Sunday, October 13, 2019

What's in a question?

So just a little postscript to the earlier piece about today's extraordinary Panelbase poll showing 50% support for independence.  The Britain Elects account on Twitter tossed a small grenade into the discussion about the poll by stating that the standard indyref Yes/No question hadn't been asked.  My initial gut reaction to that was it must be an innocent misunderstanding - the Sunday Times had put out a graphic summarising the results in terms of "Support" and "Oppose" and I thought perhaps Britain Elects had seen that and taken it too literally.  However, as a service with a huge following, Britain Elects are presumably very much "in the loop" with the leading polling firms and with the embargoed results that are sent out in advance to journalists and other interested parties, so we shouldn't discount the possibility that their claim is accurate.  (It's also possible that this information is publicly available in the Sunday Times article and that I haven't seen it yet because I don't pay the Murdoch Levy, so if you know the answer please let me know.)

If the question has genuinely been changed, it's an inexplicable decision.  We all know that unionist politicians have been trying it on recently and attempting to gain some traction with the idea that the question will need to be revised for the next referendum.  But with absolutely no reason to assume they'll get anywhere with that, and with no idea what the new question would be even if they did succeed, it's surely a no-brainer for pollsters to continue with the question that was actually asked in the 2014 vote and that almost all polls have used in the five years since.  Remember also that this is just the latest in a long series of independence polls conducted by Panelbase on behalf of the Sunday Times, and it would be normal practice to maintain consistency by sticking with the same question wording, unless there's a very good reason not to.  If you don't do that, the results cease to be directly comparable and the trends that are picked up may be less meaningful.

The BBC's Philip Sim reacted to the Britain Elects claim by indulging in what I can only describe as some light trolling...

"On top of the usual caveats about individual polls etc - was this not a Yes/No poll? Interesting SNP are promoting it when they've been arguing that Electoral Commission don't need to test the indyref2 question because Yes/No is in "current use" and is always used in polls..."

Well, that's one way of looking at it, but there is another way.  Most polls are commissioned by a mainstream media that we know is overwhelmingly hostile to independence.  Have unionist newspapers decided that they are now in a position to undermine the SNP's case simply by playing silly buggers with the question they ask in their own polls?  And if so, have the polling companies begun to play along with that little game?

As it happens, something along the lines of "Do you support or oppose Scottish independence?" is not an inherently unfair question, and if that's what was asked, I'm not surprised that the results were very much in line with recent Yes/No polling.  It's certainly a lot clearer than Scotland in Union's notoriously dodgy "Do you want to remain part of the United Kingdom?" question, which confuses the hell out of people by making them think they're being asked about the monarchy.

But as a matter of principle, polling companies should be sticking with the tried and tested question until and unless a new question emerges from an official process.  If each firm dreams up its own question to ask, we're going to end up with five or six competing "referendum questions", each producing different results, and we won't have a clue what the true state of play is.

*  *  *

What is surely destined to be remembered as "The Poll With No End" finally came to an end today, as Wings published the last results from his own Panelbase poll of SNP voters.  You might be surprised to hear that I actually think his final question was a reasonably fair one, although there was still a faint tone of incredulity in one of the three possible options that respondents could choose from, and that may have had a slightly leading effect.  However, the results are overwhelming enough that I don't think there's much doubt about the balance of SNP voters' views - they want some sort of Plan B if a Section 30 order is rejected.  42% would want a consultative referendum to be held without Westminster's consent, 35% would want to use a scheduled election to double as a referendum, and only 7% think that the Scottish Government should just keep asking for permission and hoping that Westminster agrees.  (That was the touch of incredulity I was talking about.)

So, yes, it appears that the vast majority of SNP voters are directly at odds with the party leadership on this crucially important matter.  But what's the rational response to that?  The SNP leadership will be less likely, not more likely, to change course if the people who disagree with them leave the party and join a fringe party instead.  That would be a recipe for careerist, devolutionist SNP rule for the next twenty years.

For my part, I've just renewed my SNP membership for another year.  I didn't do that because I agree with the leadership on everything.  I disagree with them on Plan B.  I disagree with them on self-ID.  I disagree with them on one or two other miscellaneous things as well.  But the only way to bring change about is to fight for it on the inside. 

We're at a crossroads in our nation's history, and there can be no better time to make your voice heard inside the party that remains the only credible vehicle for delivering independence.  If you're not currently a member of the SNP and fancy joining for just a few pounds, you can do so HERE.

