Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Advantage Sturgeon

Just a quick note to let you know that I have a new article at the International Business Times about the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister.  You can read it HERE, or at Yahoo News HERE.

Incidentally, the datasets from the Opinium poll are now out, but I still can't add it to the Poll of Polls, because irritatingly there's no breakdown given for Scotland!  However, the SNP are on about 3.8% across Great Britain, which almost certainly means they have the lead in the Scottish subsample.


  1. Interesting article James.

    I remember the reason given for excluding the SNP last time - they weren't standing in England, so therefore could never gain enough seats to become biggest party, and therefore could never be PM.

    Perhaps the SNP should stick candidates in half of all English seats too (there doesn't have to be any campaigning or other money spent on candidates furth of Scotland), thus leaving the broadcasters having to come up with some other excuse...

  2. 3.8/8.3*100 = 45.8%

  3. Very good article James.

    Sturgeon has a fantastic opportunity here, but also some challenges. The surge in SNP membership is unlikely to be sustained and it would be realistic to expect membership numbers to decline - perhaps quite quickly - from their peak (yet to come) over the next few years as the glamour and excitement of the referendum fades. Whether Sturgeon can galvanise people to care about the minutae of further devolution with anything like the fervour of the referendum remains to be seen.

    And then when further powers are offered either side of the general election there will be an early test of her judgement and mettle when she positions herself in response. The hardcore will urge her to reject all but the fullest offering; the pragmatists will want to ensure she does not lose the bird in hand (or rather, is not seen to be delaying the extra powers Scots clearly want). She herself might want to leave some powers on the table to be won in due course and to retain the politically useful construct of the big bad Westminster parliament.

    Then there is the question of what Alex Salmond does. It's hard to believe he will retire from public life altogether, and I think we can safely rule out a peaceful sinecure at the House of Lords. Will he be supportive of his protegee, or will he be unable to resist interfering, particularly if he disagrees with Sturgeon's course?

    Still, I think Sturgeon will be in the happiest position of Britain's political leaders when she takes up the reigns. The short-term future looks terrific - the near certainty of extensive further powers providing an early win and the bonus opportunity of still positioning herself on the side of Scots v London parties, the prospect of significant gains at the general election (at which I think the SNP could well brutalise Labour), and a broad and supportive membership base and motivated activists. It doesn't get much better than that.

  4. Craig has a point - they could afford to put name candidates up in a fair number of seats and get on the TV podium with the BritNats

  5. UKIP (and possibly the BNP?) would have had enough candidates last time to theoretically be able to win the election, but weren't allowed into the debates.

  6. Basically, if austerity is ended imminently, Scotland's budget is increased with new extensive powers, Labour move back to the true centre-left, the Tories are trounced for the next decade, UKIP die away, the prospect of an EU referendum fades, living standards shoot up in a new prosperity boom based on a move away from casino banking and house price bubbles to manufacturing etc, privatisation of the NHS is rolled back with rebuilding of the welfare state, trident comes to an end with no renewal and Britain reduces its role as world police... then sturgeon / indy chances are fecked.

    Otherwise, we'll quite likely be back at the ballot box as early as next Scottish parly term.

  7. To be fair scottish_skier, the only thing more amusing than the prospect of BritNats achieving all that would be a bumptious and totally unironic lecture on party unity as the tory party runs about like headless chickens (yet again) playing hunt the kipper.

    Comedy Gold as they say. ;-)

  8. I'm sorry Porky, you're quite right. Sturgeon will face no challenges whatsoever, her path as as leader will be the smoothest of any leader of any nation, ever, there are no pitfalls ahead, no risks, no challenges. SNP membership can only ever go up. Salmond will never disagree with anything Sturgeon does, Scotland will remain convulsed with desire for independence until the day finally comes.

    And currency wasn't an issue, and trust was the issue, and the no campaign were destroyed, and the yes campaign were always going to win the referendum town by town, door by door, and the witless shreiking imbeciles who disagreed with you were hysterically wrong...

  9. ps The Tories are, obviously, a complete shambles at the moment.

  10. pps hilariously given our debate yesterday I see Blair Jenkins has now acknowledged the BBC weren't biased in their coverage of the campaign. And Jim Sillars believes currency was a factor in the yes campaign's loss. Ho ho.

  11. I think you can add Labour and the Libs to that flockers.

    UKIP too, although they thrive on being a shambles. Not sure if that will work when it comes to the crunch though.

    Parties not in a shambles would be:

    Which you might think odd as supposedly, they've lost?

  12. Sillars has always said the currency policy was daft, hasn't he?

  13. I see el Gordo is centre stage again saying the 'the vow' was a pack of lies and we all need to sign his petition against the nasty Westminster.

    Interesting development.

  14. Any comments from the diehards here about Blair Jenkins' statement on BBC bias? He's stated that any claims about systematic bias at the BBC during the referendum aren't credible. A very reasonable comment in my view (I've always said those at the top of Yes Scotland and the SNP/Greens were reasonable people even if I disagree with them) but I know some people on here will no doubt disagree. Is he wrong?

  15. WoolSpears : I don't think we need look any further than the fact that Alex Salmond is on record as taking a very different view from Blair Jenkins - he stated that the BBC had failed to understand the distinction between a public service broadcaster and a state broadcaster. Blair Jenkins of course has a foot in both camps as a former BBC man.

  16. Of course I've no idea if you think Mr Salmond is one of us "diehards". (Sigh.)

  17. @Wool

    It is the views of the population as a whole that matters in terms of perceived media bias.

