Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Scotsman newspaper should be deeply ashamed of lying to its readers - yes, lying - in today's headline about an independence poll

So, right on cue, the Survation poll with the confusing question that I mentioned in my previous post has been trotted out by the Scotsman newspaper, and they've done exactly the same thing that the Sun newspaper did in its reporting of the previous poll in the series - they've told their readers a downright lie about the trend shown by the results.  The headline reads "Poll: Scottish independence supporters switching to back the Union".  In fact the poll shows the complete opposite of that - it shows that voters have swung towards independence since the previous poll.

The percentage of respondents who say that they "completely support Scotland becoming independent" has increased from 24% in the previous poll (conducted in March) to 26% now.  By contrast, the percentage of respondents who say that they "completely support Scotland staying part of the UK" has fallen in the same period from 40% to 37%.

If you also take into account respondents who are not on one of the two extremes, the pro-Yes trend is even stronger.  The percentage of respondents who are on the pro-independence side of the 0-10 scale has increased significantly from 35% in March to 40% now, while the percentage of respondents on the anti-independence side of the scale has declined sharply from 58% to 51%.

It's rare that we can simply say that a newspaper has lied, as opposed to just misleading its readers or telling half-truths, but this is one of those rare occasions.  The headline contains no quotation marks, and it doesn't say "according to Scotland in Union" or something like that (although I think we can make a fairly safe guess that's how this story came to appear).  It simply tells a direct lie.

As for the question of why this poll format produces such different numbers from standard Yes/No polls, there's something of a mystery.  We know from David Halliday's screenshot that at least some respondents were confusingly asked to regard the number zero as being the pro-independence end of the scale, and the number ten as being the anti-independence end of the scale - which may well explain why a wildly implausible 16% of Yes voters from 2014 are now supposedly expressing "complete support" for Scotland remaining in the UK.  (The equivalent figure from the March poll was almost identical.)  And yet the Survation datasets suggest that the opposite was done, and that the number ten was in fact the pro-independence end of the scale.  Are the datasets inaccurate?  Was there a dummy poll conducted in a different way for research purposes?  Either way, it does seem very surprising that Angus Robertson's Progress Scotland have persisted in commissioning polls using this format after the results produced in the spring proved to be so totally out of line with the results of conventional independence polling.

UPDATE: I see The Herald have done much the same thing as the Scotsman - their headline is "New poll suggests shift in support away from Scottish independence".  I don't think any of us are going to faint with amazement if it turns out that both papers have just lightly rewritten a Scotland in Union press release without bothering to check whether its factual claims are accurate.


  1. It's all or nothing now with the MSM in Scotland. Have to stem the tide and if they now have to do that with bare-faced lies then so be it. End justifies the means and all that. But they will fail. And they will fail because of this wee thingy we call the Internet.

  2. 0-10 is just the most dumbass way to gauge support for two different not clearly opposing, 'positive' options.

    0-10 only works for a clear intensity scale where 0 is not at all and 10 is the most.

    You have to say e.g.:
    0 - Don't support independence
    10 - Totally support independence

    Or the same for the union. Then it's unlikely to be misunderstood.

    Independence and union are not even opposites (you could have a UK like the EU where Scotland is independent), which prize idiot who made up the question thinks is the case.

    If Scotland was independent within the UK like Denmark is in the EU, I doubt we'd be polling 50%+ Yes as we are now.

  3. I don't think Angus is actually interested in any headline figure, otherwise he would as he should anyway, have included the normal headline standard YES / NO question.

    It's about those who might change their minds, what would make them change, where - and ultimately, how! Tables 4 to 11 for the less certain, and then others for info.

    1. Well, the question as posed in the screenshot won't help with that.

    2. Strangely enough it would. It doesn't really matter for the purpose of asking swing voters(3 to 7 though it should be 1 to 9) whether they're closer to 10 or 0 - whichever way it works out. But it does give the MSM some headlines. Shrug.

  4. Maybesaye James, maybesnaw, but the fact remains we are heading for Brexit, with the worst, and most right wing Government, the most useless PM and most hopeless Leader of the Opposition in my lifetime....
    And the SNP CANNOT get the support for independence above 50%.

    1. Absolute rubbish. The average of the last three polls has Yes above 50%.

    2. It's natural that as Scotland approaches independence, that Yes support starts to increasingly exceed SNP support.

      Yes moving cross party means the end is very near.

    3. The SNP can't control how people vote, people decide that, like every political party they put forward their prospectus and attempt to persuade but it's not their fault if folk vote in other ways

      Newspapers and pundits who have a dog in the fight will always try to sway voters with their spin or just outright lies and unfortunately we still live in a society where that happens

      Online as well

    4. 11/10: Yes46% No47%
      03/11: Yes43% No44%
      02/08: Yes46% No43%

    5. Panelbase: Yes 50%, No 50%
      YouGov: Yes 49%, No 51%
      Ashcroft: Yes 52%, No 48%

      AVERAGE: Yes 50.3%, No 49.7%

    6. Hey Geach, agree wholeheartedly with your first paragraph but the last sentence should read and support for independence still not (at least significantly ftsoa) above 50%. Not necessarily down to SNP TO GET support for independence above 50%.

