Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Scot Goes Pop Fundraising for Independence Polling: an update

As you'll probably have gathered, I was away from home last week in a place with very sporadic internet access, so I have a backlog of about four blogposts I want to write at the back of my mind.  But before I get down to those, I thought I'd pull over for one of my very occasional pitstops to try to give a proper shot in the arm to Scot Goes Pop's ongoing fundraising efforts, and in particular the fundraising for further opinion polls.  First of all, a huge thanks to the people who have sent donations recently - a good few hundred pounds has been raised in recent weeks.  For reasons we all understand, the days of raising several thousand pounds overnight are probably over for the time being, but nevertheless hopefully we can kick on a bit now and get the seventh Scot Goes Pop poll done in a reasonable timescale.  (And, with your indulgence, after this post I'll continue to promote the fundraising at the bottom of each blogpost until enough is raised.)

There are a number of reasons why it's a good idea not to allow all opinion polls conducted at the present time to be ones commissioned by unionist media clients.  We're in a crucial phase where there's a battle to "claim" public opinion on the issue of whether a referendum should take place, or whether the outcome of a plebiscite election should be respected.  The unionists have a huge advantage if they and their fellow travellers effectively get to choose the question wordings in all opinion polls, because the wording and format genuinely make a substantial difference to the reported results.

We're also in uncharted territory at the moment because pollsters are still finding their way in measuring how people might vote in a general election that pro-independence parties have declared to be a de facto referendum.  Any precedents set now in terms of question wordings could prove important later on.

And of course there's the perennial problem of how unionist-flavoured polls can set the agenda for a referendum or election campaign, framing the debate as being all about "fears" over independence.  There are plenty enough reasons to be terrified of remaining in Liz Truss's Brexit Britain indefinitely, and we really should be polling about them.

If you'd like to donate, here are the various options...

Paypal: If you have an account, by far the simplest and quickest way of donating is by sending a direct payment via Paypal.  My Paypal email address is:

(If you wish, you can add a short note saying something along the lines of "for the fundraiser", but don't worry if you don't do that - it'll be very obvious what the payment is for.)

If you don't have a Paypal account, the GoFundMe fundraiser I set up last year is still open for donations HERE.

And if you prefer a bank transfer, please message me on my contact email address, which is different from my Paypal address and can be found in the sidebar of the blog (desktop version only) or on my Twitter profile.  

Monday, August 1, 2022

What are the Greens thinking of?

I'm trying to make sense of what the Greens are doing, but it's not easy because there's no obvious logic to it. Let's start with the good part - it's extremely welcome that the Greens have adopted a shared position with the SNP that the next UK general election, expected in 2024, will be a de facto independence referendum if the Supreme Court prevents a Referendum Bill from going forward.  It would have been very harmful if only the SNP had explicitly declared the election to be a plebiscite, and if the Greens had carried on with business as usual.

However, the Greens have never even come close to standing in every constituency in a general election before, and even in the constituencies where they have stood, they've sometimes quite rightly come under fire for splitting the pro-indy vote and helping unionist parties to win.  Why on earth they would think a plebiscite election is the moment at which the Yes camp suddenly has the luxury of a nationwide split vote is not immediately apparent.  I can think of three possible explanations of what is going on:

1) This is a bargaining chip to try to force the SNP's hand and get them to agree to a joint slate of Yes candidates which will feature Greens in a handful of constituencies that the SNP don't currently hold.

2) This has actually been agreed with the SNP and is a genuine - albeit highly dubious - joint strategy for attempting to win a mandate in a plebiscite election.

3) This is a go-it-alone partisan decision that the SNP will be horrified about because it could lead to them losing key seats to Labour and the Tories, thus making it much harder to press home any independence mandate that is achieved on the popular vote.

I've no idea which of those three is most likely, but let's focus on possibility 2, because that's the one everyone will probably assume is correct.  The Greens are of course a different sort of party from Alba or ISP, because a significant amount of their support comes from opponents of independence.  That's probably part of the explanation for pro-indy parties winning a majority of the popular vote on the Holyrood list ballot last year, but not on the constituency ballot.  The Greens bring far more votes to the table on the list, including people who might otherwise vote for unionist parties.  So I suppose it's not totally inconceivable that some bright spark has come up with the idea that a Westminster plebiscite election should be made as similar as possible to a Holyrood list ballot by having the Greens stand everywhere.  But if so, that would appear to be a very stupid strategy for two reasons: a) the Greens will probably lose most of their anti-independence voters overnight if they're true to their word and run a single-issue campaign (albeit one that focuses on the Green case for independence), and b) the pro-independence votes they do take will largely come from the SNP and make it easier for unionist MPs to get elected under the first-past-the-post voting system.  OK, if pro-indy parties win a majority of the popular vote but lose ten or fifteen seats, they'll claim the following day that only votes matter - but will that claim really count for much if there are 20, 25 or 30 elected Scottish unionist MPs ready to take their seats at Westminster?  The leverage needed to press home a mandate would require us to have the vast majority of seats - because then, as a last resort, we could withdraw Scottish MPs from the House of Commons or threaten to do so.  We can't do that if we don't have enough seats.

A broader issue with having pro-indy parties in competition with each other is that it undermines the whole concept of a single issue election.  Pro-indy Labour voters could look at what the SNP and Greens are doing and think "well, if this election isn't special enough for the SNP and Greens to set aside their differences, I'll just continue with my usual party of choice too".

And from a personal point of view, I'm a bit exasperated, because I've been making the point for weeks that having Alba candidates in direct competition with the SNP at a plebiscite election would be strategically foolish, to put it mildly.  I'll continue making that point because it's undoubtedly correct, and because I think Alba should be in the business of maximising the chances of independence rather than copying the Greens on a parochial "it's only fair" basis.  But it's obviously going to be much harder to get anyone to listen to that message if the SNP and Greens really are planning to do something as crazy enough as put up candidates against each other across the board.  I'll just have to cling to the hope that this is a bargaining chip on the part of the Greens.

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We've already seen since Nicola Sturgeon's announcement that the overwhelmingly unionist mainstream media are attempting a 'shock and awe' campaign to try to kill off independence - and the misuse of polling is playing a key part in that.  If you'd like to balance things out with polling commissioned by a pro-independence outlet and which asks the questions we want to see asked, one way of doing that would be to help Scot Goes Pop's fundraising drive - see details below.

Direct payments via Paypal - my Paypal email address is:

Scot Goes Pop General Fundraiser 

Scot Goes Pop Polling Fundraiser 

If you prefer a bank transfer, please message me for details using the contact email address which can be found in the sidebar of the blog (desktop version only), or on my Twitter profile.