Saturday, May 8, 2021
FINAL RESULTS: The SNP gain one seat overall, will *not* be a minority govt as long as there's an opposition Presiding Officer - and pro-independence parties win majority of the popular vote on the list
BBC projects pro-independence parties will have 56% of the seats in the new Scottish Parliament - up from 53% last time
A troll in my notifications earlier said Alba voters had been "conned". You could just as easily say "both votes SNP" voters have been conned, because it looks like SNP list votes will be wasted in 7 out of 8 regions. The SNP-Alba wasted votes debate ended in a no score draw.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 8, 2021
For a very short Episode 8 of the Popcast, I recorded some thoughts on the election results so far and looked ahead to what may be happening on the regional list. You can either listen via the embedded player below, or via the direct link HERE.
I was going to wait until the election was done and dusted before replying to my Somerset stalker's five hundred and sixty-eighth unhinged blogpost about me (which, amusingly, he describes as his "second" - it would be fascinating to know what his technical excuses are for thinking all the others "didn't count"). However, on closer inspection the post contains a number of inaccurate statements - lies, for want of a better word - so just as a matter of principle I'm not going to let those go uncorrected.
The most blatant lie is also the most bizarre. Stuart claims that I "swiftly banned" him yesterday after he made a series of angry posts in the comments section of this blog. As I have explained umpteen times, it is quite literally impossible to "ban" anyone on the Blogger platform. When people troll or are abusive, the only options open to me are to delete comments individually (which itself has become much, much harder on the new interface that was introduced a few months ago) or to turn on pre-moderation. The fact that I'm currently following the latter course of action tells you all you need to know - if it were possible to "ban" people, that would solve the problem instantly and pre-moderation would be needless.
Incidentally, although I've deleted some of Stuart's individual comments in the distant past, I didn't do so yesterday (except for a couple of accidental duplicates which I removed as a tidying-up exercise). So this "banning" claim isn't based on some sort of innocent misunderstanding - it does appear to be a very intentional lie.
What he wants his readers to believe I was trying to prevent him from posting was a protestation that he did not in fact do what everyone saw him do yesterday - ie. tell his readers to vote for unionist parties in twelve specific constituency seats. He seems to think that his get-out-of-jail-free card on this is a comment he added at the end of his piece stating that the only seat in which he'd advocate a vote for a unionist party was Glasgow Southside. That would be just peachy if it wasn't for the inconvenient fact that this comment flatly contradicted the explicit and repeated advice earlier in the blogpost to vote against the SNP in the other eleven seats. The exact words used, again and again and again, were "Alba supporters cannot afford to vote SNP in those seats".
Here's my top tip, Stu: not everyone who reads your blogposts will be a complete idiot. Some of your readers, perhaps only a select few, but undoubtedly some, will be able to spot that your words mean what they say and that a nonsensical throwaway disclaimer doesn't negate them.
The second disgraceful lie is that I have not been supportive of Craig Murray, who faces a potential jail sentence due to his courageous reporting of the Alex Salmond trial. Stuart alleges that my supposed lack of support for Craig is because I think there is more "traffic" to be had from attacking Wings. The narcissism behind that statement is truly mind-boggling. The reality, of course, is that I've been vocal in my support for Craig, as the below tweet from late March amply demonstrates. At time of writing, it's been retweeted 196 times and 'liked' 593 times. Just because Stuart hasn't been paying attention doesn't mean that nobody else has.
Solidarity with Craig Murray. The prosecution was ridiculous, the conviction is outrageous.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) March 22, 2021
Furthermore, one year ago I put my name to an open letter deploring the arrest and charging of both Craig and Mark Hirst. I've also spoken to Craig privately twice within the last few weeks - we mostly discussed politics, but I don't think he's in any doubt as to where my sympathies lie.
To return to the subject of Stuart's narcissism, you may have noticed that he seems to be incapable of writing an attack post about a fellow blogger without including a graph purporting to show that he has a much bigger readership. The obvious joke is that he's using the alleged size of his readership as a substitute for the size of his manhood. A few weeks ago he included Scot Goes Pop in a graph that showed how his stats towered above the other leading four pro-independence blogs. To which my reaction was the obvious: "so you're saying I'm in the top five, then?" In his new post he says that "hardly anyone" is reading Scot Goes Pop, and to illustrate his point reveals that SimilarWeb estimates that this blog has "only" had 464,872 page views so far this year. That's a rather interesting definition of "hardly anyone".
Of course it's unique readers that really matter, and on that measure the disparity in traffic between Wings and other websites shrinks. Stuart actually helpfully revealed his monthly unique readership the other day, and it looks as if it's roughly seven or eight times bigger than Scot Goes Pop's. That obviously still makes Wings the far more popular site, but a) that's something I've never disputed, and b) he would dearly love people to believe the gap is far, far bigger than it actually is. The reason why the number of page views can be so wildly misleading is that every time someone refreshes a page to read new comments, that's counted as another page view - and presumably people are doing that far more often on Wings.
