Saturday, June 20, 2020

Plan B, and dual mandates

A reader kindly let me know a few days ago that there was another Scottish poll from Panelbase in the field.  It asked the standard independence question, but in the middle of a sequence of questions that were primarily about social attitudes (some of them were bordering on philosophical in nature).  I couldn't see any unifying theme at all, or even hazard a guess as to who the client might be.  The mystery has now been partly solved, because Wings Over Scotland has released the results of a "mini-poll", which presumably means it was a composite survey conducted for more than one client.  So there are three possibilities about the independence question, the results of which are not publicly known as of yet: a) it was part of the Wings mini-poll, b) it was asked by Panelbase for technical reasons so the Wings results could be properly weighted, or c) it was part of the poll commissioned by the other client.  I'd imagine c) is the least likely of those options.

The results that we do know about show that respondents, by more than a 2-1 margin, do not think the UK government will "grant a second independence referendum" if pro-independence parties win a majority of votes or seats in next year's Holyrood election.  As I've pointed out before, there are some questions on which public opinion is all-important and others on which it barely matters at all, and I'd suggest this is one of the latter.  If by any chance the UK government were minded to grant a Section 30 order, it wouldn't make much difference whether the public saw it coming or not - although admittedly voter scepticism might make it tougher for the SNP to fight the election on the premise that victory will make Westminster cave in.

As it happens, I agree with the public verdict on this occasion - I think there's precious little chance of the current Tory government conceding a Section 30, although remember that isn't the same thing as "granting a referendum".  The Scottish Parliament still has the option of legislating for a consultative indyref and waiting to see if the UK government challenge it (and more to the point waiting to see the Supreme Court's verdict after the UK government do inevitably challenge it).

I can't see any particular reason why Stuart Campbell would have commissioned this poll unless he was trying to strengthen the case for a 'Plan B' on independence.  That makes it even more incomprehensible that he made such an angry attempt last week to undermine the impact of this blog's Panelbase poll showing a large majority in favour of 'Plan B'.  He really does cut off his nose to spite his face sometimes.

*  *  *

On the subject of cutting off noses to spite faces, that's what the SNP are doing by considering a rule-change to forbid "dual mandates".  The move seems to be motivated by a tribal desire to thwart Joanna Cherry's path to a Holyrood seat, and thus make it harder for her to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader.  But the reality is that Ms Cherry already seems to have made up her mind to seek to become an MSP, and she's unlikely to be deterred by the prospect of being forced to resign her Westminster seat.

So who actually loses from this?  It may well be the SNP as a whole, who will needlessly end up facing a Westminster by-election in potentially tricky Edinburgh terrain.  Alex Salmond held a dual mandate for his first three years as First Minister, and the sun didn't fall out of the sky, so it's not as if there's actually a problem to solve here.


  1. Joanna Cherry has stated that her objective is that Independence will NOT be got via Westminster Gov but by Scottish Gov. This is the reason fuelling her decision, rather than any attempt at taking over leadership of the party. If it is a tribal desire that is resisting an SNP MP wishing to contest a Scottish Parliament seat, then, this raises serious questions. I am also fairly certain, Joanna Cherry had stated, that she would be happy to resign her Westminster post. What is the SNP position for its MPs should Independence happen on their shift? It would be understandable that there may be things they cannot plan for and that there may be things that they cannot disclose. But it's almost a definite that Plan A was never a Plan, as much as Plan B is denounced. Therefore whatever the Plan is (if there is a plan), it is still a mystery. However, Jo Cherry wants action and feels she will be doing more by being here, rather than there. I do NOT think the intention was to oust Nicola Sturgeon. In time, Nicola Sturgeon will choose to climb down, but she will need a worthy successor. Perhaps Joanna Cherry is that person????

