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Wings Over Scotland

A professional appraisal

Posted on August 17, 2013 by

If you weren’t up at 8.45am or so (it’s the weekend), click the image below to hear the interview on Good Morning Scotland on the subject of our Panelbase opinion poll.


The poll was also discussed (again) by prominent psephologist Professor John Curtice, who made a few helpful comments by way of expert advice. We’re new to the polling game, so let’s quickly address them.

Firstly, the Professor noted that in the “party loyalty” question we asked, we neglected to include an option covering people who didn’t vote in the last general election.

This is basically fair comment. The reasons we didn’t are that (a) it was already quite a long and complicated question and we didn’t want to make it longer, (b) people who didn’t vote in a general election are probably also relatively unlikely to vote in a referendum, but mostly (c) because the question was specifically intended to find out something about party loyalty and if people didn’t have a party then it wasn’t relevant to what we wanted to know.

Nevertheless, as it was inevitable that people (including ourselves) wouldn’t be able to resist compiling the data into a Yes/No/Don’t Know result, it would probably have been better to stick the other two options in and risk a little extra complexity.

While overall we thought Prof. Curtice’s appraisal was pretty fair and we’re grateful for the constructive criticism, a couple of his other points were a little harsh.

He may have been subtly making a point about media bias when he noted that the infamous “space monsters” question gave the press an excuse to doubt the poll’s credibility as serious research, but otherwise the comment doesn’t stand up very well in the light of the fact that most Scottish newspapers HAD happily just covered a poll comparing the prospects for independence to that of humans landing on Mars.

And only a few days earlier we’d taken part ourselves in a YouGov one on otherwise serious political issues which ended with the question “Do you trust men who wear red trousers?”, and which was also widely reported in the press.

(A question on media bias, incidentally, was the only one we were asked in the interview that wasn’t broadcast, though it may have been cut because the answer was very similar to the one about the overall results, as well as because you can’t expect the media to be very happy broadcasting the fact that only 6% of Scottish people think the media is doing its job properly.)

The Professor also felt that Question 3 was worded in a leading way, partly or wholly due to the inclusion of the word “surrender”, but that accusation ignores its context alongside Questions 1 and 2, which were about people’s opinions regarding four very specific groups of powers. To have left mention of those groups out of the third question would have distorted the findings, and underminined the point of asking it.

(We also don’t agree that it’s “leading” to simply accurately describe what would be involved in a notional vote to have an independent Scotland give up that independence in order to join the Union on the terms of the current devolution arrangement, in order that people can properly consider and answer it.)

Also, of course, in a 13-question poll covering a wide variety of topics, a couple of questions being flawed doesn’t excuse the press from covering the rest. So after the print media’s near-total blanking of the poll results (including the questions about which Prof. Curtice had NO criticisms), we’re very happy to have had 12 minutes of radio coverage on a national show with a sizeable audience, so kudos to the BBC.

And as we say, on the whole we thought the Professor’s commentary was a considered and welcome analysis from someone infinitely more experienced in the world of polling than we are, and we’ll take his views on board for next time. We’re sure the media will be all over it in those circumstances, right?

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111 to “A professional appraisal”

  1. cynicalHighlander says:

    Don’t forget your interview was yesterday and I suspect that the Prof was given a copy prior to his response today.

  2. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Yes, I’d have thought so.

  3. Gizzit says:

    Excellent stuff Rev.
    Quick question – were other polling companies significantly more expensive than Panelbase?  I only ask because if we use Ipsos More next time, it would deflate the (specious) arguments of those who attempt to impugn the validity of the pollsters.
    As you and others have said, if Panelbase is good enough for the Sunday Times, then it’s good enough for us – but I’d be keen to leave the naysayers without a leg to stand on.

  4. David Halliday says:

    The last political You Gov poll I took part in ended up by asking what word came to mind to describe men who wear red trousers. Haven’t seen any suggestion that that invalidated (or had any impact at all) on the rest of it.

  5. Gizzit says:

    Bloody autocorrect – Ipsos Mori of course – I’m not semi-litterit, honest.

  6. SCED300 says:

    Was it BBC Scotland who set this up or were they encouraged to do it by BBC in London ?

  7. jim mitchell says:

    I wonder if any other polls have been dissected like this one, we should expect it from now on!

  8. Albalha says:

    I doubt he would have been given it yesterday, maybe briefed on the main points, but he will have been sitting in the studio listening to it, after all he was asked to comment on it, which had been explained. And good that he was, he raised interesting points about private polling as distinct from this poll which had to be published, warts and all.

    Pretty common set up. I think for listeners new to the story and W over S they’d have been genuinely engaged. Overall I thought it was a genuine thumbs up for crowd sourced polling that is filling a clear gap.

  9. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “The last political You Gov poll I took part in ended up by asking what word came to mind to describe men who wear red trousers.”

    Yeah, I did that one too – will edit something in.

  10. Albalha says:

    Space monsters from Mars I hear. Of course it was BBC Scotland and the GMS Saturday team, but believe what you want, doubt anything I say will change your views.

  11. Tom Hogg says:

    Looking forward to the bi-monthly “Wings” poll becoming a feature over the next twelve months.  I will send a postal order when you need one.

  12. scottish_skier says:

    Rev said one pollster came back as very expensive while the others were similar in cost.

    Was the expensive one ICM?

