Saturday, January 9, 2016

SNP's mammoth lead increases further in Scot Goes Pop Poll of Polls

I had some technological problems before Christmas, and wasn't able to update this blog's Poll of Polls for the Holyrood election when the most recent TNS poll came out.  So I sat down to do it today, and suddenly realised that the rules I decided upon a few months ago are coming back to haunt me.  I said that only pollsters that have conducted at least one poll within the last three months would be taken into account (that was to prevent a repeat of the situation during the indyref when an ancient Angus Reid poll was left in the sample for almost a year), and that now means Panelbase and Survation will have to drop out, because neither have carried out a (published) voting intention poll since September.  The trend figures will therefore become somewhat less meaningful, but I may as well stick with the original plan.

Constituency ballot :

SNP 53.0% (+0.2)
Labour 20.7% (-1.3)
Conservatives 16.3% (+0.9)
Liberal Democrats 5.3% (-0.3)

Regional list ballot :

SNP 48.3% (+1.7)
Labour 19.7% (-1.7)
Conservatives 15.7% (+0.9)
Greens 7.3% (+0.3)
Liberal Democrats 5.7% (-0.3)

(The Poll of Polls is based on a rolling average of the most recent poll from each of the firms that have reported Scottish Parliament voting intention numbers over the previous three months, and that adhere to British Polling Council rules. At present, there are three - YouGov, TNS and Ipsos-Mori. Whenever a new poll is published, it replaces the last poll from the same company in the sample.)

The Tories' moderately good showing can be explained by two factors : a) YouGov are a Tory-friendly pollster in Scottish terms and make up a bigger portion of the sample than usual, and b) the Tories did unusually well in the most recent Ipsos-Mori poll, which may well be a freakish finding because other firms haven't shown a similar increase.  Even with these advantages, though, Ruth Davidson's mob still find themselves several points behind Labour, so the right-wing media are probably deluding themselves with their belief that Labour can be displaced as the leading opposition party.

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Alex Massie in the Spectator -

"Everyone loves Ruth Davidson. No one will vote for her."

Not for the first time in his life, he's half-right.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Glasgow Effect : why do the anti-independence media think Ellie Harrison's nationality is important?

Just a quick note to let you know that I have a new article at the International Business Times, about the controversy over the awarding of £15,000 to an artist in return for her not leaving the city of Glasgow for a year, and about the anti-independence media's curious obsession with the fact that the said artist is "English" and "London-born".  You can read the article HERE.

Spoiler alert : There are no spoilers. We don't know the election result until the votes are counted.

There's yet another "tactical voting on the list" (sic) article out today, this time from Fraser Stewart at Common Space.  This is becoming incredibly repetitive, but I'll just briefly deal with his central claim...

"Thus, if a party was to win nine constituency seats in Glasgow, say, their second vote share would be reduced to one-tenth of the original figure. Large parties doing well on first votes systematically cannot do anywhere near as well on the list: a simple and effective reality of the d’Hondt method.

Yet many remain defiant to stand by the SNP on both constituency and list votes, in the face of this systemic impenetrability. Spoiler alert: if a pro-independence Holyrood is your ambition, both votes SNP can not and will not work."

The word "say" covers a multitude of sins. By definition we cannot possibly know how many constituency seats the SNP will win in any region until the votes are counted, by which point it's too late to do anything about your "tactical" vote on the list if all of your assumptions turn out to be wrong. But OK, let's "say" for the sake of argument that the SNP will clean up in the constituencies. The snag is that one-tenth of a huge numbers of votes is still a lot of votes, and will quite probably be a greater number than a small party like RISE has received. It may well meet the de facto threshold for winning at least one list seat in the region.

Suppose you and a friend are both SNP supporters, but are both avid fans of RISE press releases on Bella Caledonia, and are tempted by the idea of a "tactical vote on the list" (sic). Suppose you have second thoughts at the last minute and stick with the SNP, but your friend goes through with it and switches to RISE. The SNP win a list seat in spite of their list vote being divided by ten, while RISE receive a derisory vote and fall well short of the de facto threshold of 5%. Question : whose vote has "worked", and whose vote has been "wasted"?

