Sunday, January 23, 2022

Welcome to the parallel universe in which the BBC would have the right to expect supporters of independence to defend the licence fee

Fingers point at Auntie after the UK's "Near Death Experience"

Edinburgh - 19th September 2014

Anti-separation chiefs were jubilant last night as the "Better Together" campaign sealed an epic referendum victory, securing Scotland's place in the United Kingdom for the foreseeable future.  But in the cold light of morning, attention has started to turn to the wafer-thin margin by which the win was bagged.  A full 49.7% of Scottish electors turned out to vote for a separate state - a figure only barely dwarfed by the 50.3% who voted against partitioning Britain.  That was wildly out of line with confident predictions from only a few days ago of a margin as wide as 57-43.  Already commentators are dubbing the shock outcome "a near death experience for the Union".

So far there have been few recriminations between the Unionist political parties, with most ire instead being reserved for the role of the BBC.  Colin Brown of the Orange Order in Scotland said openly what many Labour and Conservative politicians have been saying privately today when he angrily branded the public service broadcaster as "treacherous".  He pointed out that the BBC have a duty to foster cohesion of the British nation, but added bitterly: "If that's what they've been doing over the last fortnight, you could have fooled me.  With 'Aunties' like the Beeb, who needs grumpy mothers-in-law?"

Although Unionist parties have been more circumspect in their public criticisms, eyebrows have nevertheless been raised over a series of high-profile stories that the BBC ran on news bulletins during the course of last week. "There was clear polling evidence at the start of that crucial week that we in the No Thanks campaign had started to steady the ship after the wobble of the notorious YouGov poll," noted Fred Canning, a Conservative local councillor in Dumfries and Galloway.  "But then the BBC randomly threw our gains away by seemingly trying to convince voters that they would live longer with separation, or that they would die of radiation poisoning if they stuck with the Union, or most ludicrously of all that Britain might leave the European Union and then install Boris Johnson as Prime Minister!  It was the most astonishing spectacle that has ever been witnessed from any national broadcaster anywhere in the western world."

The reference to "living longer with separation" concerned a story about Scotland's life expectancy record, which compares very poorly to almost all other countries in western Europe.  The BBC appeared to be suggesting the Union might be to blame, and UK government ministers were left firmly on the defensive as they pointed out that London cannot be expected to control the poor lifestyle choices of individual Scots - a line of argument that "Yes" campaigners subsequently blasted as patronising or even racist.  Meanwhile, the "radiation poisoning" story was about alleged concerns over the safety of British nuclear weapons on the Clyde, and the potential for a catastrophic accident.

Senior Labour activist Kenny Inglis agreed with Canning that the BBC's choice of news priorities implied that the broadcaster had turned against the Union for unknown reasons.  "These were entirely contrived stories.  They weren't in any way topical, nothing had suddenly changed.  Scotland has had poor life expectancy numbers since Adam was a boy, and nuclear subs have been based in Faslane for decades without major incident."

But a well-known BBC Scotland journalist robustly defended the corporation's output towards the end of the referendum campaign.  Speaking on condition of anonymity, she explained: "Frankly, I think the BBC at network level were in severe danger of losing their heads after the YouGov poll showed Yes on 51%.  We were set for a week of 'shock and awe' scare stories about independence that seemed to have no other purpose than to deliver a No majority and save the Union.  We could have suffered reputational damage in Scotland that would have taken decades to repair.  Luckily cooler and more experienced heads prevailed and we rescued our coverage with balancing stories that scrutinised the possible downsides of remaining in the Union."

Can seemingly fanciful stories about nuclear catastrophe or a future Boris Johnson premiership really be regarded as "balanced"? Remarkably, Professor Emma McWilliams of Stirling University's Media Studies Department insists they can.  "You don't achieve balance as a broadcaster by sort of treating the Yes campaign as the defendant in a trial, and simply allowing the 'prosecution' and the 'defence' equal airtime.  Earlier in the campaign, there were BBC news stories about businesses and banks that would supposedly withdraw from Scotland in the event of independence, there were stories about how the EU would supposedly leave an independent Scotland out in the cold, and there were even stories about how an independent Scotland might be more vulnerable to threats from outer space!  All of those left the Yes campaign hopelessly on the back foot.  At some point the BBC were going to have to put the United Kingdom in the dock in a similar way.  Fortunately they did their job - a bit late in the day, it has to be said, but better late than never."

