Saturday, February 10, 2024

The colonialist British state broadcaster in action: how BBC chiefs in *Salford* overruled BBC Scotland at the last minute to prevent Scots from watching their own national curling championships

Last night, you might have seen on Twitter a last-minute announcement that the semi-finals and finals of the Scottish Curling Championships would not after all be live-streamed on the BBC Sport website, as had been expected and as has happened in previous years.  The issue seemed to be the event's sponsorship by an alcohol brand, and lots of different people quickly pointed out the obvious double-standard - the BBC have no problem at all giving lavish coverage to the "Guinness Six Nations" and indeed did so again this very day as the curling finals were taking place.  It seems to be one rule for the most popular sports and another rule for minority sports - even though it's the minority sports that desperately need sponsorship the most.  When they succeed in getting it, they're penalised by the BBC and starved of the TV coverage they desperately need just as much.  It's crazy.

However, it turns out there's a little bit more to this story.  I actually went to Dumfries for the curling finals today, and by chance I found myself sitting within earshot of someone who, let's say, seems to be ideally placed to know just about everything that goes on in Scottish curling.  He revealed that BBC Scotland were totally happy to go ahead with livestreaming of the event and had no problem with the sponsorship issue, but were overruled by BBC Sport headquarters, which these days is based in Salford in Greater Manchester.  That explains the shock last-minute nature of the decision.

Can there be a more perfect example of why the BBC is institutionally incapable of serving its Scottish audiences adequately?  This event is a Scottish-only championship for a sport that in UK terms is played almost exclusively in Scotland.  If ever there was a decision that should have been made by BBC Scotland, and BBC Scotland alone, without any possibility of a veto from on high, this was it.  If there were rules about sponsorship to be applied, BBC Scotland should have been the ones to interpret them and to weigh them against the cultural importance of the event.  It sounds like they initially did just that and decided the livestream should go ahead.  That should have been the end of the matter, and "Salford" shouldn't even have come into it.

The other controversy surrounding the curling finals was the scrapping of the decades-long tradition that the winning teams automatically get to represent Scotland at the subsequent World Championships.  Instead, a selection panel will make the decision and the results of the national championships will be only one of the factors taken into account.  Most of the spectators today seemed to be deeply unhappy about that development, not least because they feel it devalues the national championships. (I must admit that I reacted that way myself - when I saw that selection for the worlds was no longer directly at stake, I almost had second thoughts about going today, because the competition suddenly seemed less important and prestigious than when I had previously gone to a couple of finals days in Perth.)

But the well-connected chap I was overhearing explained that the rule change was the result of a memorandum of understanding with "British Curling", which oversees Team GB curling participation in the Olympics.  He went on to add that "British Curling" also have a representative on the selection panel that will decide which teams represent Scotland at the World Championships.  That strikes me as downright odd.  OK, well over 90% of "British curlers" are in Scotland, so British Curling is presumably a heavily Scottish-dominated organisation.  But as a matter of principle, a British governing body should not be deciding the composition of Scottish representative teams when there is a Scottish governing body there to do the job.

I also formed the impression from what was said (and admittedly the guy was speaking quietly at this point so I may have got the wrong end of the stick) that it's a foregone conclusion that Bruce Mouat's team, the reigning World and European champions, will be selected as Team Scotland for the men's worlds, even though they suffered a shock defeat in the semi-final this week.  This is apparently because the statistics that will be looked at are firmly in their favour, and show that they usually "get over the line".

Leaving aside the issue of the devaluing of the national championships, I'm not sure how I feel about this rule change.  On the one hand, there have been any number of occasions in the past when the Scottish national champions have clearly not been the best team in the country and have frustratingly gone on to have very poor results at the worlds.  But on the other hand, these instances of the 'wrong teams' going to the worlds allowed a much greater range of players to gain valuable international experience.  That may no longer happen, and there's a real danger of 'fossilisation' if the same team is always selected irrespective of any runs of poor form.  The same danger applies on the women's side, incidentally, because Rebecca Morrison's team is the totally dominant women's team in Scotland at the moment - and yet if the traditional rule had applied, she wouldn't be going to the worlds.  She had a horror show today and was resoundingly beaten in the final by Team Henderson.

As you won't have seen it on the BBC, here are a few photos from today...

Friday, February 9, 2024

How are SNP voters from 2019 planning to vote now?

