Friday, March 22, 2013

More terminological inexactitude from the Guardian

This is an excellent example of how the London media persistently misrepresent the state of play shown by polls on independence, while maintaining a veneer of plausibility -

"But opposition leaders said Salmond knew that independence was unpopular: a series of opinion polls has consistently shown that about a third of Scots back independence, with support for remaining in the UK commanding majority support."

I have no problem with the claim that "about a third" of Scots back independence. That is indeed what recent polls have "consistently" shown - but only if the substantial number of don't knows and won't says are included in the calculation. The problem is that the only way the second part of the claim (that support for remaining in the UK commands majority support) can be said to be "consistently" true is by doing the complete opposite, and excluding the don't knows from the calculation. With don't knows included, the position suddenly looks a good deal less consistent. Here is the percentage No vote in each of the opinion polls this year...

Angus Reid, January - 50% - NOT A MAJORITY

TNS-BMRB, January - 48% - NOT A MAJORITY

Panelbase, January - 47% - NOT A MAJORITY

Angus Reid, February - 47% - NOT A MAJORITY

Ipsos-Mori, February - 55% - MAJORITY

TNS-BMRB, March - 52% - MAJORITY

So, far from the polls "consistently" showing a majority in favour of remaining within the UK, in fact only a third of the polls published this year do so. The Guardian have a choice - either they exclude don't knows, in which case the average support for Yes in recent months has been somewhat higher than a third, or else they include don't knows, in which case there is no clear majority for No. But they really can't have their cake and eat it.


  1. James,

    Ipsos MORI have issued this today:

  2. Do we think the Hootsman or the Guardian will be loudly trumpeting that poll that Marcia kindly highlights?

    Our latest Scottish Public Opinion Monitor, conducted last month, found that 53% of Scots are satisfied with the way the Scottish Government is running the country, down one point since October, compared to 41% who are dissatisfied, up two points since October. This gives the Scottish Government a net approval rating of +12 points, down three points since October. These figures are in contrast to the UK Government’s net approval rating of -41 among voters across Britain.

    No we do not. ;)

  3. Thanks, Marcia. Slightly peculiar that they would recycle such old figures for an article like that, but I'm not complaining!

    Mick : How are you finding the new Vanilla regime? Have you been banned yet?

  4. James: Not yet but I've only made a a handful of posts so the tory moderation has been notable by it's absence so far.

    Perhaps after paying for this Vanilla the site owner finally realises that putting comical partisan tories in charge of it might not be the best idea? Probably not, but watching the rest of the herd trying to get by with no likes or dislikes should be amusing.