Saturday, February 11, 2017

Bombshell on BBC bias : BMG poll reveals that less than a quarter of the Scottish public actively reject suggestions of BBC bias against independence

As you may have seen overnight, it turns out that the BMG/Herald poll also asked a question about BBC bias against independence.  Because the poll was not commissioned by a pro-independence client, it's going to be hard for the corporation to dismiss the results out of hand.  36% of respondents agreed with the statement that "the BBC tends to report news that is biased against the cause of Scottish independence", and only 23% disagreed, with the remainder (41%) apparently saying they neither agreed nor disagreed. The datasets haven't been released yet (and as it's the weekend we'll probably have to wait at least a couple of days), but the Herald article reveals that belief in BBC bias is heavily concentrated among people who voted Yes, and to a lesser extent among the young - presumably because there's a fair amount of overlap between those two groups.

If you'd told me a poll on this subject was coming, I think I would have been able to predict that a third or more of people think the BBC is biased. The real shock, and what should genuinely alarm the corporation's bosses, is the fact that less than a quarter of respondents actively dismissed the notion of bias. Judging by the affected incredulity the BBC adopted when brushing off the accusations of one-sidedness in 2014, this is an institution that has remained fairly relaxed about the loyalty of its 'natural constituency' - ie. the people who are supposed to reflexively dismiss any notion that the BBC isn't scrupulously fair and impartial as the ravings of brainwashed lunatics. You can see from the reaction of opposition parties in the Herald piece ("celebrate the BBC!" demands Willie Rennie) that they also still believe that the impulse to defend the BBC to the death is alive and well among Scotland's silent majority - but this poll suggests they're wrong. Even without seeing the datasets, basic arithmetic will tell you that more than half of No voters presumably declined to actively reject the suggestion of bias.

And in all honesty, that's hardly surprising, given that No voters saw the same BBC coverage as the rest of us during the crucial penultimate week of the 2014 campaign. BBC news at network level seemed to have been sleepwalking through the campaign until the YouGov poll putting Yes ahead was published on the penultimate Saturday night. Lorry-loads of London journalists then suddenly descended upon Glasgow and Edinburgh, and having had no experience of covering the issue, they imagined they were somehow being impartial by putting out wall-to-wall coverage of "warnings of economic Armageddon if Scotland becomes independent" stories, just so long as they always gave the Yes campaign a defensive right of reply to the "warnings". After a week of this unmitigated hysteria, they finally seemed to take a step back and put their house in order to a limited extent, but by that time the damage was largely done - both to the Yes campaign, and ironically, to the BBC's own reputation in Scotland.

They say that the first step towards solving a problem is to recognise that it exists. Donalda MacKinnon has gone further down that road than anyone before her, but she still seemed to be saying that the problem was that people believed the BBC was biased, rather than that bias existed. It can only be hoped that there's considerably more self-awareness in private than there is in the BBC's public pronouncements.

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To what extent will the next Yes campaign be a "Remain" campaign?

There's been a lot of talk in recent days about the UK government 'war-gaming' how things may play out if - as seems increasingly likely - Nicola Sturgeon declares her intention to hold an independence referendum next year.  But I suspect the SNP and their allies will be doing some pretty intense war-gaming of their own, and a lot of it will focus on the extent to which the next Yes campaign should essentially be a Remain campaign.  We know that the focus will stay firmly on the EU issue until the campaign actually gets underway, because that's the casus belli for holding a second indyref so soon after the first.  But I've tended to assume that, once the campaign starts, the Yes side will "pivot" (to use the ugly American buzzword) and adopt a more 2014-style message in an attempt to make it easier for Brexit supporters to back independence.

It's possible I've been wrong about that.  The counter-argument is that, if we believe the BMG poll, almost a fifth of people who voted Yes in 2014 and Leave in 2016 have already switched to No.  Conceivably that's as bad as it's ever going to get (if the last few months haven't put the other Leave voters off, what will?), and yet we're still only very slightly behind.  Instead of obsessing over getting a relatively small group of people back on board, perhaps we should be concentrating on the much larger pool of No/Remain voters, only 8% of whom have so far jumped to Yes.  If detailed polling and focus groups find that a significant minority of that segment of the public strongly prioritise the retention of EU membership and free movement of people, it may well be worth going with an all-out pro-EU message.  Perhaps these people aren't quite yet ready to admit to themselves, let alone to pollsters, that the Britain they believe in doesn't really exist anymore (or soon won't).  For the most part, pro-EU people who voted No in 2014 are better-educated and relatively affluent, and are therefore more likely to turn out to vote.  They're a prize well worth winning, and I'd suggest they're unlikely to be wooed by an "EFTA might do" sort of fudge.