There are some curious comments from Professor John Curtice quoted in The National today.  As a commenter on the previous thread wryly put it, Curtice "argues both for and against the narrative that the SNP is losing voters straight to Labour".  Understandably, The National have chosen to headline the part where he argues against that narrative and states that Labour's gains in Scotland can be traced back to the Trussmageddon period.  But I think that's going to lead to people getting the false impression that Labour have only been gaining votes from the Tories, whereas in fact Curtice points out himself that a substantial number of SNP voters from 2019 have switched to Labour.  I would guess what he really means is that the Trussmageddon generated so much momentum behind Labour in England that it started to affect the SNP v Labour battle in Scotland, and some voters who would otherwise have stuck with the SNP started moving across to Labour.

There are two facts that are fairly undeniable in all this -

1) The SNP are currently polling around ten percentage points lower on average than the vote share they received at the 2019 general election.  Self-evidently, such a drop doesn't happen as a result of Tory voters switching to Labour.  The only way it can happen is if SNP voters switch to other parties and/or move to the undecided column.

2) Many polls show that the extra voters Labour have picked up since 2019 have come more from the SNP than from unionist parties.  For example, in this week's Redfield & Wilton poll, the composition of Labour's current support is as follows - 

Only 49.6% actually voted Labour in 2019

27.1% voted SNP in 2019

9.3% voted Conservative in 2019

4.7% voted Liberal Democrat in 2019

0.4% voted Green in 2019

8.9% did not vote in 2019 (this probably includes people who were not eligible to vote because they were under 18 at the time)

So of the votes that have gone to Labour from other parties, the lion's share has come from the SNP - although admittedly the Ipsos poll showed a somewhat different pattern.

Or we can also look at this the other way round, and see what Redfield & Wilton are saying has happened to SNP voters from 2019.  These numbers are not directly comparable with the ones above, because undecideds haven't been stripped out.

How SNP voters from 2019 are planning to vote now:

SNP 61%
Labour 20%
Don't Know 9%
Liberal Democrats 3%
Greens 2%
Reform UK 2%
Alba 1%
Conservatives 1%
Won't Vote 1%

One thing that leaps out here is that Don't Knows reverting to their previous party between now and the election are unlikely to be a get-out-of-jail-free card for the SNP.  Although the 9% of SNP voters from 2019 who are now undecided are greater in number than the 4% of Labour voters from 2019 who are undecided, that gap is not big enough to plausibly make a transformative difference.  

It's tempting to say on these numbers that Labour are the SNP's only real problem, but in fact almost one-third of SNP voters who have switched to other parties have gone to parties other than Labour - it's just that this one-third are spread around fairly evenly.  Only a small number have gone to Alba, and as I've said before, if Alba are going to justify to the independence movement their decision to make a significant intervention in a first-past-the-post election, they need to start demonstrating that they're picking up substantial numbers of disgruntled former SNP voters who would otherwise be going to Labour or abstaining.  If it instead looks like Alba are just taking a very small percentage of people who would otherwise vote SNP, that's not going to look like a constructive intervention at all.

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Thursday, February 8, 2024

Don't Ski Back In Anger

A few days ago, I posted a critique of some polling analysis written by "Scottish Skier", formerly a regular in the comments section of this blog, and since 2021 a regular in the comments section of the Wee Ginger Dug blog.  Basically Skier claimed that the polls are completely wrong and that SNP voters have not been switching to Labour.  That's a very difficult claim to take seriously, given that even yesterday's Ipsos poll, which used a completely different data collection method from other polls, shows that the SNP lead over Labour is much smaller than it was at the last general election, and that a substantial 14% of people who voted SNP in 2019 are now planning to vote Labour.

I'm grateful to "Independence for Scotland" for alerting me to the fact that Skier has responded to my piece.  I took a look, and it really is quite an astoundingly angry and bitter reply.  Ironically, Skier has instantly resorted to what might be called the Bath'ist playbook.  He apparently has no plausible argument to offer against the critique, so instead he's tried to pathologise the critique by suggesting its very existence is evidence of "stalking" or of mental illness.  I'd just gently point out to him that he regularly posts what purports to be serious polling analysis in a prominent public space where it is presumably read by hundreds of people at the very least.  If you go down that road, you can reasonably expect your work may well be critiqued in other public spaces, and there's nothing unnatural or weird about that.  If the "stalking" schtick is a tactic to try to deter me from writing similar critiques in the future, I'm afraid it's likely to have precisely the opposite effect, as the Bath'ists themselves have previously discovered.

