The world's most-read Scottish politics website

Wings Over Scotland

The missing millions

Posted on March 13, 2014 by

Last month there was a mild flurry of activity in the press about the so-called “missing million” – Scots entitled to vote, but who choose for one reason or another not to. Catchy as it is, the phrase seems a significant understatement. Around four million people in Scotland meet voting criteria, but fewer than half of those turned out for the 2011 Holyrood election, and under 2.5m at the 2010 Westminster one.


Obviously that’s a bad thing in principle in its own right. But it could also be seriously distorting polling for the independence referendum, because – perhaps for the only time in their lives – an awful lot of those missing millions ARE going to go out this September and put a cross in a box. And nobody knows which one.

The Survation poll we looked at earlier today illustrates the issue neatly. It asked a question which explicitly noted that only 50% of those eligible to vote had done so in 2011, and asked its respondents whether they had or not. 74% of the sample said yes.


Alert readers will deduce that – not unreasonably – polling companies produce results tilted heavily towards people who are more engaged with politics. And that’s all well and good, except when you get to a one-off event like the referendum.

The lowest estimates for turnout in September are 75%, and many are closer to 85% or even more. That’s hundreds of thousands of people who, like folk who only gamble once a year when they bet on the Grand National, we know almost nothing about.

(Of course, there’s a flaw in those figures, because they too come chiefly from opinion polling. Nevertheless, few pundits are prepared to predict a turnout lower than 75%. The Survation poll we’re discussing records 86% of respondents saying they’re at least 8/10 likely to vote, and 90% if you widen it to 7/10.)

Except we know some things about them. Non-voters tend to be those from the lowest income groups, the “C2DE” demographic. Which is coincidentally the same band that tends to be most in favour of independence. And even the simplest analysis of any poll reveals that these people are dramatically under-represented in samples.

Indeed, they’re often not even tabulated. Look at the graphic above – the Yes and No votes are broken down according to whether people voted SNP, Labour, Lib Dem, Tory or other in 2011, but there’s no column for non-voters. We made some enquiries recently about doing a poll solely of such abstainers, but polling companies just don’t have enough of them on their books.

If there’s an 80% turnout in September, that’ll be 3.2 million people – 1.2m more than voted at Holyrood, and 700,000 more than in 2010. Even if they only divide slightly more favourably to independence than those who turned out in 2011, their sheer numbers will make a significant difference to the balance.

It’s just one of many reasons we always advise caution about polls. The referendum isn’t an election, and anybody treating it as one might be in for a rude awakening.

Print Friendly

    100 to “The missing millions”

    1. gordoz says:

      Now this is very good to know.

      Take it the booth second from left has been resereved for Mr B McDougall ?

    2. gordoz says:

      Oops – Ok second from right – but wait; wont the door still be a problem for his head ?

    3. Morag says:

      You think Mr. B. McDougall is going to be in a wheelchair by referendum day? What are you planning, and is it wise?!

    4. Ian Brotherhood says:

      Cheers Rev –

      This helps explain why, if you ask SSP activists for their honest feedback, they’ll tell you that very few ‘punters’ are planning to vote No.

      We don’t set up stalls in the Newton Mearns and Bearsdens – we see the ‘C2DEs’ and listen to them. It’ll be sweet when the Curtices of this world finish their analyses post-Yes, and realise which group of citizens finished this rotten ‘United Kingdom’ off once and for good.

    5. gordoz says:

      Was thinking more of the required width of said booth as a give away.

    6. gordoz says:

      To be honest –

      When I first read the headline of the piece, I thought it was going to be about British Together funding issues as they are always sending out begging letters.

    7. Croompenstein says:

      @gordoz He’ll need the fire extinguisher on the right as his fucking pants have been on fire for a long time.

    8. a2 says:

      The lesson of course is getting across the message.

      “If you don’t vote because you don’t think it will change anything, this is the one time that it really will”

      Of course this is a bit hampered by the don’t scare the horses, nothing will change idea.

    9. Bill C says:

      This is a really good article Stu, quality of journalism on Wings just seems to get better and better. Anyway to the point. It’s been evident for a while now that canvass returns in the poorer areas of Scotland are showing healthy YES majorities. Some results from the housing schemes and east end of Glasgow have been stunning. Hence I have been thinking along the lines that you so eloquently outline for a while. I honestly think that the polls are not picking up on the potential massive YES vote in Scotland’s poorer area. If we can unleash that potential YES vote we will win handsomely.

    10. gordoz says:


      Seriously – nice one !

    11. a2 says:

      PS I imagine there is some proportion of poll respondents who actually didn’t vote but a bit embarrassed by the fact so say that they did.

    12. gordoz says:

      @Bill C

      Please God make it so !

    13. AnneDon says:

      This is a constant worry to me. We always take registration forms out for canvassing and street stalls, but it’s a responsibility for all sides on this debate. I suspect, though, that only one side is serious about it!

    14. Juteman says:

      It’s there to be won, and by a bigger margin than folk might think, if we can get the victims of the Labour party to vote.

    15. bjsalba says:

      If you read up on sociology you will find that when subjects of study know they are being watched they act differently.

      Considering the surprise result in the last Hollyrood election, I’m beginning to wonder if the electorate is beginning to get smarter than the pollsters.

      Wouldn’t that be interesting.

    16. heedtracker says:

      Tis also probably why lord snooties like Osborne and Darling telling Scotland we will not have England’s sterling has made no difference. C2DE demographic don’t have any sterling in this nonsense union now and are fully aware why too. These people are more than just immune to project fear. Now is the time Scotland, ch ch changes

    17. Brian Doonthetoon says:

      I was having a blether with my ex on Tuesday evening about the unregistered million or thereabouts. (She leans towards YES but is still not 100% convinced.

      Onnyhoo, she raised an issue that I haven’t seen mentioned on any of the Facebook pages or blogs that I’ve been following for the past few months.

      She agrees that there is, probably, a wealth of YES support amongst the unwaged and low paid. She asked me why I thought they weren’t registered to vote, to which I replied, “Because they’ve lost faith in politicians and the whole political system?”

      She replied in the negative. “Think about it.”, she said. “Why would they not want to be on the electoral roll?”
      I was stumped.

      She then offered the explanation that when you find yourself almost permanently short of cash, you start to get into debt; either loans, or not paying stuff like the council tax.

      So she suggests that many of the unregistered voters are keeping themselves off the electoral roll, because that makes them harder to find, specially if they’ve moved house.

      Registering to vote in the referendum would be like raising their heads over the parapet for officialdom to take money-grabbing pot shots at.

      Sounds plausible…

    18. galamcennalath says:

      Good stuff Stu.

      The other variable to consider is age versus record of voting. Old people vote more readily.

      Old people are more likely to be No voters [from polling data I’ve seen], so getting young people out and voting is also helpful to Yes.

    19. Muscleguy says:

      Which of course is why RIC are doing what they are doing, bless their cotton socks (do radical leftists wear cotton socks? We need a poll!).

      And of course they are going about equipped with voter registration forms and will help people fill them in. This constituency are the Independent campaign’s secret underground shock troops.

      BTW I have given up commenting on The Guardian, waste of time arguing the toss with those who don’t have the vote, and the Graun’s distribution in Scotland is not very high, is it?

      Yesterday I didn’t get around to reading Wings, NNS, Bella or Mr Bateman at all. So something had to give.

      Now the question becomes: do I disappoint my wife further and actually join and volunteer for Yes? Will the potential of piles of Yes newspapers convert her by osmosis?

    20. M4rkyboy says:

      I think the important point about this particular group is that they literally couldnt give a flying f what the vested interests and the establishment have to say which is basically the whole BT campaign.

    21. Proud Cybernat says:

      O/T – I do apologise folks.

      In an article here on Wings, Paul Kavanagh writes:

      “There are other ways in which Scottish revenues are invisible in the official statistics. Much of the alcohol duty paid by our whisky industry is not counted as revenue from Scotland. Alcohol produced in the UK which is exported abroad becomes subject to UK alcohol duty at the point of export, and a large proportion of Scotland’s multibillion whisky exports gets shipped out from ports in England. The UK Treasury counts the duty levied on this whisky as income from the tax region in which the port is situated.

      Billions of pounds of Scottish revenue is magicked away in the official statistics, and doesn’t count as Scottish revenue. It masquerades as revenue from other parts of the UK, most commonly as revenue from London. In total, the extra revenues which don’t currently figure in the GERS stats, but would accrue to an independent Scottish Treasury, would likely be larger than the entire annual income from the North Sea.”

      Is this correct? Is it not the case that alcohol duty is a UK consumption tax (although payable on release of product from a bonded warehouse) for UK consumption? As with most every other export, Scotch whisky is exported duty free and receiving countries apply their own import duty which, of course, their own govt receives. Is it the case that the GERS accounts reflect UK alcohol duty as a consumption tax based ONLY on UK sales and not on exports as Paul’s article above states?

      Hopefully some brighter spark than I can clarify this for me.


    22. Thomas William Dunlop says:

      We know that poorer people are more likely to vote for change in order to improve their lot in life. So the implication is that they will propel the yes vote across the winning line, providing their turn out is high enough on the. The fly in the ointment is the reactionary “poor” that are attached strongly to unionism via the orange order , sectarianism etc. that might mobilise to vote and/or intimidate local neighbourhoods. (The reactionary poor was used with great effect throughout the 19th century to deploy counter-revolution in order to re-establish the power of the elites in numerous european countries)

      The second point I want to raise is the issue of postal votes. I see a danger in all of those unionist led councils exiting COSLA, as a front to massive ramp up the postal vote for the referendum, away from the eyes of regulators. We saw the issue raised the day, and labour squealing about it loudly.. Any thoughts on that possibility? I hope it is not true, but when I look at the shenanigans of Aberdeen Council, I cannot discount it completely

    23. TheGreatBaldo says:

      Does anyone have any idea how successful to date the RIC/SSP have been in their vote registration drive?

      Has an Council reported an increase of registrations on the Electoral Roll?

      I think come the night of the referendum if we hear that Glasgow constituencies like Pollock or Anniesland are reporting a turnout in the 70%+ range then we can take it as a sign that YES are gonna win!:-)

    24. Bingo Wings Over Scotland says:

      I assume that Labour will be running their usual postal voting scam, and that it will favour the no camp? Are Labour4Indy doing a similar job in favour of Yes?
      Survation should have had another question: if you voted in the last election, did you do it yourself or did that nice young man with the red rosette help with the forms and take them to the post office for you?

    25. Bingo Wings Over Scotland says:

      Don’t you just hate it when you type a reply and someone beats you to it by a couple of posts?

    26. panda paws says:

      @ Ian Brotherhood

      “We don’t set up stalls in the Newton Mearns and Bearsdens”

      Just to say Monday 17th 7.45pm for 8pm Crookfur Pavillon, Ayr Rd, Newton Mearns “An independent Scotland – the referendum”

      Speakers Stewart Maxwell MSP, Natalie McGarry Woman for Independence, Andy Lythgoe Business for Scotland and Paul Leinster Labour for Independence.

    27. James Kelly says:

      Just to inject a small note of caution, TNS actually weight their results so that non-voters from 2011 are taken full account of. As face-to-face pollsters, it’s also much easier for them to reach those people. Their results are fairly close to the average at the moment (although at least they’re a hell of a lot better for Yes than Ipsos-Mori).

    28. handclapping says:

      I posted this at the end of the problem with polls but it is just as relevant here

      Here in the badlands of Fife we are getting better than the polls in our canvas results. Which seems great till you realise that we are talking to the poor who are already showing up as more Yes than the rest.

      It means that Yes campaign in Fife and those in similar poor parts of Scotland need to produce a Yes vote much higher than the polls to counteract the No vote from places like Bearsden, Ayr and Morningside. That will mean getting all our supporters into the polling booth.

    29. john king says:

      “!You think Mr. B. McDougall is going to be in a wheelchair by referendum day? What are you planning, and is it wise?!”

      I suspect what Gordoz meant was the wide booth will be required due to an over indulgence of Tunnocks caramel wafers, 🙂

    30. Murray McCallum says:

      Would be a great success on many levels if we had people participating in the September vote and beyond.

      The first past the post Westminster system has a lot to answer for.

    31. scottish_skier says:

      It asked a question which explicitly noted that only 50% of those eligible to vote had done so in 2011, and asked its respondents whether they had or not. 74% of the sample said yes.

      Folk dinnae lie tae pollsters now do they. Nope, always tell the truth. Always say what they did / are really going to do.

      That’s why all the polling companies use 2010 as a reference for weighting and how the pollsters had 2011 bang on well in advance. Oh, hold on, that’s not right…

      TNS-BMRB are closest on your No right now. They knock doors so don’t have much if any issue with missing C2DE. Their last up-weight of this group was 1.01x compared with ICM at 1.35x or even panelbase at 1.86x.

      The problem TNS have are liars – more of a problem than any other pollster. I mean they knock your door out of the blue, sit down and ask you something very sensitive to many people straight up, along with all your personal details. Hell, they might even be English 😉 Evidenced by really, really abnormally high DK which is a quite recent phenomena.

      Up-weighting is ok, but if you are having to do it in a big way you are in effect inventing the views of those you haven’t spoken too. They might not be quite the same as those you did catch from that demographic.

      If you are using telephone like MORI, then you get the views of C2DEs who still use a landline = problem in today’s world. If you are online, you get the views of those using smartphones or PCs to fill out online polls, so the politically active for example…

    32. Linda's Back says:


      Don’t you just love the impartial BBC. To-night’s Reporting Scotland TV news featured a Yes meeting at Glenrothes with several questions asked but none of the answers broadcast.

      In context of lots of “Town Hall meetings” failed to mention that No side had no public meetings billed for the last fortnight whereas Yes had one every evening.

      With No anti independence meeting to cover they wheeled out Gordon Brown to say he was going round the country in the run up to September.

    33. Alfresco Dent says:

      Well illustrated Stu. I’ve been making this point long & weary. There was a period in the early eighties when I spent more of my time at the dole office than actually working. That period spanned roughly 6 years. And even when I was working it was only on government schemes. Remember them; YOP, YTS etc. I left school with nothing and I’m still paying for it even now. That’s by the by. My point is that nobody I met in the dole office signing on voted. Nobody I saw cashing their Gino’s voted. Nobody on those government schemes voted.

      I bloody did! However, of the ones I knew well enough to speak to without getting punched none of them, if forced to vote, would vote for the government. We know in those days that was the Tories and the loathing was understandable but those same people who would have voted Labour (ie anti-establishment, as they saw it) have now seen what 13 years of Labour rule can do to a country!

      So when they do vote in the referendum, and they will – who are they gonna vote for? The Tories and Labour Muppets Jackie Burd parades across their TV screens all holding hands, laughing and joking with each other. “We’re in it together cos we’re better together”?

      Aye right! Bring it on!

    34. Appleby says:

      Great point, RevStu! It’s things like this that are easy to forget completely while we get wrapped up in our microcosm of polls, campaigning and media.

      I’ll echo the comments on the quality you’re bringing to the table. This is why people show such overwhelming support for what you do.

    35. boris says:

      It was precisely the getting out of voters through activism which won Obama the election. The YES campaign should be on it.

    36. scottish_skier says:

      It asked a question which explicitly noted that only 50% of those eligible to vote had done so in 2011, and asked its respondents whether they had or not. 74% of the sample said yes.

      Conflicts with:

      The lowest estimates for turnout in September are 75%, and many are closer to 85% or even more.

      The latter is based on what people say they’ll do. The former talks about what people said they did and what they actually did. It finds 24% of the sample lied about turning out to vote.

      What’s good is, the Yes vote is very solid and the No weak. Yes are far more committed.

      The Yes numbers are ~4 in 10 and the way this support is developing makes it rock solid. Now imagine if the turnout was e.g. 70% or even just 65% and 40% voted Yes…

      I’d take great care about turnout. Historically in Scotland and elsewhere, referenda turnouts are lower than election turnouts for reasons I’ve talked about before. People have no ‘party loyalty’ to fall back on for example. They have to make a decision and if they are doubtful (e.g. the don’t like the union but are too scared of Yes), they won’t vote.

      Either way, turnout is most likely to favour Yes.

    37. scottish_skier says:

      ‘40% voted Yes’ of the total electorate that is. e.g. 40% total electorate on a 75% turnout = 53% Yes.

    38. lumilumi says:

      Referendums might usually command less popular vote than any GE but I hope the people living and working in Scotland do realise the importance of this one, and flock to the polls on 18 Sep this year.

      It’s really important that the referendum turnout gets above at least 66%, so it is unequivocally democratically valid, the democratic will of the people of Scotland.

      As I see it, the BT campaign is working hard to either make people vote NO or not vote at all. They forget that the wasted/unused vote will not count towards NO this time. No 40% rule this time.

      And many people still remember 1979. People who are not natural SNP voters or Scottish independists but still remember 1979 and the real YES but still somehow botched as a NO vote. These people are still around and want something better for their grandkids. They might even be Brits and Scots but BT discounts and disdaines them. BT forgets the long shadows their earlier incarnation still casts.

      All of this is of course easy to discount by saying Scots are resesentful. Nasty and resentful.

      Maybe they are, but wouldn’t you be if your country was abused for centuries. The aim here is to get OVER all that, Scottish independence can surely lead to a more mature and friendly relationship with two countries that share so much.

      The Westminster Bubble doesn’t realise this. They don’t realise or understand anybody who’s from outside their own comfortable Westminster Bubble.

      If Scotland becomes independent within the next couple of years, it’s not so much Scottish greatness but the ineptness and bumbling incompetence of the rUK. They’ve got MI5 and MI6 and 007 (who’s actually Scottish) and still make a meal of it.

      I don’t know much about Finnish military or other secret intelligence – well, I wouldn’t would I, being just an ordinary member of the public. The fact that I know a lot more about British intelligence kinda tells you a lot, aye?. Not very intelligent of the Brits, aye?

    39. jon esquierdo says:

      I have always thought the turnout would be around 80% of the electorate. Common sense tells me that 20% of those polled recently are either not registered to vote or do not vote. I also belief that yes supporters are certain to turn out and vote and I believe that yes will win because of that fact. I predicted on the BBC that the SNP would win the 2011 election with a majority when they were 15% behind in the polls. I could take a poll tomorrow and get a massive yes vote because it all depends where you take your samples from and the age groups you ask. On the other hand if you want your poll to be in favour of no take your samples from labour strongholds where the tories come second and ask mostly pensioners. That is why Gordon Brown is scaremongering the pensioners they are the key factor in winning and better together know that . If I were in charge of the yes campaign I would sweeten the pension pledge.

    40. Croompenstein says:

      sorry if this has been covered but it was on disreporting Scotland

    41. Midgehunter says:

      Muscleguy says:

      “Now the question becomes: do I disappoint my wife further and actually join and volunteer for Yes? Will the potential of piles of Yes newspapers convert her by osmosis?”

      Maybe your wife will admire you if you show her that you’ve got a backbone and are willing to stand up for your beliefs and fight for both your futures.

      Osmosis? Is Noel Gallagher gonna be folding YES newspapers as well… 😉

    42. scottish_skier says:

      It’s really important that the referendum turnout gets above at least 66%, so it is unequivocally democratically valid, the democratic will of the people of Scotland.

      It’ll top that ok. I’m just not for like 85%! Would be nice, but that’s not going to happen. Jeez, 81% is the highest ever back in the 1950’s.

      It’s not apathy in referenda, it’s the inability to make a decision that means turnout is often lower than projected (from polls) or even expected based on elections. This a big danger for no as anyone who likes the idea of independence, even if they’d gone och naw when asked etc, is highly unlikely to follow through and vote No.

      BT can only rely on hardcore, committed unionists who habitually vote. That’s about 26% of the electorate.

    43. mutttley79 says:

      Does anyone know when the deadline for getting your name
      on the electoral register for the vote in September is? Surely it must be coming up soon in terms of people who are off it at the moment? Does anyone know how many people the Yes campaign have got on the register?

    44. Muscleguy says:

      Well firstly, have you met my wife? Secondly she is the ‘shit scared of any change’ kind of No voter. So she thinks that instead of ‘Fighting for both our futures’ I’m endangering them.

      The osmosis bit was because there is now way she is going to pick one up and read it. Head in the sand ostrichism is the way instead. She refuses to discuss it, is not interested in facts that counter her views (such as that we will be forced to use the Euro in joining the EU).

      Her big thing is she likes living in a ‘big’ country. But since we both grew up in New Zealand and would move back if we could both figure out to earn a decent crust this more than a little incoherent.

    45. scottish_skier says:

      I predicted on the BBC that the SNP would win the 2011 election with a majority when they were 15% behind in the polls.

      Aye. And pollsters were not wrong when they had labour up on ~45%. People were saying they were going to vote Labour. This was totally consistent in 2010 to early 2011. It’s just that they didn’t do that at all. They said Labour, but were ultimately intending SNP.

      You can see the SNP were on for 40% looking at 2009. The libs just ensured they hit 45% by siding with the Tories.

      Why did folk say Labour then vote SNP? Why did they say SNP (2009) then Labour (2010) then actually vote SNP? Well, some were lying. Some were probably ‘Oh my god am I really going to do this’… whatever their reasons they told effective porkies. Of course the SNP had a good inkling of this from canvassing.

      Folks are telling porkies now. The no is very, very soft.

    46. Thepnr says:

      @Scottish Skier

      I guess that some type of referenda do not have high turnouts but the only examples of Independence referenda I know of are the two Quebec ones.

      Here the turnouts were as follows:
      1980 84.3%
      1995 93.5%

      Whereas typical turnout over the last 30 years in Canadian GE’s is 63.4%

      Wouldn’t you expect a substantially higher turnout for an Independence referendum than any other type of referendum?

    47. msean says:

      Some may have voted snp after a few months of Ed Miliband leadership,they just knew he will not ever be a PM,and that means Tories until at least 2020,maybe even longer.They elected the wrong brother and folk want out.

    48. scottish_skier says:

      Wouldn’t you expect a substantially higher turnout for an Independence referendum than any other type of referendum?

      Possibly, but in Scotland we have 63.8% and 60.4% for 1997. In each case, this was 0.85 of those who turned out for the most recent GE… It’s rather hard to say and I don’t trust people saying to pollsters ‘I’ll vote’ especially when 24% lie about such matters 🙂

      I think it will be high, certainly higher than recent UKGE’s and likely over 70%. I’d also predict the higher the turnout, the better the Yes win.

    49. Thepnr says:

      Sorry 20 years, not 30.

    50. HandandShrimp says:


      I would be surprised if the turnout was below 65% I think it could be as high as 70%. I know some are hoping for higher still but a lot of people really don’t bother voting these days no matter what the issue and don’t bother to register to vote.

    51. scottish_skier says:

      Some may have voted snp after a few months of Ed Miliband.

      They planned to vote SNP in 2009 already. 40% of the electorate. It’s just 10% then said the opposite before doing what they said they’d do originally.

      Although Ed maybe had them admit they planned SNP more readily as we moved into 2011.

      Note, the Scots electorate was for Yes in 2011. That’s what they were saying. It never really went away, just went below the surface (like SNP intention in 2010) and it’s coming back to the surface again, but this time solid as a rock.

    52. Thepnr says:

      SS Thanks

      I’m really hoping for at least at 80% turnout as I believe the majority of these “new” voters will be doing it simply to vote Yes, they want change and they will know that their vote counts.

      If more than 1 in 5 chose not to vote considering the exposure so far and that yet to come in the next 6 months I will be gobsmacked. The last two weeks leading to the vote will be wall to wall election coverage.

      Some people will undoubtably be sick of it but you can’t ignore it. The vote will be big.

    53. Faltdubh says:

      I think the turnout will be high 70s. Yet in Scandinavia that would be considered, a low one.

      What the press continue to miss is that this is not an ‘election’ as per or who governs us for 4-5 years, this is the future of our country and many will turn out to vote.

      I know 2 people who say they have NEVER voted in their 12 years as an eligable voter, but WILL be this time, and it’s a Yes from them both!

    54. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Does anyone know when the deadline for getting your name
      on the electoral register for the vote in September is?”

      September 3rd.

    55. hetty says:

      It would be great to see a huge turnout, and nothing is set in stone about this referendum, so it could be very interesting.

      Regards the electoral register, I can see how some people would avoid registering if they have debt probs et …not sure how much it helps but you can opt via a tick box to not have your personal info shared (!) with companies and businesses etc. Maybe this doesn’t extend to nasty debt collectors though.

    56. Bill C says:

      Seems even the London press have cottoned on to Bitter Together’s Achilles Heel.

    57. Onwards says:

      Agree with the comments above regarding the postal voting.

      I wish it didn’t exist at all – there is just too much potential for fraud.

      Can just imagine labour going round old folks homes, talking about the war, and ‘helping’ pensioners fill in their forms to save us from Alex Salmond’s dreams of separation.

    58. Brotyboy says:


      I meant to post on an earlier thread, to thank you for your posts.

      You cannot possibly know how significant your comments and analysis are for me, and I hope, for many others.

    59. muttley79 says:

      Thanks for that Rev Stu, I did not realise that it was so close to the referendum. Still plenty of time for folk who want to get registered.

    60. Thepnr says:


      I do see your point about postal votes but of course for many they are the only way they could vote, people working on oil rigs, ships or abroad who may be away for weeks at a time are entitled to votes. So too students studying abroad.

      Both my grown up children fall into one of these categories and I have made sure they will be sent the application form for a postal vote.

      If abuse is happening then it has to be policed more adequately.

    61. a2 says:

      Have to take brians point there. The first place the debt collectors look is the electrol register. that raises two real problems.

      1. It’s harder to get people to register.

      2. Is it ethical to persuade people who may be in debt to register if the result may be considerable harassment.

      Whether or why someone may be in debt is a separate issue that I will back away from slowly.

    62. Thomas William Dunlop says:

      Bill C says Interesting article but the girl cannot resist conflating independence with Salmond.

    63. a2 says:

      Is it intentional that putin as hitler appears so prominently in the image for that Independent article.

      Not exactly subtle.

    64. TJenny says:

      I too feel that the rise of the disenfranchised from the large housing estates will indeed boost the YES vote.

      However, I did wonder about those who are ‘missing’ from the electoral register, originally, I would imagine, to escape the hated poll tax. Are those people now safe from prosecution or would registering to vote on the referendum, leave them open to being pursued for poll tax non-payment.

      Hopefully, if the poll tax threat is a concern then those who are canvassing these areas are reassuring new emergent registrants that they can ‘tick’ the non-disclosure of data box.

      Or we could just ask oor Alex to announce a poll tax amnesty so folks’ fears are allayed.

    65. scottish_skier says:

      ThepnrIf more than 1 in 5 chose not to vote

      What do you do if you don’t know what to vote? This is a big decision.

      However, it would hurt no, not Yes. Examples.

      We have a long term family friend who is a ‘unionist’ surrounded by independence people; her husband and just about every friend. She’s not much into politics, is English and has lived in Scotland for 25 years, loving it deeply. However, she’s sad that the UK is ending and is still clinging to it in a ‘doesn’t want this to be happening’ way yet understands why it is fully and is sympathetic. If a pollster phoned her, she’d say ‘No’. She says she probably won’t vote though – she’s stuck between a heart attached to a UK that once had a degree of solidarity and a head that says things can no longer go on the way they are.

      My best mate is similar. He has English parents / extended family, Scottish grandparents on one side, and has lived in Scotland all his life. He feels British in addition to Scottish and genuinely so. He’s not a ‘proud Scot’ he’s a genuine Scot and British. He is sad at the prospect at of the end of Britiain but the BT campaign have hurt him a lot more – he’s Scottish after all if forced to pick – and they’ve likely lost themselves a vote by how horrible they are being about Scotland.

      Last time I chatted to him I got them impression he’ll not vote or if he does, he’ll vote Yes but with a bit of a heavy heart, wishing maybe it could have been different. He may still say No to a pollster, but his heart doesn’t seem to be in it now, not after what the pro-union campaign have done.

      The no is soft and it’s the pro-union campaign that’s softening it. It’s making people who would have voted No because they felt an attachment to Britishness – essentially guaranteed votes – now likely not vote. It has put them in a position where they can’t vote for what they once believed in so will likely not vote at all, leaving it to others to decide.

      Nobody can blame people for this for it’s not apathy. Nor for other examples of people utterly caught as to what is best to vote for there own reasons, be these heart or head.

    66. Morag says:

      I don’t think it’s about the poll tax as such, but the habit of staying off the register to avoid that has stuck among certain sociological groups. (Ironically, they really didn’t check the electoral register for that. I was on the electoral register in Scotland throughout the poll tax period, never paid a penny and was never pursued.) There is no possibility of anyone who was off the register in the 1990s being chased because they went back on in 2014.

      However credit companies do use the register to chase bad debt, so there is genuine reason to stay off for some people. And asking to stay off the edited register doesn’t help with that.

      Cue Lumilumi to tell us about the great Big Brother system in Finland….

    67. AvidViewer says:

      Hi Muscleguy, don’t worry about the Graun- you have more important priorities.

      By leafleting for independence, you are working to make Scotland a bigger country than it can be under Westminster. Working to build a country whose government is more accountable to its own people, which is not held back by the need to appease 55 million others with their own set of concerns.

    68. Justin Kenrick says:

      Just to echo what Brotyboy says above (13 March, 2014 at 8:32 pm) about Scottish_Skier

      I find the comments threads here really instructive, and in particular Scottish_Skier’s analysis is not something I encounter anywhere else. Get yourself posting full articles, or am I missing a blog somewhere?!

    69. Brotyboy says:

      This is interesting, and it’s entirely possible that the avoidance of debt collectors is one reason for non registration.

      If I remember correctly, debts are erased from your credit file after 6 years, perhaps even 5 years in Scotland. I think there may also be a similar limitation on time after which a debt is non-enforceable, if there has been no communication between creditor and debtor.

      Companies tend to sell on their debts to debt collectors wholesale, for something like 10% of the book value. The good thing is that their record keeping is so poor and their ability to provide a full file to the debt collection agencies is so abysmal, that the debt collecting agencies would not, on the whole, be able to take long standing debtors to court; they need to provide a copy of the original agreement, which is usually lacking.

      Consequently they bluff. They threaten debtors with escalation, they offer discounts, they pass the debt on to another ‘agency’ or heavy sounding company, perhaps even a solicitor. The fact is that if they had the evidence required to take a debtor to court, they would do it immediately. If they don’t, they are bluffing.

    70. rab_the_doubter says:

      Just read that Independent article and this bit caught my eye:

      ‘There are other figures in the Yes campaign, but truly it lives and dies with Salmond. In many ways, he is like Nigel Farage…..’

      Did she just call Alec Salmond a dickhead?

    71. Dal Riata says:

      Good article, Stu, which helps to answer the couple of questions I asked in a comment under the previous article regarding demographics of question respondees in polls.

      Getting those who have, perhaps, never cast a vote before or who may feel disenfranchised from politics out to the booths on referendum day is crucial to the ‘Yes’ vote.

      How to get them there?

      Let them know that on that day, they have as much say in the result and in influencing the future of their country as anyone else who will be voting. Something along the lines of:

      *You* will have the power – even if it is just for one day – to do something magnificent, to really do something of note, to do something historical, to do something you, your family, your friends can all be proud of.

      On that day in Scotland, no-one will be ‘better’, ‘richer’ or more powerful than you – all will be as equals, one person one vote.

      But it doesn’t end there, oh no. Later, and as long as you live, you, as well as every single person who put their X beside ‘Yes’ to make Scotland independent can say with pride, “I did that! Me!” And how brilliant will that feel!

      Let people know that they are as important to Scotland as anyone else whether rich or poor, no matter where they come from or whether they’ve got a good job, or even a job at all.

      Let people know that their vote *does* matter. Give people hope and aspiration to achieve something better in their lives. A ‘Yes’ vote for an independent Scotland gives them that.

      Hope over fear – it wins every time.

    72. Jamie Arriere says:

      It is possible to register on the roll anonymously, but you usually have to provide good reasons for doing so – eg court orders, abusive ex-partners, witness protection etc. You have to provide documentation or attestation from other parties to justify it.

      This came in under the Electoral Administration Act 2006, and you need to contact the local Election Registration Officer.

      If YES are looking to make every vote count in areas where people may be afraid of this, they need to know this facility exists

    73. Andrew Morton says:

      Just watching Question Time and panellists are saying that the NHS in its present form is finished. Just wait until that sinks in among the Scottish electorate. Is this the fate that awaits us if we vote No?

    74. rab_the_doubter says:

      They really are a disingenuous shower (apart-surprisingly from Nick Hewer). No mention of NHS Scotland at all.

    75. Onwards says:

      @Dal Riata,

      Good post – I think that type of spirit will carry us over the line, especially if we are showing momentum in the final weeks.

      People will want to be involved in something historic, if it looks possible.

      Jim Sillars has a great comment about people being empowered for that one day.

      Between 7am and 10pm..

      We need a huge media campaign in the last week with that kind of simple message drummed in.

      “Empower ourselves!”
      “Be part of history!”
      “Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.”

    76. Grouse Beater says:

      It’s my perception, based on inside information, staff of the No campaign are pretty well in agreement with Wing’s general conclusions. The “inside” fear is Yes will win by 58% of the votes, hence their strenuous efforts to thwart the path to greater democracy.

      For what it’s worth my own calculation is higher. It takes into account a potential swing of one percent, (a modest estimate) of the various non-Yes categories of electorate who might swing to the Yes side at the last minute – what I term the, “what have we to lose?” voter. That in turn raises a potential Yes win to a significant 63% of voters.

      I earnestly hope it is over 60%. Anything less than 60% means weeks of hard accusation that the level of vote was not absolute enough, followed by attempts from authoriarian politicians and capitalist interests demanding the result be set aside.

      That said, 51% for Yes should, and indeed, must be respected. From the ferocity of opposition to greater powers we are subjected to now we know it won’t be.

    77. Ian Brotherhood says:

      @Grouse Beater –

      You know, from watching this site, that Scottish Skier is widely respected as a psepholopundit (to coin a term) and, unless he corrects me, his forecasts/projections have averaged around 62.75% Yes (is that right, SS?).

      From a purely personal SSP activist PoV, I’ve had the figure at around 62-67% for the past year or so, and that’s based purely on talking to people in ‘relatively’ deprived areas.

      If we then factor in what you’re saying (which I have absolutely no reason to doubt), then an interesting problem arises:

      A man has £100, and he wants to stick it on a Yes vote, and he wants to do it tomorrow. Should he ask for odds on Yes being over 60%, 65%, or even 70% of the total votes cast?

      Right now – and this is honest – if I was that man? I’d be asking for the odds on 70%+

      And you know, as do I, that no bookie will even offer odds on that figure. They daren’t. And the bookies’ fear is being reflected in these slanted polls – they can’t allow the Yes side to be SEEN to be winning, even when they know it is.

      Bottom-line? The polls are contrivances – anyone even remotely active ‘on the ground’ has known it for many months past.

    78. TJenny says:

      Ian Brotherhood – so pray tell – what is the answer to the wee puzzle you set us yesterday? (pretty please). 🙂

    79. Robert Kerr says:

      @Dal Riata


      Further I have believed that SLAB are happy to keep their core heartlands poor and like shitholes. Plant the seed that this is deliberate policy. Get Yes votes and help destroy SLAB.

      Good luck to SSP, RIC and LfI. The schemes are your battleground

    80. Ian Brotherhood says:

      @T Jenny –

      I’m seriously sorry about this, but, er, well, umm, you see, I don’t actually have one.

      I just plucked those numbers out of the air, trying to remember what format ‘Countdown’ uses. I’ve no idea whether they do select four numbers, or whether they have to be single, double or triple digits, but I just picked the numbers, set them down, hoping it would simulate a ‘Countdown’-type scenario.


    81. Ian Brotherhood says:

      @Robert Kerr & Dal Riata –

      Cheers both.

      Youse are mind-readers – this stuff was being discussed earlier this evening, in Kilwinning.

      SSP will definitely be doing as you suggested, throughout the summer months, and if – IF – I get a shot at the loudhailer? I will be nicking some of Dal Riata’s stirring phrases (with permission, of course!)

    82. TJenny says:

      Ian Brotherhood – Phew! Fab! I don’t feel so bad now at only managing to get to 247. 🙂

    83. Ian Brotherhood says:

      @TJenny –

      I’m just glad you’re still able to give me a smiley – sorry if you wasted any time on it.

      Numbers? Pah! Only one that means anything is 51.

    84. TJenny says:

      IB – 51? Okay, gotta ask – Is it the Scottish 42 (our meaning of life now being the minimum % we need to get for a YES win?)

    85. StevieMcB says:

      Dal Riata

      you have put so well our cause, our beliefs.

      thank you

    86. stone says:

      Somebody asked earlier about the deadline for voter registration. According to P and K Council’s electoral reg officer it is Sep 2nd 2014, which is later than I thought. We need to get this confirmed. I went on the http://www.aboutmyvote site which has the info and the forms.Hope this helps.

    87. Bill Tohill says:

      “I suspect what Gordoz meant was the wide booth will be required due to an over indulgence of Tunnocks caramel wafers, ”

      And don’t forget the Mackies ice cream !

    88. scottish_skier says:

      IB: unless he corrects me, his forecasts/projections have averaged around 62.75% Yes (is that right, SS?).

      Something like Q2 1997 at least aye. All the SSAS, census, polling data on Devo max, which government is most trusted etc say this. The only one that doesn’t right now (well it does if you look a little longer term / abstractly) is Y/N and there are reasons for this. A reason that the unionist SoS has said; people are going to vote emotionally in the main and they’re telling porkies a lot of the time when asked. They did this in 2010 ahead of 2011 for similar reasons.

      Last night I was looking at the census data on natID versus by region versus 1997 Q1 and Q2. Q1 and Q2 mirrored Scotland’s sense of itself. Q1 was forced choice Scottish, Q2 multi-choice Scottish only. The levels of support for Q1 and Q2 form an amazing, almost perfect linear relationship in line with this. Likewise, both show identical relationships with how Scottish each region felt (2011 census data is a bit new for 1997, but not much has changed). A universal force governed the outcome of 1997 and it wasn’t economics, taxes, it was how a nation saw itself and that was Scottish. It’s the primary reason for the existence of nations.

      The reason the result was more easily predictable in Y/N polls ahead of 1997 was social acceptability of Yes. At that time Scotland’s 3 main parties backed it, as did much of the press. People therefore openly admitted supporting it. Right now, the remorseless attacks on indy supporters as ‘nasty fascist, economically illiterate, braveheart loving, English hating, living in a fantasy world seperatists’ has literally been shutting people up. It will not change what they will do though .

