Monday, November 4, 2019

Sky News makes brazen attempt to rig the general election by inviting the fourth-largest Commons party to a three-way leaders' debate, but not the third-largest

I pointed out the other day that just about the only thing that might be more outrageous than ITV's decision to hold a two-party election debate in a multi-party democracy would be for Jo Swinson to get her preferred outcome and for there to be a three-way debate in which the fourth-largest Commons party is included and the third-largest is excluded.  But Sky News have proved up to that task - they've brazenly invited the leader of a party with 20 MPs (Swinson) and not invited the leader of a party with 35 MPs (Sturgeon).  Like ITV's decision, this is an entirely arbitrary selection based on the broadcaster's own preferences and not on objective criteria.  It most certainly is not justified by precedent, because Nicola Sturgeon was invited to every leaders' debate in 2015, even though the SNP went into that election as only the fifth largest Commons party and the Lib Dems went in as the third-largest.  (And the SNP were not obviously doing better in the opinion polls in 2015 than they are now, so that's no excuse either.)

The broadcasters are quite literally making up the rules as they go on, which is the sort of thing you'd expect to happen in Putin's Russia - and the likes of Andrew Neil would be quick to scream about it if it did.  My own view is that there should be a moratorium on leaders' debates until an independent body can come up with objective criteria for inclusion and exclusion that are applied consistently, not changed at a whim because broadcasters are prioritising "box office potential" over the integrity of the democratic process.

I also cannot understand why the SNP are being so passive at the moment.  I know they were bruised by a failed legal challenge to the three-way debates in 2010, but they have a much stronger case now as the third largest party, and you can't win a raffle if you don't buy a ticket.

UPDATE: I see Sky's carefully-worded justification for excluding the third-largest party is that they have invited "the three main UK-wide parties".  Guys, when you're in a hole, it's generally best to stop digging.  "UK-wide" is not a synonym for "based in London".  Neither Labour nor the Liberal Democrats are UK-wide parties because they don't put up candidates in Northern Ireland.  If you want a debate between UK-wide parties only, it'll be a Boris Johnson monologue.  (Although maybe I shouldn't put ideas in their heads, because they'd probably be tempted.)

88 comments:

  1. Argh! This might have not made the cut when I posted it on the previous thread. ICM subsamples (polling ended 4th Nov) have SNP at only 31%. Similar to Deltapoll at 27%. While there's been a glut of really good subsamples for the SNP, these two have been two of the lowest I've recorded since Boris became PM.

    Still an average of 44% since the campaign started, but only 38% with polls since November 1.

    Could just be these pollsters of course skewing things downwards, but I'd be lying if I wasn't concerned 2017 was happening again.

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    1. Unless the pattern is extremely consistent across the board, I don't think there'll be too much cause for concern until YouGov show something similar - and their two most recent subsamples have been favourable for the SNP.

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    2. Which frighteningly until the last two polls they've published that's pretty much what YouGov were giving us (I've only tracked YouGov since June 2018 and that spell was the worst for a year). Just squeaky bum time for the next few weeks!

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    3. On second glance, the SNP vote goes UP with age in ICM; they couldn't find any voters aged 18-24 in the whole sample to back the SNP. So a 31% that's over weighted to older voters is actually quite good.

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    4. I've never included ICM in my running averages because they don't publish enough. I'd need to polls at least once a month for 6 months before I would start including them. It's impossible to judge if their numbers are in the right ball park on average or way off as it stands.

      When Deltapoll first appeared, I found them showing SNP too low on average I recall so I felt including them would skew. Or maybe I just saw that in the few I looked at! I have not monitored recently.

      When doing averaging of subsamples, you need to pick the method that gives you a good match with full Scottish polls (and elections), allowing you to fill the gaps. If a pollster starts to skew things too high or low, taking your average away from full Scottish results (either up or down), best leave them out. Whatever works. There is no reason to include all pollsters (and doing so could make things more off reality); just a good selection of regular ones with a balance of more/middle/less friendly.

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    5. Here is how my September subsample PoP compared to the full Scottish Yougov taken at that time:

      42(-1)% SNP
      21(+1)% Con
      15(-)% Lab
      12(-)% Lib
      7(+1)% Brx
      3(-1)% Grn

      Given Yougov tend to be less Yes/SNP friendly (as proven at elections), I think my method is conservative. So, I'm not going to add in other pollsters at the minute without a clear reason for doing so.

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    6. In effect, my PoP lies between less SNP friendly Yougov and even less SNP friendly Panelbase.

