Thursday, May 4, 2023

SCOT GOES POP FUNDRAISER 2023: Help keep a key part of the pro-independence alternative media shining bright

It's just a coincidence, but this Wednesday marks the fifteenth anniversary of the start of Scot Goes Pop in 2008 - it began with a post about the results of the local elections in England and Wales, so I can always remember when it's that time of year.  In the intervening decade-and-a-half, Scot Goes Pop has provided extensive opinion polling and election analysis, corrected umpteen inaccuracies and distortions in the mainstream media about Scottish poll results, commissioned eight full-scale opinion polls of its own from leading polling firms, provided fiercely independent political commentary, and produced numerous podcasts and videos.  But if I'm going to keep the site going, the time has come when I'm once again going to have to ask for your help.

After Scot Goes Pop commissioned no fewer than two opinion polls in March (the Find Out Now poll showing an outright pro-independence majority, and the Panelbase poll showing that Kate Forbes was the public's clear preference for First Minister), I mentioned that the coffers were getting a bit emptier, and that I would have to start a new annual fundraiser as soon as the leadership election was over, especially bearing in mind that last year's fundraiser fell well short of its target.  However, I couldn't have foreseen the extent of the chaos that would unfold within the SNP over subsequent weeks, so I initially decided it was the worst possible time to start a crowdfunder and that I'd be better off trying to keep things ticking over with lower-key fundraising at the bottom of each blogpost. That plan hasn't really worked out.  There have been several generous donations over the last couple of weeks, but they've come to around £200 in total, and that's not the kind of level at which I can plan for the future.  It's time to bite the bullet, and to find out where I stand and whether Scot Goes Pop can continue to be sustainable.  If the new fundraiser falls well short of its target in the way that last year's did, my intention will be to continue for however long the funds make possible and to then stop.  (Obviously 'stop' is unlikely to mean a total cessation, because I'm sure I'll occasionally feel the burning desire to get something off my chest, but the posting rate will drop dramatically.)  I'll also give the same undertaking that I've given during past fundraisers - if for unforeseen reasons I have to close Scot Goes Pop before the funds are used up, I'll use or disperse the remaining funds to benefit other pro-indy causes.

If you're one of the people that has donated over recent weeks, please just ignore the new fundraiser, and nobody else should feel under any pressure to donate either - these are difficult times for all of us.  However, if you're unable to donate, one very helpful thing you could do would be to share the fundraiser on whichever social media platforms you use.  Facebook shares would be particularly welcome, because for ultra-complex reasons that would take about 57 years to explain, I've had to deactivate my own Facebook account and can't post there directly for the time being.

Below is my pitch from the new fundraising page

Hi, I'm James Kelly, and for exactly 15 years (it all started on 3rd May 2008), I've been writing the pro-independence blog Scot Goes Pop.  With your help, I hope to keep the blog shining bright over the coming months as a key part of the pro-independence alternative media.

Scotland needs a Yes media more than ever during these tricky times, and to a limited extent we do have one.  However, given the circumstances, I'm not sure that a media that is slavishly loyal to the status quo of Yes politics can contribute as much as one that looks forward to a new vista in which pro-independence parties will have changed and reformed to rebuild public trust and to once again become credible vehicles for independence in the near-term.  That's the type of media that I hope Scot Goes Pop can be part of.

And with your help it will also continue to provide the unique polling and election analysis service from a pro-independence perspective that it has been known for over the years.  Countless inaccuracies and distortions in the unionist-oriented mainstream media about Scottish opinion poll results have only come to light or been corrected because Scot Goes Pop identified them.  And there have even been eight full-scale Scottish opinion polls commissioned by Scot Goes Pop itself, most recently two in March of this year.

The existence of the blog has led to many spin-offs.  I've written extensive polling and election analysis for The National, including daily constituency profiles during the 2019 general election campaign and the 2021 Scottish Parliament election campaign.  I've been an iScot columnist since 2017, and for many years I was a columnist on both the TalkRadio website and the International Business Times.  In the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum, I may well have been the most-read pro-independence blogger in Scotland, due to the good fortune of many of my IBTimes columns being syndicated on Yahoo.  I've also been interviewed on TV and radio on numerous occasions, including on BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio Five Live, Al Jazeera, CTV News (Canada) and the Bauer radio network.

However, blogging is a very time-consuming process, especially during elections or other busy periods when there may be several polls a day to cover. Like all writers, I have to keep body and soul together while I write, and running a general fundraiser every year helps me to do that, while also giving me the flexibility to drop everything and write a blogpost whenever a new poll comes out.  If the funds fall well short of the target, my aim will be to keep going for as many months as I can.  

Click here if you'd like to donate.

Direct payments can also be made via Paypal.  My Paypal email address is:

If you do have a Paypal account, that's probably the best method for quite a few reasons.  If you wish, you can add a note saying "for the fundraiser", but it'll be obvious what the payment is for anyway.

I know one or two people tend to prefer direct bank transfer, so if you want to do that, drop me a line and I'll send you the necessary details.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Doubts deepen over Humza Yousaf's future as leader as new Redfield & Wilton poll shows SNP slipping to second place on the Holyrood regional list for the first time in many years - and Yousaf's personal rating has slumped by ten points

My jaw dropped to the floor a few days ago when I saw an anonymous source close to the Yousaf leadership claiming in the Financial Times that the team had been heartened by the opinion poll results published since their man became leader just over a month ago.  It's true that independence support has generally held up pretty encouragingly, but for the SNP itself there has been a succession of poor results under Humza, some of them showing a loss of the pro-independence majority at Holyrood, and at least one of them showing a loss of the SNP majority in Scottish seats at Westminster.  I can only assume that the source was clinging to the fact that every poll result so far had shown the SNP just about holding onto a lead of some description - but with the publication of today's Redfield & Wilton poll, even that is no longer true.

Redfield & Wilton poll (30th April - 2nd May 2023):

Scottish voting intentions for next UK general election:

SNP 35% (-1)
Labour 32% (+1)
Conservatives 18% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 9% (-1)
Greens 3% (+1)
Reform UK 2% (-)

Seats projection (current boundaries, with changes from 2019 election): SNP 25 (-23), Labour 22 (+21), Conservatives 7 (+1), Liberal Democrats 5 (+1)

That's the worst Westminster seats projection we've seen for the SNP since the mini-implosion of 2017.  The pro-independence majority would be lost by some distance - the unionist parties would have 34 seats in combination, easily outcounting the SNP's 25.  The SNP would just barely remain the largest single party among the Scottish contingent at Westminster - but let's be honest with ourselves.  On these numbers the SNP are probably heading for defeat at the hands of Labour, unless they replace Humza Yousaf with a more popular leader.  Their lead is too fragile to have much chance of withstanding the 'away fixture' of a UK general election.

It's worth identifying some of the Yousaf-supporting MPs who are now projected to lose their own seats as a direct result of getting behind such an unpopular leadership candidate.  They include: Alison Thewliss, Anne McLaughlin, Deidre Brock, Angela Crawley, Owen Thompson, Chris Stephens, Martin Docherty-Hughes, Tommy Sheppard, and Anum Qaisar.

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot:

SNP 36% (-2)
Labour 32% (+4)
Conservatives 18% (-)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-2)
Greens 2% (-1)
Reform UK 2% (-)
Alba 1% (n/a)

Scottish Parliament regional list ballot:

Labour 27% (+3)
SNP 25% (-5)
Conservatives 19% (-)
Greens 13% (+2)
Liberal Democrats 10% (-3)
Reform UK 2% (-)
Alba 2% (n/a)

Seats projection (with changes from 2021 election): SNP 39 (-25),  Labour 36 (+14), Conservatives 24 (-7), Greens 18 (+10), Liberal Democrats 12 (+8)

The SNP can't expect to suffer the horrific loss of 25 seats and still have a pro-indy majority at the end of that process, and even with a very high number of Green list seats, this poll inevitably points to a unionist-majority parliament.  Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems would have 72 seats between them, while the SNP and Greens in combination would have only 57.  The SNP would remain the largest single party, so it's possible they might be able to cling on as a much-weakened minority government, but even that would be far from certain.

As ever, the clearest evidence of the drag effect Humza Yousaf is having on the SNP's support can be found in the net approval ratings of party leaders.  Yousaf's rating has slumped by ten points, leaving him even further behind Anas Sarwar and Keir Starmer than before.  (Remember that polls during the leadership election found that Kate Forbes fared much, much better against Sarwar and Starmer, and she often had superior ratings to them.) Even more scarily, Yousaf is only more popular than Rishi Sunak and Douglas Ross by a very small margin.

Net approval ratings of leaders:

Anas Sarwar (Labour): +3
Keir Starmer (Labour): +2
Humza Yousaf (SNP): -17
Douglas Ross (Conservatives): -21
Rishi Sunak (Conservatives): -22

(There's also a leadership question with a different format that has Yousaf slightly ahead of Sarwar, but even on that one, Yousaf's lead has slumped since the last Redfield & Wilton poll, and now stands at a statistically insignificant two points.)

Tellingly, Yousaf is much more unpopular than his own party - the SNP collectively have a more respectable net rating of -4, even after the string of recent damaging revelations.

Net approval ratings of parties:

Labour: +12
SNP: -4
Liberal Democrats: -9
Greens: -12
Reform UK: -30
Alba: -36
Conservatives: -38

So the constant refrain from the SNP's Trendies that "Alba are the most hated party in Scotland" turns out not to be true - it's the Tories who hold that accolade.  That said, minus 36 is obviously a very poor showing for Alba, and can probably be explained almost entirely by their association in the public consciousness with Alex Salmond, whose reputation has been trashed by the media since his trial, in spite of the fact that he was acquitted on all charges.  Bear in mind, though, that the Tories are on course to win plenty of seats with an approval rating of -38, so Alba's rating of -36 certainly doesn't preclude the possibility of a few list seats in 2026.  Only around 6% of the vote would be required to achieve that breakthrough.

