Keeping it real

Treat with great caution claims that majority support for independence has “crystallised”. Certainly, we are seeing a sequence of polls indicating majority support. But we’ve seen this before. From June 2020 to January 2021, Yes led in 20 successive polls. Thus far, the latest sequence of polls showing a Yes lead numbers only 4. So let’s not get too excited.

In fact, when we consider what happened to the apparently “crystallised” lead a couple of years ago we might well remain completely unexcited. It evaporated. It evaporated quickly and completely. Between April and November 2021 there was a series of 24 polls with No ahead in all but 2.

This is where we have to step away from the statistics in order to find an explanation. In the case of the previous apparent solidifying of a Yes lead the explanation ─ or the biggest single factor ─ is kinda staring us in the face. As is the explanation for the subsequent draining away of the sustained lead. This was the period when Nicola Sturgeon’s presentational and (to a lesser extent?) managerial skills in the early part of the Covid emergency stood her in such good stead. Especially when contrasted with the slapstick ineptitude of Boris Johnson and his administration. It was this rather than actual support for independence which was being reflected in the polls. As if to confirm this, when the pandemic started to drop down the news agenda, support for Yes in the polls fell back.

Polling for Yes increased due to what we might term ‘external factors’. That is to say, factors not related, or only remotely or tangentially related, to the constitutional issue. In this case, Nicola Sturgeon’s high visibility in the media and not unfavourable coverage. It did not increase because of anything the SNP was doing in terms of advancing Scotland’s cause. Indeed, by this time Sturgeon had issued her infamous cease and desist order to the entire Yes movement. Officially, all campaigning was stopped.

Putting a gloss on things, we might say this was a period when the SNP was at least honest about having forsaken the independence campaign.

Polling for Yes subsequently decreased due to Nicola Sturgeon’s failure to capitalise on the incidental boost. She failed to exploit the advantage fate had provided. Hardly for the first time, an opportunity was squandered.

The latest signs of a sustained Yes lead in the polls ─ if that’s what they are ─ can also be attributed to external factors. This time, it’s public reaction to the judgement of the UK Supreme Court (UKSC) on the referred draft Referendum Bill. Nicola Sturgeon’s wee army of loyalists and apologists will almost certainly insist that this is not an external factor at all. They will claim that the public reaction to the judgement was all part of their leader’s brilliant ‘plan’. All I can say to that is if her ‘plan’ relies on such ephemera then there’s no reason for me to explain why I use single quotes when referring to her ‘plan’.

If Nicola Sturgeon’s handling of the constitutional issue to date is any guide then this ‘crystallisation’ of a Yes lead in the polls will not last. Her record suggests she will fail to exploit the advantage as she has before. Unless she breaks with her past ─ which seems unlikely ─ another opportunity will be squandered.

So, let’s not pin too much hope on what will almost certainly turn out to be a blip in the polls. Or, perhaps, a bleep. Let’s not be taken in by the fanfare with which these polling results are presented. Let’s try to be realistic.

If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s cause.


17 thoughts on “Keeping it real

  1. I quite agree.

    There have been missed opportunities to ‘catch the wind’ – sorry, Mr Leitch – over the last 8 years including the Brexit vote, the pandemic captive online audience, actual Brexit and cost of living spikes. All of which have been open goals, all missed by the SNP leadership with such aplomb. So like Scotland!

    After deferral of Scottish sovereignty to the UK Supreme Court the SNP and Holyrood went on holiday. After the ruling we had an off the cuff speech from the FM and then a sullen interview before the announcement of a ‘special conference’ at some stage ‘in the new year’. This was all suitably nebulous from the FM while some of lieutenants gave some contradictory statements about which election test constituted a ‘def facto referendum’ (Holyrood or Westminster) and how that would be measured (votes, seats, votes plus seats, SNP only, all pro-Independence political parties).

    Polls can be encouraging. They can also be discouraging. It can depend how you interpret them.

    What is certain is that opinion polls are passing.

    And Independence is permanent.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yeah, just keep on sowing that gloom and despondency Peter. It won’t take much more of it to win us independence …. no …. wait ….


    1. He’s not sowing ” gloom and despondency ” , MBP ; Peter simply refuse to indulge the facile ,somewhat desperate transient euphoria generated by , ultimately meaningless , polling results .

      As he often asks …….what next ? Even supposing the polls show a consistent / increasing lead for YES , NS is still intent on pretending she can use the next UKGE as a Plebiscite on Indy ( guaranteed to be rejected out of hand by the Brit State ) , supposing further she is able to persuade Scottish voters of this , and SNP has a successful election , w… n… ? The * plan * is STILL to ask – alright , in National-speak , ” demand “- a S30 . What evidence is there to suggest any such ” demand ” will elicit a different response ?

      This is the intractable obstacle NS is either incapable or unwilling to surmount . Ergo , she herself is the intractable obstacle .

