wings, a lot of the party establishment can't stand Stu.

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    10. Would it stop the Tories? Would the electoral commission so anything other than the usual " you spent twice the limit" slap on the wrist...

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    11. Saor Alba: I can only repeat the point I've already made to you. It is perfectly possible to strike an electoral pact without trying to cheat the system. That's fine, and the Electoral Commission would have no problem with it. But what you are describing as an "electoral pact" is absolutely the alter ego party scenario that everyone knows would be a blatant attempt at cheating.

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    12. The electoral commission are an english imperialist organisation created by mad mental Gordo Brown, with no authority over the people of Scotland or our elections. None Whatsoever!

      The biggest single problem is that the electoral system was designed by our enemies to keep Scotland enslaved to the english parties. That was freely admitted so if they designed it to be anti-democratic then they can't go crying to teacher because we are using it against them.

      The point about trying to game the system not being a realistic proposition due to variable voting and unreliable predictions is irrelevant to the legality of the situation. People can vote for anyone they want for any reason or none. That's democracy and it would be nice to have a bit more of it now and again.

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    13. I completely accept everything you have previously written (up to today) on the subject of attempting to "game" the list. You're dead right - it's a mugs' game. Provided that is that the SNP stand on the list. However, if a party who was likely to be highly over-represented on the constituency election (e.g. SNP) decided not to contest the regional list

      That's exactly what is meant by "gaming" the list. You're attempting to exploit a loophole in AMS in order to reduce the proportionality of the result.

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  9. I read Wings almost every day as the articles are very good indeed. As to those that post comments, a complete waste of time as they are speaking to the converted or fending of trolls.

    Many of my friends are Unionists soft and hard but I am sorry to say Wings would not appeal to most of them and voting for a Wings party would be anathema.

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    1. Why would he be trying to get yoons to vote for him and not some of the 1,400,000 Yessers? Piss off yourself troll!

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    2. Your last sentence is exactly why they would not vote for a Wings party. I have been an SNP member for 40 years and campaigned in a great many elections.

      May I reciprocate your kind wishes.

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  10. I agree that the splitting effect is a bad thing for indy supporters. However, it may well be that the discussion stimulated by Stuart’s suggestion is the thing that’s of value.

    One point in response to Scottish Skier re parties losing if they stand on single policy: remember the case of the Brexit Party. Having pointed that out, I have no reason to believe that the SNP will not ultimately win independence for us.

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    1. Need to be careful about comparing any new party to Brexit Party. Even though its a 'new' party, its built of years knowledge, money and time that was gained through Fargages time at UKIP. A better comparison to a party starting out would be Change UK.

      His main problem will be money, he does well with his crowdfunders, but £100k or so won't even cover the wage budget. Political parties splash out £50k plus a week just on Facebook ads in the weeks running up to elections, if you can't match that you are never going to get your message out. Thats before you start on the fact that he would have no big data to use in his campaigning, compared to the other parties who will have years of data to use.

      I agree with SS as well, single policy parties never do well in the 'main' elections for a country.

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  11. Agree, the debate is the prize here.
    Stuart Campbell would be a loss from his WOS activities and wouldn't be a good politician IMO.
    Lesley Riddoch standing in the right region could be a winner though.

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  12. Not sure it makes sense to pick the trans panic as a differentiating issue with the SNP.

    I would wonder, out of interest, how many readers of this have had a real, unprompted, offline conversation about the Gender recognition act.

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    1. I've certainly had real, umprompted, offline conversations about the self-ID issue. They might not have specifically referenced "the Gender Recognition Act", but they certainly had an awareness of the general issue and had concerns about it.

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    2. Not sure Campbell is correct to highlight it as the issue which will sink independence due to turning off all Scottish women, in any case.

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    3. Not sure that that is necessarily the case. I and every "actual" woman I know are deeply disturbed by this issue. I know women who have resigned from the SNP because of it. If I had still been in the SNP I would have done so as well. If the 2021 Holyrood elections go ahead (if Brexit happens I have my doubts that Holyrood will last long)I would have to think long and hard about voting for an SNP that had implemented this policy.