    MORI are not good. At least until they stop using landline-only methodology. 15% of households don’t even have a landline and a considerable % of those that do may not even use it for anything other than broadband. The missing demographic is one of the most supportive of independence with those still using landlines more skewed to older generations. This causes both lower yes and higher no; hence MORI is an outlier.

    MORI are the only pollster still doing this discredited method. ICM now do a combined landline-mobile approach for telephone polls. Other pollsters are going the internet route as it has proven more reliable than landline, particularly given the advent of smart phones which give even people without computers easy access to the internet.

  13. Alex Grant says:

    As I said on Twitter Stu, good effort and I have to confess a very fair interview from GMS? I must admit I was surprised the BBC didn’t take the opportunity to have a go about how the likes of Blair M and Duncan H try to smear you!

    It was noticeable that Professor Curtice took the opportunity to associate any faults with those displayed only , it would appear, by the Yes camp!

    Whilst your comments about other polls including ‘Mars’ are entirely fair I’m afraid you/ we the Yes supporters have to be like ‘Caesar’s wife’? In fact it might be worth trying to get an independent ‘partner’ ie some academic to give you the endorsed credibility? In fact at a push, whilst I believe Professor Curtice is categorically on the ‘other side’ it might be worth discussing your next research with him so that he can’t knock it later? Subject to a confidentiality agreement of course! 

    Anyway the objective surely has to be to try to ‘extract’ better media coverage next time round?

  14. GP Walrus says:

    What about asking Prof. Curtice or Prof. James Mitchell, for advice on the next poll. Decide what we are trying to find out then they advise on the best way of doing so. The result would be much harder to ignore.

  15. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Quick question – were other polling companies significantly more expensive than Panelbase?  I only ask because if we use Ipsos More next time, it would deflate the (specious) arguments of those who attempt to impugn the validity of the pollsters.”

    From memory, Ipsos were the only ones who were vastly more expensive. But I’m not keen on undermining Panelbase by implicitly giving credence to the unfounded criticisms of Unionists. I was very pleased with our dealings with them and would want to send the business their way again, not least because it would make comparisons with the first survey much more useful if we repeated any questions.

  16. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    What about asking Prof. Curtice or Prof. James Mitchell, for advice on the next poll.”

    Yes, will consider something like that.

  17. Ghengis says:

    Good to hear some coverage of the poll – Crumbs of reasonable broadcasting from the BBC though
    Right .. lets get back to the main story of the day . isn’t it just caus’ you hate the English – Andrew Marr
    repeat ad nauseaum — searing it into the mind of even the somewhat disengaged.
    No Andrew it’s all about a fairer, more prosperous Scotland.. ah forget it.

  18. scottish_skier says:

    Ipsos were the only ones who were vastly more expensive.
    Hmmm. Probably due to landline telephone polling. ICM have used online for previous indy polls and for VI telephone (mobile and landline) they’ve been doing 500 samples, possibly in an effort to keep costs down.

  19. tartanfever says:

    ‘ you can’t expect the media to be very happy broadcasting the fact that only 6% of Scottish people think the media is doing its job properly’

    Sorry Rev, I think this is exactly where the problem lies.  The BBC is ours, the people’s media. Those employed to run it are custodians – they do not own it, which many believe they do. Yes they should take on complaints and they should report questions about themselves fairly. 

    Every other industry of enterprise in the land has been under scrutiny from the BBC and yet you suggest that it’s ok for them, the most influential institution in the UK, to go on unscrutinised. 
    That’s simply crazy.

  20. Gizzit says:

    Thanks Scottish_skier – truth is, I’m happy with Panelbase, and I have no doubt their methodology is as sound as any other.  The odious, truculent bile emanating from the Naysayers would not have been significantly different, regardless of what company was used – I’m fairly certain about that.

  21. Gav Bain says:

    people who didn’t vote in a general election are probably also relatively unlikely to vote in a referendum

    I’m not sure about that. There may well be people who have lost faith in voting in Westminster, may be more likely to vote in Holyrood elections, and intend to vote in the referendum.

    Good interview in GMS.  I don’t often listen to them, but read WoS every day.  So, as well as boosting WoS readers with some media exposure,  GMS getting a little boost in listener numbers the other way round too.

  22. Atypical_Scot says:

    Have you considered inviting Mr Curtice to get involved with a second poll?

  23. Craig Stewart says:

    Would be awesome to run another one, with another pollster (as said previously, Ipsos Mori might be a good one to pick) but this time, maybe get someone like John Curtice to review the questions before we submit them to see if he can spot any flaws that might “undermine the legitimacy” of the poll.

    If we could do all that, it would, as someone said previously, give the MSM not a leg to stand on for not covering at least some of the poll… 🙂

  24. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    you suggest that it’s ok for them, the most influential institution in the UK, to go on unscrutinised”

    I suggested no such thing. I didn’t say it was fine, I said it wasn’t surprising.

  25. Gizzit says:

    …and thanks Rev.  – the penalty of being a slow typist on a touch screen keyboard – the conversation moves on apace.
    Sterling work on the poll and on the broadcast – you’ll be at risk of becoming a national hero when we win the day.

  26. scottish_skier says:

    Thanks Scottish_skier – truth is, I’m happy with Panelbase, and I have no doubt their methodology is as sound as any other.

    They match well historically with ICM, Angus Reid, Comres and Yougov (when it uses its Scottish VI methodology vs its UK one I believe as they have huge disparity which I can’t otherwise explain). The first two are considered big guns. In contrast, MORI just agrees with MORI. TNS lies in between MORI and the rest.

    I see no problems with Panelbase.

  27. Barontorc says:

    Didn’t really feel GMS reached out to help so much as set about diminishing the poll by questioning the format and questions asked. You could almost hear Prof Curtice falling over himself in haste to get his jibes in, which, to me sounded as if the piece’s running order had already been discussed and agreed. So no surprises then and ever true to BBC style, the Rev’s comments were recorded, but the comeback was just a deconstruction job for Curtice, so that’s a job done all round.

    He also threw a life-line to the beleaguered MSM and BBC by saying the ‘space monster / China invasion hypothesis made the whole poll too silly to be taken seriously – so the poll responses then were somehow rightly considered of no value by these peerless journos. Delusion continues unabated and rules, OK!

    Some of the asides seemed to be about attacking the veracity of the polling, the intent of the crowd-funding given too much focus by Panelbase and the questions too leading. As an example, the 18% in support of an independent Scotland rejoining the UK against the 55% who would not, was deliberately not commented on in terms of the figures, but dealt with by saying the question ‘…vote to surrender control…’ was framed in too leading a way.

    For my money – any analyst worth his money, would have zoomed into the actual poll result – 18% for and 55% against doesn’t just suggest a question was ‘leading’ and if this is where the NO strategists are drawing solace and comfort, like the ostrich with its head in the sand, their game’s well up. Also, thought the few digs at Panelbase looked to be no more than shooting the messenger.

    So all in all, if that’s how they’re going to deal with this information that’s up to them, but to ignore these figures would be plain loopy. The only plus point was the BBC exposure for WOS in these ludicrously biased times and that’s a rare bonus indeed.

  28. Murray McCallum says:

    I thought the Rev Stu came across very well in the interview.  As well as the quality, questioning content on this site he now appears to be rationally explain his thoughts on air.  I suspect some of the “No” campaign were hoping for someone that would break into song while giving their thoughts on the poll.
    I am also glad the interview highlighted the nature of the funding of this poll. The Scottish media really have to raise their game.  Their failings are becoming the story.
    Looking forward to the next poll or whatever everyone feels is the next step.

  29. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Didn’t really feel GMS reached out to help so much as set about diminishing the poll by questioning the format and questions asked. “

    That wasn’t my impression. Perhaps they fooled me.

    The Prof. did seem to be in a bit of a hurry, though.

  30. sneddon says:

    Murray- ‘I suspect some of the “No” campaign were hoping for someone that would break into song while giving their thoughts on the poll.’  I understand from sources the Rev was wearing his Scotland pajamas and to paraphrase an old saying ‘he had a face for radio but a singing voice for down a pit’  🙂  Seriously good stuff Stu

  31. Taranaich says:

    I hope nobody minds me hijacking the thread a bit, but I sent a letter in to Private Eye regarding the media blackout on the poll, where I talked about the lack of coverage in the polls. They seemed to hone in on minor statements that have little to do with my reasons for writing, choosing instead to focus on a couple of words out of a five-hundred word email. I feel that they have ignored what is a huge thing for Scottish people, and by their lack of interest insult the Scottish readership, and tried to raise their awareness of this.
    As I’ve said before on this site, I’m an avid reader of Private Eye, and wish we had a Scottish version that dealt with Scottish issues. I’m pleased enough that they replied, but I’m a bit horrified that they, at best, “only” acknowledged the presence of my letter, and at worst, fobbed me off.

  32. david says:

    who is duncan h ?

  33. Robert says:

    Enjoyable interview Rev if only for the blessed relief of you not having some blustering unionist halfwit talking over the top of you.
    Was Foulkes unavailable?
    Another poll soon please without any reasons to feign disinterest available to the No camp (Space monsters)

  34. gavin lessells says:

    When all is said and done. thanks to Stuarts interview on GMS the existence of Wings Over Scotland was made on two occasions with Wings being credited at the end of the interview. The fact that the funds for the poll were available in minutes after the original request must have impressed not a few listeners.
    Well done! it can only increase our numbers and supporters.

  35. Robert says:

    “who is duncan h ?”
    Even he doesn’t really know.

  36. Iain says:

    ‘Naive not evil’ from BBC Scotland is the equivalent of a resounding accolade from any other outlet. All we need is Ian Davidson or similar to come out with a few ‘Newsnat Scotland’ quips for some delicious icing on the cake.

  37. MajorBloodnok says:

    Private Eye looks at everthing through the London prism and when they’ve tried to do Scotland they get it wrong (I think they know this, and/or don’t really care) so they seem to be avoiding the whole independence issue – apart from the odd lame dig at Alex Salmond. Sadly, its satire seems so distant and irrelevant now that I only keep my subscription going for the cartoons.

  38. Taranaich says:

    Oh, and well done Rev: sorry I didn’t add that in my first comment!

  39. Albamac says:

    Tweet from Peter Curran (Moridura), “He [Stuart Campbell] has made a formidable contribution to the cause of independence over an extended period
    So say all of us!

  40. naebd says:

    They seemed to hone in on minor statements that have little to do with my reasons for writing, choosing instead to focus on a couple of words out of a five-hundred word email.
    Any chance of a photo?

  41. david says:

    im wondering if its duncan hamilton being referred to, if so, im confused 

  42. DonnyWho says:

    Rev, it would be interesting to see your new visitor figures for today, we would get an idea of the “reach” of BBC Scotland as a result!

  43. MartinSneck says:

    Well done Stuart! For the next poll, I would suggest the Prof’s criticisms are all be taken on board so that the phrasing of the questions asked are unassailable and the MSM have absolutely no excuse for not publishing the results.

  44. Taranaich says:

    Any chance of a photo?
    There’s a photo of me on my blog. 🙂

  45. Albalha says:

    Why wouldn’t a running order be agreed in advance, that’s how live programming works, and in any case the way the piece was constructed was clear from what I read here yesterday, that John Curtice was going to be asked to comment.

  46. MajorBloodnok says:

    Yes, sorry Rev.  I thought that you came over very well and that Prof Curtice’s points weren’t unreasonable (apart maybe from when he was having a go at the YES campaign’s way of releasing polling results – what about the NO campaign though?).
    Also, the name checking of WoS was pretty clear at the start and end of the piece so anyone listening to that must have thought at the very least that this place was worth a look.  And it damn well is.

  47. les wilson says:

    Heard the Interview this  morning, actually by accident as I did not know what time it would be aired. I think it was relatively fair, and Stu came across good,so well done!

    Regarding Curtis, he is an old fox, intelligent and undoubtedly Unionist bias. He is very careful what he says as not to sound  toooo biased. Nevertheless, he is, as we who watch these things well know. Whatever poll may be done in the future we need to close the gaps to give them little to pick  on.

    OR say something they will pick on and have your evidence to hand of what you put in the question. Also, if there is a repeat of coverage by the BBC, I would ask for Curtis to be face to face with you, not simply where he can give his opinions as a separate comment without challenge.

    That way, any bias he shows could  be challenged in a subtle way, directly. ( subtle REV, so that means no attempts at giving him a shake in frustration!LOL! )

    All in, WELL DONE, and it may only be the start!

  48. Robert says:
    “who is duncan h ?”

  49. beachthistle says:

    V good job, you came over very well…pity it wasn’t live, maybe try to insist on that next time?
    Re the major polling company who gave you the biggest  price quote (the same one that gave their own rehashed and respun outlier polls to the MSM on a plate this week): I’m sure it wasn’t because they didn’t want to get the job…

  50. David McCann says:

    REv. I thought you came over very well, and I have to say, I thought the analysis was not as bad as I had feared. Good suggetsion to get either Prof Mitchell, or Dr Pter Lynch involved

  51. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “pity it wasn’t live, maybe try to insist on that next time?”

    Lord above, no thanks. On this occasion the whole thing went down in one take, but it’s MUCH less stressful to record an interview, knowing if you arse something up you can say “Wait, let’s have another go at that one”.

  52. Seanair says:

    Major Bloodnok
    Agree with what you say about Private Eye—which is why I stopped buying it years ago, along with the New Statesman. 
    Re the poll,
    I thought that Panelbase might feel offended by the lack of reporting and write to all the papers and BBC to defend their methodology etc. But then I thought that they wouldn’t want to upset any potential clients for future polls. Money talks. I also thought that some of the questions were a  gift to the NO deadheads and that “the next poll” should be shorter and less complicated.

  53. Juteman says:

    I thought it was fairly neutral.
    You came across well, and the site got a few mentions.
    Well done.

  54. HandandShrimp says:

    I got the impression that he was saying No don’t release much of anything. I seem to recall they had one with outrageously leading questions but can’t recall where that got published if at all.
    I know that Ashcroft has commissioned a couple for the Tories that were released but most of the rest are for the Press.
    As I said on the other thread I thought that was pretty good. A very reasonable and fair interview with Stu and Cutice despite his niggles didn’t say we shouldn’t do it (was he touting for business as an advisor 😉 ) and some of his suggestions were actually helpful. I was pleased that he conceded that even with modifications to the question we would still have got a No to joining the Union today if we were still independent.

  55. silvermcg says:

    Ian so sorry to have missed last night, next time.

    Rev, as a long time observer of internet sites and supporter of this site in particular I would like to say thankyou on behaif of all those that struggle to put a sentence together on line.

    I can assure those on here that people are listening to the reasons put forward and in the last 2 years i have been able to directly influence many with the info from yourself and others,

    many thanx, 

  56. Davy says:

    Good interview Stu, but I also think Curtice was brought in to try and undermind the poll, but I think he didnt read the script very well. Is there no comments from any of our friends over at the NO campaign.
    I look forward to the next poll.
    Hail Alba.

  57. HandandShrimp says:

    To be fair, do they ever bring anybody other than John to analyse or talk about polls? When he hangs up his calculator feck knows what they are going to do.

  58. Seanair says:

    Sorry, I forgot to thank the Rev for all that he has done with regard to the poll and for an independent Scotland!

  59. AnneDon says:

    people who didn’t vote in a general election are probably also relatively unlikely to vote in a referendum
    Have to disagree there. Many people are disillusioned by the Westminster system. Our canvassing indicates that many “disenfranchised” voters are not just planning to vote – they are registering to vote specifically to do so.

  60. velofello says:

    Well done Rev. You interview well. The poll construct and your interview left Prof, Curtice with no opportunity to “do an attack job” on behalf of the BBC, reducing his scope to grasping a straw – journalists and the space monster attack credibility question. 

     A large number of the public, pro-independence, so frustrated by the absence of fair reporting by the media and the BBC that they seized the opportunity offered to them to crowdfund a poll on the independence issue. Adequate funds raised in 17 minutes! It is a remarkable story and shames the media that they couldn’t bring themselves to recognise the core democracy in play.

  61. Ken Johnston says:

    A good interview, and if I may say so, the rev’s tone of voice and speech pattern was a bonus to us.
    Came across as a thoughtful, intelligent person. NOT that I’m implying in the “came across” he’s not.

    Would it not be a thing if we could raise the money for 2 simultaneous polls, by different organizations, obviously, aided in the endeavour by Prof. Curtice. Defang the opposition.

    One of the questions being ‘Are you definitely going to vote in the referendum regardless of your previous voting pattern ‘.

  62. Albert Herring says:

    I agree it would be great to have someone reputable give the next poll questions the once over, but pleeeeze not Curtice. Presumably such a service would require a financial consideration of some sort, and I just couldn’t get my head around giving that particular individual any of our moolah.

  63. HandandShrimp says:

    Adequate funds raised in 17 minutes!
    LOL Yes, I imagine that bit had those less keen on WoS muttering a tad.

  64. Stuart Black says:

    Just listened to the interview, very well done Rev, and I was heartened by the tone of both the presenter and Scotland’s only psephologist, Prof. Curtice. I feel there has been a recognition of Wings’ credibility here, and, with an acceptance that more of the same will be forthcoming, it will possibly be easier and quicker for information generated by WoS to be reported in the MSM, now that the first wall has been breached. It took a while, but things may proceed more briskly in the future.

    Very much looking forward to the next poll, I realise we will have to ca’ canny and avoid saturation, but I hope it has the same kind of impact that this first poll has caused.

    Oh, and well said Peter Curran on Twitter, absolutely true.

  65. Kendomacaroonbar says:

    Stu,  I genuinely support all that you do to promote the cause of Scottish Independence…. and have taken the liberty of trying to get more people to access fair and reasoned argument for independence….Wingsland is that vehicle for me..  Hope the rest of the Wingsland family approve.
    Yours aye,  Ken McDonald

  66. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Adequate funds raised in 17 minutes!”

    70. Clearly need to work on my diction 😀

  67. Training Day says:

    The involvement of Prof Mitchell in the next poll is a good idea.  However, he seems to have been ‘disappeared’ by the BBC since 2011, perhaps for being ‘off message’..
    A point about Curtice bears repeating.  The most junior academic researcher would have been quietly let go at the end of their contract had their ‘research’ and ‘analysis’ led them to the same conclusions reached by Curtice about voting intentions immediately prior to the 2011 Holyrood election.

  68. HenBroon says:

    Good job rev keep it coming you are the rock that the good ship Ukania will founder on.
    Robert says:
    17 August, 2013 at 10:57 am

    “who is duncan h ?”
    Was hoping that the obvious question from dh regarding who he is would go unanswered but you gave him the link he wanted to his rancid little blog, he is one of the most pathetic bile filled creatures on the blogosphere. Please ignore any references to him and his guff.

  69. Jimbo says:

    Good interview, Stu. Fair and constructive criticism from Prof’ Curtice.
    When it comes to doing Crowd Funded Poll (CFP) mark II, perhaps Prof Curtice might, in the interests of fairness, be willing to help with constructing the questions you have in mind? The let’s see if the press ignore it and the NO camp try and derogate it then.

  70. mealer says:

    Yes,a good interview.As to further polls,I’m all for it,but only when we have a few questions we’d really like public opinion on.I don’t think there’s great merit in having loads of polls just for the sake of it.Having questions about aliens will make no difference to media coverage,but it allows Prof Curtice an easy out.
    Remember,too,there is a reason why YES don’t publish all the info they gather.

  71. Jimbo says:

    Too late to edit. I should have read the posts before posting – I see my suggestion has been already put forward by others.

  72. Angus says:

    Great interview and well articulated pleasantly observed points made by Stu and the Prof, although when it comes to the Yes campaign giving out only selected parts of their polls (and the no campaign don’t so this?) I think the media can equally be accused of selective reporting of polls or indeed something like the Gers figures that were pissed about with something rotten, so the prof could be a little less critical as he undoubtedly is aware that one of the reasons for this crowd funded poll was that enough of us are sick of the media jumping on utter bollocks and reporting it as news when it comes to the referendum particularly.
    Good show from Stu though-well done, I think the next poll will be widely reported for several reasons one main one being that this was an interesting poll rather than a load of shite.

  73. Robert says:

    Super stuff here.  
    I’ve really enjoyed my first few days/week of viewing quality reports and comments on WoS.  And not just because I like the ‘song’ but due to all being fair and positive, bar the odd one or two such as opinion of interviews at Parkhead of folk in Celtic jerseys and one of an English lady up North.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindness”  Mark Twain.  That’s my excuse for ‘out of country’ contact and comment1
    PS Can kind person give me a guide how I can put a pic on the post icon?

  74. Jimbo says:

    Apologies for going OT.
    Perhaps some in the borders area of Duns and Hawick could make it along to this with a camera? They are, after all, public meetings at which they want people to attend in order to ask questions, raise issues and get involved.

    It gives me great pleasure on behalf of everyone at Better Together and our campaign activists in Scottish Borders to invite you to the launch of the dedicated Better Together Scottish Borders campaign group.
    We will have two launch events,
    The first will be held in Duns in Thursday 29th August, with a 7pm start at Berwickshire High School, Langtongate, Duns. 
    The second will be held in Hawick on Wednesday 4th September, with a 7pm start at the Hawick Town Hall, Cross Wynd, Hawick.
    These public meetings will give you and other members of the community a chance to hear about Better Together, ask questions or raise issues and to get involved in the campaign to keep Scotland a strong part of the United Kingdom.

  75. I thought it was an excellent interview from the point of view that it spread the word about WoS without getting silly at any point.
    Perhaps it was just me, but what I heard Prof. Curtice saying between the lines was that he’s annoyed at getting too few polls to enable him to do his job well — the newspapers are too poor to do it often, and the political parties don’t want to release their polls.  In other words, the professor would love websites like WoS to commission plenty of polls, because it gives him something to talk about.
    If that’s the case, he might be interested in helping out with poll design, because it’s his interest for the polls to be useful for psephologists like him (which means standard questions, no leading questions, plenty of crosstabs, and so on).  Who knows, he might even have a question he’d love to get answered? 🙂

  76. November13 says:

    BBC Scotland is like Scottish Labour.A myth! That’s why James Naughtie is taking over.They need a London Scot to control their coverage.Incidentally very little comment made on Alasdair   Grays comments about the Arts being run by non Scots up here. It is not politically correct to say so but these jobs should be given to Scots.After all how can someone understand Scottish culture from reading a book.You need to have lived in a country to understand it properly.Alasdair blames the Scottish cringe for this and he is correct.I am sorry but I don’t want a southern voice explaining the country I live in to me …it’s just patronising.

  77. twenty14 says:

    Slightly O/T – but a Mr W Bain  ( MP ) phoned my house last night enquiring if there was any local matters that caused me concern , on establishing his credentials I politely told him that his party was the cause of much grief and my wish was for an Independent country to sort out any matters that I have concerns with, he replied – politely – that It was really only local issues he was concerned about at this time and then……. in the same breath, asked what my vote would be in the referendum next year      ……………Ehh!
    This was about 8.30 in the evening on a Friday night – seems strange

  78. Weel done, Cutty Sark.

  79. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Perhaps it was just me, but what I heard Prof. Curtice saying between the lines was that he’s annoyed at getting too few polls to enable him to do his job well — the newspapers are too poor to do it often, and the political parties don’t want to release their polls.”

    No, that was largely my view as well. It seemed to me more like a bit of frustration on his part, not bias.

  80. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “PS Can kind person give me a guide how I can put a pic on the post icon?”

    You’ll need to go and get yourself a Gravatar account.

  81. Triangular Ears says:

    Good interview, and interesting to hear what the Rev sounds like. I shall be reading all these articles in that voice from now on.

    (Damn, mistyped my email address and now this is awaiting moderation…)

  82. TheeForsakenOne says:

    I thought Professor Curtice was relatively fair in his critque on the poll. Perhaps the only part I found a little objectionable was his naive (or perhaps blinkered) view on the reasons the press ignored the poll. My personal view is that it was the poll was not conducted by one of the members of the ‘club’.

  83. Holebender says:

    Well done Stu. I understand your reluctance to be associated with Professor Curtice but perhaps it would be a good idea to contact him today (while the interview is still fresh) and make an agreement in principle that he will consult on the next poll. Pin him down while he has no excuse for not knowing who you are.

  84. First the media ignore you, then they’re all over you.
    Crowd-funded Poll a Front for Alien Invasion, says Prof. Poultice

  85. Juteman says:

    @BBC Scotlandshire.
    You stole my line about the headphones!
    A letter from my solicitor is on its way.
    I’ll take no further action if you publish a tasteful photo of Amy Macdonald in your next article.

  86. Robert Dickson says:

    “Was hoping that the obvious question from dh regarding who he is would go unanswered but you gave him the link he wanted to his rancid little blog”
    Apologies for my naivety!
    I think the more people view his rather tedious guff filled hatred the better.

    Ps I see there is another ‘Robert’ on the forum so I will use my full name from now on.

  87. Semus says:

    Inviting Prof Cutice into our /yes thinking.Is that no a wee bit like inviting Edward I to assist us in all good faith choosing a Toom Tabard?…………again. I was told by my Grannie that was stupid.

  88. You stole my line about the headphones!

    Guilty as charged, m’Lud.

  89. Juteman says:

    @BBC Scotlandshire.
    And the photo? 🙂

  90. NorthBrit says:

    Curtice implied that journalists would essentially be taking a risk by publishing material from a partisan website [in other words defy the editorial line of their paper] and the space monsters question made it difficult to take the risk.  Curtice’s emphasis on the point implies to me that this is based on more than just speculation – maybe there are journos out there he’s spoken to.

    He’s practically invited the Rev to do it again and he’s specifically highlighted the “would you join the union?” question, meaning that he’s bound to focus on it next time in his polling analysis.

    He also criticised the No campaign’s use of pollsters who didn’t meet British Polling organisation standards and selective use of polls and kicked off with “as Stuart was saying”, which I imagine might have caused Duncan H to choke on his curry wurst had he been listening.

    I don’t see how he could have been any more fair to RevStu without inviting a personal visit from Blair McDougall.

  91. Geoff Huijer says:

    Good interview.
    Raises the Wings profile.
    Thought the Prof was reasonable with valid points.
    The whole excercise has been very worthwhile. Thanks to all!

  92. @BBC Scotlandshire.
    And the photo?
    Unfortunately, we at the National Broadcaster don’t do tasteful. Would a patriotic pic of Margaret Thatcher suffice?

  93. Vronsky says:

    Curtice is a little unfairly dealt with here.  If he sometimes appears unionist in instinct, let’s consider that that might just be the view through our separatist goggles.  It makes a lot of sense to invite his collaboration on the next poll, even if he asks a fee and we have to dig a little deeper to fund it. 

    Can I add as a footnote that I think BBC Scotlandshire is stupid, unfunny and unhelpful.  Just like the real media, in fact. 

  94. Cearc says:

    I think the whole ‘space alien put the press off ‘ bit was a red herring.  The prof had to say something about the lack of publicity (other than bias).  If any question upset the MSM journalists it would have been the trust one.  They are hardly likely to want to draw attention to it.  He had no substantial criticism of the questions and overall I think Stuart did a  good job.
    We weren’t looking to ask ‘professional’  questions.  Nothing wrong with slightly quirky questions and forcing people to think a little differently, the joining the union was a killer in that respect.   Having asked questions like ours it might be interesting, in future polls, to ask the referendum question last to see if the result is significantly different from other polls.

  95. mogatrons says:

    Firstly well done Stu and WoS readers for what will in time prove to be a seismic shift in the referendum debate… **virtual round of applause**
    Secondly, taking a lead from Eck himself, I humbly suggest keeping the powder dry until publication of the white paper has passed ……
    …. then hit the media with a single comprehensive, professional poll commissioned from ALL MAINSTREAM POLLING COMPANIES SIMULTANEOUSLY.
    Not only would this afford no sanctuary to the MSM whatsoever, but it would also expose those pollsters with ‘dubious’ methods to irrefutable criticism.
    In short, save your ammo for a singular ‘shock and awe’ strike that guarantees national headlines.

  96. Garve says:

    I agree with all those praising Stu for his performance today and the overall project.
    I think we’ve learnt a lot in this process, about polls and people’s views, but also about the attitude of the press.
    I think the idea of a future poll in conjunction with Women for Indy which was mooted on Twitter is a great idea. It would be far harder for the media to ignore and would give us some important data on women’s attitudes.

  97. Taranaich says:

    Private Eye looks at everthing through the London prism and when they’ve tried to do Scotland they get it wrong (I think they know this, and/or don’t really care) so they seem to be avoiding the whole independence issue – apart from the odd lame dig at Alex Salmond. Sadly, its satire seems so distant and irrelevant now that I only keep my subscription going for the cartoons.
    It bothers me mostly because there’s such a dearth of real political accountability these days, Private Eye are one of the few I’m aware of that actually could change something. I heartily applaud them when they do something right, particularly their fine work on the recent NHS scandals, but with some issues I fear they’re too trapped in the London bubble. Your remark about the digs at Salmond are particularly pointed, since of the 500-word email where I go into detail about the poll, a throwaway line about the paper’s “petty jabs at Salmond” receives more acknowledgement than the rest.
    Also, naebdy, I just realised I might’ve misinterpreted your request for a photo: I would, but to be frank I don’t want to draw this out with them. They’ve lost a (literally) decade-long customer, and that’s the end of it.

  98. Juteman says:

    @BBC Scotlandshire
    “Would a patriotic pic of Margaret Thatcher suffice?”
    If it was taken yesterday, yes.

  99. Craig Evans says:

    Dear Rev Stu,
    I heard you this morning and you came over very well; when the Prof came on he seemed to want to rubbish the poll. At least the BBC specifically mentioned the crowd funding.
    I was away this time but I’ll happily contribute to the next one: Can we beat 17mins to reach the target?

  100. Ian Gilman says:

    Have just posted on BBC Scotland’s Facebook page congratulations on the interview, and it’s actually been accepted for the first time. My previous post asking why BBC Scotland was ignoring your poll was rejected. 

  101. Braco says:

    Great interview Rev. Well done.

  102. Yesitis says:

    That was a very interesting listen, Rev.
    You`re a peach in a prune dish 🙂

  103. faolie says:

    Great stuff Rev. If anyone had been listening idly to this piece, then that bit “..we raised our target in 17 minutes..” would surely have made them sit up and utter an astonished “eh?”. It did me (I know you said it was actually 70, but quick whatever). So these yes people are actually putting their money where their mouth is, are they? Wonder if the no-sters would raise it so quickly? Oh, forgot that they have the serried ranks of the media doing it for them.

    I was wishing that you’d actually got the 67% number out when you were discussing the more powers thing. That number really bugs me. What underlies it? There must be a massive amount of frustrated people out there wanting something they’ve no chance of getting.

    As in…

    Do you want more powers?
    Vote no then.
    But we’ve no chance of getting them.
    Vote yes then.
    a. Well, er, I can’t, because I just think that we wouldn’t make it on our own
    b. No. I do not want independence, even though this means getting nothing else

    Other reasons..?

    Is answer a. the soft no we talk about?

  104. Indy_Scot says:

    As much as I have little time for Curtice’s opinions, at least he admitted that the opposition and I include Curtice in that, will look for the slightness  weakness in a poll that they do not favour and use this to discredit the whole poll, which is absolutely absurd, but then they are unionists.

  105. J. R. Tomlin says:

    I don’t think the “alien” question was why they ignored the poll; however, it did give them an EXCUSE for ignoring the poll. 

