Search Results for : Yougov


Neo-Con YouGov At It Again With Leading Questions

This blog has over the years expended some energy on explaining that YouGov is anything but a disinterested seeker after evidence of public opinion, but rather a tool for creating a false impression of public opinion and pushing it in a direction. Needless to say, various legal threats I have received from YouGov and its directors have come to nothing.

Now take this YouGov question in their latest poll:

Would you approve or disapprove of the RAF taking part in air strike operations against Islamic State/ISIS in Syria?

There is no need to mention the RAF in this question – it is not their decision and the impression is subtly conveyed that the RAF want to do it. The question is carefully designed to tap in to the public’s well-documented inclination to support the armed forces in any conflict situation.

If you asked:

Do you approve of the government’s proposals for taking part in air strike operations against Islamic State/ISIS in Syria?

you would get a very different answer. Which of course is why the charlatans at YouGov asked the first question.

Nevertheless, there are two very interesting facts. Even on this biased question opinion is swinging very fast against airstrikes. Secondly, yet again there is a very real divergence of opinion between England and Scotland.

Since I joined the SNP, the comments section has been riddled with people claiming that the SNP is in fact no less neo-con than the other established parties. Today’s debate on Syria, in addition to the recent debate on Trident, make plain that is absolute nonsense.

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YouGov and Murdoch Boost Cameron Again

Last night’s YouGov poll gave Cameron a full five percentage points more than the average of the four other respected polling organisations who effectively asked the same question at the same time.

http://www1.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2010/04/30/is-this-camerons-platform-for-downing-street/

The YouGove polls are simply a part of the Murdoch/Mail propaganda blitz to push Cameron into No 10.

In my last thread I posted the email I sent last night to Stephan Shakespeare, CEO of YouGove, asking whether yet again YouGove had fixed their poll by opening their online polling for a very brief window immediately after Cameron had finished summing up and before the others had summed up.

Shakespeare has replied that he does not know and he has nothing to do with the polling operation (which he recently defended in an article on Conservative Home).

Personally I find it rather difficult to believe that former Conservative parliamentary candidate and Jefrrey Archer campaign manager Stephan Shakespeare was not paying the closest attention as last night’s debate figures were produced by YouGov for Murdoch, his firm’s biggest paymaster.

I also find it even more difficult to believe that he could not get the answer to my question in moments if he genuinely did not know the answer.

It is also worth noting that the threatening letter from YouGov’s libel lawyer Olswang

Download file

attempts no denial that this really was a YouGov poll:

pushpolling.jpg

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YouGov: A Clarification

Before the debate starts, I wish to make one thing crystal clear.

The CEO of YouGov PLC, “Stalwart Stephan” Shakespeare (whom I may have earlier called “Sleazy Stephan” by typographical error), is a business associate, close personal friend and former campaign manager of Mr Jeffrey (formerly trading as “Lord”) Archer.

Any suggestion that “Stalwart Stephan” would ever have any truck with anything dodgy would therefore plainly not be worth wasting time to weigh the merits.

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YouGov Libel Lawyers Try To Shut Down This Website Today

YouGov have asked my webhost, under threat of libel proceedings, to take down this website today. Their letter from libel lawyers Olswang – amusingly headed Private and Confidential, Not For Publication – is available here.

Download file

Now why whould Rupert Murdoch’s favourite pollster attempt to take this little blog down on the day of the final leaders’ debate?

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/04/how_yougove_fix.html#comments

I hope I shall be liveblogging the final debate here again, presuming YouGov don’t manage to threaten someone in the technical line to pull the plug.

Last night’s talk for Swansea Amnesty International was a really good event, with over 90 people. Amnesty made some good new contacts and I hope made money on the event. Very many thanks to Swansea Rugby Club for the free use of their premises and help of their staff.

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How YouGove Fixed Debate Poll

I have been unmasking the sleazy Murdoch propaganda vehicle that is YouGove, founded by the current Tory candidate for St Albans, and whose Chief Executive Officer is “Sleazy Stephan” Shakespeare, close friend and former PR adviser of Jeffrey Archer, failed Tory parliamentary candidate in Colchester (where he was unexpectedly beaten by the Lib Dem, explaining his huge bitterness towards them), and co-founder of Conservative Home website.

Michael Crick has revealed how YouGove fixed the instant poll after the last leaders’ debate. This was an internet poll taken between just 9.27pm and 9.31 pm. Which means that, voting opened immediately after David Cameron finished his closing statement without waiting for the other candidates’ closing statements. Voting closed just after Nick Clegg’s closing statement got started.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/michaelcrick/2010/04/polling.html

This poll enabled YouGove’s main customer Murdoch’s Sky News to shrill an instant victory for Cameron, ignoring all the other Clegg victory polls that were taken after he had had a chance to give his closing speech.

YouGove is a disgrace.

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YouGov Push Polling

YouGov spluttered and denied push polling in response to my exposure of their push polling.

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/04/sky_leaders_deb.html

Where did they publish their denial? Conservative Home!!!!! Entirely appropriate, in fact.

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thetorydiary/2010/04/the-shakespeare-report-message-testing-v-push-polling.html

Here is what Mr Shakespeare, Chief Executive of YouGov, says:

Push-polling is a very different beast. Push-polling is unethical. Push-polling is conducting a poll to influence a respondent for some particular purpose. Mainly it is when people are pretending to conduct a poll, but actually they are contacting hundreds of thousands of people to repeat attack lines ?” it’s campaigning masquerading as polling, and in New Hampshire it’s even illegal (and quite right too).

Another variant of push-polling (at least that’s how the phrase is often used) is when you ask ‘questions’ designed to influence the outcome of a poll. For example, if I ask you to choose which you like best from a list of positive attributes about a candidate and then ask you who you would want to vote for.

Message testing is an extremely valuable and reasonable form of research. Push-polling of any kind is plain wrong. YouGov, like all members of the British Polling Council, does lots of message-testing, and zero push-polling.

I hope that’s clear.

Have a close look at Stephan Shakespeare

lying%20cunt.png

That is the face of a liar. YouGov did ask the question I initially quoted, smearing Nick Clegg over campaign donations from a criminal. Oh, and here is a screenshot of a YouGov online poll:

pushpolling.jpg

I have been sent this by someone who assures me it is genuine. I should state that YouGov have refused either to confirm or to deny if it is genuine.

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YouGov/Murdoch Distort Poll To Stop Lib Dem Momentum

YouGov produce a daily poll for the Sun and Sunday Times. Today’s YouGov was the only post-debate poll to show the LibDems in third place.

At comment 268 on the thread linked below, we hear about their next poll:

268.

Just done a YouGov, Mostly about Clegg & LD

Here was one of the question

“Nick Cleggs says the other parties are to blame for the MP scandals, he has taken money from a criminal on the run, many of his MPs have been found guilty of breaking the rules and his own party issued guidance on how to fiddle the expenses system?”

I’d say that was fairly direct!

