Saturday, October 8, 2022

Darkness descends upon dejected Labour as new YouGov data shows 13% of their Scottish voters from the 2019 general election have defected to the SNP

There's been intense excitement among Scotland's neutral, objective, Labour-supporting mainstream media over the last few days as they've pushed the wholly bogus narrative that the boost in Labour support in Scottish polls means there must somehow have been a bandwagon of SNP voters moving across to Labour.  That bubble has been burst by the more sensible (and honest) commentators who have suggested that Labour are in fact only benefiting from an intra-unionist swing from the Tories, with the SNP remaining untouched.  The latter explanation is certainly a lot closer to the truth, although of course it's a slight over-simplification, because there has in fact been some movement between SNP and Labour - it's just that the movement has been in both directions, and is in any case dwarfed by the big swing from Tory to Labour.

The data tables from YouGov's recent full-scale Scottish poll are now out, and show that the Tories have retained an extraordinarily low 52% of their voters from the election in 2019 (when they lost half their Scottish seats, let's not forget).  A whopping 30% have gone direct to Labour, and only 3% to the SNP.  So that more or less explains why Labour's support has gone up significantly while the SNP's support has not come down.  The pattern shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, because SNP and Tory support is now very polarised along constitutional lines, which makes large amounts of direct switching between the two parties very unlikely.  Before the indyref in 2014, there used to be quite a bit of movement between SNP and Tory in places like the north-east, because people didn't necessarily feel they were voting for independence by voting SNP and didn't necessarily feel they were voting against independence by voting Tory.  But those days are long gone - present-day Tory voters are usually committed unionists who loathe the SNP, and if there's a sudden loss of confidence in a Tory government, those voters will be looking for a strictly unionist alternative.  For now (ie. in the absence of a Lib Dem recovery), that can only mean Labour.

That said, Labour have also succeeded in picking up 13% of people who voted SNP in 2019 - but that's been partly offset by the SNP picking up exactly the same percentage of people who voted Labour in 2019.  Furthermore, the SNP have retained a bigger percentage of their 2019 support (84%) than Labour have (79%).  It may be that ex-Tory voters are actually more enthusiastic about Keir Starmer than people who voted for Corbyn in 2019. I would guess quite a few of those Labour-to-SNP switchers are people who felt three years ago that a vote for Corbyn was actually a more radical option than a vote for the SNP or independence - but who now aren't remotely interested in voting for "centrist dad" Sir Keir or immigrant-bashing Rachel Reeves.

It shouldn't go unremarked, incidentally, that Nicola Sturgeon has better approval ratings in this poll than the three unionist opposition leaders at Holyrood.  She has a net positive rating of +11, which compares favourably to the much vaunted (by that neutral media of ours) Anas Sarwar who is only on +6.  The preposterous Alex Cole-Hamilton is in negative territory on -8, which would almost certainly be even worse if it wasn't for the fact that an embarrassing 62% of voters either don't have a scooby who he is or don't know enough about him to venture an opinion.  "Fast bowling" has failed, bring back Willie Rennie's "Calypso Cricket".  Douglas Ross, meanwhile, is languishing on an abysmal -39, with his only consolation being that he's outpolling his London overlord Liz Truss, who is on (wait for it) -70.

The vote to elect members of the National Executive Committee will take place during Alba's annual conference, to be held in Stirling on 15th-16th October.  If you're an Alba member, I believe it's still possible to purchase a conference pass HERE, and if you're not yet an Alba member, you can join the party HERE.

Friday, October 7, 2022

The Scottish Cringe exemplified

It's no secret that I think the SNP-Green government are making a terrible mistake by pushing ahead with their proposed reforms of gender recognition.  Indeed, last year I commissioned a landmark poll for Scot Goes Pop that confirmed beyond any credible dispute that the people of Scotland are overwhelmingly opposed to legally-recognised gender self-ID.  But I have to say I find the opening sentence of the second tweet above incomprehensible.  It harks back to Johann Lamont's notorious comment about Scots not being "genetically programmed to make political decisions".  What is it about us as a country that when we see our government making mistakes, we don't think to ourselves that the problem is the government and that it needs to do better or be replaced, but we instead think "aha, the problem is Scotland itself and how useless we are, best let another country rule us instead"?

