Saturday, March 5, 2022

Savanta ComRes poll: voters remain evenly split on independence

Apologies for being so late with covering yesterday's Savanta ComRes independence poll for the Economist.  I wasn't too busy or anything like that - I was just totally oblivious to the fact that there was a poll out.  This is the problem when there are no polls for extended periods - I just start forgetting to check, and it looks like I wasn't alone in being caught napping.  At time of writing, the lists of polls on both Wikipedia and What Scotland Thinks have yet to be updated.  Feel free to give me a little prod if I overlook any other polls in future.

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

Yes 49% (-1)
No 51% (+1)

That's a trivial, margin of error change from the January poll which still leaves us with a statistical tie (ie. due to the margin of error, the poll is essentially saying that either side could have a slight lead). What none of the MSM reporting of this poll takes any account of is that ComRes have been on the No-friendly end of the spectrum over the last year, sometimes producing quite substantial No leads, so in a relative sense, a 49-51 split is a decent result for Yes.

I haven't found the fieldwork dates yet, and those will be crucial.  If the poll was conducted in whole - or even in part - after Russia invaded Ukraine, the numbers will look even better for Yes, because international crisis situations would typically be expected to reduce support for constitutional change at home, if only temporarily.

There are supplementary questions asking about the timing and circumstances of an indyref.  I'm going to ignore the unionist spin on those and withhold judgement until I see the exact question wording and the detailed results.

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For Alba members out there, just to let you know we had an NEC meeting this morning - that's the sixth we've had so far.  The reason I haven't been reporting about them on the blog is simply the confidentiality rules, but rest assured they've been taking place regularly and I've been attending them.  I think you'll be really excited when you see how credible and extensive a challenge Alba will be mounting at the council elections in May.

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Please bear with me as I continue promoting Scot Goes Pop's fundraising drive.  Opinion polls are so expensive that since I started commissioning them, fundraising has almost become like painting the Forth Bridge.  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:

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.) 

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Full text of Alba Party's response to Scottish Government's gender self-ID announcement


In response to Shona Robinson’s statement on the Scottish Government draft GRA Bill, Equalities Convener of the ALBA Party, Eva Comrie, said; 

“The ALBA Party asks for a pause to the Gender Recognition Act reforms until the views of women’s groups and the EHRC are fully taken into account. 

ALBA’s main issue with the Bill is the removal of a medical gatekeeping which will allow any male to identify as a female on his own say-so. This will open up women’s services and spaces to a whole new category of men. 

ALBA believe that the Government’s GRA reforms are ill thought out, will not improve the life chances of Trans people and comprise a risk to the rights and safety of women, which single sex exemptions were designed to protect.

For the above reasons and without significant changes to the bill, ALBA will continue to wholeheartedly oppose these reforms. 

ALBA requests that the Scottish Government pause GRA reform legislation until the views of women’s groups and the EHRC are fully taken into account, and the legality of the reforms, given the recent For Women Scotland court ruling on the separating of sex and gender reassignment, be assessed.”


The Government describes this process as a simple administrative change, whilst also making bold disputed claims that it is life saving, urgent and absolutely essential. 

The Scottish Government claims that the Bill has wide support; when questioned on the principle of improving the experiences of trans people the majority of the population agrees. No decent citizen could challenge the overhaul of a process described as degrading and intrusive. Reform to alleviate negative experiences of a minority group is a laudable aim, but the stance adopted by legislators in this case, risks the sacrifice of the same or single sex protected rights of women. 

The specific reforms invite controversy, for they comprise the removal of the need for medical certification of a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and two years of living in the assumed gender, to be replaced with a simple affirmation by way of self identification and a three month period of reflection. 

In other words the change of gender, or as the legislation describes this, the change of sex marker on a birth certificate, becomes a simple process open to all, devoid of gatekeeping and for now with limitless unknown unmeasured impact.

Once the true impact and intent of this Bill are made clear, it alarms and is opposed by an overwhelming majority of the population, including women with lived experience of trauma, life long feminists, faith groups, parents, voluntary organisations and professionals who fear its manipulation by bad faith actors. The First Minister of Scotland has stated on record that these views are not valid. 

The espoused concept that being a woman is a feeling or performance to be opted in and out of is comical to some and downright offensive to others. Multiple well founded concerns have already been raised about the impact of self ID on the rights of women and the potential for abusive men to exploit such an ill-considered and easily manipulated process. Numerous incidents of trans identifying males housed with female prisoners in Scottish prisons, with no consultation with women’s groups, and the resultant injury and distress to prisoners so affected, bear testament to the ad hoc, careless disregard the Scottish Government has for women’s rights which they seem content to surrender to male feelings. 

Enabling any man to identify as a woman risks removing and ridiculing the purpose of dignity, privacy and safety of women’s changing rooms, hospital wards, and refuges. Enabling men to identify as women will impact on attempts to address historical structural inequality including the gender pay gap, the lack of female representation on boards, and in many sectors of employment such as STEM.

Human rights are inalienable but responsible legislators reinforce those in precious laws which state our values - as the Equality Act 2010 provides - but where those rights compete or conflict, those same lawmakers are enjoined in a democratic and respectful society to navigate these complexities openly and honestly. In this regard, by every possible measurement the Scottish Government has failed miserably. They have failed to consult openly, refused to publish two sets of consultation responses openly or comprehensively, negotiated with the proponents of the reforms, but only with great reluctance did they agree to listen to those who voiced concerns or opposition. This is not the means by which feminists protect the rights of women, and in the secrecy and apparent stealth of their attempted reforms there are signs that the Government may have materially worsened the experience of Trans people in Scottish society. 