In his reply, Skier makes one specific claim about me that I can only describe as defamatory, and another claim that I'm highly dubious about.  The defamatory claim is that I was adjudged three years ago to have been guilty of a breach of contract.  That's a ludicrous allegation without any basis in fact whatsoever. I've actually seen the correspondence he's referring to, because he either sent it to me at the time or published it somewhere, and it quite simply does not contain the statement he claims it contains.  Nor does it contain anything that could even plausibly be construed in that way.

The claim I'm merely dubious about is Skier's suggestion that he put it to me that he and I should "team up for some joint work in the past when I used to post there, but he told me where to go".  I'm reluctant to call that a second outright lie, because I can't totally rule out the possibility that something like that happened and I've somehow completely forgotten about it, but I very much doubt that's the case.  In fact I distinctly remember that just a few weeks before he threw his toys out of the pram about me joining the Alba Party, I had been seriously considering asking him if he'd like to team up for multiple episodes of an election podcast about polling.  Although I've always thought some of his ideas about polling are a bit wacky and fantastical, he's neverthless an articulate and provocative character, and I thought a joint podcast might work quite well.  So if I was thinking along those lines, it seems pretty unlikely that I would have "told him where to go" if he had come to me with his own proposal.  Obviously my reaction would have depended on the exact nature of the proposal, but I very much doubt I would have said anything like "sod off", so what he's claiming just doesn't have the ring of truth to it at all.

What really does worry me, though, is that Skier goes on to double down on his claim that SNP voters haven't switched to Labour, because he can't think of any motivation for them to have done so.  Several other WGD commenters are in complete and vigorous agreement with him on that point. What it reminds me of is Tories who reject polls showing support for independence because "I never meet anyone who supports independence" or "I can't see any good reason why anyone rational would support independence".  Such claims always say much more about the people who make them - about their narrow-mindedness, their lack of imagination and empathy, or their limited social circle.

Anyone who thinks people can be expected to continue voting SNP by default (unless they have a reason for voting Labour that is strong enough to pass the "Skier test") is potentially in for a very rude awakening, and so I just hope the delusion doesn't extend to the SNP leadership itself.  Many voters actually have the opposite default setting in Westminster elections - they'd be inclined to vote either Labour or Tory, depending on who they want in Downing Street, and it takes something quite special to get them to consider any other party.  There have indeed been special circumstances over the last three general elections that have worked in the SNP's favour, but most of those have gone now.  For example, the SNP no longer have a leader who is far more liked and trusted than the counterparts from other parties. They're no longer up against a Labour party thought to have little or no chance of winning in England.  Their only real hope is to offset the loss of these advantages by making a strategic shift that can galvanise the Yes vote - and that has to mean a big and credible offer on independence.

I can at least thank Skier for one thing, though.  I genuinely burst into prolonged, uncontrollable laughter when I saw that he had said of me: "If he ever shows his findings via graphs etc, I’d be interested in a head’s up. I don’t know how any analysis can be sensibly presented without this."  Never let it be said that our noted graph enthusiast is a walking caricature or anything like that.  "If it's not in a graph, it doesn't exist!"

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Redfield & Wilton poll: support for independence holds up well at 48%, but doubts mount over whether it would be wise for Yousaf to lead the SNP into the general election, as his personal ratings plummet

After the unalloyed good news for the independence movement from the Ipsos telephone poll earlier today, the monthly Redfield & Wilton poll contains much less encouraging numbers, although they're not unrecoverable.  The one bright spot is that, yet again, Yes support is holding up astoundingly well in the circumstances - although, curiously, Redfield & Wilton's write-up tries to paint that as part of the bad news story!

Should Scotland be an independent country? (Redfield & Wilton, 3rd-4th February 2024)

Yes 48% (-1)
No 52% (+1)

In the Westminster voting intentions, Labour have moved from being level with the SNP in the last Redfield & Wilton poll to being one point ahead now.  That's only of symbolic importance, because they were also slightly ahead in the last-but-one poll, so the changes over the last couple of months have been statistically insignificant, and the likelihood is that public opinion has been fairly stable, with the SNP and Labour more or less level (assuming Redfield & Wilton's methodology is on the money), or possibly with Labour holding a very small lead.  

