Saturday, June 15, 2024

Monumental boost for the SNP's election campaign as Survation MRP projection has them on course for an OVERALL MAJORITY of Scottish seats

Survation MRP projection of GB seat tallies (29 is the target for the SNP to win a majority in Scotland):

Labour 456
Conservatives 72
Liberal Democrats 56
SNP 37
Reform UK 7
Plaid Cymru 2
Greens 1

This wouldn't just be a majority for the SNP - it would slightly exceed their performance in 2017 and would thus be their third best general election in history.

This will, I suspect, sound too good to be true to some people.  I don't know whether that's really the case, but I'll run through the caveats - 

* To generate numbers like this, the SNP would need to be several points ahead in the Scotland-wide popular vote. No conventional poll in the campaign so far has shown them in the lead, although the last two have had them either level with Labour or almost level.

* Survation's fieldwork took place over a two-week period and therefore some of it isn't very recent.

* YouGov have more experience with MRP than Survation, and YouGov's first projection was less rosy for the SNP than Survation's.

* We don't know whether the football result last night will create a 1978-style "feel bad about Scotland" effect which might benefit British Nationalist parties like Labour. However, I know many psephologists are highly sceptical about the claims of election results being affected by sport. (For example, England's defeat to West Germany in the quarter-finals of the 1970 World Cup is supposed to have cost Harold Wilson the 1970 general election, but there's no real evidence to support that.)

The Britain-wide numbers are no less extraordinary than the Scottish ones, and if taken literally could herald the biggest change in the UK party system for one hundred years, ie. since the Labour party replaced the Liberals in the duopoly over the course of the 1920s. It's possible that Ed Davey of the Liberal Democrats could end up as Leader of the Opposition, it's possible that Nigel Farage of Reform UK could, it's not even totally impossible that Stephen Flynn of the SNP could if something very weird happens.  There's also a potential scenario in which the SNP remain the third largest party in the Commons because the Tories slump to fourth.

*  *  *

I've previewed the constituency race in Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale for The National - you can read the piece HERE.

URGENT: Make sure the independence supporters in your life are registered to vote by Tuesday evening, and then make sure they have the right type of photo ID

So it's getting to that stage of proceedings already - if there are any independence supporters in your life who may not be registered to vote yet, you have only a few days left to persuade them to do the deed. The deadline to register is midnight on Tuesday evening, although the good news is that it can be done online and should only take a few minutes. The link to send people to is HERE.

Off the top of my head, there are at least four categories of people who may be particularly worth checking with to see if they're registered: a) anyone who has moved house in recent years, b) anyone who has turned 18 since the last election, c) students, and d) independence supporters who live abroad but are British citizens. Ex-pats are eligible to vote but are perhaps particularly unlikely to be registered.  After they register, they can then either apply for a postal vote or a proxy vote.

For people who want to vote in person on 4th July, registering may only be the first step, because they also need to make sure they have an acceptable type of photo ID and bring it with them on the day.  The list of accepted types of ID is as long as your arm, but the crucial point is that not all forms of photo ID are accepted, so people may actually need to check that list.  Probably the first thing to ask is whether someone has a passport or a photo driving licence, and if they don't have either, they'll need to dig a bit further. If it turns out they don't have the right sort of ID, send them to this link to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate.  The deadline to do that is 5pm on 26th June.  (But remember the deadline to register to vote is 18th June!)

The Tories have declared war on democracy by introducing the photo ID requirement.  There's no doubt that they will succeed in preventing some people from exercising their right to vote. Our task is to ensure those people are as few in number as possible.

I've always been opposed to complusory ID cards because I don't want to live in a "show us your papers" society.  I was opposed to the Fixed Term Parliaments Act because I think five years between general elections is too long, and fixed terms exacerbated that problem.  But there's no doubt that in a country without ID cards, it is absolutely bloody outrageous to spring an election on people at just a few weeks' notice and still expect them to have photo ID organised in time.  We'll just have to do our best.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Is it Julie Etchingham that has the anti-Palestinian agenda, or is it her bosses?

When ITV and the BBC first announced that they intended to rig the only genuine leaders' debates of the campaign by totally excluding all but two parties, one of the concerns that was raised was that this would prevent proper scrutiny on the issue of Gaza, because the two hand-picked parties were largely in lockstep.  Rishi Sunak had told Benjamin Netanyahu, now wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, that "we want you to win", while Keir Starmer had infamously said "Israel does have the right" to cut off food, water and electricity to the people of Gaza - precisely one of the war crimes Netanyahu faces prosecution for.