In all likelihood, we are now just eighteen months away from a UK Labour government that will do all of the same things on gender identity in England that the SNP and Greens are doing in Scotland.  Keir Starmer's woolly views on how he would define a woman are indistinguishable from Nicola Sturgeon's.  Would it ever occur to anyone to react to that by saying "I will never vote against independence until Westminster proves it is capable of legislating competently"?  If not, why not?  What's the difference?  The only difference is the Scottish Cringe, which is a form of self-loathing and crippling inferiority complex.  What people are effectively saying, whether they realise it or not, is "I'll never vote for independence until I have confidence in myself".

When Scotland and England are moving in exactly the same direction on gender identity, it's hard to see how independence even comes into it.  If you argue that the problem in England is Labour, you can't credibly argue that the problem in Scotland is Scotland.  The solution on both sides of the border will only be found via party politics and internal pressure for change within political parties.  And, actually, although proponents of self-ID may be winning the short-term battle on the legislation they want to see introduced, they're losing another battle that they probably regard privately as more important in the long run - the battle to police people's thoughts and speech.  The Forstater ruling was a major setback for them, and although it remains to be seen whether Mermaids' preposterous challenge to the LGB Alliance's charity status will be dismissed, there does seem to be a situation evolving where gender critical views are recognised as having strong legal protection.  If those views can no longer be outrageously shut down as "far-right extremist hate-speech", it will make push-back on specific policy areas a lot more achievable.  Even the likes of John Nicolson may eventually be forced to echo Al Gore's famous words by saying: "Although I strongly disagree with these legal judgements, I accept them, and I accept their finality, and I accept that I am bound by them."

Incidentally, I can think of at least two specific policy areas, unrelated to gender identity, in which I believe the Scottish Parliament has got it wrong and Westminster has got it right.  But does that mean I think elected Scottish representatives shouldn't be making those decisions?  Absolutely not.  Scotland is always better off governing itself, because nobody understands the needs of our own country better than ourselves.  We'll continue to make mistakes, just like every other self-governing country on the planet does, but we'll get it right a hell of a lot more often than we get it wrong.

It appears Scotland in Union have been systematically withholding results from their own polls that are unfavourable to the anti-independence cause

Just a little postscript to my blogpost yesterday about Survation's latest propaganda poll for the anti-independence pressure group "Scotland in Union".  I've just noticed that the Twitter account British Electoral Politics posted a tweet about the poll that gave different percentage changes on the Westminster voting intention numbers than the ones I gave in my own post.  The SNP are listed as being down three percentage points rather than one, and Labour are listed as being up seven points rather than four.

I initially wondered if I had made a mistake and used the wrong Survation poll as the baseline for the changes - ie. I thought there may have been a more recent Survation poll with Westminster voting intention numbers that I had overlooked.  But the date given by British Electoral Politics for the baseline poll is 3rd May, which was the date of the previous poll in the series of Survation propaganda polls for Scotland in Union.  I went back and checked the data tables for that poll, which are available on both the Survation website and the Scotland in Union website.  There appears to be no trace in those tables of Westminster voting intention numbers.  The most likely explanation is that a Westminster question was indeed asked in that poll, but Scotland in Union instructed Survation to withhold the results because they were too favourable for the SNP and too unfavourable for unionist parties.

Now, to be clear, withholding results on a particular question is not against British Polling Council rules.  Scotland in Union were entitled to do it, but by the same token we're entitled to draw our own conclusions from the fact that they did it.  It may well mean that a large number of other inconvenient results have also been edited out of their polls.  It also means, going forward, that if parliamentary voting intentions are missing from Scotland in Union polls, it's probably to hide a good result for the SNP.