There were some 17 other questions re the LD

by sealo0 April 18th, 2010 at 10:33 am

http://www2.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2010/04/18/how-do-the-blues-and-reds-deal-cleggmania/comment-page-4/

I asked on the thread whether YouGov asked that before asking about voting intention. Sealo replied that indeed this was the first question, and others attacking the Lib Dems in the same vein followed. Only then did they ask about voting intention.

The proposition above is, obviously to anyone, not really a question but a set of dubious propaganda statements designed to influence the interviewee.

Plainly this is a deliberate attempt to produce a poll which shows the Lib Dem surge as a blip, and thus discourages potential Lib Dems voters. That the Murdoch press pull such a stunt should surprise nobody. But even though they are getting huge money from Murdoch for these daily polls, YouGov must realise that this abrogates all professional methodology and breaches the ethics of the polling industry. The senior management of YouGov must resign.

STOP PRESS

Anthony Wells of YouGov (known henceforth as YouGove) admits YouGov asking these “questions, but claims the voting intention question ought to have been asked first. He also points out that the antiLib Dem questions were “Not for publication”.

I bet they bloody weren’t.

See 14.15 on this thread. Hat tip Roger Mexico.

http://www.ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/2611

YouGove – Rupert Murdoch’s Pollster of Choice

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The Largest Vote Swings in British General Election History Censored Out By the BBC and Mainstream Media

This election is seeing the largest vote swings in British political history. But that truth has been hidden by the largest media distortion in British political history.

Let me prove these claims. Certain constituencies have featured again and again in media coverage of the election, to reinforce the dominant media narrative, corresponding precisely to the government’s preferred election strategy, that working class Labour voters are deserting the party because of Brexit.

But if you look at the YouGov constituency model, conducted on a scale 100 times greater than most national opinion polls, and comparatively accurate in 2017, the bigger story is much more breathtaking.

Dudley is a case in point. As I posted a few days ago, Dudley North has been continually featured in vox pops as typical of a Labour seat being potentially lost because of Brexit. According to BBC vox pops, a large majority of the population of Dudley is deserting the Labour Party over either Brexit or allegations of anti-semitism by its ex-MP, Ian Austin.

Yet the YouGov constituency poll shows a swing from Labour to Tory in Dudley of 4.9%. Substantial, but not massive, in a seat where Labour only had a majority of 22 anyway. 41% of the population of Dudley still plans to vote Labour, which makes the balance of the BBC’s vox pops remarkably unrepresentative.

DUDLEY NORTH

Now compare that with this:

WOKINGHAM

Unlike Dudley, Wokingham has not featured in any of the BBC’s vox pops. In safe Tory Berkshire, close to Johnson’s own Uxbridge constituency, John Redwood the MP for a generation, surely there is nothing to draw the BBC to Wokingham?

Except YouGov shows a swing from Tory to LibDem in Wokingham of 20.35%. Let me say that again, 20.35% swing from Tory to Lib Dem. That is one of the biggest swings in general election history (excluding freak circumstances like brand new parties). To give a comparison, Blair’s 1997 landslide, the benchmark for modern seismic general election movement, was achieved on a Tory to Labour swing of 9.7%. What is happening today in Wokingham is on a scale with the massive swing to the SNP in Scotland in 2015 following the devolution referendum.

The Lib Dems need another 2.5% swing to take what is now a marginal seat. They may well achieve it by polling day.

Yet how many vox pops have you seen from Wokingham? What is happening there is perfectly plain. Brexit, the expulsion of moderate Conservative MPs and the hard right Tory stance on immigration and social services has caused a revulsion among liberal Tories from Johnson. In the UK as a whole, the swing against the Tories by liberal former Tory voters is every bit as large as the swing to the Tories in Brexit seats – hence the Tories are on almost exactly the same percentage overall as in 2017. For every racist dullard voting for Johnson’s dog whistle racism, there is an urbane Tory in Wokingham or similar towns refusing to vote for him for the same reason. Yet our televisions and radios have for a month been crammed with literally hundreds of selected representatives of the former group and virtually nil of the latter group.

This is not an accident nor is it unimportant. The media – and the BBC have been most guilty of all – know very well what they are doing. It is deliberate reinforcement of the government’s campaign message. Featuring stream upon stream of working class voters saying they will vote Tory normalises the idea and plays to the popular desire to join the winning team.

Just imagine for one moment that every time the broadcast media had shown a man in a high vis saying he was deserting Labour to “get Brexit done”, they had balanced it with a doctor’s wife from Cheam saying she was deserting the Tories over NHS funding. It would have challenged the entire government narrative. But the media have not done this. They have instead chosen to tell only the pro-government side of this story of electoral swings. This is probably the worst period of concerted state and billionaire controlled media propaganda in the modern history of the “democratic West”.

Ask yourself this simple question. The Tory vote has not increased since 2017. Have you heard that simple fact stated on the broadcast media and is it the impression the broadcast media have been giving?

Let us look at another pair of constituencies. Massively reported Grimsby. Here the swing measured by YouGov from Labour to Conservative is only 3.6%, yet I defy anyone to say they have not seen or heard media reports of how the Brexit supporting people of Grimsby are deserting Labour in droves, with people vox-popped to say precisely that.

GREATER GRIMSBY

PUTNEY

Putney has the same swing as Grimsby, with Labour expected by YouGov to take the seat from the Tories on a swing of 3.5%. Yet has Putney been swarming with TV cameras? Have you had enough of hearing Putney accents on the TV explaining why they are switching from Tory to Labour? Again, the counter-narrative is totally ignored.

The exception to the rule has been Esher and Walton, where there has been some brief media mention of the anti-Tory surge purely because it makes Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, a possible loser. But again I have not seen one single vox pop from there with voters explaining why they are deserting the Tories. And again the swing is absolutely massive, with YouGov measuring a 19.6% swing from Tory to Lib Dem in voting intention and only another 1% swing needed to get rid of Raab. This is much higher than any of the fabled swings against Labour in Northern England.

Compare that to Rother Valley, where the BBC had an extended vox pop feature showing only voters switching from Labour to Tory. While YouGov do predict a substantial swing from Labour to Tory in Rother Valley, of 6.3%, it is on nowhere near the scale of under-reported swings from the Tories elsewhere. And how much of that swing has been produced by the BBC reporting telling people there is a swing and vastly over-representing local anti-Labour voices? 36% of the Rother Valley voters still intend to vote Labour, but the BBC could not locate any.

Remember this. The Tory vote has not increased. It is the same level as 2017. But the media has vastly over-represented, in vox pops and in debate and panel audiences, those switching from Labour to Tory.

More importantly, the YouGov constituency poll of over 100,000 interviews was conducted from 3 to 10 December. The momentum was already against the Tories, and the large majority of its responses were from before the Boris Johnson phone snatching interview and NHS child on the floor scandal, which I suspect has put off more prospective Tory voters. So it was a snapshot of voting intent mostly several days ago, not today, let alone tomorrow when we vote. Remember also the evidence of 2017 is that after a time the highly controlled, slogan-led campaign wears on voters. People who were quite impressed the first time they saw Boris Johnson say “Get Brexit Done” are less impressed when they have seen him say that and nothing else for four weeks. They are inclined to conclude he is an empty slogan parrot, as they did with Theresa May and “strong and stable.”

