Saturday, October 4, 2014

Lies, lies, lies : the evidence that the No campaign won by deceiving voters continues to mount

Before the referendum, Gordon Brown solemnly promised that a No vote would lead automatically to extensive new powers being transferred to the Scottish Parliament, and that he could vouch for David Cameron's intention to deliver.

Two weeks after the referendum, Brown is asking Scottish voters to sign a petition demanding that the promise be honoured, and to cross their fingers very tightly.

Before the referendum, the official No campaign promised that a No vote would lead automatically to "near federalism", and "not just Devo Max, but Devo SUPER Max".

Two weeks after the referendum, the Scottish Tory leader is telling us that Devo Max (never mind Devo SUPER Max) is a "non-starter".

Before the referendum, the leader of the official No campaign promised that a No vote would lead to "better, faster" change than a Yes vote.

Two weeks after the referendum, a "senior Tory source close to David Cameron" has informed the Herald newspaper that the new powers will not be transferred to the Scottish Parliament until at least 2017.  Given that a Yes vote would have led to Scotland becoming an independent country in the spring of 2016, this by definition means that a No vote is leading to slower change than a Yes vote would have, not "faster" change.

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Before the referendum, the message to our London overlords was simple : "True Love Isn't Possessive".

Two weeks after the referendum, it's even simpler : "Words Have Meanings".

Friday, October 3, 2014

Pondering a Panelbase puzzler

As Scottish Skier has been repeatedly cautioning us, it's difficult to have a lot of confidence in the weighting procedures Panelbase used for the full-scale Scottish poll they produced yesterday.  For the avoidance of doubt, that's good news for the SNP, because by and large the weighting didn't work in their favour.  The 282 respondents who recalled voting SNP in the 2010 Westminster general election were downweighted massively to count as just 162 people, and yet the SNP still ended up leading Labour by 34% to 32% in the final weighted results.  It's impossible to calculate what the lead would have been if a more sensible weighting system had been used, but it's safe to assume it would have been at least somewhat bigger.

As regular readers know, the problem with weighting by recalled vote from 2010 is that there's quite strong evidence that people who voted Labour or Lib Dem in 2010 and then switched to the SNP in 2011 get mixed up between the two votes, and understandably the more recent one is fresher in their memory.  Over the course of the long referendum campaign, the discredited practice of 2010 weighting was gradually consigned to the scrapheap, and indeed when Survation burst on to the scene at the start of this year with a poll that used 2010 weighting, they were castigated for it by Professor Curtice and changed their procedure in their very next poll.  So it's a bit of a mystery why Panelbase have suddenly decided to turn the clock back to the bad old days.  Even stranger is the fact that they've done it while maintaining their previous weighting procedure for Scottish Parliament voting intention, which means that this poll is almost unique in having Holyrood and Westminster numbers that are not directly comparable, ie. we have no idea what the difference would be between the SNP's vote for each parliament if the same weighting had been used consistently.

The only thin logic I can see for this is that the level of turnout is different for each type of election, and Panelbase might think that this somehow makes 2010 recall most appropriate for Westminster elections, 2011 recall most appropriate for Holyrood elections, and so on.  But if that is the reasoning, why do they taint their Holyrood weighting by adding on European Parliament recalled vote weighting as well?  Presumably it's because they intuitively feel that 2011 recall is leading to the SNP being weighted up too much, and there needs to be some counterbalance.  Why, then, do they not feel any need for a similar counterbalance to the obviously silly amount by which the SNP have been downweighted in Westminster voting intention?  It just doesn't make any sense.

It's important to note, though, that 2010 weighting doesn't in itself explain away the fact that the SNP's Westminster lead in the Panelbase poll is lower than it has been in most recent Scottish subsamples of GB-wide polls, because those polls are also generally weighted either by 2010 vote or by something very similar (albeit the weighting occurs at a GB-wide rather than Scottish level).

