Thursday, January 12, 2023

WINGS-WATCH: Campbell yet again trots out his dodgy graph falsely claiming Yes support has flatlined on 47% since the indyref - even though it has been comprehensively debunked multiple times

Stuart Campbell is back to blogging about opinion polls today, which - as inevitably as night follows day - means that he's trotted out some cynical lies.  Fortunately, our much-requested Wings-Watch fact-checking service is on hand to set the record straight yet again.

Once again we must start with Campbell's Lib Dem-style dodgy graph which falsely claims that support for independence has remained absolutely static on 47% since just after the independence referendum.  I've comprehensively debunked that graph many times before, but it looks like I'll just have to keep doing it every so often, because he's determined to treat his readers with utter contempt by telling them the exact same lie over and over and over again.  Below you'll find the real figures for independence support in recent times, which as you can see actually show substantial changes from year to year.  The annual averages for conventional polling are now updated with the final average for 2022, which saw Yes fall shy of the 50% mark by just 0.2 percentage points.

Yearly support for Scottish independence in the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey:

2014:  33%

2016 (a):  39%

2016 (b):  46%

2018:  45%

2020:  51%

2021:  52%

Average yearly support for independence in conventional opinion polling:

2016:  47.7%

2017:  45.3%

2018:  45.5%
2019:  47.6%

2020:  53.0%

2021:  49.6%

2022:  49.8%

(For the sake of simplicity, the above figures use any poll included in Wikipedia's main list of independence polls.  There are up to five surveys for the Scottish Election Study - two from 2022 and three from 2021 - that arguably should be in Wikipedia's list but aren't.  However, there may be sound reasons for excluding them which I'm not aware of, so I'll just stick with the list.)

Incidentally, there's no alibi of ignorance for Campbell in repeating his discredited claim.  He's almost certainly seen the previous posts in which I debunked his graph, because he occasionally attempts to leave comments on Scot Goes Pop, and did so as recently as two or three nights ago.  (The comments are invariably abusive, so I tend to leave them in the moderation queue.)  Oh, and for his two adoring fans who tried to question my mental stability this week because of what they seemed to think was my absurdly improbable claim that Campbell was attempting to leave anonymous comments and that I could tell it was him from his writing style - nice try, guys, but he freely confirmed his identity in the final comment.

Not content with just one dodgy graph, Campbell also presents us with a second, which purports to show that support for independence was around 24% in May 2007 when Alex Salmond became First Minister (although that was almost three years after Mr Salmond started his second stint as SNP leader), rose to 50% by November 2014 when Mr Salmond handed over to Nicola Sturgeon, and slightly declined to what appears to be around 48% or 49% in November 2022.  The latter figure is an outright lie - every poll conducted in November 2022 had Yes over 50% once Don't Knows were excluded. Campbell can't use the sleight of hand of saying he left Don't Knows in, because that would make a nonsense of the graph's claim that Yes was on 50% in November 2014 - no poll conducted that month had Yes higher than 46% prior to the exclusion of Don't Knows.  And chucking in the 24% figure from 2007 is an absolutely fatuous apples-and-oranges comparison, because it comes from the Social Attitudes Survey, which cannot be compared with conventional polling because it uses a completely different methodology, including a multi-option question format.  It has always produced wildly different results, and indeed wildly different yearly trends, from conventional polling.  If Campbell's graph had been consistent by following up the 2007 figure with the comparable Social Attitudes Survey results from 2014 and 2021 (the latter being the most recent survey), it would have shown a rise from 24% to 33% under Alex Salmond between 2007 and 2014, and then an even bigger rise from 33% to 52% under Nicola Sturgeon between 2014 and 2021.  

The other way Campbell could have achieved consistency in the graph is by using conventional polling throughout.  That would have meant using a far, far higher starting point for Yes in 2007.  An average of TNS polls in 2007 had Yes on around 47% with Don't Knows excluded, or around 39.5% with Don't Knows left in.

Campbell sometimes styles himself as a "journalist", and indeed his supporters often laud him to the skies as "the best journalist in Scotland".  Well, I'd invite you to check everything I've said above.  It's all in the public domain and you'll be able to verify that the points I've made are accurate.  Then be honest with yourself about whether or not Campbell's graphs can be considered "journalism".  If you think they can, I'd gently suggest the only type of "journalism" you can really have in mind is the grotesque parody of the profession that has left the credibility of the mainstream Scottish media in tatters over recent years.  The sole purpose of the graphs is to deliberately convince people that a lie is true.  And, what's more, it works.  Many Wings readers regularly parrot Campbell's lies about polling as if they were indisputable gospel.  I make no apology whatever for confronting Wings readers with the factual reality - even though in some cases they really, really don't want to hear it.