However, the Orange Order's Colin Brown took issue with the idea that the BBC should even have been striving for balance in the first place.  "You can't be 'balanced' on the existence of the country you serve. If you call yourself a British public broadcaster, you can't be neutral on whether Britain even has a future.  You have to pick a side - and there's only one side you can pick if you don't want to be regarded as traitors." 

The BBC Scotland journalist reacted dismissively to that suggestion.  "At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if the word 'British' is in our name.  It doesn't matter what it says in the BBC Charter.  Above all else, what audiences have always expected from the BBC - especially during democratic elections and referendums - is fairness.  If there's any conflict between fairness and 'backing Britain', they expect us to choose fairness without a second thought.  I'm proud to say that's exactly what we did."

And out on the streets of the Scottish capital, there were plenty of signs that the BBC's controversial coverage had restored the faith of many backers of separation.  37 year old Stacy Brodie, who voted Yes yesterday, spoke for many when she said: "I'm gutted that we won't be getting our independence, but the BBC totally gave the Yes campaign a fair crack of the whip over the last couple of weeks.  I grew up loving BBC programmes, and it would have broken my heart if they'd betrayed me and their other Scottish viewers by pumping out nothing but Unionist scare stories, but I should never have doubted them, they've been completely even-handed.  You know, they've actually shown there's no contradiction between being the British Broadcasting Corporation and covering Scottish politics fairly.  I'll be happy to keep on paying the licence fee in future years - no problem at all."

Friday, January 21, 2022

First independence poll of 2022 sees Yes draw level in a Savanta ComRes survey for first time since April: does #Partygate mean #PartyOver for #OurPreciousUnion?

The final independence poll of last year - which was also the first since the ongoing story of the Downing Street parties broke - presented us with an enigma. It showed Yes on 50%, which was higher than in any online poll for months, but it was also conducted by a firm (Opinium) that had been tending to show markedly better results for Yes than other firms.  So was 50% just an Opinium house effect, or was it the first indication that #Partygate was having an impact on the constitutional state of play?  Today's first poll of 2022 gives some support to the latter interpretation, because it shows Yes on 50% - and this time it was conducted by a firm that has been particularly favourable for No over the last year or so.

Savanta ComRes poll, 14th-18th January 2021:

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 50% (+2)
No 50% (-2)

The last time a Savanta ComRes poll showed Yes in the 50s was way back in April, just before the Holyrood election, and the poll in question also showed a 50-50 tie.  There have been six polls from the firm in the interim, all showing a No lead, and all but one showing No on 52% or higher.  Today's poll, therefore, does have the appearance of a breakthrough for Yes.

Also important psychologically is that, across all polling firms, we've now had three polls in a row showing Yes on 50% or higher.  So, at least for the time being, it's very hard for the mainstream media to maintain the narrative that No is generally in the lead.  Or very hard for them to do that honestly, at any rate.

There are also Holyrood voting intention numbers from the poll - 

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot voting intentions:

SNP 47% (-1)
Labour 22% (-)
Conservatives 19% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 8% (+1)

Scottish Parliament regional list ballot voting intentions:

SNP 38% (-)
Labour 20% (-)
Conservatives 18% (-4)
Greens 12% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 9% (+2)
Alba 2% (+1)

Given the trajectory of recent GB-wide polls, it might have seemed inevitable that Labour would have built upon their second place in the last ComRes poll, but in fact their own vote share has remained static and the Tories have only dropped one point.  The Tory decline is much more pronounced on the list ballot, but again Labour have not picked up any support.

The Greens' vote of 12% looks very healthy, although actually that's very much within their normal range in Savanta ComRes polls - they climbed to as high as 13% in September.  The Lib Dem vote is unusually high, though - time will tell whether that's just a freakish result caused by sampling variation, or whether it's a genuine boost caused by their recent by-election success in England.  (For what it's worth, my guess is the latter.)

Also noteworthy is that Alba's list support has doubled from 1% to 2% - dealing a crushing blow to those harbouring misplaced hopes that the new party was somehow on its way out.

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If you'd like to help this blog continue for another year, or to help us commission another full-scale poll like the six we've commissioned over the last two years, here are the various options for donating...

Via the Scot Goes Pop polling fundraiser for 2021-22, which I set up in the autumn and is part-funded.