      As the Rev has pointed out, all the evidence says ‘big Yes’, except when you ask people using the i-word. Then people start acting shifty, averting their gaze, mumbling, ‘Och a dinnae ken, probably naw’.

      In the ballot box, people’s vote is private though…

      This is what unionists know and deeply fear. It is the reason their primary strategy has always been that there be no referendum and why they are running around like headless chickens right now.

    89. scottish_skier says:

      “If you know you shouldn’t do something but for an emotional reason you are going to do it anyway, then you won’t admit to pollsters what you are going to do.

      “You’ll say you haven’t made your mind up, but know exactly what you are doing but won’t admit it because you are making a judgment that is emotional rather than intellectual.”

      Alistair Carmichael, November 2013.

      Now he of course says it in as pejorative manner as possible because it’s driving him mad, but he knows the score. He also has access to a lot of polling data we mortals do not.

    90. Grouse Beater says:

      @Ian Brotherhood

      Your remark about bookies:

      An Irish art critic I met in Dublin last week asked what the bookies are offering. “You have to pay dem close attention. Day’re very rarely wrong.”

      I then had a passionate discussion with him and six others at the table about referenda being wildly different from elections – for us a simple decision of yes or no.

      In the case of our plebiscite we’re presented with a black or white, status quo forever, or Scotland altered forever.

      Asking an adolescent, indeed any adult, what their opinion is on a given subject immediately boosts that recipient’s self-esteem. You imply you believe well enough of them to want to learn from them.

      In effect, that’s what Scotland’s Referendum is doing. It reaffirms us, the people, are the important ones. Our decision can change fate.

      The offer of change for the better, the shrugging off of artificial constraints, is extremely attractive for it embodies hope preserved, and every human aspiration is underscored by hope. Voting No means suffocating hope.

      The critic raised his glass of Baileys, “I hope you’re roight, moi friend. Oi wish ya all da best!”

    91. James Kay says:

      T Jenny

      42 – the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.

      I would be delighted if we were to win with 42% (1979 rules). This scenario requires turnout to be less than 84%, which seems not unlikely.

    92. Ian Brotherhood says:

      @TJenny –

      Yep. 51 will do it.

    93. MochaChoca says:

      Polls in the run up to the ’97 Devo referendum had support for the Scottish parliament at 60-63% and for tax varying powers at 38-51%.

      These were the figures just a few days before the referendum, but on the day the result was 74.3% for the parliament and 63.5% for tax varying powers.

    94. Donald says:

      Muscleguy – join up!

      The last newspaper plus an Ivan McKee YouTube vid turned my wife from soft Yes to one of the most ardent Yess I’ve come across.

    95. Weedeochandorris says:

      As I’ve said before Westminster have hired Obama’s web campaigners Blue State Digital to run the No campaign. They are running this exactly the same way they did for Obama. I suspect that in the last few weeks we will be bombarded like never before with even more negativity especially against AS. We are not America and I believe the positivity of Yes will win but it helps to know where it’s all coming from and be aware of what they are trying to do.

      “The Obama campaign succeeded by deliberately “suppressing the vote.” An astonishing 86 percent of all campaign commercials by the Obama campaign and allied groups featured negative messages about Romney. These attack ads aren’t supposed to inspire your people to go to the polls; they’re meant to dissuade the other guy’s supporters from going to the polls. The purpose of negative advertising is to discourage, not encourage,”

      “The impact of such an unpleasant campaign almost always will prove more damaging to a challenger trying to attract new votes than to an incumbent who needs only to hold on to the bulk of his old base…….future campaigns will follow the Obama example and pursue victory by alarming and discouraging, rather than inspiring and motivating.”

    96. faolie says:

      Such an interesting post Rev, and some cracking comments. Didn’t know about the bookies’ reluctance to take some bets on Yes vote.

      Agree about getting out the people who don’t normally / never vote. Anyone else in Edinburgh fancy joining RIC on Tuesday? Mass Canvas in Dumbiedykes

    97. Mary Bruce says:

      @Weedeochandorris: As I’ve said before Westminster have hired Obama’s web campaigners Blue State Digital to run the No campaign… I suspect that in the last few weeks we will be bombarded like never before with even more negativity especially against AS.

      I reckon that this will all work in the Yes campaign’s favour. It’s one thing for Blue State Digital to build a negative campaign about an individual but what is happening here is that they are unwittingly creating a negative campaign against the Scottish people. It ends up being Westminster slagging off Scotland, and we all feel insulted. They don’t realise that the majority of Scots have a strong Scottish national identity and that, for us, this is about more than Alex Salmond.

    98. Albert Herring says:

      I remember polls from pre 2011 where around 75% were in favour of holding a independence referendum.

      Why would someone opposed to independence want an independence referendum?

      Just saying.

    99. Weedeochandorris says:

      @Mary Bruce I agree they, have totally miscalculated and using this tactic here will not work 🙂

    100. Muscleguy says:

      Why would someone opposed to independence want an independence referendum?

      In order to shoot your fox you must first flush it into the open. Some folk wanted a referendum to get talk about it over and done with for 20 years.

      Remember in the previous parliament as a minority government the SNP had tried to get the referendum bill through and failed. Some see it as an unnecessary distraction.

      I don’t agree with this attitude btw, but it does exist.

      I’m also not saying there is not a latent majority for independence. I’m just not convinced it’s at 73% nationally.

    Comment - please read this page for comment rules. HTML tags like <i> and <b> are permitted. Use paragraph breaks in long comments. DO NOT SIGN YOUR COMMENTS, either with a name or a slogan. If your comment does not appear immediately, DO NOT REPOST IT. Ignore these rules and I WILL KILL YOU WITH HAMMERS.

    ↑ Top