  1. Campbell writes very well, but in the true style of extremist Trump he's a liar pure and simple
    I don't believe for one second he hates anybody, maybe himself, but he is for sure a dead certain self promoter in that lovely American psycho style of agitator, anything for a headline grabbing piece of muck slinging and sent your contributions if you want more of the same
    At least the Daily Mail have well heeled funders for their lies, Campbell steals from the bewildered and confused

  2. Every time the fake "Reverend" does this, he's sticking two figures up at his own fan base. He's saying he'll just keep lying to them because he can get away with it.

  3. Is he a journalist? Sort of, he is (or was) a bona fide video games journo. But as far as politics is concerned, he's a blogger, not a journalist.

    1. Correct. There's nothing wrong with being a blogger. Confusing it for journalism is where the error lies.

      In my view (as a lowly blog reader and occasional commenter) is that journalism requires interviewing sources, double checking their claims, on background if need be, and working a handful of stories at length as the work is a slow burn. Bloggers often do the last part, but working entirely from public quotes and figures is data journalism (like FiveThirtyEight or Britain Elects) rather than investigative journalism.

      Writing a load of pure shite, meanwhile, is what the Daily Express is for.

    2. Ditto the Scottish Daily Mail.

  4. Thanks for exposing this, I put together a list of lies from various articles a year or 2 ago but binned it when he said he was quitting.

    1. Anonymous - so you identified all these lies but weren't bright enough to think that maybe he is lying about quitting. 🤡

    2. In fairness you couldn't see his lips move when he said it.

  5. Wings Watch has fast become one of the most indispensable parts of the Scottish political blogosphere. Well done, James

    1. Agreed. Nobody else is correcting these massive errors from Wings (I'm being charitable by calling them "errors") and by God they need to be corrected.

  6. In fairness, he doesn't lie as much as your average journalist.

    1. That's complete rubbish, I'm afraid. He lies considerably more often than the average MSM journalist. Typically around 50% of posts on Wings contain at least one monumental whopper. The only journalists who can even compete with him on the lying stakes all work for the Express.

  7. Can I ask James, do your summart figures of support for indy include polls with16/17 year olds and EU citizens? Or are thery a summary of all polls on indy that year? Do you know off hand what the typical sampling frame is in these type of polls? Is it over 16 living in Scotland? i.e. a local election holyrood type franchise? I'm not relating this to wingswatch or anything I just would like to know. thanks

  8. James, my main reason for wanting to know is I think a wm pleb (like carslaw ironically) is a waste of time as the franchise, media, id requirements all against us and we would likely lose. Wm would silence it ex-ante and ex-post would never shut up about it.

    Holyrood (local election franchise) and media advantage has none of these failings. If we had evidence of polling using a wm franchise on indy vs polling using a Holyrood franchise on indy that would be a powerful tool. I suspect it could be north of 5 percentage points in Yes favour.

  9. It breaks my heart to see Stuart Campbell's neverending petty, vindictive behaviour towards real independence campaigners, which ultimately boils down to jealousy because many of them have power as part of the SNP and he has no power at all. Surely the starting-point here must be S Campbell agreeing that our problem is **unionists**, not a party that has campaigned for independence for 90 years. If he can't agree with that, I guess he has become another enemy of independence. It's tragic.

  10. Campbell never was a supporter of Scottish independence, he was a supporter of self promotion so used independence as his vehicle, then when he felt the time was right to use the fame the independence cause had given him to promote himself he was found out and became a very angry man indeed, and like all these QAnon types seeks out the angry and disaffected to join him

    Where there's cash there's trash

  11. The current SNP leadership must be the most shit Independence Party leadership ever in the whole world. They have actually included in their NEC resolution an option to wait until Holyrood 2026 before having a de facto referendum. It's all about time wasting with them. Of course some SNP numpties like liar Skier punt the story that we just keep waiting and eventually nearly everyone in Scotland will want independence. That is a crock of shit.

    Other comments on their shit resolution:-

    1. It says the decision on independence "is for the Scottish people and for them alone." No definition of who the Scottish people are. The two options include/exclude different people.

    2. It says they should continue " all reasonable efforts" to get a sec 30 gold standard. Give us a break with your grovelling.

    3. It says it's " a majority of votes cast" but only votes for SNP or SNP approved parties will count. So they will decide what is a valid vote for independence. Do they really want to win? Or just maximise the number of their SNPs troughing away in Westminster like my MP Oswald who doesn't even reply to her constituent.

    4. The second option says we can vote SNP again for another referendum mandate at the next UK GE. Then if Westminster still says no then the second option says a de facto Holyrood 2026 Indy ref. In summary, the SNP NEC are time wasters - who would trust them to actually carry out the 2026 de facto refrerendum - oh I know who would trust them the ever diminishing band of SNP/WGD type numpties.

    In summary, the resolution is a crock of shit.

  12. Anyone know if our Constitution Secretary Robertson has written to the Pope to put him right about the English having resolved our concerns. Go on Angus your chance for a modern day Declaration of Edinburgh. Are you up to it?