32 comments:

  1. You disagree on self-id? Does that mean you oppose it? That would be a shame since, as a trans woman I tend to suffer a lot of abuse from the Indy movement and I would hate for a blogger I actually enjoy to be opposed to laws that would make my life so much easier.

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    1. I'm sure there's room for us to be tolerant and respectful of each other's differing views within a broad-church movement. I certainly think there ought to be.

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    2. Life is not easy for those going to food banks whether or not they are dressed as girlie bhoys. Life is such a bitch.

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    3. Do you think the current attitudes towards us is "respectful"? Even the comment beneath yours. Political stances opposing rights for trans people is hardly something I can respect. The things people say and do to us are disgusting.

      It's hard to justify continuing to vote for a party that has no intention of improving trans rights and in many cases wishes to remove some of them. I would be far better off voting Green.

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    4. Er...when I said I disagree with the SNP leadership on self-ID, that's because I fully expect them to push ahead with it. The criticism the SNP comes in for from the pro-self-ID lobby ("institutionally transphobic" and so forth) is a bit bizarre given that Nicola Sturgeon is so obviously on your side.

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    5. I'd be very surprised if Tifaal has ever voted SNP or is even a trans woman. S/he sounds more like one of the Green Ink Gang trying to show how a new 'civil war' has broken out within the SNP. They need to be a bit less obvious.

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    6. I don't even know what "Green Ink Gang" means.

      I have voted SNP ever since the 2007 election. I nearly voted for Labour in the last GE and Green in the last Scottish GE. But I stuck to my guns.

      I can't prove to you that I'm trans, but it's not exactly a life someone would choose, considering all it involves. I've been openly trans for 8 years and in the last 2 or 3 have I encountered the currently toxic levels of hatred. This isn't just on the Indy side, but I expect better from this side. There is a divide in the Indy movement over this, but I don't think it will make any impact on independence itself. I will still vote yes when the times comes. I just hope an independent Scotland can use that opportunity to better itself. I don't enjoy living in fear in my own country.

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    7. I'm sorry you have experienced hatred and bullying that is unacceptable. Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. However I'm at a loss to know what rights self identity would give you that can't be obtained through the current process. I do however very much see the loss of sex based rights for biological women that self id will and indeed already has brought.



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    8. Hello Tifaal - I think attitudes to trans and attitudes to self-id are different things with different and have different ramifications for society. I am not a woman but I do understand and accept the fears of some women for their safety in a world of self-id males. I am afraid not everybody plays by Queensberry rules particularly not sex offenders. Women too have rights.

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  2. Joining the Scottish Nat sis is a step further backwards from socialism. Join Labour and fight. Dugdale and Co have left so there is an opportunity. Dugdale is likely to join the Nat sis and fight for the Blairite EU dream.

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    1. People leave Labour, they don't join it. This is 2019.

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    2. You are right but such a shame Scotland has moved so far to the right.

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  3. Mhairi Hunters answer to what if Section 30 is denied? 'we campaign harder' she is a warmmer! I am not a member of any party I too disagree on the self ID too. It is a bad idea,and it offers no protection for the mentally ill, or FROM the weirdos & devients & freaks. Many of my transexual friend are as asfraid and aopposed to it. If the system is difficult & obstructive then FIX it. Put the money onto it & help these people towards some kind of happiness. It will take just ONE sicko to undo it all for everyone.... so get your rights legitmately foubded.

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    1. I was at an event today and the pissoons in the male lavvie seemed to be very closer than normal. You cannae shake it without thinking someone is gawking.

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    2. The Green Ink Gang are busy today. And subtle as ever.

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  4. Young James, just when you thought laughter had ended I read the Rev Stu wants to fight the far left Scottish Greens. I will need to paint the zimmer and get out campaigning. The Greens helping the Scottish Nat sis with a budget that does not obliterate Scottish food banks is not far left Rev Stu it is far right.

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  5. The next indyref question should be:

    Do you think the people of Scotland should make the decisions that affect their lives?

    Yes
    No

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    1. The real answer is the people should not decide just like the EU referendum. The minority politicians know better than the majority.

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  6. Congratulations, James - your blog attracts the world's largest and most diverse gathering of enemies of Scotland. Impressive.
    I don't know how you put up with them with so readily..

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  7. ..Meant to say, enjoy your informative and well-informed blog, mate. Cheers

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    1. Self indulgent excuse for premature ejaculation.

