As alert readers will know, we’re slacking off a bit over the holiday weekend, although today we’re hoping to combine pleasure with business – more on that later.
But we’d also like to have a go at getting you to do some work for us.
We’ve yet to hear of a single public debate where Yes/No polls were taken at the start and the end which HASN’T resulted in a swing towards Yes. Here’s a recent example, from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh a few weeks ago.
(The introductory waffle goes on for about 17 minutes if you want to skip past it.)
It may help to explain why Yes Glasgow are still having very a hard time getting “Better Together” to send a representative for a major debate in Scotland’s biggest city.
The estimable James Kelly of Scot Goes Pop! wrote an excellent blog post the other day deconstructing a laughably skewed and leading poll which was commissioned by “Better Together” this month.
Blair McDougall’s Beleaguered Billy Boys, as hardly anyone calls them, had loudly and bizarrely trumpeted figures which actually showed a 6% swing to Yes, but that wasn’t the thing we found most interesting in their press release.
The poll question had in fact offered respondents a forced choice between two options: independence or “Scotland remaining part of the UK with increased powers for the Scottish Parliament”. (Which meant, among many other quirks which made the findings nonsensical, that the roughly 10% of people who want Holyrood abolished altogether got lumped in with the “increased powers” side as the least-worst option.)
We’ve already learned what BT mean by “increased powers” – the piddly and trivial ones enshrined by the Scotland Act 2012, rather than any dramatic new settlement from any of the Unionist parties, but the jarring part of the release is the twisting of that already-twisted wording to mean “stronger”.
Because a stronger Scottish Parliament is the LAST thing the No parties want, and you only have to spend a minute thinking about it to figure out why.
When you’ve been wading in the Scottish and UK media for two and a half years, it’s easy to develop a siege mentality and believe that the entire rest of the world buys into its cataclysmic view of independence. So it’s a relief when you realise that beyond the borders of Britain, most people are calm, rational and practical about the prospect.
We’re going to take things a little bit easy over the holiday weekend, so why not relax and both read the article we’ve linked in paragraph 1 and watch the above discussion between some learned international gentlemen (including Scotland’s own Professor James Mitchell) at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC for a slightly less apocalyptic view of a world with an independent Scotland in it?
Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer, 8 April 2007:
“With fewer than 30 days until the elections, Labour is displaying its nerves by sounding increasingly hysterical about the prospect of an SNP government. When they did their rather grim double-act in Glasgow, the Prime Minister and Chancellor came laden with apocalyptic predictions about the consequences of a nationalist victory.
Watching the Prime Minister and his heir-presumptive issue dire warnings about tax bombshells and the Union in danger is to witness one of those bizarre transmogrifications that can happen in politics. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are turning into John Major.”
Imagine if they were still trying that stuff seven years later, eh readers?
This is the new “positive” campaign poster from “Better Together”:
There’s a lie in the picture, but it’s probably not the one you think.
The Scottish media displays such a remarkable uniformity of thought when it comes to the independence debate that you’d think it’d be the easiest thing in the world for them to at least all get their story straight when they launch a smear campaign against a prominent Yes figure.
That, however, would presuppose that they weren’t also incompetent.
“Sod it”, we thought, “let’s compile a list after all“.
Clearly we’re not impartial judges of how the No campaign is being conducted. To assess its performance with any degree of fairness, we must instead take the widest possible sample of opinion from those on its own side. Here goes, then.
Remember, readers, how last year “Better Together” tried to ridicule the fact that we’d put a satirical line about “space monsters” into one of the questions in our first Panelbase poll? Remember how it was the most absurd, stupid thing imaginable?
That was the UK Secretary of State for Defence, yesterday.
We honestly don’t understand how anyone with electricity in their house or a newsagent anywhere within a 30-mile radius can possibly come to say things like this:
“[Independence] is a view not shared by IT teacher Elaine Coates, originally from Glasgow but now in Tettenhall. The mother of three has lived in England for 30 years but has no strong views on independence.
‘I just don’t see how it will work, I think Scotland would be crazy to do this,’ she says. ‘It doesn’t have any oil so how is it going to get its income? Whisky and tourism, probably, but that’s it.’”
Firstly, Elaine, we’d have to say that “it would be crazy” DOES actually sound like quite a strong view on independence to us. But in all seriousness, leaving all snark and sarcasm aside, how on Earth does a human being living in the UK in 2014, seemingly not inside any sort of secure institution, come to believe something like that?
Ms Coates isn’t some lone madwoman. Other people, also not resident in mental hospitals, say the same thing. And we get that lots of people aren’t into politics. But when it comes to ignorance about your own nation, being unaware that Scotland has oil is somewhere on a par with not knowing that Great Britain is an island. How in the world do you go through decades of adult life without ever picking up on that fact?
It’s not a rhetorical question. Can someone actually explain it to us?
We’ve just been watching the latest of the BBC’s big independence referendum debates, and we’d like the hour of our life we wasted back, please.
It wasn’t as though it was the worst we’ve seen by a long chalk. It was, if nothing else, relatively even-tempered, helped by some firm moderation by James Cook. Lesley Riddoch was as reliable, sensible and on top of the facts as she always is (although even we’re starting to get fed up of hearing her go on about Norway all the time). And while Brian Wilson is a dishonest and bilious wee nyaff, he does have the one huge saving grace that he isn’t Anas Sarwar.
But tell us this, readers – what was the point of it all?