Scottish voting intentions for next UK general election:

Labour 34% (-1)
SNP 33% (-2)
Conservatives 18% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-1)
Reform UK 4% (+2)
Greens 2% (-)
Alba 1% (n/a)

Seats projection (with changes from 2019 general election): Labour 28 (+27), SNP 17 (-31), Conservatives 7 (+1), Liberal Democrats 5 (+1)

The problem for the SNP is that the voting system works firmly in Labour's favour when the two parties are level-pegging.  The SNP would need to be perhaps three or so points ahead to remain the largest single party in terms of seats, and more than that to retain their overall majority.  So as things stand, Redfield & Wilton undoubtedly have the SNP on course to lose the election, but not by much in the sense of the small percentage of votes that is actually swinging the balance.

How could the SNP claw back the very modest number of votes that would be required to squeeze out a win?  The obvious answer is a change of leadership.  Last month's Redfield & Wilton poll briefly offered some hope that Humza Yousaf was entering the territory of respectability in his personal ratings, perhaps due to his principled stance on the Gaza conflict.  But this month he's plummetted back down from -6 to a dismal -17, which leaves him twenty points behind the awful Keir Starmer, who inexplicably has a positive rating (+3).  With the best will in the world, that gap must be having an effect on how the SNP are faring against Labour.  Although Kate Forbes wasn't asked about in this poll, we know from previous polling that she is considerably more popular with the public than Yousaf, so there is a genuine remedy available if the SNP are smart and brave enough to take it.  SNP parliamentarians need to urgently get out of the mindset of thinking about what is best for their own faction, and start thinking about the steps needed to save their party from an avoidable disaster at the ballot box.

Even though Yousaf has usually trailed Anas Sarwar on net personal ratings, he's consistently led Sarwar on an alternative head-to-head question regularly asked by Redfield & Wilton about who would make the better First Minister.  Yousaf's cheerleaders ought to be particularly disturbed that he's now lost his lead on that question for the very first time.

At this moment, which of the following individuals do you think would be the better First Minister of Scotland?

Humza Yousaf (SNP): 33% (-)
Anas Sarwar (Labour): 33% (+2)

Even in the head-to-head against the spectacularly unpopular Douglas Ross, there isn't exactly a commanding lead for Yousaf - 

Humza Yousaf (SNP): 39% (-)
Douglas Ross (Conservatives): 28% (+2)

Yousaf also seems to be leading the SNP into dodgy enough territory in Scottish Parliament voting intentions that Labour would be on the brink of power...

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot:

SNP 35% (-2)
Labour 33% (+1)
Conservatives 18% (-)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-)
Greens 3% (-)
Reform UK 3% (+2)
Alba 1% (+1)

Scottish Parliament regional list ballot:

Labour 29% (-1)
SNP 27% (+2)
Conservatives 16% (-1)
Greens 9% (-2)
Liberal Democrats 9% (-1)
Reform UK 5%
Alba 3% (+1)

Seats projection (with changes from 2021 election): Labour 42 (+20), SNP 41 (-23), Conservatives 21 (-10), Liberal Democrats 12 (+8), Greens 10 (+2), Reform UK 3 (+3)

If a result like that occurred, the SNP probably wouldn't publicly give up on retaining power straight away, but their path to staying in office would in practice be non-existent.  There would be a clear unionist majority, and Labour would have the moral authority of being the largest single party.  The Tories probably wouldn't even have to actively vote for Anas Sarwar for him to become First Minister, because Labour and the Lib Dems in combination (54 seats) would outcount the SNP and Greens (51 seats).  As long as Sarwar could count on Lib Dem votes, all the Tories would have to do is abstain, and Sarwar would win.

It's also something of a shock to the system to see Reform UK on course to win multiple list seats, although better news is that Alba are on 3% of the list vote, putting them in the sort of zone where they might get a seat somewhere if they're lucky.

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Before we finish, a reminder that the Scot Goes Pop opinion poll fundraiser urgently needs a boost - let's not leave it in limbo for months.  It's important that not all Scottish opinion polling is commissioned by anti-independence clients - we need to make sure that occasionally questions are asked that Yes supporters want asked.  Donations can be made via the fundraiser page HERE.

