Populus have carried out an extra snap poll following the Glasgow East by-election, it was conducted between the 25th and 27th, so is the first with fieldwork conducted entirely after the by-election result.

The topline voting intention figures are CON 43%(+2), LAB 27%(-1), LDEM 18%(+1), so a slight shift to the Conservatives, but that’s taken from a poll that had a much lower Conservative lead than that shown by other pollsters. From this it doesn’t look that Glasgow East has been able to further damage Labour’s popularity, though the speculation since then can’t be doing them any favours – not that we’ll really be able to tell now, since we are heading into the August bank holidays when we tend to be a bit suspicious of polls given the effect summer holidays may have on sampling.

51 Responses to “First post-Glasgow poll”

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  1. This seems to be consistent with a WMA of 45:26:17 though I agree Populus tends to be a bit biased to Labour – and I suspect that the real damage to Labour from Glasgow East is going to be the aftershocks

  2. I am not sure that the effect of Glasgow east will be that great because in the same way as I met people in 2001 who thought that Scotland was already independent I suspect that unlike the users of sites like this many people in England don’t associate this result with Westminster because it was North of the Border.

    It would be interesting to see what would happen if YouGov asked either which parliament it was for or which of the three recent by elections people though was the most significant. I think the answer to the second question would be Crewe.


  3. The critical effect on opinion of the Glasgow East result is the effect on opinion within the PLP.

  4. Just 43% for the Tories after the dreadful last week for the government? Surely someone in the cabinet has got the balls to go for it?

  5. Patricia Hewitt and Ed Balls perhaps.

  6. Just 43% for the Tories? Well 43% equates to the second highest poll rating from Populus. The 16% lead is also the second highest given to the Tories by Populus so I don’t think they will be too disappointed

  7. If i was populus i would be embarrassed to publish these sort of inaccurate results still – they and one or two others are becoming a joke !!

  8. Mike – can you not accuse reputable companies of being inaccurate without good reason please. We discuss the actual methodology of polls round here, rather than saying things must be inaccurate because we don’t like the figures.

  9. if anyone thinks hewitt can run the counrty or topple brown they must be mad from what im hearing from people who live in the area they are prepareing to vote her out but are unsure which f the other partys to vote for in an election but what ever happens she will at best be sitting on a small majority of maybe 500 to 1000 with the lib dems or conservatives not far behind, the only problem for the other partys in places like leicester is if they do win they will have to respond to the minority communitys not the majorty as the number of votes from other back grounds in leicester city center is very high so tuches all of the 3 seats in the city so for the conservative or lib dems to win they need to wow the votes in the city center ad not the outer parts of any of the seats

  10. Dear Cllr Peter Cairns,
    I don’t think that your test would give the conclusion that you claim. Your claim that in 2001, there were people who thought that Scotland was sovereign is either an indictment upon the Scottish people or an indication that your questioning was stunningly poor. The SNP’s record of unbiased polling on the subject is shaky to non-existent.

    “…many people don’t associate this result…” – this is an assumption that people south of the Tweed somehow share your world-view. I’ve never heard anyone opine that Glasgow East somehow didn’t matter to Westminster. As a councillor for the SNP, you’re not the first man I’d ask for English and Welsh opinions.

    “I think the answer to the second question would be Crewe” – it might well be, but that does nothing to affirm or deny your views above. It was simply the first one, and the other 2 underlined the conclusion of Crewe. Crewe was far beyond Tory expectations and that of other predictors; once it had happened, the predictors got used to the new situation and the predictions for Glasgow East and Henley were fairly accurate.

  11. It appears that the hard-core feminists in the Cabinet are preparing anti-men laws.How this is going to benefit the Labour Party is unclear. As far as I can see the only people that will benefit are women murderers.

  12. The key thing about these polls is that Labour is now down to its bedrock support with even some of that being eaten away. It cannot be expected that Labour will fall much further. They have carefully expanded the public sector to ensure that a sizeable section of the population in certain areas will always have a vested interest in seeing them in government. The more highly motivated voters and those with a burning desire to see the back of Labour are obviously now supporting the Tories south of the border and the SNP north of the border. No Conservative will be disappointed by double digit leads and will expect fluctuations month on month. The car crash that’s our economy and the paralysis of government means though that the polling outlook is likely to remain largely unchanged for some time ahead.

