There were many silly moments in the immediate aftermath of Mr Campbell throwing his toys out of the pram in early September because I refused to pipe down about the inherent problems with the idea of setting up his own political party, but the silliest one of all came when one of his supporters donned a deerstalker and unearthed a tweet in which I'd suggested that a Wings poll had once asked an absurdly leading question about the trans self-ID issue. "I think there may be more to Mr Kelly's opposition than meets the eye" said the Wings supporter (or words to that effect) to which Mr Campbell replied "Aha!" as if he'd just found incontrovertible proof that I only opposed the Wings party because I was a secret supporter of self-ID.
The reason this was monumentally silly is, of course, that I'm not a secret supporter of self-ID. Quite the reverse. I've been on the record for months in saying that I broadly agree with Mr Campbell on the trans issue. It certainly doesn't rank as highly on my list of priorities as it does for him, and I think it always rings a bit phoney when he couches his views on the subject in the language of radical feminism, but nevertheless I do wish the SNP would take their foot off the accelerator on self-ID and at the very least seek a meaningful compromise. I don't think this is the ditch they should be dying in.
At the end of the day, though, a leading polling question is a leading polling question, and Mr Campbell has just repeated the exercise in his latest poll (conducted among SNP voters only). I defy anyone to say with a straight face that the following wording can be regarded as neutral.
"The SNP has announced its intention to implement 'self-ID' legislation, whereby physically-male people will have unrestricted access to all female-only spaces and services (eg. toilets, hospital wards, changing rooms, sporting competitions and women's refuges) if they declare themselves to be women, whether or not they've had any medical treatment or surgery to change their sex.
On a scale of 0 to 10, how do you feel about this proposal?"
When I pointed out the leading nature of the previous similar question, it was suggested to me that the lack of public knowledge about the issue means that you'd only get meaningful results if you explain the implications of the policy when asking the question. That's fine, but if you're going to explain the issue you actually have to do it in an even-handed way (unless of course the purpose of the poll is propaganda rather than the accurate measurement of public opinion). If it's not possible to find genuinely neutral language on such an emotive topic, one option would be to explain how proponents see the proposal and then counterbalance that with how opponents see it. Essentially Mr Campbell's question gives respondents the case for the prosecution but not for the defence. All of the main concerns of the anti-self-ID lobby are carefully itemised (including the mention of women's refuges, which is calculated to produce a certain reaction), but that process is not repeated for the concerns of the pro-self-ID lobby. There's also a tone of incredulity throughout - trans women are not trans women but "physically-male people" and they will not merely have access to female-only spaces, but "unrestricted" access, and they'll have it "whether or not" they've "change[d] their sex". No-one can accuse Mr Campbell of sparing the kitchen sink in this question.
My own guess is that the results of the poll might not have been all that radically different if a fairer question had been asked, and if I'm right, Mr Campbell has undermined the credibility of the numbers for no good reason. It's all a bit pointless.
Still no sign of the dodgy question we all know he asked about the Wings party idea. Maybe I should open a book on when (if ever) he'll get round to publishing those results.