The final reason to believe that the Tory lead will narrow from the YouGov constituency model poll is that they themselves reported this. Their poll was taken over seven days; at that start of that period it was showing an 11 point lead to the Tories, by the last day it was showing an eight point lead. I see every reason to expect that momentum to continue. Finally, remember that YouGove are an extremely Tory friendly pollster.

Most importantly it shows the number of ultra-marginal constituencies to be substantially more than the predicted Tory overall majority, and all of them susceptible to tactical voting. Scotland and Wales are particularly important. Ultra marginals in Scotland and Wales alone can wipe out the projected majority if the go the right way. There are no Tory/Labour marginals in Scotland, only Tory/SNP marginals and I strongly urge everybody in Scotland who wants to stop Johnson to vote SNP.

I will post some thoughts on key seats in England and Wales in which to vote tactically later. But I already feel confident Johnson will not get his majority.

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Do Not Despair of This Election

I have had moments in the last few days which led me to feel pretty hopeless. Perhaps the worst was in the ITV debate when Corbyn was roundly jeered by a substantial section of the audience for stating that climate change impacted hardest on the poorest people in the poorest countries. That encapsulated for me the current far right political climate in England, dominated by boorish, selfish stupidity. I do not come from a left wing political background and I have never subscribed to the romanticisation of “the people”. Years living in the UKIP heartland of Ramsgate made me realise that “the people” en masse can be very unpleasant and racist indeed. I have always for that reason eschewed direct democracy and subscribed to a very Burkean view. That however falls down when, as now, you have a political class who are becoming even more base and vicious than the most unpleasant mob. But the growl of that studio audience, infuriated that Corbyn cared about the foreign poor, is a warning klaxon of the state of English society.

A close second despair-inducing moment was Jo Swinson’s interview following the debate when, asked if she would press the nuclear button, she replied without a millisecond of hesitation: “yes”. As I reported last week, when asked at the Lib Dem campaign launch why she would not put Corbyn into Downing St in any circumstances, she had instantly replied that he would not be prepared to instruct submarine commanders to fire nuclear weapons.

The woman is deranged.

I come from a Liberal tradition. Probably the two books which most influence my thinking are On Liberty by John Stuart Mill and Imperialism, A Study by J A Hobson. The line of British liberal thinking that comes down through writers including Hazlitt, Shelley, Byron, Carlyle, Mill, Hobson, Russell and Keynes is a tradition which looks set to disappear from British political thought. That makes me horribly sad. One thing I am sure of is that Swinson has read none of them. That the Lib Dems had moved economically so far to the right was already worrying me. Their completely illiberal opposition to Scottish Independence upset me still further. But that the party to which I belonged for 30 years and which was once led by my friend, the gentle and wise Charlie Kennedy, could now be led by an arm whirling, narcissistic, female version of Dr Strangelove, is beyond my wildest nightmares.

Let me go back to that ITV Debate. It was enormously dispiriting that of a 50 minute debate, 25 minutes were devoted to the subject of Brexit, compared to just one minute on the question of climate change. The Brexit discussion was completely unenlightening, with Johnson booming out “Get Brexit Done” at every opportunity, and even when there was no rational opportunity after the discussion had finally been moved on to other subjects.

I thought Jeremy was slightly under par. There was one point where I think he made a definite mistake. When Johnson claimed the last Labour government bankrupted the country’s finances, Corbyn failed to come back and say that it was the bankers who bankrupted the country’s finances. He could have gone on to add that banking deregulation had been the cause of a decade of global misery and Boris Johnson’s plans for Singapore on Thames would be banking deregulation on steroids.

It is not the first time this election that Labour have failed to point out it was the bankers who crashed the economy. I am not sure why. It may be a desire to seem City-friendly. Corbyn may be held back because, like me, he believes Brown was completely wrong to bail out the bankers with taxpayers’ money, and Corbyn therefore thinks it best to avoid the whole topic for the sake of party unity. Either way, to let Johnson say that Labour spending ruined the economy is to miss an open goal – the bankers are still massively unpopular.

The other point is one where Jeremy actually annoyed me. I cannot tell you how infuriating it was, as a Scot, to see Johnson repeatedly stating that Scotland would not be allowed an Independence referendum, and Corbyn making no effort at all to stand up for the Scottish right of self-determination. Given SNP exclusion from the debate, it was demeaning to see our masters discussing our future with no pretence of giving a hearing to the Scottish point of view.

Corbyn has to tackle this. The Johnson “Labour will give you two referendums” attack line is not being sufficiently countered. For Corbyn to ask Johnson whether he accepts that the Scottish people have the right of self-determination would be a killer question, and Jeremy could ask it quietly and effectively. A large majority of English people are actually perfectly happy for Scotland to have an Independence referendum.

Corbyn has tied himself in knots to accommodate the bitter cabal of Blairites and Orangemen that constitute the majority of the rump Scottish Labour Party, while its membership and voters have defected en masse to the SNP. 40% of the remaining Labour voters support Independence anyway. Rather than put himself in a false position for the sake of hopeless colleagues who have crashed Scottish Labour from domination to 12% of the vote, Corbyn should state his support for the right of the Scottish people to decide – something which I have no doubt he personally believes in, deeply.

The good news is that Johnson made an ass of himself in the debate, constantly repeating “Get Brexit Done”, and Corbyn’s insistence on discussing more important issues than Brexit cut through. You Gov’s verdict of a 51 to 49 victory for Johnson was very dubious indeed. But even that would be a major advance for Corbyn given the constant barrage of unfair media demonisation to which he has been subjected in the last five years. Almost seven million people watched the event live, a significant audience. Parity with that audience is a very good start for Labour. I suspect it really went better than that. YouGove have a long and dishonourable history as Tory push pollsters.

There are similarities here to the 2017 election. The chance for both Corbyn and Sturgeon to be seen in election coverage directly by viewers, each arguing their own case, will improve the standing of both with the electors, compared to the unmitigated vilification of normal media. (Sturgeon is being unfairly excluded from key debates but her Dundee speech today was extensively covered).

The Tory campaign of closed workplace addresses, artificial set-up encounters and a constant simple soundbite slogan is repeating the formula that failed so spectacularly in 2017. “Get Brexit Done” is going to annoy voters as much as “Strong and Stable” did, especially if Johnson continues to deploy it whatever the question asked.

