‘Don’t know’ and ‘Yes’ conversion rate to ‘No’ signals crucial role of White Paper on independence

A new poll out today from the respected YouGov shows that support in Scotland for Scottish independence  has fallen to 29% and that the percentage of Don’t Knows’ has also fallen – to 10%.

The fall in the ‘Yes’ vote and the rise in the ‘No’ vote to 59% – now a 2:1 majority – indicates both that the ‘Don’t Knows’ are converting to ‘Nos’ – and that former ‘Yes’ votes are also converting to ‘No’ votes.

2% say they will not vote.

John Curtice, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University and frequent television commentator on political matters is unable to offer comfort to the Yes Scotland campaign. He told a national newspaper this morning that he does not see how either the ‘Yes’ or the No’ campaign can now effect much change in their share of the coming vote.

He is also scathing – and with good reason,  on the evidence of performance, of Blair Jenkins, ‘Yes Scotland’ campaign CEO. Curtice points out that Jenkins ‘…keeps saying people are coming round to them but they don’t seem to be talking to very many people given what the polls are saying’.

In the ‘Battle of the Blairs’, Blair McDougall, the uninspiring but less gaffe-prone CEO of the Better Together campaign [and what a limp brand that has been - 'United We Stand' would have told a different story] has made a telling point.

McDougall points out that ‘Yes Scotland’ is today farther behind in the polls than they were when their campaign was launched.

In February 2012, not long before the ‘Yes’ campaign launched, 42% would have voted ‘No’; 37% would have voted ‘Yes’; and 21% did not know how they would vote.

The drop in the  ‘Don’t knows’ percentage to 10% today, even with the addition of the 2%  who now say they will not vote, does not account for the 17% rise [from 425 TO 59% in those who nOw say they will vote 'No'.

This shows that 7% of those who would have voted 'Yes' in February 2012 have now changed their minds.

In the same period, the 'Yes' vote has fallen from 37% to 29%, a position 21.6% less than it was in February 2012.

There have been two major SNP-inflicted scupperings of the 'Yes' campaign; and one of medium scale.

The wrong proposition

The prospectus for Scottish Independence put forward has had no philosophical integrity, no internal coherence.

It has been a mixumgatherum of what was thought to be a pacifier of the nervous - like keeping the Queen, joining NATO and going for immediate EU membership; and of whatever passig notion could be grabed in the breeze - as with 'Scotland can be like - Ireland... Iceland... Norway... Sweden... the Isle of Man... Gibraltar... the Falkland Islands... and we've still got a year to go.

Work not done

The first major hole in the fabric has been the work not done in time - although there has been plenty of time - to provide sound answers to key questions and to support the case for independence.

This indicates either complacency in not bothering or covering up in having done the work but finding that the answers were unpalatable and were to be suppressed.

The reality is a bit of both.

There is hard evidence in the public domain that some core answers [as with the affordability of pensions] are known  – and unpalatable – and have been provided to cabinet colleagues by Finance Secretary, John Swinney.

There is also evidence that a substantial number of issues had not actually been considered – and, damagingly, these have tended to be the operational matters that would immediately impact on people’s lives.

Running away from power

A particularly damaging feature has been the SNP’s running away form power lest the necessity to make unpopular decisions impacts negatively on the independence vote.

There have been two varieties of running from power-in-the-hand.

The first has been the parking of all difficult and contentious issues until after the September 2014 referendum.

Amongst many others, two big biters are in the long grass:

  • the Clyde and Hebridean ferries tender
  • education and the role of rural schools.

With the range of issues parked-up for afterwards, Scotland is gping to be an immediate mess following the referendum vote.

If it’s a “Yes’  – it will be all hands to the pumps to get the operation of an independent country agreed, established and financed by independence day in May 2016. Where will there be the time, the effort and the money to resolve the issues in the parking lot?

If it’s a ‘No’, those issues will have to be confronted immediately by a demoralised government whose senior – and decision taking – ministers will primarily be concerned with jostling for position in the post-Salmond hiatus.

This failure to offer strong government and take the right – and not the most politically convenient – decision will return to trouble the pragmatists.

