The Scottish local elections are just six months away, and will help shape the media narrative of whether there is momentum towards an independence referendum (or towards some sort of alternative democratic event to achieve an independence mandate), or whether the independence movement is on the back foot, just as it appeared to be after the last local elections in 2017 - when the SNP comfortably topped the poll but sharply underperformed expectations.
I've already released the headline voting intentions for the local elections from the new Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll - which to the best of my knowledge is the first such set of numbers from any opinion poll in this electoral cycle. Here's a reminder of the results: SNP 45%, Conservatives 22%, Labour 21%, Liberal Democrats 6%, Greens 4%, Alba 2%. Nothing too surprising in there, although there must be a question mark as to whether the SNP will really achieve what would be by far an all-time record high, given their tendency to fall short of opinion poll figures in local elections.
But of course local elections in Scotland are conducted by STV, which means voters do not just put an 'X' beside one candidate, but instead rank the candidates in order of preference - and, crucially, they can rank as many or as few candidates as they like. Because a lot of people don't really understand how the system works, there's a danger that many independence supporters will fail to optimise the power of their votes - for example, they might just give their first and second preferences to the two SNP candidates in their ward, and not rank anyone else, when in fact if they want to help the cause of independence they should be ranking every single pro-independence party and candidate. That's something they can do as a "free hit", because it will not affect the chances of the SNP candidates being elected in any way whatsoever.
To get an insight into how many voters are planning to rank multiple parties, the poll asked an additional voting intention question for the local elections...
Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll (a representative sample of 1001 over-16s in Scotland was interviewed by Panelbase between 20th and 26th October 2021)
At the Scottish local elections next May, voters will rank candidates in order of preference, and will be able to rank as many or as few candidates as they wish. Which of the following parties do you think you will include in your ranking when you vote in the local elections? (Please select all that apply.)
FUNDRAISING FOR POLLS: As I've mentioned a few times, the crowdfunding for this current poll didn't reach the required amount, and I'm having to cover the shortfall with my own money. So to be able to run any further Scot Goes Pop polling, on independence or on any other subject, we're going to have reach the £6500 target figure in the new fundraiser, or at least come very close to it. So far we're just over the halfway mark, which is a fantastic start, and a million thanks to everyone who has donated over the last couple of weeks. However, there have been potentially ominous signs of the donation rate slowing in recent days, so please bear with me as I continue to promote the fundraiser heavily - there's simply no point in leaving the job half done. It's really important that we as the pro-independence movement crowdfund our own polling from time to time, because there's no other way of ensuring that the questions we want to be asked are actually asked. The grim alternative is that all polls will be commissioned by anti-independence clients, with the inevitable slant in the way the questions are posed. (That was exactly the problem we faced during the long indyref campaign, with very few exceptions.)
One issue that always comes up when I crowdfund, but has come up even more this time than usual, is that some people are slightly allergic to donating via a fundraising platform like GoFundMe - they would prefer a more direct payment option. I've received a few emails from people saying "I would have donated if I could pay you without going through a middle man". When I launched the fundraiser, I did actually give my Paypal details as a direct payment method, but I'm happy to do so once again.
Paypal email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paypal is actually by far the most convenient option, both for me and for those making donations, because the money is transferred immediately and without any fuss. A number of people have already chosen to donate that way. All you need to do is make sure the above email address is entered accurately, and when you're asked if you wish to attach a note just put "poll" or "fundraiser" so I can easily earmark the funds and add them to the running total. (But don't worry if you don't do the latter bit - I hardly ever receive money via Paypal for any other reason, so it'll be pretty obvious what it's for!)
However, some people have an allergy to Paypal as well as to fundraising sites, and have urged me to provide my bank details so they can donate by direct bank transfer instead. If you'd really prefer to donate that way, please contact me by email. My contact email address is different from my Paypal address, and can be found in the sidebar of the desktop version of this blog, or on my Twitter profile.