Friday, June 4, 2021

Drama as it emerges that Gordon Brown's post-election propaganda poll showed a majority for independence - and found that voters don't think they should have to wait "a generation" to get a choice on their own future

I noticed earlier that the Stack Data poll from shortly after the Holyrood election, which showed the independence question tied at 50-50, still hadn't been added to the Wikipedia list of polls.  So I've just put that right.  The poll was a wide-ranging propaganda survey commissioned by Gordon Brown's anti-independence organisation Our Scottish Future, and the detailed datasets make for fascinating reading.  As you'd expect, the questions were framed in a way that maximised the chances of getting the desired results, but there were a number that backfired.  Most importantly, there was a question that asked respondents to rate their support or opposition to independence on a scale of 0 to 10, and the results were startlingly different to the standard question...

In favour of independence (6-10): 55%
Opposed to independence (0-4): 38%
Neutral (5): 8%

With neutrals stripped out, that implies a split of roughly Yes 59%, No 41%.  In all honesty that surprises me, because similar polls in the past from Survation have often shown lower support for Yes in this format.

Elsewhere, there's exactly 50% support for holding an independence referendum between now and 2026, with an additional 12% who want one held between 2026 and 2031.  Only 18% think there should never be another indyref.  

Short shrift is given to the notion that London should call the shots on the terms of a referendum.  For example, just 12% think the composition of the electorate should be decided by the UK Government.  If combined with a further 27% who think the Scottish and UK Governments should decide the matter jointly, that takes the figure to 39%, but that's still smaller than the 43% who think either the Scottish Parliament or the Scottish Government should decide on its own.  There are similar results on the questions of who should choose the date and the legal terms of the referendum. 

Perhaps most tellingly of all, the idea that the fabled "generation" should pass before there can be another referendum is rejected by respondents.  Only 37% agree with that notion, and 41% disagree.  

Take 3: The parliamentary petition on transferring all powers over broadcasting to the Scottish Parliament! (Updated)

UPDATE: Thanks to your help, the petition has received enough signatures to be checked for publication, and no more signatures can be accepted while that is happening, so I've removed the links below.  I'll let you know what happens.

So, as you'll probably remember, I made a second attempt a few days ago at starting a petition on the UK Parliament website calling for all necessary steps to be taken to bring about a Scottish entry at the Eurovision Song Contest.  I completely changed the wording to address the stated reasons for the rejection of the first one, and I identified specific steps that could be taken that are fully within the Westminster parliament's powers.  I suggested on this blog that a second rejection would leave little room for doubt that the people in charge of the petitions process weren't acting in good faith - and that's exactly what has happened.  Ludicrously, the wording of the rejection email this time was identical to the first one, even though the reasons in it quite plainly didn't apply to the new petition.  

What seems to be going on is that they have a stock rejection wording for any petition with "Eurovision" in the title, and are just sending that out regardless of what the petition actually calls for.  That being the case, there's clearly no point in trying to adjust the petition any further, and it's time for a completely new tack.  I'm now attempting to start a petition calling for the wholesale transfer of broadcasting powers to the Scottish Parliament, and I've merely mentioned a Scottish Eurovision entry in passing as one of several possible benefits.

On paper, this petition meets all the conditions for publication, so it should be accepted, but in practice there are no guarantees - I had a look through a number of rejected petitions relating to devolution, and the reasons for rejection were often entirely bogus (ie. "this is a matter for the people of Scotland and Wales", when in reality Westminster retains the absolute power to unilaterally change the devolution settlements without consent, and indeed has repeatedly used that power).  But all we can do is try.  Once again, five signatures will be needed for the petition to be checked (and thank you for your patience in this matter!).

By the way, I know some people will object to this petition on the basis that we shouldn't be trying to 'make devolution work', we should instead be trying to get independence and that way we'll automatically get broadcasting powers.  But the whole point of the exercise is to demonstrate that devolution isn't working and can't work, because no UK government will ever respect the wishes of the people on what powers should be devolved.  If by any chance the petition is published and reaches 10,000 signatures, the government would be required to respond to it.

Petition title: Devolve legislative powers over broadcasting to the Scottish Parliament 

What is being called for: Scotland's devolution settlement should be strengthened by removing broadcasting from the long list of policy areas that are reserved to Westminster. The elected Scottish Parliament should be given the power to restructure the TV and radio landscape in line with the wishes of the people of Scotland. 