Focusing on Europe is also likely to maximise the turnout among citizens of other EU countries, who as we all know anecdotally have swung very heavily behind Yes.  Quite how big an impact that's going to have is difficult to say, because pollsters don't have target figures for EU citizens.  Most independence polls do weight by place of birth and have a target figure for those born outside the UK, but it's impossible to know whether they're getting the blend of EU and non-EU citizens right.  There may well be something going on under the radar that the polls aren't picking up.  OK, we're only talking about a small percentage of the population, but an extra 0.5% for Yes is not to be sniffed at in a potentially close race.

Incidentally, and incredible though it may seem, BMG don't appear to weight by place of birth at all.  If their online panel is remotely similar to YouGov's or to Panelbase's, it'll have far too many English-born people in it, thus potentially leading to an underestimate of the Yes vote if there isn't weighting to correct for the problem.

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A strange rumour started on Twitter a couple of days ago that the BMG poll didn't interview 16 and 17 year olds.  It then mutated to "they did interview 16 and 17 year olds but excluded them from the final results".  Quite what the point of that would have been is anyone's guess, but suffice to say it isn't true.  16 and 17 year olds are fully included in the poll, and they actually go some of the way towards explaining why the Yes vote is as high as 49%.  In the unweighted sample, just 5 people of that age range answered the independence question, and it looks like they may have broken 4-1 for Yes.  Their responses will then have been significantly upweighted to bring them to the correct target figure for the age group - in other words, five real respondents will have been upweighted to count as dozens of 'virtual' respondents.

So we have two factors pointing in opposite directions - the upweighting of 16 and 17 year olds may conceivably have led to an overestimate of the Yes vote, but the failure to weight by place of birth may well have led to an underestimate of the Yes vote.  It would be a brave person who claims to know what the true Yes vote is - or even whether it's over or under 50%.

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Thursday, February 9, 2017


Well, the title pretty much makes my point for me, but I'll expand on it just a little.  Three days ago, there was an Orwellian, black-is-white headline in the Telegraph, which paraphrased Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson as saying it would be "foolhardy to devolve all EU agriculture powers to Scotland after Brexit".  In reality, it would be extremely difficult to devolve any agriculture powers to Scotland at all after Brexit, for the very simple reason that AGRICULTURE IS ALREADY DEVOLVED.

It's true that the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government are currently severely restricted in what they can do on agriculture, because EU law cuts across huge swathes of devolved policy areas, meaning that in practice a lot of the power is held at EU level.  But because agriculture is already devolved from Westminster to Scotland, those powers will automatically revert to Scotland after Brexit.  The only way that any or all of those powers will somehow end up at Westminster is if the UK government rips up the current devolved settlement, and removes agriculture from the jurisdiction of the Scottish Parliament, either in whole or in part.  That's exactly what Ruth Davidson is proposing should happen, presumably because Theresa May has warned her that's what's going to happen anyway, and has told her that the Scottish Tories had better start getting their excuses in early.

Removing powers the Scottish Parliament holds as of right will of course require a breach of the Sewel Convention - unless Holyrood gives its consent via a Legislative Consent Motion, which plainly is not going to happen.  We know from the Supreme Court ruling last month that the Sewel Convention has no legal force whatever (a direct betrayal of "The Vow") and that the UK government can cheerfully ignore it at any time.  So we're powerless to directly prevent any of this from being done, but what we can do is insist that a spade is called a spade.  The UK government is not judiciously deciding which powers should or should not be generously 'given' to Scotland.  It is instead deciding which powers should be taken away against our will, in flagrant contravention of the promises made during the independence referendum about the permanence and entrenched nature of the Scottish Parliament.

One thing is for sure - if there's a second indyref, and the London establishment is once again forced into last-minute concessions to try to head off defeat, nobody (except maybe John Barrowman) is going to accept that "recognition of conventions" and "political assurances" are basically the same thing as binding legal guarantees.  They got away with that confidence trick once, but it's been totally exposed and won't work again. This time they'll have to put their money where their mouth is.

