A pro-independence blog by James Kelly - voted one of Scotland's top 10 political websites.
Friday, December 31, 2021
Time for the Bells?
Wednesday, December 29, 2021
Scot Goes Pop proudly presents a festive Pete Wishart word-search puzzle
It's somehow been forgotten in the mists of time that Scot Goes Pop once had a regular 'Word-Search Wednesday' puzzle feature. (The Denis MacShane word-search was my all-time favourite, although the Councillor Terry Kelly word-search was a close second.) As it's the festive period, and as it's ACTUALLY WEDNESDAY, I thought I'd revive the tradition for one night only with a word-search in fond tribute to all things Pete Wishart.
And here are the words you're looking for (the ones in bold only)...
"They have some sort of obsession with carrots. I simply can't understand it."
"If I wasn't gagging for independence so I can get away from this ghastly job at Westminster at maximum speed, people might start imagining something utterly ludicrous like me wearing slippers."
"My Westminster pension is the last thing I'm thinking about, believe me."
"Bloggers! Urgh! Yuck!"
"Having said that, and please rest assured there's no contradiction here at all, I'm a rather accomplished blogger myself and I write the blog that everyone's talking about!"
"Alba! Tut! Harrumph! Absolute menaces!"
"And this particular absolute menace is just soooooooo immature for taking a selfie of himself with TWO carrots."
There's only one way for an *absolute menace* to spend his Saturday night. pic.twitter.com/tpjsSqzTKK— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) December 18, 2021
"These absolute menaces will learn one day that you win nothing with hate. You know, hateful behaviour like taking a selfie of yourself with TWO carrots."
"You can't win independence with a plebiscite. In other news, I also believe the only route to independence is a referendum, which may or may not be an alternative word for a plebiscite."
"Mr Speaker sir, oh how I wish I was addressing myself with those words."
"Order! Order! AW-DAAAAAAH!"
"As a tireless worker for the cause of independence, what could be more natural than for me to be promoting a recruitment drive for careers at Westminster?"
"Your claim that I am an incredibly sensitive chairman of this committee - HOW DARE YOU CALL ME INEPT - is erroneous."
"Hold! Hold! Hold! Hold! Hold! Hold! Hold! Hooold! HOOOOOOOOLD!!!!!!!"
Astonishingly, Toni Giugliano doesn't understand how the STV voting system works
Tuesday, December 28, 2021
What Would Jeggit Do?
Sunday, December 26, 2021
Boxing Day drama as new Opinium poll is first online poll since early September to show support for independence at 50% or higher
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Boxing Day poll shows Scottish Tories on course for a 1997-style total wipeout at Westminster
Wednesday, December 22, 2021
The troubling side of public opinion: one-quarter of Scottish voters think defendants should be regarded as guilty until proved innocent
Because Wings Over Scotland has theoretically shut up shop, I haven't been keeping an eye on the site, and I was surprised to discover today that there have been a couple of brief updates since I last checked. One of them is a thoroughly disturbing result from a Panelbase poll commissioned by Wings. It found that 26% of Scottish voters want the presumption of innocence to be abolished for men accused of rape, with the accusation regarded as true unless the defendant can disprove it. A further 22% want jury trials to be abolished for rape cases, in order to address what the poll question implies is an abysmally low conviction rate.
What I find curious is that Stuart uses the title "Believing Her", which - unless it's meant ironically - might give the impression of approving of the poll results, something which would be totally at odds with his views on a high-profile court case last year. He did not believe the complainers in that case, and based on the verdict he was entirely right not to do so. So would he really be keen on a system that would have required the court and the jury to start with the assumption that those complainers were telling the truth?
It's sometimes said that false allegations of sexual assault are exceptionally rare - but a) that claim is not uncontested, and b) even if it's right, nobody seriously argues that false complaints are totally non-existent. Reversing the burden of proof would almost certainly see men go to prison for sex crimes they did not commit - the only question is how many. There are good reasons for suspecting that the amount of false complaints would skyrocket once people realise that they can easily destroy someone they have a grudge against, and without any particularly high risk of repercussions.