Where there may be more alarm bells ringing in terms of the rule-book is if Scotland in Union themselves have now suddenly decided to make the Westminster results from the May poll known, with a view to making the percentage changes on the new poll look more flattering for Labour.  If that's the case, we're now entitled to see more complete datasets from the May poll.

I'm also fascinated by what this episode tells us about the internal politics of Scotland in Union.  The Westminster numbers from the new poll are moderately good for Labour but an unmitigated catastrophe for the Conservatives.  The fact that Scotland in Union have departed from their apparent normal practice of keeping the results secret may suggest that they're serving the interests of Labour and not the interests of the Tories.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Unionists reel in horror as Survation's latest propaganda poll for "Scotland in Union" backfires, with a lower vote for "remaining in the UK" than in three of the last four polls

I've made this point before, but Survation are known for often being much more robust with their clients about the type of questions they will allow than many other pollsters.  That being the case, why oh why do they regularly break that practice by running propaganda polls for the anti-independence pressure group "Scotland in Union" that always contain breathtakingly loaded, leading, or misleading questions? I mean, are Survation being paid a push-poll premium or something? Reading through the datasets of the latest one, it's just absolutely laughable - there are a series of questions asking Yes voters from 2014 "who have changed their minds" about their reasoning, but there's just one small snag.  As far as I can see, respondents were not actually asked at any point in the poll whether they had changed their minds - the standard independence question was never posed.  So the questions supposedly asked to switchers will have in reality been asked to a subset of respondents who may or may not have changed their minds since 2014, and the results are thus based on a false premise and are essentially worthless.  If I was Survation, I'd be feeling embarrassed bordering on degraded by this stuff.  Other polling firms are sometimes criticised for being too accommodating to clients, but I can't think of any other leading firm that has agreed to drop its standards to quite this extent.  Not in recent years, at any rate.

As ever, in place of an actual independence question, Scotland in Union have insisted upon a question about "remaining in the United Kingdom or leaving the United Kingdom".  It always produces radically different results from genuine independence polls, presumably because a significant minority of respondents misinterpret the question as being about support for the monarchy.  Nevertheless, support for "remaining in the United Kingdom" has dropped to 51% in the latest poll (before Don't Knows are excluded), which is lower than in six of the nine previous polls in the series, and in three of the last four.

If you've seen Paul Hutcheon's tweet claiming that "a new Survation poll" shows that only one-third of voters want an independence referendum next year, rest assured that it was only from this poll and thus the results are hopelessly tainted by being towards the end of a question sequence in which respondents are practically bludgeoned to death with unionist propaganda.  The question Hutcheon is referring to is itself extremely loaded, asking if respondents want "another" referendum "on leaving the UK". In any case, Hutcheon is giving a false impression by not excluding undecideds.  With Don't Knows stripped out, 40% managed to withstand the onslaught and indicate a desire for a referendum next year.

Pretty much all that is of any use from this absurd poll are the parliamentary voting intention questions asked at the start of the question sequence, and which show a broadly similar pattern to last night's YouGov and ComRes polls.  However, it's noteworthy that the Greens have drawn level with the Tories on the Holyrood regional list (indeed on the raw numbers they've moved very slightly ahead of the Tories).

Scottish voting intentions for the next UK general election (Survation, 28th-29th September 2022)

SNP 44% (-1)
Labour 31% (+4)
Conservatives 15% (-4)
Liberal Democrats 6% (-)

Seats projection (current boundaries): SNP 50 (+2), Labour 7 (+6), Liberal Democrats 2 (-2), Conservatives 0 (-6)

Seats projection (proposed new boundaries): SNP 50 (+2), Labour 5 (+4), Liberal Democrats 2 (-2), Conservatives 0 (-6)

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot:

SNP 45% (-1)
Labour 30% (+5)
Conservatives 15% (-5)
Liberal Democrats 6% (-1)

Scottish Parliament regional list ballot:

SNP 31% (-3)
Labour 27% (+4)
Greens 14% (+3)
Conservatives 14% (-5)
Liberal Democrats 9% (+1)
Reform UK 2% (-)
Alba 1% (-1)
UKIP 1% (-)

Seats projection: SNP 61 (-3), Labour 32 (+10), Greens 15 (+7), Conservatives 14 (-17), Liberal Democrats 7 (+3)

A melon is not a penguin...OR IS IT?