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I was asked on the previous thread about the outrageously misleading headline claiming that John Curtice had said the BMG poll putting Yes at 49% was an "error".  This was my reply -

"No, he hasn't said that. The way his comments have been reported is absolutely ridiculous. He's just making the obvious point that there's such a thing as sampling variation and a standard margin of error in each poll, which means that an individual poll can never be taken as proof that there has been a genuine change in public opinion. He hasn't found any methodological mistakes, or anything like that - he's just urging caution."

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

New BMG poll finds much greater support than Panelbase for an independence referendum BEFORE Brexit negotiations are completed

The datasets for last night's sensational BMG poll appeared late this afternoon.  There's not a huge amount in them, because it's just a basic two-question poll, and BMG's datasets are in certain respects more limited than those produced by other firms.  However, there are a few important nuggets of information -

* As I suspected, the Herald misled us badly by claiming that there is a 56%-44% majority against holding a second indyref before Britain leaves the EU.  The question actually asked was : "In 2014 there was an independence referendum in Scotland.  In your opinion, should there be another independence referendum held prior to Brexit negotiations being concluded between the UK and the EU?"  Logically, anyone who thinks that an independence referendum should be held after the end of negotiations but before the actual date of Brexit would answer "no" to that question.  That's not some sort of technical objection, because the recent Panelbase poll found that almost as many people thought there should be a referendum soon after negotiations are concluded (23%) as thought there should be one while negotiations are ongoing (27%).  Therefore, the BMG poll doesn't tell us one way or another whether there is a majority for a referendum before Brexit, because that quite simply wasn't the question asked.

Indeed, on the face of it, the 44% in the BMG poll in favour of a referendum before the end of negotiations is much higher than the equivalent 27% in the Panelbase poll - although the Yes/No format of the BMG question may have effectively forced some supporters of a referendum to plump for "yes".

* As in the previous BMG poll, it looks as if the Yes vote may have been significantly downweighted due to 2014 vote recall, because virtually as many people in the unweighted sample recall voting Yes in the first indyref as recall voting No.  Rolfe suggested on the previous thread that this is encouraging, because it perhaps means that some people who decided to vote No at the last minute and regretted it may be falsely claiming that they voted Yes.  There's no hard evidence of that happening, but if by any chance it has, it would screw up the weightings and potentially lead to the Yes vote being slightly underestimated.

* The message of the recent YouGov aggregate figures is repeated - people who voted Yes in 2014 and then Leave in 2016 are potentially a problem for the next Yes campaign, because 19% of them have now switched to No (after Don't Knows are excluded).  In proportionate terms, although not in terms of absolute numbers, that's much higher than the 8% of No/Remain voters who have switched to Yes.  But, of course, this is an opportunity in disguise - if Yes can bring some of the straying voters back home (while holding on to what they currently have), it would be enough in itself to nudge them into the lead.

* Yes/Leave voters look very much like the 'swing respondents' on the question of when a referendum should be held, because they split practically 50/50 on whether there should be an indyref before Brexit negotiations are concluded.  By contrast, Yes/Remain voters favour a very quick indyref by a whopping 5-1 margin.

* People who consider themselves to be left-wing break 2-1 for Yes, while right-wingers break 3-1 for No.  That's not actually an advantage for No, because obviously - this being Scotland - there are far more left-wingers than right-wingers.  However, the single biggest grouping is made up of self-defined centrists, who favour No by a razor-thin 53-47 margin.

* Yes stay in the lead among men (they were slightly ahead even last month), and have cut the gap among women to eight points.  They are also ahead in every age category up to 44.  The relatively small Yes deficits in the 45-54 and 55-64 categories mean it is certain that there is a significant Yes lead among under-65s in general.  The killer, as ever, is the over-65 category, where No are ahead by an almost 3-1 margin.  That problem is magnified by the fact that older people are considerably more likely to turn out to vote.

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Support for independence surges to 49% as the roof caves in on Theresa May's "Scotland will have to lump it" doctrine

After a six or seven month spell during which polls across all firms have stubbornly refused to put support for independence any higher than 47%, we may at last have our breakthrough moment in the latest BMG poll for the Herald.  I say "may", because there's always a chance that an individual poll showing a novel trend could turn out to be a freak result.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 49% (+3.5)
No 51% (-3.5)

Note : I doubt if the swing is exactly 3.5% - BMG seem to round their results to the nearest 0.5%.

This is comfortably the best showing for Yes since the flurry of three polls (two from Survation, one from Panelbase) in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit referendum which all reported an outright Yes lead.  Although tonight's poll still shows a narrow lead for No, it should be noted that a 49-51 split is a genuine 'statistical tie' - meaning that even if the methodology is completely sound (a very big if in this day and age), it's impossible to tell which side is really in the lead due to the standard margin of error.

I know some people will be thinking to themselves "this is very similar to the polls we saw on the eve of the referendum in 2014, and look what happened then".  The good news is that the similarity is likely to be highly misleading.  There was plainly a small pro-Yes bias in the pre-referendum polling in 2014 which has since been tackled by the introduction of weighting by recalled referendum vote.  Although the datasets are not yet out for tonight's poll, it's clear that in the last BMG poll there must have been a very sharp downweighting of the Yes vote due to that factor, because in the unweighted sample there were actually more people who recalled voting Yes in 2014 than who recalled voting No.  If anything even close to the same pattern has been seen in the new poll, the likelihood is that Yes would have been in the lead without weighting by recalled indyref vote, meaning that in 'real terms' the numbers we're seeing now are better than the 49% showings for Yes in September 2014.

The Herald's write-up of the poll ascribes the boost for Yes to Theresa May's speech confirming that Britain will leave the single market, and that by extension Scotland will be dragged out against its will.  The problem with that theory is that May's speech was delivered on 17th January, and the most recent Panelbase poll - which failed to detect any Yes surge - was entirely conducted after that, between the 20th and the 26th.  If the Yes surge is real and not an illusion caused by sampling variation, the explanation is probably a little more complicated.  It's possible that the Supreme Court ruling on the 24th played a part, because most of the Panelbase fieldwork would have been conducted before that, and all of BMG's fieldwork was conducted afterwards (between the 26th and 31st).  It may also be that as the dust has settled from May's speech, a sense of hopelessness has gradually set in about the chances of Scotland's interests being protected inside the UK.  Quite honestly, it would be preferable if the apparent change in public opinion isn't caused by a shocked reaction to a specific speech, because that would mean it's less likely to be quickly reversed as the shock subsides.

As you may remember, the BMG/Herald series of polls have developed something of a reputation for asking biased questions.  The first poll in the autumn used just about the most ludicrous "question on independence" that I can ever recall - so ludicrous, in fact, that the poll should not properly have been considered to be an independence poll at all, although that didn't stop the mainstream media reporting it as if it was.  The second poll a month ago reverted to the standard question on independence, but unfortunately that return to good sense was spoiled by a mind-bogglingly daft supplementary question that asked whether people wanted a referendum in 2017 - in spite of the fact that nobody in the SNP was talking about a referendum this year.  The sole purpose of that question seemed to be to produce responses that could be spun as "Scotland doesn't want a referendum".  Nicola Sturgeon has since explicitly ruled out a 2017 indyref, leaving BMG with no choice but to change their question wording.  We won't know what the exact question was until the datasets are published, but given BMG's dodgy past form on this, we should be extremely cautious about the Herald's claim that there is a 56% to 44% majority against holding a referendum "before Britain leaves the EU".  When we see the question wording, I wouldn't be totally surprised if it turns out to be narrower than we've been led to believe.  We already know from Panelbase's multi-option question that there are plenty of people who don't want an indyref while Brexit negotiations are ongoing, but who nevertheless do want an indyref as soon as those negotiations are over, "in about two years".  I suspect BMG's findings won't contradict that, but we'll see.

And a rather amusing point : when Panelbase changed their wording to ask people if they wanted a referendum within "one or two years" rather than "two or three", the media falsely reported the findings as if they were directly comparable to the previous poll, thus producing the illusion of a drop in support for an early indyref.  If our journalists were being consistent about things, they would similarly ignore BMG's change of wording, and report this poll as if it shows a huge 5.5% swing in favour of an early indyref - because the 38.5% who wanted a 2017 referendum in last month's poll has "increased" to 44% support for an early referendum in this poll.  I somehow suspect it won't be reported in that way, though!

Whether he's doing it wittingly or unwittingly, the BMG spokesman quoted in the Herald piece is parrotting inaccurate Tory propaganda when he says that this poll still falls short of Nicola Sturgeon's "red lines" of "clear and consistent support".  (Notice how Tory MSP Adam Tomkins uses similar language later in the article.)  In fact, Ms Sturgeon set no such "red lines" for calling a referendum.  In her statements between September 2014 and June 2016, she made clear that a second indyref could be triggered by a sustained increase in support for independence OR by a material change in circumstances such as Scotland being dragged out of the EU against its will.  The necessary conditions have therefore already been met.

The reality is, though, that the vast majority of polls conducted since 23rd June last year have continued to show support for independence that is higher than in the 2014 referendum - so arguably there has been a sustained increase in support anyway.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Homage to Catalonia

Just a quick note to let you know that I have a new article at the TalkRadio website about the appalling events in Catalonia, where the former Prime Minister Artur Mas has been put on trial simply for organising a vote on independence that he had been given an overwhelming mandate for.  I also touch on the vitally important democratic principle that is at stake for all of us "separatists" everywhere.  You can read the article HERE.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Scotland will become independent, says 61% of public in explosive Panelbase poll

Panelbase have updated their datasets, thus solving the mystery of yesterday's tweet from Jason Allardyce suggesting that the public believe Scottish independence to be "inevitable".  That turns out to be a reference to the re-asking of a question that has been posed before (and with unchanged wording, thus making a direct comparison with the previous poll possible).

38% (+3) believe Scotland is likely to become independent within 5-10 years
16% (-2) believe Scotland is likely to become independent, but not for at least 10-15 years
7% (-1) believe Scotland is likely to become independent, but not for at least 20-30 years
27% (+1) do not believe Scotland is likely to become independent in the next few decades
13% (n/c) don't know

That means a total of 61% expect independence within the next few decades.  A clear majority (54%) selected one of the first two options, which in spite of the imprecise wording appears to imply that they expect independence within two decades at the absolute most.  And that's with the don't knows taken into account - if they're stripped out, more than 43% of the sample expect independence within just five or ten years.

As you'd imagine, Yes voters from the first indyref are most bullish about the likelihood of independence, but the total number of No voters who anticipate independence at some point over the next few decades (40%) is almost equal to the number of No voters who don't think it will happen at all (43%).  And intriguingly enough, as many as 49% of English-born voters expect independence, and only 36% don't.  However, the subsample of English voters is relatively small, so those figures should be treated with caution.

The other important piece of news from the updated datasets is the complete figures for Westminster voting intention, including the smaller parties...

SNP 47% (n/c)
Conservatives 27% (+3)
Labour 15% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 4% (-1)
Greens 3% (n/c)
UKIP 3% (-1)

Adding up the raw numbers gives the two main pro-independence parties an outright majority of the vote - just.  The SNP and Greens have approximately 50.3% between them.  Part of the explanation is that No voters from 2014 are significantly more likely than Yes voters to say they have less than an 80% chance of turning out for an election, or that they don't know which party they would vote for, and as a result end up being removed from the sample.  Nevertheless, a majority for the pro-independence parties is highly encouraging as we ponder the possibility (I've no idea of how strong a possibility it is) of a snap Holyrood election to win an outright mandate for independence if the Westminster Tories are stupid enough to attempt to block a referendum.

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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Congratulations to the Scottish Tories on entering the Guinness Book of Records for the most lies told about a single opinion poll

A week on, further details have been released from the Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times - thus allowing the Tories to triple the number of brazen and genuinely enormous lies that they've told about the findings.  Here is a full list of the whoppers so far...

1)  Ruth Davidson claimed that the poll shows support for an independence referendum has fallen to 27%.  In fact, it shows that 49.4% of respondents want an indyref within the next two years.  The claim of a decline in support is also misleading because the question asked was different from previous Panelbase polls.

2) Davidson claimed today that the poll found an increase in support for the Tories in Westminster voting intention after the Scottish budget.  In fact, the fieldwork was entirely carried out before the budget.

3) The Tories claimed today that the poll shows a 6% increase in support for themselves, and a 3% drop in support for the SNP.  In fact, it only shows a 3% increase for the Tories, and no drop at all for the SNP, who remain on 47%.

To be fair, there's a potentially innocent explanation for Whopper 3, because Panelbase had to issue a correction in September after inaccurate figures from their last poll got into circulation.  John Curtice's What Scotland Thinks website still lists those wrong numbers, which do indeed give the bogus impression that the new poll shows a 6% boost for the Tories and a 3% drop for the SNP.  For clarity, here are the correct figures -

SNP 47% (n/c)
Conservatives 27% (+3)
Labour 15% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 4% (-1)

The movement towards the Tories could just be margin of error noise, but if it's real, it does look very much like the new support is coming from other unionist parties, rather than from disgruntled SNP voters (as Davidson would have you believe).

As far as I can see, Labour's 15% support is a new all-time low for the party in Westminster voting intentions - although that can possibly be explained by the extreme scarcity of Scotland-only Westminster polls since a big chunk of Labour's core support drifted off to the Tories.

Jason Allardyce revealed on Twitter that the poll also shows that a majority of respondents believe independence is inevitable.  The Tories may find it harder to bluff their way out of that one.  Presumably there are more details in the Sunday Times, but I don't pay the Murdoch Levy, so I'll have to wait for the Panelbase datasets to appear (hopefully tomorrow).

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UPDATE : Having recalled the incorrect reporting of the previous Panelbase poll in September, I did some double-checking and discovered that What Scotland Thinks also still lists the incorrect figures from that poll on the independence question.  John Curtice seems to have relied on his own site's archive rather than the Panelbase datasets when he did his write-up last week, because he overlooked the error and incorrectly stated that support for independence had dropped by 2% (from 48% to 46%) whereas in fact it had only dropped by a statistically insignificant 1% (from 47% to 46%).  There do seem to be a whole string of errors on What Scotland Thinks related to Panelbase polls - not just the numbers, but also inaccurate reporting of question wording which leads to misleading comparisons between apples and oranges.  I don't think there's any malicious intent at all behind the mistakes, but given how much trust is placed in that site by the mainstream media and political parties, it's becoming a bit of a problem.  Hopefully someone will go through the archive with care and make corrections where needed, because it's clear that Curtice and co are beginning to confuse the hell out of themselves, never mind the rest of us.

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Daisley FINALLY admits that STV didn't "silence" him - so why is he still playing the martyr?

Stephen Daisley's former bosses at STV must have felt entirely vindicated yesterday after his decision to join the Daily Mail and write a belligerent piece that basically branded the SNP as the equivalent of a neo-Nazi party (he genuinely seems unable to spot any kind of distinction between the left-wing civic nationalism of the SNP and the far-right ethnic nationalism of the likes of Steve Bannon).  By doing so, he helpfully underscored why his previous joint position as STV's "digital politics and comment editor" and provocative right-wing columnist on the STV website was so utterly untenable.  Regardless of the technicalities of whether Ofcom rules extend to websites, a politically neutral broadcaster simply can't have an "editor" who is so unremittingly hostile to one particular mainstream political party - unless, of course, he buries his own personal views for the duration of holding the position, in the same way that is required of the likes of Bernard Ponsonby and Brian Taylor.  Daisley was scarcely doing that.  The Nat-bashing rant in the Mail article was simply the full-fat version of what we had been seeing in his STV columns over a long period.

Amid all the Salmond-is-Mussolini ravings, you'd have been forgiven for overlooking by far the most important revelation in the article -

"I was summoned to a meeting with STV’s head of digital and head of news and told my role was being changed. I could edit STV’s politics page or I could write but I could no longer do both."

In other words, Daisley was asked to make a perfectly reasonable choice.  He could carry on as STV's digital politics editor and do it in the impartial way that would be expected of anyone else in such a position - or he could carry on writing his columns giving his own personal views.  For reasons that mysteriously aren't specified, Daisley chose to give up his columns.  So it turns out that all the stuff from Nick Cohen and chums about how Daisley was "silenced" is a load of guff - he was perfectly at liberty, if he so chose, to continue using the highly privileged platform he'd been given (one that for a long time was literally not afforded to anyone else at all) to express his political opinions on a high-profile and trusted website.  Instead, he walked away.

A few cynics may be wondering what this whole drama has really been about, and whether Daisley seized upon an opportunity to pose as a unionist martyr in the interests of his own career.  Seems to be paying off for him - I would imagine that his Mail column will be rather better remunerated than the STV gig.