Nevertheless, the issue of Gaza did sneak into the ITV debate last week thanks to an audience member asking a question on it.  But then something odd happened. Before either Sunak or Starmer could answer, the ITV moderator Julie Etchingham effectively froze the debate so that she could 'explain' the question. That effectively entailed her reframing the question and turning it into a radically different question that was about the "Hamas terrorist atrocities of October 7th", when it was perfectly clear from his wording that the questioner was primarily asking about Israel's genocidal actions in Gaza.

But that was as nothing compared to the oddity of Etchingham's behaviour on last night's ITV debate between leading figures (ie. not necessarily leaders) of the seven largest parties, a format that should have belatedly allowed scrutiny of Labour and the Tories on Gaza.  Each paticipant was allowed to select one other participant to ask a question to, and until the SNP's Stephen Flynn was called, they were always allowed to ask a follow-up question after they heard the answer.  But because Flynn's question to Angela Rayner was about whether Labour would stop arms sales to Israel, Etchingham didn't allow him a follow-up. Instead she launched into yet another weird monologue "thanking" Flynn for his "important" question, which she decided for him had actually been about the terrorist atrocities of Hamas and Israel's "military operation" thereafter (apparently only Hamas can commit atrocities, and when Israel do it, the carnage takes the form of a much more orderly "military operation").  As thrilled as Flynn must have been with the thanks, he probably would have preferred that the extensive time taken up by the thanks had instead been used to give him the follow-up question he was entitled to.  He might, of course, have used that question to introduce words like "genocide" and "collective punishment" into the debate, which a cynic might suspect is the reason Etchingham didn't allow him to ask it.

Is it Etchingham herself who has the anti-Palestinian agenda, or is it her bosses barking instructions into her earpiece?

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Dramatic YouGov poll: SNP lead in Scottish subsample, Labour slump to 37% GB-wide, and Reform UK overtake the Tories to move into second place

GB-wide voting intentions (YouGov)

Labour 37% (-1)
Reform UK 19% (+2)
Conservatives 18% (-)
Liberal Democrats 14% (-1)
Greens 7% (-1)
SNP 3% (+1)
Plaid Cymru 1% (-)

Scottish subsample: SNP 34%, Labour 31%, Liberal Democrats 12%, Conservatives 9%, Reform UK 7%, Greens 5%

The Scottish subsample is reassuring but only up to a point, Lord Copper - there was a substantial Labour lead in the YouGov subsample on Tuesday, and it would probably be more realistic to average the two.  However, large successive Labour leads would have been deeply concerning, so in that sense this result is a major relief.

The most interesting aspect of Reform UK's breakthrough into second place is its potential psychological impact.  Could that in itself encourage more people to vote for them and accelerate the Tory meltdown?

As for Labour, they're now several points below the vote share Jeremy Corbyn recorded in the 2017 general election.  Starmer may have changed Labour since the Corbyn era but not, it would seem, in a way that has made the party more popular.  He's also threatening Tony Blair's record for the lowest winning vote share in any general election ever (35% in 2005).

Labour's GB-wide vote does now seem to be genuinely dropping - so will it matter?

On Tuesday, a GB-wide YouGov poll was published which somehow managed to be bad for absolutely everyone apart from Farage's mob and the Liberal Democrats.  Notably, it had Labour below 40% of the vote for the first time in any public opinion poll since at least the turn of the year.  People were quick to dismiss it as an outlier, and of course we have to remember that YouGov have been at pains to point out that they've changed their methodology in a way that slightly reduces the reported Labour vote.  But looking at tonight's batch of fresh polls, it does look very much like Labour's vote has genuinely dipped.  There's another sub-40 vote share for Labour from People Polling, who had the party at 46% in their most recent poll in mid-May.

This would matter tremendously if the UK had a proportional representation voting system as the vast majority of European countries do, and indeed as the UK's own devolved parliaments and assemblies do.  But since general elections are actually conducted by first-past-the-post, it may matter a lot less, because by far the most important thing is the gap between the first placed and second placed party, and that remains enormous.  What seems to be happening is that Farage's return as Reform UK leader has eaten into both the Tory and Labour votes simultaneously - which makes perfect sense, because Labour's coalition of support over the last two or three years has included a lot of Brexit supporters who may be traditionally Labour, but who have previously voted for UKIP and the Brexit Party, and who voted Tory for the first time under Boris Johnson in 2019. 