I strongly expect we will see the first signs of the opinion polls starting to tighten shortly. I am half-English myself and have no desire to see Johnson inflicted on the population of Newcastle or Liverpool. But I confess I am also comfortable in the certainty that should Johnson win the election, it will precipitate Scottish Independence very soon. Nobody should despair yet. But it is certainly more comfortable to watch this from Edinburgh than from Manchester.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
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70,000 Tonnes of Hubris

There is no defensive purpose to an aircraft carrier. Its entire purpose is to move aircraft to a position where they can attack other countries. As soon as they are equipped with attack aircraft, these carriers will spend most of their time around the Middle East, including at the UK’s brand new naval base in the vicious despotism of Bahrain. Having spent £7 billion on these behemoths, politicians will seek to enhance their prestige and demonstrate that they control a nation which is a “major power”, by using them. The very fact of their existence will make bombing attacks such as those we saw on Syria, Libya and Iraq more likely.

Sirte, Libya, after NATO bombing

That further twist in the cycle of violence will lead to more terrorist attacks in the UK. There is no sense in which this aircraft carrier is anything to do with defending the United Kingdom. It is a device to attack foreign countries. The result is it makes us a lot less safe at home.

When they think about it, people understand that, as YouGov demonstrated during the recent election campaign. The politicians will be trying to whip up feelings of jingoism and national pride around this huge hunk of floating hubris, to stop us thinking about that.

There is no money for our schools and hospitals, but unlimited sums for the armaments industry. The United Kingdom is not just a dysfunctional state, it is a rogue state and a danger to the peace of the world.

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Already A Victory

We cannot know what will happen on Thursday. There are huge differentials in opinion polls. We now know that the pollsters’ samples, demographically weighted to reflect the population in terms of age, geographical spread, and past voting intention, return very similar results. What differs is the extent to which they apply the additional filter of judging likelihood to vote, not by people’s declaration on this point, but by historic records reflecting the fact turnout is much higher among the elderly. That in itself has thrown a spotlight on the massive age differential in voting. The Tories are extremely dependent on pensioners. It is precisely the same age group that supported Brexit and opposed Independence.

There has been some drop in Tory support among the elderly in the election, but only in line with the drop in the general population. The abandonment of the triple lock, the dementia tax and the end of winter fuel allowance have not particularly dented the loyalty of the Tory grey army.

So if younger people want to stop the Tories, they have to get themselves to the polling booth at all costs. As for campaigning, almost certainly more effective than attending rallies or sticking leaflets through strangers’ doors, would be to sit down and have a real heart to hear with elderly family members and acquaintances.

A quick disclaimer. I realise there are a lot of wonderful people of pension age who are not Tories. I am not attacking the elderly, I am stating a plain and undisputed fact about voting breakdown by age.

It is also the case that there has been a very definite trend away from the Tories for the last month, and there is little evidence to suggest that has stopped. So today’s polls are not how opinion will stand on voting day.

But this election has been a great victory already, whatever the result.

Firstly, a genuine alternative has been put to the electorate in England and Wales for the first time in a generation. And Jeremy Corbyn has proved beyond doubt that left wing policies are popular. Refusal to endorse nuclear weapons, aggressive foreign policy, privatisation and austerity are indeed popular. With New Labour triangulating themselves right into the neoliberal establishment consensus, English and Welsh voters had no opportunity to express a radical view since 1983.

The careerist Blairites who had taken over the Labour Party argued that it would be electoral suicide not to adopt all the Tory policies. NHS privatisation, utility privatisation, PFI, benefit cuts, Trident, attacks on foreign countries; these are what the public want, said the Blairites.

Corbyn is now proving that was a lie.

Indeed, of all the opinion poll findings which give results such as strong public support for renationalisation of the railways, that which drives the stake deepest into the hearts of the Blairites and Tories alike is the YouGov poll on foreign policy. People are not stupid, and by a two to one majority people believe that our wars abroad cause terrorism here. That is why the furious Tory attack, that to explain is to support, bounced off.

A clear majority of people oppose our recent wars in Muslim lands.

It is precisely those of Corbyn’s views which the entire mainstream media, the Tories and the Blairites consider unacceptable, and which fall well outside the Overton window, which are popular. That explains why the attacks do not work. The victory of this election is that those popular views have been expressed widely, after years of being banished methodically from the airwaves.

If May wins, she will almost certainly not have the huge landslide she expected. Her honeymoon period is well and truly over and she now has a very negative public image. That is going to get worse as we are heading into a Brexit recession and a house price crash. I agree with every word of this extremely important article from Will Hutton. May’s support is almost entirely from hard Brexiteers who are going to crash the economy to satisfy their racism. That will quickly appear a very bad idea.

A May government with a small majority, possibly dependent on Ulster Unionists, running a disastrous policy and becoming ever more unpopular, is the best outcome the Conservatives have left in terms of retaining power. All the media’s horses and all the media’s men are not going to be able to put together again the ludicrous image they had constructed of Theresa May as a great leader, which fell apart at the very first public scrutiny.

If Corbyn comes to power, he will almost certainly have to be supported by the SNP, who I am proud to say have an even more radical platform than Labour, including scrapping Trident and reversing all benefit cuts. How many Blairites would defect to the Tories rather than support a Corbyn government with SNP support is an interesting question. But remember, most Blairites would sell their mother for a ministerial limousine. Corbyn’s position against the Blairites has been immeasurably strengthened by this campaign, and win or lose, his party leadership is safe if he wants to keep it. If John Woodcock etc. wanted to take themselves off to form a second Tory Party that would be no bad thing at all.

Of course I want to see May defeated and out of office, because Tory policies actually kill people. But I will not be too disappointed by a pyrrhic Tory victory.

A renewed Tory government will quickly become extremely unpopular as it flails in Brexit negotiations. It will be more right wing and authoritarian than ever, because those are May’s instincts when in trouble. As a Scottish nationalist, I have no doubt at all that the clarity of the choice between a hard right Brexit led Tory government, and Independence, can have only one result. Whether May or Corbyn is in No.10, I am confident this is the last Westminster election I shall have to endure.

If May sneaks back, Corbyn can continue with the work of recasting the Labour Party on popular and radical lines. Most importantly, boundary changes will give the chance for reselections to ditch a large portion of the Blairite rump. Still better would be a change of rules for mandatory reselection, where again the SNP shows Labour the way. And by next time Corbyn must face down the disgustingly blinkered and selfish attitude of the GMB, who love getting fat pay packets for working on weapons of mass destruction, and Corbyn must get a policy on Trident which he can defend without twisting himself in knots – again following the SNP.

If May gets back in, her government will collapse by 2020. Even a “defeat” on Thursday would not be the end, but just the start of a new dawn for popular radical politics,

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24 Hours in Politics

This post, and particularly the last paragraph, was not predicated on the YouGove poll predicting a hung parliament – I continue to have no faith in the integrity of that company. I started writing this yesterday based on my own feeling that we could be heading into hung parliament territory. I was however motivated to return to and update this draft by the YouGove poll.

I yesterday watched Michael Gove shouting (literally) about Jeremy Corbyn supporting the IRA and Hamas on The Daily Politics, looking like an agitated tomato in spectacles. Because the mainstream media and political class live in the same utterly unrepresentative bubble, they do not realise that the large majority of ordinary people do not share their detestation of the Palestinians.

