Saturday, September 9, 2023

Addressing the bizarre claims that the Redfield & Wilton poll was "good for Humza"

There's a small section of the media, both mainstream and alternative, which wants to prop Humza Yousaf up at all costs - an entirely self-defeating objective from a pro-independence perspective, because Yousaf's departure would open up a genuine opportunity for the SNP to recover electorally, perhaps at some speed.  A couple of days ago, that section of the media attempted to turn the new Redfield & Wilton poll on its head and claim it as a good news story for Yousaf - a rather unpromising tactic, you would think, given that the poll was only the second poll from any firm for many, many years to show that the SNP have lost their outright lead in Westminster voting intentions.  However, there were two main aspects of the poll that were claimed as good for Yousaf, so let's take a look at each of them in turn.

Firstly, the fact that the Holyrood seats projection from the poll points to a pro-independence majority.  Now, I suppose from a propagandist's point of view, it must have been difficult to resist praying this in aid, because most polls in recent times have suggested a unionist majority, so the obvious temptation would be to try to make it look as if a pro-indy majority projection means Yousaf is achieving solid progress.  But to put it mildly, that is somewhat misleading.  Look at the list vote percentages in the new poll - 

Labour 30% (+1)
SNP 25% (-4)
Conservatives 15% (-3)
Greens 14% (+5)
Liberal Democrats 9% (-)
Alba 4% (+2)
Reform UK 3% (-)

In terms of who is in the lead and by how much, that is by far the worst result for the SNP on the list, in any poll from any firm, for many years.  They hadn't previously slipped more than two points behind, but now the deficit is five points.  In the real world, it's almost inconceivable they could get away with a result like that.  The reason the poll technically translates into a pro-indy majority in terms of seats is partly because the Greens are offsetting the SNP's disastrous showing on the list, but crucially it's also because the SNP's constituency lead over Labour is just high enough to crowd out the unionist parties in the constituencies and ensure that there aren't enough list seats available to correct for the SNP's constituency over-representation.  But that leaves the SNP in an incredibly vulnerable position, because it means that if their constituency vote falls even modestly, they'd suddenly be staring down the barrel of not only losing the pro-indy majority but also losing their status as the largest single party at Holyrood.  Without an in-built constituency bonus for any party, the list vote automatically becomes the more important vote and Labour's lead on the list would be very real indeed.

Secondly, the pro-Humza lobby are inviting us to ignore the fact that Yousaf is way behind Anas Sarwar and Keir Starmer on net approval ratings, and to focus instead on the fact that Yousaf is ahead of Sarwar on an alternative leadership question posed by Redfield & Wilton.  That's actually been a consistent pattern in the monthly Redfield & Wilton polls - Yousaf always trails Sarwar on net approval ratings but always leads Sarwar on the alternative question.  Other firms haven't generally been asking the alternative question, so there's no way of knowing whether they would replicate the same pattern.  

But even if we accept the dubious belief that only the results on the alternative question matter, the problem is that the UK general election will take place much earlier than the Scottish Parliament election, so the electorate thinking Yousaf would make a better First Minister than Sarwar is not of any great relevance for now.  No poll is likely to ask whether Yousaf or Starmer would make a better UK Prime Minister, because it's an obviously nonsensical question, but actually the answer to that question would probably tell us quite a lot about why the SNP are currently struggling in Westminster voting intentions.  A big part of the reason for the SNP winning majorities in the last three general elections is that Nicola Sturgeon was far more highly regarded than Ed Miliband or Jeremy Corbyn, and also that she was regarded as a political figure of enough significance to be worthy of being part of the Westminster 'conversation', which is not usually the case for SNP leaders and is unlikely to be the case for Yousaf.

*  *  *

War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia, and Stuart Campbell is somehow still in favour of Scottish independence even though he's announced he won't vote in favour of it.  Or so you'd believe if you listened to the angry participants of the social media pile-on that Mr Campbell instigated within literally minutes of my blogpost last weekend.  It's probably fair to say that he was deeply concerned that his new stance was going to be correctly characterised as him abandoning his support for independence, because he seemed to be checking this blog every five minutes, with a rather half-hearted personal attack on me ready to go as soon as any post appeared.  But if he wants to maintain the ludicrous position that he can support independence by opposing it, I must say it's rather odd that he's just doubled down with another lengthy "now is not the time for independence" post, in which he advances the bogus case that there is widespread support for an indefinite delay of independence until the SNP and Scottish Government change out of all recognition and drop all the policies he dislikes.

Let me just gently point out what should be obvious: Scottish independence is for life, not just for Christmas.  Although it's theoretically possible that an independent Scotland would change its mind and rejoin the UK, we all know from the history of other former London-ruled countries that it wouldn't happen.  So if Scotland becomes independent, you have to face the fact that at some point over the next few decades, there will inevitably be an independent Scottish government that you will despise and that will do all sorts of things that you loathe.  There is no country in the world in which all citizens get what they want 100% of the time.  Democratic elections will sometimes go against you.  If you want to "delay" independence until that inescapable fact of life somehow changes, you will "delay" it forever.  If your default is to prefer London rule to an elected Scottish government that you personally wouldn't have chosen, then independence was never anything more than a passing fad for you, and you never believed in it in any real sense.

And I must just reiterate how astoundingly hypocritical it is for Mr Campbell to have spent the last few years castigating the SNP for not holding an immediate independence referendum ("The Betrayers!, The Backstabbers!"), when he now openly admits he would not vote for independence in any such referendum and thinks Scotland should remain in the United Kingdom for the foreseeable future.  I defy anyone to try to get that risible position to make sense with any sort of rational argument.


  1. Yeah, good point about NS being more popular than Corbin at a GE election (mind you a plague filled rat is more popular than JC with most folks) and that counted for a lot in those elections.

    That advantage has been lost with Yousaf vs Starmer. Starmer’s probably barely above average in most Scots’ minds but Yousaf is, as we all know, deeply negative so advantage Starmer (and therefore Labour).

    It backs up your position that Yousaf should be replaced by a more popular choice (Forbes is the obvious person) asap.

    1. Cant see Forbes making any difference, she has the wait untill polls hit 60% policy which was forwarded by "union jack", she was also the backup candidate if humza failed, so the party is prety much over unless Ash Regan is brought to the fore.

  2. It's not just Yousaf that's unpopular, though, it's "our precious union" too.

    1. Yup. They're both very unpopular.

  3. The LGBTQ+ community is concerned that Forbes will not give further rights over and above the current ones.

    1. And they unanimously appointed you spokesperson, did they? Including the gender critical LGB people?

    2. LOL. Lesbians and gay men already have full legal rights. The "further rights" our friend is talking about would only be for people claiming to be trans, which he is pretending is a broader "LGBTQ+" issue.

    3. "The LGBTQ+ community is concerned that Forbes will not give further rights over and above the current ones."

      Specifically, what, exactly? I've seen that exact quote elsewhere, like weeks ago on the National below the line, but never with any details at all, can you give some details?

      Thanks in advance.

    4. It's not what she'll do, it's what she *is*. But, you know, people can't say that nowadays, so…

      To me: she's a bright, well adjusted, honest young woman with a great deal of success, right in the prime of her life, and comfortable with her faith. To others, every word of that might be considered hateful.

    5. Some won't be fans because of what she is. Others won't be fans because of what she believes, which it isn't unreasonable to expect to inform what she'll do.

  4. Going back to December last year, every single poll from one of the credible pollsters has had Yes ahead.