The second bolt from power-in-the-hand ha been evidenced in two local authorities – Highland and Argyll and Bute.

In these cases, the SNP role and presence in their administrations – or their political management – has been deliberately reduced or removed.

We all know the extraordinary convolutions that are still taking place here in Argyll and Bute as the SNP group  – elected to lead as the largest group] strive to leave power or at least become junior partners. [Junior partners are less 'responsible' and have some deniability of the 'it wus a big boy done it...' variety.]

In Highland the SNP departed on account of ‘undisciplined’ independents in their coalition.

With the Argyll and Bute example in the national headlines, the pot is not in a position to call the Highland independents black – aka ‘undisciplined ‘. There is also the definition of ‘undisciplined’ to be considered.

Did the Independents in coalition in Highland simply refuse to agree to what the SNP councilors wanted to do – or not to do – for party political ends?

The SNP’s political judgment in thee instances could not have been more failing or more damaging.

How can the SNP present itself as a credible, trustworthy, attractive party who can ‘sell’ honestly the chances of success of an independent Scotland, when they have been unable to handle the responsibility of the present power they have been given?

The White Paper

Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, is a famous gambler – in politics and on the gee=gees.

He will know, as no other, just how crucial is the White Paper on independence which the SNP government will publish, sometime before the end of this year.

People can change their minds if the evidence is there and if the evidence proves to be well founded and resistant to counter-analysis.

If the White Paper is the indestructible, reasoned blueprint for an independent Scotland that the party has promised it will be – and West Scotland MSP, the merited rising star Stuart McMillan’s recent unequivocal assurances on this could not have been more welcome or more timely – there may still be everything to play for. This can yet be the game-changer.

If it’s not, the game’s up.

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52 Responses to ‘Don’t know’ and ‘Yes’ conversion rate to ‘No’ signals crucial role of White Paper on independence

  1. “Scotland’s first minister is a famous gambler…”

    Can I also ask “Is he fond of a wee tipple?” His behaviour seems to suggest so.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 25 Thumb down 25

    • ah!! so predictable Lowry–throw in a wee aside about the First Minister. In recent times it has also been the Provost etc.

      Which gutter do you find yourself in or don’t you recognise you are in one.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 26 Thumb down 23

  2. The YouGov survey put support for a “no” vote at 59% compared with 29% for a “yes” vote based on the voting intentions of 1171 Scottish adults. Hardly representative

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 25

    • So you don’t believe that opinion polls work?

      YouGov has many years experience in selecting samples, 1171 is actually a large sample size for a small poll like the Scottish referendum. I think the polling companies predict UK elections very accurately on smaller samples.

      Rule 1 of politics, if you disagree with an opinion poll then say the sample is too small or not a good sample!

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 28 Thumb down 9

  3. Respected Yougov

    Respected by whom? This organisation have repeatedly been a long way off the average of all the other polling companies – to the tune of 7% or more.

    Here are the figures for the averages of all polls since May 2011
    30% Y / 56% N

    ICM, AR, Comres, Panelbase, TNS-BMRB, MORI
    37% Y / 46% N

    So Yougov are really way out on the edge here when compared with all the other polling organisations. I have heard that the methodology they use is outdated, though I don’t know how much truth there is in this. In any event, I find it hard to see why their results on this issue should be ‘respected’ more than the quite different results all the other polling companies are producing.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 23 Thumb down 26

  4. Yougov that would be the british governments website not representative at all when you consider how one sided they are plus not enough people asked but I would say that this is lies anyway, bit like the bbc not giving the yes campaign fair representation with all the lies and such. After all I live in scotland and the general majority here seems to be either a yes vote or a don’t know but at the end of the day the results well speak for themselves but yougov and wastemonster have to try to convince the majority of the public that the yes campaign is losing in the hope that others will vote no but this isn’t going to happen so keep spinning your lies coz the people who matter in this vote ain’t listening anymore as we have had enough of the bs that comes from westminster and the tv and papers who work for them. Oh and before anyone says anything I’m english living in scotland and will be voting yes to independence coz I have seen both sides and know which one is for the people and which one is out for themselves.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 25 Thumb down 27

    • While Yougov are obviously the polling organisation of choice for UKOK and their various fronts (such as DevoPlus, who commissioned this one) I don’t think they actually lie, just that their methodology is a bit suspect.