Subsequently we had Theresa May spouting utter rubbish about Corbyn going “alone and naked into the negotiating chamber”. 99% of the actual negotiating is done by teams of civil servants. Neither May nor Corbyn would be alone, they would have the same civil servants. Plus Corbyn would of course have Keir Starmer QC.

May’s jibe was supposed to echo Aneurin Bevan but it failed entirely, as the possession or otherwise of a nuclear weapon is irrelevant to the EU negotiations. The entirely spurious “alone” was not in Bevan’s quote and I can find no rational explanation of what it was supposed to mean. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the whole irrelevant jibe was designed just to set up the titter at the image of Jeremy Corbyn naked. This really has been the most appalling Tory campaign imaginable, aimed at nobody but the nastiest kind of UKIP voter.

For the BBC to lead all its news bulletins on Corbyn’s inability instantly to recall the figure on childcare costs was puerile bias. Anyone can forget a figure. Politics is not a memory test. The attempt to reduce it to such is of course made heinous by differential application. When Tories have the same, perfectly natural problem of instant recall – as when the Chancellor was £20 billion out on the cost of HS2 – it gets nothing like the media coverage given to Corbyn and Abbott.

On which point, my last posting was about the SNP’s excellent manifesto. It was perfectly possible to sit here in Edinburgh yesterday, paying a great deal of attention to the BBC, and have no idea whatsoever of the SNP manifesto’s actual contents. Equally mystifying was the Daily Politics’ attack line against the SNP. How dare they have policies for the UK when they cannot form a government at Westminster? Angus Robertson replied politely that these were the policies their MPs would advocate at Westminster, and potentially support the implementation of, depending on the electoral arithmetic. The BBC reporter flared at this and seemed outraged that the SNP have the temerity to stand for election at all. It was truly bizarre television.

We are seeing more truly bizarre television every day as the mainstream media are puzzled and disconcerted that the plebs are simply refusing to ignore their obviously correct preference for the Tory party, instead having this mad desire to think for themselves. The media remind me of the puzzled look on Ceaucescu’s face as the crowd started chanting against him. The utterly talentless Tory hack Anne McElvoy was on BBC Breakfast today oozing contempt for Corbyn and explaining why his forgetting a number on Radio 4 proved he could not govern. She appeared completely divorced from reality.

And finally, it is remarkable that the Mays’ appearance on the One programme last week was featured again and again on BBC Breakfast and even on Sky News the next morning, with BBC vox pops “showing how impressed the public were with her” and Tory commentators speaking about how lovely and ordinary she was. Last night Jeremy Corbyn was on the One Show, and by the starkest of contrasts I have found no coverage of it at all this morning.

As the polls continue to shift, there is one distinct possibility for the result of this General Election looming. The Tories might be the largest party but with no overall majority. In which case they would form either a formal or a de facto alliance with their friends in the Northern Irish unionist parties. This would either force the unionists to take ownership of hard Brexit and the consequent imposition of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, or force Theresa May to abandon hard Brexit and outrage her supporters. I suspect the former is more likely, and the consequences of unionist enabled hard Brexit for Northern Ireland would be immense.

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Which is the Charlatan?

UPDATE I calculate Tory vote share in Scotland on results so far as 26%. The BBC is proclaiming this as a triumph and ringing endorsement for Ruth Davidson, and final refutation of Independence. I calculate Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour UK wide vote share so far as 28%. This is abject failure and a total rejection of Labour, according to the BBC. How 26% is a great triumph, and 28% an abject defeat, no doubt the current GCHQ shift will explain below.

Unlike England and Wales, the Scottish elections are on the proportional STV system. With their Scottish 26%, the Tories are picking up some gains in third or fourth place in multi-member wards. Under the English FPTP system, the Tories would have gained almost nothing in Scotland.

Interestingly nowhere on the BBC news or website can I find any indication of Scottish vote share, only UK vote share. But of course if the BBC gave the Tory Scottish vote share it would rather spoil the Tory triumph narrative.

Oh, and we now know it is YouGove who are the charlatans.

ORIGINAL POST I do like simple binary possibilities, they are much less hard work than complex thought. Today we have one. By tea-time we will know which of two possibilities is correct.

Possibility a) Craig Murray is a deluded old fool who has no understanding of politics and is totally out of touch with the people of Scotland

Possibility b) YouGove are a bunch of charlatans who produce polling about Scotland deliberately designed to exaggerate the success of unionists and Tories, in order to provide pegs for the media to hang Tory propaganda and to attract the weak-minded to the “winning” position.

YouGove’s Scottish polling figures continually produce results which are to me impossible, showing Scotland is a nation enamoured of the Conservatives.

The Scottish component of Today’s YouGove opinion poll for the Times has

Scotland

SNP 40%
Conservative 37%
Labour 15%
Lib Dem 6%
Green 1%

Fortunately yesterday every local council in Scotland had an election, and we shall soon start to see results. So am I a fool or are YouGove charlatans? Will the Tories get 37%? Will the unionist parties combined get 58%?

On a technical note, yes that poll has a fairly small Scottish subsample of 209. But it is one of a series in which YouGove has consistently produced much higher figures for Tories in Scotland, and much lower figures for the SNP in Scotland, than other pollsters. For example three days ago the Scottish element of the latest Panelbase poll had the Tories on 19%.

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Theresa May’s Fake “Meetings”

The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that many of those forming the “audience” for Theresa May’s speech in Crathes looked even less enthusiastic than usual.

The real Tories are very obvious to spot. But when you look at the BBC video from which this picture is taken, you can see that the others not only do not look enthusiastic, they do not join in the clapping. Do not take my word for it, watch the video – the body language, apart from the obvious Tories, is more of hostages than supporters.

My contacts in Banchory tell me that this is because, in a weird Tory return to the 19th century, it was made clear to tenants of the Crathes estate that they were expected to turn out to support strong and stable leadership. The heir to the estate, in whose name the hall was booked, is Alexander Burnett, old Etonian and Tory MSP. Which century are we in?

The area, “Royal” Deeside, is a magnet for rich retirees from Surrey and had the highest UKIP vote in the Scottish EU elections. It is perhaps the only part of Scotland in which May could truly feel at home.

The popular theory among election advisers is that the electorate are stupid and do not pay attention to elections. There is therefore no point in trying to discuss detail or make any intellectual explanation of policy dilemmas. All the electorate will notice are simple slogans, which can be repeated infinitely because most voters don’t pay attention and will only hear them two or three times.

The Tories are testing this theory to destruction in this election. Shielding May from any “real” encounters, from any debate with opponents, and from any questions except a very few from picked right wing media, they intend to coast to victory. In Scotland this approach is so at odds with the active citizenship that was inculcated by the referendum campaign, I believe it will fail badly. We will see.

So what did May say in Crathes? Well, according to the Guardian

“she had told her supporters that she was the only leader capable of providing “strong and stable leadership” for Britain as the country headed towards Brexit.
“At this election, people will have a clear choice between five years of strong and stable leadership with me and my team or a coalition of chaos led by Jeremy Corbyn,” she said.”

Which funnily enough is exactly what she told her supporters in Leeds at her last “meeting”. That was remarkable because, in one of the most ethnically diverse districts in the UK, she spoke to what looked exactly like a Broederbond gathering.

I was delighted that the Metro newspaper conducted a sober appraisal of my statement that Tory policies are identical in most important respects to the BNP manifesto of 2005, and found I was right. You might imagine that might cause May’s advisers at least to try to make her meetings not look like BNP gatherings. But evidently they have decided it is more important to continue to prioritise the racist vote. The are banking on it being all white on election night.

May meets nobody except ardent Tories or those in no position to argue – employees of companies in their workplace or tenants. It is appalling abuse of power.

May is simply refusing to participate in democracy – which involves candidates being open to question and debate. There is really little point in having an election of this kind. Which presumably explains this question being asked in YouGove’s current political poll.

It is all extraordinarily sad, and I suppose the saddest thing of all is media complicity in this non-election – of which the latest and dreadful example is STV’s decision to exclude the Green Party from the Scottish leadership debate.

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Theresa May’s Brittle Shield Wall

Pollster YouGove is into full on propaganda mode. They present results dished up with explanatory press releases for right wing journalists to push. This one was commissioned by Murdoch.

But if you burrow down into the actual data, which no journalist ever does, sometimes there are results which are quite interesting. It is important of course to note that the sample is a self-selecting one of the kind of people who volunteer for online polls, and is then adjusted to account for a number of things including a historic tendency to underrate the Tory vote, so the Tory numbers are consciously increased.

The first warning light flashes at me in the subsamples. The headline 48-24% Tory lead over Labour includes an extraordinary 29% Tory vote in Scotland. That is quite simply impossible. If it proves to be true, I will walk the length of Holyrood Road on my knees. It is bollocks.

That aside, the brittleness of the support the media have whipped up for hard Brexit is shown in a series of questions about the EU. Now it is true – and this was headlined by YouGove and the media – that by a narrow 46-43% the poll states that people believe Britain is right to leave the European Union. (32-60% in Scotland).

But dig into that and you find that support for May’s Brexit is quite extraordinarily brittle. This is the truly striking lesson from this poll, and nobody has picked up on it.

Look at the answers to these questions. In each case I have excluded the don’t knows and recalculated from the table:

Do you think Britain will be better off or worse off after we leave the EU?
Better off: 33%
Worse off: 44%
No Diff 23%

Do you think Britain will have more or less influence in the world after we leave the EU?
More influence: 23%
Less influence: 43%
No Diff: 34%

Do you think leaving the EU will have a good or bad effect on British jobs?

Good for jobs: 29%
Bad for jobs: 41%
No Difference: 30%

Do you think leaving the EU will have a good or bad effect on British pensions?

Good for pensions: 10%
Bad for pensions: 32%
No Difference: 58%

Do you think that leaving the EU will have a good or bad effect on the NHS?

Good for the NHS: 30%
Bad for the NHS: 34%
No Difference: 36%

Do you think there will be more or less immigration into the UK after we leave the EU?

More immigration: 3%
Less immigration: 56%
No Difference: 41%

So Theresa May wishes to hustle to a quick election victory on what she views as a national consensus building around hard Brexit. But that consensus is extremely brittle.

A majority of the population believe that Brexit is bad for the economy, bad for jobs, bad for the NHS, bad for pensions and bad for British influence in the world. The population are being stampeded into a direction that they plainly believe to be against their own self-interest. This makes May extraordinarily vulnerable to pushback on the EU. That should benefit the LibDems. It also shows that the SNP is wrong to backpedal on the EU to placate the Sillars vote. The pro-EU answers to each of those questions in Scotland alone are simply overwhelming.

Brexit’s only salience is on one single issue: immigration. But this poll does something still more interesting. It provides absolute proof of what I have been observing and commenting on for the past ten years, that the anti-immigration movement is founded on pure and simple racism.

Cutting immigration is the only alleged positive a majority see from Brexit. But they do not believe that this cutting of immigration will improve jobs, the economy, pensions, or the NHS. All the canting justifications for cutting immigration are cut through, because this poll reveals that people do not expect to see any of those effects. No, Brexiteers want to cut immigration simply because they are racists and do not like foreigners.

But given that May wants to fight this election solely on Brexit, and given that the only area of traction Brexit has is immigration, we can expect to see the nastiest anti-immigration campaign ever waged by a mainstream party. We can also expect to see repeatedly what Adam Boulton did to the Lib Dems Sarah Ludford on Sky News and hour ago. As soon as the EU was mentioned, Boulton aggressively intervened by invoking dog-whistle anti-immigration racism.

That is why Conservative policy today is near identical to the BNP manifesto of 2005, which promised:

– Severe cuts in immigration
– Leaving the EU
– Bringing back grammar schools
– Increased military spending
– More “security” and “strong leadership”
– Foreign policy driven by “British national interest” not human rights
– Reduce development aid

A Tory vote is a racist vote. Full stop.

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Options for Independence

So what do we do now with Theresa May apparently obdurate on blocking the referendum?

It is important to realise politics are fluid. In a week’s time the situation will not be what it is today. The battle for public opinion is key. The unionist media (ie virtually all of it) are asserting continuously, as a uniform line, that opinion polls say the people of Scotland do not want a second Independence referendum in the timescale Nicola Sturgeon has set out – even though that is not true at all. The serial Tory crooks at You Gove came out with an opinion poll right on cue “showing” that support for Independence is hitting new lows. But I suspect it will not be long before evidence emerges that May’s unattractive diktat has profoundly assisted the Independence cause. That will change the game.

So with a wind of public opinion behind her, what does Sturgeon do if Westminster denies a Scottish Parliament request for a referendum? There are several options:

1) Hold an Advisory Referendum

It appears probable (though not undisputed) that the Scottish government can hold a referendum which is not binding, without Section 30 permission from Westminster. It is hard for Westminster to dismiss the result of an advisory referendum, given that Brexit was only an advisory referendum and May has taken as a matter of faith that it is binding.

But as we saw in Catalonia, a boycott by unionist forces can be quite effective in denying the credibility of a non-binding referendum result. I strongly suspect that would be their attitude to an advisory referendum, and I do not see it as a strong way forward.

2) Call a New Holyrood Election

This is an attractive option in many ways. It would be predicated on the plain statement that a new pro-Independence majority would declare Independence unilaterally. That would be the normal and internationally accepted way for a country to secede – a referendum is very much the exception.

But there are problems with this approach. The first is that it would require a two thirds majority of the Scottish parliament to dissolve it, and the Unionists would in all probability simply block it. Forcing them to do that may be a good move, but doesn’t take us far forward.