    7. Ah, Ashcroft's was an unregulated, unweighted poll poll in which it was possible to vote multiple times.
      That is why BPC do not recognise Ashcroft.

    8. Don't be so bloody ridiculous, it was no such thing. It was a correctly conducted, fully weighted poll just like any other, and no, it was not possible "to vote multiple times". If you want to start false rumours of that sort, take it elsewhere.

    9. How can you weigh a poll that is open to anyone and everyone?
      How could you prevent someone with multiple devices voting with each one?
      Why does the BPC not recognise Lord Ashcroft's polls?

    10. Oh for the love of God, man, will you listen to something other than the sound of your own voice? I've already told you it was conducted in exactly the same way as any other poll. That means, to state the blindingly obvious, that it was NOT "open to anyone and everyone" - you had to be invited to take part, exactly as would be the case for a YouGov or Survation or ComRes poll. It was not a self-selecting internet poll - I've no idea how or why you formed the impression that it was, but I hope you are now clear about that.

      Lord Ashcroft isn't a member of the BPC because he hasn't applied to join and isn't eligible to join anyway for technical reasons. The BPC don't "recognise" or "not recognise" his polls - he simply isn't a member, and it doesn't go any further than that.

  5. Scotland and N. Ireland block England's brexit again.

    Tories soaring in English polls however, while Lib + Lab support falls away. They'd be fools to support a VoNC in such circumstances, as they'd most likely lose a GE. Polls currently have an increasingly comfortable Tory majority.


  6. 11/10: Yes46% No47%
    03/11: Yes43% No44%
    02/08: Yes46% No43%

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Average = 45.0% Yes, 44.7% No

      Yes ahead.

      Actually further ahead than that, because the most recent poll is much closer, but that's lost in rounding.

    3. My point: "And the SNP CANNOT get the support for independence above 50%."
      And they can't, no matter how you spin it.

    4. Geacher: The average Yes vote in the last three polls is 50.3%. Please stop playing the silly game of leaving in Don't Knows and Won't Votes to artificially bring the Yes vote below 50%. Those are not the published headline figures, and they're not the published headline figures for a very good reason.

    5. Unionists nowhere near 50%. Further away than Yes.

    6. It worked for Andrew Neill.

    7. I feel that this thread has been shredded. It makes no more sense than Weetabix.

    8. @ Geacher,

      Yes doesn't need to be ahead of 50%, it only needs to be ahead of the No vote %.
      There will always be a reasonably large % of don't knows in these polls, so of course it's very difficult for Yes to get above 50% even when we are a few % points above No.

      You're clutching at straws mate.

    9. erm...if the independence poll more votes than the unionists, then it will be automatically above 50%.

  7. Replies
    1. We were going to offer you peace terms. But then we thought we'd wait for a few days... or weeks.
      Meanwhile we've delegated GWC to post an offensive message once he's finished his Carlsberg.
      It's been that sort of day.

  8. Juist gaun oot tae dae a few leaflets.
    That shuid push us ower the 50%.
    Hope I dinnae bump intae the army o NO activists eh!

  9. Remember No Deal is the default option.

  10. James,
    This is your big chance to do a piece on "Unseasonal Elections [winter or summer] And Their Effects".

    Not that I'm predicting anything more advanced than eggs for breakfast.

  11. Replies
    1. Uncle Jim Sillars advised MPs and MSPs not to have Twitter accounts.

  12. Don't think newspapers or the BBC can afford serious analytical journalists any more. They almost always just regurgitate press releases from sources they consider on message...or in the case of the Express whoever thinks doomsday is soonest.

    The 0 to 10 format of questioning is bizarre we are not comparing margarine and if faced with it I would have been inclined to assume 10 was pro independence...although I would have voted 11. Nevertheless it is a binary question, would you vote Yes or No. One could have a how likely are you to vote question.

    What it does show is how desperate SiU are for any crumb of comfort and how prepared they are to misrepresent the data. They know the Union is hanging by a thread.

  13. There seems to be some confusion, this poll was by Progress Scotland - Angus Robertson's outfit, and seems to me the main thrust is this:


    go down to the results where it says:

    "A series of questions answered by respondents who are undecided or open-minded about Scottish independence indicated the impact that Brexit is having on public opinion amongst key swing voters:"

    [those who went 3 to 7 on the scale] for instance:

    "Brexit makes Scottish independence more likely:

    Agree: 61%
    Disagree: 13%
    Neither: 21%
    Don’t know: 4%"

    bearing in mind Progress Scotland's purpose:

    "Progress Scotland commissions public opinion polling, focus groups and other research to better understand how people’s views are changing in Scotland. Progress Scotland Ltd is a private limited company. Its Managing Director is Angus Robertson and research and polling adviser is Mark Diffley."

    It's not all about the current state of play:

    "Should Scotland be an Independent Country?" YES 100% /NO 0%

    it's actually getting there!

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  15. Herald has now changed it's polling headline, so well done James.
    They now say that support for remaining part of the UK is falling in Scotland.

    Oh, what a wee shame!