I've just ventured over to Peter A Bell's blog for the first time in several months, and as ever, it may take me a little time to recover.  It's fair to say that most of us have already psychologically moved on from the Supreme Court hearings that will shortly take place.  The UK Supreme Court has mirrored its American counterpart by swinging decisively in a conservative/reactionary direction of late, so although there's still an outside chance it will uphold international law by ruling in favour of democratic self-determination, the likelihood is that the option of an independence referendum will be closed off and we'll have to move on instead to use an election as a de facto referendum.  That's what the bulk of the independence movement is now looking ahead to - but not Peter A Bell.  No, Peter inhabits a world in which the Supreme Court may well allow a referendum, but in which that referendum will turn out to be yet another cunning trap, because it'll just be a "glorified opinion poll" and even if the Yes camp win, the Scottish Government will then just revert to demanding a Section 30 order so that a "proper" referendum can be held.

Hmmm.  In the light of Mhairi Hunter's notorious tweet, there are arguably legitimate suspicions that the SNP are not fully sincere about the plebiscite election concept and are just viewing it as a crafty wheeze by which yet another mandate - albeit a supposedly more 'emphatic' and 'irresistible' one - for a Section 30 order can be achieved.  (For clarity, I'm not saying those suspicions are justified, but it would be hard to argue that there are no grounds for concern at all.)  But it's stretching credibility to breaking point to suggest that a consultative referendum upheld by the UK Supreme Court would be used in the same way.  I suppose there might be a scenario in which the unionist side boycotts the referendum, and there are not enough pro-independence votes for it to realistically be the case that Yes would have won a contested vote on a normal turnout.  In that circumstance, the Scottish Government might concede that nothing has been settled and that a more satisfactory referendum would be required.  But if Yes manage a genuine victory, the Scottish Government won't be arguing for another referendum - it'll simply expect the freely expressed will of the people to be upheld and implemented.

What Peter dismisses as a "glorified opinion poll" is any referendum that is consultative rather than binding.  But that ignores the fact that most of the major referendums that have been held in the UK fall into exactly the same category.  The 1975 referendum on confirming membership of the Common Market was consultative, not binding.  So was the 2016 referendum on leaving the EU.  That didn't stop both results being upheld.  The same was true of the 1997 referendums on devolution for Scotland and Wales, and the 2014 independence referendum.  Probably the closest thing to legally binding referendums of any major significance were the 1979 devolution referendums, because those were not held until after the devolution legislation had already been passed, and so if there had been Yes majority votes that cleared the notorious 40% hurdle, the legislation would have automatically taken effect.  But what's less well remembered is that there was much less automaticity in the event of a different result.  The Scotland Act 1978 merely stated that if it "seemed to" the Scottish Secretary - who at the time was the pro-devolution Bruce Millan of the Labour Party - that 40% of eligible voters had not voted Yes, he was obliged to table a draft Order of repeal.  So there was some discretion for Millan to interpret the 40% rule in a maximally favourable way for the Yes side (for example by making allowances for the people who were on the register even though they had died or moved away), and even if he felt he had no option but to table the Order of repeal, it was still entirely open to the Labour government to say "a Yes majority is a Yes majority" and whip Labour MPs to vote the repeal down.  If those MPs had followed instructions, a Scottish Assembly would have gone ahead in spite of the 40% rule.