      Liked by 3 people

      1. All fair points. At least you have the wits to understand what I’m doing. Just one point. As I understand it, the BIG CHANGE in Sturgeon’s thinking is that she now says she will not ‘demand’ a Section 30 order. Her intention now is to wait on the British feeling obliged to offer one.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. In reply to Robert Hughes.

    You state; “NS is still intent on pretending she can use the next UKGE as a Plebiscite on Indy”
    – which is what malcontents, especially on Wings, have been demanding for years. What has changed? Is it that the SNP have listened, adopted the policy and left the malcontents in the position of having to support a SNP policy? Heaven forfend.

    You then state; “guaranteed to be rejected out of hand by the Brit State”
    – as Peter has stated many a time, the British State will reject everything the Scottish govt does to achieve independence. Are you saying the attempt should therefore not be made?

    You then claim; ” The * plan * is STILL to ask – alright , in National-speak , ” demand “- a S30″
    – while Peter claims; “Her intention now is to wait on the British feeling obliged to offer one”
    – I think we can now safely assume that malcontents will make up any old horsesh*t on S30s to back their own particular narrative (see my first point above). The Plebiscitery Election is to negate the need for an S30.

    You also state; “As he often asks …….what next ?”
    – the obvious way forward is to demand the Westminster govt begin negotiating Scotland’s independence and, if they refuse, declare a “real” UDI” (as opposed to Peter’s “place-marker” one). A “real” UDI that will have a positive result from a democratic event to back it up.

    I can see faces reddening and mouths sputtering as I write this. “But “she” hasn’t explicitly said that’s what she’ll do” is the knee-jerk malcontent response. Of course “she” hasn’t. It would be politically naive to do so. Making bold declarations of your specific intent, at a particular moment in time, perhaps a couple of years ahead of the event, would just leave you a hostage to fortune and give your opponents a “legitimate” target to pop at. Children understand this concept, but not malcontents.


    1. In the language of politics, what is not said can be even more meaningful than what is said. But I accept that this may be a bit to subtle for you. Those of us who read Sturgeon’s statement carefully and with an ‘ear’ for the nuances noticed things that probably went way over your head. These two passages say more than you can comprehend.

      “The UK and Scottish governments should be sitting down together, responsibly agreeing a process, including a section 30 order, that allows the Scottish people to decide.”

      “In that letter I will also make clear that I am ready and willing to negotiate the terms of a section 30 order with him.”


      1. Yes Peter, to negate the need for a plebiscitery election. Not as a result of it. As you say, “what is not said”.


      1. You keep saying that but never explain where I have got it wrong. No doubt because I haven’t.


    2. ” You also state; “As he often asks …….what next ?”
      – the obvious way forward is to demand the Westminster govt begin negotiating Scotland’s independence ….. ”

      I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the sheer headbanging circularity of this response . After some reflection ( about one minute ) , have opted to laugh

      We’re back to * demanding * again ; ok . fair enough , at least you now concede a ” if they refuse ” ( excise that ” if “, it’s beyond doubt they will refuse ) clause . But , tell me , in what alternative dimension can you conceive of NS declaring UDI – any type of UDI ?

      It will NEVER happen in this dimension . Alas , as of the time writing , this – the one we occupy – is the only dimension available to us .

      Call people ” Malcontents ” as much as you like , if it makes you feel better , but , as is evident by statements like this ….

      ” But “she” hasn’t explicitly said that’s what she’ll do” is the knee-jerk malcontent response. Of course “she” hasn’t. It would be politically naive to do so. ”

      You’re still firmly in the blind faith ” Nicola has a plan ” evangelical congregation .

      Praise The Lady . The Rapture is imminent


  4. Someone who is “content” is happy with a situation. Someone who is “discontent” is unhappy with a situation but not currently doing anything about it. Someone who is “malcontent” is unhappy with a situation and is actively trying to change it. Which group do you fall into Robert?

    I started using the term “malcontent” because it was as accurate a “catch-all” term for people such as yourself and the myriad others with varying reasons for dissatisfaction, and ideas for solutions, as is available. Angry reactions to it at first bemused me, then amused me, then bored me and now … meh.

    As to who lives in the real world, I live in the real world where the only party that can deliver independence is the SNP. For the foreseeable future, in the real world, the SNP is going to be led by Nicola Sturgeon. A Sturgeon led SNP govt is not going to risk destroying any chance of independence by going for some half-assed plan like Peter’s faux UDI without a definitive YES in a referendum/plebiscite (de facto or not) from the Scottish people. There is nothing “evangelical” about acknowledging those “real world” facts.

    “What next” will be informed by that YES result. I can either accept what seems obvious to the vast majority of people in Scotland, and the wider world, that the SNP will take the fight to the next level; or succumb to the myopic madness and fantasy of the malcontent echo-chambers and, like them, descend into impotent rage and self defeating despondency.

    I choose to be positive.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.