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  13. This should help stabilise the economy and attract investment post no deal crash.

    I addition to unifying the country and making migrants feel welcome too of course.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-49308970

    Brexit: Chancellor plans 50p coins to mark UK leaving EU

    #Goldenage

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  14. If, as is promised, the Scot Gov hold another Indy ref before the next Holyrood elections then this is a moot point. But I think that is the point. Wings are very good at reading cause and effect, the accuracy of previous predictions demonstrate this, and making this announcement now might be less of an attempt at future gaming of the electoral system and more an attempt at influencing the SNP to hold to the promise.

    However Wings also know that empty threats will not work. So there has to be substance in the plan. Just like the plan to get Sinn Fein to resign their Westminster seats in preference to non-political but recognised individuals, the Wings plan could work. If they called the party something else (Wings is toxic to many) and people like Craig Murray, Wee Ginger Dug, Alex Salmond (!) and others stood for it (not Rev Stu) then I think it would win substantial support, unlike RISE etc. If Wings does not do this someone will.

    The Electoral Commission seem quite happy with the recent by-election where PC and the Greens stood aside for the LDs. Why would the SNP standing aside in the list be any different?

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    1. How many times do you need to get things explained?
      And don't come back with the old Norfolk South argument. We've been there, done that, bought the fridge magnet.

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    2. Maybe at least once more to explain how and why my post is a false argument, in it's entirety.

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    3. "If, as is promised, the Scot Gov hold another Indy ref before the next Holyrood elections then this is a moot point. But I think that is the point. Wings are very good at reading cause and effect, the accuracy of previous predictions demonstrate this, and making this announcement now might be less of an attempt at future gaming of the electoral system and more an attempt at influencing the SNP to hold to the promise."

      I think this is nail-on-the-head stuff.

      Hasn't Campbell already said how he'd hoped to have wound up the Wings site by now, work done? Does he really want to have to start thinking about elections and manifestos and party funding and standing candidates and 5 year Holyrood election cycles and etc. etc.?

      It feels more like an attempt to just put out there the general point that not everyone Yes has been impressed with the SNP lately and also that at some point if the SNP won't/can't deliver independence then others will try.

      And that's more than fair, I think. The SNP are the best-placed political party to deliver that right now, but they do not get an indefinite monopoly on that position.

      I can understand their problem to an extent, they want to inch towards independence on a defined and certain path, losing as few folk who voted Yes as possible whilst converting as many people who previously voted SNP but No as possible and then finally trying to bring people to SNP from other parties. And above all they absolutely do not want to lose indyref2. But they seem to have lost a bit of confidence and drive since GE2017, and they also seem a bit confused if the aim is actually just to keep the whole UK in the EU or if it is to give Scotland the chance to leave the UK but remain or rejoin the EU.

      But as you say it feels a bit moot. If indyref2 hasn't happened by 2021 then probably either the UK didn't leave the EU at all and so a lot of the original SNP rationale for indyref2 dried up (in which case it may be time for someone else to try and make the case), or far more likely the UK did leave the EU and the SNP were just unable to adequately present a path to indyref2 (in which case it may be time for someone else to try and make the case).

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    4. "The Electoral Commission seem quite happy with the recent by-election where PC and the Greens stood aside for the LDs. Why would the SNP standing aside in the list be any different?"

      Because the former was an absolutely normal, legitimate electoral pact, and the latter would be an attempt to cheat the votimg system.

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  15. Much as you are a pain, this article is spot on. It's not possible to cheat a proportional voting system

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    1. It is difficult to cheat AMS in a multi-issue democracy but that is not what the situation is in Scotland. There is only one issue that over-rides everything else.

      The SNP will always do well in a FPTP vote because the pro-indy vote (50%) is not spilt as it is for the anti-indy vote. This however, puts the SNP at a disadvantage for the list because it will, in most cases, be at the bottom of the list.

      The pro-indy side then has to rely on the Green party which a) doesn't have a big vote and b) is up against 3 anti-indy parties. where the split in the anti-indy vote becomes an advantage.