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    7. We've done the same thing! I found the same thing as you did with the September YouGov (I run a 14 day average and chuck everything in); the average was spot on. Even Panelbase wasn't that far off in October except they had Labour much higher, the Lib Dems lower and the SNP about two points lower.

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  2. Isn't there any kind of fairness in broadcasting regulation - that regulates party political broadcasts, or news coverage of elections - that would apply here?

    If Sky get away with excluding the SNP in this case, can they be blocked from broadcasting into Scotland?

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    1. Actually if they are using the it UK wide parties only then aye because SNP only covers Scotland. I've always thought ckthat they should field a candidate in Berwick that would cover it.

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    2. But Labour and the lib Dems don't stand in northern Ireland, so they aren't UK wide parties, as mentioned in the article.

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  3. I see there's a bit of aggro (replies) on Sky's twitter feed, lots of people pointing out the unfairness, and that the show is not UK wide since none of the three parties stand in Northern Ireland.

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  4. There'll be no Clegmania this time. Swinson is appallingly bad at answering questions. Corbyn will come out on top.

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    1. But Swinson will appeal to all the people in different parts of England whose accents she showcases in her media outings.

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  5. What would happen if the SNP put up one candidate in an English seat. A sacrificial event admittedly, but that fulfills the requirements similar to the Lib Dems and Labour. If they chose carefully, they might even win! Do the SNP have a policy of not standing in seats outwith Scotland?

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  6. In the cult known as the SNP name one policy on earth that its followers of the dear leader disagree on.

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  7. Swinson represents a Scottish constituency.

    Under EVEL, how can she ever be Prime Minister?

    If these debates are for the purpose of allowing the people of the UK to eyeball their next PM, the inclusion of Swinson is a dishonesty.

    In fact if we are only going to see potential candidates for PM, and the Conservatives are 40%+ in the polls, why bother with anything other than a BoJo monologue?

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  8. It's because the broadcasters want good TV. It's nothing to do with public service or good politics. And they have decided that a head-to-head is better box office than a multi-pole debate (except in Scotland, Wales, and NI, but we don't decide who is PM, so can be ignored).

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  9. Imagine calling the SNP a cult when an organisation called *momentum* is running the Labour party and a shadowy figure called Dominic Cummings is running the Tory party and the charitable Joseph Rowntree organisation are the biggest donors to the Liberal Democrats
    Then to top it all the English parliament is stuffed with more unelected Peers and SPADS than any country in the world except for the Chinese Peoples Republic
    And they have the cheek to call the EU unelected which every single representative there is elected by their own country in just the same way as the newly named Union Kingdom of England that deems broadcasting a power they refuse to devolve to any other country

    One does not wonder why

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  10. Broadcasters are doing this to rig the result of the election in the way they've been told and F Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland

    It's typical England scumbag tactics but nowadays they don't even care about trying to disguise it

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    1. It's good they're no longer pretending there's some kind of union and that we're getting the message loud and clear.

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  11. And the LibDems have doubled their representation as a result of people criss-crossing the Commons floor. How very clubby.

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    1. Are there now fewer Liberal MPs than others in that party? Does anyone know? Can anyone tell? Does anyone care?

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  12. I am furious about this decision.
    As you say James this is an even worse decision than that taken by the BBC.
    I have both phoned and emailed Sky expressing my contempt.

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  13. Will the BBC call out Sky for not representing the "Nations and Regions" fairly? Or will they fall into line and feature only the main parties of England?

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  14. I should have said, will BBC Scotland call out Sky - and ITV - for controversially not representing their own nation/region?

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  15. Jo Swinson interview on CH4 news tonight was toe curling. Justification for being in the debates: 'biggest Remain party'; 'young girls deserve to see woman as potential PM'. The former ignoring the SNP and its consistent policy on Remain and the latter ignoring Ms Sturgeon as an actual head of government.

    All pretty well unchallenged by the interviewer, Kathy Newman

    Then John McDonnel being interviewed by Jon Snow maintaining that SG does not have a mandate for indyref2.

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    1. Young horses deserve a role model.

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  16. 50% voters say TV debates most important communication, followed by online 35% yougov. This could matter.

    Labour seemingly on the march, up over 30 with ICM, back ahead in Wales, in the debates, great at online campaigning, Lib Dems down its 2017 all over again.

    The SNP had better get the indy vote out this time or it could be a repeat in Scotland as well. Independence and indyref needs to be front and centre of the campaign.

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    1. A repeat of 2017 would be ideal for the SNP.

      With the DUP no longer backing the Tories, the SNP would hold the balance of power.

      This is why we are having a GE; the DUP effectively ended its support for the Tories, meaning the SNP held the balance. They used this to vote down the Tory brexit deal, stopping brexit.