  2. Joanna Cherry has already stated publicly she doesn't want the FMs job and has every respect and faith in Nicola Sturgeon, now some people would say yeah but politicians always say stuff like that, but Joanna Cherry is a lawyer and it would do her credibility no good of she were to lie about that, so I don't believe she is, I believe Ms Cherry can do a more effective job not being in such a restrictive job as FM

    The job of FM isn't easy, on the one hand you support your party in their main ambition of Independence but on the other you have to be fair to those who don't want Independence or you wouldn't be seen as doing that job in an even handed manner, plus you have to be very good at selling your party and there's no doubt Nicola Sturgeon is unmatched at that where Joanna Cherry I don't believe has those sorts of attributes, she's a scrapper, so leave her to do what she's good at, making a nuisance of herself among the oppositon, an FM doesn't have the luxury of that amount of time, she has to be everywhere selling and keeping the show on the road being the face and figurehead of the party

    I really do wish folk would shut their daft gubs about Alex Salmond, it's over, done, a dead parrot if you will Stuart Campbell and his deadhead cronies are playing kids games with mugs heads and twisting the truth about the former FM, sure we know he's not guilty of any crime but he's damn well not innocent either and there's a price to be paid for that and everybody in the party knows it

    Campbell is a shit stirrer for his own ends, and the main end is he hates Nicola Sturgeon and wants rid of her, for what? he knows Alex Salmond can never be FM again so why is he doing it? because he's a shit stirring little gnome who does things because he knows he can, Independence for Scotland is not on Campbells agenda, creating himself is Campbells agenda, his own self importance, it annoys him because TV companies won't put him on TV, it annoys him that newspapers don't print anything he says, it annoys him that he's not famous, he thinks he deserves to be respected, well you only get that if you don't tell lies and talk mince better than he does and have friends in the right places, and Campbell has no friends

    Wings over Scotland has nothing to do with Scottish Independence, in fact he advocates on a daily basis that people shouldn't vote for the SNP because they're bad, well that's Unionist talk isn't it, so who's paying the little creep these days or is he just what he seems, a self promoting wee gobshite who's an angry wee man because he's losing, and losing the plot with it

    1. What a load of baloney. The raison dtre of the SNP is to deliver independence. Thats it. Everything else is secondary. It should be top of the SNP's agenda but it isn't.

      Rather than demonstrate that the Scottish Gov was able to deal with the covid crisis on its own on the grounds that it was paramount to preserve life, Sturgeon chose to follow the corrupt and incompetent UK Gov which cost many needless deaths.

      "WoS has nothing to do with Scottish Independence". Sure it is, pal.

    2. I think the anon above should have said anymore to "Wings over Scotland has nothing to do with Scottish Independence".

      It served a purpose, but its hard to deny that today he is just (as suggested) shit stirring. Remember they promised to give up altogether a few months ago! Idk about you but I'm sure as hell not giving up on the indy cause ever because I believe in having a fair democratic country and the UK will never be that.

    3. ANON @ 8.15am
      'twisting the truth about the former FM, sure we know he's not guilty of any crime but he's damn well not innocent either and there's a price to be paid for that and everybody in the party knows it'.

      How you square that circle is anyones guess, innocent but guilty. Hmmm...'price to be paid'. You make no sense

    4. 12 not guilty and one not proven verdicts, but the evidence did not leave Mr Salmond looking squeaky clean. There are occasions when Scotland's third verdict reminds us that a person can emerge from a court without a conviction but with their reputation in question, and this was such an occasion.

    5. Independence for ScotlandJune 21, 2020 at 1:25 AM

      Anonymous - Dani Garavelli could have written that post at 11.07 pm . Perhaps she did. Or was it Master Clegg the master of the leaks.

      54% in the recent poll - what now?

    6. Nicola Sturgeon tried to have an innocent man put in prison for the rest of his life. She still supports the harridan who cost us £600,000 in a the first attempt to destroy him and is protecting the perjurers who failed in the 2nd try.

      She is an evil whore who has obviously dumped Scotland in pursuit of her higher calling of promoting bearded perverts at the UN.

    7. Great to see that someone (8:15 AM and 11:07) has a handle on Joanna Cherry's capabilities and Alex Salmond's future status. More so can see right through Stu Campbell.

      ''In fact he (Campbell) advocates on a daily basis that people shouldn't vote for the SNP because they're bad, well that's Unionist talk isn't it, so who's paying the little creep these days.''

      High time the last few genuine independence supporters bailed off his site to show what it actually stands for now. Deprive the guy of oxygen and funds.

    8. The not proven verdict was in the case of the woman who had admitted years ago that Salmond had given her a cuddle when she had broken down in tears due to a personal issue.
      That was a human act but in breach of the nonsense rules.

      It had been investigated and all parties had accepted that they shouldn't have done it by rule but is was behind them and nothing bad came of it.

      A decade later and the woman is pressured into changing her story by the well known bitch queens and a cuddle suddenly turns into sexual assault and attempted rape.

      The jury couldn't say not guilty as a statement that nothing happened, but they couldn't say guilty either as the woman was clearly lying. So they did the only thing they could under the circumstances.

      It was the dorrian's fault for not throwing out that charge as being literally impossible to judge.

  3. At one level this is quite a tricky situation.

    I've always been against double mandates on the grounds that it concentrates too much power/influence in too few hands. It's implicitly anti democratic. You see it at all levels. Every activist knows an example of the person who collects several positions to end up being the focal point of local activities. A wee power trip at the micro level.

    However, in the seven years that I've been in the SNP, I've never seen much concern about these 'badge collectors'. Why is it suddenly an issue now ? I haven't actually heard a single party member mention it. I suspect that it is an artifact of jostling for position at the top.I'm also opposed to that kind of dishonest opportunism.
    So how to cut the knot if we oppose both sets of motivations ?
    It's actually simple in the end. What do we want ? Nearly all of us want independence and increasing numbers of us see next May's elections as the door to our best opportunity. J. Cherry certainly is an effective scrapper and we're going to need every scrapper we've got to be best placed.
    The fight will be in Scotland. Westminster will be 'secondary front' at best. So, we need Cherry at Holyrood. 'Simples'- the principle of lesser evils applies. I'll be supporting her move and advocating that we sort the double mandate issue afterwards - it's never bothered the party much until now.
    Forward to independence - the rest is detail !

  4. I thought winning last years GE was the door to independence. It seems that every election now is the door to indepndence until it is over and then it is the next election.

  5. Hi, I completed said Panelbase poll (and full disclosure sent screenshots fo questions to James).

    I think its useful to keep a big caveat in mind about polling and what it is useful for.

    Polling is good at showing what people think. But it is very unreliable at showing why people think that. Online polling is particular bad as there is no dialogue, and offering endless options (to try and pin reasoning down) produces questioning fatigue.

    Regarding Section 30 order there was a couple of questions asked. Shortened below for brevity.

    Do you think UK Gov would grant referendum if pro-indy wins majority of seats? No / Yes
    Do you think UK Gov would grant referendum if pro-indy wins majority of votes? No / Yes
    Do you think UK Gov would grant referendum if opinion polls show a sustained majority? No / Yes (if 50% support or more) Yes (if 60% support or more) Yes (if 70% support or more) (you could either select no, or as many of the yes’ as you desired)

    I have no way of knowing whether the reaction is universal, but I’m going to share how I reacted to those questions as someone who is pro-indy, and growing increasingly impatient for it too.

    On seats, I said YES. Because I think that is the thing that will make the media and general population across the UK notice most.

    On votes, I said YES. But (and I obviously couldn’t share that with the poll), that while I think it could be possible, I think it is less guaranteed than seats

    On opinion polling, I had to read the question and options over, and it really questioned the judgement of answers I gave to the previous two (note: you couldn’t go back and change previous answers).

    Because in all reality, the UK Government will never grant an independence referendum on the basis of opinion polling being in favour of it. So to that question, despite wanting the suggested scenario to be yes, I selected NO, because I think that is actually most likely.

    Apologies for the length of this, but I do think that far too much will be leaned on the results of these polling questions than legitimately can. Because the polling results showed how people answered, but we have no reason of knowing why people answered. We can suspect that W*ngs will draft some reasoning why, but it’s all supposition.

    What would be much more useful from polling to help the indy cause would be trying to ascertain the reasons or issues that will convert people who are minded to supporting No, to supporting Yes, and I wish W*ngs put their seemingly endless resources into that.

    1. That absolutely could be the case! But I would rather know that now as opposed to finding it out when out knocking doors in a no-prevalent area during a referendum.

    2. Sorry, sometimes intention gets lost in this format!

      Just seen what W*ngs actually wrote on sharing their results. Not very enlightening.

      We're not in an ideal scenario but the first post-Brexit Holyrood election is a different situation to 2017/2019 Westminster "mandates" or 2016 (where the referendum mandate was loose). It can't be an election alone though, it will require ongoing campaigning and grassroots political action if democracy is denied.

      Interesting he didn't mention or tease the other question. Time will tell though I suppose.

  6. The current FM shows no desire to fight for independence. I would argue she hasn't shown any desire to fight for independence since she took office.

    For Scotland's sake she must change her hesitant attitude immediately. I hope I'm wrong but I can't see her doing so.