      I belive that it would be all but impossible for the Electoral Comm to determine that there had been an attempt to cheat the system. For one thing, their record of dealing with cheating is abyssmal and would be difficult to defend. In any case, aren't the andy-indy parties doing exactly the same thing and haven't they been doing so for years, if not, decades?

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  16. To be honest, if a deliberate attempt to cheat the electoral system was attempted, and this happened, Westminster would have a great excuse for non-cooperation when it came to an iref (and any subsequent negotiations). It's asking for wall to wall 'illegal dictatorial iref' coverage.

    Such tactics might also make international recognition harder.

    The indy process must be cleanly democratic under PR. If not, what exactly is the difference from the UK?

    As noted, I believe a Scexit type party would be most suited to UK union elections. That's the best way to pressure the SNP and keep open the 'auld way' option that, as Westminster has always reminded us, was a perfectly legit method for leaving the UK.

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  17. Only problem with the Scexit idea is that it really would split the Indy vote and allow the Tories, Labour and LDs to come through the middle and win Westminster seats. The Wings plan (which I believe is a viable but largely empty threat to influence the SNP before the next Holyrood election) would not split the vote if the SNP did not stand on the list ballot, and the new party did not stand for the constituencies.

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  18. On the subject of Wings, shes justs tweeted that donations to WoS were 'roughly 5 times that of Scottish Labour in 2018".

    Scottish Labour pulled in £259k in 2018 meaning that WoS pulled in cira £1.2 million in donations in 2018.

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    1. The donations part of the $259,000 was only $35,000 or so. It’s the latter amount that you need to multiply by 5. V

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    2. That makes more sense thanks

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  19. I've always been 100% against trying to game the AMS system for all the reasons James enumerates and a few more. I've argued vociferously against it in the past. However, this time I feel emotionally attracted to the idea for reasons I'm not sure I can articulate. I think it's at least partly that I'm sick and tired of the current Mexican standoff and can't see how it can be resolved.

    SNP: Gird your loins, troops, there will be another indyref soon, Scouts' honour.
    also SNP: We won't hold another indyref without a Section 30 order.
    WM parties: We will never grant a Section 30 order.
    SNP: Troops on standby, indyref2 will be along in a wee while, cut my throat and hope to die.

    This may be one way of shaking up the stalemate. Maybe. It all depends on the numbers and Wings is very good indeed with the numbers. Although I suspect I may be sitting it out in any case as I live in South Scotland and it's likely Wings might decide not to stand in that region because SNP list votes are not "wasted" there nor likely to be so any time soon.

    If somehow we do have another indyref next year then it's all moot anyway. But if we don't I can see frustration building to the point where this idea is widely supported.

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  20. Kilroy-Silk was actually an MP for Knowsley, where I lived in the early 80s. He saw the writing on the wall and resigned to take up a lucrative career on TV before he was actually voted out.
    I now live in Edinburgh Central with Ruth Davidson as my MP since 2017. The SNP probably lost because a Green constituency candidate split the vote, though the Conservative machine went into overdrive in the area to do their best to ensure Ms Davidson's election, so the Green intervention was not the only factor.

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  21. With only 5 list seats the potential loss to the SNP of a list only pro independence party is small....perhaps only a couple of seats with the possibility that the new party could take 6 or 7 seats. However, at the moment I'm pretty sure this is just an academic exercise to demonstrate that there are more than one way to peel a banana (I like cats). It also highlights how reliant the unionists are on picking up list seats after losing the constituency battle.

    I think the mainstream reporting on this discussion has been pretty disingenuous and that if it did happen and was successful the same journalists would be squawking with rage and demanding rule changes to the list system...perhaps demanding that all parties stand in constituency seats too. One or two independence supporters should have read Stu's own article before going daft on Facebook etc, too. Don't believe all you read.

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    1. "With only 5 list seats the potential loss to the SNP of a list only pro independence party is small....perhaps only a couple of seats"

      That's simply untrue. If the SNP lose constituency seats they could end up winning a shedload of list seats - but only if their own supporters actually vote for them on the list.