      EDIT: Just discovered that in fact the Yougov poll did not ask the straight referendum question that will be on the ballot paper. It asked:

      ”Scotland should become a fully independent country separate from the rest of the UK”

      So I think we can fairly disregard the result, particularly when you look at the two other options that accompanied this. (See Ian’s post below)

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 26 Thumb down 16

    • What has YouGov to do with the UK government, like other polling companies they are independent.

      They know the location of all the people they question so will be able to get result for Scottish voters. There is a possibility that someone might give their location incorrectly but it will probably balance out.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 12

  5. Please take no notice of this poll.
    Listen to the English poll. We want you to leave, we want you to vote for independence. So do the right thing, vote for independence

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 20

  6. YouGov is far from the most reliable indicator of true opinions on Scottish issues as has been proven over & over – something in their methodology throws up bogus results!
    This ‘devoplus’ group wants a political reality that isn’t being offered (& won’t be) so can’t really be taken too seriously either.
    I suspect you’d get a more accurate figure if you took that 29% & added 20 to it.
    59% for no must (yet again) be including devomax %?
    tiny bit of digging & I see devo plus is part of Reform Scotland – Edinburgh based right wing dominated think tank … hmmm … propaganda machine for BT me thinks?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 20 Thumb down 14

    • Have you got figures to prove this or is it just their results do not agree with the SNP?

      I can’t see why their results should be wrong, as above, there sample size seems very large compared to that used for national elections.

      They make money also from non-political polling so any hint of being impartial could affect that part of their business.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 20 Thumb down 12

      • twas my memory of how far out they were before, general trend of yes% & strong belief that these opinion poll results are under-playing what % result is likely to be for yes vote … suggesting 29% is ludicrous & in my mind could only be explained by popularity for the deceased idea of devoplus/max.
        To summarise: I believe that particular devoplus posed poll was an example of crap in gives you crap out as devoplus/max isn’t going to happen.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 17

  7. Newsie should confine her bile to Argyll matters – too much prejudice for anything else outside that. When we get a YES vote I hope Newsie will have the grace to fall on her sword.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 21

    • A point of fact: ‘evidenced opposition’ and ‘bile’ are not synonymous; nor are they – on the evidence of this text – bedfellows here.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 14

  8. Salmond’s lot never believe opinion polls unless the numbers suit.them. I’ve had enough of the lying waffling SNP. I’ll never trust them and nor will many others. We had an SNP led local authority in the 90′s, they were thrown out due to the fiddling of taxpayers money by a number of SNP councillors. They have never been tusted since.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 22 Thumb down 12

  9. Andie says he’s English living in Scotland and will vote yes. How do we know that,,, this is the internet remember. I’m a multi-millionaire. :-)

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 16

    • Trafalgar
      There will be Iraqis, English, Pakistani, Indian, Irish Polish, Welsh etc etc voting ‘Yes’ in the referendum, they do exist, that’s fact.
      Where someone was born is unimportant in this referendum.
      What matters is whether while residing in Scotland they believe it, if governed well with full powers, can be a better place to live, work, bring a family up and so on or not.
      Sept 2014 is not a vote against the English so why is it so unbelievable that Andy should be English and voting ‘Yes’?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 8

  10. These polls are very loose snapshots in time.
    There is over a year to go.
    Salmond and the ‘Yes’ campaign haven’t even begun to seriously engage prospective voters, gloves yet to come off.
    Most of the above’s time is spent batting Better Together’s relentless barrage of reasons why Scotland cannae dae it into touch.
    Sit tight, keep an eye on the polls by all means, they, between now and September 2014 will fluctuate.
    The show has yet to begin, we are merely witnessing the sparring before the proper fight commences.
    I would much rather Better Together’s poll ratings, however, this long distance race to the finishing line is still to be won or lost. Complacency by the ‘No’ lot, Salmond pulls a rabbit from the hat, the ‘Yes’ campaign get out of first gear, the polls make no allowance for any such occurrence.
    The SNPs white paper when made public will as their proposals have already, be ridiculed, they are the only party attempting to explain what we can do differently through self determination, a strange situation given the remaining parties will have to do exactly that and show their plans for a post ‘Yes’ should it be successful.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 7