Of course in the real world, no government in a liberal democracy would introduce a presumption of guilt, regardless of public opinion on the matter. However, the fact that so many people hold such an extreme view means that the government could be pushing at an open door if they opt to erode the safeguards for defendants in more limited ways. This is the end result of an ideology that would have us believe that the role of the courts is to provide a service for complainers by securing a conviction, rather than to test the allegations and establish whether or not they are true.
In fairness, people who took part in the poll were probably heavily influenced by the claims made in the question wording about the conviction rate for rape and how it is supposedly much worse than for other crimes. That made it very hard for respondents not to say that "something drastic must be done". But there is an alternative point of view - this blogpost (written, I believe, by a Liberal Democrat) compellingly advances the view that an apples and oranges comparison may be creating a very misleading impression of the statistics.
34% of respondents in the Wings poll take a relatively moderate stance by saying that the conviction rate should be boosted by abolishing the Scots law requirement for corroborating evidence. This wouldn't drive a coach and horses through the principles of justice in quite the same way as a presumption of guilt or the abolition of jury trials. Nevertheless, my recollection is that corroboration is regarded by legal experts as balancing out other disadvantages that defendants have under Scots law - for example the fact that they can be found guilty of serious crimes on the basis of just eight votes on a fifteen-strong jury. That is not the case in England, and it may be that we'd need to reconsider the question of a threshold for majority verdicts if the need for corroboration was to be discarded.
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Sunday, December 19, 2021
A third poll in quick succession shows Scottish voters are overwhelmingly opposed to legally-recognised gender self-ID
So make that a hat-trick. The Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll on GRA reform in October showed a massive majority against legally-recognised gender self-ID, as did a Survation poll a few days ago for the policy analysis organisation Murray Blackburn Mackenzie. Now there's also a brand new multi-question Panelbase poll commissioned by For Women Scotland which has produced the same outcome.
The format of the main self-ID question is closer to the Survation poll than to the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll, because it's binary-choice and asks whether people wishing to change their legal gender should need to be assessed by medical experts, or whether they should be able to self-identify. 71% think medical approval should be required, with only 29% in favour of self-ID. Without having seen the datasets yet, I'm not sure whether those are the figures after Don't Knows were removed, or whether there wasn't a Don't Know option on this occasion. The equivalent figures in the Survation poll were 53% for a doctor's approval being required, and 27% in favour of self-ID, with the remainder saying 'Don't Know'. The Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll had a four-option format, with 20% of respondents favouring self-ID, compared with a combined 58% for the three options which excluded the possibility of self-ID.
The results of two other questions from the For Women Scotland poll have been released so far. 33% of respondents think trans women who have male genitalia should be allowed to access women's changing rooms, hospital wards and refuges, with 67% saying they should be excluded. That's substantively the same as one of the questions from the Scot Goes Pop poll (with a very similar result), but I would guess the reason it was asked was that my own question wasn't so specific about "male genitalia", and For Women Scotland probably wanted to see what effect a more direct question wording would have.
Just 27% of respondents think under-18s should be able to change their name and sex in school records without parental consent, while 73% think they should not.
My observation is once again the same. In a parliamentary democracy, it is entirely legitimate for MSPs to decide that they know better than the public, and to legislate in defiance of public opinion if they genuinely think it is the right thing to do. But what we do have a right to expect is that MSPs acknowledge that they are indeed disregarding the public's wishes, rather than pretending that the sky is green and that the public are right behind them. The polling evidence is absolutely crystal-clear: Scottish voters overwhelmingly oppose legally-recognised gender self-ID and want the Scottish Government's proposed change to the law to be rejected.
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Saturday, December 18, 2021
Why are the BBC allowing their news website to be used for propaganda against the introduction of Covid safety restrictions?