      Delete
    2. Absolutely, and in Stu's article it he makes it clear that there are variables that have to be considered. He isn't remotely gung ho about this. At the moment the SNP are pretty high in the polls and with the Tories and Labour struggling the SNP would take a lot of constituency seats and few list seats. That could change. 2011 showed that there is a sweet spot of constituency seats and list seats that gives a majority. In 2016 the SNP increased their vote and got fewer seats overall. A quirk of the system. Of course in practice gaming the Holyrood vote would be tricky and a lot can happen in two years but if the SNP are riding high in the polls at 45%+ and the two main unionist parties are still in disarray then just maybe. Of course if the climate continues to unravel apace the Greens might well make their pitch.

      We might have had a successful Indy vote by 2021 to throw in the mix too. Ruth wouldn't have a no surrender pitch to make what with her determination to deliver referendum results even if she disagrees...possibly.

      Delete
  22. Do we not just need to vote SNP/SNP to keep Scotland well governed, ( within constraints of devolution at present) and also to secure independence.

    Why are we discussing a new political party at this stage? WOS does a very good job journalistically, but not sure a Wings political party is wise.

    Let's keep our eyes on the prize, independence, and make sure people know how the voting system(s) in Scotland even works, because many do not!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some of us don't think that abolishing all single-sex spaces and provisions in Scotland is "keeping Scotland well governed", and this is a problem.

      Delete
    2. I wasn't talking about that in particular. I do not want to see single sex spaces abolished. It is a problem, hugely, among many.

      Overall, for the moment, Scot ie SNP are keeping Scotland from being a basket case, which is how it will end up if ever a Britnat party gets hold of the reins again, post Brexit and still shackeled to the so called UK.



      Delete
  23. Excluding DKs, a majority of people in all UK nations support Scotland being free to hold a new iref.

    https://twitter.com/Card5hark/status/1160502134753939456

    ReplyDelete
  24. If as implied the whole thing is just a way of attacking trans rights, I'll fight it every step of the way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can fight all you like, but men cannot change into women, and including men in your definition of women when considering anything from representation on public boards to sporting events to rape crisis centres wipes away about a century of progress towards a fair deal for women. If the SNP go ahead with this it may please a tiny number of woke activists and handmaidens but it will piss off about 80% of voters. Not clever.

      Delete
    2. Person on polling siteAugust 12, 2019 at 5:35 PM

      "about 80% of voters"

      Source pls

      Delete
    3. Multiple opinion polls. Wings did at least two and there have been others I think. Once voters understand what self-ID actually is, only about 20% are in favour. Many people are outraged, not just women but fathers if daughters and indeed many men who simply understand what this means for women's rights.

      Delete
    4. link pls

      how neutral was the wording of the explanation?

      Delete
  25. I remember the Green treachery over the OBFA. They are not to be trusted ever again on anything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes that one was pretty out their, I lost a lot of respect for them after that, and some of the ridiculous statements made by Andy Wightman about the rockal fishing grounds.

      Delete
  26. The SNP needs to get its effin fingers oot. I for one don't trust the aimless drift they slunk into when it comes to Indy.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Just a wee point. The trans issue and gender recognition is hugely important. Do we though allow it to dictate the whole narrative of government in Scotland right now?

    Does the disgraceful Universal Credit system, or the selling of much of the NHS in England, dictate the whole narrative of the Tory government?

    I trust James on the issue of WOS new party idea, but, will take some time to read more, and consider what is being proposed in more detail, and the potential effects on the whole aim ie, Scottish independence. Maybe sitting on the fence a bit, but this is all so out of the blue, and there is so much going on, it needs more time and scrutiny imho.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I guess the crux of the matter is that a lot of people now only vote for the SNP for a few reasons, they support independence, there the only game in town and we can't risk going back to a unionist Scottish government. So a mixture of fear and hope for the final objective. Meanwhile many people have quite different politics, the issue is that the SNP has fallen short on many key issues and we're stuck waiting. They seen to be playing the to big to fail sernario. Stuart Campbell is just responding to a situation, particularly with people who fell disenfranchised, that has been self evident since 2016.
    If his plan were to work in any capacity it would have to rely on getting out the voters of those that disenfranchised themselves, and former No's that have moved to yes but can't bare the thought of voting SNP.
    Unfortunately for Mr Campbell he's lacking in policy alternatives, and his personality doesn't seem to match that needed to engage in building consensus. Which you sort of need for politics. An alternative might be needed after 2022, but it's to late for the 2021 election, and even then, he's not the man to do it.