If you prefer to donate directly, that can be done via Paypal or bank transfer:  

My Paypal email address is:  jkellysta@yahoo.co.uk

Or email me for my bank details.  (My contact email address is different from my Paypal address, and can be found in the sidebar of the desktop version of the site, or on my Twitter profile.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Scot Goes Pop fundraising for 2022: the launch

Click here to go straight to the Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser page for 2022.

It's more or less exactly two years since Scot Goes Pop commissioned its first opinion poll. It was a very successful exercise, showing that the impact of the December 2019 general election result had taken the pro-independence vote to its highest level since just after the Brexit referendum in the summer of 2016.  Several people said to me afterwards that they'd like me to continue with regular monthly Scot Goes Pop polls on independence - which would have been a nice idea in theory, but I think I can now say beyond a shadow of doubt that it was never feasible.  I seem to have done little else but fundraise over the last two years - I'm sure at times it's been tiresome for readers and it's certainly been embarrassing at times for me.  And yet in spite of that I've only barely raised enough to cover the cost of the six polls I've commissioned, which have averaged out at one every four months or so.  To have commissioned monthly polls, I would have needed to raise well in excess of £100,000 since January 2020, which simply isn't doable for the likes of me.  Stuart Campbell is probably the one and only person in the Scottish political blogosphere capable of pulling it off.

Bearing that in mind, I regard the six polls Scot Goes Pop has actually managed to commission so far as quite a feat, and it's difficult to know whether to laugh or cry when I hear that people on another high-profile pro-indy blog have been making snide comments essentially implying that I am a grifter.  Even just the three polls I commissioned in 2021 had a cumulative cost that was well into five figures. To pay for that required not just the funds from the dedicated polling crowdfunders, but also a significant percentage of the funds from the Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser for 2021, which was initially intended to supplement my own income and help keep the website going.  The idea that I've been pocketing the money and sailing off in a luxury yacht is absolutely laughable.  Things have actually been really tight recently.

I also ran into a number of specific problems in the middle of last year.  As you might remember, a former long-term commenter on this blog was so angry that I had joined "the wrong sort" of pro-independence party that he made determined efforts to sabotage the ongoing poll fundraising efforts.  He vexatiously demanded refunds of ancient donations that had been long since spent in exactly the way promised, and loudly broadcast what he was doing to the world (or to the readers of Wee Ginger Dug, at any rate). He even left lengthy comments on newspaper websites giving a list of spurious reasons why people shouldn't donate to Scot Goes Pop fundraisers.  Those were petty and profoundly cynical stunts that simply redoubled my determination that I would get the third poll of the year done one way or another - and I did.  But I don't think there's much doubt that our old friend's interventions made the exercise far more challenging than it otherwise would have been.

The third poll of the year was a comprehensive poll on GRA reform and related gender issues, with voting intention questions and a few supplementary questions about independence also added on.  Because of the controversial subject matter, I had to make sure that I only used funds that had been donated specifically with a GRA poll in mind.  By the time we were well into the autumn, not enough had been raised, and yet I had people on Twitter getting restless and saying: "Where is the GRA poll you promised, James?  The women and girls of Scotland are waiting and watching!"  To which I could only reply with some bemusement that it was a bit difficult to commission a poll without enough money.  Nevertheless, the GRA issue was clearly time-sensitive due to the promise of the Scottish Government to legislate for reform in the very near future, so I had to break the logjam somehow.  I eventually went ahead and commissioned the poll, using my own money to cover the shortfall, and then I set up a dedicated polling crowdfunder to both compensate me for that and help pay for the next poll. So far that's raised £4175 of a £6500 target (there have also been a number of additional donations via Paypal).

As it's no longer 2021, it's also time to draw the curtain on last year's general fundraiser, and start afresh with a Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser for 2022.  So that's what I've done, and you can visit the new GoFundMe crowdfunder page HERE.

I want to once again thank everyone who has donated to Scot Goes Pop over the years - when you stop and think about it, it's amazing what we've achieved together.  By commissioning and publishing full-scale polls from reputable BPC-affiliated firms, we've done something that is normally the preserve of the mainstream media, or of political parties and think tanks.  And that has allowed us to set the agenda with the questions that actually interest us, rather than passively look on as unionist media outlets ask unionist-flavoured poll questions.

