Time to dish out another of the much sought after UKPollingReport “Crap media reporting of polls” awards. The Daily Record is proudly reporting that “Support for Lib Dems in Scotland down to just 3%, according to new poll”. I thought for a moment I has missed a new Scottish poll (hardly unlikely), or that Scottish commenters on UKPR had missed a new Scottish poll (much less likely). Alas not – the Daily Record has, in fact, precariously balanced the headline upon the Scottish cross-break in a single Angus Reid survey, consisting of 161 respondents.

The Daily Record’s article does at least mention this later in the article, and puts it in the context of Scottish cross breaks from other polls that, er, don’t show the Liberal Democrats at 3%, rather suggesting that they’ve cherry-picked a single outlying figure from extremely volatile cross-breaks to make a good headline. Cue lots of politicans cherry picking their own favoured cross-breaks to show how wonderfully they are doing. It’s down to whichever beleaguered toiler was on the Lib Dem press office that day to give the only sensible comment in the piece “It would be ridiculous to draw any meaningful conclusions from this poll given the minuscule Scottish sample size” (and that, one cynically observes, is probably only because no cross breaks look pretty for the Lib Dems).

I can only repeat the same thing I’ve repeated a million times – for fine tuned questions like voting intention, where are couple of percentage points make all the difference, individual regional cross-breaks are pretty much worthless. Sample sizes are typically very low, meaning large margins of error (in the case of this poll, about plus or minus 8 points) and numbers will jump about wildly from one poll to the next.

Equally, polls are normally weighted to be representative overall, rather than within individual crossbreaks – a poll that is representative of GB overall may have, for example, too many Tories in one region and not enough in another. Hence while aggregating lots of crossbreaks together will get you over the hurdle of small sample sizes (and is certainly better than looking at the crossbreaks in individual polls), it won’t magically transform aggregated crossbreaks from a GB poll into a properly sampled and weighted Scottish poll.

(*Well, strictly speaking they could be, since the whole point is that we don’t have any recent proper Scottish polling to judge it upon)


132 Responses to “The Lib Dems are NOT on 3% in Scotland*”

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  1. Telegraph is saying that Chris Bryant will have something to say.

    But it could be a twitter rumour.

  2. Apparently Jon Snow was duped by a hoaxer into reporting that Piers Morgan had been suspended by the Mirror.

    He’s now apologised.

  3. Jemima Khan tweeted –
    “Anyone heard the one about NOTW and the axe murderer?” about 50 minutes ago.
    Since she’s one of the big names in pushing for investigations, seems to tweet vaguely obscure tweets before things are revealed and the ‘axe murderer’ is in reference to the Rees case – could that be something that’s going to be brought back to the forefront?

  4. Also –
    Has the Tory VI been hit it’s hardest from phone-hacking allegations?

    Essentially, Tory VI has been knocked down to 36 (with Lab up to 43) since the first phone-hacking allegations, so will this Payne revelation have no more effect than making that movement more concrete, or could it knock it further down?

    I’d suspect it would do less damage to VI than last time, if any more damage at all.

  5. Martyn – yep, it was rather ironic that as soon as I wrote it Jon Snow fell for and retweeted a fake account claiming Piers Morgan had been suspended.

  6. Can the phone hacking scandal have any more effect on VI?

    Why would it now? Views are probably entrenched, so it would have to be something major about political involvement do hit VI, I think.

    Otherwise it seems to be Boris, the Met and News Int who are taking hits now. Although the sheer number of Osborne, Gove etc meetings with NI might have a miniscule effect, I suppose.

  7. I assume the Sarah Payne revelation emanates from the Mulcaire list-which is in the possession of the Met as they grind through Operation Weeting.

    So-who at the Met is leaking these names to the Press?

    I have yet to hear anyone in TV news ask that question.

  8. Colin,
    I get the impression that the Guardian’s had the full list for a long time.
    The question still stands, and it’s a good question though.

    AW – Have a question,
    Yougov.co.uk has headline figures of -24 for approval, the yougov twitter account says -24 but the sidebar says -27 (+1) and the pdf has 28-55 which is -27.
    Has someone messed up, or have I missed something?

  9. @ Colin

    While Tingedfringe is probably right about Guardian’s having a list (but doubt if it THE list, if it is all and numbers and names matched), it is more likely that Guardian would wait (as in this case) until the police contacts the person concerned and then a friend of the person concerned comes out. Then the Guardian (and to a degree the Telegraph) would fill in the “gaps”.

  10. Tingedfringe – generally speaking the PDF of the actual tables is always right, if anything differs from that its normally human error.

  11. Sorry Colin, I pressed the enter before finishing it. Sarah Payne’s story has been going around at least since the 8th of July. It seems that they were waiting until the police contacted the family.