Incidentally, the long sequence of subsamples putting the SNP in the lead has now been broken - a Populus poll conducted yesterday and the day before puts the party on 35%, three points behind Labour.  But today's YouGov subsample, which has identical fieldwork dates to Populus, continues to show the SNP in the lead, albeit by a relatively narrow 39% to 35% margin.

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At this point my plan of giving much greater weighting to full-scale Scottish polls in the Poll of Polls kicks in, which inevitably means that the SNP's lead is sharply down, because the Panelbase poll constitutes more than half of the entire sample.  However at least we still have a continuing SNP lead for Westminster now that the sample is more credible in nature.  The following numbers take nine polls into account - the full-scale poll from Panelbase, plus four YouGov subsamples, two Populus subsamples, one ComRes subsample and one Ashcroft subsample.  Irritatingly, I can't provide a figure for the Greens for the time being, because Panelbase have lumped them in with "others" for Westminster voting intention, even in the datasets.

Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 UK general election :

SNP 35.6% (-2.8)
Labour 31.3% (+3.2)
Conservatives 17.2% (+0.1)
Liberal Democrats 5.8% (-1.3)
UKIP 5.4% (+0.5)

(The Poll of Polls uses the Scottish subsamples from all GB-wide polls that have been conducted entirely within the last seven days and for which datasets have been provided, and also all full-scale Scottish polls that have been conducted at least partly within the last seven days. Full-scale polls are given ten times the weighting of subsamples.)

Last but not least, many thanks to Sandy and Jock for putting together some Poll of Polls graphs yesterday - links to them can be found on the last thread.  I didn't get a chance to post them properly because I was out all day, and of course they've now been superceded by the new update.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

SNP lead across the board in poptastic Panelbase poll

Thanks to Scottish Skier for alerting me to a new full-scale Scottish poll from Panelbase, which corroborates the impression given by recent subsamples from GB-wide polls that the SNP are probably in the lead in voting intentions for the Westminster general election, albeit perhaps not by as wide a margin as the subsamples have suggested.

Westminster voting intention :

SNP 34%
Labour 32%
Conservatives 18%
Liberal Democrats 5%

The SNP also have a handsome lead for the Scottish Parliament election of 2016...

Scottish Parliament constituency voting intention :

SNP 42%
Labour 27%
Conservatives 15%
Liberal Democrats 5%

Scottish Parliament regional list voting intention :

SNP 37%
Labour 27%
Conservatives 16%
Greens 9%
Liberal Democrats 5%

I'm on my mobile at the moment, so I'll update the Poll of Polls when I get home tonight.

SNP extend lead to 10.3% in Scot Goes Pop Poll of Polls

I went to bed last night convinced that the SNP's extraordinary run of being in the lead in every single Scottish subsample since referendum day had finally been broken.  The tally for 'others' in the headline YouGov numbers was down by 2%, making it quite likely that the combined SNP/Plaid Cymru share of the GB-wide vote was down from 5% to 3%.  And so it has proved, but incredibly that still leaves the SNP narrowly in the lead in the Scottish subsample, with 33% of the vote to Labour's 30%.

It remains to be seen whether this narrowing of the gap is just an example of the wild fluctuations you can expect when comparing individual subsamples, or whether it's the first sign that the post-referendum surge for the SNP is tailing off just slightly.  In the meantime, the SNP's lead has actually increased in this blog's Poll of Polls, which takes account of all subsamples from the last seven days (four from YouGov, one from ComRes, one from Populus and one from Ashcroft).

Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 UK general election :

SNP 38.4% (-1.5)
Labour 28.1% (-2.2)
Conservatives 17.1% (+1.5)
Liberal Democrats 7.1% (+0.3)
UKIP 4.9% (+0.5)
Greens 2.7% (+0.3)

(The Poll of Polls uses the Scottish subsamples from all GB-wide polls that have been conducted entirely within the last seven days and for which datasets have been provided, and also all full-scale Scottish polls that have been conducted at least partly within the last seven days.  Full-scale polls are given ten times the weighting of subsamples.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

You really couldn't make this up

So let me get this straight.  Gordon Brown has said "the vow" wasn't worth the parchment it was written on, has accused David Cameron of reneging on his promise of more powers to Scotland, and has therefore naturally called for people to sign a petition demanding that the Tories deliver even less powers than they are actually planning to.

