Sunday, August 18, 2013

Forget the Neverendum, here comes the No campaign's Neverending Story (ah ah ah, ah ah ah, ah ah ah...)

I've finally got round to listening to the package about the WoS/Panelbase poll that was broadcast on Good Morning Scotland yesterday.  Based on what I'd read about it, I was slightly unprepared for the overwhelmingly patronising tone of the exchange between the presenter and Professor John Curtice - there were lots of references to naivety, inexperience, and how the website's agenda had got in the way of the framing of proper questions.  Journalists from the mainstream media were completely absolved of any blame for imposing their partisan blackout on coverage of the poll, because they had probably been put off by all this naivety, inexperience, and the leading nature of questions about "surrendering powers" and such-like.

Now hang on a cotton pickin' minute here, guys.  I can't be the only person who remembers how YouGov's findings on independence dramatically changed a few years ago when they suddenly altered the wording of the question, almost certainly at the behest of their anti-independence paymasters the Daily Telegraph, to "an independent country completely separate from the rest of the United Kingdom".  Did journalists from other outlets impose a blackout on reporting of that poll because it had been so obviously commissioned by "naive and inexperienced" people who had allowed their agenda to get in the way of the framing of proper questions?  Did John Curtice point out that the results had less credibility because of the leading nature of the question?  No and no, you won't be surprised to hear.

Astonishingly, what we instead saw was Curtice's fellow psephologist Anthony King write an approving piece in the Telegraph itself about how the results actually had more credibility than previous polls, because respondents were too thick to understand what independence meant unless it was spelt out for them that it was all about "separation" (I'm paraphrasing, obviously, but that genuinely was the gist).  OK, then, so if it's not only acceptable but actually preferable for pollsters to give respondents pejorative explanations of what the ramifications of a given constitutional option would be, how exactly does that differ from the Panelbase question accurately pointing out that an independent Scotland would have to "surrender" certain powers in order to join the UK?

Or is "surrender" pejorative and "separation" somehow not pejorative?  Do psephologists and anti-independence journalists actually believe this guff?  To this day, YouGov add a completely unnecessary "explanatory" preamble whenever they ask the referendum question, "clarifying" for respondents that the question they will shortly be asked is all about "leaving the United Kingdom".  When is Professor Curtice going to denounce the lack of professionalism inherent in that approach, and point out that it detracts significantly from the credibility of the results?

*  *  *

When I posted my Twitter exchange with Duncan Hothersall the other day, I forgot to add another one I had a few hours later with the anti-independence campaign's "National Campaign Organiser (Grassroots)", Rob Murray.  It was much shorter, but it elicited what is possibly the most barking mad tweet I've ever seen, one that revelled in its own glorious illogicality to such an extent that it was almost a work of art.

Rob Murray : devo would end with Indy. Devo is a journey, 1 which should continue

Me : Independence is the obvious next step on the journey started with devo.

Rob Murray : don't be silly, independence is an end to moving forward where as Devo continues

Me : So what you're saying is that independence is "The End" and devolution is "The Neverending Story"? How sweet.

That was the best I could do given that my brain was hurting from trying to untangle what on earth Murray thought he was talking about (if anything), but Grassy Knollington came up with a better riposte.

Grassy Knollington : Better Together logic. Independence is bad because it stops the process of continuous devolution. #YouGottaLaugh


  1. If it wasn't for the EBC then the no side would be 90% behind in the polls and they know it.

    Does anybody really think that the people will put up with their democracy being stolen by the britnat establishment? Are the britnats just so totally brainwashed that they can't see that they are heading for civic strife?

  2. Some times the things they say quite quite seriously ,leave you speechless.

    I think your tweet back to Rob Murray was damned good. I would have been sitting in my chair rocking backwards and forwards blowing bubbles and humming softly...

  3. However the public are not as dumb as the BT think they are. Their scare stories are starting to annoy the non-political mass of the public. 'What is the scare this week....?'

  4. 'What is the scare this week....?'

    They find Johann.

  5. I agree with Marcia, the scare stories are so silly now that most people just laugh. I think, that even those that don't laugh, don't like get spoken down to at all by people in the main they can't stand.


  6. Even the PB tory trolls don't seem to have their hearts in it anymore as they trot out the same tired old scare stories day in, day out.

    Enjoyed the Lamont quip but FFS what on earth are SLAB doing? Little Ed and labour in westminster are making them look like complete and utter twats. Well, more so than usual anyway.

  7. Hello James,

    Been a reader of your blog for a while but never felt compelled to comment (I'm more of a reader than a commenter). Anyway, sorry to comment out of the blue (and off topic) but since you live in Cumbernauld I thought you may be interested.

    I work at Cumbernauld College and for their Freshers Days Better Together are going to be present for all three days and Yes Scotland will be present on the last day. I don't know if it's because Yes have decided only to turn up one day but I figured I might as well let someone at least distantly involved with Yes know about it. I don't live in Cumbernauld (Used to years ago) so it's not my local Yes group. I don't feel comfortable having BT there all the time and Yes only once. It feels like a lost opportunity (It might not be the choice of Yes but I don't know the circumstances).



  8. Hi TFO, thanks for the information. I'm not involved in Yes locally (and I've never been active in the SNP), so unfortunately I don't really have any contacts in Cumbernauld I can speak to about it. But with a bit of luck someone better connected might see this. (As opposed to someone better together!)

  9. I managed to track down a contact email for Yes so it should hopefully be in hand.

    I'm not really active in either campaigns as well. Mostly because the local SNP branch (and Yes group) is in another town and they are rather centric around that town, forgetting their area covers the surrounding villages and towns too.