Worried about the #indyref polls? Read this.

I’ve seen a number of people worry about the newest Survation poll, which has Yes behind No by 6 points, no change on their last poll.

There is no need to worry about any individual poll.

A typical opinion poll surveys around 1000 people.

If those 1000 people were chosen with perfect randomness from among all of Scotland, and were all honest, there would be 19-1 odds of the real gap being within 6 points either way of the numbers reported by the polling company.

So if Survation say there is a 47% Yes, 53% No, what they mean is that there is probably 44% – 50% Yes and 50% – 56% No.

A lot of things can go wrong with polls. People lie to polling companies. The limited panels some polling companies use may not reflect the country accurately.

Survation, ICM, YouGov and Panelbase all use volunteer internet panels. ICM and YouGov both probably have far larger numbers of volunteers than Panelbase and Survation, which makes it easier for them to reflect the real population.

TNS and Ipsos Mori are especially interesting, because TNS door-knock and Ipsos Mori phone landlines.

When you take into account the uncertainty, this 6% No lead is really just a neck-and-neck poll the same as YouGov’s 2% Yes lead, TNS’s dead heat, and Panelbase’s 4% No lead.

Polls will go up and down. All that is left for Yessers to do now is door-knock, leaflet, run stalls – anything and everything to persuade people and turn them out to vote on the day. If you can, make sure you register with your local Yes group to do Get Out the Vote on polling day.

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Eckenaccio

Originally posted on :

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By Alistair Davidson

And Eck was cast into a furnace of fire: there was wailing and gnashing of teeth. To Britain’s journalists there was no question, Darling bested Salmond. To many Yes activists it felt the same. During a gruelling a two-year campaign, we’ve been called everything from “a virus” to Nazis. The endless attacks in the press have left us bruised, battered, and angry.

At last, we imagined, a chance to see our man, champion of so many a First Minister’s Question Time, finally sock it to them. In the run-in to the first debate, most Yes campaigners seemed to expect Salmond to wipe the floor with Darling. They anticipated a bloodbath, a humiliation, a ritual killing of the enemy that would relieve them of the oppressive weight of elite opprobrium.

It didn’t happen, of course. Salmond was conversational, not confrontational. He was badly caught out on currency, perhaps…

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Generation Yes (ish)

Originally posted on :

YES March & Rally for Scottish Independence.  Image by Ivon BartBy Alistair Davidson

It is something of a tradition, when a radical political movement emerges, to hail the new generation of young people who are rejecting the bad old ways, and trumpet the return of the organised left. When I was a student in the early 2000s, the alter-globalisation and anti-war movements were taken as evidence that my generation were rejecting 1980s “greed is good” values. In 2011, Paul Mason claimed that anti-austerity protests and the Arab Spring were driven by “a new sociological type: the graduate with no future.” Of the independence referendum, Gerry Hassan has written that “Arguments articulated by the establishment and the political Old Guard fail to resonate with a new generation of voter”; Pete Ramand, that “radical Scotland has left its ghetto.”

It is fantastic, and hugely exciting, to see young people engage with democracy, to try to change their country for the better…

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Movement politics v professional politics

Originally posted on :

Over 1000 people protest at BBC news bias

Over 1000 people protest at BBC news bias

by Alistair Davidson

On Sunday, over a thousand ordinary citizens demonstrated outside BBC Scotland against its perceived bias when reporting on the Scottish independence referendum. There can be no doubt that this is a major rupture in Scottish political life – the BBC has until recently been very well-regarded by most Scots, but has been plunged into crisis by contradictions between its role as British state broadcaster and the need to be neutral, and to be seen as neutral, in the referendum.

There has been extensive discussion on Twitter about the effectiveness or otherwise of the demonstration. Some leading Yes campaigners have come out against it, saying that it interrupted their planned PR schedule, and that time would be better spent knocking doors. Some journalists have expressed concern about facing this kind of pressure, and pointed out that no professional PR person would recommend such an action, which after all could alienate any…

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It’s the jobs, stupid: how we’re going to win the referendum

Today’s Sunday Herald front page makes me almost deliriously happy. I’ve written about reindustrialisation several times now. I think it is the key message for the yes campaign.

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Basically, the Scottish people voted Labour while Labour protected Scottish jobs. The shift towards the SNP happened after Blair, and it wasn’t caused by nonexistent WMDs or dodgy dossiers. The Tories were the big enemy who took away the jobs, communities and hope of working people. Labour were meant to protect that, and they were meant to bring it back. Under Blair, they failed. When Gordon Brown turned out to be more of the same, a large chunk of Scotland gave up on Labour.

The SNP have a top-to-bottom plan already in progress to reindustrialise the country using our renewable potential (1/4 of Europe’s wind and tide, 1/10 of its waves). Yards like Nigg are reopening, creating thousands of jobs.

This works especially well because North Sea oil has made us world-leaders in marine engineering. We have the opportunity to be world-leaders in design, manufacture and deployment of deep-sea wind turbines.

The EU has an international plan to build a continental energy grid, to end dependency on Russian gas. If you pay close attention, you’ll notice senior SNP people often talk about energy security as a primary aim. They don’t mean Scotland’s, they mean Europe’s. We’re going to build massive undersea cables to the continent and power Germany’s factories.

Reindustrialisation makes sense from a right or left-wing perspective. It is good for Scottish business, the Scottish economy, and the Scottish working class all at once. It makes no sense, whatever your political persuasion, to remain tied to a political system that has been fully captured by the financial industry and their plan to make London the “capital of capitalism.”

That plan offers nothing for Scotland. The bedroom tax is a prime example – its aim seems to be to free up some liquidity in the London property market, which is acting as a store of value for the global elite. This is horrible for ordinary Londoners, but does make a sort of right-wing sense in that city. In Scotland, it does nothing but shunt disabled people from cheap social housing to expensive homelessness units, without benefiting a single Scottish business and at tremendous human cost.

Meanwhile we have to fight tooth and nail to have essential infrastructure like the Western Isles interconnector built, and are burdened by illogical National Grid energy transmission fees.

The people of Scotland are sick of mass unemployment, and they are sick of irrational, unaccountable policymaking. The credible offer of thousands of high-quality jobs will win this referendum.

Trigger Warnings

There has been some debate lately in the press about trigger warnings (TWs) – especially the demand from some activists that warnings be added to classic literature.

As someone who has overcome PTSD, I have mixed feelings about “trigger” warnings. Some traumatic events, notably sexual assaults, are so common and so traumatic that it is a good idea to warn people up-front, but the word “trigger” is the wrong word, because triggers for true panic attacks or flashbacks can be almost anything.

For example, I once had an acute stress reaction to a flatmate attempting suicide. I have never had any triggered reaction since when viewing media portraying suicide, but I did have intense visual flashbacks the first time I returned to the place where it happened.

TWs were introduced to warn of discussion of sexual assault on feminist blogs. That seems like a really good idea, and you can see why the word trigger was applied. Since then, they have first evolved to be used for less and less traumatic things, eg “TW: homophobia” – it is upsetting to read a homophobic statement, but it isn’t likely to be “triggering” in the same way as an explicit description of a sexual assault is. More recently, they have been employed sarcastically, to denigrate a political opponent. For example linking to a Suzanne Moore article and saying “TW: transphobia”. Following the dilution, some blogs are now calling them “content warnings” instead.

It is a good idea to give people fair warning of content that is similar to common traumas such as sexual assault and abuse. I’m against against it being mandatory for rarer traumatic events, such as school shootings – it upsets me when I see shooting-related items in the news, but I can’t expect the world to tiptoe around my rare trauma.