By the way, if a pro-independence Holyrood was your aim in 2011, it may be news to you that "both votes SNP cannot work". We currently have an outright SNP majority, and it simply wouldn't have been won without list votes - if they'd been relying on constituency votes alone, the SNP would have fallen a whopping twelve seats short of the target of 65.

Oddly, the rest of Fraser's article moves on from "tactical voting", and instead makes the case that you shouldn't vote SNP on the list because it would be a really bad thing if the SNP won a huge majority. Er, haven't we just been told the system makes that impossible, and that SNP votes on the list won't even count? Jeez, get it sorted, guys...

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I thought I'd give a quick New Year's plug to this blog's Facebook page, because I know some people who only use the mobile version of the site may not be aware of its existence. Basically, if you 'like' the page, you'll see a link on your Facebook feed whenever I post here. So it shouldn't be too obtrusive! The link to the page is HERE.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The BBC's guidelines for Holyrood election don't merely defy natural justice - they also defy logic and precedent

I'm finding it hard to work myself up into my customary state of moral outrage over the BBC's (provisional) decision about which parties should be treated as 'major' in the coverage of this year's election, because this time it's not really the SNP that is being disadvantaged - although admittedly it's possible that overly-generous coverage of the Liberal Democrats could harm the SNP in its bid to prize away the Northern Isles constituency seats.  But in spite of my relative inner calmness (and it's genuinely a novelty), I can't deny that the decision and the reasoning behind it is just as indefensible as ever.

Consider this.  In 2003, the Green party won 6.9% of the list vote, and seven out of the 129 seats.  At the subsequent election in 2007, they were still treated as a second-string party, and were barred from most of the leaders' debates, which were still the traditional four-way affairs between the SNP, Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.  In 2011, the Liberal Democrats won 5.2% of the list vote, and five out of 129 seats.  That was clearly inferior to what the Greens achieved in 2003, and yet for some reason the Lib Dems are still being defined as one of four parties who attained "substantial representation" in 2011.  There's no explanation at all of why the goalposts have shifted over the last nine years.  It's murderously hard not to conclude that the BBC's flexible definition of "substantial representation" boils down to "whatever the Lib Dems have, and whatever the Greens don't have".

Of course, those sympathetic to the Greens are framing this as an injustice towards Patrick Harvie's party, but it could just as easily (perhaps more easily) be argued that both the Lib Dems and the Greens should be barred from the main debates. I'm not saying that would in any way be fair or desirable, but it's the only real conclusion that can be drawn from the 2007 precedent.  It should be noted that prior to last year's general election, Ofcom made clear that it was only the Lib Dems' performance in 2010 that justified their status as a major party in Scotland - their support in the most recent Holyrood, local and European elections wasn't sufficient.  It's hard to see how Ofcom will be able to avoid the conclusion that last year's result is the final piece of the jigsaw, and that the Lib Dems should now be relegated to the second tier alongside the Greens.  OK, Ofcom is not the BBC, but it will be distinctly odd if the two organisations diverge on such an important point.

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Tom "Bomber Admin" Harris, now very much an ex-MP, quoted at Stormfront Lite yesterday -

"Corbynistas bang on about their man’s “mandate”.  If party rules had been respected, he wouldn’t even have been on the ballot paper."

Those ridiculous anti-democratic rules, requiring that any candidate for the Labour leadership can only go forward to the ballot if they are nominated by 15% of Labour MPs, were of course respected to the letter.  Jeremy Corbyn received the requisite number of nominations, fair and square.  It's Harris, McTernan and their ilk who disrespected the process by making a bogus distinction between "real nominations" and "nominations by moron".  All a bit reminiscent of their fallen hero Tony Blair unilaterally rewriting the rules of the United Nations Security Council to incorporate the novel concept of the "unreasonable veto" (ie. a veto exercised by any country other than Britain or the United States).