    ReplyDelete
  29. We don't need an all Scotland indy party. A gain of an extra 5 seats from Unionist parties changes the figures by 10.
    But it would be daft to stand in all regions as the SNP could lose seats if the vote is split.
    On the whole voters are slow to back new parties.
    It will be down to how well known the candidates are.
    It's all a bit of a minefield but I think Stuart Campbell is aware of that and is testing the mood among Yessers.
    Fair to say the reception is mixed.
    Most yessers are SNP too, and are reluctant to get diverted while our opponents are committing hari kiri!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Has anyone thought to let Charlene Tilton know about all this controversy? It would be worth getting her opinion.

      Delete
  30. To be clear if 5 weel-kent pro YES folk were willing to stand as independents they would draw support from both sides of the political divide..
    But not a decision for now.

    ReplyDelete
  31. An alternative Nat si party is required. One that believes in independence and not a member of the EU. Preferably socialist and not Tartan Tory right wing like the present incumbent Nat sis are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You could vote for the Scottish Socialist Party, although they are pro-EU international socialist rather than anti-EU national socialist.

      Delete
    2. I thought the SSP were anti EU as socialists are supposed to be anti capitalist an aw fur ra wurkin class.

      Delete
    3. International socialists care about the working class in other countries, so support being in the EU, but working to make it socialist.

      National socialists don't care about the working class in other countries (e.g. Greece). They are happy to watch them rot, so support leaving the EU.

      Certainly, there is nothing less socialist than trapping the working classes in capitalist workhouses by ending their free movement.

      Why do you think the brexiters are putting a £36k salary price tag on free movement? So the wealthy can enjoy that while the poor become low wage prisoners.

      Delete
    4. Ah right so the surplus Labour in the EU capitalist block can migrate to other EU local councils to keep wages down and the rich in the EU get richer. Fuckin good idea. Marx would never have thought of this.

      Delete
    5. In the coming brecession, when there are no jobs in the UK, workers will no longer be able to go and get one elsewhere.

      The rule is thus: high immigration = high wages. High emigration = low wages.

      Wages in the UK will fall when free movement ends. That you can be sure of.

      Delete
    6. Some times bullshiters get it wrong so stock up on beans and oxo cubes. And prepare for a military conflict with the EU who want to starve mugs like you into submission.

      Delete
    7. There are words used for people who see the route to a better salary as one which involves getting other honest, hard-working people (like my wife) kicked out of the job queue because of their accent/the colour of their skin. These words are 'lazy' and 'racist'.

      'I know I'm less qualified and lazy as fuck, but I should get the job because I'm British!'. Aye, there are 'subsidy junkies' in Scotland, and this describes them perfectly.

      Get off yer arse and go get a job on merit you lazy bastard.

      Delete
  32. Oh God. If my sister in law was here she'd be appalled.
    Think of the children. For The Lords sake.
    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I can't stand the SNP but will continue voting for them till we get indy. Stu should concentrate on perfecting the wee blue book, nae politics

    ReplyDelete
  34. Stuart Campbell's idea of setting up another (or alternative) pro-independece party is mainly being discussed in terms of its impact on the SNP, how it would play out within the Holyrood voting system, etc. But I think there is another side to it, that is potentially more significant. Whay haven't the Scottish Greens emerged as a major force? At least one of the earlier posts to this thread pointed out that they are seen as inconsistent and not to be trusted (in respect of the football sectarianism law). But this should never have been the ground on which their ideas should be judged. The evidence of global climate crisis and mass extinction is staring us in the face. The Green should be able to fill halls in every town and city up and down the country, as well as mobilising mass demonstrations in the streets, powerful cultural events, etc etc. In terms of the Scottish electorate they have three extremely powerful cards to play: 1. the environment, 2. independence, 3. internationalism. Why aren't they doing much much better in the polls? By this stage they should be the obvious contenders to soak up these extra list seats that Stuart is aiming for.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My personal view of the greens is that they do not do persuasion very well but are spot on with authoritarian manner!