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FIFTEEN YEARS OF SCOT GOES POP: I could have wished to mark the occasion with a better poll, but today is the fifteenth anniversary of the start of Scot Goes Pop.  It all began on 3rd May 2008 with this post about Plaid Cymru's good showing in the Welsh local elections, and Boris Johnson defeating Ken Livingstone to become Mayor of London.  Thank you for all your amazing support over the last decade-and-a-half.

A couple of days ago, I launched the Scot Goes Pop fundraiser for 2023, and so far it's only around 9% of the way towards its target figure.  If you'd like to donate, please click HERE, and many thanks to everyone who has already contributed.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Nicola Sturgeon's enforced departure looks increasingly like a classic case of 'be careful what you wish for' - because it led directly to the SNP abandoning all plans to win independence

There's an interview with Alex Salmond in the Telegraph in which he makes a fascinating observation that actually contradicts one of the key assumptions of many on the radical end of the independence movement.  He suggests that Nicola Sturgeon's resignation couldn't have been pre-planned, because she was in the middle of a two-part strategy on independence (the Supreme Court referral followed by a de facto referendum) and he didn't know of any other leader who would willingly relinquish office with half of a two-part strategy unfinished.  That suggests she would have stayed in office if it hadn't been for the police investigation, and would have seen the de facto referendum through, either in 2024 or 2026.  I think that's probably right, notwithstanding my paranoia immediately after the resignation that it had been choreographed months in advance as the only conceivable way of getting the SNP out of a promise on a de facto referendum that had been practically signed in blood.

The police investigation wasn't self-initiated, of course, it only came about because of complaints from Yes supporters, presumably those who had seen questions about the SNP raised by Wings Over Scotland and one or two other websites.  Now, I certainly don't criticise anyone for lodging a complaint and setting this process in motion - they did absolutely the right thing if their primary concern was doubts over the SNP's honesty and probity in its dealings with members.  However, if anyone was motivated more by the Wings narrative that Nicola Sturgeon was the main blockage to independence, and saw a complaint mostly as a tactic to try to dislodge her, it's not hard to see how that's backfired.  If she had remained in harness, we would probably have had the de facto referendum, and we would have had a chance of winning it with a popular SNP leader, and indeed with a popular SNP that had not yet been tarnished by the revelations of recent weeks.  Instead, Nicola Sturgeon's natural allies, who clearly thought she had taken leave of her senses by actually trying to deliver independence, saw her sudden departure as Christmas come early, and gratefully seized the unexpected opportunity to put a stop to the SNP as a party actively trying to win independence for the first time since at least 1942.  And for good measure, they've unnecessarily lumbered the SNP with a new leader who the public dislike and regard as incompetent, and who is thus much less likely to win any vote on independence, even if it did happen.

In short, the independence cause is now in a much worse position due to the police investigation having been triggered.  Of course we're only in the foothills of this ongoing story, and Humza's unpopularity and close association with the Sturgeon leadership puts him in a very vulnerable place.  So something constructive may yet come out of this chaos which will wipe the slate clean with a new leadership and repair a lot of the damage.  But so far, it's a case of 'be careful what you wish for'. 

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There have been further signs over the last 48 hours that Labour's big lead over the Tories at GB-wide level is shrinking significantly.  With at least a year to go until the likely general election date, that brings a hung parliament back into play - perhaps the joker in the pack that could get the SNP off the hook, although no-one should be relying on it, because it remains only an outside chance.  Labour's lead in the new YouGov poll is fourteen points, which is the lowest YouGov have shown since mid-September, just before the Trussmageddon reached its peak.  And Omnisis are showing the lead down to 17 points, the second-lowest in any Omnisis poll since September.  On the other hand, Opinium have Labour rebounding slightly to an 18 point lead, but that's probably just sampling variation at play.

GB-wide YouGov poll (26th-27th April 2023):

Labour 41% (-2)
Conservatives 27% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 11% (+1)
Greens 7% (+1)
Reform UK 7% (-)
SNP 4% (+2)

Scottish subsample: SNP 34%, Labour 27%, Conservatives 20%, Greens 7%, Liberal Democrats 7%, Reform UK 2%

GB-wide Omnisis poll (27th-28th April 2023):

Labour 45% (-2)
Conservatives 28% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 10% (+3)
Greens 6% (-)
Reform UK 6% (-1)
SNP 4% (-)

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Scot Goes Pop can only continue with the help of donations from readers (and if everyone reading this today contributed £5 each, the problem would be instantly solved for another year or so, but alas, life is never quite as simple as that!)

Direct payments can be made via Paypal.  My Paypal email address is:

If you don't have a Paypal account, last year's fundraiser page is still open for donations, and can be found HERE.

Many thanks to everyone who makes, or has already made, a contribution.