More details: Westminster's retention of essentially all powers over Scottish broadcasting is inconsistent with the claim that the Scottish Parliament is "the most powerful devolved parliament in the world". The long-overdue transfer of these powers to the Scottish Parliament would enable BBC Scotland and the Scottish ITV franchises to be reformed to meet the needs of Scottish audiences in terms of drama, news, comedy, a Scottish entry at the Eurovision Song Contest, and coverage of Scottish sporting teams. 

Thursday, June 3, 2021

One law for the children of Daddy, and another law for everyone else?

So this is, as far as I can see, a legitimate observation - Jack publicly resigned from the SNP in precisely the same way that the defectors to Alba did, and yet he's been readmitted well within the two year period that he should have been automatically banned for.  It seems that different rules apply (or different interpretations of the rules) if your stated reason for resigning was that the SNP weren't taking a sufficiently extreme stance on identity politics.

I must confess I had no idea before this exchange that Jack harboured such bitter hatred towards me on a personal level.  I've met him twice in real life at 'separatist dinners' and he seemed very pleasant and friendly.  As a result we followed each other on Twitter for a number of years, although he quietly unfollowed me (in fairness he didn't block me) after the 2019 general election.  I'm 70-80% sure the reason he did that was a single tweet I posted listing my personal five favourite results from the election, which amounted to aggravated thoughtcrime because Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath was one of them.  It wasn't top of the list, I hasten to add - East Dunbartonshire was, but it seems that simply celebrating a pro-independence win is deemed a form of "bigotry" these days.  If memory serves me right, Jack had said he would like to campaign for Labour in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, and he also gave a pretty strong indication that he wanted Joanna Cherry to lose her seat - which was even more outrageous, given that Ms Cherry, unlike Neale Hanvey, wasn't suspended from the party, and her only credible challenger was the Tory candidate.  

I've belatedly put Jack out of his misery and blocked him, along with a few of his ultra-zealot tag-team chums.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

The UK Government was elected on 44% of the vote, and the Scottish Government was elected on 48% of the vote. Murdo Fraser, naturally, only thinks the latter is a problem.

The Tory MSP Murdo Fraser finishes his latest Scotsman column with some perfectly reasonable suggestions for reforming the Holyrood voting system.  He advocates replacing the two-ballot set-up with a single ballot to eliminate the possibility of gaming the system, scrapping closed lists in favour of open lists that would give the opportunity for voters to choose between individual candidates (that ought to be a no-brainer), and possibly switching wholesale to the Single Transferable Vote system.  But unfortunately his journey to these sensible conclusions, ie. his stated reasons for thinking the system needs to change, involves some of the most mind-bending 'logic' you'll ever see.

Murdo seems to think the fact that the SNP are considering a deal with the Greens will somehow lead to a greater 'distortion' of the way people voted.  But self-evidently the opposite is true - the SNP on their own took 48% of the constituency vote and 40% of the regional list vote, but the SNP and Greens in combination took 49% of the constituency vote and 48% of the regional list vote.  A two-party government would therefore be closer to representing the majority, not further away.  Contrast that with the single-party Tory government at Westminster that just 44% of the electorate voted for.  Crucially, that government claimed a mandate for a hard Brexit even though a significantly bigger share of the popular vote went to parties opposed to leaving the EU on the basis Boris Johnson wanted.  If Murdo wishes to talk about 'distortion' and open-and-shut cases for reform of the voting system, Westminster is the place to start.

Another bogus point Murdo makes is that the pro-indy majority at Holyrood was artificially created by SNP voters gaming the system and switching to the Greens on the list.  That really is absolute rubbish.  There was a pro-indy majority on the popular vote in the regional list ballot - a point that Murdo conveniently glosses over.  It may be theoretically possible that voting for different parties on the two ballots can make pro-indy votes work more efficiently, but what it can't do is increase the overall number of pro-indy votes.  And yet the combined vote share for pro-indy parties was significantly higher on the list ballot than on the constituency ballot.  Murdo needs to reflect on where those extra votes came from. It can't have anything to do with gaming the system.  The most likely explanation is that some people voted for a unionist party on the constituency ballot because their favourite pro-indy party didn't have a candidate in their area.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

How many resignations will it take before the leadership recognise that the problem is not the NEC's critics, it's the NEC itself?

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Ed Coulson works in community radio in Ireland, and he was kind enough to record a sort of masterclass for me when I first started talking about the possibility of a Scot Goes Pop podcast.  By the time I listened to it, I had already recorded the first podcast, and unfortunately I realised that I'd done the complete opposite of a lot of what Ed had advised! However I've taken some of his advice on board for the subsequent episodes.  He got back in touch the other day and was the bearer of bad news - I had said the Scot Goes Popcast was now a 'proper' podcast because the episodes are downloadable from Soundcloud, but it turned out that's nowhere near enough, and I needed to set up an RSS feed and submit it to various podcast directories.

I finally seem to be getting there - the Scot Goes Popcast is now available on Spotify and on Stitcher, and I've also submitted it to a couple of other directories.  I haven't submitted it to Apple yet (which appears to be the most important one) because there were a few extra hoops to jump through, and I was a bit uneasy that they were asking for payment details.  However, I may still do that at some point.

Having gone to all this trouble, and having also taken out a paid subscription on Soundcloud, I kind of feel like I'd better continue with the podcast now, so keep the suggestions for potential guests coming.  My last three invitations all drew a blank, although as one of those was to renowned environmentalist Alistair McConnachie, maybe it was just as well.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Yes vote at 50% in spiffing Stack survey

Thanks to Scottish Skier for pointing me in the direction of an independence poll from a couple of weeks ago that is so obscure that it doesn't even appear on Wikipedia's list of polls.  I might add it to the list myself if nobody else does.  It was conducted by Stack Data, which is a "trading brand of Hanbury Strategy", and thus very much associated with the anti-independence campaign.

Should Scotland be an independent country? (Stack Data)

Yes 50%
No 50%

Even with Don't Knows included it's level-pegging (48-48), so this rather helpfully breaks the little sequence of No-majority polls from before the Holyrood election.  The fieldwork dates precede the ComRes / Scotsman poll, which means it was probably the first post-election independence poll.  The bad news, though, is that the ComRes numbers I took from Wikipedia earlier weren't totally accurate - the No figure before Don't Knows were excluded was understated by 2%.

Two weeks late, here's some analysis of the first post-election independence poll

I'm not entirely sure how I missed this, but I've just routinely checked the Wikipedia list of independence polls to see if there's anything new, and it turns out there was one a couple of weeks ago - the first post-election independence poll.

Should Scotland be an independent country?  (Savanta ComRes / Scotsman)

Yes 47% (+1)
No 53% (-1)

However, it appears that rounding may have disguised a slightly bigger reduction in the No lead, because before Don't Knows are excluded the figures are Yes 43% (+1), No 47% (-3).

I wondered aloud after the election whether the feel-good factor from the SNP's landslide win would produce a boost in the Yes vote, and whether that might put Yes into an outright lead.  On the face of if, the answer to the first question is 'yes' and the answer to the second question is 'no'.  However, I'm just going to be slightly cautious until I see a poll from a firm other than ComRes, who have produced some very weird numbers in the last few months.  They had to retrospectively change some of their headline results due to a calculation error, and of course they were also caught up in the notorious #Matchettgate fake poll scandal - although that was almost certainly Scotland on Sunday's fault, not theirs.

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A few housekeeping notes -

* I received an email about a week or ten days ago saying nine more people had donated to the Scot Goes Pop fundraiser and between them had contributed around £300.  That didn't make any sense, because I haven't been promoting the fundraiser for a few weeks (I thought I'd better wait until the election was out of the way), and there's no sign of the donations on the crowdfunder page.  It was probably just a rogue email, but if anyone did donate at around that time, let me know so I can check for any discrepancies.

* I've finally found the setting on Soundcloud that makes the Scot Goes Pop podcasts "proper" downloadable podcasts.  So if you'd like to download any of the nine episodes so far, you can now do so HERE.  (Go to an individual podcast, and look for a drop-down menu with a 'download' option.  It appears to only be there on the desktop version of the site, unless I'm still missing something.)

* For ages now, people who post Scot Goes Pop posts on Facebook have complained about bogus warnings of graphic or sensitive content.  Someone suggested to me that it may be my profile photo that's causing the problem, because the bots may be misinterpreting my raised finger as something else.  So when I have a moment, I'll try changing the photo to see if it makes any difference.