As I said at this time last year, I expect the fundraising to continue to be a slowburner.  So please bear with me as I promote the crowdfunder at the end of each blogpost for the foreseeable future.  I do intend to run another poll, but this time I'm going to do my best to avoid crisis-points.  Fundraising takes as long as it takes, so I'll just wait until the moment arrives when the funding is fully nailed down.  We'll get there, have no fear.

To reiterate, here are the options for donating:

Via the new Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser for 2022.

Via the Scot Goes Pop polling fundraiser for 2021-22, which I set up in the autumn and is part-funded.

If you prefer to donate directly, that can be done via Paypal or bank transfer:  

My Paypal email address is:  jkellysta@yahoo.co.uk

Or email me for my bank details.  (My contact email address is different from my Paypal address, and can be found in the sidebar of the desktop version of the site, or on my Twitter profile.)

You can also view the promo film for Scot Goes Pop that I made with the amazing Phantom Power...

Thursday, January 13, 2022

The day that the Scottish Tories finally saw themselves through the contemptuous eyes of their Westminster masters

The controversial journalist David Leask may be surprised to learn that I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of Russian history. But one thing I do know is that Bloody Sunday in 1905 was the pivotal moment when the populace started to see Tsarism for what it truly was.  Until then they had believed that their suffering was the fault of the Tsar's ministers and staff, who kept the truth from him.  They honestly thought he loved his people so much that if he had known what was happening, he would have been deeply shocked and would have been bound to help.  But when they attempted to petition him directly, they found he held them in exactly the same contempt and quickly ordered guns to be turned on them.

I suspect that, on a smaller scale, a number of Scottish Tories have had an equivalent epiphany over the last 24 hours.  Until now, they've probably assumed that when the UK government sneer at the Scottish Government, the contempt is directed solely at the SNP and at Nicola Sturgeon - and that will always have seemed absolutely fine, because rank and file Scottish Tory members, and indeed Scottish Tory voters, wholeheartedly share that contempt.  But suddenly they've been confronted with evidence that the contempt of London Tories is for Scotland and Scots as a whole, and that Scottish Tories are most certainly not exempt from it.  At the first sign of the duly elected leader of the Scottish Conservative party asserting himself, the Westminster mask instantly slipped and Douglas Ross was derided as a lightweight, who cannot possibly be taken seriously because he was speaking in Elgin, not London but flipping Elgin, which is apparently not somewhere that serious people go to speak.  So much for the pretty fiction that our imperial masters regard all the Tory towns of north-east Scotland as of equal value within #OurPreciousUnion to the gleaming metropolis.

Jacob Rees-Mogg went on to say that, although he has no time for the elected leader of the Scottish branch of his own party, he does regard the appointed Alister Jack as a more substantial figure.  Now why would that be, I wonder?  Perhaps because Jack went to the right sort of school (Glenalmond College) and speaks with the right sort of accent?  Whereas Ross actually does come across as a common or garden Jock.  He went to a state school and then studied at the Scottish Agricultural College - can you imagine? How frightful.  

I can't see that attitude going down well with most Scottish Tories - because after all Ross speaks like they do and Jack doesn't.

*  *  *

2021 was another epic year for Scot Goes Pop: we commissioned three full-scale opinion polls, and produced fourteen podcasts with well-known guests such as Alex Salmond, Chris McEleny and Yvonne Ridley.  If you'd like more of the same in 2022, donations are still very much welcome for the ongoing fundraiser.  Direct donations can be made via Paypal.  My Paypal email address is:  jkellysta@yahoo.co.uk

Or, if you prefer, you can donate via the GoFundMe fundraiser page, which can be found HERE.

Monday, January 10, 2022

"I will do everything within my power to do this" does not mean the same thing as "I will do this, this will be done"


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2021 was another epic year for Scot Goes Pop: we commissioned three full-scale opinion polls, and produced fourteen podcasts with well-known guests such as Alex Salmond, Chris McEleny and Yvonne Ridley.  If you'd like more of the same in 2022, donations are still very much welcome for the ongoing fundraiser.  Direct donations can be made via Paypal.  My Paypal email address is:  jkellysta@yahoo.co.uk

Or, if you prefer, you can donate via the GoFundMe fundraiser page, which can be found HERE.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

And a second New Year's Resolution for the Yes movement: let's make 2022 the year Scotland gains a genuinely balanced six-party system

Back in the days when Scotland had a clear-cut four party system, there was sometimes a debate over whether it was a good thing or a bad thing that there was only one pro-independence party, and three unionist parties.  And the answer was of course that it could be either good or bad, depending on context.  In a first-past-the-post election, it was a huge advantage, because it meant that the pro-independence vote was united and the unionist vote was heavily split.  That's something both the Greens and Alba will have to take into account if we go into the next Westminster election without an independence referendum having taken place.  Lots of pro-independence candidates in direct competition with each other in a crucial FPTP vote may or may not be in the best interests of individual political parties, but it's certainly not in the best interests of the independence cause.

