Lies, damned lies, and opinion polls

A New Year, a fresh start, but the same auld mince from the usual suspects in Scotland’s not-so-merry band of grip losing Unionists for whom hysteria is a substitute for reason. The Unionists in Scotland are exactly like the Brexiteers. Both won their referendums, and both have reacted to their victories with ill-grace, bad tempers, petulance, and a growing and increasingly vocal paranoia. The paranoia and bad tempers are only going to get worse over the coming year as it becomes increasingly obvious that the Union is a project which can only continue if the people of Scotland are willing to put up with an ever growing pile of crapulous unfairness where Scotland’s voice counts for much less than Nigel Farage’s.

But the Union still has its little elves and munchkins in the press, who’ll find a way of making sure that everything that issues from Holyrood is bad. And when there’s not enough SNPbadness to go round, they’ll commission a meaningless opinion poll that can be spun into a story that allegedly proves that people in Scotland are falling out of love with the idea of independence. Headlining in the pro-British press on Monday was a new opinion poll which purports to show that a substantial majority of Scotland’s voters don’t want an independence referendum in 2017. For some reason, this is supposed to be a terrible blow for Nicola Sturgeon.

Telling us that most people don’t want a second independence referendum in 2017 tells us as much about support for independence as throwing a bucket of blue paint over a crowd of shoppers at Parkhead Forge tells us about support for Rangers. In fact, randomly flinging about buckets of paint is very much like commissioning and publishing a misleading opinion poll. Both are exercises in pointlessness which only succeed in annoying people and creating mess and confusion. Although at least the paint flinging could potentially create something that could be described as abstract art. The only way you can create art with Scottish Unionist newspapers is to rip them up and use them to make a papier maché model of Ruth Davidson posing in a cheery photo-op with a ruminant. Which is about as incisive and forensic as they ever get with Ruth anyway.

I spend a considerable amount of time and energy arguing for independence, campaiging for independence, and travelling the length and breadth of Scotland and speaking to people about independence. It’s probably safe to say that I’m pretty committed to the idea of independence and am not only keen to see a yes vote in a future independence referendum but am also doing everything within my limited ability to help bring a yes vote about. But if I were asked whether I wanted an independence referendum in 2017 I’d say no. It’s too soon, and we’d find it harder to win than if we have an independence referendum late in 2018 or early in 2019, by which time the awfulness of Brexit will be becoming clear in all its red white and blue horror.

The best time for a second indyref is when people will be facing up to the very real and very frightening prospect of a Tory government in Westminster ripping up our human rights and employment rights to turn them into a papier maché model of a Great British Bill of Rights which they’ll burn as a sacrifice on the altar of xenophobia. Because I don’t just want the cause of independence to win the next indyref, and there will be another indyref, I want us to win it convincingly. And the best way to win it convincingly is when we go into a second independence referendum campaign with a majority already supporting the idea of Scottish independence because the British state will have shown itself to be an utterly irredeemable mad bag of spanners which is going to destroy the lives and opportunities of millions of its citizens. It will be when the people of Scotland have indisputable evidence that every single plan or project that can allow Scotland’s needs and voice to be respected and taken into account within the framework of Union has been cast aside and rejected by a greedy and arrogant Westminster government that refuses to compromise.

In my view, the best time to have another independence referendum is sometime late in 2018 or very early in 2019, by which time we’ll all know what sort of Brexit is on the cards. Right now, all we know are Theresa May’s tautologies which are an ever more transparent cover for the fact that her government doesn’t have a clue on how to proceed. She must have though it was terribly clever for her to give the main posts in her cabinet dealing with Brexit to leading Brexiteers, but all she’s achieved has been to highlight her own vacuuity while Johnson, Fox, and Davis vie with one another in an ignorance competition.

The same poll also has a question about independence. 45.5% of respondents want independence. Or to be more exact, it probably doesn’t show that at all. The poll was carried out by the same polling company which last time it did a Scottish poll asked whether people wanted Scotland to remain a member of the UK, a question which is vague to the point of uselessness, because “not being a member of the UK” isn’t defined. It is technically possible for Scotland to be independent and still to be a “member of the UK”. It just depends on how you want to define things.