  13. Richard Manns,

    The people of Scotland are not particularly ill informed compared to anywhere else or was the question stupid, the reaction on the doorsteps simply illustrates a reality that many politicians pundits and journalists often forget;

    For a large percentage of the population politics is a foreign land, not just those that don’t vote but even those that do. I met a guy in Glasgow East who was voting Labour because they were going to get rid of the Council tax.

    After years of talking to people on the doorstep I and I suspect many others on this site who have campaigned know that the publics grasp on what we see as the fundamentals is often extremely ropey.

    It’s not uncommon when canvassing to come upon people in the last days of a general election campaign who don’t even know there is one.

    You will regularly meet people who don’t know who the candidates are or who say they have always voted for their MP even though they are in a different seat.

    Most polls show that nearly a majority of the public can’t name more than the PM the leader of the opposition and maybe the Chancellor.

    People involved in politics always run the risk that they will think that the general public know what they know and understand the issues.

    Occasionally you get politicians saying;

    “The majority of people listening to this in homes up and down the country will be outraged”,

    Well actually the majority of people won’t be because,

    a) most of them will be doing something other that watching politics, be it going out or watching one of the (for them) far more interesting or entertaining programmes, or

    b) As a testament to the sanity of our nations actually shrug it off without foaming at the mouth or ranting at the TV.

    In both Iran and Venezuela the west got thrown by election results because we focused to much on what the media and web were saying and then discovered the the off line masses saw things very differently.

    So in conclusion I stand by what I said I don’t think Glasgow east will have a real effect on UK polls because the vast majority of those polled are in England and increasingly for them Scotland is another country far away.


  14. I’m sorry wolf but I totally disagree; the law regarding murder has not been addressed for something like 50 years; as such the issue of domestic violence and people breaking under duress was ignored. As I understand it firstly it applies to both men or women who finally break. Secondly I easily see a difference between ‘murder’; a cynical killing planned and executed for no motive other than say politics, or theft. And what I call ‘manslaughter’ the snap impact of a moment under extreme duress. To reduce it the way you have is excessively simplistic; we have enough of such writing in the tabloid press which is where it should stay.

  15. Idoubt how much Glasgow East or leadership specualtion can damage Labour now. The polls have settled into very constant levels of support, and it feels as though it would take a lot to shift them

    To come back, Labour would have to do much more than either change their leader or find some new policies, even though support for Cameron’s Tories appears much softer than opposition to the Labour Government.

  16. Mike ‘the oracle’ Richardson

    With refernce to your comment about Populus, you seem to believe that a respected business with a good reputation for market research has deliberately published a poll it knows has been poorly compiled. If you really believe this is the case then I feel very sorry for you as I fear that you are the one who is ‘becoming a joke’.

  17. With regards to Populus – or other questionable pollsters, should we not take all with a pinch of salt? Especially if A.Wells and M.Simpson have cautioned us?

    Maybe not. But as Anthony has eloquently quothed: play the ball, not the player

  18. Cllr Cairns,
    I accept that many are ill-informed, although I’d want to see data before I’d accept that a significant number of people think that Scotland is sovereign. I’m sorry that my original post was rather a flame as well.

    My main issue was not your data, but what you concluded from it.

    You exemplify that by saying “…UK polls because the vast majority of those polled are in England and increasingly for them Scotland is another country far away”.
    UK polls are polled in England, because it’s part of the UK. Your sentence implies (but does not state) that UK polls exclude non-English samples, which would be incorrect.

    Why is Scotland “another country increasingly far away”? A symptom of this disconnect, I presume, would be discontentment with English/Welsh/Northern-Irish being ruled by “them”, not “us”. We’ve had a Scottish PM for a year now, and no-one in even the most populist media seems to have suggested that we dislike him because he’s Scottish. Scotland is thus very much here and with us today in the rest of the UK, but no-one seems to be aggrieved by people’s Scottishness or otherwise.

  19. I do not think that it is impossible for Labour to change policies and also if need be the Leader in such a way as to recover support, but it is extremely unlikely that it can be done in time, not least because they are in denial. They would need to get through that phase in record time.