When Scotland was amongst world leading nations in introducing same sex marriage, despite the warnings of political consequences, the Government of the day listened to all points of view, treating everyone’s opinion on the matter as valid, and most importantly, by ensuring respect at the heart of the process. This approach enabled the nation to embrace legislation that had at times been opposed by many and attracted controversy. 

Sadly, the Scottish Government has now succumbed to bullying politics of shouting slogans and shutting down debate while smearing those with a different world view or the temerity to question the prevailing ideology; that closed mindset does our country’s reputation no favour, stifles democratic debate and risks, rather than advances, equality. 

It will now be for members of the Scottish Parliament to scrutinise this legislation.”

Monday, February 28, 2022

Not content with stitching up his own country, Blair McDougall is now seemingly hellbent on risking global nuclear destruction over the next few weeks

There's an article on the BBC News website today entitled "Would Putin press the nuclear button?"  You might expect that to turn out to be a routine ask-the-question-and-then-say-the-answer-is-no piece, but quite the reverse - the conclusion is that there are circumstances in which there might well be a nuclear escalation.  It's pointed out that Putin said in 2018 that if someone tried to "annihilate Russia", the global nuclear destruction that would follow would be regrettable but "why do we need a world without Russia in it?"  

In the real world, of course, there is no prospect of Russia being annihilated, but it just depends on how broadly Putin interprets that concept.  He might, for example, feel it covers an outcome in which Russia fails to reconstruct its former Empire by meeting its military objectives in Ukraine.  Now, to be clear, if nuclear war is triggered because Ukraine successfully defends its independence and Putin gets in a huff about it, there's nothing much anyone can reasonably do.  Ukrainians can hardly be expected to allow an invader to trample all over them just to try to keep one man's temper under control.  This is the scenario that initially made the Trump presidency so frightening - that one man's personality defects could directly lead to the end of human civilisation.  It turns out that Trump had a 'filter' (probably due to the fear of Trump Tower being blown up), but perhaps Putin doesn't, if he can openly speak of circumstances in which the world would no longer be "needed".

So Armageddon-by-temper-tantrum is one thing, but a nuclear reaction sparked by avoidable western recklessness would be a different matter entirely.  Blair McDougall, the ex-Better Together chief who famously finished third in what he called a "two-horse race" in the East Renfrewshire constituency five years ago, called the other day for NATO countries to take direct military action against Russia in Ukraine, on the basis that it we don't go to war with Putin now, we'll inevitably end up at war with him later on when he's stronger.  That's uncannily similar to the rhetoric of the right-wing hawks of the Cold War era who used to say that a Soviet invasion of western Europe was inevitable (clearly it wasn't, as it turned out) and therefore we had to pre-empt it by attacking the Soviet Union.  If that advice had been heeded, it's likely that none of us would be here now - there would have been total nuclear destruction at some point in the sixties, seventies or eighties.  By the same token, if Blair McDougall gets his way, there's a very significant risk that we'll all be dead within a few short weeks.  This isn't just yet another example of "McDougall sounding off" - it really is by far the most insanely irresponsible thing that he's ever said or done.  You don't help Ukraine by turning it into a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

A nuclear-armed world is not the choosing of the pro-independence movement in Scotland.  Hardly any independence supporters have any sympathy at all for the concept of nuclear deterrence.  (Possible rare exceptions include the SNP's neocon duo of Alyn Smith and Stewart McDonald, but even they feel the need to use carefully coded language about the subject.)  It's the Blair McDougalls of this world who have left us with Trident on the Clyde, and it's McDougall's chums in the GMB who fatuously regard "maturity" as meaning an acceptance that nuclear weapons should be thought of as a job creation scheme for Helensburgh, and regard "immaturity" as meaning the belief that we should take some account of the millions of men, women and children whose lives would be snuffed out if the weapons were actually used.

And if you believe in a nuclear world, as McDougall does, you have to play by the nuclear rules.  That means nuclear-armed states can, at most, engage in proxy wars with each other.  The non-participant state in a proxy war can certainly provide arms, training and other logistical and diplomatic support to its proxy, just as we're seeing in Ukraine right now.  But what you can't ever do is have the nuclear states in direct conflict with each other, because as soon as that happens the risk of nuclear war becomes unacceptably high.  For all the recent sneering about how Russia is now a downgraded power, and a mere sidekick to China with "an economy the size of Spain's", it remains the case that Russia has more nuclear weapons that any other country on the planet - slightly more even than the United States.

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SCOT GOES POP FUNDING: At the risk of turning this into an online bazaar, I have an exciting (well, semi-exciting) new way that bargain-hunters can help support this blog.  I realised recently that I have a few Amazon gift e-vouchers piling up in my inbox, and as much as it's always nice to stock up on purple cardigans and French arthouse films, actual money would probably be of more use at this point.  So I'd be willing to pass the vouchers on in return for, let's say, 90% of their face value.  If you'd like to get a small discount on your purchases and help Scot Goes Pop at the same time, drop me a line at my contact email address of: