Friday, April 5, 2024

Two queries

Someone claimed on the previous thread that there was a new poll out today showing the SNP on 49 seats.  That seemed highly unlikely, and having checked I couldn't see anything.  I then made five or six attempts to respond to the comment by asking if people were just inventing numbers at this point in the hope that no-one would bother checking.  But I couldn't get my comment published.  I don't know if the bug is at my end or if it's affecting everyone.  I was going to ask people to let me know if they were having the same problem, but of course if they are, it would be difficult to tell me!  You could always email me.  And if anyone has seen this mysterious poll, please let me know about that too.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

YouGov MRP poll shows SNP on course to lose almost thirty seats, piling pressure on Yousaf to go, or to end factional rule, or to change strategy on independence

I'll try to update this after I've had a chance to look at the details more, but I gather that the SNP's share of the vote in the YouGov MRP poll is very similar to their share of the vote in the Survation MRP poll, which had them on course for over 40 seats.  This underscores the point I made the other day about how there's a very narrow band of results in popular vote terms that could see the SNP winning anything between 12 and 45 seats.

YouGov MRP seats projection:

Labour 403
Conservatives 155
Liberal Democrats 49
SNP 19
Plaid Cymru 4
Greens 1

Ross Colquhoun, who as far as I know is still an SNP strategist, reacted to the much more favourable Survation numbers by trotting out the new mantra: "This shows that Labour don't need seats in Scotland to win."  As inspiring pitches go, that's right up there with "OK I know you don't fancy me anymore but at least I don't beat you up" or "I know you're sending me to the clink, your honour, but let's keep it down to a few years".  It's ultra-defensive and tacitly concedes that Scottish voters want a Labour government, which is a mindset that is going to make it very difficult to persuade people not to vote Labour.  What the SNP need to do is give people the choice of independence and convince them that independence is the change we all need, rather than a Labour government that will barely change anything at all.

The SNP could also do with a new leader who doesn't have heavily negative net approval ratings, or failing that they need Humza Yousaf to end factional rule by bringing Kate Forbes and one or two of her key supporters into senior ministerial positions.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Fresh despair for Labour as Anas Sarwar finishes third behind Humza Yousaf *and Douglas Ross* in a "who would be the best First Minister" poll

It's more than a touch ironic that the closest thing Humza Yousaf has had to a good personal showing in an opinion poll has just arrived courtesy of a poll commissioned by the Alba Party.  The reason that Alba have decided to release the numbers is presumably that they're also reasonably good for Alex Salmond.

Who would make the best First Minister? (Find Out Now / Alba Party, 18th-24th March 2024):

Humza Yousaf (SNP) 25.8%
Douglas Ross (Conservatives) 18.2%
Anas Sarwar (Labour) 17.1%
Alex Salmond (Alba) 15.4%
Lorna Slater (Greens) 8.5%
Patrick Harvie (Greens) 8.0%
Alex Cole-Hamilton (Liberal Democrats) 7.0%

These numbers aren't directly comparable to other polls we've seen over the last year.  The reason both Humza Yousaf and Alex Salmond usually have poor personal ratings is that the respondents who dislike them are subtracted from those who like them to produce a net approval rating.  But this poll has a different format that doesn't take account of negative views, it just ranks the leaders in the order of the percentage of people who view them most positively.  So it doesn't indicate that anything has changed, it's just a different way of looking at the situation.

Although Alex Salmond would have been horrified to be in fourth place if this was ten years ago, the reason this result can be regarded as encouraging for him is that his 15.4% support is more than double the percentage of list votes that would be required for Alba to win a decent number of Holyrood seats in 2026.  Conversely, although Yousaf's 25.8% puts him top of the pile, it's a lower percentage than would be needed for the SNP to have a good election result.  As many as 22% of SNP voters from 2019 think Alex Salmond would be the best First Minister, while Yousaf doesn't even quite manage double that (43.4%).

So the real comfort for the SNP in these numbers does not lie in Yousaf's showing but in Anas Sarwar's.  Labour will surely be dismayed to see their man languish behind not only Yousaf but also the hapless Douglas Ross.  And he's only just barely ahead of Alex Salmond.

