Wednesday, September 22, 2021
No matter how much time passes, we always seem to be "just one more election victory away" from holding an independence referendum
Monday, September 20, 2021
Daily Record's credibility lies in TATTERS this morning as it falsely claims that a no change poll shows a "drop in support for independence"
Thursday, September 16, 2021
A few years ago, I had a brief discussion on Twitter with the pollster Keiran Pedley (then with GfK NOP, now with Ipsos-Mori) about what I believed to be the unfair practice of polling firms failing to include one particular political party in the main menu of options that respondents are provided with, even though other parties of similar size are included. He made the point that it wasn't about 'fairness' as such, but instead about what experience had shown to be the most accurate approach - if including that party in the main menu consistently led to an overestimate of their support, it was absolutely justified to exclude them. I'm not convinced it's quite as simple as that, because polls (absurdly) have a quasi-constitutional role these days - they're factored in to decisions about the airtime each party is entitled to, and they supposedly will determine whether or not Northern Ireland is allowed a referendum on its constitutional future. When poll results are an integral part of the democratic process, it's arguable that poll methodology needs to be fair and even-handed as much as it needs to be accurate.
However, at least in the example I discussed with Mr Pedley, the pollsters were actually attempting to estimate support for the party in question. If respondents indicated that they were planning to vote for "some other party", they were taken to a second menu of options in which the party was included. A much greater problem occurs if respondents have no means at all of indicating their preference for a party - when all they can do is say "some other party" and it goes no further than that. If decisions about airtime are made on the basis of such a poll, there's a gross unfairness, because no effort was made to measure the party's support. And that, unfortunately, is the point we've reached with Panelbase polls of Holyrood voting intentions - the two that have been conducted since the election in May have not allowed respondents to express support for Alba in any form.
I can't understand the rationale for that. Although Alba didn't meet its own targets in May, it did secure 2% of the list vote, and for as long as any party is "troubling the scorer", so to speak, you'd think it's important to continue to know how well or badly it's doing. Alba also of course has two Members of Parliament and a significant number of local councillors, which makes it of greater interest than most parties that receive 2% of the vote on their first outing.
All of this presents me with a bit of a dilemma, because I'm hoping to commission another Scot Goes Pop poll reasonably soon (funding permitting) and Panelbase would usually be my first choice - but I have a feeling they would want to maintain consistency by using the same question/answer format for Holyrood voting intentions in every poll they conduct, regardless of client. However, I'll cross that bridge if and when I come to it.
On a more positive note, the Savanta ComRes poll published last Friday did include Alba as an option on the Holyrood list ballot, and 2% of respondents said they would vote for the party. That will be a great disappointment to the Alba-haters who gloated at considerable length about the Opinium poll published the previous day which showed Alba on zero for the very first time - a result that was taken to mean that "the monster had been slayed" and that Alba could expect to receive negligible support from that point on. The difference between the two polls is actually quite striking and hard to explain - in absolute terms, Opinium found only two Alba voters among their sample, while Savanta ComRes found seventeen. Here are the full ComRes results...
Scottish Parliament constituency ballot:
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Fancy putting the Express in the dock for lying about Scottish independence polling? Here's your chance...
In order to justify throwing the book at Craig Murray, the presiding judge notoriously dreamed up the novel principle that us mere bloggers must be held to a different legal standard than 'proper' journalists, on the dubious grounds that the latter are bound by codes such as the IPSO Editors' Code of Practice - a voluntary set of rules that to the best of my knowledge has no legal underpinning whatsoever. If that's the brave new world we're now living in, it's perhaps not too much to ask that the 'proper' journalists - even ones as controversial as David Leask - should be rigorously held to the code, Clause 1 of which states "the Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images...a significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published".
On Friday 10th September 2021, the Express website published an article by Dan Falvey entitled 'SNP President drops huge hint Sturgeon could backtrack on plan for referendum in two years'. I have no idea whether it also appeared in the Express print edition, which you won't be surprised to hear I don't subscribe to - but that makes no difference because online articles also fall under the jurisdiction of both IPSO and the Editors' Code. The article contained a blatantly inaccurate claim about Scottish independence polling, and yet four days later it still has not been corrected and no apology has been issued.
Falvey ludicrously ignored the genuine polling evidence that had been published on Thursday and Friday by Opinium and ComRes showing a very even split in public opinion - Opinium had Yes ahead by 51-49, while ComRes had No ahead by 52-48. Instead, he treated the propaganda poll commissioned by Scotland in Union, complete with its dodgy question about "leaving the United Kingdom", as if it was the only one that mattered.
Now, to be clear, there's no question that IPSO would let the Express get away with that part of the article - they would just mark it down as a form of "editorialising" that may have been selective with its facts, but was not strictly inaccurate. However, there's one particular sentence in which the Express strayed into outright falsehood, and it's this: "Polls have shown a drop in support for independence over the past six months, with a "No" vote consistently now in the lead". The words 'consistently' and 'now' preclude the possibility of a Yes lead in any current poll - and yet the Opinium poll published just one day before the article had Yes ahead.
If you have the time and patience to take on the Express through the IPSO complaints process, here's the online form you need.
Sunday, September 12, 2021
Friday, September 10, 2021
If you're an Alba member and have registered for the inaugural annual conference, which takes place tomorrow and Sunday, you'll be able to vote online in the ballots for the female and male ordinary members of the National Executive Committee. I'll be a candidate on the male ballot, along with fifteen other excellent candidates, so welcome along to my little pitch for you to give me, James Kelly, your first preference vote. (The ballot is being conducted by Single Transferable Vote, which means you'll be ranking the candidates in order of preference. If for some inexplicable reason you decide not to give me your first preference, I'd be equally grateful for your second preference, or your third preference, or any preference at all, really.)
I've been writing Scot Goes Pop since 2008, and by 2013 it had become one of Scotland's most popular pro-independence blogs. In 2012 I became a columnist for the International Business Times, and in the run-up to the independence referendum many of my columns were syndicated on Yahoo, reaching a huge audience - meaning that I may well have been, almost by accident, the most-read pro-indy blogger during the indyref period. Later on, I was for a time a columnist on the TalkRadio website, and since 2017 I've been a regular columnist for iScot magazine. I've also provided occasional election and poll analysis for The National since early 2015.
I've made numerous appearances on TV and radio, including BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio Five Live, the Bauer radio network, Al Jazeera, Radio Sputnik and most recently the Alex Salmond Show on RT. I've also taken part in a huge number of New Media podcasts, films and live-streams. Perhaps most significantly, though, I've commissioned no fewer than five full-scale Scottish opinion polls - something that is usually the preserve of the mainstream media. Some of the polls have been genuine landmarks - for example, the poll in June 2020 that marked the start of the long unbroken series of Yes-majority polls was a Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll.
I'm not, however, a political insider. I've never been particularly active within a political party, and that, I think, may mean I'd bring a different sort of perspective to the NEC than someone who is steeped in SNP internal politics. (Don't get me wrong, though - there's also plenty of room for that kind of experience on the NEC.)
I'd suggest a possible advantage of electing me is that there aren't going to be any surprises about my political views. Over the years, I must have blogged about practically every political topic under the sun, so my opinions are all out there. Most of you know me well and you know exactly what you'd be getting. I'm also easy to reach - I'm very active on social media. (That mostly means Twitter rather than Facebook, for the avoidance of doubt - it's not unusual for me not to check my Facebook account for weeks, which has led now and again to sheepish apologies to people who have messaged me in the interim.)
If any or all of this strikes a chord, and if you're eligible to vote, please do consider giving your first preference vote to James Kelly (that's me!) on the male ballot for ordinary members of the Alba Party NEC. The voting hours will, as far as I know, be between 12pm on Saturday and 5pm on Sunday. Thank you.
VIDEO: Vote James Kelly #1 for the Alba NEC. (Or #2. Or #3. It's up to you, really.)https://t.co/bWnThdHQ9i— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) September 11, 2021