The Reverend Stuart Campbell is unhappy, and that makes us all sad. His blogpost today has left a lot of people wondering in all seriousness whether he's even an independence supporter anymore, because its sole purpose seems to be to undermine the impact of the new Panelbase poll (commissioned by Scot Goes Pop) showing that Yes is back into the lead. Why would the most-read Yes blogger make such systematic efforts to sap the morale of his own side? It's really odd.
His basic point is that there have been "Yes surge" headlines in previous years based on polls showing Yes at 52% or higher, and therefore the "Yes surge" headline relating to this poll's 52% finding must be bogus or misleading. But here's the thing, Stuart: the Yes vote dipped again after those previous good results. Now it's gone back up, that's a surge. Or an increase, or whatever word you'd prefer to use. It really is just basic arithmetic.
His most disingenuous point is that 52% is 7% lower than the 59% for Yes recorded in a Scotpulse poll immediately after the EU referendum in 2016. He claims he's being "generous" in "discounting" that result as an "outlier", and notes that Scotpulse are not affiliated to the British Polling Council. But the problems with that poll went way beyond the lack of BPC membership - after all, Lord Ashcroft is not a BPC member and we still take his polls seriously. The basic issue is that Scotpulse do not appear to weight their results properly. The 59% result wasn't reliable, and I said that at the time. To the best of my knowledge, the best ever Yes showing in a credible poll is 54% with both Survation and ICM. But 52% is the joint highest ever result for Yes in a Panelbase poll.
Stuart also popped round to the comments section of this blog last night, and if I didn't know he was a fellow fan of milk I'd have concluded he was a little "tired and emotional". He left a trademark abusive comment complaining about my use of the word "consider" in the Plan B poll question, and suggesting that made me a "hypocrite" because I had previously criticised his use of the same word in one of his own poll questions. When I deleted his comment for being abusive, he then said I was a "coward" and was trying to cover up my "hypocrisy". Er, no, Stuart, I really did delete your comments because you were behaving like a toddler.
I'm more than happy to have a grown-up discussion with anyone about the reasons for my use of the word "consider", but it's simply a fact that I didn't use it in the same way Stuart did. He asked whether respondents would "consider" voting for a list-only pro-independence party, and then suggested the percentage of respondents who said they would consider it represented the potential support for a Wings party (even though the Wings party wasn't even mentioned in the question). That was grossly misleading. If you ask respondents whether they'd consider voting for a party, they'll think to themselves "I'm a reasonable person, of course I'd consider it". If you ask them whether they will vote for a party, you'll get a different result.
The question I posed was whether respondents think political parties should consider the "Plan B" option - and that was an appropriate use of the word, because not even proponents of the idea think it should definitely be done. It depends on circumstances - for example on whether the courts end up closing off any legal route to a consultative referendum (and of course many legal experts don't think that will happen).