      If I want someone to change a bad habit I would suggset alternatives and persuasion but feel the 'my way or the highway' green attitude gets up folks noses!

      Also their twaw above all reason is a massive turnoff for most women who are not about to give up their hard fought rights and spaces. And *non-men* what is that about?

      Delete
    2. Here's the problem with Greens in North Carolina. See how close it gets to Scotland's Greens.

      1. No organization. At the 2016 presidential election, the NC Greens could not get enough signatures to get their name on the ballot (very high bar, to be fair). They did manage to qualify for a "write-in" vote, but could not decide how it was to be written in to make the ballot count. I still have no idea if my vote for them was counted as valid.

      2. Too many fancy words and theories on environmental policies. Folk have to understand why something matters.

      3. Focus on procedure instead of just getting the work done. Voters are not going to be inspired by nonsense like the DSA meeting that was on YouTube a week or so ago.

      4. Lack of compromise. If you don't drive a Prius and recycle everything three times you are not worthy.

      5. Lunatic fringe ideas such as being against vaccination.

      Delete
  35. James - would really appreciate it if you could write an article on why the Greens aren't doing better.

    ReplyDelete
  36. James, what is you opinion on an electoral pact between the SNP and Greens to take independence forward? Would it be allowed for a start? Although I am with others in my suspicions of the Greens over certain policies I am sure that Climate Change is important enough to change the paradigm. The SNP should come to an arrangement in advance of an election to demonstrate its willingness to tackle Green issues and to do so in an independent Scotland. If a pact can be formed to progress SNP taking constituencies and Greens standing on the list for independence then that would serve Stu Campbell's purpose. What do you think?

    ReplyDelete
  37. I'd need to see a party's full detailed manifesto before voting for them, everything from NHS and schools to EU membership.

    They could be an MSP for at least 5 years. Indyref bills would take up just a very small fraction of that time.

    I need to know spending priorities for budgets; the works. I also need to know that if they are elected, they'll stay in government for potentially years to come.

    I don't want some lazy ass brexiter type who steps down as soon as the Yes vote is announced and demands someone else do all the hard work delivering it.

    I'd give any party a fair hearing though, and balance up the risks of vote splitting etc vs manifestos on the day.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Net emigration of both EU and non-EU workers in Q2.

    https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/articles/ukandnonukpeopleinthelabourmarket/august2019

    A small change, but as noted previously, inwards migration of both has all but completely halted; non-EU beginning 2008 and EU beginning 2017 post EU referendum vote.

    UK used attract talent from across the world. Not any more. A total collapse in this now due to brexit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It shows nothing about it imagration, it shows that in the last quarter
      12500 fewer Eu &
      24700 fewer Non EU nationals were working in the UK

      With the employment rate of EU nationals continuing to be higher than UK or non EU nationals

      As the ONS says:

      Short-term movements in reported rates should be considered alongside longer-term patterns in the series and corresponding movements in other sources to give a fuller picture

      THe bigger picture is YonY:
      There were an estimated 2.37 million EU nationals working in the UK, 99,000 more than for a year earlier.

      There were an estimated 1.29 million non-EU nationals working in the UK, 34,000 more than for a year earlier.

      and since Brexit Ref:

      non-UK nationals from the EU working in the UK increased by 134,000 to 2.37 million

      non-UK nationals from outside the EU working in the UK increased by 84,000 to 1.29 million

      Of course all this data is regards to workforce and should not be used to make statements regarding emigration as the ONS highlight:

      hese statistics do not measure stocks or flows of recent migrants to the UK, because they include people resident in the UK for many years (many of whom will now be UK nationals) as well as more recent arrivals. This, along with a range of other factors, means that net changes in the number of non-UK workers in the UK cannot be directly compared with long-term net migration for non-UK nationals.