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"We demand independence!": dramatic message from Scottish public as sensational new Ipsos TELEPHONE poll is FIFTH in a row to show outright majority for Yes

As I suspected from Kevin Pringle's retweet this morning, the new Ipsos telephone poll for STV News does indeed extend the unbroken sequence of Ipsos polls showing an outright pro-independence majority - it's now five in a row, or seven of the last eight.

Should Scotland be an independent country? (Ipsos / STV News, 25th-31st January 2024)

Yes 53% (-1)
No 47% (+1)

If rounded to one decimal place (a practice the Daily Express and the "press regulator" IPSO thoroughly approve of, let's not forget!) the numbers are even better - Yes 53.3%, No 46.7%.  The turnout filter has worked firmly in the favour of Yes, though - before that was applied, the lead was tighter.

Journalism is to a large extent about choosing priorities, about deciding for readers and viewers which stories and which aspects of stories are worthy of their attention, so I think a few eyebrows are going to be raised at how STV have framed this poll on their website.  The independence numbers are mentioned fleetingly, almost as an afterthought or as if they are of no great interest, and the Yes lead is dismissively described as "small".  Is a six point lead actually "small"?  Admittedly it's not overwhelming, it doesn't show a Yes camp which has surged out of sight, but I think "small" is pushing it.

STV could also have deemed the most interesting aspect of this poll to be the fact that it continues to show the SNP with some sort of cushion over Labour in Westminster voting intentions, which significantly undermines the narrative coming from practically all online polls that Labour have either wiped out the SNP lead or whittled it down to almost nothing.  But they've chosen not to make viewers aware of that context and have instead focussed almost entirely on the fact that Labour have slightly cut the deficit since the last Ipsos poll.

Scottish voting intentions for the next UK general election:

SNP 39% (-1)
Labour 32% (+2)
Conservatives 14% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 6% (-)
Greens 4% (+1)
Reform UK 3% (+2)
Alba 1% (-1)
Seats projection (with changes from 2019 general election): SNP 40 (-8), Labour 13 (+12), Liberal Democrats 2 (-2), Conservatives 2 (-4)

It's tempting to think that as the only telephone pollster active in Scotland at the moment, Ipsos may be more accurate than other firms, and that the above numbers may be a signal that the SNP could yet get out of jail and come through their current predicament with their status as majority party in Scotland, and third largest party in the Commons, intact.  That's certainly possible, but past history doesn't really tell us one way or the other.  The final Ipsos poll of 2019 was reasonably accurate but not really more so than other firms.  In 2017 Ipsos substantially overestimated the SNP lead - but then so did almost everyone else.

It should also be noted that even if Ipsos are right and other firms are wrong, the SNP would be left with very little in the way of a safety net.  Due to how the voting system works, any further slippage in their support would put them in line for very substantial seat losses and the likely loss of their majority.

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot:

SNP 39% (-)
Labour 30% (+3)
Conservatives 14% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 7% (-1)
Greens 6% (+2)
Alba 1% (-2)
Reform UK 1% (-)

Scottish Parliament regional list ballot:

SNP 33% (-)
Labour 31% (+5)
Conservatives 13% (-2)
Greens 11% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 7% (-1)
Reform UK 2% (+1)
Alba 1% (-1)

Seats projection (with changes from 2021 election): SNP 55 (-9), Labour 41 (+19), Conservatives 15 (-16), Greens 10 (+2), Liberal Democrats 8 (+4)

Incredibly, and completely out of line with what online polls have been showing of late, the seats projection suggests the pro-independence majority at Holyrood would be maintained, albeit only just.  Pro-independence parties in combination would have 65 seats, while the unionist parties would have 64.  So there's not much doubt that an SNP-led government would also be maintained on these numbers.

It shouldn't go unnoticed just how desperately bad this poll is for the Conservative party - they're in line to lose more than half of their Holyrood seats, and they've almost been overtaken by the Greens in the popular vote on the list ballot.

As you'd expect from a poll that still shows a substantial SNP lead, the data tables for the Westminster question show a strikingly different pattern of vote-switching from online polls that have reported a more even race.  The SNP have actually retained almost as big a proportion of their 2019 vote (75%) as Labour have (77%).  Just 14% of SNP voters from 2019 are now in the Labour column, which is only slightly bigger than the 13% of Labour voters from 2019 who now plan to vote SNP.  However, because far more people voted SNP in 2019 than voted Labour, that still means in absolute terms that around twice as many people have switched from SNP to Labour as have moved in the opposite direction.  