And yet the above logic only holds true if the Tories remain the second most popular party, or if the Tories and Reform UK remain roughly evenly matched in a distant joint second place.  There's a 90%+ likelihood that this will be a routine landslide win for Labour, but with the trajectory we're seeing, the possibility of something unusual happening can't be excluded.  If the wheels really come off for the Tories, and if Reform UK surge into a clear and strong second place, and if Labour lose support on their left flank to the Greens, the SNP and the numerous independents who are challenging them in key seats, there's just a chance we could yet end up with a competitive election.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Sensation as Opinium join the party by showing the SNP just ONE point behind

In spite of the Ipsos poll showing the SNP level, I was becoming a tad despondent about the general election this morning. I'd had a look at YouGov's latest Scottish subsample which showed a really big Labour lead, and although the margin of error on that was enormous, it did appear to make it less likely that the SNP had made any progress during the campaign so far.  The Ipsos poll didn't change that equation, because as I pointed out a few days ago, Ipsos telephone polls have consistently been more favourable for the SNP than online polls from other firms, so level-pegging in an Ipsos poll would tend to correlate with a Labour lead in other polls.

For that reason, today's new poll from Opinium is the more significant of the two, because it's the best result for the SNP in an online poll since the election was called, and offers some hope that they may actually be getting somewhere in this campaign.

Scottish voting intentions for the UK general election (Opinium):

Labour 35%
SNP 34%
Conservatives 14%
Liberal Democrats 8%
Reform UK 5%
Greens 4%

* * *

I've previewed two more constituency races for The National - Cowdenbeath and Kirkcaldy, and my home constituency of Cumbernauld and Kirkintilloch. I can't find the latter in the main part of the website, but it's in today's print edition, or the digital edition if you're a subscriber.

SNP *level* with Labour in crucial Ipsos telephone poll

SNP 36%
Labour 36%
Conservatives 13% 
Liberal Democrats 5%  
Reform UK 4% 
Greens 3%

More details and analysis to follow...

Monday, June 10, 2024

Multi-talented Douglas Ross in line for leading industry award for "most inventive method of throwing a winnable seat away"

I can only assume the announcement of Douglas Ross' pre-resignation as leader is intended to shore up the Tory vote, but I'm not sure it will have that effect - or at least not in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East, where he has cretinously taken advantage of the popular incumbent's ill health to appoint himself as a replacement candidate at the last minute.  Essentially the announcement just confirms that Ross' selfish behaviour was not considered acceptable even by the Tory party, and that being the case, voters in the constituency will surely be asking themselves why they should consider this guy remotely acceptable as their local MP.  The SNP are by no means certain to win the seat, because they have their own obvious challenges in trying to hold on to their voters from last time, but nevertheless I'd have thought their chances are considerably better than they otherwise would have been.

Even in other constituencies, this development creates a problem for the Tories, because more than at any previous election, potential Tory voters will be totally in the dark about what they're really being asked to vote for.  The Scottish Tory leadership is to all intents and purposes vacant, and the same can effectively be said for the UK Tory leadership, because Sunak will not survive the crushing defeat that is coming his way.

Who could possibly replace Ross on the Throne of Doom?  Could it be Murdo Fraser's day in the sun at long last?  Would they dare risk Meghan Gallacher?  Will they bore us into submission with Rachael Hamilton?  Surely not a Jackson Carlaw restoration comedy?

* * *

I've previewed the constituency race in Coatbridge and Bellshill for The National - you can read it HERE.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

If Alba are serious about "mobilising the independence vote", it would help if they put out a clear recommendation for voters to back the SNP or another pro-indy party in seats where there is no Alba candidate

Nominations for the general election have closed, so the die is now cast.  I was hoping Alba wouldn't stand as many as nineteen candidates in a first-past-the-post election, but on the other hand I'm relieved they're not standing any more than nineteen, which at one point seemed entirely possible.  So we'll now see how the strategy plays out.  I've been to enough Alba events over recent weeks to know that the candidates have clearly had it drilled into them that if anyone challenges them over splitting the pro-independence vote, their answer must be that they are not splitting it, they are mobilising it, and will be taking votes from disillusioned former SNP voters who would otherwise be staying at home or voting Labour.  

The obvious counter-argument is that it may be pretty much impossible to run on a strong independence platform without also taking votes directly from the SNP.  So as Sheena Wellington said in the comments section of The National the other day (I'm not sure if it was *the* Sheena Wellington), it may be that Alba are both mobilising and splitting the Yes vote at the same time.

There's also the question of what happens in the thirty-seven constituencies where there is no Alba or Alba-backed candidate. There's not much use in mobilising the independence vote in one-third of constituencies if you effectively demobilise it in the other two-thirds.  Surely that's a very real danger if your campaign is relentlessly negative towards the SNP and if you paint the SNP as not really being a pro-independence party at all.  The message you're indirectly sending to pro-independence voters in those other thirty-seven constituencies is that perhaps they should stay at home, which would be absolutely disastrous.

It would be really helpful if Alba put out a clear message that, in spite of their misgivings, they think voters should back the SNP or another pro-independence party in seats where there is no Alba candidate.

* * *

I've previewed the constituency race in Central Ayrshire for The National - you can read the piece HERE.

A plea for some tech advice, or for practical advice on where to get tech help

I apologise for doing this, but I've got myself into a right old technological pickle, and it's important enough that I don't want to muck around and make matters worse, particularly in the middle of a general election campaign when I'm blogging constantly.  I'm guessing Scot Goes Pop has got a big enough readership that there must be some knowledgeable person out there who can point me in the right direction and make sure I don't make any further missteps.

My laptop has been broken for ages, and I've been putting off replacing it because of the expense. I do have a desktop computer at home, but in practice I've been using my phone for blogging most of the time.  A few months ago, the thin part of the phone containing the screen (maybe I should be just calling it "the screen" but I don't know if there's more to it than that) somehow became semi-detached from the rest of the phone, but strangely the phone and the screen were both still working. So I used sellotape to keep the thing in one piece, and that worked for quite a long time.  But then typing on the phone started to become a major problem, and I assumed that was because the sellotape was interfering with the touchscreen. So in desperation I took the tape off a few days ago, and the typing problem was solved, but inevitably I eventually moved the phone in the wrong way, the detachment became worse, and the screen stopped working completely.  In my frantic attempts to get it working again, I must have accidentally triggered some sort of emergency function.  A siren went off, and the phone called 999 of its own accord. With the screen not working I had absolutely no way of ending the call or switching the phone off, so I just had to apologise and ask the person on the other end of the line to hang up.

Obviously at this point I'm on the brink of giving in to the inevitable and buying a new phone, but the problem doesn't end there.  While all of this had been going on, the storage on the phone had run out, and me being me, I wasn't proactive enough in dealing with the issue.  That's why anyone who has tried to contact me by WhatsApp over the last two weeks or so won't have had much luck.  I should have just swapped the SD card so I could transfer files away from the internal storage, but there's so much on the SD card that I didn't really want to take it out and risk losing it.  So I was thinking more in terms of transferring files onto a memory stick, but I found that when I tried to connect the phone to the desktop computer, the USB connection wasn't working properly (possibly because of the semi-detachment of the phone) and the computer told me there were no files on the phone at all.  I then tried to use Bluetooth but I couldn't get it to connect.  I then tried to transfer files to Google Drive so I could then put them on a memory stick, but the phone wouldn't let me transfer to Google Drive.

Because all the files were still there, I assumed I'd be able to sort something out at a later date, but now that the phone has conked out completely, that looks like a naive expectation.  In order to cope with the storage problem, I had been swapping files back and forth between the SD card and the internal storage. That means there are a tonne of truly irreplaceable files on the internal storage only.  Some of them may be backed up, but certainly not all of them. From what I've read, phones don't have a 'hard drive' from which files can be easily retrieved, so the only hope may be to get the phone itself repaired.

Unless someone can suggest a miracle technical fix, I suppose my question is: where can I take the phone where there might be a realistic chance of a successful repair, rather than a botched job that would finish it off for good? I live in Cumbernauld, but obviously I can go to Glasgow if needs be.  If anyone has any sound advice (no trolling this time, please!) I'd be grateful if you leave a comment below or email me at: