Tuesday, August 7, 2018

John Curtice is wrong: the Yes rank-and-file would not accept the independence referendum being "kicked into the long grass" this autumn

"Ask John Curtice" was a Twitter meme a few years ago.  It was based on the BBC's endless attempts to get their money's worth out of Curtice's role as a studio pundit by asking him about topics that went quite a way beyond his true expertise as a psephologist.  People started to wonder only half-jokingly if Gordon Brewer might eventually invite Curtice to give relationship advice to viewers.

I was reminded of that earlier today when I saw that Ruth Davidson had jumped on a Courier article in which Curtice is quoted as saying that the odds are against a second independence referendum being held within the next five years, but "probably only marginally".  Needless to say, Davidson didn't mention the "only marginally" bit, which presumably should be taken as meaning that Curtice thinks there is at least a 40% chance of an early referendum.

What made me raise my eyebrows, though, is that Curtice seemed to be basing his assessment mostly on a psychological analysis of Nicola Sturgeon - something that as a psephologist he is no more or less likely to get right than you or I.  He clearly believes that Ms Sturgeon cares more about keeping her job than she does about independence, and therefore won't risk calling a referendum because she supposedly knows that she would have to resign as First Minister if she lost.  If I was Ms Sturgeon, I would feel somewhat insulted by that assumption.  She did, after all, join the SNP at a time when Labour would have been the more natural option for a careerist.  I see no reason to doubt that her commitment to independence is genuine, and that she will judge the success of her career by whether she achieved independence or brought it closer, and not by the number of years she stayed in office.  So, for what it's worth, our knowledge of Nicola Sturgeon's motivations would lead me to the opposite conclusion to Curtice's - ie. that an early referendum is more likely than not.

Curtice also attempts a bit of Kremlinology by reading huge significance into the supposed lack of activity during the summer.  Well, maybe, but remember that the referendum announcement in the spring of 2017 was a complete bolt from the blue as far as the media were concerned.  If Ms Sturgeon wants the same element of surprise the second time around, she wouldn't telegraph a decision in quite the obvious way that Curtice seems to have been looking out for.

What's missing from Curtice's psychological analysis is the psychology of the SNP membership and the wider Yes movement.  Expectations that the current mandate for a pre-2021 referendum will be used are sky-high, and it's hard to understand why Curtice thinks the rank-and-file would just shrug their shoulders if the announcement this autumn is a decision to kick the referendum "into the long grass", as he thinks is marginally more likely.  They might accept a very short further delay if the shape of Brexit was still not known, but not a decision to let the mandate expire.  They would quite reasonably ask: if the double-whammy of the destruction of the devolution settlement and Scotland being dragged out of the EU is not sufficient grounds for a referendum, what on earth would be?  What magnitude of disaster would we actually be waiting for?

Lastly, I'm bemused by the Courier alleging that SNP depute leader Keith Brown had "signalled" that a referendum would not be announced this autumn, and then providing a quote from him in which he signals no such thing.  I suspect there's a touch of journalistic wishful thinking in there.

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56 comments:

  1. I don't know how Nicola Sturgeon can simultaneously be a fanatical separatist who will stop at nothing to achieve independence AND a self-serving career politician who just wants to keep her job at all costs, even independence. It's, like, pick one or the other, guys.

    As you say, if she was just interested in a career in politics, she - like Alex Salmond - could easily have gone into the Labour party and run rings around the competition.

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    1. Beat me to that strange conundrum.

      That the FM is so dastardly and cunning as to be both of those extremes just makes me laugh...at anyone who states either as 'fact'!!

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    2. What good would running rings round the opposition do when they would just implement Tory polices as they do as Nat sis.

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  2. Could be the SNP, led by Nicola, are watching and waiting.I reckon so.

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  3. Well put, James. Maybe I say that because it is pretty much exactly what I thought. I was not aware of Curtice having a degree in psychology.

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  4. Why does Brexit mean the destruction of devolution? David Mundell says many of the powers that come to the UK for from the EU will come to Scotland. So Scotland will end up with more powers, not fewer?

    I suspect Nicola Sturgeon won’t call a referendum until the polls show a majority for independence. She doesn’t want to take the risk. Maybe she also wants to see how Brexit turns out first?