  11. Jnr Tick,
    there will also be many many thousands of Scots who live elsewhere in the UK who will not be entitled to a vote on the future of their own country. This is all part of the corrupt plan by the SNP to try and fix the result. Even Scots soldiers who are overseas will not have a vote. Who on earth would trust Salmond, the lying bully, who promises everything to everyone. This man and his government make it up as they go along, a back of a fag packet brigade. They are all wealthy Nationalist toffs, who, at the first sign of things going pear shaped, would get out of here rral quick, leaving the rest of us to pick up the pieces. No wonder the people of the Highlands, the Orkneys, Shetlands and the Northern Isles have no trust in these Central Belt dictators.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 11

  12. Jnr Tick,
    there will also be many many thousands of Scots who live elsewhere in the UK who will not be entitled to a vote on the future of their own country. This is all part of the corrupt plan by the SNP to try and fix the result. Even Scots soldiers who are overseas will not have a vote. Who on earth would trust Salmond, the lying bully, who promises everything to everyone. This man and his government make it up as they go along, a back of a fag packet brigade. They are all wealthy Nationalist toffs, who, at the first sign of things going pear shaped, would get out of here reall quick, leaving the rest of us to pick up the pieces. No wonder the people of the Highlands, the Orkneys, Shetlands and the Northern Isles have no trust in these Central Belt dictators.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 10

    • Project Fear again
      A soldier serving abroad, with an address in Scotland at which he/she is registered to vote, will be able to claim a postal vote.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

    • How else could it be done apart from using the electoral roll?

      It would be very complicated (and expensive) to let anyone who wants to register to vote, wherever they lived. How do you check their status? Birth Certificates, but many will not have born in Scotland as noted above residence is the qualification. Perhaps drinking Irn Bru and liking deep fried Mars Bars?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 5

    • Alex Salmond represents the NE of Scotland. He was voted in Tralfalger, something some of you noees still cannot get your head round.

      Electoral commission is involved so your allegations over fixing results is without foundation . But that is not the point is it — the noees have a wee list to put doubts in the minds of folk. Who is corrupt?
      Remember the Westminster fix over the 40% rule years ago. All the Yes campaign need is one more vote for independence. By the way why call yourself Trafalger is that where you would head to if we get freedom?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

  13. from todays courier

    “With a year to go until the independence referendum a sensational new poll has put the Yes campaign a point ahead, The Courier can reveal.
    The survey was last night hailed by the SNP, with Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declaring it is “game on”.
    She told The Courier that the Panelbase poll — the first to give Yes a lead since the wording of the question was finalised last year — proved the SNP’s political opponents can “no longer take the people of Scotland for granted”.
    Out of a sample of 908 people aged 18 and over in Scotland, the results showed 44% intend to vote Yes in response to the question “Should Scotland be an independent country?” while some 43% would vote No, with 13% undecided.
    Support for independence has increased by seven points since the last Panelbase poll was carried out in July.
    Support for a No vote has fallen by three points over the same period.”

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 7

    • Quite amusing the YouGov poll was rubbished earlier in the comments because the sample size was only 1171 even thought that is a high proportion by polling standards. Now a poll supports the SNP so it is immediately accepted even though a small sample than YouGov.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 7

    • Mscot: I’ve given it a thumbs up but I don’t think the result will mean much as you can vote several times just by logging in via a different server.

      The YouGov poll is misleading because of two factors. Tthe question was not what will be asked in the referendum . It is funny how the unionists squealed about the wording of the question when it was being decided but are silent on the use of highly manipulative wording in polls that suit them. The second thing is the weighting of the survey using the Westminster elections rather than Holyrood. This will bias selection towards Labour voters rather than SNP voters, with predictable results.

      The Panelbase poll is probably closer to the true position (asking the actual question is a big plus), though it possibly over eggs the Yes vote a bit.

      Opinion polls are always a bit suspect but the interesting thing is that they seem to indicate that there isn’t much change either way going on. Remember that they have error margins of about 3% so movements smaller than this between the same polls can be disregarded.

