Is it possible for a government to have an electoral mandate to do something the public strongly opposes? That may seem like a contradiction in terms, but it's actually at the core of how parliamentary democracy works. We don't usually decide individual issues by referendum, and therefore the only test of whether a mandate exists is whether or not the party or parties elected to government pledged to take a particular course of action in their manifestos. Every manifesto contains a large number of pledges which we, as individual voters, have to accept or reject as a package. There's no à la carte menu - which makes it nigh-on inevitable that governments will at least occasionally be able to claim a mandate for a specific policy that voters don't agree with. Some of the excesses of the Thatcher years would fall into that category - as would the SNP/Green government's determination to push through gender self-ID, which the new Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll has convincingly demonstrated the public are strongly opposed to.
Now, to be clear, there's nothing anti-democratic about what is being done. If you believe in parliamentary democracy, you have to accept that self-ID is a matter for the elected Scottish Parliament to decide. You can urge MSPs to listen, you can warn them that your vote will go elsewhere next time if they don't take your concerns on board, but ultimately the decision is theirs. That fundamental principle, however, should not be seen as some kind of get-out-of-jail-free card that allows politicians to cynically misrepresent the meaning of election results with impunity. If people elect an SNP government largely because they support independence and oppose Brexit, but the SNP instead use that mandate to push through a policy that didn't actually influence all that many votes, it's profoundly dishonest to claim that they're engaged in delivery of the popular will.
A number of SNP and Green politicians have made very bold and specific claims about what voters meant when they produced the election result they did in May. People were showing their 'decency' by endorsing gender self-ID in their droves with votes for the SNP and Greens. They were 'rejecting transphobia and bigotry' by only giving 2% of the list vote to Alba. Here are two examples from Twitter to demonstrate exactly what has been said...
John Nicolson (SNP MP): "They [Alba] are a Twitter phenomenon. When their bigotry meets electoral reality they find their level of support is 1.6%...in any event Scottish voters are decent. That’s why this nonsense gets no traction. #TransAwarenessWeek #TransRightsAreHumanRights"
Maggie Chapman (Green MSP): "And, a word to those who thought that beating up on trans people would be an easy ticket into Parliament … the people of the North East … indeed, the people of Scotland, have rejected you. It is time you left politics. For good. #SP21"
The latter claim is, on the face of it, particularly brazen. Yes, in a sense the voters "rejected" Alba, because 98% voted for other parties - but by that standard the voters also "rejected" the Greens, because 92% of people didn't vote Green. More to the point, there's no evidence that voters had trans issues in mind when they rejected either party, so to suggest that Alba politicians, and only Alba politicians, should leave public life altogether off the back of that result seems absolutely barking mad - not to mention completely outrageous.
The mere 20% support for self-ID in the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll is already sufficient to give the lie to Nicolson's and Chapman's outlandish claims. However, to put the matter beyond all dispute, I also asked an additional question, specifically about whether respondents had used their votes in the way Nicolson, Chapman and others insist they did.
Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll (a representative sample of 1001 over-16s in Scotland was interviewed by Panelbase between 20th and 26th October 2021)
Some politicians have suggested that the result of the Scottish Parliament election in May of this year showed that voters rejected candidates who they believed were "transphobic" for opposing reforms to make it easier for individuals to change their legal gender. Thinking back to the Scottish Parliament election, which of these statements best describes how you used your vote?
I consciously rejected candidates who I believed to be transphobic: 11%
I did not consciously reject candidates due to their alleged transphobia: 57%
I did not vote: 13%
Don't Know / Prefer not to answer: 18%
Those numbers, I would suggest, speak for themselves very eloquently. Nobody can stop Nicolson and Chapman from continuing to claim that the 2021 election was a resounding endorsement of the Stonewall worldview and a rejection of "transphobia" - but it is also now an established and irrefutable fact that they are either deluded about that or are misleading people. Of the people who voted "against" Alba, it appears that at least 80% did not do so for the reasons we're supposed to believe.
Just 15% of people who voted SNP in the 2019 Westminster election say they used their vote this year to reject transphobes, and 59% say they didn't. So homing in on SNP voters in particular doesn't make a huge amount of difference to the equation.
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SCOT GOES POP POLLING FUNDRAISER: I'm having to partly cover the costs of the current poll with my own funds, so if we're going to run further polling in the future, we'll need to reach the £6500 target in the fundraiser (or get very close to it). We're close to 60% of the way there so far, with more than £2500 still required. So any donations, large or small, would be greatly appreciated and will make all the difference. Don't risk leaving public opinion polling exclusively in the hands of the mainstream media, with all the bias that entails! Here are three ways in which you can donate...
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