Saturday, April 15, 2023

WINGS-WATCH: Yes, it's The Graph again

There's more than a touch of grim irony in the fact that, in the midst of a series of blogposts alleging that SNP members have been systematically fleeced and hoodwinked by their party leadership, Stuart Campbell should yet again trot out a graph claiming that Yes support has remained absolutely static on 47% since 2015 - a claim he knows to be a downright lie.  Whatever the rights and wrongs of the allegations against the SNP, they'd actually have a perfectly reasonable point if they said to Campbell that he needs to put his own house in order and stop repeatedly deceiving his readers before he can have any credibility in throwing stones himself.

Campbell's graph has been discredited so many times, by so many different people, and from so many different angles, that it's practically been beaten to a pulp by this point.  It's been explained that Campbell has just hand-picked one single poll from each year, rather than averaging Yes support in all polls from each year.  It's been explained that if he had averaged all polls, he'd have found Yes support had never been on 47% in any year and had in fact varied wildly from 45% in 2017 to 53% in 2020.  It's been explained that if he had looked at the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, which he has sometimes prayed in aid in other dodgy graphs, he's have found an even wider variation in support for independence from 39% in 2016 to 52% in 2021.  It's been explained that the individual polls he's cherry-picked are not even directly comparable with each other, because they come from four different polling companies that use different methodologies.

Is there any other remaining way in which the graph can be debunked?  Actually, there is.  Campbell's single poll from each year has always been taken from April, implying that he thinks Yes support in April carries more significance than in other months (for some unspecified reason).  So, as it actually is April right now, I decided to find out whether an average of all polls conducted in April of each year would bear out Campbell's claim that April-flavoured Yes support has flatlined at exactly 47% since 2015.  Spoiler alert: no of course it doesn't.  There have in fact only been two years in which the April average has come out at 47%, and one of those years is this year, which isn't even covered by Campbell's graph.  There has been variation from 45% in 2017 to 49% in both 2021 and 2022.  

Average Yes vote in conventional independence polls conducted (either in whole or in part) in April of each calendar year:

April 2015: 48.2%

April 2016: 47.0%

April 2017: 45.3%

April 2018: (No polls conducted)

April 2019: 48.4%

April 2020: (No polls conducted)

April 2021: 49.2%

April 2022: 49.0%

April 2023: 47.0%

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

The hypocritical decision not to suspend Peter Murrell in circumstances in which others have been suspended in the past suggests the best interests of the ruling faction are deemed more important than the best interests of the SNP

Terrifyingly, I've been writing Scot Goes Pop for almost fifteen years (the anniversary is next month) and in that time there have been numerous occasions when I have criticised the SNP leadership for denying party members natural justice by suspending them when they had yet to be found guilty of any wrongdoing.  The two worst injustices were the suspension of Michelle Thomson, which prevented her from defending her Westminster seat even though it later turned out she had done nothing wrong, and the suspension of Neale Hanvey, which would have prevented him standing in the 2019 general election if it had come a couple of weeks earlier.  As it was, he was deprived of all official SNP support during the election, with the intention - grotesquely - of helping Labour hold the seat.  Thankfully, the plan failed and Hanvey became an MP.

The reality is that pre-emptive suspension has got nothing to do with justice or fairness for the individual and everything to do with ruthless protection of the party at any cost.  The idea is that the party will be insulated from any damage later on if the person they've suspended turns out to have done what they were suspected or accused of.  But if the collective self-interest always trumps individual justice as far as the SNP are concerned, that principle should apply one hundred times over to Peter Murrell, who in the worst case scenario could do more damage to the party than all previous miscreants put together.  And yet in this case, miraculously, the SNP find that they do care about natural justice and won't suspend him because he's not yet been found guilty of anything.

Such a blatant inconsistency can only mean one thing - that there is, after all, something more important than the interests of the party, namely the interests of the party's ruling faction.  Which of course shouldn't be a surprise, because exactly the same imperative drove the seemingly irrational and self-destructive decision to install the unpopular Humza Yousaf as leader.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Many SNP members think the leadership election needs to be re-run

Now, for the avoidance of doubt, this is a self-selecting poll, so no-one is suggesting that the results are scientifically reliable.  But at the very least, it does suggest that significant numbers of SNP members agree with the need for the vote to be re-run.  The SNP broke their own rules with a breakneck timetable which ensured that most votes were cast (and could not be changed) by the time the fibs about the membership numbers were exposed, and all votes were cast by the time Peter Murrell was arrested.

Sunday, April 9, 2023

No, the choice of the leader of Scotland is not a private matter for the members of one political party

I don't know about anyone else, but I've had just about enough of being told to shut up about the SNP leadership because I'm no longer an SNP member.  I'm afraid once you put yourself forward for election, and particularly once you form the government and once your leader is the First Minister of Scotland, the fitness for office of that person becomes quite properly a matter of interest and discussion for every single voter in Scotland.  If that's uncomfortable for you, resign from government and become a secret society instead.

But it goes further than that, of course, because independence supporters have a special stake in what goes on inside the SNP.  Almost all of us have voted SNP at some time.  Many of us are former SNP members and have made financial contributions to the party.  In my case, I was a member until 2021 and made a number of standalone donations.  I have also voted SNP in all but one of the Scottish elections I have ever participated in - the sole exception was the 2021 Holyrood list ballot.  (I even voted SNP in the local council elections last year because there was no Alba candidate in my ward.)  The idea that SNP voters and those who have contributed financially to the party have no right to an opinion is pushing credibility beyond breaking point.

I mentioned on Twitter a few days ago that the SNP leadership election reminded me of the 1999 Welsh Labour leadership election, when the Blair puppet Alun Michael was installed even though the much more popular Rhodri Morgan would plainly have won if nature had been allowed to run its course. In that case, the dice were loaded due to a dodgy electoral system that gave the bulk of the vote to parliamentarians and unions who were in Blair's pocket.  In the SNP's case, a similar effect was achieved by breaking party rules with a rushed contest, by ensuring crucial information was withheld from members until most or all of the votes were cast, and by pressuring members with a string of 'shock and awe' endorsements for Humza Yousaf secured by calling in favours or promising ministerial positions.  Both Alun Michael and Humza Yousaf won by very narrow margins, which - rightly or wrongly - left the impression that their opponent would never have been 'allowed' to win, and if necessary there would always have been some additional measure taken to drag the puppet candidate over the line.

Alun Michael was, of course, deposed by the Welsh Assembly less than a year later, with his defeated opponent Rhodri Morgan succeeding him.  Michael and his defenders repeatedly deployed the argument that his leadership was a private matter for the Labour party, and that the Assembly as a whole and the people of Wales had no right to any view.  That type of hubris was never going to wash - not least because it was written into law that the First Secretary (as the First Minister position was then known) was accountable to the elected Assembly and could only continue to hold office with the Assembly's blessing.