      The emigration figures are out next week so that would be the time to discuss them, but the trend continues to be people from EU and non EU countries to continue to be coming to the UK for work.

      Delete
    2. My statements are all correct. There has been net emigration of EU and non-EU workers in the last quarter. This is clearly shown in the graph. Unless these are all unemployed now, which would be a socio-economic miracle.

      I never once mentioned 'total immigration', only workers. Workers are key to the economy. They are the doctors, nurses, researchers etc.

      Note that the ONS say 'Short-term movements in reported rates should be considered alongside longer-term patterns in the series and corresponding movements in other sources to give a fuller picture'

      You need to look at short term movements, not just long term patterns.

      If you look at year on year data, you can be up to a year out of date with developing trends.

      If 100k workers arrive in the first 6 months of the year then these all start leaving en masse in the second half, that does not equal mean they are flooding in as YoY data would imply.

      My post is also correct in stating that the longer term picture is almost a complete collapse in new EU worker arrivals from the EU beginning 2017. It's hardly changed in 2 years after decades of increasing numbers. Recently, numbers have begun falling again as a hard brexit looks ever more likely and the chance of a deal fades.

      Non-EU worker numbers had hardly changed since 2008. That looked to maybe be edging up, but Q2 data shows a measurable decline.

      The UK isn't attracting global talent any more. Those here have not left, but new arrivals have ground to a halt. In Q2, queues are beginning to form at the exit gates again.

      Delete
  39. This is a textbook example of how fascism arrives. The idiots (and racists) invite it in.

    Comres.

    Q.7 Do you agree or disagree with the following statements?
    Boris needs to deliver Brexit by any means, including suspending parliament if necessary, in order to prevent MPs from stopping it
    UK:
    44% Agree
    37% Disagree

    Scotland:
    29% Agree
    51% Disagree

    A single politician suspending parliament to force legislation through = a dictatorship.

    This is why Scotland needs to leave. People in England are ready for a dictatorship and will open the door to it. It will be jackboots on the streets soon enough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'Unelected' politician in this case. Usually they get into power by being elected initially. Not the case for Boris of course who is unelected.

      Delete
  40. UK unemployment up even though the number of EU and non-EU workers is falling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 12,000 Scots have just lost their jobs as part of this.

      Delete
  41. Hi James I completely agree with you on the problems with a "Wings" political party - thanks for sticking to your guns! I visit the Wings site everyday and have contributed financially previously. I certainly didnt realise when contributing to the most recent financial appeal that the money would go towards creating another independence party. This is not how to ensure an independence majority.

    ReplyDelete
  42. The English Tory surge is quite something. Brexit returning en masse.

    http://britainelects.com/

    22% to 29% over the past few weeks and rising at an incredible pace. Labour and the Lib Dems going nowhere. The latter are looking at maybe 12 seats on a good night.

    For Boris, taking the UK out of the EU by the 31st is imperative. And with an English voter majority backing him bringing democracy to an end and installing himself as the UK first dictator to achieve that (Comres), he'll be happy enough to give it a shot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And with an English voter majority backing him bringing democracy to an end

      Have you evidence of this please?

      Delete
    2. As per my earlier post. From Comres, ex DK:

      Q.7 Do you agree or disagree with the following statements?
      Boris needs to deliver Brexit by any means, including suspending parliament if necessary, in order to prevent MPs from stopping it
      UK:
      54% Agree
      46% Disagree

      An unelected politician suspending democracy to push through legislation (especially of such magnitude) = dictatorship.

      This is a textbook case of how dictatorships emerge in democracies; the voters open the door. In the beginning, the dictator often following the apparent 'will of the people', but that quickly stops once the people are neutered by the suspension of parliament. In the simplest terms.

      Delete
    3. This should seriously send a chill down your spine.

      Suspending parliament = suspending democracy

      There is no question about it.