Another key difference with online polls is that the raw number of respondents who have moved from Conservative to Labour since the last general election (26) is almost as many as those who have moved from SNP to Labour (33).  Additionally, the percentage of 2014 Yes voters, and also of current Yes voters, who plan to vote Labour is smaller than online polls suggest at 17% and 14% respectively.  All in all, then, Ipsos are suggesting Labour's coalition of support remains a touch more unionist in character than we've seen in data tables from online polls.

Among Remain voters from the 2016 EU referendum, the SNP still lead Labour but only by 45% to 34%.  That's a bafflingly small gap given that Labour are now a firmly pro-Brexit party, and perhaps points to an area where the SNP could gain some traction if they change their campaign priorities and start aggressively reminding voters of what Labour's stance on Europe actually is.

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Before we finish, a reminder that the Scot Goes Pop opinion poll fundraiser urgently needs a boost - let's not leave it in limbo for months.  It's important that not all Scottish opinion polling is commissioned by anti-independence clients - we need to make sure that occasionally questions are asked that Yes supporters want asked.  Donations can be made via the fundraiser page HERE.

However if you have a Paypal account the best way to donate is via direct Paypal payment, because that can totally eliminate fees depending on which option you select, and payment usually comes through instantly.  My Paypal email address is:

Ipsos poll incoming - could it be a fifth Yes-majority poll in a row?

Back in the days of the indyref, the way you could tell a few hours in advance, and with a high degree of reliability, whether a poll was going to be favourable for Yes or for No was by looking at who retweeted the references to it.  If Kevin Pringle retweeted it, it would be good for Yes, or if someone like Ruth Davidson retweeted it, it would be good for No.

Earlier today, Emily Gray of Ipsos tweeted that her firm has a new Scottish poll coming out - I would guess this is one of the regular series of polls for STV News.  Kevin Pringle then retweeted her.  I hope I'm not tempting fate, but given that the last four Ipsos polls in a row, and indeed six of the last seven, have shown an outright Yes lead, it seems unlikely that Mr Pringle would retweet if that pattern hadn't been maintained.  However, he could of course be thinking more of the party political voting intention numbers, because the last Ipsos poll differed from most other firms by showing a substantial SNP lead for the general election.

It seems pretty likely that the poll will be good for either Yes or the SNP, or possibly both.  Time will tell - check back to Scot Goes Pop later today to find out.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

It's official: the Norstat independence poll has Yes drawing level on 50% of the vote

You might remember that about ten days ago, the Sunday Times published a poll from Norstat, which recently took over Panelbase.  On the independence question, it showed Yes closing the gap to just one percentage point before the exclusion of Don't Knows - which raised the obvious possibility that Yes might have drawn level at 50/50 on the rounded headline numbers after Don't Knows were stripped out.  However, it was impossible to know because for some reason the Sunday Times didn't bother to mention those numbers in their write-up of the poll (or they didn't as far as I could see).

I drew a blank when I initially looked for the Norstat data tables last week, but I've just found them, and the headline result is the one we were hoping for.

Should Scotland be an independent country?  (Norstat / Sunday Times, 22nd-25th January 2024)

Yes 50% (+2)
No 50% (-2)

Rounded to one decimal place, the figures are Yes 49.6%, No 50.4%.

I also couldn't find any sign of percentages for Alba in the Sunday Times write-up, which I had assumed meant that Alba weren't even offered as an option to respondents.  However, it turns out they were offered as an option on the Holyrood list question, and were on 3% of the vote.  It's difficult to know how to interpret that, because Panelbase typically produced more favourable results for Alba than other polling firms, often as high as 5% or 6%, so if Norstat have continued with exactly the same methodology as Panelbase, 3% should arguably be seen as a slightly disappointing result for Alba.  However, that's a very big "if".

Also of interest in the data tables is the further evidence of how complex Labour's coalition of support has become, which may prove to be a major problem for them either before or after the general election.  Among likely voters, no fewer than 25% of Yessers from 2014 are now planning to vote Labour, as are 19% of people who would vote Yes in a new referendum right now, and indeed 20% of people who voted SNP in the 2019 general election.  In terms of raw numbers, 54 respondents have switched from SNP to Labour since 2019, compared to only 28 who have switched from Tory to Labour.  We know from the independence question that many of those SNP-to-Labour switchers must still be pro-indy, which means Labour are actually more reliant on Yes voters than on unionists if they wish to make progress in this election.  That puts them in an awkward position given that their default setting is to pump out relentless Brit Nat propaganda which would be far more likely to appeal to former Tory voters.

Amusingly, it looks like the Sunday Times asked for a downright leading question to be asked as one of the supplementaries, but still didn't get the result they wanted or probably expected.  Respondents were asked if they would support the reintroduction of university tuition fees or a graduate tax "if it led to more university places for Scottish students", but even with that extremely strong nudge they still said no by a margin of 43% to 33%.

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Before we finish, a reminder that the Scot Goes Pop opinion poll fundraiser urgently needs a boost - let's not leave it in limbo for months.  It's important that not all Scottish opinion polling is commissioned by anti-independence clients - we need to make sure that occasionally questions are asked that Yes supporters want asked.  Donations can be made via the fundraiser page HERE.

However if you have a Paypal account the best way to donate is via direct Paypal payment, because that can totally eliminate fees depending on which option you select, and payment usually comes through instantly.  My Paypal email address is:

Monday, February 5, 2024

You reap what you sow - Starmer overreaches himself with his obsessive "antisemitism" smears against left-wingers, and ends up losing huge numbers of votes among the Muslim community

You'll probably have encountered the "It Was A Scam" hashtag on social media, referring to the deeply cynical but remarkably successful attempts of an establishment cabal to get false or wildly exaggerated allegations of antisemitism against left-wingers to stick in the public consciousness, with a view to bringing down a Corbyn leadership which couldn't be dislodged in any other way.  Keir Starmer's involvement in that process would make it richly ironic if it turned out that he overreached himself by thinking uncritical support for Israel is the passport to electoral success, and ultimately lost huge numbers of votes among Britain's Muslim community (much bigger than the Jewish community, remember) due to his stance on Gaza.

A new Survation poll of British Muslims commissioned by the Labour Muslim Network is being billed as the first hard proof that Starmer is indeed paying the penalty.  However, a touch of caution is called for here, because the poll is being reported in a misleading way.  It's being suggested that Labour's support has "halved" among Muslims since the general election, but that seems to compare the 86% support Labour actually received in the 2019 general election with a 43% figure in the poll before the exclusion of undecideds.  That's an apples-and-oranges comparison because there were no "undecided votes" in the general election.  

Once undecideds are removed, the Survation poll still shows a dramatic drop in Labour's vote among Muslims since 2019, but it's not quite the total collapse that is being suggested...

Labour 60%
Greens 14%
Liberal Democrats 9%
Conservatives 8%
SNP 4%

So that's actually around a twenty-six point drop for Labour since 2019.  There's not much doubt that Starmer's stance on Gaza is largely the culprit, because 85% of respondents say that the conflict in Gaza is important in determining how they will vote, and only 5% disagree.  Starmer also has a negative personal rating in the poll, with 40% regarding him unfavourably and only 29% favourably.

That said, Muslims only make up around 5% of the UK population, so a 26-point drop among Muslim voters equates to around a 1-point drop among voters as a whole.  So if you want to know why Muslim anger about Gaza hasn't really impacted the national polls, that's the reason.  The dangers for Labour are that the anger about Gaza will extend to large swathes of non-Muslim voters, perhaps particularly in the student population as we saw after the Iraq War, and also that disproportionate geographical concentrations of Muslims could lead to Labour losing specific seats under first-past-the-post.

In case you're wondering, there's no published Scottish subsample in the poll - Survation have crudely split the sample into "London", "North West [of England]", "Yorkshire and the Humber", "West Midlands", and "Other", with Scotland being lumped into the latter.  Which is really odd, because the SNP at 4% of the GB-wide vote implies significant numbers of respondents were from Scotland.

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Before we finish, a reminder that the Scot Goes Pop opinion poll fundraiser urgently needs a boost - let's not leave it in limbo for months.  It's important that not all Scottish opinion polling is commissioned by anti-independence clients - we need to make sure that occasionally questions are asked that Yes supporters want asked.  Donations can be made via the fundraiser page HERE.

