Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Phil's Fallout Feeds My Five-Year-Old

Brit Nuke chief Phil Hammond today BLASTED the parochial Jock First Minister for his "crazy obsession" with averting global nuclear catastrophe.

Speaking on flagship radio show Mornings Are Better Together, Hammond announced that an extra SEVENTEEN nuclear-related jobs could be created in Scotland - but this would ONLY happen in the event of nuclear war. In a devastating blow for the separatist pipe-dream, he confirmed that Scotland was highly unlikely to be part of a nuclear war if it left the United Kingdom.

"Mr. Salmond may be a tad slow on the uptake," said Hammond with a glint in his eye, "but the people of Scotland have always known that nuclear explosions create jobs. Once our cities have been destroyed, seventeen Scots will be leading the firefighting efforts, and handing out comfort biscuits to survivors. That's even better than it sounds, because those seventeen people will constitute an incredible 97% of the remaining workforce.

"Are Scots really going to throw away the chance to fulfil John Smith's goal of full employment? I think not. We're better together."

And in a clear sign that Joke Jock Alex has misread the mood of his own people, Hammond was greeted by hundreds of well-wishers as he left the studio. Some were carrying placards featuring slogans such as "Phil's Fallout Feeds My Five-Year-Old".

With depressing predictability, however, Hammond's intervention was greeted with somewhat less enthusiasm by his coalition 'partners'.

"Steady on, chaps," said a Lib Dem source. "We may well be up for a job-creating nuclear war eventually, but we've yet to go through our traditional 'looking reluctant' phase. That will take at least two weeks."

But Labour insisted that allergic-to-divorce Scots shouldn't be disheartened by the apparent coalition tensions.

"In fact, this brings the creation of these seventeen much-needed jobs even closer," explained Alistair Darling of the Marriage Conciliation Service. "We now have a very real chance of a nuclear war between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Party. This would never happen under separation. Let's say it loud and proud - we're better together and we'll burn together."

Read more about this story in the print edition of your super soaraway Scot Goes Pop.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why are YouGov so convinced they can "improve" on the referendum question?

I overlooked this YouGov poll on independence the other day, which essentially shows an identical position to the previous poll by the same company a week earlier -

Yes 29% (-1)
No 55% (-1)

(Note : In my post about the earlier poll, I incorrectly gave the figure for Yes as 31% rather than 30%, because the question had been asked two different ways with slightly different results.)

A supplementary question asked whether Yes Scotland (the Yes campaign) or Better Together (the No campaign) had produced better evidence to support its case. The results were strikingly different -

Yes Scotland 33%
Better Together 32%

One point stressed in the reporting of this poll is that the main question asked by YouGov was the actual referendum question proposed by the Scottish Government. This would indeed constitute progress for a polling company that has for years much preferred questions like "Do you REALLY think that Scotland should be WHOLLY separate from its dear brothers and sisters in the rest of the United Kingdom, cast adrift in the North Atlantic without food, shelter or warmth?". But, alas, the story isn't quite so simple. YouGov apparently still believe their panel are far too thick to understand the meaning of the words "Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?", and felt obliged to offer an 'explanatory' preamble to the question, pointing out (you've guessed it) that what the referendum is really about is Scotland leaving the United Kingdom.

There's no great mystery as to what's going on here. Peter Kellner, the head of YouGov, recently penned an article in which he once again lambasted the SNP for proposing a 'loaded' question. Well, he's perfectly entitled to that faintly ludicrous opinion, but what he isn't entitled to do is allow his personal beliefs about what would constitute a "better" question to continue to skew his polls, however subtly. It should surely be self-evident that the most robust, credible and reliable polls will be those that ask the actual referendum question in a straightforward, unadorned manner.

Incidentally, Kellner's article also contained the jaw-droppingly hubristic claim that he knows - literally knows for a fact two years in advance - that there will be a No vote in the referendum, a conviction for which he offered a string of spurious justifications. Now, it would be extremely easy to dismiss this as a partisan stunt by a known Labour sympathiser (and the husband of Baroness Cathy Ashton), but in truth I think that Kellner is a serious analyst who just has some pretty major blind spots. Anyone who watched the replay of the BBC's 1992 election coverage earlier this year will have seen him make a series of utterly bizarre predictions - one was that Brussels would soon somehow 'force' the UK to use proportional representation for its national elections. Twenty years on, it's sad to say that his bolder predictions are no more soundly-based.