      And the other main reason that fascism can arise from democracy is voters believing 'That could never happen here! And if it does, it will only be temporary. Just a once off until X (e.g. brexit) is sorted'.

      Lets pray the case in Scotland's highest court is successful in saying such a move is illegal, at least under Scots law. That way even if it happens in England, we escape as the treaty of union is broken.

      Delete
    4. Err no. As pretty much every expert on polling has said you cannot say that 54% agree and exclude the don't knows.

      44% agree
      37% disagree
      the remainder don't know - they may agree they may not but you can't just include them.

      All that the polling shows is that 44% agree ( a minority)

      Its only Brexiters/hardcore nationalists who are trying to manipulate the data to show a majority.

      Delete
    5. * not include them

      Delete
    6. You can't include them either (on the disagree side), so we are back to 54%.

      Delete
    7. Heres full fact explaining it more:
      https://fullfact.org/europe/telegraph-suspending-parliament/
      oris needs to deliver Brexit by any means, including suspending parliament if necessary, in order to prevent MPs from stopping it.”

      44% agreed, 37% disagreed and 19% said they didn’t know.

      44% does not, as the Telegraph claims, represent more than half of the public.

      The Telegraph excluded all the people who said they didn’t know from its reported findings in order to claim that a majority of the public (54%) agreed. This isn’t appropriate.

      The Telegraph could have said that more people agreed with the statement than didn’t. Or that the majority of people with a view on the matter agreed. But not that the majority of the public agreed.

      along with the general problems with agree/disagree questions:
      https://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/10054

      Like I said its only Brexiters/nationalists who actually think that that question shows a majority supporting it. Sensible rational experts and fact organisations are rightly calling out that statement as incorrect.

      Delete
    8. Those that say they don't know don't oppose it happening.

      It's only those giving an intention that matter. That's how democracy works.

      Unless you are saying only a minority backed the UK in the 2014 referendum, so we can't say that's what Scots wanted?

      Delete
    9. Latest indy poll has only 43% No right?

      Delete
    10. They don't agree either - they don't don't know.

      Anyhow like a side its fair to say that the majroity of people who have an opinion agree but not that the majority of people as a whole.

      Think will leave it there as all the experts in the field of polling /statistics are stating that its inaccurate to state that the majority support it, so i will listen to their expert opinions.

      Delete
    11. All election voting intention polls have DKs/WNVs removed, as do referendum polls, at least close to voting day.

      I think pollsters know what they are doing.

      Delete
    12. This is neither a voting intention question or ref poll its a agree/disagree question, hence why don't knows should not be removed to make a statement that the 'majority' support something. As i have said universally experts in this field as well as pollsters have said this since the poll was released, so i will listen to what they say on this. With that settled will leave it there.

      Delete
    13. *This is neither a voting intention question or ref question

      Delete
    14. If 54% on an 81% turnout are ok with shutting down parliament and turning the UK into a dictatorship I am worried.

      It suggests the English electorate could readily open the door to fascism, which was point.

      It doesn't matter how many don't knows there are if they don't know what to do in the face of parliament being shut down.

      Delete
  43. I'm a Yes activist, but not an SNP member (although I used to be a constituency convener - long story). I usually defer to ScotGoesPop on all matters psephological and take my guidance from there, voting SNP 1&2. I fully understand that *in the large* the system cannot be gamed and it is dangerous to try, but are there nevertheless some indentifiable constituencies where there might be some mileage in the idea?

    ReplyDelete
  44. If I was BJ, with 54% of voters (who plan to vote) saying they're ok with him shutting down parliament, I'd be tempted to stand on that ticket for a GE.

    Ask the public to give him - via a vote for the Tories - a mandate to suspend parliament (democracy) until 'brexit is sorted out'. Hand him emergency executive powers etc.

    The Tories have never liked democracy as it gives poor people a say in things, and opportunities like this don't come along often.

    The key would be to put some flexibility into things, meaning he wasn't committed to reopening parliament at any specific time. That would 'tie his hands and interfere with brexit'.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Thanks for sharing, nice post! Post really provice useful information!

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    ReplyDelete