  12. @ Anthony Wells

    Anthony, there are actually three pdf files about government approval up on YouGov right now (well this morning). I didn’t check if they correspond to each other.

  13. @Tinged Fringe.

    Thanks.

    @Laszlo

    Yes-that could be so.

    The other thing which as not been made clear is whether Mulcaire’s list of phone numbers was compiled at his volition-to offer to clients like NoW……….in which case how many were actually used by NoW.

    Or were the numbers on Mulcaire’s list requested -name by name-by NoW -or any other client.

  14. Colin
    “So-who at the Met is leaking these names to the Press?”

    Whoever can get the current tariff for the info?

  15. MIKEN

    “Whoever can get the current tariff for the info?”

    I think the links between the Met & NoW will prove to be one of the most interesting aspects of Leveson’s enquiry-assuming he get to the truth.

  16. Colin

    “I assume the Sarah Payne revelation emanates from the Mulcaire list-which is in the possession of the Met as they grind through Operation Weeting.

    So-who at the Met is leaking these names to the Press?”

    Guilt by association?

    The entire Mulcaire dataset is also in the hands of Strathclyde Police. In the past, they have shown that they have some members who could compete for the “low-life police” title with anything the Met can prodice.

    Typical metropolitan arrogance, thinking that only London polis can be corrupt!!! :-)

  17. Colin,
    Perhaps Mulcaire sold his list to the Guardian after he went to prison in 2006?

    This is all idle speculation, of course. So perhaps I should stick to looking at poll data and not just inventing conspiracy theories. ;)

  18. Lazslo – I mean the tables for each individual day’s poll, which is just a pdf’ed version of the actual results when we run them. Anything else like stories, trend tables or so on are copied from that, where human error can intervene!

  19. Nick Poole

    “i think we should give Gordon Brown a second chance as PM. And I’m not even a friend of his.”

    What’s John Major doing these days?

    On second thoughts, where he failed was the Murdoch Excuse: – “people I trusted let me down.”

    Fair enough, but did he pick some bad ones or were the other options even worse?

    Then there is Harold Macmillan and DC.

    Same excuse.

  20. Colin

    I get the impression that the names are coming out as (possibly) hacked individuals are informed by the police that their details have been found in Mulcaire’s files. So it could be coming from the police, but equally well from those hacked or friends, relatives etc.

    Given the continuing tendency of most of the Press to downplay/ignore the whole hacking affair (for reasons we all know) people would be most likely to go to the Guardian as that would be where they would be most likely get some coverage. I suspect that the Guardian itself doesn’t have the ‘full list’- if such a thing exists. Apart from anything else, there is a lot of paperwork involved – apparently Mulcaire was very careful to keep records of everything as insurance, which is why News International kept on supporting him behind the scenes till very recently. Of course the level of detail available makes the dereliction of duty of the Met even worse.

    In any case I believe a lot of the paperwork just has lists of phone numbers without names and it isn’t easy for even the Police to trace quickly who had what mobile phone quite a few years ago. Which is also why the process of informing those hacked has taken a while.

  21. Stuart Dickson @John B Dick,

    “Actually, I am certain that Blair DID fully realise this. He was not even lukewarm towards Scottish devolution: he instinctively hated it.

    If it had not been for Donald Dewar and certain of his Lib Dem chums twisting Blair’s arm he would have come to his senses and chucked it in the bin.”

    If a second level government minister introduced major constitutional change with potentially very far reaching effects without the head of government understanding what it was about, that would be something that hadn’t happened since we had hereditory rulers, and a major political achievement.

    If a second level government minister managed to do that against the wishes of the head of government who understood wht was happening, it would be an politial achievement almost without precedent.

    At the time there were many, not least in Wales, and from all parts of the political spectrum that came to the conclusion from a variety of perspectives and personal positions that TB didn’t “get it”.

    I think that it is more likely than the other. Nothing that I have heard of the TB book (I wouldn’t buy it would I?) would contradict that diagnosis, but you could be right.

    I had a great respect for DD, but I don’t think he was quite as talented as that.

  22. @ Colin

    “The other thing which as not been made clear is whether Mulcaire’s list of phone numbers was compiled at his volition-to offer to clients like NoW……….in which case how many were actually used by NoW.
    Or were the numbers on Mulcaire’s list requested -name by name-by NoW -or any other client.”

    I think there is a deliberate ambiguity about this.

    But, releasing the information and then backtracking – that would be unthinkable. It would be such a major collapse of trust (even though the word “alleged” is always there) that probably would be unbelievable for the public and hence fuelling responses that would be really threatening.

    Also, 11,000 page is more like a full-time job. The industry itself works on commissioned jobs, now, it is possible that he had a stock from which he offered…

    So, because of the release of the information I think that whether by commissioning the job or buying from the stock, but it happened and it was not simply a stock put out on the market stall.

  23. Thanks, Anthony.

  24. @ John B Dick

    The diaries of AC (the former :-)) are quite revealing about devolution and the perceptions and actions of various Labour figures about it.

  25. So last night’s was actually -27.

  26. Interestingly that -27 means that my ‘weighted against past 30 days’ figure has reached a new low of -27.16 and is continuing to show a downward trend.

    Similarly, the Labour lead is still trending upward (and would have been a faster trend if not for the outlier of 41) and ‘combined coalition’ lead is still trending downward.
    If those trends continue for the next month (which is an extremely long time in politics – so it’s unlikely, I expect it to stabilise soon), Labour will move solidly above the combined coalition figures.

  27. I’m sure Mulcaire could have had some contact details on file – of those most likely to appear in the news. But remember these are the people most likely to alter those details anyway, so having the info on spec might not be very productive.

    But a lot of the people being hacked would be ‘civilians’ – people caught up in the news or the friends, relations, bedfellows or business contacts relevant to a particular current celebrity story. These would be the people that the press would be interested in and they would be hacked (and information discovered on them) to order.

    Incidentally I was highly amused while the latest lot of ‘revelations’ by the shock expressed by many in the media at the idea that the phones of victims of crime (and other ‘civilians’) might be hacked. Because of course the sort of people happy to hack the phones of the powerful and influential and to invade the real life privacy of such victims etc would never dream of hacking their phones, would they?

  28. @ OLDNAT

    “Typical metropolitan arrogance, thinking that only London polis can be corrupt!!”

    :-)

  29. “Perhaps Mulcaire sold his list to the Guardian after he went to prison in 2006?”

    No, the Guardian had sight of the original CPS report which (oddly, given the information contained therein) supported the police decision to close the case, and allowed NotW to continue with their “one rogue reporter” line.

    It was not until the private prosecutions (Sienna Miller etc) that the police were obliged to divulge parts of the evidence they had held all along; up until that time NI had been settling out of court with gagging clauses).

  30. @Martyn

    “You said “…sensible people like Jon Snow…”
    Obviously a definition of the word “sensible” that I was not previously aware of…”

    I was amused with your little piece the other day about one man’s meat being another man’s poison in terms of partisan interpretation. Maybe you should add the word “sensible” to your list of misapplied, or ambivalent, terms. There are obviously two ways of looking at the concept of sense:-

    Sensible = an interpretation of events or statistics, or the expression of an opinion, that is in total agreement with my tendentious view of the world. Purveyors of this interpretation are self-evidently “sensible people”. Jon Snow does not meet these standards, obviously.

    Not sensible (or downright stupid, even) = an interpretation of events or statistics, or the expression of an opinion, which doesn’t accord with my tendentious view of the world. Purveyors of this sort of stupidity are “not sensible people”. I presume Jon Snow is one such individual.

    By the way, we all suffer from this judgemental tendency from time to time and I’m glad to see that you are not immune either!

  31. @TingedFringe

    “Essentially, Tory VI has been knocked down to 36 (with Lab up to 43) since the first phone-hacking allegations, so will this Payne revelation have no more effect than making that movement more concrete, or could it knock it further down?”

    Can’t see it, to be honest. Unless there are some really startling revelations this side of the investigation and inquiry findings becoming known, then I think the polling effect has run its course for now. Today’s Sarah Payne story just plays into the already well established feeling of nausea about the antics of Murdoch’s papers, particularly the NOW, but the disgust factor is virtually exhausted now. Those who’ve jumped ship from the Tories and those that have been impressed with Miliband have already made their moves, I suspect.

    The economy is resuming centre stage now, and the Libyan intervention is regaining currency too. I don’t think either of these major issues are strong suits for the Coalition at present and they both have the potential to further erode support for the incumbents.

    As we head remorselessly towards the Conference season, Cameron will be relieved that Parliament has gone into recess but I wonder, probably for the first time since he became Tory Leader, whether he is the one amongst the three party leaders least looking forward to facing his compatriots and brethren? Clegg, I feel, has earned a bit of breathing space (head just above water sort of breathing space mind) and Miliband,post-Hackgate, might just have the faintest hint of a skip in his step. Cameron, on the other hand, looks more vulnerable to friendly fire than I think I can remember.

    Should be interesting.

  32. @crossbat11

    Er, altho’ I can animadvert about broadcast news in general (and Channel 4 news in particular) and its tendency to duckspeak whatever metropolitan elite nostrum is in vogue this week, in this particular instance I was simply referring to Jon Snow’s ties&socks… :-) :-)

    Regards, Martyn

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