  18. LOL

    Touched a bit of a sore spot with the out of touch tory twit I see. Dementedly shrieking and setting up pitiful and witless straw men isn't going to help the incompetent fop Cameron look any less like John Major now, is it?

    Mark R. Williams ‏@Mardconsult 4h

    #CPC14 : Panic as Ukip Threat Hangs Over David Cameron's Big Speech http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/conservative-conference-2014-panic-ukip-threat-hangs-over-david-camerons-big-speech-1467652 … via @IBTimesUK #conservativeparty


  19. With the absolute chaos that is now engulfing Westminster over their "more powers" promises, I believe we need Alex Salmond to stay on as FM more than ever now.

    I am sure Nicola will be an excellent FM in time, but I strongly believe that Scotland should continue to enjoy the political skills of Alex Salmond still representing us for the foreseeable future.

  20. @ Wool

    Blair Jenkins comes from a BBC/STV background and is obviously out of a job just now, it would appear he's playing Mr Nice Guy rather than burning bridges... as he re-enters the job world

  21. "I don't think we need look any further than the fact that Alex Salmond is on record as taking a very different view from Blair Jenkins - he stated that the BBC had failed to understand the distinction between a public service broadcaster and a state broadcaster. Blair Jenkins of course has a foot in both camps as a former BBC man."

    I would imagine the fact that he has "a foot in both camps" would make him far better qualified to comment than most - rather than what you're actually implying here which is that there's some conflict of interest which makes his opinion somehow less valid.

    Personally, I've worked in the media myself (though I don't anymore) and the idea that the very highest echelons of the BBC were intentionally plotting to systematically push people into voting No is just ridiculous when you have an understanding of how these organisations work. We seem to have lost sight of just how ridiculous that argument actually is because it's been repeated incessantly over the last year. Even John Robertson didn't say the BBC was intentionally trying to spread propaganda.

    The way genuinely laughable ideas - from the world's largest oil field rumour to the painfully stupid electoral fraud video - have gained traction recently is pretty depressing, so it was nice to see Blair Jenkins come out and say what he did. It reaffirmed my belief that most people on the Yes side are simply normal people and the 5% who buy into every batshit crazy theory going aren't representative of the larger group.

  22. 20 point lead for the SNP in Yougov this morning.

  23. The BBC are as unbiased as a British to the core organisation can be. Their bias flows from their assumption of the superiority of the establishment narrative and the status quo. However so long as the majority of people remain steeped in the myth of BBC impartiality, Blair Jenkins has decided not to upset that belief. However, a failure of the yes campaign in my opinion was in not normalising the idea of media bias.

    I am not going to say the likes of Russia Today or newsnet scotland are not biased - they are - but the BBC's bias is all the more powerful for being invisible to much of its target audience.

  24. Thank you James for an uplifting article and thanks for the sheer comedy gold from various commenters stating that the bbc are not biased.

  25. "I would imagine the fact that he has "a foot in both camps" would make him far better qualified to comment than most"

    Or more realistically, it means that he has divided loyalties, and two sets of friends he doesn't want to offend. To be honest, I'm absolutely astonished that anyone could look at the coverage of the penultimate week of campaigning (from the network news, I mean, not BBC Scotland) and conclude that there wasn't a serious problem. Perhaps we could be ultra-generous here and say that there wasn't "systematic" or "intentional" bias, but that's dancing on the head of a pin. The effect is more important than the intention. The coverage actually markedly improved over the closing days, and that made it pretty obvious that they'd privately realised the ways in which they'd been making a hash of it - but by then the damage had been done.

  26. We already covered the BBC in great detail with something called "evidence" and testimony from those who have worked in influential positions in the BBC and broadcasting. Though to be fair it's hard to stack up mere evidence against someone who sounds about 12 and has the most absurdly rose-tinted and pollyanna view of the BBC imaginable.

    Ye know, someone gullible and dimwitted enough not to remember all the lies and propaganda spouted by the BBC over things like an actual WAR in Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of civiliains and hundreds of scottish and UK troops.

    Apparently the mere notion that a state broadcaster like the British Broadcasting Company could possibly be biased or incompetent is just ridiculous when you have an understanding of how these organisations work.

    This would be the BBC where Jimmy Savile 'worked' unhindered for some 40 years of course and where an out of touch elite at the top are still very much in evidence.

    Closed shop at the top in deeply elitist Britain, says study

    Elitism so embedded in Britain that it could be called social engineering, social mobility commission concludes

    Britain is "deeply elitist" because people educated at public school and Oxbridge have in effect created a "closed shop at the top", according to a government report published on Thursday.

    Only 7% of members of the public attended a private school. But 71% of senior judges, 62% of senior officers in the armed forces, 55% of permanent secretaries in Whitehall, 53% of senior diplomats, 50% of members of the House of Lords and 45% of public body chairs did so.

    So too did 44% of people on the Sunday Times Rich List, 43% of newspaper columnists, 36% of cabinet ministers, 33% of MPs, 26% of BBC executives and 22% of shadow cabinet ministers.

    Oxbridge graduates also have a stranglehold on top jobs. They comprise less than 1% of the public as a whole, but 75% of senior judges, 59% of cabinet ministers, 57% of permanent secretaries, 50% of diplomats, 47% of newspaper columnists, 44% of public body chairs, 38% of members of the House of Lords, 33% of BBC executives, 33% of shadow cabinet ministers, 24% of MPs and 12% of those on the Sunday Times Rich List.


    No doubt the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission must be batshit crazy.


  27. Mick Pork, the elitest data you submitted is THE problem!!

    The USA has many problems but the elitest nature is not one of them.

    At every opportunity we need to seek ways to break the Oxbridge stranglehold.