The second problem, should parliament dissolve, is the campaign itself. As it would not be a referendum campaign, media coverage would not be balanced on independence, but the unionist parties in effect given three times the coverage of the SNP, assuming the Greens continue to be very poorly treated. But as the “Balance” of the referendum coverage was risible anyway, I am not sure this is so much of a drawback.

More difficult is the uncertainty created by the appalling De Hondt system. There is no doubt that the optimum outcome for Independence would be for every Independence supporter to vote SNP 1 and Green 2. But in practice that will never happen on a significant scale, and what is the best way to utilise your vote to achieve independence is simply not predictable. Risking all on a system so prone to statistical fluke is a problem.

3) Call a National Assembly

In the event that Scotland is being blocked from holding either a referendum or an election, the Scottish Government could move to convene a National Assembly. This might consist of all MPs, MSPs and MEPs and that body could declare Independence. To be clear, that would be a revolutionary act in UK terms, but it is perfectly normal for such an act to be required at the birth of a new state and is no bar to it being accepted in international law as a state through recognition by the United Nations General Assembly.

The argument would run that, having been blocked at every turn from holding a democratic vote either by way of referendum or parliamentary election, the Scottish government had taken the option of convening all representatives democratically elected at the national level – MSPs, MPs and MEPs, and these elected representatives of the Scottish people had made the decision. That is perfectly respectable and entirely analogous to the way many EU members such as Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovenia, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia became independent.

To return to my original argument, the possibilities depend very much on how public opinion is seen to be trending. May’s calculation appears to be driven firstly by a desire to play to her Brexiteer base in England – which judging by the rabid comments pages across the media is very successful – and secondly by a desire to further polarise Scottish politics to the benefit of the Scottish Tories. She is more than happy for Independence to be decided on a straight SNP vs Tory field. That May thinks she can win such a battle is an example of staggering hubris.

I have been saying in all of my speeches across Scotland in the last year that the game has changed and we have to be prepared for the idea we may have to achieve Independence without the consent or cooperation of the Westminster government. I am happily no longer a radical outlier in this belief.

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Trump’s Crazy Immigration Freeze

Baghdad-born Tory MP Nadhim Zadawi has become the media poster boy for British opposition to Trump’s egregious immigration freeze, which May has eventually been forced into opposing against all her profound anti-immigrant instincts. Actually, if I ran a country I would be sorely tempted to ban Zadawi from it too. Founder of blatant Tory push-polling organisation YouGove (sic), the creep charged the taxpayer massively for MP’s expenses including thousands of pounds for heated stables at his second home. Being stinking rich and having children at Princeton is the media’s idea of the sort of person who ought not be banned. I suspect there are more deserving cases.

The stinking rich part is apposite because the world’s biggest sponsors of Islamic terrorism are stinking rich, and are strangely not included in the Trump freeze. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are yet again excluded from “action against Islamic terrorism” despite being patently the fons et origo of most of it. Trump’s ban would not exclude Osama Bin Laden or the vast majority of the 9/11 cells, which is almost amusing. The reasons for this do not relate solely to the integration of the wealth of the parasitic Gulf State elite with the wealth of the Western elite and banking system. It also relates, as I explained in my talk on the Middle East on Friday, to official American policy to actually promote Saudi backed terrorist jihadi groups against Iranian-backed mainly Shiite interests in the Middle East.

I am not advocating the ban or extending the ban, but it is also worth pointing out that nearly all the recent Islamic terrorist activities against Western, including Turkish, targets were carried out by people from either Tunisia or Central Asia. Those countries are not included either. So plainly the ban or freeze is not really intended to do what it says on the tin. It should be repeated always that the risk from Islamic terrorism to individuals in the West is extremely small, and has always been well less than 1% of the risk of being killed in a road accident.

The most disgraceful aspect of the ban is the notion that it does not apply to religious minority groups in the named countries, such as Christians, Yazidis and Jews. All the countries named are majority Muslim, so in effect it imposes a religious test. It is a ban plainly targeted by religion and not by nationality, and if the US court system had any integrity would be struck down on that basis. This is reinforced by the fact that other non-religious minorities facing persecution, such as gays, are not excluded from the ban.

Trump has certainly startled the Establishment by the extremely unusual expedient of attempting swiftly to carry out his campaign promises. I was among the many who hoped he would forget some of the crazier ones. Apparently not. But his electoral base will be delighted.

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Nicola the Haverer

Replacing Alex with Nicola set back the cause of Scottish Independence. It was a great success for the SNP as an institution, but it is now abundantly clear that the institutional health of the SNP and the cause of Independence are two quite separate things.

I have posted at intervals this last two years that I have heard nobody from the SNP argue the case for Independence since Indyref1. I still have heard nobody from the SNP argue the positive case for Independence since Indyref1. To the extent that when the tendentious GERS report came out and was splashed all over mainstream media, nobody from the SNP explained why the finances of an independent Scotland would work. (To give just one example Scottish taxes contribute £2.2 billion to housing benefit of which only a quarter of Scotland’s contribution is spent in Scotland).

Unionist propaganda is still streamed out of the mainstream media every day. If nobody counters with the case for Independence, support for Independence will never increase. The latest YouGov poll putting us back at 46% is probably accurate. The idea that you wait until support has – by magic – increased to a regular 60% before you start campaigning is self-evidently delusional.

We started the referendum campaign at – at best – 32%. Through street campaigning, new media and the people’s energy, against the concerted might of the mainstream media, we got it up to 45%. We can have that effect again. Starting at 46%, I have no doubt that we can get it well over 50% in Indyref2.

It was the Yes movement on the ground that did this, through street campaigning, town hall meetings and social media. And never forget this – while the SNP were a valued part in that, were our wedge into mainstream media, and had Alex in the debates, the official SNP were a minority in the ground war Yes campaign. It was only after the referendum that the Yes campaigners piled in to the SNP. That brought in some of the SNP’s best new MP’s, like Tommy Sheppard, Mhairi Black and Chris Law. But have you seen those great campaigners arguing for Independence in the last twelve months? No. Party discipline has silenced them.

There have been a number of ruses by Nicola to avert the desire of the membership to campaign for Independence.

*We had the promised “Summer of Independence” campaign which was simply forgotten.
*We had the avoidance of an Indyref2 promise in the manifesto through the “material change” clause
*When “material change” undeniably happened through the EUref, we had the avoidance of Indyref2 through the “panel of experts” – a body of mostly ultra-establishment people, almost all neo-liberal, including the secretary of the Bilderberg Group, who will produce an anti-Independence report.

We now have the latest ruse to put off campaigning for Independence and it is transparently thin. The idea is to keep the activists happy through till the New Year by holding – then analysing the results of – a “national conversation”. This is simply an opinion poll. Here are 80% of the questions (all I could grab in a screenshot).