My guess is that Stuart is lashing out because he realises he blew it yesterday. Until then, a decent number of people were giving him the benefit of the doubt and assuming that his ultimate objective was still independence, even if his means of achieving it were dubious and convoluted. But the mask has now slipped. You don't achieve independence by electing Willie Rennie as the MSP for North-East Fife.
No, Stuart's agenda is something different. His single-minded objectives are to stop self-identification for trans people, and to gain revenge against Nicola Sturgeon. That doesn't mean he's actively opposed to independence, but it comes a very poor second to his real priorities.
Friday, May 7, 2021
There are many good reasons for keeping Alba going, and proving John wrong is merely one of them.https://t.co/squuyFoyu0— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 7, 2021
Now, to be clear, there can be no guarantee that any new political party will survive the type of setback that Alba has just suffered. There are various potential scenarios in which Alba might fold over the coming months. However, at this moment there does seem to be a genuine determination to continue, and that's perfectly realistic - there aren't many small parties that can boast two MPs and a good number of local councillors. There would be two main purposes of persevering: a) to provide a much-needed political home for independence supporters who are clearly unwelcome in the new SNP for mostly irrational reasons, and b) to pressurise the SNP into keeping their word and holding an independence referendum in the next parliamentary term. The latter is obviously the more important reason.
One way in which Alba could have helped bring a referendum about if they had succeeded in this election was by providing an alternative for SNP MSPs who finally lose patience with the feet-dragging of the SNP leadership. The knowledge that MSPs could defect to the Alba group at any time would have kept the First Minister on her toes and given her an incentive to avoid any further undue delays. It's obviously harder to achieve that effect without a ready-made Alba group in Holyrood, but it can still be done as long as Alba continues to exist. SNP MSPs would have the option of setting up a new Alba group in the Scottish Parliament whenever they want, and they'd be stepping into an existing party infrastructure.
So I firmly believe that Alba should press on, with one very important caveat: it would be a terrible mistake to put up candidates at the 2024 UK general election, unless there's an electoral pact with the SNP. I presume that wouldn't be done anyway, but it's worth just putting that on the record. Whether we like it or not, UK general elections do still matter, and splitting the pro-independence vote in first-past-the-post contests would be catastrophic.
Incidentally, although there'll obviously be a fair amount of nasty triumphalism tomorrow among Alba-haters, one of their constant refrains appears set to be proved wrong. They kept insisting that by drawing attention to the tactical possibilities on the list, Alex Salmond had unwittingly boosted the Green vote instead. But it appears that the Greens themselves are slightly underperforming their opinion poll showing - and, frankly, that's bad news for all of us, although the pro-independence majority does look more or less secure now.
Patience, Stuart, I fully intend to do what I said I'd do. But for now I've got an election to concentrate on, even if your own mind appears to be elsewhere.
When I said I couldn't bring myself to look at Wings earlier, it honestly wasn't because I thought I was going to discover I was in the starring role. As his fans would says "Thanks Rev". All publicity gratefully received.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 7, 2021
That's by far an all-time record turnout in Clydebank & Milngavie.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 7, 2021
That Donside result is worrying, and probably more significant than Orkney.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 7, 2021
I struggle to imagine the SNP holding Banffshire & Buchan Coast after that Donside result.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 7, 2021
At least my Gaelic is now just about good enough that I knew Labour had lost before I heard the English translation. #sp21— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 7, 2021
A worryingly consistent pattern so far of the SNP being slightly down in every seat so far, apart from Orkney, which often deviates from national trends anyway. 45% nationwide would be perfectly OK, but probably wouldn't quite produce an SNP overall majority. #sp21— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 7, 2021
The thing about tactical voting is that it depends on there being votes there to squeeze. There's obviously a sizeable Tory support to be squeezed in the Milngavie part of Clydebank & Milngavie, but that isn't the case in a lot of seats where Labour start from second. #sp21— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 7, 2021
Thank God for that. I was worried about John Swinney's seat. His vote share is actually up - the first SNP increase in a mainland seat. #sp21— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 7, 2021
Yay, 4% increase for SNP in Dundee City West. Looking a bit more hopeful now. #sp21— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 7, 2021
The Great Escape: the SNP hold the most Leave-friendly seat in Scotland. #sp21— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 7, 2021
If the BBC try to spin that as a bad result, they're barking up the wrong tree. I was fully expecting the Tories to win Banffshire & Buchan Coast after the Donside result. #sp21— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 7, 2021
For context, the Tories hold the Westminster seat of Banff & Buchan and it was the one place where there was a swing from SNP to Tory in 2019. However close the Tories got today, however big the swing was on paper, the fact they lost is what matters. #sp21— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 7, 2021
Thursday, May 6, 2021
It's 10pm, the polls have closed, and if this was a UK general election we'd have just instantly found out the entire election result via a BBC exit poll. But as this is 'only' Scotland, there's no exit poll, and as there's also a pandemic, we're effectively living in 1923 and won't know the full results until Saturday. Until then, let's kill some time by dotting the i's and crossing the t's of the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll - this is the very last result, and the only one that produced an out-and-out negative outcome. I asked whether the fact that a number of MPs and local councillors had joined Alba meant the party should receive roughly the same level of coverage from the broadcasters as the Liberal Democrats and the Greens. Although only a minority of people agreed, it was a substantial minority, and it's worth making the point that a previous poll showed majority support (excluding Don't Knows) for Alba being included in the leaders' debates. Taken together, the two polls suggest the centre of gravity in public opinion is that Alba should have received considerably more coverage than they did over the course of the campaign, but not necessarily full parity with the longer-established parties.
If you're voting Alba on the list today (and you should!), that means you support independence and should also be voting SNP on the constituency ballot WHEREVER you live
When this is over, I'm going to pick apart the game Stuart Campbell has been playing over the last 18 months. When he suggested a Wings party, it was all about how ghastly it was that we had unionist MSPs on the list. It turns out he *wants* unionist MSPs in the constituencies.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 6, 2021
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
One of the traditions of major elections is to collate the endorsements of various newspapers (most famously, it was "The Sun Wot Won It" for the Tories in 1992). There's never been much need to do that for pro-independence blogs in the past, but this election is a bit different. So here's a tentative list - updates, additions and corrections are welcome. In some cases I've only included an endorsement on the regional list because I haven't seen an explicit constituency endorsement, although it may have been there and I've missed it (hence the call for corrections).
Scot Goes Pop: SNP constituency, Alba list
Wee Ginger Dug: SNP constituency, SNP list
Wings Over Scotland: Alba list
Bella Caledonia: General support for SNP and Greens (which may imply SNP constituency, Green list, but I haven't seen that stated directly)
Craig Murray: Alba list
Barrhead Boy: Alba list
Random Public Journal: Alba list
Newsnet Scotland: SNP constituency, SNP list (unbelievers shall perish)
Peter A Bell: All parties are rubbish but I'm still engaged in a heated debate with myself
* * *
Today I arrived at the conclusion of my own personal equivalent of "NaNoWriMo". Over the last month and a bit, I've profiled all seventy-three constituencies and all eight regional lists for The National and the Sunday National. I reckon that must come to around 45,000 words. Here are the last few: Aberdeen South & North Kincardine, South Scotland (regional list), Dundee City West, Dundee City East, Paisley, Linlithgow, Greenock & Inverclyde and East Lothian. And you can also read my piece in The National about the Eurovision and nuclear weapons questions from the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll HERE.
Eve of election polls show Alba's vote holding up - with contradictory signals about the size of the pro-independence majority
So we're deep into the late flurry of polls that always arrive in the last 48 hours of any major election campaign - I expect there'll be more tonight, and perhaps even one or two tomorrow. There was a touch of panic last night when a Savanta ComRes poll came out with by far the worst showing of the campaign so far for the SNP, but it quickly became clear that the fieldwork was slightly older than yesterday's YouGov poll, which showed the complete opposite - it had the SNP on an absolute majority on the constituency ballot, which if replicated tomorrow would be by far their best result in any Holyrood election. Today we've also had Survation and Ipsos-Mori polls with more or less the same fieldwork dates as ComRes, and the results are closer to YouGov's. So, touch wood, it looks like the ComRes poll might just be a very weird - albeit scary - outlier.
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Scot Goes Popcast with guest Chris McEleny, speaking about our exclusive Panelbase poll results showing that three-quarters of SNP voters want an indyref to take place with social distancing if the pandemic isn't over by 2022 or 2023
For Episode 7 of the Scot Goes Popcast, I was joined by Chris McEleny, the Alba Party's lead candidate in the West Scotland electoral region. Before joining Alba, Chris was leader of the SNP group on Inverclyde Council, and has twice been a candidate in elections for depute leader of the SNP.
We discussed a broad range of campaign issues, but in particular I asked him about the penultimate result in the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll, which I can now reveal...
If the pandemic hasn't completely ended by 2022 or 2023, do you think it would be reasonable to go ahead with an independence referendum on the same basis as the current election, with safety measures and social distancing?
Amazing Alba: Alex Salmond's new party sees support increase in Opinium and YouGov polls, as pro-independence parties head for big majority
Apologies for being a bit late in getting these numbers up - but I can promise that I haven't been idle on your behalf. I've spent the day writing three articles for The National (including this one), and also recording a podcast with Chris McEleny, which hopefully I'll be able to bring you at some point tonight.
Scottish Parliament constituency voting intentions (Opinium / Sky News, 28th April-3rd May):
Monday, May 3, 2021
Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll: SNP would win even bigger landslide victory in a new Westminster election, with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats losing seats
Sunday, May 2, 2021
Drama as Alba storm to their best result so far in a non-Panelbase poll - and pro-independence parties are on course for 61% of the seats
Well, I must admit I didn't see this one coming. I thought the question in tonight's polls would be whether we'd see an even split, a small No lead, or a larger No lead like the one we saw in the recent ComRes poll. Instead Yes have stormed back into the lead in the Sunday Times' final Panelbase poll before the election.
Should Scotland be an independent country? (Panelbase / Sunday Times)