      With yes on >50% on average for a vote 'tomorrow' while the UK remains firmly in the EU, another hung parliament would be perfect for indy. SNP could just keep stopping England from getting brexit as long as England says no to a Section 30.

      It's working to great effect; English voters now back a new indyref in Scotland. At the same time, Sinn Fein have succeeded in getting England to hand N. Ireland over to them and the EU.

      A few more seats for the SNP would of course help.

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    2. Polling suggests there’s almost no chance of an election result in which the SNP would actually hold the balance of power. Either Labour will do better than predicted and the Lib Dems alone would be enough, or any prospective Labour administration would require the support of both the Lib Dems AND the SNP – in which case the Lib Dems would block any indyref and Corbyn could keep his hands clean.

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    3. I really hope an indyref is blocked by England. It would destroy the union permanently.

      A court case where England tries to enslave the Scottish people would be like all the nat Christmases come at once.

      David Cameron understood that, and held the UK together through that understanding.

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    4. If indyref2 is granted freely, it would really put the SNP on the back foot.

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    5. I remember the day the Edinburgh agreement was announced. Deep down I knew that we'd probably not win. I has so hoped Cameron would refuse and it would all end up in Scotland's highest court. Deep English hatred for Scotland on the telly for all to see. Every night. For months.

      But the bastard was clever and he knew to win the hearts and minds.

      Let Scots choose freely.

      It was that simple.

      What and erse he made of brexit though.

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  17. Campaign leaflets show independence/a referendum isn’t even listed as one of the SNP’s top five priorities at the most crucial juncture for independence in Scottish history.

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    1. How many for each constituency leaflet?

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    2. Aye because nobody in the British Isles knows the SNP stand for Independence for Scotland even though the FM repeats it on a daily basis and in front of a 20 thousand rally in George Square and again every day on Twitter and every available opportunity in between

      Aye definitely nobody knows

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    3. Really? My God, they've kept that well hidden. Shocking revelation. They must be worried their little secret's out.

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  18. Can Ofcom get involved in regards to the political debates and their unfairness?

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    1. They wouldn't get off their backsides to bother. It would be a whitewash anyway.

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  19. Skier, just had a swatch at the new EU withdrawal agreement. I reckon most MPs never read it. Maybe James could poll them.

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    1. I got a swatch of new material for a smoking jacket. Gorgeous burgundy chinois with Macclesfield silk lining. You'd kill for it, Cordelia.

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    2. I prefer Scottish well hung older men who wear Paisley Pattern shirts.

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    3. Un peu passé et déclassé.

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    4. That must be yer frog Mrs, Skier!

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  20. Nice to see you back, Cordelia, although you're never far away when GWC is sending your messages to us. The hint is in the name. Now, about my chinois smoking jacket...

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  21. Sinn Fein backing a pro-remain / backstop alliance.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2019-50289309

    Announcing its decision not to stand in three constituencies on Monday, Sinn Féin leader Mary-Lou McDonald said the party had been supportive of a pro-remain pact for some time and said "the stakes are high".

    She said Sinn Féin wants to see SDLP's Claire Hanna returned in South Belfast, Naomi Long returned for Alliance in East Belfast and independent unionist Lady Hermon returned in North Down.


    They really do put the NI people first, even supporting a unionist in the quest to have the 2016 landslide remain vote + GFA respected.

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  23. Yougov UK Scots sample fairly normal:

    41% SNP
    20% Con
    14% Lib
    12% Lab
    9% Brx
    3% Grn

    Average of last 3:
    45% SNP
    20% Con
    12% Lab
    11% Lib
    6% Brx
    4% Grn

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    1. I am picking up the SNP overall climbing while Con and Lib fall away since the GE announcement. I don't think such a thing would be swing, but polling samples starting to better represent the population as public engagement increases.

      All the usual subsample caveats apply though!

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  24. Problems at launch of Wings Party:

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7649797/Scottish-man-filmed-launching-firework-BOTTOM.html#comments

    (Where does Stu get his ideas from?)

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    1. Wings Forward UnitNovember 5, 2019 at 2:09 PM

      Stu would never say something prissy like "bottom".

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  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  26. Taking Scottish Skiers poll of polls figures - and I apologise for associating you with Stu, he just isn't in my comfort zone anymore, whereas you are, anyway apologies, electoral calculus says:

    Seats

    SNP - 45% 51seats

    Con - 20% 3seats

    Lab - 12% 1seat

    Lib - 11% 4seats

    BRX - 6% 0 seats

    Grn - 4% 0seats

    Dunno whether that is a realistic translation, but that's what you get if you apply electoral calculus's methodology to the %ages. Quite good for the SNP?