Oh-kaaaay.  My head is hurting.  No disrespect, but I think those of us who actually want the vow on "Devo SUPER Max"/"near federalism" to be honoured might just be able to find a more useful petition to sign.

Give Gordon his due, though - if you want to make the union absolutely secure, what better way of doing it than to have the front man of a solemn "vow" that saved the union tell everyone only a few days after the vote that Alex Salmond was right all along about the promise being a "trap", and that all we can do now that we've been conned into throwing away our chance to decide our own future at the ballot box is to sign a stern-looking petition and cross our fingers really tightly.  The sophistication of Brown's claim that Cameron is somehow trapping us by devolving too many powers will not detract from the genius of this intervention one iota.

Ruth Davidson apparently said earlier today that she would be "astonished" if the SNP won an extra 20 seats at the general election.  I wonder if she's quite so sure now?  Next it'll be "Willie Rennie says : Without Your Help We'll Never Get Nick Clegg to Listen."

UPDATE : It gets even better - as Rolfe and Illy point out in the comments section below, the petition Brown wants people to sign isn't his petition at all, but one that was set up after the referendum and largely signed by Yes supporters to demand that Cameron keeps his promise of more powers.  Brown has hi-jacked it after tens of thousands of people have already signed, and tried to retrospectively claim those signatures as backing a "stop Cammo from delivering too many powers!" message.

I believe the word is 'cynical'.  Or perhaps even 'desperate'.

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.

SNP open up 9.6% lead in Scot Goes Pop Poll of Polls

I've been mulling over how I can best keep track of Scottish voting intentions for next year's Westminster general election.  Full-scale Scottish polls are likely to be thin on the ground, so any method is inevitably going to rely heavily on Scottish subsamples from GB-wide polls.  That's far from ideal, but an even bigger problem is the distortion caused by the fact that YouGov produce far more polls than anyone else (five per week), and that they tend to be much less favourable to the SNP than any other firm.  However, I don't really see any way round that if I want to keep the figures as up-to-date as possible.  So this is what I've come up with for the new version of the Scot Goes Pop Poll of Polls -

1) All polls entirely conducted within the last seven days will be included, as long as the datasets have been published.

2) Any newly-published full-scale Scottish poll will be included even if the fieldwork falls partly outside the seven-day period, and will be given ten times the weighting of a subsample.

Putting that into practice for the first time, this is what it produces...

Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 UK general election :

SNP 39.9%
Labour 30.3%
Conservatives 15.6%
Liberal Democrats 6.8%
UKIP 4.4%
Greens 2.4%

That's based on eight subsamples - four from YouGov, two from Populus, one from Ashcroft and one from ComRes.  Incredibly, every single one of those subsamples has the SNP in the lead.  However, it's worth bearing in mind that the only full-scale Scottish poll to have been conducted since the referendum (from Survation) actually had the SNP behind in Westminster voting intentions, albeit narrowly and within the margin of error.  That poll isn't included in the above figures because the fieldwork ended more than seven days ago.

There should also be an Opinium poll in the mix, but unfortunately I can't include that because the datasets haven't been published yet.

The million dollar question is whether the SNP can possibly maintain this extraordinary level of support as we move further away from the referendum.  But for the time being at least, the state of play is causing a rather amusing degree of concern among the Nat-bashing usual suspects in London.  This is perhaps the most intensely satisfying tweet I've read over the last two weeks -

John Rentoul : "Alarming analysis by Peter Kellner suggesting SNP might win 26 of 59 Scottish seats, up from 6"

It's incredible, isn't it?  Before the referendum, all Rentoul cared about was keeping Scotland within his beloved country, come hell or high water.  Well, he got what he wanted, but he's still scared witless, because he's suddenly realised that the Scotland he "kept" is Scotland as it actually is (a "region" that votes in large numbers for the SNP and for self-government), rather than the "British" Scotland of his imagination.