The problem was that Callaghan knew there were enough Labour rebels to defeat the government if it went down that road.  He apparently decided that he was sick to death of having his "time wasted" by Scottish constitutional matters and thus opted to kick the issue into the long grass.  This is the context that is generally overlooked when people wonder why the SNP voted to bring Callaghan's government down in March 1979.  He was being contemptuous towards any suggestion that respecting the democratic decision of the Scottish people was a matter of some importance, and yet he still expected the SNP to prop up his government in return for literally nothing.  In all conscience it's hard to see how they could have done that, although with the benefit of hindsight it perhaps seems clear that abstention would have been the strategically sensible option.  That way the Labour government would have limped on until either the end of its term or until Callaghan called an election himself (rumour has it that he was only a month away from doing so), but without the SNP endorsing or legitimising the betrayal of Scottish voters.

But I digress.  That was a long-winded way of saying that no important referendum in British history has been truly binding in the strictest sense, and yet the result of every referendum apart from the 1979 Scottish devolution vote (ironically enough) has been upheld.  So Peter A Bell is either raising a non-problem or exaggerating the problem considerably.  But as ever, he doesn't actually offer any solutions anyway.  He doesn't want a consultative referendum, which means he wants a binding one.  But the only possible way to get a binding referendum is with a Section 30 order, which he doesn't want Nicola Sturgeon to request.  So it appears he wants the Scottish Government to declare a referendum binding without the legal powers to do so, which may or may not be possible but would certainly be utterly pointless.

I sometimes feel that all we need to do is completely restructure the laws of physics and then maybe - just maybe - some of Peter's strategic advice might just about prove workable.  But until then...

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Sensation as first YouGov poll since the death of the Queen shows huge INCREASE in support for Scottish independence - which now stands at almost 50%

Tonight we have the second poll on independence since the death of the Queen, and all I can say is good luck to The Sun if they attempt to misrepresent it in the same way they did the first, because this time the trend is absolutely unmistakeable.  The traditionally No-friendly pollster YouGov is showing a four percentage point increase in the Yes vote, which is big enough that it can't be dismissed as 'margin of error noise'.  The large ten-point No lead in the previous YouGov poll has been replaced by a 'statistical tie', meaning that the race is close enough that it's impossible to tell - due to the standard margin of error - which side is in the lead.

Should Scotland be an independent country? (YouGov)

Yes 49% (+4)
No 51% (-4)

Although it's possible that the replacement of a popular Queen by a somewhat less popular King has caused support for independence to rise due to the weakening of the soft power of "Brand UK", a much more plausible interpretation is as follows: the death of the Queen had no impact on support for independence at all (in spite of the willful delusions of the "silent majority" brigade), and this sudden increase for Yes is instead caused by the extremist right-wing turn of the Conservative government under Liz Truss.  What the last few weeks have reminded me of more than anything are the opening scenes of the TV adaptation of Chris Mullin's novel A Very British Coup, which see the markets descending into chaos due to the election of Britain's most left-wing ever Prime Minister - and there's some sort of morality tale to be discerned from the fact that when it actually happened in real life, it was the Rabid Right that were the culprits, not the Loony Left.  Mysteriously, the London media never warned us about this possibility.

Nevertheless, given that we're probably heading for a plebiscite election rather than a conventional referendum, it's not enough for the political and economic chaos to have turned people into potential Yes voters - we also need them to be voters for a pro-indy party.  In other words, the 'Cat Boyd Paradox' of people voting Labour even though they earnestly claim to be independence supporters could theoretically scupper us.  The YouGov poll is the first since the mini-budget to provide Scottish voting intentions for the next UK general election (intended by the SNP to be a plebiscite election), and it shows the following...