*  *  *

I'm obviously not a fan of JK Rowling after her harmful intervention in the indyref. But yesterday she posted a thread about some of the most controversial trans women, and dared the police to arrest her for it when she arrives back in Scotland.  The columnist Kelly Given reacted by calling Rowling the "most boring human being in the country surely".  Well, it does seem unlikely that the most boring person in the country would have been able to dream up the Harry Potter universe, but what Rowling was actually doing was very usefully setting some boundaries for the interpretation of the Hate Crime Act.  If she dares the police to arrest her and they don't (and they're very unlikely to because of her fame), it becomes much harder for them to later arrest an ordinary member of the public in similar circumstances.  If, as the Scottish Government and its supporters claim, the Hate Crime Act is not intended as an assault on free speech, they should be grateful to Rowling for such a vivid and immediate demonstration that legitimate debate on the trans issue will be able to carry on unimpeded.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Let's get the awkwardness out of the way - I have a new title

Not everything in life makes sense, and one example is that Scottish political bloggers seem to be judged by their clerical titles, or lack thereof.  Stuart Campbell has styled himself a "Reverend" since entering the fray a decade ago, and although he's always insisted that's a genuine title, he's nevertheless been coy about how he acquired it.  A Google search suggests the answer may be the "Universal Life Church", which bills itself as "the world's leading online church" (whatever that means), and which allows anyone to be ordained as a priest within minutes simply by filling in a form.  No fee is even required.

The suggestion that Campbell's title comes from this rather dubious source was made several years ago by a well-known Brit Nat troublemaker.  But I can't find anything that contradicts it, and it has the ring of truth to it, because it's hard to think of any other religious denomination that wouldn't have cast Campbell out of the priesthood long before now due to his repeated foul-mouthed tirades.  The Universal Life Church has no standing whatever in the UK, but it does have limited recognition in the US, and there are a few US states that for some reason even recognise marriages conducted by its "Reverends".  So if you want to live in wedded bliss but only in Texas or South Carolina, Stu is your man.

Naturally I couldn't allow myself to be outdone by this, so I had a look to see if the Universal Life Church also offer titles that outrank a Reverend, such as Bishop, Cardinal or Pope.  I couldn't see any sign that they do, so I looked elsewhere.  There actually are plenty of "online churches" out there that offer an array of ranks, but most of them have no legal standing anywhere in the world.  What I was looking for was a church that allows its clergy to officiate at legally recognised weddings, even if only within a very limited jurisdiction.

As is often the case in situations like this, the answer was to be found in the South Pacific.  There is a small church, consisting of little more than a webpage, called the Pirate Mercator Communion.  It nominally worships the sea, and it seems to have a cosy financial arrangement with the government of the Cook Islands.  Anyone it ordains can indeed conduct weddings, but only in the Cook Islands.  Crucially it also allows anyone to become a Bishop for a nominal fee of 17 New Zealand dollars.

Reader, the deed is already done.  On Wednesday, I was ordained as a priest (by email) and on Thursday I was consecrated as a Bishop (by Zoom call, but it only took three minutes).  The fantastic thing is that I was able to select my own Bishopric, and although most of Scotland had already been nabbed, I was able to put together a distinctly squiggly looking and non-contiguous Bishopric consisting of Speyside, Tranent, Yetts o' Muckhart, Milngavie and approximately five-eighths of Benbecula.

I am advised that the correct form of address for a Bishop is "Your Excellency" or "Your Grace".  Suck it up, Stu.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Astounding Survation mega-poll suggests the SNP will win more than two-thirds of Scottish seats - and retain outright third place in the House of Commons

Happy Hate Crime Eve, everyone.  (And it's Easter too, apparently.)  I'll just very quickly give you the MRP seats projection from Survation's new mega-poll for the Sunday Times -

Labour 468 (+265)
Conservatives 98 (-267)
SNP 41 (-7)
Liberal Democrats 22 (+11)
Plaid Cymru 2 (-2)

That would obviously be a quite astonishing achievement for the SNP - they would have made Scotland the only place in Britain to resist the enormous Labour tide, they would hold the vast majority of their current seats, they would retain majority status among Scottish seats, they would hold off the Liberal Democrats to retain overall third place in the Commons (thus retaining Stephen Flynn's weekly questions at PMQs), and they would wipe out the Tories in Scotland.

If that sounds a bit too good to be true, it may well be.  In popular vote terms, there is a very narrow band of results that would have the SNP at 40+ seats at one end of the band, but on 15 or fewer at the other end.  When we see the data tables from this poll, it may turn out that the SNP are nestling at the favourable end of that narrow band, in which case they're still in considerable peril.  Remember also that Survation have tended to be more SNP-friendly than some other polling firms since Humza Yousaf became leader.