However if you have a Paypal account the best way to donate is via direct Paypal payment, because that can totally eliminate fees depending on which option you select, and payment usually comes through instantly.  My Paypal email address is:

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Ski Sunday (again)

There are probably some Scot Goes Pop readers who haven't been here long enough to know that Scottish Skier, one of the regulars who dominate the Wee Ginger Dug comments section, used to be a regular on the Scot Goes Pop comments section instead.  He 'defected' to WGD in 2021 after throwing his toys out of the pram because I joined the Alba Party without his permission.  (That sounds like a joke but it's actually more or less true!)  However, "Independence for Scotland" has kept us updated on Skier's somewhat exotic ongoing output over the last three years, and I was startled to learn today that he's apparently been claiming that SNP voters have not actually been drifting to Labour at all, and that the collapse of the SNP lead in the opinion polls is therefore a mirage.

Now, to be clear, I would be only too delighted if that was true.  We need Labour to be defeated in this general election and we need to maintain a pro-independence majority among Scottish seats at Westminster.  I have no time at all for the crazy notion that what pro-independence voters should be doing at the election is "getting rid of useless SNP MPs".  However, delusionalism is not going to help SNP MPs retain their seats.  We have to be clear-sighted about how serious this crisis is if we're to have any chance of resolving it.

The evidence that a significant minority of former SNP voters have moved to Labour is plain as day.  Skier vaguely claims that SNP voters are going missing in the polls and that the weightings somehow show this, but in fact in the latest Survation poll, the unweighted number of respondents who recall voting SNP in 2019 is pretty close to being in line with the correct figure, and thus not much weighting has had to be applied.  Once the turnout filter has been added, 69% of SNP voters from 2019 have kept faith with the party, while 21% have gone to Labour.  By contrast, Labour have retained 90% of their 2019 voters and lost only 8% to the SNP (the latter group probably includes a fair few disillusioned Corbynistas).  

Because far more people voted SNP in 2019 than voted Labour, the 21% of SNP voters who have since switched to Labour amounts to more than six times as many actual people as the 8% of Labour voters who have moved in the opposite direction.  So it's not rocket science as to why the SNP lead has contracted in some polls, and disappeared altogether in others.  Instead of pretending this hasn't happened (real votes in the Rutherglen by-election give the lie to that anyway), the SNP would be better advised to make the strategic changes required to win some of those voters back as a matter of urgency.

Plaid Cymru on course to win two key constituencies, according to Survation polling

When I was looking for the data tables of Survation's new Scottish poll a couple of days ago, I stumbled across something really interesting.  Plaid Cymru have commissioned two constituency-level polls from Survation which shows themselves on course to win two tough and competitive seats at the general election.

Ynys Môn:

Plaid Cymru 39%
Labour 27%
Conservatives 26%
Reform UK 4%
Liberal Democrats 1%


Plaid Cymru 30%
Conservatives 24%
Labour 24% 
Independent - Edwards 10%
Reform UK 4%
Liberal Democrats 4%

The Ynys Môn figures seem almost too good to be true, because at Westminster level Plaid Cymru haven't held the constituency since 2001.  It was Labour held between 2001 and 2019, and it's been Tory since 2019.  You'd think with the current Labour surge that it would be Labour's for the taking, but the poll almost seems to depict a parallel world in which the Tories are proving resilient enough to conveniently split the non-Plaid vote right down the middle.

In Carmarthen, it looks from the list of candidates that Plaid face the particular problem of the man who was elected as their MP in 2019 standing against them this time as an independent.  So, again, it would be remarkable if the Labour/Tory vote conveniently split in such an even way that Plaid were still able to win.  Constituency polling has a track record of being less reliable than national polling, so perhaps we should be a bit sceptical about the above numbers, but on the face of it they're very encouraging.

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Before we finish, a reminder that the Scot Goes Pop opinion poll fundraiser urgently needs a boost - let's not leave it in limbo for months.  It's important that not all Scottish opinion polling is commissioned by anti-independence clients - we need to make sure that occasionally questions are asked that Yes supporters want asked.  Donations can be made via the fundraiser page HERE.

However if you have a Paypal account the best way to donate is via direct Paypal payment, because that can totally eliminate fees depending on which option you select, and payment usually comes through instantly.  My Paypal email address is: