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By Dave Taylor

Newsnet Scotland regularly gets press releases from all political parties trying to make something out of the tiny Scottish samples in GB polls. We have little in the way of meaningful Scottish polls, so that is to be expected.

No one at NNS is a political innocent, and we quite understand the need of all political research departments to find something to analyse and get some publicity for their cause. What is most surprising is the willingness of so many news outlets to publish these unquestioningly – just to fill some column inches.

Since this site supports independence/autonomy, it’s appropriate that we savage an SNP press release rather than that of a Unionist party (while that might be more fun, it would just be partisan).

We wholly support the view of Pete Wishart MP that “Scotland rejected David Cameron in the 2010 election so it is very telling even more people in Scotland think he is out of touch and out of ideas. This poll also shows Cameron’s botched reshuffle has failed to give his flagging popularity a bounce.

“The lurch to the right in the Westminster reshuffle simply confirms how out of touch the Tories really are and why Scotland should make decisions for itself rather than leave them to Westminster.  The decision to keep the Chancellor George Osborne in his job, despite a failing austerity agenda causing economic stagnation and a double-dip recession, shows just how lacking in ideas the Westminster Prime Minster has become.

“The contrast of the tired old Tories with the Scottish Government, bringing forward ideas for economic growth and protecting public services, could not be more stark. Fifteen years on from the Scottish Parliament referendum, it’s clear that where decisions can be taken in Scotland, better decisions are taken. The most recent Social Attitudes Survey shows that 71 per cent of people trust the Scottish Government to act in Scotland's best interests, compared to just 18 per cent who trust the UK Government.

“This polling further underlines why Scotland cannot afford to take the risk in future of leaving decisions to the lottery of Westminster elections and the need to move decisions from an unreformable Westminster to a representative Holyrood parliament, 100% elected to make decisions in Scotland’s interests.”

Well. almost “wholly support”. He did say “This poll also shows”, when it actually shows very little, on its own.

It’s a YouGov GB poll (see many of Scottish Skier’s comments on that!)

The Scottish sample was 177 (weighted down to 162) out of 1860 across GB.

Westminster VI for the Scots sample was unlikely to be representative – 36% Lab : 29% SNP : 17% Con : 7% LD.

What? 24% in Scotland supporting the parties in the UK Coalition Government? Surely some mistake?

Not a mistake – sub-samples aren’t supposed to be representative of opinion within that population. That’s just random variation. However, it does allow us to compare Scots attitudes to UK politics from different Scottish samples which have wide random variations in Westminster voting intention.

Regardless of the pattern of Scots voting intention for Westminster, a huge majority of Scots dislike the Tories (and now their LD allies), and all that they stand for. (Sorry, SNP – that ain’t news!)

But also largely regardless of the pattern of Scots voting intention for Westminster, Scots don’t rate Ed Milliband. In the last YG poll in August, which had 51% of the wee Scottish sample intending to vote Labour for Westminster, only 27% thought Milliband was doing well compared with 61% who thought he was doing badly. Only his home town of London had a worse opinion of him – but then they might know him better.

Personally, I’ll wait for a properly constructed Scottish poll by a reliable company, which hasn’t just asked a question that it has been paid to ask by some interest group, before I pay much attention.

I may have to wait for a very long time!

Comments  

 
# Breeks 2012-09-12 09:42
Mr Taylor, you might seek some guidance from Neil Bibby MSP.
In terms of the "dos" and don'ts" of running political opinion polls, I believe Mr Bibby's recent re-education briefing on the subject might be more 'current' than most.
 
 
# oldnat 2012-09-12 20:18
For those who don't know of poor Mr Bibby -

.../the-neil-bibby-saga
 
 
# Merouane 2012-09-12 09:50
I know polls are expensive, but any chance of Newsnet commisioning its own polls in future?
 
 
# exel 2012-09-12 11:21
From the article: “Personally, I’ll wait for a properly constructed Scottish poll by a reliable company, which hasn’t just asked a question that it has been paid to ask by some interest group, before I pay much attention.
I may have to wait for a very long time!”

I thought NNS regarded the SNP as a reliable company? They have run a poll I believe, some 26,000 responses were obtained, we are told.

But they have not published the result yet, have they?
 
 
# davemsc 2012-09-12 12:00
A poll and a consultation are two very different things. One is taken to be a representative sample, the other is a mass collection of data. It's like comparing an orange with a cannonball.
 
 
# Jiggsbro 2012-09-12 12:08
You believe the referendum consultation was a poll? I think you've misunderstood the scope and purpose of the enterprise. Perhaps that would explain why you expect the analysis to be done to your time scale, rather than to that of the independent analysts.
 
 
# tartanfever 2012-09-12 11:35
Going slightly off topic here, but still on the subject of reliability/partisanship I want to mention the 'independent' think tank 'Reform Scotland' as an illustration.

Last week they released a report attacking GP surgeries, claiming that a 'postcode lottery' is in effect with some areas losing out on surgery opening hours and so on. The report shifted through it's findings about surgery websites, accessibility of information for patients, opening hours and so on, but it's core findings and questions were all based around getting the private sector more involved in our health practices. The leading question from them at the end of the report was directed to the Scottish Government, asking them if they were against competition.

The findings were of course reported on BBC's Reporting Scotland without re-course. They were described in the intro as an 'independent think -tank' . The lunch time news just read the findings of the report verbatim.

Looking a bit deeper into Reform Scotland, as many of us have visited their website, we know that the main two people both have heavy connections to the Tory party, Geoff Mawdsley as the chief political advisor after positions as head of research and as a researcher. Then there is Alison Payne, who also worked as a Tory researcher and then head of research before becoming Annabel Goldie's political advisor.

Reform Scotland's advisory Board is headed up by Ben Thomson, a man with a history working for both investment and merchant banks. He's also the man behind the 'devo plus' campaign that launched earlier this year with the support of cross-party (unionist) politicians (that seems to have died a death). Interestingly he is also a non executive director of two investment trusts, both of which as part of their investment portfolio have interests within private healthcare.

Whats more interesting about this group is their funding. Loking on their website they have this:

Reform Scotland’s current corporate partners include Deloitte LLP, Dundas & Wilson, The Buccleuch Group and Skanska Scotland.

Go to Skansa Scotland's homepage and whats the first information we get:

Skanska’s Royal London Hospital Redevelopment has been named among the world’s top 10 infrastructure projects.


Amongst other things, Skansa are involved in both private and public healthcare. What a surprise, Reform Scotland, funded by a building company that delivers private and public healthcare infrastructure calls on the Scottish Government to put more health care out to private companies. This is nothing more than lobbying.

Look further through the list of advisory board members and we see that the vast majority of them have a history either in private business or investment/merchant banking. Of course, what we hear from Reform Scotland is that they have politicians from all parties represented on their board. The truth is that those people are either retired MSP's and they make up a tiny percentage the numbers.

Look through Reform Scotland's website and we see a direct link between members, their companies, funding and private business - and no surprise to find that most of their publications conclude that private enterprise should be encouraged into the public sector. They do this under the guise of, as demonstrated above, by highlighting an issue of public service and attacking the government, but the conclusion always seems to be the same - let private business and enterprise take over more public services.

Now thats fair enough, they are free to do whatever they like. My gripe is two-fold. Firstly it's with the BBC for describing this group as an independent think tank - but thats for another time.
As for the second part, I wonder how this group, which, as far as I'm concerned, is nothing more than a lobbying group for private business interests somehow manages to have charitable status ?
Yes, a group made up of business people, which supports business interests and is funded by large scale business groups somehow is a charity.

Edit - sorry. forgot to mention that to gain charitable status they describe themselves as working in the 'education' sector.

So, like these polls, there are a number of institutions of 'questionable' provenance that seem to hold sway over the our media outlets to be described as they wish to be described. When are we going to see some reports that question these institutions and looks at their motives.

Sorry for the long post and going off topic, but I hope this is informative.

Reform Scotland's website is here: reformscotland.com/index.php
 
 
# scottish_skier 2012-09-12 18:18
Unsurprisingly, Reform Scotland is also linked to the rather right-wing SDA....
 
 
# J Wil 2012-09-15 08:49
It seems that the BBC have questions to answer as to why they are promoting an organisation with business interests. It's outside their remit.
 
 
# scottish_skier 2012-09-12 11:59
Aye, Yougov... 'The supermarket value poll'.

You get what you pay for. I hope the unionists keep using them right up to referendum day.
 
 
# pmcrek 2012-09-12 19:36
Polls are naturally biased towards the opinions of people who are willing to do things like answer the telephone, or answer the door, or open letters addressed simply to the occupier and indeed... towards those who do polls.
 
 
# Angry_Weegie 2012-09-14 00:20
Quoting pmcrek:
Polls are naturally biased towards the opinions of people who are willing to do things like answer the telephone, or answer the door, or open letters addressed simply to the occupier and indeed... towards those who do polls.


Polls are naturally biased towards the opinions of those who commission them. The questions are set to get the required response, but, of course, if you somehow get the wrong answer, and you can't make it sound like the right one, you can always opt not to publish.
 
 
# exel 2012-09-12 21:35
davemsc 2012-09-12 13:00
A poll and a consultation are two very different things. One is taken to be a representative sample, the other is a mass collection of data. It's like comparing an orange with a cannonball.

Fine, I wonder how the independent analysts are going to present the 26,000 sample.

Will it be the OPINION of that sample? Or will it be data obtained from experts collected to prove some hypotheses or other?

No wonder it is taking so long.
 
 
# Diabloandco 2012-09-13 18:34
I take it you took part in the consultation?Put forward your views?
And therefore should have a good idea of what the " consultation " was all about and given the extensive response will be patient enough to wait with other interested parties , for the analysis to be made and findings published?
Good!
 
 
# sneckedagain 2012-09-14 17:58
Scottish Skier
"Unsurprisingly, Reform Scotland is also linked to the rather right-wing SDA...."

Which is why I am never surprised when SDA tries to introduce divisive issues into our debates
 

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