There would be real danger in applying the broad content warning model to literature. It flags up to the reader that they ought to be traumatised by the content, an action which can cause rather than prevent trauma. It suggests, somehow, that we should not be made to feel uncomfortable. Surely it is the job of literature to make us uncomfortable, exposing us to cultures, world-views and ways of being that are different from our own, unpleasant or not.

The curious case of YouDecide2014 – Tories in ‘neutral’ clothing

UPDATE: I have now definitively linked the BuzzFeed article to the Scotland Office itself!

So there I was, minding my own business on twitter, when up pops a tweet by Ramsay Jones, “UK Government Special Advisor Scotland. Tweets my own views. Hopefully someone else’s later.”

His tweet linked to what was apparently a Buzzfeed article, “Scotland. The UK. 10 Myths. 10 Facts.”, which purported to explain “What would happen to Scotland if we became independent? From our global relationships to our oil revenues, this blog looks at the myths, and the realities, of the Scottish independence debate.”

Ramsay Jones @Ramsay59 - Sorting out the facts from the Indy fiction.The post had been retweeted by Rebecca Lefort, “Digital at @number10gov for a while (usually @bisgovuk). Ex @telegraph journo. Lover of coffee, badminton, feminism, dancing, comedy…. and much more!” I’m glad to see that in the modern world, one can claim to be a feminist whilst participating in a government that has conducted the biggest attack on women’s financial independence since the second world war, reducing the average woman’s disposable income by 10% through cuts alone.

On Ms Lefort’s twitter feed, I saw that she had also retweeted a tweet of the same article by Alex Stewart Aitken, “Government Communicator, Chairman of Westminster Wanderers FC and Arsenal fan”. Tory marketers seem to be huge fans of this BuzzFeed article! Rebecca liked it so much she retweeted it at least three times! Professional pride, perhaps?

So I read it (it didn’t take long, this is BuzzFeed after all!). An eagle-eyed reader will notice that it is “created by a user and has not been vetted or endorsed by BuzzFeed’s editorial staff” – but this text is small (in the Tory comms team’s defence, this is Buzzfeed’s decision).

Scotland. The UK. 10 Myths. 10 Facts. What would happen to Scotland if we become independent? From our global relationships to our oil revenues, this blog looks at the myths, and realities, of the Scottish independence debate. YouDecide2014. Buzzfeed user. This post was created by a user and has not been vetted or endorsed by BuzzFeed's editorial staff. BuzzFeed Community is a place where anyone can post awesome lists and creations." Learn more or post your buzz!The article itself isn’t worth reading – it’s just a list of the usual scare stories presented as myth-busting FACTS: “Fact: Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems have all made clear if we leave the UK we’ll also leave the UK pound. A currency union would not work for Scotland or the rest of the UK – it will not happen.”

At the very bottom of the article, it links to the UK government website.

Get the facts at www.gov.uk/scottishreferendum

I then discovered a twitter account, @YouDecide2014. Its twitter bio was “The Scottish Referendum on 18th September 2014 is a massive decision that needs proper thought. You Decide is here to give you the facts ahead of the vote.” and its website was listed as the Scotland Office official website. It had tweeted the Buzzfeed article several times, as well as tweeting and retweeting a lot of stuff from the UK government – Foreign Office tweets, Scotland Office tweets, MOD tweets. It seemed very keen on David Cameron’s speeches.

Scottish Referendum @youdecide2014. We're here to provide you with the facts ahead of next year's massive decision around independence. #youdecide

So it appears that taxpayers’ money, via the Scotland Office, is being used to fund a twitter and BuzzFeed account run by the Tory comms team. These accounts pretend to be neutral purveyors of facts but are in fact highly partisan. With reports of a recent Better Together leaflet adopting the same strategy, we have to assume this is a new phase in the No campaign – realising that their brand is now utterly toxic, they are resorting to pretending to be other people.

UPDATE: a discussion on Reddit reveals that this article was shared by no less than the 10 Downing Street facebook account!

UPDATE 2: Scott Abel on facebook noticed it was even retweeted by the MOD!

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