But more importantly, this question can’t be compared directly with the 2014 referendum result, because that would require asking the same question as was asked in the referendum. That being said, and despite the fact that if it was phrased the same way as in the previous poll from the same company it’s likely to produce a lower percentage in favour of “not being a member of the UK” than a simple question about independence, the new poll does seem to contradict the recent Yougov poll claiming that support for independence had dropped below the level it achieved in 2014. Scotland remains on course for an independence referendum within the next couple of years, and remains on course for independence.

But if my opinion was included in this opinion poll, it would be presented in the Unionist media as a blow for Nicola Sturgeon and a falling away in support for independence. And then these same publications produce anguished editorials about false news and how it’s damaging to democracy. It might be a New Year, but we’re in for the same lies, the same deception, and the same manipulation. Thankfully more and more of us are seeing through the lies.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at

Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

Donate Button

If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at for details of alternative methods of donation.

frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

0 thoughts on “Lies, damned lies, and opinion polls

  1. Calm Paul, calm……we are winning. As for your timetable, I know naught. I hope it’s sooner rather than later, I’m getting on a bit. Say hello to the dug from me.

    • agree with what Paul says about seeing the effects of brexit before indyref2. Am a little worried about the timing.

      Indyref2 has to be won before the UK – EU negotiations end if Scotland is to remain in the EU as an independent state. Scotland will never have/be given the chance to hold it after the negotiations end.

      The top French negotiatior has set an 18 month deadline as the last 6 months of the 2-year negotiation period are needed for agreement ratifications by EU institutions like the parliament, nation states etc.
      So if Theresa may actually does notify Article 50 at the end of March 2017, negotiations will be over by Sept-Oct 2018.

      Consequently I think Indyref2 needs to be held sometime in summer 2018. This means a nice short, sharp campaign over the spring, with better weather and longer evenings so people are more inclined to turn out for local meetings, door chapping, leafletting, street stalls etc,

    • So am I Bill, getting on I mean, and the prospect of canvassing through the winter months doesn’t appeal to me one little bit. I’m hoping against hope that Westminster make such an obvious mess of the Brexit negotiations, that it will be possible for Indyref2 to take place during late 2018.

    • Be careful quoting American Revolutionaries in a Scottish Independence forum.

      Someone might get the wrong idea, and think we’re going to start a war or something.

      There is a greater chance of that happening in N.Ireland than in Scotland. And if I lived in London, I’d be be scared of the Irish reaction to brexit, not the Scottish one.

  2. Neatly done Paul.

    Another wee factoid for future poll related pish on the part of the meeja. Its beyond a polling issue at this point. Its procedural.

    Its entirely in the hands of Westminster as to whether there will be an indyref sooner or later. The SG has done its part. They assembled a board of experts given the express task of exploring possible paths to retaining both unions (I know, I know. An exercise in futility), but explore they did and their findings were presented as a proposal to the Westminster Government. The Westminster government, on the face of it, have rejected the boards/SG’s proposal out of hand, though I think the closer we get to Brexit, the more they should be encouraged to revisit that decision.

    There’s a downside you see to the whole no way Jose scenario.

    With rejection, the Scottish Government and population are faced with a near inevitable referendum based on the fact that the Scottish population voted on two referendums with completely constitutionally incompatible results (the second far more conclusive in its margin of victory). The Scottish government would be compelled by the demands of their own population to seek resolution and further public instruction via referendum. Unless of course…, the Westminster government agrees to the federal solution proposed by the SG and gives them permission to approach the EU in their own right to seek their own arrangement (again with no guarantee of acceptance).

    What will NOT happen is that a Westminster government will be allowed to remove the human rights of the Scottish electorate. Neither will they be allowed to remove Scotland’ s electorate from the EU without the express permission and agreement of the Scottish people, nor relegate Scotland’s laws and pertinent EU legislation to a devolved status from its current independent status.