Scottish voting intentions for the next UK general election:

SNP 45% (-1)
Labour 31% (+9)
Conservatives 12% (-7)
Liberal Democrats 7% (+1)
Greens 3% (-)

Seats projection: SNP 49 (+1), Labour 7 (+6), Liberal Democrats 3 (-1), Conservatives 0 (-6)

Not that I want to blow my own trumpet here, but those numbers are almost identical to the average of Scottish subsamples that I calculated yesterday morning for Scot Goes Pop.  I said at the time that the average had the 'ring of truth about it', but I couldn't possibly have guessed how uncannily close it would be.  So this is basically a good news story - although there's been a substantial Labour surge, it's almost entirely at the expense of the Tories, with the combined support for pro-independence parties dropping only by a statistically insignificant one percentage point.  That support now stands at 48%, which means it's essentially identical to the 49% Yes vote on the main independence question.  Bear in mind also that 2% of the vote went to "other parties", and some of those people will be supporters of other pro-indy parties such as Alba.  So, on the face of it, there's no reason to assume that winning a mandate for independence at a plebiscite election will be significantly harder than winning a referendum.  It looks like the vast majority of people switching to Labour are unionists.

But the caveat is the same one I mentioned when giving my thoughts on the subsample average.  Labour closing the gap to fourteen percentage points is neither here nor there in terms of its impact on seats - but if they close the gap much further, the story would be very different, and a large number of SNP seats would then become potential targets for Labour.  That's why it's imperative that the pro-indy vote isn't split, and that we keep the inbuilt advantage over unionists in first-post-the-post Westminster elections that we've enjoyed since 2015.  There needs to be just one pro-indy candidate in each constituency for us all to unite around, thus maximising the chances that we can contain any Labour surge.

YouGov also have Holyrood numbers, which are particularly fascinating, because even the subsample average couldn't give us any clues as to whether the Labour surge is confined to Westminster voting intentions.  If the sort of people who are switching to Labour at Westminster are instead turning to the SNP or other pro-indy parties at Holyrood, the case for using a snap Scottish Parliament election - rather than the next UK general election - as a de facto plebiscite would become even stronger.

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot:

SNP 49% (+2)
Labour 26% (+4)
Conservatives 13% (-5)
Liberal Democrats 8% (+1)

Scottish Parliament list ballot:

SNP 38% (-1)
Labour 24% (+3)
Conservatives 14% (-4)
Greens 12% (+2)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-)

(There'll probably be an Alba figure on the list but so far I haven't been able to find it.)

Seats projection: SNP 66 (+2), Labour 28 (+6), Conservatives 15 (-16), Greens 13 (+5), Liberal Democrats 7 (+3)


So there you have it - there is a Labour surge for Holyrood too, but it's markedly smaller, and the SNP grab some of the spoils themselves on the constituency ballot.  The SNP lead over Labour on the constituency ballot is a whopping twenty-three points, which is much higher than the fourteen-point lead in the Westminster voting intentions.  The case for it being much safer to use a snap Holyrood election as a de facto referendum would appear to be unanswerable.

On the London buses principle, it was of course always inevitable that after a drought in Scottish polling, we'd suddenly get two Scottish polls on the same night.  Savanta ComRes have also popped up with both Holyrood and Westminster numbers, and the former weirdly show essentially no drop for the Tories at all.  For Westminster there is a Tory slump, but not as big as the one YouGov are reporting. 

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot:

SNP 47% (+1)
Labour 25% (-)
Conservatives 17% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-)

Scottish Parliament list ballot:

SNP 32% (-1)
Labour 26% (+2)
Conservatives 19% (-1)
Greens 13% (-)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-)
Alba 2% (-)

Scottish voting intentions for the next UK general election:

SNP 46% (-) 
Labour 30% (+5) 
Conservatives 15% (-3) 
Liberal Democrats 7% (-2)

UPDATE: I've just noticed that ComRes have independence numbers too...

Should Scotland be an independent country?  (Savanta ComRes, 30th September-4th October 2022)

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

Inexplicably, Conor Matchett of The Scotsman is characterising this statistical tie, no change position as "the Yes vote continuing to stagnate".  Er, with all due respect, Conor...are you on drugs?  The lad seems to have learned no lessons at all from the catastrophe of the #Matchettgate fake poll scandal last year.