However, in terms of how the broadcasters cover the independence debate, the SNP v three unionist parties set-up was always a massive negative.  It allowed the BBC and others to give the unionist perspective three times the coverage of the pro-independence perspective, and innocently present that as "balance", "neutrality" and "objectivity".  It also made the pro-independence side look isolated, and the unionist side look broadly-based.

With the arrival of Alba, we can now do something about that.  If the new kid on the block successfully beds in, Scotland will have a truly balanced six-party system: three in favour of independence and three against.  It won't be the end of rigged TV debates, but they'll become a lot harder to justify.

In a sense, the six-party system is already here.  Alba have more members than the Scottish Liberal Democrats, almost as many local councillors as the Scottish Greens, and more Westminster MPs than Scottish Labour.  The main omission is that they don't have any MSPs yet, but that's balanced out by the fact that the Scottish Greens don't have any MPs.  But the broadcasters won't fully reward Alba for that position of strength until there's clear evidence that it can be sustained via votes in the ballot box.

And that's where the local council elections, now just four months away, come in.  If Alba can win any seats at all, that would be the first example of people being elected under the Alba banner, and overnight the party will gain vital credibility.

My suggestion on New Year's Day of a resolution for the Yes movement was to hold the SNP-Green government to their promises on the timing of an indyref, and not to accept the goalposts being shifted yet again.  To that I'll add a second resolution: let's use the local elections to at last get ourselves a balanced party system in Scotland.  That doesn't necessarily mean giving Alba your first preference vote if they're not your first choice party.  The beauty of the STV voting system is that all you have to do is give Alba some kind of ranking, and make sure you rank them higher than all of the anti-independence parties.  With many well-known incumbent councillors intending to stand for Alba, there's every chance of a breakthrough, provided the Yes movement can move beyond destructively tribalistic voting behaviour.  I will of course also be urging Alba supporters to rank SNP and Green candidates.

*  *  *

2021 was another epic year for Scot Goes Pop: we commissioned three full-scale opinion polls, and produced fourteen podcasts with well-known guests such as Alex Salmond, Chris McEleny and Yvonne Ridley.  If you'd like more of the same in 2022, donations are still very much welcome for the ongoing fundraiser.  Direct donations can be made via Paypal.  My Paypal email address is:  jkellysta@yahoo.co.uk

Or, if you prefer, you can donate via the GoFundMe fundraiser page, which can be found HERE.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

A second memo to Chris Hanlon: "recalling" two parliaments that haven't existed since the early 18th Century is not a "relatively simple matter"

Chris Hanlon left a comment on my previous post about his support for a multi-option referendum featuring a Devo Max option.  I initially thought it was a spoof comment because it contained the line "DevoMinMax is the minimum devolution I can consent to", but I see from Mr Hanlon's opinion piece in The National that he does actually use the word "DevoMinMax", so it may well have genuinely been him.

In case you're wondering what the definition of "DevoMinMax" is, it would apparently consist of only three changes to the current set-up.  The Scottish Parliament would be made permanent, with Westminster stripped of the power to unilaterally abolish it.  The Sewel Convention would be enforced by statute, ensuring that Westminster can no longer legislate on devolved matters without Holyrood's express consent.  And the Scottish Parliament would unambiguously gain the power to hold an independence referendum at any time without requiring permission.

It's doubtful whether this is actually describing a system of devolution at all, because a parliament that can no longer be abolished or overruled has effectively become sovereign.  However, that's a point of pedantry, and in principle it would be perfectly possible to legally entrench Holyrood's existence in the way Mr Hanlon suggests - although that would involve restructuring the entire principle of unlimited Westminster parliamentary sovereignty.  But what does raise an eyebrow or two is Mr Hanlon's suggestion of how that restructuring would occur.