    At the moment their line is that there is nothing wrong with New Labour, there are temporary problems with the world economy which are not their fault, though despite that they are being punished, and they are listening to the voters. Meanwhile better “presentation” of their policies is what is required.

    It may well be true that economic issues are largely beyond their or anyone’s control, though that is not the impression that they gave in better times, and the voters are certainly not listening to them.

    They should first admit to making mistakes, perhaps correcting some on the way; analysis of the reasons mistakes were made should show what went wrong and where there are systemic problems. That would enable them to improve their performance.

    They simply havn’t time to do all that and demonstrate that they have reformed, if they are in denial at the start.

    They can get advice if they want to “listen” in any pub in the country but for the price of a couple of pints of Belhaven or Guinness I would be tell them not only what they are doing wrong, but why they are doing it wrong. The short answer is that they are New Labour.

    The cleverest man I know (a professor of Algebra with ten pages of Journal articles on his CV)explained to me why I have a problem with political parties and could never join one. When I change my opinion, I would want the party to change its policy, whereas political parties want it the other way round.

    So I can’t join any political party unless they make me the leader first, though I could join several on that basis.

    This could be my opportunity to join a political party but I’m not sure that I can be bothered. I’ll get better PR government in an independent Scotland whatever party is in power than I will from the failed confrontational Westminster system.

  20. The fact that we seen a massive swing from Labour to Conservative in Crewe, and now an equally massive swing from Labour to the SNP in Glasgow underlines how this government is so massively unpopular. And I think we may not have seen the best from all oppositions parties yet!

    They are likely to be keeping their best ideas and their best attacks on the government for close to the election. In particular, I think we will see the Lib Dems gain considerable ground as they enjoy more media coverage close to the election.

    I believe that if the economy is still weak at the time of the next election it is not unrealistic to imagine Labour being reduced to around 150 seats! (The Lib Dems close to 100).

  21. peter carines-

    its a bit hard to see that during a genaral election people would not know about the fact that it is going on, as it would be in all the papers on the news and on all raido stations so the fact an election is going on should not be to hard to fatham, im not calling the scotish people thik but if people don’t vote then they hav no right to atack the people in charge MP’s local councillors or other wise only 61-62% of people voted in the last election this time it should be higher by 5-10% as people now want change in this country whoever they vote for at the next eletion in 2009/2010

  22. Apart from the Libdem figure, this looks oddly similar to the 1983 election result. I don’t remember any Conservatives complaining then.

  23. Peter Cairns:

    This is the government that looks for good days to put out bad news. During an election campaign in Glasgow East they put out news that the taxpayer is going to pay £3m for Thatcher’s funeral.

    I don’t like cliches, but really, you wouldn’t make it up.

    Glasgow, of all places. It’s not as if there was any mention of “Stake” or “Garlic.”

    There were bloggers suggesting that all the SNP needed to do was put out the photograph of GB and MT on the steps of Downing St.

    Perhaps there are people in government who think that “Scotland is another country far away”. Either that or they too young to be in normal employment.

  24. For polling purposes how a swing is attained is irrelevant, but for political purposes it is the grounds for campaigning action.

    In this light the recent spate of by-election offer an interesting contrast. The Crewe & Nantwich gain can be ascribed as down to differential turnout of tribal voters (Lab stay-at-homers in Crewe, motivated tories in Nantwich); Henley saw virtually no change, all of which can easily be a result of natural transience; Glasgow East appears more like a seat where voters changed their votes.

    We can extrapolate some valid conclusions for a prospective General Election that Labour failure is likely to have the greatest impact and the Conservatives will attain close to their natural maximum without benefitting from abnormal tactical choices and it shouldn’t be unexpected that a wider range representation is returned.

    Under these circumstances the Green party should be encouraged for its chances in Brighton Pavilion, but less so in Oxford East (where the LDs have the preferential striking position).

    The regular SNP posters here rightly have their tails up, though I suspect this is a short-term effect which will be diluted by the combination of a newly mandated Government and the problematic reality of the referendum question.

  25. ‘The regular SNP posters here rightly have their tails up, though I suspect this is a short-term effect which will be diluted by the combination of a newly mandated Government and the problematic reality of the referendum question.’

    But then again one has to consider the movement of the SNP from ‘irrelevant nutters’ say 1980s to the party in power in Scotland.

  26. Richard,

    “UK polls are polled in England, because it’s part of the UK. Your sentence implies (but does not state) that UK polls exclude non-English samples, which would be incorrect.”

    The UK population is Sixty Million with five million in Scotland, and another five million split between N Ireland and Wales. That means that 83% of any UK sample will be from England.


    ““ the vast majority of those polled are in England and increasingly for them Scotland is another country far away”.

    does not imply there are no non English in it, it implies that seventeen out of twenty are in England, and the other three not. By and large if my statement doesn’t say it it’s because I am not saying it.


  27. For what it’s worth, UK political polls are actually incredibly rare. Nearly all political polls are GB polls – so no one from Northern Ireland is included.

  28. I understand that the Tories carried every ward in Crewe and Nantwich in the by-election.

    It was a respectable 58% turnout, and Nantwich alone (just one ward), could not deliver a Tory victory.

  29. Nantwich has a population of 14,000 although there is a bit of Cheshire countryside aswell.
    Almost impossible to win without Crewe.

  30. the english are sick of being run by scots in london and have got so bored of scottish politics they dont care.
    whether that translates into a win for the snp in the 2010 referendum in a different matter.a majority of scots still care about the union and its benefits.
    the result in glasgow east was ironically bad news for the leaders of the snp.
    why? this is the reason.they have pulled some interesting business folk into their camp,on a pro business tax/regulation/benefits reducing ticket.reform of the system is what is required if scotland has a hope of going it alone.
    the more snp ,mps that require the benefits vote the harder it will be to reform anything.remind you of new labour?
    if they were genuine in their tax friendly stuff they would reduce income tax by 3p now.
    they are not.they want to increase income tax for the 177,000 people who positively pay tax in scotland.the other 4.6m consume more than they produce.
    they will have fun for a few parliaments and that will it for another 10 odd years.

  31. Jack, some would say that without Alex Salmond the SNP are still a bunch of irrelevant nutters.

    Without a unifying figure to lead them they dissolve into clannish in-fighting and treachery (not an anti-Scottish dig – all parties are the same in that respect).

  32. But all parties ‘dissolve into clannish in-fighting and treachery’ consider the Labour party now and the Tories in the 1990s / early 2000s. The benefit for the SNP at this point is a Leader at the top of his form…

  33. And finally one has to look at increased % vote which is beyond the leader- a leader makes some point difference. But without Salmond the SNP would still be of importance when compared with the 1960s. One can not just argue that the SNP is Salmond; he is a ‘Blair’ in PR impact I agree. With historic polls one has to admit the SNP has continually improved over the years, as such an attempt to say it’s just Salmon is wrong.

  34. Not at all, Jack. Salmond has the uncanny ability to combine presentation of issues in a way which strategically navigates between and away from stormy weather. Salmond is noticably cooler on specifying details on any referendum, for example, than his party and indeed much of what he says on the topic is a coded attempt to manage expectations in the case of failure to either secure or win a vote on independence. He is highly opportunistic in his methods in a way which complements his more idealistic supporter-base. He stands alone in comparison to his colleagues and it is hard to see that the SNP would be nearly as successful or popular under any of his deputies.

  35. thomas:

    How can you say that
    “Salmond is noticably cooler on specifying details on any referendum, for example, than his party and indeed much of what he says on the topic is a coded attempt to manage expectations in the case of failure to either secure or win a vote on independence.”

    The date is fixed and in the public domain.
    The detail of the wording is open to amendment but it is known what the question will and will not be about.

    There is no secret about that,and AS does not need to manage expectations down. Both he and the rest of the party will do their best to achieve the result which they want and it is not a matter in the traditions of the Westminster parties that the leader is pensioned off if he loses an election.

    If they fail to persuade the electorate then that’s just too bad. They will keep trying.

    Just because the UK media does not feature the rest of the Scottish government with regular tales of their preferences in illegal drugs, their sexual practices and their internal struggles for power does not mean that these people are bland nonentities.

    I’m sure they don’t mind, it’s easier for them to get on with their work.

    My MSP is the Enterprise minister. I have met the Education Minister and had an extended email correspondence with the Justice minister.

    The one thing that they have in common is that they are very highly motivated no doubt because they see the big prize within reach.

    AS is certainly an asset. Many people dislike him because he seems smug. He isn’t a trained actor, and he can’t help it. If he’s smiling it’s understandable. Have you seen any recent pictures of Gordon Brown?

    At least two of the cabinet, both women, could take over and be just as effective.

    Of course that’s true of the other lot too, but not quite in the same way.

  36. Well, I’ll take your opinion of alternative leaders, but the point about effectiveness is still wide open to interpretation.

    Alex Salmond and the SNP may have shared ambitions, but the difference is that while the party is dogmatic about pushing the single issue forward Salmond is understandably more calculating, which is exactly how and why he has risen to his current position.

    It will certainly be fun watching the bubble burst as the situation changes. But don’t take it the wrong way, it’s just schadenfreude.

  37. We’ve had a Scottish PM for a year now, and no-one in Richard Manns:
    “even the most populist media seems to have suggested that we dislike him because he’s Scottish.”

    On this page:

    “philip johnson

    the english are sick of being run by scots in london and have got so bored of scottish politics they dont care.”

    There are some who don’t understand why an MP from a Scottish Constituency is PM in the English parliament.
    They think the Barnett formula is too generous to Scots and would change that if they could, but other voices in England argue that Scotland would be daft to vote for independence because they are so heavily subsidised.

    The SNP says its Scotlands oil and Englands Trident and Iraq.

  38. John, continue trying to make waves with selective viewpoints if you want, but it won’t cut through the ice.

    Let me put a simple counterpoint for you – if it is ‘scottish’ oil then you are saying the continental shelf was, has been and remains secured by the ‘scottish’ navy, are you? Or is Scotland prepared to pay for the service provided over a period of centuries which enabled the resource to be mined?

    Political parties on different sides will try to portray the issues as clearcut, but you’d be a fool not to weigh the balance.

    Scottish factionalism has long been a threat to itself and to others (notably England), and you should be careful about the haste being shown. Democratic opinion provides for the divisions in society and forces the views of all to be taken into account.

    While I agree that it would be healthy for the relationship of union to change this is a case which is not served by a simplistic forced choice and our politicians need to start being a bit smarter in what they can come up with to offer us.

    I find it ridiculous that the SNP is blaming others for its own inability to use the powers at its disposal and is using the independence issue as a political football to assert its authoritarian dominance on the subject.

    Be warned, if politicians win then the people will suffer.

  39. Thomas,

    “Let me put a simple counterpoint for you – if it is ’Scottish’ oil then you are saying the continental shelf was, has been and remains secured by the ’Scottish’ navy, are you? ”

    Threat from who…. Even if there was a nation with the capability or intent to sieze the North sea from Scotland, how would they get the oil out at an economic cost and more to the point do you really think that Europe and the US would just shrug their shoulders.

    That’s like saying that Nato wouldn’t have been bothered if Kruschiev had Invaded Ireland.

    And if you think that’s tantamount to free loading well it’s not our fault we are in a strategically important geographic position with vital resources. Look at Iceland it’s a key Nato member and doesn’t even have an Army. Some times life is just like that.


  40. Peter, that’s amusing – so what, you’re not worried by terrorists attacking strategic assets to influence Scottish policy? How about some militant environmentalists trying to reduce production levels..?

  41. Thomas,

    Yhat can happen to any country at any time and it’s a lot simpler to do it on dry land than at sea, so a big navy isn’t the Answer. You can’t defend the London Underground with Tridet.

    I do like the way that every time someone cuts up one of your arguments you never defend them but merely change the subject.

    You start with we’d a big navy and when that’s shown to be nonsense switch to terrorism. What next aliens?, Vampires?.


  42. Peter,

    it seems we have different perspectives on the issue: You suggest Trident and a big Navy are conjoined issues, I disagree.
    You contend the defense of the seas is about retaining ownership of the territory, while I suggest it is about protecting the ability to manage and develop resources by controlling traffic on it.

    It also seems we have a different way of presenting the issues: I provide an example of a pertinent and realistic threat, you dispute it’s relevance by trying to label it absurd.
    You appear to infer that theory is more important than practise, I insist on the reverse.

    May I ask then, were it to be found that remote Hebridean harbours were being used as transit points for smuggling contraband into England or for sheltering militant subversives and revolutionaries, Jacobin spies or murderous assasins what would you and the SNP do precisely to discourage and root out the behaviour?

    You suggest that you’d stand by and cede that responsibility to Nato and Europe – now that’s self-determination!

    It’s interesting that you mention the Soviet Union in relation to Ireland – where do you think the IRA got all those Kalashnikovs from? Do you think Semtex was available on the open market?

    What is important to note is that you seem to recognise external threats, but not the potential for internal problems – which I take as a product of the prejudice of your inferiority complex and the transfer of your objectified fear.

    But the English are not the cause of Scottish problems and independence is not the solution, because try as you might to spin your yarn in the opposite direction it always unravels on closer inspection.

  43. Given that there hasn’t been an act of maritime terrorism in western europe i can’t see how it’s a pertenant threat. The royal navy doesn’t even have any meaningful presence in the North sea for the vast majority of the time so it hardly acts as any deterent and as I ponted outit’s easier on land.

    Driving a truck in to grangemouth takes a lot less effort that attacking an oil preduction platform.

    The issue with trident and the London underground was to illustrate how cold war systems are ill suited to the terrorist threat that you yourself aluded too. An Astute hunter killer costs over £500m as oes a type 45 destroyer and the two new aircraft carriers willl each cost more than double that.

    No of these is in any way suited to the current level and type of threat we face. As it is by far the best thing for protecting the north sea from a terror threat are small recon aircraft as used by the US coastguard as part of the deepwater programme.

    Scotland could aquire a squadron of them for less than the cost of one new Nimrod MR4. But that’s not what the Uk is buying, so if the threat to Oil instalations is whats worryiung you why not tell the MOD to stop buying the wrong stuff.

    As to your nonsense that cast an Independeant Scotland with “Jacobin spies” as if it’s helman province that’s not even worthy of a response.

    “where do you think the IRA got all those Kalashnikovs from? Do you think Semtex was available on the open market?”

    Actually the open market was exactly where it got them, the didn’t buy them from the Soviets but from arms dealers like most terror groups. If the soviet union had actively wanted to arm the IRA there wouldn’t have been army Helicopter in the air above Ireland.

    “What is important to note is that you seem to recognise external threats, but not the potential for internal problems”

    Again changing the subject.

    Your started with defending the North Sea, but when the need for a big navy was countered by the lack of a realistic opponent you switched to terrorism.

    When it was shown that what the UK Navy has is unsuited to that task and that land based terrorism was far more of a threat you now switch to the bizarre notion of some ill defined internal terrorists fighting for god knows what as if when Scotland leaves the Union it won’t even have a police force let alone and army.

    “But the English are not the cause of Scottish problems and independence is not the solution, because try as you might to spin your yarn in the opposite direction it always unravels on closer inspection.”

    The old yarn being spun here is the bogeyman that post independence Scotland without the UK would be in danger from “Them”.


  44. Nope Peter, you are incapable of reading.

    The bogeyman is not ‘them’ – it is ‘you’ (if Scotland breaks from the union) or ‘us’ (if the union survives).

    What you call ‘changing the subject’ is widening the context, so I’ll note how you’re shifting your position to imply that the SNP “will” support the security of Scotland from “can, but has no need to” and wonder on how many more topics equal economy and flexibility will be demonstrated as you attempt to assuage the inherent conflicts between policy priorities and budgetary priorities.

    Trident is something an independent Scotland could not pay for even if it was desired by Scots, so it is the quintessential red herring which you are attempting to fry here.

    The arms trade has never been an open market as there is always an inherent level of complicity between supplier and end-user, whether direct or indirect. There is plenty of well-documented evidence that soviet agents were involved in recycling weapons and weapons systems throughout the cold war as part of an official policy of destabilisation, so to ignore the existence of covert operations is to fail to acknowledge the potential consequences of diplomatic confrontation.

    The fact remains that the independence you talk of is irrelevant unless it is open to be used as an expression of opposition and unsustainable if it is used to oppose shared interests – which is why I alluded to the example of previous eras of our history – in whose interest was all that blood spilt?

  45. Thomas:
    “But the English are not the cause of Scottish problems”

    I don’t know anyone who thinks they are.

    The problems are FPTP, party whips, Oxbridge elitism,PMQ confrontation, patronage, presidential sofa government, tradition and custom, party funding, candidate selection, buying influence or peerages, sleaze, spin, sexism, the Murdoch press, stupidity and ignorance.

    The effect of almost all are at least mitigated in the SP.

  46. “The effect of almost all are at least mitigated in the SP.”

    Temporarily, perhaps some of the negatives might be avoided, but equally they might turn out worse – it is easy to equivocate over the mix of strengths and weakness in FPTP, whips, Oxbridge, PMQs, so here you are misdirecting by imposing value judgements; Murdoch is a necessary evil representative of his industry; there is as yet no agreed solution to party funding and the methods of candidate selection which exist are a reflection of the individuals and the ideas they stand for – so here you are imposing your personal prejudices in order to attest Holyrood authority is a pancea.

    Worse for the Scots is the naive security that becoming independent wouldn’t impact on the wider structure it seeks to depend on and coexist with. If the Scots wish to argue that a multi-national political entity is unsustainable then what hope has it seeking to assure its citizens that EU support will be forthcoming when, if and how desired: how, for example, will Scotland secure its currency if the SNP opposes EMU with both the UK or EU?

    If I were to be unfair to those who promote independence I’d say their linguistic skills have failed to interpret the difference between ‘independence’ and ‘more independence’ – because greater devolution and autonomy provide for smooth transition to that state, while a sudden jump creates ongoing vibrations which are likely to prove restrictive and in controvention of the original aim.

    It is the incoherence between Scottish international and global perspectives which lead to the loss of independence in the first place, while similar problems have dogged the longer history. From what I read here I see no sign that Scots can feel safe following SNP proposals in anything but the short-to-medium term.

    If Scots want to be treated equally, you can’t demand preferential treatment. Your bluff will be called.

  47. Thomas
    1st para (my quote)

    We have it now in the devolved SP. I assume the transition to an independence parliment will be seamless so far as the procedures are concerned.

    2nd Para
    I do not understand what meaning you attribute to “equivocate.” Do you realise that in dozens of ways the devolved SP is already different from Westminster, and it has already done away with (for example) sitting two sword lengths apart?

    There is a solution to party funding. See my 1st answer
    I don’t suppose you have any “personal predjucies”? or do you just have opinions?

    Are you aware that the plan is to use sterling trasitionally and then join the Eurozone?

    4th Para

    I don’t think much of your linguistic skills. Devolution has made independence easier and that may have been Donald Dewar’s intention all along.

    5th Para

    Please disinguish between “international” and “global” as you use them. Can you at least identify the century or the historical events you refer to in the “longer history.” I am not sure what, if anything, this sentence means.

    6th Para

    If we had been treated as equals for the last half century the SNP would not exist. There is no bluff. The risk of separation is real and it could happen in 33 months form now.

    I would have preferred it otherwise, but NewLabour have persuaded me that the Westminster parliament will not reform, so independence is the next best option.

  48. John, if New Labour has convinced you of anything then they have done more for you than for me!

    But let me respond to each of your charges in turn

    Having watched what I can of proceedings in Holyrood the style of debates seem to growing more similar to those in Westminster as time goes by, so it is odd that you claim a SP will improve on the UKP.

    I also saw how SNP supporters claimed similar levels of media bias during the Glasgow East by-election as is claimed is inherent in the London-centric press.

    Elsewhere the fact that educational elitism is alive and well in Scottish universities (although constituted differently) and is unlikely to change post-independence means your dislike of ‘Oxbridge’ is simply fatuous.

    There are many different solutions to party funding, but each lead to their own problems depending on your starting point in the political debate.

    Yes, I am aware that the SNP proposes to transfer EMU within Britain to EMU with the Eurozone, but this appears impossible to reconcile with many SNP supporters desire to remain inside the EEA with effective political independence.

    What is the point of replacing Scottish rule from London with rule from Brussels and Frankfurt in the name of independence? It’s just to replace of one set of civil servants and bureaucrats with another more expensive, more invisible lot in a more distant place.

    I don’t particularly care for speculating on what Donald Dewar’s intentions may have been, since he died almost a decade ago now and reality has far surpassed anything he could have discussed in anything but vague allusion: I only argue that the ease of a policy is often at variance to its desirability.

    The difference between international and global is pretty clear in that the former is a limited version of the latter.

    The longer history of Scottish struggle for full nationality status lacks consensus among historians as to how many waves there has been or whether it should indeed be viewed as some sort of homogenous continuity. Suffice it to say the Act of Union in 1707 shouldn’t be seen in isolation from the larger conflicts that developed during the period of the Reformation and particularly the Claim of Right signed by the Scottish Parliament after the Glorious Revolution, while it is arguable that any political differences we experince can be traced back to the Roman conquest of the south of our mainland – how unfair that was!

    I agree that if Scotland hadn’t recieved preferential treatment over the past half century then nationalists wouldn’t have been encouraged to believe thay could continue to hold the people on all sides hostage, but the global circumstance has changed since the end of the Cold War and there is no longer an enemy alliance to bargain the English off against.

    Any secession from UK structures of power only means a further diminution of scottish influence within the world, which might be in the interests of greater global equality, but it is at odds with the SNP’s stated aims – that is unless you actually wish to fully recognise Scotland’s inflated sense of self-worth and see it reduced.

    So the independence movement is either a distraction from the real issues or a trouble-making bluff either of which will expose the unsustainable contradictions in the SNP platform when they are called on it.

    Either way, the referendum will be lost if the SNP remain in power in Holyrood when it it is held because the public take every opportunity to restrain the power of politicians when given the chance to choose.

    If a referendum is sold as a reflection on the SNP record in office it will be rejected as a false question and if it is sold as an enhancement of Scottish identity it will be rejected as an irrelevant question.

    And if the SNP fail to push through their most drastic proposal how much longer will they survive in office?

    In one sense I have much more faith in the ability of democracy to indicate the correct course of action than I do for any individual from any particular part of the spectrum, but I remain sceptical that any particular individual can’t exert undue and detrimental influence on how the indicators show what that is.

    So my suspicion is that even were the SNP to win independence for Scotland they would bring themselves and the country down in the process and spark a reunification movement, thus the cycle will begin again – how long will it take to reach a lasting settlement which sets an example we can consistently export to the rest of the world?

    Perhaps it would be sensible to reclaim Berwick as a first test of self-determination otherwise the delineation of the border could be turned into an issue of greater consequence.

  49. Thomas – the points yopu make are all very well made intellectually – but I totally disagree with them.

    The points you make won`t persuade ordinary voters one way or another.

    The real question is who is standing up for the Scottish People and in what political environment this can be acheived.

    What we have in Scotland are the unionist political parties who take the wider UK perspective and this consistently dilutes the Scottish Interest.

    The Scottish Parliament is also a parliament which is closer to the Scottish people in its heart. Coverage of Scottish MPs is scarce at best.

    The energy of the new SNP government has shown the lack of ambition and lack of urgency of the previous Labour administration.

    Independence is the only way that the aspirations of the Scottish people will be achieved.

    The referendum in 2010 will be the defining momnent in Scottish history

  50. Paul, I understand there are two sides to this debate, but when it comes down to a choice between a dilution of Scottish interest and a narrowing of it it is hard to argue that one is better than the other or that there is a natural predisposition among the Scottish population which isn’t contingent on historic, social, economic or other factors and is not therefore open to change.

    In defence against any suggestions that I am anti-independence it was my suggestion that it is a false debate because no referendum will settle the matter finally one way or the other, in the same way that the Act of Union failed to reach an absolute settlement back in 1707.

    As such the SNP plays a dangerous democratic game in allying its fortunes so closely to the aspiration for attainment of this single issue, however much it is hyped up by those who are convinced of any perceived benefit it would provide to them.

    For polling purposes I can see there are divergent opinions on the prospects for either side in a referendum and the proportions in Holyrood at most only correlate with opinion regarding the referendum, so while it is interesting to hear the opinions of individuals in a self-selecting online vox populi I doubt their relevance regarding the outcomes, except insofar as their attempts to shift wider opinion in their favour indicate the levels of organisation, coordination and confident purpose.

    Which is why it is important for the wider concerns of all involved to be confronted with as many different perspectives as possible, in case they wake up in the morning with a hangover full of confusion and regret to deal with.

    Do you have NO second thoughts?

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