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It's hard to think of a worse example of hypocrisy and brazen political opportunism than Alex Cole-Hamilton's two-faced stance on the monarchy

In the early days of King Charles' reign, I saw numerous tweets from Liberal Democrat accounts that gushed about various personal meetings with the Royal Family in a similar way to how teenage girls might gush about a meeting with Harry Styles. The Queen was referred to practically as a saint, and of course there were numerous declarations of undying loyalty to the new King.  As a veteran Lib Dem-watcher this was no surprise to me at all, but it may well have been a surprise to those naive enough to assume that a party called the Liberal Democrats exists mainly to further the cause of liberal democracy. In reality, the young Liz Truss was very much an outlier when, as a student Lib Dem activist, she called for an elected Head of State. The Lib Dems are for the most part a small 'c' conservative party, and if you want democratic radicalism you have to look elsewhere.  Remember that having waited decades to bring about their supposedly number one priority of proportional representation, they cravenly gave up on the idea as soon as the opportunity finally arose in 2010 and instead settled for a (failed) referendum on switching to another non-proportional system.  They even continued with the coalition after the Tories reneged on their promise of House of Lords reform.

Alex Cole-Hamilton typifies the servile Lib Dem approach to monarchy, and is always excruciatingly eager to share stills of himself in Royal company.  "Not your average day!" he enthused when posting a photo of himself shaking the King's hand, sounding as if he had just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize or introduced to the Almighty.  And yet, periodically, there are articles in the Guardian in which Cole-Hamilton is quoted posing as a lefty anti-monarchy activist.  It really is like stepping into a parallel universe.  In the latest piece, he spits fury about the revelation that the King was allowed to vet the Scottish Parliament legislation to freeze rents - 

"The Scottish government should instead specifically list any changes made to legislation at the request of the King’s lawyers when it arrives at and goes through parliament. Everyone deserves to know how their laws are being made because transparency and scrutiny are pillars of our democracy."

I mean, is this the same man?  Could there possibly be two men who both happen to be called Alex Cole-Hamilton and both happen to be leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats?  OK, it's true that the SNP are, officially at least, a monarchist party and that in government they have acquiesced with the monarchical system, but it would be hard to plausibly claim that they are quite as hopelessly in love with the monarchy as the Lib Dems and Cole-Hamilton himself are.

Now, to be fair, it's possible in theory to be in favour of the principle of constitutional monarchy but to protest about the details of how the system works in practice.  But if that's what Cole-Hamilton wants us to believe his position is, there are two obvious points he needs to address.  Firstly, any secret vetting arrangement is effectively a form of collusion between the Royals and the government - but it's only the Royals who actually benefit from it.  Therefore, Cole-Hamilton cannot with any credibility attack the government for it without acknowledging the equal or greater culpability of the Royals.  I can see no evidence of him ever having done so, let alone him criticising the King directly.  Instead all I can see are fanboy selfies of him grinning inanely at Charlie-boy.

And secondly, he needs to accept that it's Scotland's place in the United Kingdom that has led to the Royals retaining these special perks in the post-devolution age.  The system derives entirely from the age-old practice at Westminster, which Lib Dem ministers were only too happy to uphold in the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition from 2010 to 2015, and indeed in the Labour-Lib Dem coalition at Holyrood from 1999 to 2007.  As far as I can see, the Royals do not enjoy any special legislative vetting rights in the fourteen countries other than the UK in which the King remains Head of State.  It's thus inconceivable that the system wouldn't end in an independent Scotland, even if the monarchy was retained.  

But of course Alex Cloe-Hamilton doesn't want things to change.  He wants the status quo, while posing cynically as a critic of the status quo.  It's just about the most brazen political opportunism you'll ever see.  Perhaps that's what he euphemistically meant when he promised his party "fast bowling".  Bring back Willie Rennie's "Calypso cricket", all is forgiven.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Scottish Labour's pipe-dreams are PULVERISED as subsample average from recent days shows SNP on course to win 91% of Scottish seats at Westminster - with the Tories wiped out

We've now moved very abruptly into a new era where there is a clear expectation for the first time that a Labour government will take over at Westminster in 2024. The Truss U-turn yesterday on scrapping the 45p tax rate may stabilise the sense of Tory freefall somewhat, but paradoxically if it also helps shore up her own position as leader, it may make the impression of inevitability about a Labour general election victory even stronger, because it's surely only with a new leader (yet another one) that the Tories have any chance whatsoever. 

With their customary sense of entitlement, Labour are assuming that their breakthrough in England is bound to be replicated in Scotland, and that the last three landslide election victories for the SNP at Westminster will be left looking like a historical aberration. That assumption is based on little or no evidence, because there hasn't been a full-scale Scottish poll since the tide turned down south. However, there has been a veritable blitz of Britain-wide polls in recent days, which means there are enough Scottish subsamples that we might at least be able to glean a clue by calculating an average. Long-term readers may remember that I took a similar approach in the weeks after the 2014 indyref and spotted early evidence of a massive swing from Labour to the SNP which very few other people were even talking about. I was criticised at the time for using subsamples, but in fact when a full-scale poll finally emerged from Ipsos-Mori, it turned out that the subsample average had actually underestimated the pro-SNP swing.  So will a similar exercise now show signs of a mass swing back to Labour?

Although this new era was caused by the contents of the mini-budget on September 23rd, it didn't actually begin on that date - it wasn't until the effects of Kwarteng's folly started to be felt a few days later, with the collapse of the value of the pound and highly unusual interventions from the IMF and the Bank of England, that voters turned decisively against the Tories.  So for the subsample average, I'm only going to include polls that were entirely conducted after the 26th.  And obviously I can only include subsamples if the data tables have actually been published.  But what that leaves us with is...

SNP 45.1%
Labour 31.8%
Conservatives 12.9%
Liberal Democrats 5.8%
Greens 2.5%

Seats projection (current boundaries): SNP 52 (+4), Labour 5 (+4), Liberal Democrats 2 (-2), Conservatives 0 (-6)

Seats projection (proposed new boundaries): SNP 52 (+4), Labour 3 (+2), Liberal Democrats 2 (-2), Conservatives 0 (-6)

The average is based on eight subsamples - two from Redfield & Wilton Strategies, one from YouGov, one from Survation, one from Deltapoll, one from PeoplePolling, one from Omnisis and one from Opinium.  Although the data tables from the Techne poll have been published, I had to leave that one out because there was no sign of the Scottish subsample figures.  

Although we'll have to wait for a couple of full-scale Scottish polls to see whether these figures are broadly right, they do have the ring of truth about them.  Given the scale of the swing to Labour in England, it would have been unrealistic to think that there wasn't going to be any read-through to Scotland at all, but by the same token it would have been wildly unrealistic to think that SNP supporters were going to suddenly say to themselves "who cares about independence now that we can have Sir Keith as British Prime Minister".  What we've ended up with is something in between, with a sizeable increase in the Labour vote, but mostly at the expense of the Tories, and with the SNP vote holding up reasonably well.  

In spite of the narrowed gap between SNP and Labour having a 2017-type look about it, the SNP wouldn't suffer in the same way as in 2017 because there's no pincer movement from two unionist parties this time - the Tories are instead on course for total wipeout.  Nevertheless, a narrowed gap between SNP and Labour carries greater risks than a similar scenario with the Tories in second place would.  It wouldn't take that much more of a swing to Labour to see a very large number of SNP seats put in jeopardy - which underlines yet again that we can't afford to play silly buggers in any Westminster election used as a de facto plebiscite.  Due to the first-past-the-post voting system for Westminster, there has to be just one pro-indy candidate in each constituency to ensure the vote isn't split and to maximise the chances of containing any Labour surge.

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Monday, October 3, 2022

The darkest of mornings for BBC Scotland and the rest of the Scottish mainstream media