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Friday, December 17, 2021
North Shropshire: the Scottish impact
I was asked what impact the sensational North Shropshire by-election result might have on Scottish politics. I think that's quite difficult to tell at the moment because there are too many variables. We were told that a gain for the Liberal Democrats might trigger Boris Johnson's downfall, but now that it's actually come to pass, the consequences have been predictably downgraded to "he's in the last chance saloon". The comparison that some people are making is with the Eastbourne by-election of 1990 which set in motion a chain of events that led to Margaret Thatcher's ousting as Prime Minister a few weeks later. But an equally valid comparison is with the Newbury and Christchurch by-elections of 1993, which the Lib Dems won on massive swings, leaving the Tories in little doubt that John Major couldn't lead them to victory in 1997 - but they did nothing much about that for four years.
The conventional wisdom is that it would be Christmas for the Yes movement if Boris Johnson is still Prime Minister when a referendum or plebiscitary election is held - but the one possible caveat would be if Johnson becomes damaged to the point where it's obvious that Labour are likely to win the next general election, which would make it harder for us to portray the choice as being between independence and Tory rule. There might yet be a strategic advantage in Johnson being replaced with another leader like Michael Gove or Priti Patel who would still be deeply unpopular in Scotland, but who might look like having a more plausible chance of winning the 2024 election.
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You can catch up with my Scot Goes Popcast interview with iScot editor Ken McDonald HERE (on video) or HERE (audio only).
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
Carrot and stick: The Wishous Circle
Do you want independence? - 5 points— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) December 15, 2021
Do you want the mandate for an indyref to be used? - 7 points
Do you write longer-form online posts? - 11 points
Have you ever consumed a carrot in Perth? - 16 points
If you scored 20 points or higher, you are officially an #AbsoluteMenace
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Tuesday, December 14, 2021
Another poll, this time conducted by Survation, confirms the Scottish public are strongly opposed to legally-recognised gender self-ID
Monday, December 13, 2021
Ken McDonald, editor of iScot magazine, is the special guest on Episode 14 of the Scot Goes Popcast
For Episode 14 of the Scot Goes Popcast I was joined by Ken McDonald, the editor of iScot magazine, which I've written a monthly column for since 2017. It's a unique publication, because it's a high-quality print magazine in wide circulation that is explicitly pro-independence and run by grass-roots Yes supporters. Many people have probably heard of iScot without having taken a look for themselves yet, and if that describes you, this podcast is a golden opportunity to find out what you're missing. Ken explains...
* How he started the magazine as an alternative to shouting at the TV when "Jackanory" Jim Murphy was being interviewed.
* The vital importance of having a pro-Yes print publication, given that many older people can't really be reached by online New Media.
* How iScot's readership demographics very closely mirror the demographics of No voters in the 2014 referendum, leaving the magazine ideally placed to reach the people whose minds need to be changed.
* Why only a relatively small proportion of the magazine's articles are directly about politics and independence, with the others showcasing what a capable country Scotland is.
* Why he's confident that iScot will still be around in seven or eight years' time.
* How iScot is a platform for all shades of opinion within the independence movement, including the SNP, Alba and IFS.
* What happened when iScot thought it had arranged an interview with Peter Murrell.
You can listen to the episode as a traditional podcast via the embedded Soundcloud player below, or via the direct Soundcloud link, or you can watch it in video form via the embedded YouTube player. The Popcast is also available on Stitcher and Spotify.
Friday, December 10, 2021
The fury over the Downing Street party could be a Cummings-style game-changer triggering a big resurgence in the pro-independence vote
One thing I'm quite proud of (although obviously there was a high degree of luck involved) is that I commissioned the opinion poll in June 2020 that turned out to be the first in the historic unbroken sequence of twenty Yes-majority polls, which continued all the way into the first few weeks of this year. The reason I decided to commission a poll at that particular time was that there had been dismay in the independence movement about how the Yes lead that was established in the immediate aftermath of the 2019 general election had quickly vanished in the early days of the pandemic, and there was a theory that Dominic Cummings' escapades in Barnard Castle may have reversed that trend - if only we had a poll to find out. It turned out there had indeed been a Yes resurgence - although of course it was impossible to be 100% sure that Cummings had caused it.