Alex Salmond always used to say that independence would lead to England losing a surly lodger and gaining a good neighbour.  Well, it became abundantly clear during the campaign that the London establishment wanted to keep their surly lodger at all costs - they lied, bribed and bullied to achieve that objective, and now they're going to get exactly what they asked for.  If the SNP end up holding the balance of power at Westminster for the next five years as a direct result of the anti-independence terror campaign, it would be one of the most delicious ironies in human history.  More pertinently, it would also take us a big step closer to Devo Max.

That's the prize, if we can all keep our focus for the next seven months.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ruth Davidson and the 300 year Reich : never let it be said that the anti-independence brigade are losing the plot

Inevitably there has been a subtle battle underway over the last ten days to establish a narrative of what the relatively narrow No vote in the referendum means in terms of time-scale.  Jack Straw wants to abolish democracy by retrospectively defining the referendum as a forever decision, David Cameron merely wants to hold Scotland hostage for "a generation, perhaps a lifetime" before we'll be generously permitted another chance to decide our own future, while the SNP are taking the more realistic view that the Scottish people themselves will set the timetable for their next exercise in self-determination.  Another referendum will take place if and when there's demand/support for one, and the result of any such referendum will be respected just as last week's was.  Indeed, that's the only view that it's possible for a democrat to take - it was democracy that got us to this point, and you can't just stop the clock when it suits you.

But if you're going to try it on like Cameron did, you at least have to try to keep your bid at a vaguely plausible-sounding number.  Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson apparently didn't get that memo, and has today well and truly jumped the shark by setting out her plans for the next "300 years" of glorious union that we seemingly have ahead of us (whether we like it or not).

Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Ruthie.

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There was an unfortunate disagreement on the previous thread, which led a couple of people to suggest again that I disable anonymous commenting.  The reason I'm reluctant to go down that road is that it seems to automatically disable the "Name/URL" option as well, meaning everyone would have to sign in to comment.

However, I would strongly urge people not to post anonymously if at all possible.  It's really easy to post under a specific name - just select "Name/URL" and leave the URL section blank if you don't have a website or profile you want to link to.

I do fully appreciate how frustrating it must feel to be wrongly accused of trolling.  But we've had a severe problem over the last few weeks with concern trolls (people pretending to be "terribly worried" independence supporters in order to sap morale), and most of them have posted anonymously.  It can be very difficult to distinguish between genuine commenters and the trolls.

A suggestion for Labour : why not let George Galloway deliver the "Devo SUPER Max" that he promised to the voters on your behalf?

I gather that Labour are the only one of the five main Holyrood parties that still haven't announced their two nominees for Lord Smith's devolution commission.  I therefore have a constructive suggestion to make.  Given that Labour showed such inspiring ecumenicism by nominating George Galloway of all people to directly speak on their behalf at the big referendum TV debate at the Hydro, and given that Galloway used that platform to solemnly promise the viewing public that Labour and the other London parties would deliver "not just Devo Max, but Devo SUPER Max" in the event of a No vote, and given in particular that no correction was subsequently issued by the London parties and that we are therefore entitled to conclude that they are perfectly serious about delivering "Devo SUPER Max", why not nominate Galloway as Labour's representative once again, and allow him to get on with the task of delivering Devo SUPER Max in person?  I know I speak for all of us when I say that we're beside ourselves with excitement at the thought of finding out what Devo SUPER Max will actually look like - presumably it'll involve the devolution of some of the foreign affairs or defence powers that we wouldn't get with plain old Devo Max.

Alternatively, they could appoint Gordon Brown and let him get on with delivering the "near federalism" that he promised.  Before the referendum, the message to London was very short : "True Love Isn't Possessive".  Now, it's even more straightforward : "Words Have Meanings".