    I’m not a psychologist either so your guess is as good as mine!

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    1. I am fully prepared to believe you are not a psychologist, but if you believe what the likes of Mr Mundell have to say, might I suggest you need to see one?

      (I know you're not a British nationalist, and are winding people up for a laugh, so I'm just going along with the fun. And I know the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist.)

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    2. "Why does Brexit mean the destruction of devolution?"

      Strictly, it doesn't. However, the current government in Westminster are using Brexit as an excuse to neuter the devolved parliaments, so it does in practice.

      "David Mundell says many of the powers that come to the UK for from the EU will come to Scotland."

      And I should believe him why?

      "So Scotland will end up with more powers, not fewer?"

      More powers doesn't mean important powers. And it's not exactly hard to take a current power, split it into 500,000 pieces, and claim it's "more powers", without actually giving power over anything else.

      Not to mention that Westminster frequently claim they're handing out powers when they're actually handing out responsibilities, and they frequently don't hand out the power needed to fulfil those responsibilities along with them.

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    3. Jamie G: This is the first time the idea has occurred to me, but I think you might be right that Union 2.0 is winding us up deliberately. That "David Mundell says..." line is almost exquisite - nobody can be that naive.

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    4. These are genuine questions I can assure you. In five years, do you think that the Scottish Parliament will have more or fewer powers with Brexit (assuming no independence that is!).

      David Mundell is in government so why not listen to what he says? I’m not Con or SNP but I listen to him & Nicola Sturgeon and everyone in government.

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    5. I'm going to ask you politely to stop trolling us now. It is an objective fact that David Mundell is lying about more powers coming to the Scottish Parliament. He is telling the complete opposite of the truth, because powers are being taken away from the Scottish Parliament.

      You know that.

      We know that you know that.

      You know that we know that you know that.

      It is tedious beyond belief that you are putting us through this charade.

      Delete
    6. Honestly was never my intention to troll, just enjoyed the debate. My views and questions were genuine.

      I of course respect your request and I will stop commenting. Thanks for all the conversations. It’s a top website.

      Goodbye.

      Delete
    7. There's a difference between commenting and trolling.

      The fact that you feel that to stop trolling you have to stop commenting says a lot.

      Delete
  5. Good article as ever James!The Courier (and most of the test of the MSM) probably need to be reminded that very few people read or accept their pronouncements. Most SNP members trust that Nicola and her team will announce a second referendum when the time is right. If there's no announcement in the autumn then it will likely be next spring. In either situation, it is up to the wider Yes movement to be building the case for Independence so that we can win the prize for our country!

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    1. Totally agree.....

      Contained within a response I received from Mike Russell, on another matter completely, was the phrase

      "But also have some faith in your Government that it is doing its best despite all the problems."

      I do...

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  6. I think you're spot on, James.

    When reading the thoughts of Curtice, I glommed onto the 'lack of activity means she's not doing it' bit. My thoughts were, like you, that it was unlikely that the FM wants to show her hand. But I also thought 'she's on holiday and might just be making the most of the chance to recharge her batteries, *particularly* if she thinks the coming parliamentary term is likely to be especially busy and tiring, with more than average work involved'.

    However, I am obviously speculating as is everyone who is not in the FM's inner circle of trusted folk! Others would do well to acknowledge when they are guessing at motivations and tactics.

    This said, I also have to agree with your headline. We do know, of course, that there are some people who wouldn't be angry if a referendum is 'kicked into the long grass', even in the SNP. But I think the air is so thick with anticipation that (unless the Tories stop Torying, which seems unlikely) a vote is coming to resolve the impasse on 'we voted No/Remain and can't have both, so which is it to be?' that not going for it risks disheartening significant chunks of the SNP's core support so as not to upset waverers and unrepentant Nos. This will have, as yet uncalculable, electoral effects for the party (like some would keep turning out and voting SNP, some would become alienated and let down and might not turn out at all, some might switch after becoming annoyed.....we wouldn't know the numbers for some time but the types of response are obvious).

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  7. A question for Prof Curtice, "Should I fake my orgasms?".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know you've been faking them for years, dear. So have I.

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    2. You mean to say , there is such a thing, as a non-fake orgasm.