My guess is that the recent revelations about the Downing Street party have similar game-changing potential, and may actually be of an even greater magnitude. After Allegra Stratton's video was leaked, non-political friends started messaging me about it, which is always a strong clue that an event has really cut through. The first batch of GB-wide polls since the news broke has shown a sharp swing from Tory to Labour - which is also exactly what happened after the Cummings episode. There's no guarantee that a poll now would show a corresponding swing from No to Yes, but I personally think there's quite a high probability that it would. On this occasion, there's no need to commission a poll for psychological reasons, because as it happens the most recent poll showed a huge Yes majority anyway. (That's a relief for me, because I'm too mentally exhausted from our October poll to even contemplate doing another one until a reasonable amount of time has elapsed.) But nevertheless this turn of events could muddy the waters somewhat, because my own suspicion was that the main reason for Ipsos-Mori showing a Yes lead was the poll's telephone methodology - I thought it was likely that an online poll conducted at the same time would continue to show a modest No advantage. If an online poll does turn up before Christmas and shows a Yes lead, people will inevitably say "this confirms the Ipsos-Mori trend" - but it'll be equally possible that the swing to Yes has occurred since the Ipsos-Mori poll was conducted, and that it's mostly caused by the fallout from the party.
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Any Wikipedia editors around? As I've pointed out before, the Wikipedia entry for the Alba Party is in an absolutely indefensible state, and was clearly written to a large extent by editors with an anti-Alba agenda. It's entirely normal for any Wiki piece on a political party to have a section that summarises criticisms of the party - but what is totally abnormal is the proportion of the article which is taken up by the criticisms section, the scathing tone of that section which veers into outright bias at one or two points, and its 'everything including the kitchen sink' approach. Compare it to the almost reverential tone of the Wiki entry for the Scottish Green Party and you'll see what I mean.
I do edit Wikipedia occasionally, but as I'm on the Alba NEC, I have a feeling someone would cry foul if I touched the Alba entry, and would probably start quoting some obscure Wikipedia rule at me (there's one for every occasion). But I do think that article needs to be sorted out by other editors - just to normalise it and make it comparable to the equivalent articles for other political parties.
Sunday, December 5, 2021
An offer to my keyboard warrior critics: step out of the shadows and debate me openly on the next Scot Goes Popcast
There are a number of keyboard warriors on the Wee Ginger Dug blog, the vast majority hiding behind a username that does not reveal their identity, who seem absolutely obsessed with me. They regularly make passive-aggressive comments, some of which refer to me by name, others that don't but leave little doubt that I'm the target. I made one of these individuals an offer earlier this evening - come out of the shadows and actually debate with me properly on the next edition of the Scot Goes Popcast. Let's see if your claims about me, or about the Alba Party, or your absolute faith in the SNP leadership to deliver an independence referendum in the absence of external pressure, can withstand scrutiny or cross-examination.
So far I haven't heard back from him, so I'm now going to extend that offer to any of the regular tag-team on Wee Ginger Dug, or indeed to anyone who participated in the extended and often abusive Twitter pile-on as I was publishing the results of our comprehensive poll on GRA reform and related gender issues. The deadline to email me and accept the offer is tomorrow night - the reason for that is simply that I'm keen to record one more podcast of some description before the end of the year, and if no-one comes forward I'll need time to contact potential guests.
This is not in any way a trap - if you listen to the previous Popcast episodes you'll find that I don't hog the discussion and that guests are always given space to develop their points. I won't edit the recording in any way unless there's an exceptionally good reason (for example a legal issue or something like that).
If you'd like to volunteer before the deadline, my email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
On past form, this will be the moment when a large number of very noisy people suddenly fall totally silent. But go on - prove me wrong.
Saturday, December 4, 2021
Give me an effective tyrant?