      Where I would certainly agree with Lynda Henderson is in her assertion that the White paper is going to be very important in shaping opinion. There will be predictable attacks on it. Expect phrases like “full of holes” “unrealistic”, “fantasy” and even “lies” from the Unionist camp, probably rising to hysteria in their efforts to dismiss it but hopefully most Scots will take the time to actually read it and make their own minds up.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 5

    • MScot: I think a fair number of Nos are in fact “Not proven”: people who are open to persuasion on independence but do not feel that the Yes campaign have made a convincing case yet. It’s a fair point. I think a lot of “Don’t knows” are probably more open to persuasion to vote Yes rather than NO as people tend to default to the status quo – a No in this case – so the fact that they are indicating Don’t know rather than No suggests that they want to be convinced about change.

      That’s just my take on behaviour and I admit that I’m as biased as the next man with an opinion!

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 5

      • Isn’t that another standard method that politicians use to manipulate polling results i.e. claim that Don’t Knows are actually supporting them.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

        • It’s just my opinion and I have no real way of knowing but my thinking is that people who are thinking of voting No are likely to just say No as this is the status quo. If they are saying “Don’t know” then they seem more open to at least considering voting for change. I guess we will know in a year’s time!

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

    • Serious arguments and evidence are available ( for example in Stephen Maxwell’s book ” Evidence, Risk, and the Wicked Issues” ) just not widely available in the popular press, or for that matter much in For Argyll.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • I’m not sure I understand why that is any more a ‘realistic’ view than the YouGov one. Both can be criticised for the same reasons so why is one any more or less credible than the other?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

    • I wouldn’t so much say it was balanced – just more that is is simply being factual. Balanced suggests it is actually analysing the results and any possible discrepancies and then offering an interpretation.
      I don’t mean that as a criticism of the article – in some ways it is refreshing just to see an article which just presents the figures (OK it throws in a couple of quotes but that is inevitable) and doesn’t try to manipulate how people should interpret them.

      We all know people and polticians will seize any poll that favours them and totally ignore others. In this particular one Nicola Sturgeon is claiming that it indicates that the positive case for Yes is capturing people’s imagination, while the No campaign’s ‘Project Fear’ is running out of steam’ Other polls suggests something very different but of course she is going to conveniently ignore that (as any politician would).

      I must admit I expected the unionist take on it to be more defensive however in fairness to Willie Rennie (this particular time) his response to it has been surprisingly ‘grown up’ rather than adopting some of the school playground responses we have seen to both this poll and the YouGov one.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  14. Apologies for posting this here – there wasn’t really a recent relevant post for it.

    An interesting story developing out of Glasgow City Council at the moment about the possible short term impact of uncertainty relating to the independence debate. GCC tried to borrow two fairly short term loans from an English Council (for what were relatively small sums of money in the context of GCC) and these were rejected due, it would appear, to the lending council’s uncertainty over repayment beyond the date of the referendum.

    Unlike many of the other issues which have been blown out of proportion I do believe that the issue of public sector financing (including obviously debt management and funding) beyond independence has to be totally ironed out before anyone should consider independence. Anything other than that is walking into independence too blind and with too much of a cavalier ‘it will be all right’ fashion.

    Levels of public sector debt are high and are predominantly shored up the Public Works Loan Board – without that level of security, or possibly with it, but at an enhanced interest rate, any assumptions about public finances and future capital spend are entirely speculative.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  15. Glasgow city council – pro union – pro debt NOW – pro unemployment- still pro union!?
    Speculation reigns in the noee camp for they cannot predict their own future or don’t want to.

    Can folk just for once try and see there might just be a better way than the 150 years of the debt ridden glasgow.
    Don’t blame the people blame the current union

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

    • Can you also try and see, that the answer to some queries isn’t always ‘lets do it differently, we just can’t say how yet because we don’t actually know’

      How many councils aren’t ‘pro debt’ (if pro debt means ‘having lots of it’ – Shetlands is one, after that you start to struggle. It isn’t just Glasgow that is ‘debt ridden’ – just about every council is.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

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