  106. Weedeochandorris says:

    Brilliant Rev so professional. I like your voice as well.  Kinda funny about things like that I am.

  107. ianbrotherhood says:

    Good stuff.
    Having finally met Peter Bell in real-time, I would like to suggest that he and Rev would make a superb debating ‘team’ should any genuinely objective third-party wish to arrange such an event.

  108. Adam Davidson says:

    Mogatrons, I love the idea of the same survey from loads of companies all a once. Could the media ignore you then? Ok so damned expensive but maybe 3 to 5 questions pre agreed with an unquestionable expert. Imagine the impact! I’d chip into that one again. You might have to raise the money quietly though.
    I am attending the first meeting the the Glasgow ambassadors of Business for Scotland this week coming. I will be making sure everyone is aware of the results of your survey Rev. It may not have received the coverage you wanted but it gives us amazing info to work with.

  109. Taranaich says:

    For those interested, here’s the email I sent: I tried posting it on another article (I can’t remember), but I think all the links messed it up.
    To the editor,


    On 22nd July 2013, The Scottish politics website Wings Over Scotland commissioned a poll with the respected polling organisation Panelbase. It is somewhat unique, as it is – as far as I’m aware – the first crowd-funded poll to deal with the Scottish Independence Referendum. The base target of £1,500 was reached in just 70 minutes, and by the end of the 15 days allocated to raise the funds, it reached no less than £6,025 in total – three times the base target.


    The results make for very interesting reading: when asked “If Scotland was currently an independent country, would you vote to surrender control of taxation, welfare, defence and oil revenues in order to join the Union?” only 18% would respond Yes, with 55% responding no. This, among other results, shows a marked difference from several other polls, such as those by Ipsos-Mori, and challenges the popular narrative of Scots overwhelmingly supportive of the United Kingdom and Westminster.


    But the most telling of all is that the respondents’ appraisal of the Scottish media is devastatingly poor. Of those polled, only a shocking 6% believed that the media are providing “enough solid, reliable information about independence to make a decision,” “a wide range of voices are heard,” and “will significantly influence how I vote”; 27% believe it is biased against independence, compared to 8% who believe it is biased for, and 13% who think it isn’t biased one way or the other (in other words, the number of people who believe the media is biased against independence outnumber those who think it is either unbiased or biased towards it); and 33% believe “it just reports what the two sides say, but doesn’t find out what the truth is.” Even accounting for the fact the referendum has over a year to go, this displays a breathtaking lack of trust and confidence in the Scottish media to do its job.


    As of writing, very few of the major national papers have covered the poll despite Wings’ contacting several journalists across several papers regarding it. The silence of the Scottish media is damning and, in all senses of the word, scandalous. In the week since the poll’s publication, it has been studiously ignored, and in fact has published stories citing earlier polls more than a year and a half old, rather than current ones. Even those that validate pro-independent viewpoints and findings are usually undermined with snide disparagement. In that space, even polls with frankly trivial subject matter have been deemed more newsworthy, such as the one revealing more than half of Scots live on ready meals or takeaways.


    The editor is surely aware of the controversy surrounding the 26th April 2013 edition of Have I Got News For You, where the Scottish Referendum was given the same dismissive treatment the show normally reserves for soft stories about dancing puppies and headstanding horses, and ended with the host asking for a show of hands from the audience on who thinks the Scots should “bugger off.”


    Private Eye is in a difficult position here. I’m all too aware that the editor is in favour of the union, and the paper’s many petty jabs at Alex Salmond. But here is a precise example of one of the many things which makes Private Eye essential reading to me – taking the media to task for grotesque displays of bias and self-interest.


    I’ve stuck with Private Eye for many years, even after it took the wrong side of the MMR scandal. I’ve always been aware of its roots and the current writing staff’s perspective and background, and so taken much of the opinion material in proper context. I’ve deduced that despite its claims to the contrary, Private Eye has been part of The Establishment for quite a while now, and Scottish matters are not quite as relevant as UK-wide ones. But the Scottish referendum is the most important event to happen to this country in 300 years, and here is a clear example of media bias ignoring information which does not conform to the established narrative. This, surely, is a chance for Private Eye to engage in the sort of investigative journalism it rightly takes so much pride in – and the fact that it actively challenges its own pro-union bias would show that, when the chips are down, it would do the right thing.


    So I’ll just say this: what would Paul Foot do? You know as well as I what the answer is.


    Could I have worded it differently, or been more specific?

  110. Chic McGregor says:

    Professor Curtice made a good point about the question which did not allow for those who did not vote at the last election.  I did pick up on that one myself. However, ‘his’ poll, i.e. the Scottish Attitudes Survey contains a very similar error.
    The two out of the 5 options (haven’t checked recently) which equate to a YES vote both specifically include Europe.
    One proposes independence IN the EU and one proposes independence OUTSIDE the EU.
    The point I am making here, is that by attaching Europe in such a way, those options are not logically selectable by those who have yet to make up their mind on Europe and in all probability, given the huge amount of misinformation from both sides of that particular sub-argument, that is a significant percentage of the electorate.
    Both options also include the word ‘separate’ which is also has a well recognised negative effect with connotations of isolation above and beyond normal levels of international relations between independent countries.  It would not be allowed by the Electoral Commission and is now banned in Westminster.

  111. Erchie says:

    I agree that Curtice got his digs in, including against the YES Campaign

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