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    3. Only in a cream puff villa!

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  8. Well said, James. When Curtis strays from his very narrow area of supposed expertise his ignorance is there for all to see.

    On the other hand if britnats are inclined to believe his false conclusions then that's a plus for the independence movement in Scotland.

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  9. I like how James points out the truth deficit coming from unionists scribes.Even when they get told the truth they cant report it as it is they have to lie thanks James for reporting your opinion and how the rags cant be truthful because it hurts their tongue it has to be untwisted.

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  10. I prefer your analysis, James, to Curtis's. Does that make me a bad person?

    Despite his academic claims, I think he is a voice of Unionism.

    Well, hit me down with a feather!

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    Replies
    1. Curtis is an MI6 agent who has the task of infiltrating the Jock Nat si fash movement to undermine it.

      Delete
    2. I'm not the full shilling. But its not my fault. Its the tablets I have to take.

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    3. I luv muh yoonyun

      Great line Kenny

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  11. Dear Professor Curtice - I hope you can help.

    For the last 10 years I've been leading a double life. I got married to my first wife in 1990. But in 2008 I met this lovely Spanish girl and we were married shortly after. Neither of my wives know of the other. The stress of hiding all of this is putting am enormous strain on my marriage, er, marriages. Birthdays and Christmas time are bad - have you ever tried eating two four-course Christmas dinners within four hours? It's not fun. But the worst thing is that I stupidly married Bagitta (my second wife) on the anniversary of my marriage to my first wife. It's a nightmare. I have to drive like a maniac between two different restaurants. Last year I was so frantic that I crashed the car and ended up up to my neck in plaster in Glasgow Royal Infirmary. Well, it almost came to a head when the hospital phoned to tell my wives what had happened. That's another story. I just need you to help me out of this mess. What should I do Professor Curtice?

    PS - I've just met this lovely wee nurse from the Royal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Get a Paisley to Glasgow train timetable and look out for the non stop faster trains, that will solve your problem. Glad to be helpful.

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    2. You love your cream puff villas. Ship ahoy!

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  12. The SNP said they will not make any decision on the date of a second Independence referendum:

    "The Scottish Government will not introduce legislation for an independence referendum immediately. At the end of Brexit negotiations - likely to be next autumn - the Scottish Government will set out its judgment on the best way forward – and on the precise timescale of the people of Scotland having a choice on our future."

    It looks like October that the outcome of any deal/ no deal will be known. Maybe.

    If Brexit looks like a no deal wto affair then the choice to voters will be:
    An Independent Scotland deciding its own fate, with the strong possibility of Scotland continuing in the EU.
    Or
    Remaining connected to England, Wales and Northern Ireland outside the EU. With Westminster in full authority in practical terms (Supreme court challenge to Holyrood Authority, Sewel Convention meaningless in law, and EU powers retained by Westminster etc etc)

    The likely outcomes of Brexit should be clearer by then.

    The first minister stated a long while back what the plan was with regards indy2. No need to mention it again just yet.
    All attempts to get Westminster to see sense regarding a hard Brexit seem to be ignored.

    There seems to be no alternative.
    Call an election with the policy if you elect us we are declaring independence.
    EU court of Human rights statement:
    “The European Court of Human Rights considers that it is legitimate for a region of a member state to secede, even if the country’s constitution does not provide for that possibility.”

    It said to succeed, secession was subject to two conditions – use of democratic means, so no violence – and the societal model must be democratic. Catalonia fulfilled both conditions.

    If this is done before the UK leaves the EU, and Westminster looks to be asking for a continuation, then the above would be in effect.

    If the majority still vote against Independence, with all that Brexit brings then there is no hope for them.

    Let the Torys try and sort out the mess of their own creation.
    Let Labour do the same after doing nothing to stop it.

    Pity help the rest of us though.

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  13. Now the cultural Marxists otherwise known as the SNP who are not nationalists,are putting 100,000 pounds of our money to keep ILLEGAL immigrants in the country, the lefty trots have lost their minds. Robert Mugabe I heard is looking for a humble abode ,will wee Jimmy Krankie assist or is she wayscist. All while this blog and other national socialists ignore this disgraceful waste of public money,

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    1. The Nat sis have never heard of Marx they are obedient servants of the Fourth Reich EU project. Selling the Scottish people out. Just bum bhoys takkin the Brown envelope.

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    2. Those rascally Marxist National Socialists

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    3. We drive, wee square-wheeled caurs. The wheels oan oor caurs go roon-and roon.

      Wee square windaes anaw.

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    4. You sound imaginative. Not.
      Hahahahahahaha.

      Delete
  14. I am confused. Are we Right wing fascists Or left wing communists this week?

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    1. It's a puzzler, isn't it? Do I drape myself in a hammer & sickle or a swastika?
      All I want is the chance to pick the government that decides what my life will be like.

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    2. Both. Cause yor all nicklerless fash ists.

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  15. The Yes movement plans to win, supporters won't run when Unionist say they should run.

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  16. Some people have been missing the point of Alec Coal Racist's anti-Gaelic tirade.
    He in common with all britnat yooniatics is opposed to anything which proves that Scotland and england are not the same country.
    Remember lord george (secret nonce) robertson and his speech where he claimed that Scotland had no culture or language of our own so couldn't possbly be an independent country. It's all part of the same tactic.
    The lablib coalition passes the language act because it was an obligation of being part of the EU, and some of their MSPs were cultivating their home support. The SNP ever being in power or any kind of vote on removing our colonial status was not part of the plan so they thought it would be safe to do so.

    And young people are not completely stupid, as well as being fundamentally lazy. When you have an instantaneous translation available through your ponce-phone then why do you need to go through all that bother of learning another language?

    The decline in languages is also a consequence of Universities changing their admissions policies. When I applied to the Univesity of Edinburgh to do Biology I had to have at least one language O grade. They abolished that necessity years ago so why put yourself through 2 years of language Hell for nothing?

    Put the blame where it belongs. Technology and the anti-education chancellors running our ancient institutions.

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    1. It's usually not worth bothering with Cole Hamilton's publicity tweets, but languages are losing their place in part due to the focus on STEM subjects in school and university.

      It's worth remembering too that Gaelic is always an easy target.

      I can remember the Liberals before they became Low Calorie Conservative.

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  17. Scots culture and oor twa native leids in particular are oor no sae secret weapon in the nixt Indyref campaign.
    Maist rabid BritNats hae a guid-gaun disdain for Scots culture.
    They cannae get thair heid roond it.
    Yet it's Luved bi the Scots thairsels.
    The numbers o fowk wha said they spoke Scots in the last census is gey close tae the numbers wha votit YES.
    Political parties winna run wi this but I'm gey sure YES groups will.
    Leith says AYE comes tae mind.

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    Replies
    1. Us Britnats love Jocko culture we can keep up with any Jock nat si drunkard.

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  18. James, Apologies for being off-topic. Do you have a link for the research showing seats in Scotland (as opposed to council areas) moving from Leave to Remain?

    Thanks

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  19. In other hypocrisy news. The Greens are moaning about the council selling off Princes St Gardens. Well they shouldn't have voted for the tram which has bankrupted MY city £$00,000,000 of debt and £20,000,000 a year interest payments for half a line. Have any of them ever apologised for their crime against the people of Edinburgh?

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    1. The Jocko Nat sis just want to hand all public transport over to their big Tory funder. Praise the lord.

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    2. Jimmy! Jimmy!! JIMMY!!!
      Yer Ma phoned to remind ye to tak yer tablets. Mind what happened last time.

      Delete
  20. Mind? Ye started callin yersel different names, like GWC2, Anonymous and Trixie For Fun. We dinnae want a' that trouble again wi' the hospital.

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    1. Glesga men do not pronounce the H. It is ospital. I am going tae the ospital fur an injection fur ma jaggy bunnet, that hingoot had a dose oh ra gun a rear.

      Delete
    2. Naw, kid oan erses lik yursell, fae sooth. Wullnae yaiz thoan 'H'.

      [H]ospital, w[h]ale, w[h]ere, w[h]en, w[h]ot, [h]istory and an [h]otel.

      Franz Ferdinand Sparks.

      Delete
    3. Jimmy Glesga AKA The Hon. Cordelia Bracely-Dubois

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