    The Scottish government and population did not ask for this scenario. They didn’t want it, didn’t angle for it, or by use of the dark arts manufacture it, but it was most certainly forced upon us. Happily its also in OUR hands to resolve the matter.

    Its a pickle for Ms May right enough, but the choice is now hers.

  3. Pingback: Lies, damned lies, and opinion polls | speymouth

  4. Don’t know why they continue to publish those ridiculous polls – after all they made a complete hash of predicting the EU Ref results. Totally useless!

    Thanks, Paul. We’re on our way……..late 2018. And as you say, we’ll win back our independence.

  5. I once joked to a friend of mine that I am increasingly only vaguely aware that there is this thing called the “UK”. The only time I read about it is through websites such as this and my usual reaction is wtf? Another year of that? you know what? No. I am drawing in the antenna and getting on with other things for a spell.

    Still yes til I die. But for now, I am going to scrape the UK off the heel of my shoe and get some fresh air.

  6. Couldn’t agree more, Paul, Sam.
    We keep our powder dry.
    The Dead Tree Scrolls are at their frantic panicking best today.
    I posted this on WoS earlier.

    “On 13th Jan 2015 28 Scottish Labour MPs voted with the Tories and Lib Dems for a £30 billion in cuts, the Charter for Budget Responsibility, comprising £12 billion in cuts to Welfare payments, disability payments, Tax Credits and Housing Benfits, £13 billion in cuts to public spending on vital services and sacking huindereds of thousands of public servants, and a mere £5 billion raised in tax revenue, but not to the richest, who got a 5% tax cut.
    Douglas Alexander (Paisley and Renfrewshire North), Willie Bain (Glasgow North East), Gordon Banks (Ochil and South Perthshire), Anne Begg (Aberdeen South), Russell Brown (Dumfries and Galloway), Michael Connarty (Linlithgow and East Falkirk), Margaret Curran (Glasgow East), Iain Davidson (Glasgow South West), Thomas Docherty (Dunfermline and West Fife), Brian Donohoe (Central Ayshire), Frank Doran (Aberdeen North), Gemma Doyle (West Dunbartonshire), Tom Greatrex (Rutherglen and Hamilton West), David Hamilton (Midlothian), Tom Harris (Glasgow South), Jimmy Hood (Lanark and Hamilton East), Cathy Jamieson (Kilmarnock and Loudoun), Iain MacKenzie (Inverclyde), Michael McCann (East Kilbride , Stathaven and Lesmahagow), Gregg McClymont (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch), Anne McGuire (Stirling), Graham Morrice (Livingston), Iain Murray (Edinburgh South), Pamela Nash (Airdrie and Shotts), Fiona O’Donnell (East Lothian), John Robertson (Glasgow North West), Frank Roy (Motherwell and Wishaw), Anas Sarwar (Glasgow Central.
    28 out of 41, who got what they deserved and were kicked out at the GE.
    13 ‘abstained’, with Jim Murphy holding court with the Dead Tree Scrollers on the day declaring that he was ‘not a Unionist’.
    One Scottish Labour MP out of 41 Tony Blair New Labourite neo Conservative Red Tories vot against the Austerity packge.
    Well, Iain Murray, the Last Man Standing voted to punish the poor, reward the rich, as did Anas Sarwar.
    Yet he bleats on about Tory cuts in today’s Blahs?
    A hypocrite of the first order.”

    Where are the Red Tories now?
    Trousering loads of lovely jubbly in appearance money fees from the BBC reminding us of how BAD the SNP are.

  7. I do YouGov surveys but I have never been asked to contribute my views to the polls on support for independence. I often wonder if this is related to the fact that I have indicated consistent support for the SNP. Is anyone else in the same position ?

    • Aye Jim, they seem inordinately interested in what I eat, where I shop and what I watch on TV. Political questions actually seem to vanish from my main page before I get the chance to answer them.

    • Me too – I’ve been on the YouGov Panel for years. In the early days I was asked to complete one or two polls on politics but since they established where my support lies I have only been asked about shopping habits or TV viewing.

      I firmly believe that when it comes to Indyref2 The Bad Guys, having used up all their lying and subsequently discredited ammunition during Indyref1, will use manipulated Opinion Polls to INFLUENCE Public Opinion rather than REFLECT it the latter being the supposed purpose of polls.

      • I’m sure you’re right about the purpose of polls, but I’m regularly asked political questions by YouGov, occasionally by Opinium and Populus, never by Survation or Panelbase.

        I always give them the same answers, and usually rant in the comments bit at the end as well, but that hasn’t deterred them – yet.

        • Same here. I often (extremely often) even see the question topic “we will now ask you some questions about UK politics” come up on my screen, I click on the “next” tab and it takes me right to the end screen. survey over. I have been removed from their political questions participants list it seems.

  8. When the voting day in IndyRef2 is is a different question from when the referendum is called. The question is how long a campaign do we want or think will be necessary?

    After all we cannot expect the polls to shift if we are not campaigning and raising people’s consciousnesses about the issues and the need to think about them. Busy, hassled people don’t think about this stuff all the time like us hyper activists. They have to be engaged and sitting back expecting MSM spun drip feed about the Brexit negotiations to do our job for us will mean we fucking deserve to lose the next IndyRef.

    So sure, providing we hold it before the Brexit happens so the EU will park our membership while we dot the i’s and cross the t’s of legislation. But when should we call the campaign and when should we be actively campaigning? You do not address that Paul.

    • @ Muscleguy
      I think we’ve all agreed that Indyref2 will most probably happen in the next 18 months-2 years max (unless Brexit does not go ahead or Theresa May accepts the Plan for Scotland) .

      Apart from when the Scottish govt actually decides to open the campaign, in my opinion people should start organizing locally on a small scale as soon as this winter’s over and Art 50 is triggered.

      Quietly meeting in small Indy support groups to prepare for it and do some groundwork and forward planning like marshalling arguments, setting out leaflets and posters on computers, ready to print and/or e-mail at the right time, deciding who to target and how in the local area, thinking about where to open pop-up YES shops, bars, stalls, cafes etc, planning fund-raising gigs and events and so forth so that the campaign gets off to a racing start when the day comes with everything in place to carry it foward with momentum.

  9. One thing we will have to be prepared for is people being willing to accept any lie they are told about the nature of Brexit. For instance, I’d be concerned that if T Mayhem said ‘we will not be dismantling your human rights after Brexit’, there would be a strand of people who accepted this, and then cried about it afterward when she and the rest of the Tories went right ahead and did it. This sort of thing has always, and always will, happen.

    How big would this strand of people be? Don’t know, but we will have to scrap for every vote so best not to take chances, imo. Can’t get too confident that there will come a time when Brexit’s effects will become apparent to all, and convert most into Yessers. Many will *need* to be told in the hope that some, enough, of that many convert.

  10. Much will depend on the EU, if they guarantee Scotland’s membership if we are independent prior to Brexit then summer / autumn 2018 is a good date. As said above a short campaign through May to July with a vote in August or September at the latest would be best. In addition a set of one page leaflets with four or five bullet points for currency and all the other main issues like what the vow didn’t deliver would be useful.

  11. Let’s be real anyone beliving opinion polls must be an idiot stuck in there ways as since 2011 they been 0-5 as polls go as I’m seeing the national paper out selling the unionists rags in my area of paisley so that says to me independence is slowly starting to look like it’s not so bad unlike the crap made out by the britnats there pals

  12. Seems to me you are all getting ahead of yourselves. The local council elections in May provide the opportunity to test public opinion. All with an interest in an independent Scotland should volunteer their services to the local SNP branch and get out knocking doors, manning stands, stuffing envelopes, attending marches and demos etc and doing whatever they can to minimise the unionist vote. Regardless of councils won, lost or drawn the important number for Indy purposes is actual votes cast for indy parties SNP and Greens. If that number is bigger than the total for Tory/Labour/Libdems then great. If smaller then anything over 45% is good, anything less, disappointing.
    Not so convinced that Indyref2 must be before Brexit day. Might be better for the full disaster of Brexit to unfold so there won’t be any ifs, buts or mibies about it.

  13. Hi Paul, I have a question for you, and since you lived in Spain you can discuss from experience:-

    If you decided to return to reside in Catalonia, would you vote in their independence referendum?

    During campaigning for independence at one household the lady who answered stated she would not vote in the 2014 referendum as she was English. Her husband would vote as he was a Scot but she felt that it was for the Scots to decide on their future.

    Now the lady in question identified Scotland as a country but there are arguably many Scots and English, and others, who view the UK as the country.

    The right to self-determination of our country, Scotland, I believe should be a key issue in the coming campaign.

  14. The pointlessness of the poll has not dissuaded the usual purveyors of SNPBadness headlining its existence. Apparently it was a telephone poll and, as has been noted by other bloggers, many people, the young and the poor for example, may not have a land-line phone, which will distort the results. Then there are households, such as this one, where calls lacking a number are blocked and calls with an unknown number don’t get answered, further distorting the data.

    As for a date for Indyref2? 2017 has just been delivered and, in Scotland, is settling in nicely to its nice cosy baby box. But a lot can happen before the end of the year… Sometime in January will see delivered the product of the Supreme Court’s deliberations (it will be in gestation), there is the potential for a legal challenge to Brexit taking place in the Irish courts and there is a legal challenge in High Court over whether leaving the EU also means leaving the EEA. In theory, at the end of March, Article 50 will be triggered and, at some point afterwards, negotiations will start and we will then discover whether the empty rhetoric is just that. Then we have the local council elections and we are barely half way through the year. So far, there will be too much happening amid a febrile political atmosphere to also contemplate a referendum in 2017.

    However, the results from the various activities described will very likely influence what happens next. While the meeja has been active sifting through the vacuous utterances from the UK government, seeking the hidden meaning, the meeja has been mostly silent on what the EU may be thinking so the attitude of the EU negotiators may come as a bit of a surprise to those that think the consumption of gateaux will be a trifle.

  15. I’ll echo the comments above, with respect to Paul & Sam’s thoughts. We (of Independence mind) have to be ‘canny’ as to when the call for IndyRef2 is made … timing is everything and it must be to our advantage … i.e. once the complete horror of Brexit becomes apparent and (it pains me to say it) when the TRUE nature of the financial Armageddon becomes patently obvious to even the most sceptical (soft) ‘NO’ voters who can be converted (the Butchers Apron ilk excluded).

    Nicola must be able to go to the electorate in Scotland and present the option of Scotland within the EU as a seamless continuation within the Single Market & with Scotland an EQUAL Partner within the Block.

  16. “Best time for independence….” is when the majority of the electorate have enlightenment. That is what is needed – and with independent media offering a view that is consistent with their own experiences, then you have a powerful and responsible position to influence the outcome. Good luck!

    You will need it. The British Establishment is thought to be considerably weaker than in the days of Empire, but that is a dangerous and mistaken assumption. It is finance that controls global and national politics – and whilst the ‘Empire’ may have consolidated into a square mile – it is even more in control of global events than the plush clubs were over a century before.

    I’m from Fife, though have lived in England for the last two decades, but have been immensely proud of the political enlightenment in Scotland in recent years. The nation has a proud history of ideological and honest people – Smith, Carnegie, Hume, Carlyle, et al., but the voices of today are even more strident and visionary – and that is well recognised and appreciated beyond the border.

    My only plea is that you/we must look outwards. There is momentum in Scotland to do so – break away from Regina as you must – but please look beyond the EU and consider where we are in relation to the rest of the planet. That’s really the next stage in this evolutionary process.

    Set out your stall; make the arguments and develop the alternatives – but be pragmatic too. The principle arguments will revolve around money – as they always do. The currency of the established order is bankrupt. Make a plan on a blank sheet of paper.

    Happy New Year, Paul. Keep up the good work!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.