    We need someone and/or something to dispel the stifling hesitancy. If that someone is Joanna Cherry then good; if that something is Alex Salmond going public about his court case then also good.

    FFS SNP, do something! Stop meekly obeying Westminster's rules!

    1. I call bullshit Doug!

      Remember we lost the referendum in 2014. It would have been batshit to have suggested independence immediately after losing.

      Remember too that the unionist vote stepped up in the 2016 Holyrood Election too. Almost two years and the cause was looking ropey.

      But things have changed since then. Brexit is the obvious one, but we've also had two glaring election results from England too that show's how different a country we each are.

      I do believe that momentum was building, remember the AUOB march in the pissing rain in January?

      But the COVID-19 pandemic has wiped out all of that temporarily. There is no way we could imagine a referendum happening this year, if the SNP seriously suggested it, it would actually harm the indy cause because normies would go WTF and unionists would get fired up.

      That's where we are today, and the FM has a BIG task ahead when politics is back to normal to fire up the cause for independence again (and we need to back her up on it). If that doesn't happen (and that's not cos the virus is out of control) then I think there is criticism to level at the FM and SNP, but we're not there yet.

    2. Anonymous 11:23amJune 20, 2020 at 12:16 PM

      I don't know, and no one can!

      We have no idea what the fuck would have happened in the world it if hadn't been for coronavirus. Personally, I don't see the point in wasting energy on imagining alternative pasts.

      We are where we are now. When coronavirus is dealt with, the SNP will be looking at a gifthorse in the mouth. If they fuck that up, I'll call them out on it (reading between the lines I suspect you will be too)

  7. If you hold a dual mandate then both must be highly paid cushy numbers. I have always made the case for severely reducing the quantity of politicians. We are getting rid of the EU wasters. Now is the time to abolish the Lords and trim the Scottish Parliament.

    1. Covidia hates democracy.

    2. Makes more sense to withdraw our MPs from London. This is what you argued for brexit; i.e. focus on our own parliament making our own laws.

    3. Now your talking but I doubt they would give up their luxuries in life. Having to work for a living would frighten the scheisse out of them. And of course the backstabbing battles for seats in Scotland would be something to behold.

  8. James, you previously predicted that a 2021 referendum was unlikely. Have you change your mind on this, given the pace of events over the past few weeks in particular?

    1. Holyrood elections are on May 6th. New SG will start working in mid-May, Holyrood'll start legislating in June. In Scotland you can really have elections and elections only in September or April/May/June. People are on holidays in July and August, so you can't have elections then and autumn/winter months are too dark to be campaigning then. September 2020 will probably be too early - there will be some attempts to come to an agreement with Westminster first (which will as most people expect come to nothing). And then - there could be court actions before the referendum. So - realistically we are talking about spring 2022. The only way we could be talking about 2021 is if we had Holyrood elections in September 2020 (theoretically still possible, but it won't happen).

  9. Interesting reading about the current poll but the previous Panelbase poll that has spooked the establishment. Hence the lean on the Establishment media in print and electronic to try and drag the Holyrood administration down to the Westminster incompetence level. It is not working. People are in the main not that dumb although some are. "The Times" said this week "Scotland has the worst economy in the world due to COVID" Now the attack on the return of schools. It is back to Better Together reunion tours.

  10. Joanna Cherry simply isn't liked by the majority of SNP parliamentarians. What her standing is among members is more debatable.
    Think back to Ian Blackford being elected WM leader. Cherry wanted the job too, but had hardly any backing.
    Would she have been a more effective performer than Blackford? Probably.
    But leaders have to command the respect of their peers and Cherry has pissed way too many people off to ever stand a chance of taking Sturgeon's job.

    1. Joanna Cherry is an excellent SNP politician, who brings a great deal of legal expertise with her, but there's no way that she could carry out Nicola Sturgeon's job effectively. Anyone remember the great currency faux pas that she made on QT. Nicola Sturgeon has never at any time been caught out like that. She's on top of her brief at all times.

  11. The legislation that Michael Russell took throught the Scottish parliament only requires a 6 month notice of referendum dates

  12. A new Panelbase poll has Yes at 54%. That will spook the Westminster establishment.

    1. Vodka Jill and Prof Penny will be raging. Expect unhinged letters to papers and lots of TV interviews. BBC will be livid.

  13. Kiss me hard & fuck me harder! Hey, i am looking for an online sexual partner ;) Click on my boobs if you are interested (. )( .)