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:

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.