"That would probably involve amending the Acts of Union but that would be a relatively simple matter of recalling the Scottish and English parliaments solely to approve the pre-agreed changes."

Er, what English parliament? There isn't one.  There hasn't been one since April 1707.  So what Mr Hanlon appears to be suggesting is the recall of the English and Scottish Parliaments that existed prior to the Acts of Union more than three centuries ago.  Such an undertaking could be described in many ways, but I'm not convinced that a "relatively simple matter" is one of them.  There is no legal provision for recalling parliaments that no longer exist. Even if there were such a provision, all of the members of both parliaments are, not to put too fine a point on it, long since dead, and there is no viable way of replacing them with a new membership in line with the pre-democratic laws of the early 18th century.

Let's be frank: Mr Hanlon is not presenting us with a remotely serious proposition.

*  *  *

2021 was another epic year for Scot Goes Pop: we commissioned three full-scale opinion polls, and produced fourteen podcasts with well-known guests such as Alex Salmond, Chris McEleny and Yvonne Ridley.  If you'd like more of the same in 2022, donations are still very much welcome for the ongoing fundraiser.  Direct donations can be made via Paypal.  My Paypal email address is:  jkellysta@yahoo.co.uk

Or, if you prefer, you can donate via the GoFundMe fundraiser page, which can be found HERE.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Memo to Chris Hanlon: Devo Max is either impossible, or it's a trap

I may be quite unusual among independence supporters in that I would be inclined to take Devo Max if it was genuinely on offer.  I've always been more interested in the concrete reality of self-government than in metaphysical concepts like sovereignty.  For example, any one of the federal states of Austria (such as Salzburg) is theoretically more "sovereign" than the devolved territory of the Basque Country in Spain, and yet in practice the Basque Country has far more autonomy.  Genuine Devo Max, defined as the devolution of everything apart from foreign affairs and defence, would give us 80% of what we want, and yet would be much easier to attain a mandate for, because technically remaining within the United Kingdom would provide sufficient reassurance for many of the people who voted No in 2014.  It would also be a potential stepping stone to full independence, because after a few years of Devo Max the jump to independence would seem much less daunting.

But here's the snag: I've just listed several excellent reasons why genuine Devo Max will never be on offer from the UK government.  Why on earth would an administration that has been busily dismantling the current limited devolution settlement suddenly reverse course and willingly hand over most of the powers of a sovereign state?  For some inexplicable reason, Chris Hanlon of the SNP's Policy Development Committee thinks they will (including, apparently, the power to "sign international treaties").  He believes London will be more likely to agree to a multi-option referendum than to a 2014-style binary-choice referendum on independence.  

The polar opposite is true.  London will not swap a 50% risk of independence for a 90% risk of something that is very close to independence and that might swiftly lead to independence anyway.  That's exactly why the overriding priority for David Cameron's government in the negotiations leading to the 2014 referendum was to avoid a Devo Max option.  They were - remarkably - willing to concede votes at 16 and Scottish control over the date and the question wording just to ensure Devo Max wasn't on the ballot paper.

The only possible reason for supposing it might be any different this time would be if the Tories saw an opportunity to lay a trap, ie. by offering "Devo Max" in name only, or what might be described as the Jackie Bird version of Devo Max.  As with the woolly offer of more powers from the No campaign in 2014, and the media's disgraceful unwillingness to pin them down on what it meant, it's possible we might not even be told what "Devo Max" would consist of until after we vote for it.  I can't help feeling that Chris Hanlon's words are simply helping to facilitate such a trap.

I'm also concerned that the fantastical notion that the Tories would be more likely to agree to a multi-option referendum is a sign that the SNP are still hopelessly in love with the blind alley of securing a Section 30 order at any cost, and no matter how long they have to wait.  The reality is that the only way that they won't break their solemn promise to hold a referendum in 2023 is if they go ahead without a Section 30.

Could we also be seeing the early part of a "softening up" process that will eventually lead to the SNP abandoning its support for full independence?  That may seem fanciful, but consider this - Quebec currently has an anti-independence government that defines itself without any sense of irony as "Quebec nationalist".  I've been wondering for a year or two whether the SNP may be very gradually drifting towards the same destination.