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  8. If you admit to a plan B then you're admitting plan A might not be good enough, Alex Salmond was caught out with that nonsense and it was used against him constantly, now it's being used against Nicola Sturgeon by the same people and what's worse some people who state they support Independence are arguing the same thing because they're not listening

    Voters in the main don't always absorb all the actual words spoken but they do hear the twisted perverted versions the twisters use to fill up people's heads with what they didn't hear because the twisters never stop repeating the same lies and sarcasm over and over till the hard of thinking would believe their own granny was lying to them

    Robin McAlpine is not being truthful, Peter Bell is on a mission of his own and Wings is just a bitter wee twisted nut case that hates women
    but people love to believe an easy half dozen words of bad news it's far easier than listening to whole paragraphs of truth from the source, and when people in the YES movement are quoting Unionist newspapers as their sources or tweeting screen shots of those newspapers then folk should realise very quickly, they're up to something

    If a military strategist has plans for a battle does he call in all the troops to tell them all about it, do you tell your opponent your next move in chess so he can counter it, if you were going to punch your enemy in the face or the belly do you tell them which bit you're going to hit first because thats what the YES movement are demanding of Nicola Sturgeon and if she did it you know what they'd do, they'd demand a plan C D E

    So who was behind insisting that should ever happen, not the friends of Independence

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  9. James Kelly: "The SNP leadership will be less likely, not more likely, to change course if the people who disagree with them leave the party and join a fringe party instead."

    What if those people join a fringe party that holds the balance of power? Naw, gonnae nae happen. Is it? Can Ah sleep tight?

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    1. What is the last fringe party you can think of that held the balance of power in the UK or Scotland? Exactly. It never happens. That's the nature of fringe parties.

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    2. Labour under McConnell when he supported the Liberals up to 2007. Just joking ��

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  10. It certainly won't be any party led by controversial blogger from Bath that's for sure, he's just operating a cesspit of foul mouthed abuse and hatred, who in the hell wants to vote for someone like that

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  11. I still don't get why people think the SNP leadership should publish their confidential strategies for indy/winning elections in detail. This is very obviously a recipe for losing.

    You chose to have faith in them or not and vote accordingly. They've led Scotland to a majority for Yes in polls on the back of 45% last time against all the odds. Not bad going so far. I'll see how things are looking at each election as I've always done when deciding how to vote.

    Seems to me that a lot of the current squabbling is driven by frustration at being so close to the goal with lots of 'anonymous' unionist wankers stirring the pot as their world falls apart around them.

    Yes is in majority now folks, and mainly due to a long term demographic shift that's it's all but impossible to stop. Cheer up!

    And put a moniker on your post. The same one each time. If that's too difficult, sign it off with one.

    'Anonymous' literally translates as 'I'm a dickhead unionist wanker who talks nothing but crap'. No matter what you say, that is the label you are giving yourself.

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    1. I don't think you understand the meaning of words if you think the word anonymous translates into what you think it does *literally*
      An idea for you might be not to allow anonymous posters to post, but then again this is not your blog even though you appear to live on it dispensing your insights to the world which you would rather deny to others
      You might not be a Unionist, granted, but you certainly behave like one

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    2. Hello Skier I cannot agree with your attack on anonymous posters. My job doesn't allow me to take a political stance so anonymous suits me. You use a pseudonym for heaven's sake. Surely it is the content of the post that is important? I am pro independence by the way and I am one of the anonymous nonentities that the Rev referred to in his interjections on this website some time ago. My moniker would be anonymous nonentity - would that be okay or does a pseudonym have rules?

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    3. Oh and by the way I agree with the way the SNP are handling this so far.
      Signed @anonymous nonentity'

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  12. Unionist Media BDSM ClubOctober 14, 2019 at 12:14 PM

    Plan B will be using the Claim of Rights in Scottish courts to challenge Johnson's rejection of the S30 Order. Joanna Cherry has teed this up perfectly.

    This will likely take place against a background of a recession (Brexit with a deal, possibly combined with the coming global recession) or Depression (no-deal Brexit, possibly combined etc) inflicted on Scotland by London. In the latter case, this may mean major civil disturbances, medicine and food shortages, and so on.

    This should mean a lead for Yes of 55-45 minimum, all the way up to 60-40 or higher, depending on the severity of the economic collapse. These are peak conditions in which to legally challenge the S30 Order rejection.

    The current infighting over strategy in the indy movement, including the calls for Nicola Sturgeon's head, is just bewildering and frankly a pain in the hole. The only circumstances in which we should be panicking are if Brexit is killed off forever, which considering England's current mass psychosis and fascist leanings seems impossible.

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    1. Re your last para. I think infiltrators who are not independence supporters who been quite successful in appearing to foment discord within the STV. Some people fell for the ploy and took sides.

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