For anyone who still doesn't understand - or pretends not to understand - why the Alba Party needs to exist, I can recommend Robin McAlpine's article from around a week ago that summarises the campaign of dirty tricks that the SNP leadership indulged in to essentially overturn the results of the democratic internal elections in November 2020 that saw candidates from the Common Weal slate and the Women's Pledge slate do exceptionally well. As Robin notes, the end result of that campaign was that the victorious candidates were largely replaced by the very people they had been elected to replace, and without any further vote. There can be no greater perversion of the democratic process than that. Of course the leadership loyalist version of what happened is that some of the winners randomly took a huff and decided to leave the party, and that the runners-up valiantly stepped up to keep the show on the road. The reality is more like the equivalent of constructive dismissal - if it's made impossible for you to fulfil the obligations of your elected role or of your mandate, departure is not really a voluntary choice. Remember that not all of the people who resigned from the positions they had been elected to ended up joining Alba - some simply resigned and remained within the SNP. If you genuinely have power and influence within a party of government, you're highly unlikely to relinquish that power to languish on the fringes of the party, and you're equally unlikely to give up that power to join a much smaller party. The fact that so many people did resign is entirely consistent with Robin's account of a leadership that refused to accept the results of the vote. The victorious candidates had been left, to coin a phrase, "in office but not in power", and they had nowhere left to go but the exit gate.
But this raises another question. However maddening and unacceptable these events were, are we missing a bigger picture? Some would phrase it this way: is taking a stand against the arrogance and entitlement of the likes of Alyn Smith and Fiona Robertson really more important than securing independence for this country? If that was truly the choice, I would say no. There has been many a tyrant down the ages who has nevertheless been an effective leader capable of guiding his followers to the promised land. (To take perhaps the most extreme example, it was the mass-murdering despot Stalin who was more responsible than any other leader for rescuing Europe from the Nazis.) If I felt that the SNP leadership were serious about delivering an independence referendum and had a viable strategy to achieve that, I would say "let's ignore every provocation and maintain iron discipline behind that leadership". As much as almost everyone who has joined Alba feels far happier in their new political home and are now free to just be themselves, it would be much better being miserable within the SNP for a couple more years and actually getting our independence. That's realpolitik. Sadly, however, what we seem to be dealing with in this particular case is an ineffective tyranny, or a tyranny that doesn't even want to be effective. The determination to achieve independence in the real world, not just as a nice theory, appears to be entirely absent - as does any credible thinking about how that might actually be done. In the scenario we're actually living in, then, the natural human response to the leadership's outrageous "counter-revolution" a year ago does not in any way conflict with strategic good sense about how to achieve independence. If the SNP's strategic vacuum can't be changed from within, external pressure from another party will have to bring about that change.
There is one big caveat, though. If an independence referendum does actually take place in the next two or three years, either because pressure from Alba has paid off or because the SNP leadership's resolve suddenly stiffens for some other reason, it will at that point become counterproductive for Alba to keep harrying Nicola Sturgeon - the only opponents we'll need to be fighting are unionists. A lot of self-discipline will be required, because the SNP are unlikely to reciprocate with magnanimity towards Alba. Given one or two depressing precedents in recent weeks, I can well imagine that an umbrella Yes campaign will be set up that includes the SNP and the Greens but excludes "the Alba bigots". If so, that will be an act of monumental stupidity and self-harm, reminiscent of Labour's catastrophic decision to exclude "the filthy SNP separatists" from the main Yes campaign in the 1979 devolution referendum. But nevertheless, we in Alba will just have to turn the other cheek and get on with our own positive Yes campaign - because independence comes before everything.
Friday, December 3, 2021
Massive 21% increase in vote share for pro-independence parties in the Fort William & Ardnamurchan by-election
Wednesday, December 1, 2021
Pro-independence parties on course to win combined 56% share of the vote on the Holyrood list ballot - and Alba are still registering
This rips up everything we thought we knew: Ipsos-Mori TELEPHONE poll shows massive majority support for Scottish independence
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
This must be the line in the sand - Nicola Sturgeon's promise of a referendum by the end of 2023 must be honoured to the letter
Nicola Sturgeon: "In the course of next year, I will initiate the process necessary to enable a referendum before the end of 2023."