Screenshot (66)

Note the “national conversation” is not one in which the party will argue for Independence. It is just a poll of what people think with no attempt to convince them, as plain in the “activists’ guide” which accompanies it to members. The SNP could simply have paid their pollsters to ask the same questions, with an unusually large sample size of say 10,000, and got a more accurate result than they will from this survey. (All party surveys/canvass returns, always, overestimate their support as those surveyed generally wish to be polite to the person talking to them).

The SNP as an institution is secure in its powerbase in its regional council at Holyrood – let’s not pretend we have a national Parliament yet when we have no say in going to illegal war – and has a lot of well paid people with their feet firmly under the table in Westminster and Brussels. From next year it will dominate Scotland’s councils. The SNP is doing very nicely thank you. As an institution, it has more to risk than to gain from another shot at Independence. Nicola’s havering to put off another effort at Independence has now become ludicrous.

WHY WE NEED AN EARLY INDYREF2

* Scotland’s EU membership will be much simpler if Independence is achieved before Brexit and Scots just remain EU citizens. Leaving and rejoining will be technically and politically far more complicated. I may not be Establishment enough for Nicola’s “expert panel”, but as First Secretary at the British Embassy in Warsaw for four years my main task was Poland’s EU accession and I do know what I am talking about. That gives us just 2 years or less for both Indyref2 and negotiation with rUK. We have to fire the starting gun if we are serious
* If the SNP continue to abjure putting the case for Independence, opinion polls will never move in our favour and may slip further
* Nothing is certain in politics. At the moment there is probably a Holyrood majority for Indyref2, but in 2020 there may well not be.

People will now reply that Nicola is a brilliantly successful politician while I am just a spurned old idealist tapping alone on my laptop. But that is why you should listen to me.

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Nicola Corbyn and the Myth of the Unelectable Left

The BBC and corporate media coalesce around an extremely narrow consensus of political thought, and ensure that anybody who steps outside that consensus is ridiculed and marginalised. That consensus has got narrower and narrower. I was delighted during the general election to be able to listen to Nicola Sturgeon during the leaders’ debate argue for anti-austerity policies and for the scrapping of Trident. I had not heard anyone on broadcast media argue for the scrapping of Trident for a decade – it is one of those views which though widely held the establishment gatekeepers do not view as respectable.

The media are working overtime to marginalise Jeremy Corbyn as a Labour leadership candidate on the grounds that he is left wing and therefore weird and unelectable. But they face the undeniable fact that, Scottish independence aside, there are very few political differences between Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon. On issues including austerity, nuclear weapons, welfare and Palestine both Sturgeon and Corbyn are really very similar. They have huge areas of agreement that stand equally outside the establishment consensus. Indeed Nicola is more radical than Jeremy, who wants to keep the United Kingdom.

The establishment’s great difficulty is this. Given that the SNP had just slaughtered the Labour Party – and the Tories and Lib Dems – by being a genuine left wing alternative, how can the media consensus continue to insist that the left are unelectable? The answer is of course that they claim Scotland is different. Yet precisely the same establishment consensus denies that Scotland has a separate political culture when it comes to the independence debate. So which is it? They cannot have it both ways.

If Scotland is an integral part of the UK, Jeremy Corbyn’s policies cannot be unelectable.

Nicola Sturgeon won the UK wide leaders debate in the whole of the United Kingdom, despite the disadvantage of representing a party not standing in 90% of it by population. She won not just because she is clever and genuine, but because people all across the UK liked the left wing policies she articulated.

A Daily Mirror opinion poll following a BBC televised Labour leadership candidates’ debate this week had Jeremy Corbyn as the clear winner, with twice the support of anyone else. The media ridicule level has picked up since. This policy of marginalisation works. I was saddened by readers’ comments under a Guardian report of that debate, in which Labour supporter after Labour supporter posted comment to the effect “I would like to vote for Jeremy Corbyn because he believes in the same things I do, but we need a more right wing leader to have a chance of winning.”

There are two answers to that. The first is no, you don’t need to be right wing to win. Look at the SNP. The second is what the bloody hell are you in politics for anyway? Do you just want your team to win like it was football? Is there any point at all in being elected just so you can carry out the same policies as your opponents? The problem is, of course, that for so many in the Labour Party, especially but not just the MPs, they want to win for personal career advantage not actually to promote particular policies.

The media message of the need to be right wing to be elected is based on reinforced by a mythologizing of Tony Blair and Michael Foot as the ultimate example of the Good and Bad leader. These figures are constantly used to reinforce the consensus. Let us examine their myths.

Tony Blair is mythologised as an electoral superstar, a celebrity politician who achieved unprecedented personal popularity with the public, and that he achieved this by adopting right wing policies. Let us examine the truth of this myth. First that public popularity. The best measure of public enthusiasm is the percentage of those entitled to vote, who cast their ballot for that party at the general election. This table may surprise you.

Percentage of Eligible Voters

1992 John Major 32.5%
1997 Tony Blair 30.8%
2001 Tony Blair 24.1%
2005 Tony Blair 21.6%
2010 David Cameron 23.5%
2015 David Cameron 24.4%

There was only any public enthusiasm for Blair in 97 – and to put that in perspective, it was less than the public enthusiasm for John Major in 1992.

More importantly, this public enthusiasm was not based on the policies now known as Blairite. The 1997 Labour Manifesto was not full of right wing policies and did not indicate what Blair was going to do.

The Labour Party manifesto of 1997 did not mention Academy schools, Private Finance Initiative, Tuition Fees, NHS privatisation, financial sector deregulation or any of the right wing policies Blair was to usher in. Labour actually presented quite a left wing image, and figures like Robin Cook and Clare Short were prominent in the campaign. There was certainly no mention of military invasions.

It was only once Labour were in power that Blair shaped his cabinet and his policies on an ineluctably right wing course and Mandelson started to become dominant. As people discovered that New Labour were “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich”, to quote Mandelson, their popular support plummeted. “The great communicator” Blair for 90% of his Prime Ministership was no more popular than David Cameron is now. 79% of the electorate did not vote for him by his third election

Michael Foot consistently led Margaret Thatcher in opinion polls – by a wide margin – until the Falklands War. He was defeated in a victory election by the most appalling and intensive wave of popular war jingoism and militarism, the nostalgia of a fast declining power for its imperial past, an emotional outburst of popular relief that Britain could still notch up a military victory over foreigners in its colonies. It was the most unedifying political climate imaginable. The tabloid demonization of Foot as the antithesis of the military and imperial theme was the first real exhibition of the power of Rupert Murdoch. Few serious commentators at the time doubted that Thatcher might have been defeated were it not for the Falklands War – which in part explains her lack of interest in a peaceful solution. Michael Foot’s position in the demonology ignores these facts.

The facts about Blair and about Foot are very different from the media mythology.

The stupid stunt by Tories of signing up to the Labour Party to vote for Corbyn to ridicule him, is exactly the kind of device the establishment consensus uses to marginalise those whose views they fear. Sturgeon is living proof left wing views are electable. The “left unelectable” meme will intensify. I expect Jeremy Corbyn’s biggest problem will be quiet exclusion. I wish him well.

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