*  *  *

2021 was another epic year for Scot Goes Pop: we commissioned three full-scale opinion polls, and produced fourteen podcasts with well-known guests such as Alex Salmond, Chris McEleny and Yvonne Ridley.  If you'd like more of the same in 2022, donations are still very much welcome for the ongoing fundraiser.  Direct donations can be made via Paypal.  My Paypal email address is:  jkellysta@yahoo.co.uk

Or, if you prefer, you can donate via the GoFundMe fundraiser page, which can be found HERE.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Average of all independence polls from 2021 shows a Yes vote of 50%

Scot Goes Pop commissioned three full-scale polls on independence during 2021, two from Panelbase and one from Survation - but in total there were no fewer than fifty-three independence polls over the course of the year, across all polling firms and all clients.  I was surprised to find it was as many as that, although of course a lot of them were clustered during the Holyrood election campaign.  They've been a lot thinner on the ground since then.

But what were the average showings for Yes and No over the year? The answer may surprise you, in view of the media's frantic efforts to convince us that No has opened up a clear lead.  In fact, 2021 can be split into several distinct polling phases.  The early part of the year marked the tail-end of the historic sequence of unbroken Yes leads, which had stretched all the way back to June 2020.  From February until the Holyrood election in May, there was a lot of fluctuation between Yes leads and No leads, implying that the true state of affairs was fairly even.  From the election until the late autumn, No was mostly in the lead, but the advantage was fairly modest.  And then right at the end of the year, there was a possible change in the weather with two 50%+ polls for Yes.

When you bear all of that in mind, what you're about to see will be less surprising.  I've calculated the raw average using the figures before Don't Knows are stripped out.

Should Scotland be an independent country? (Average of all 2021 polls)

Yes 45.25%
No 45.90%

If Don't Knows are then removed and the figures rounded to the nearest whole number, you end up with exactly - 

Yes 50%
No 50%

So not quite as good as 2020, but still a superb platform from which to start a referendum - if we could just get around to calling one...

*  *  *

2021 was another epic year for Scot Goes Pop: we commissioned three full-scale opinion polls, and produced fourteen podcasts with well-known guests such as Alex Salmond, Chris McEleny and Yvonne Ridley.  If you'd like more of the same in 2022, donations are still very much welcome for the ongoing fundraiser.  Direct donations can be made via Paypal.  My Paypal email address is:  jkellysta@yahoo.co.uk

Or, if you prefer, you can donate via the GoFundMe fundraiser page, which can be found HERE.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

A New Year's resolution for the independence movement: embrace the principle of falsifiability

A warm welcome to 2022, the year in which - if Nicola Sturgeon keeps the promise she made to the SNP conference - the "process will be initiated" to enable an independence referendum to be held by the end of 2023.  Since the conference, Mhairi Hunter and Pete Wishart have both underscored that promise - Hunter by saying that the result of the 2024 Westminster election is essentially irrelevant because a referendum will have been held by then, and Wishart by saying a referendum will definitely be held in the first half of this parliament (meaning by November 2023) without any caveats about Covid or the way in which Boris Johnson reacts to a Section 30 request.  

A cynic might suspect Hunter and Wishart rehearsed their words carefully, because people have started to notice how casually the previous promises on indyref timing were "explained away".  If the likes of Hunter don't at least go through the motions of making their remarks about the 2024 election congruous with the Indyref 2023 promise, it would be assumed that they're implicitly regarding the promise as every bit as insincere and empty as the promise to hold an indyref before Brexit.

Leadership loyalists say - "there's not long to wait until we find out whether the promise is genuine, so why not hold your fire?"  But the problem is that they said exactly the same thing about the pre-Brexit promise, and when that promise was broken they just pretended it had never been made, and moved on to the next one.  On past form, if there is no referendum by the end of 2023, they'll move on to saying "there's not all that long to wait until we find out whether the promise to hold a multi-option referendum involving a Devo Max option before 2031 is genuine, so why not hold your fire until then?  What's the matter with you?"

So here's my New Year challenge to the loyalists, and indeed to the whole Yes movement - by all means believe that the current promise is the real deal, but make that belief falsifiable, as scientists would say.  We've been given benchmarks by which we can judge whether the promise has been kept by specified dates, so stick to those.  Don't shift the goalposts yet again if the target dates are missed.  The process must be initiated by the end of this year, and a referendum must actually have been held by the end of next year.  If that happens, I will gladly eat humble pie and look forward to the referendum campaign with relish.  If not, there will simply be no rational basis for believing any subsequent promises on independence or a referendum from the current SNP leadership.