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    1. Nae bother (I was being pedantic about train loos), and that wee PoP was just for Yougov.

      My full PoP (Yougov, Comres, Orb, Opinium, Survation, MORI) is:
      47% SNP
      19% Con
      15% Lab
      10% Lib
      4% Brx
      3% Grn

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    2. My more pessimistic option has the SNP on 42% on a two week sample and 43% on a one week sample (which I'll switch to for the campaign)

      The SNP vote is so uniform it doesn't need to be close to 50% to get a 2015 'sweep' result. They were 26 points clear of the second placed party in 2015 but only 8 points clear in 2017. Your model has them 28 points clear which would be a better spread than in 2015. I have them 20 or 22 points clear.

      Even with tactical voting against them, it would be difficult for other parties to stem the tide.

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    3. Out of interest, do you have only a single poll from each pollster in your PoP sample, or are you giving bias to more frequent pollers?

      I do the former, so e.g. Yougov may have done 3 recent polls, but these are averaged into a single one which goes into the pot. I also don't drop the entry for a given pollster until they produce a new poll or it becomes greater than one month out of date.

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    4. I might do that going forward as we'll expect more polls and some companies can produce them daily. At the moment I put every poll in the mix because the sample sizes are so small. Anything over 14 days falls off the tracker.

      Given high percentages of postal votes I'm going to maintain a campaign average once the postals go out and add that in as a percentage of the final sample based on data for postal ballots if available and 2017 if not.

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    5. Could you maybe try it going backward? That could be quite innovative. I'd love to see the polling for the 1974 October election to see if I could find out who won. Thanks

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  27. No voters in Scotland just aren't getting what's happening, they think England is shutting out the SNP so they're happy about it, but that's not what's happening at all, England is shutting out Scotland, and that means No voters too

    The broadcast media by creating news and promoting Jo Swinson's Lib Dems over the SNP are saying that English (to them that means British) parties are more important than Scottish or indeed Welsh parties, that's not to even mention any party whatsoever from Northern Ireland

    The British English broadcasters are being allowed to silence every other voice in the UK apart from England's voice, and they're doing it blatently and loudly

    If you're not England you don't count, No voters should be paying attention to this because that means all of us

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    1. Wish they would shut up your lying crap you anti English turd.

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    2. I am English you thick twat

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  28. Wings Forward UnitNovember 5, 2019 at 5:13 PM

    Phil Hammond stands down -

    "I remain a Conservative and I cannot therefore embark on a course of action that would represent a direct challenge in a general election to the party I have supported all my adult life," he said.

    You could almost imagine our own dear chi-squared "Sir" James saying the same thing.

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    1. What a git.

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    2. Groan. Another martyr for the FBPErs to weep over

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    3. I DEMAND an answer NOW.

      What are FBPErs?

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  29. Corbyn has said he will negotiate a new deal with the EU and put it to the people in a referendum. 36 million bibles to be distributed to the people for perusal and everyone will read it before voting.

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    1. Cordelia, you know I don't have time to read 36 million bibles. I'm worn out running after you with the Jeyes fluid.

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  30. Pattern so far across the UK seems to be...

    Extremist right wing viscerally racist Scottish hating English Tories surging.

    Labour going nowhere.

    Libs falling away as usual.

    http://britainelects.com/polling/westminster/

    Maybe SNP on the up in this neck of the woods.

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    1. Tories are having a right Eton mess at the moment.

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    2. Scots getting to see what government they'll get if we remain in the UK.

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  31. Roddy Collarless-ShirtNovember 6, 2019 at 11:07 AM

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7653227/Society-diarist-KENNETH-ROSE-takes-ink-tipped-stiletto-political-class.html

    Golly, this is interesting. But I'm waiting for "The Private Papers of Constantine Mudge". He will dissect the elite with panache.

    "I hear that James Kelly, despite professing to be the simple man, has a yearning for grandeur.
    He has police outriders, which Stu Campbell never had. And he is now to get a powerful official plane.
    Mike Small never minded what sort of plane he had; but if it went too fast, he would certainly see that it reduced its cruising speed in order to save petrol."

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    1. My dear admirer,
      One anticipates the release of one's private papers upon the decision of one's publisher. One's hands - as were one but a scribe rather than auteur - remain, malheureusement, tied.

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  32. If the TV debates go ahead without SNP, it makes a mockery of "British" broadcasting. Devolution of broadcasting should be thrown into the debate. That could concentrate some minds on the absurd double standards of the UK media: we'll hear Scotland's voice when it suits us, and we'll snuff it out when it doesn't.

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