In fairness to Ms Sturgeon and the rest of the SNP leadership, that's a reasonably clear and specific promise compared to some we've heard in the recent past - which means it will be possible to objectively determine on certain cut-off dates whether the promise has been kept or broken. If, by 31st December 2022, action has not been "initiated" that would "enable" a referendum to take place, then the promise will have been reneged upon - and that initiated action will clearly have to go significantly further than simply sending another letter requesting a Section 30 order, because it's abundantly clear by now that would only result in a firm "no" from London and a dead end. Realistically, the minimum required for the promise to have been kept will be the tabling of referendum legislation in the absence of a Section 30.
If you read carefully, the promise does not, strictly speaking, require a referendum to have been actually held by 31st December 2023, but from Ms Sturgeon's other comments it's clear that the only reason envisaged for delay beyond 2023 would be the continuation of the pandemic. So if normal life has more or less resumed by 2023 but no referendum occurs by the end of that year, it'll also be reasonable to conclude the promise has been broken.
If words and promises were enough to get the job done, we'd all be able to relax on the basis of what Ms Sturgeon has now said. But unfortunately, there have been very similar promises made in the past about the dates by which action would be taken, and those were not honoured. Even after we were marched back down from the top of the hill in the wake of - ironically - the SNP's landslide victory in the 2017 general election, we were still being told that there would be a referendum once the terms of Brexit became clear, but before Brexit actually occurred. That simply did not materialise, and no, Covid is not an alibi for that. Brexit Day was at the end of January 2020, and the threat of Covid was not being taken seriously in this country until late February 2020.
I totally understand the desire to give Ms Sturgeon the benefit of the doubt and assume she means what she says, because I fully shared that desire myself in 2017. There are still hardcore Wings devotees who excoriate me for my supposed "naivety" back then, but I would strongly argue that it was rational to cut the SNP leadership a little slack at that point. Less than three years had passed since the first indyref and there was not yet any track record of broken promises. It would have been wildly premature to assume bad faith - but it's certainly not premature now.
Some people retrospectively justify the lack of a referendum before Brexit by saying "it would have been suicidal to hold one" - well, I'm sorry, but that's just nonsense. The results of referendums are decided during referendum campaigns, not before, and the idea that Yes in the mid-to-high 40s was not a good enough starting position to make victory a possibility is just so ludicrous as to be, frankly, not even worthy of serious consideration. In any case, there were no conditions attached to the promise of a pre-Brexit referendum.
So I really urge people who have remained loyal to the SNP leadership to make this latest promise your line in the sand. Believe it to be genuine, by all means, but if it turns out not to be, admit to yourself what has happened. Don't pretend to yourself that the promise was never really made or that it somehow didn't really count, or that the next promise to hold a referendum in 2030 or 2035 or whenever is somehow the 'real' promise.
This is it. A referendum by the end of 2023, and certainly the start of a referendum process by the end of next year - or it'll be time for the current SNP leadership to make way for people who are actually serious about independence.
Saturday, November 27, 2021
IPSO is a sham regulator which knowingly issues rulings that endorse lies as the truth - and THIS is the press regulation system that Lady Dorrian thinks justifies bloggers not enjoying equality before the law with journalists? Seriously?!
Friday, November 26, 2021
News on Craig Murray's release, plus a weary reply to Ipsos-Mori's in-house identity politics extremist
I've been meaning to post this since an email I received about it four days ago, so I hope the information isn't out of date by now! Craig Murray is expected to be released from prison on St Andrew's Day (next Tuesday) at around 10am. There's an open invitation for all independence supporters to attend a rally at that time outside Saughton. Craig will hopefully get an opportunity to make a statement for the media.
It'll be a tremendous relief if Craig gets back home more or less in one piece. The big concern was always that he has several health conditions and that he might not make it through a few months in prison, particularly in the context of a pandemic - and some would argue that was the whole purpose of inappropriately incarcerating him in the first place.
ᴡᴏᴍᴘ ᴡᴏᴍᴘ pic.twitter.com/g4fZZxJdhP— Mark McGeoghegan (@markmcgeoghegan) November 23, 2021
There are many mysteries about modern life, but perhaps the greatest of all is: why has Ipsos-Mori employed someone who a) is a toddler, b) speaks like a toddler, and c) cannot differentiate between 'neutrality'and sparing the feelings of fellow toddlers?https://t.co/XKjgyrN6HL— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) November 26, 2021
Leaving aside the supreme irony of being called "the lad" by Ipsos-Mori's paid toddler, the very simple answer to his question is something that - ironically - doesn't seem to have even occurred to him yet. (Did he actually read the question?) https://t.co/DGXJTQzYVE— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) November 26, 2021
The wording "which point of view do you find most persuasive?" actually renders the issue of mutual exclusivity moot - the respondent is simply asked to give a view on whether one view is more persuasive than the other.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) November 26, 2021
That said, I would strongly dispute any suggestion that they aren't mutually exclusive options in the real world, and the fact that he thinks they aren't tells its own story about how he totally identifies with one side of the debate and is utterly incapable...— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) November 26, 2021
...of commenting on it in even a moderately clear-sighted way, let alone objectively.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) November 26, 2021
Yes vote holds up in new YouGov poll
Thursday, November 25, 2021
My all-time favourite thing on the internet has finally arrived: a Medium article about the dateability of Scot Goes Pop blogger James Kelly
Yeah. I know. This is the sort of thing that normally happens to Selena Gomez. The author of the world's unlikeliest internet article is someone called Katy Montgomerie, who - entirely uncoincidentally - also appeared to be the instigator of the Twitter pile-on that led to me suffering 24 hours of sustained abuse and harassment on Tuesday and yesterday (at least two people were suspended from Twitter as a result). I know very little about her other than that she has just over 50,000 followers on Twitter and is a keen participant in the ongoing trans debate. Her Medium profile identifies her as a trans woman herself, and she appears to be based somewhere Daan Saaf, judging both from her accent on her YouTube videos and the hesitant way she refers to the Scottish political scene as if the words she's using are unfamiliar and foreign.
Poll: Vast Majority Of Public Believe It Is Wrong For James Kelly To Pressure People To Date Himhttps://t.co/GbQCajIpus— Katy Montgomerie 🦗 (@KatyMontgomerie) November 24, 2021
Basically Katy was livid about the wording of one of the questions in the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll on GRA reform and related gender matters, claiming that it portrayed trans women as sexual predators. She's wrong about that, but judge for yourself...
Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll (a representative sample of 1001 over-16s in Scotland was interviewed by Panelbase between 20th and 26th October 2021)
It's difficult to get into an in-depth discussion about the reasons for choosing a certain wording when you're faced with a 280-character limit on Twitter, and especially when the people you're speaking to are not engaging in good faith. However, the point they're missing (almost certainly intentionally) is that the reference in the poll question to people being pressurised is not some gratuitous add-on extra, it's actually the logical, utterly inescapable flip-side of the suggestion that it is bigoted or transphobic to refuse to consider dating trans women (for the avoidance of doubt, that was a suggestion that several of Katy's fan club explicitly made during the pile-on). Telling someone they're transphobic, which in the current climate carries similar gravity to allegations of anti-Semitism, is a very dramatic thing to say, and self-evidently constitutes very considerable pressure for that individual to change their position and to consider dating trans women in the future. If you want to say that nobody is under any pressure to date trans women, that's fine, but in order to make that claim with any credibility, you first have to remove the pressure that is in itself being caused by the unambiguous statements that some people's sexual orientations are "transphobic". You really can't have it both ways.
A common refrain during the pile-on was that I had been "transphobic" myself by singling out trans women in the poll wording - "why not ask whether it's wrong for fat people or Asian women or whoever to pressurise people into dating them?" And the answer to that is straightforward - it's because there is simply no equivalent to the allegation of transphobia that would apply to other types of sexual preferences. Women don't usually accuse gay men of misogyny for refusing to date them, and men don't usually accuse lesbians of misandry for refusing to date them. (I say "usually" because some do, but the point is that nobody takes them remotely seriously when they do it.) If Asian women occasionally feel that men refuse to date them because of racism, that's a very different sort of issue, because - and I can speak with some authority here - Asian women are just as attractive to heterosexual men as any other women. If racism does sometimes get in the way, there will always be any number of other men out there who will be interested. There's no natural barrier that requires people's entire sexual orientation to be reinvented or restructured.
Heterosexual men and lesbian women are, at least in certain circumstances, attracted to women of all ethnicities and of all body shapes and sizes. In most cases, however, they are not attracted to people who are physically or biologically male. That's a feature, not a bug - it's at the very core of heterosexual male / gay female sexual orientation. The discriminating factor in that orientation is not personal identity or 'spirit' - as a heterosexual male I might very well be attracted to a woman with a 'masculine spirit' but I wouldn't be attracted to a man with a 'feminine spirit'. Label that as transphobia if you want to, but it's just who I am and how I was born. In the same way, lesbian women are who they are. Telling lesbians that they must consider dating trans women is in many cases tantamount to telling them they must renounce their sexual orientation - and if you also say they'll be branded as bigots if they don't do that, then yes, that undoubtedly constitutes pressure.
A possible alternative version of the poll question, which might have attracted less ire from the Katy Montgomerie Fan Club, would have been "is it bigoted or transphobic to refuse to consider dating trans women?" with simple "yes" or "no" answers. But that would have been a cop-out, because it quite simply wouldn't have been a balanced question. There are two very robust stances taken by each side of this debate - one side says "you won't consider dating trans women and that makes you transphobic bigots" while the other side says "you're calling us transphobic bigots and that's putting intense and unreasonable pressure on us to widen our dating pool to include people we'll never actually be attracted to". The softer question would have offered respondents the opportunity to give direct backing to the robust stance taken by one side of the debate, but not to the equally robust stance taken by the other side. Essentially what we're being told is that only one half of the debate can be referred to in poll questions - well, that type of censorship and self-censorship might be the way we're headed, but don't try to tell me it's the way to poll public opinion fairly and accurately.
Katy's Medium article is about a joke Twitter poll she ran on Tuesday, asking "is it wrong for James Kelly to pressure people into dating him?" She imagined this would goad me into "admitting" that her question portrayed me as a predator, and therefore by extension that my own poll question had done the same to trans women. To her dismay, though, I was far more concerned about her cavalier approach to polling methodology. She announced that if her self-selecting poll exceeded 1000 votes, it would be just as "representative" as mine - whereas of course it would still have been infinitely less representative than a properly-conducted poll even if it had hit 100,000 votes. Some of the usual suspect "trendies" from Scottish political Twitter then thought they could rescue her by dipping into the lengthy dossier they keep on me, and produced a screenshot to support their claim that I "had changed my tune about the validity of self-selecting Twitter polls" . I warned Katy that she wouldn't exactly be dispelling the impression that she's clueless about polling if she placed too much reliance on that - but, alas, that warning has gone unheeded.
Unfortunately for her, I was making a very different point in the screenshotted tweet - which was about the absolute numbers who said they were planning to vote Alba in the Holyrood election. Although Twitter polls are self-selecting, they nevertheless restrict people to one vote per account. As we knew that roughly 100,000 votes would probably be enough to win Alba list seats, the fact that Alba could attract, say, 1000 votes in a Twitter poll did tell us something interesting - it suggested they had at least 1% of the necessary total and that there were probably more votes out there. (In the event, Alba took around 45,000 votes and thus fell short.) That perfectly valid point bears no resemblance whatever to suggestions that the percentage results in self-selecting polls are in any way meaningful or reliable. They are not. Never have been, never will be.
As for the question wording, the equivalence that Katy was inferring simply wasn't there. It would only have been there if I had ever claimed that "people who refuse to consider dating James Kelly are Kelly-phobic, and are therefore required to change their attitude immediately".
To deal with a couple of other miscellaneous points from Katy's piece -"Kelly said that he spent “thousands of pounds” on this poll."