Jiggery-pokery of the highest order – the SNP’s ‘National Survey’

Note added 3 September 11:25 – henceforth comments will not be published that merely say I’m hypocritical/appalling/intrusive etc. to require a name/e-mail address on your observations. I’ve already OKed several that say this and you are contributing nothing new to  any discussion. My reply to Evelyn Malcolm in the comments below explains. Thanks.


Earlier this morning I tweeted the following peremptory message:

My advice: under no circumstances fill in @theSNP’s spurious online ‘national survey’. Reasons follow in blog later.

I’d had a quick look at the survey and was immediately suspicious but needed to check a bit more of the context before confirming my advice. It’s now confirmed and here’s why.

I recorded that context for the survey on my blog page A month of being wooed:

a summer initiative targetting No voters across the country in a major drive to put the case for Scottish independence to the electorate [to] assess the merits and shortcomings of the 2014 independence campaign as well as come up with cogent responses to questions on issues such as what currency an independent Scotland would use, its membership of the European Union and its economy [for full text/source see entry for 1 May at the bottom of the page].

As most people know, the exercise did not happen over summer, knocked off course initially by putative initiative-leader Stewart Hosie’s marital problems and then by all the post-Brexit decision scurrying around. It’s been launched, at last, by the first minister today. The language surrounding it seems to have evolved. For a while it was a national ‘conversation’ and the BBC still call it that on their web site. Meantime, over on the SNP web site Nicola Sturgeon’s calling it a ‘listening exercise.’

Whether it’s an initiative, a conversation or a listening exercise, it’s started with the survey so let’s just focus on that.

The site has the innocent address ‘survey2016.scot’ and is entitled ‘The National Survey’ which rather suggests it’s something it isn’t without actually claiming it. The unwary might assume that something is the official Office for National Statistics. It’s not. The only confirmation of who’s carrying out the survey is in tiny lettering at the bottom of the page, so tiny you may not be able to read it here (click to enlarge or check the web site itself:

National survey 2016 disclaimer

My idea of a conversation is that two or more people meet and exchange views in a reasonably open way. Each can chip in with what they want to say. Indeed, Sturgeon’s introduction to the survey (the ’SNP’ link above) suggests precisely that:

Members of the public can take part … and set out concerns and questions they have.

You can only set out your concerns and questions in a survey if there’s space on a form to write in your own opinions. You can’t here. All the questions and the options to answer them are the SNP’s choice and the only way you can complete the survey is by ticking the boxes they think are relevant.

There’s another constraint on completing the survey – most of the questions are compulsory including giving your full name, postcode and e-mail address. Don’t fill those in and you can’t submit your answers to the other questions.

An online survey prey to manipulation does need some device to stop people completing it multiple times but this is not it. Those personal details in the possession of the SNP mean at least three things:

  • they can find out your precise address from other publically available sources of information
  • they know your views on a range of issues and can contact you (because you’re sympathetic) or avoid you (because you’re not and they’d waste their time and money doing so)
  • if enough people answer the survey in an area they will build up a picture of their support that will help them target future marketing/electoral campaigns.

If they really want to know what people generally think about the issues raised in the survey, there are far more efficient and effective ways of doing so. Foremost among these would be to hire a polling/market research company and get them to carry out the survey professionally. Perhaps like YouGov, who have just published their latest poll on whether Scotland should be an independent country (Yes 46%, No 54% – no change since 2014 then).

The game is given away by that miniscule lettering at the bottom of the page. The very last words say ‘Privacy and Data Protection.’ Click on that and you get:

National Survey 2016 Privacy

So there you have it. It’s not a conversation. It’s not even really listening. It’s a data collection exercise more to do with marketing, and perhaps with keeping all those new members happy who are gagging for independence.

Incidentally, note that if you want to opt out of all those exciting things the SNP will do with your information, you have to write to them – write as in pen, paper, envelope, stamp. The address is given. No e-mail.  No online enquiry form. Makes it easy doesn’t it?

The whole thing is indeed jiggery-pokery of the highest order. Avoid it like the plague.

Footnote. If you didn’t see it when you came on to the No Thanks! blog, I wrote a follow-up to this article on various issues that arose in discussion online.

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54 Responses to Jiggery-pokery of the highest order – the SNP’s ‘National Survey’

  1. nothanks5545 says:

    Agree that filling it in is a bad idea.

    However, if one of these comes into your possession could I suggest leaving it blank, seal it and pop it in the postbox? At least the SNP have to cough for the postage.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Kenny Farquharson’s column in The Times today has the headline ‘SNP is the listening party? Away You Go’ and the subtitle ‘Nicola Sturgeon’s attempt to persuade her swaggering, supercilious party to be humble requires a huge shift in mindset’

    He notes that a video of a speech given to a conference in Vienna on political campaigning by Rob Shorthouse, Better Together’s head of communications, has recently been posted to YouTube. Better Together carried out detailed research on Scottish opinions and concluded that 40% of the electorate would definitely vote No and 30% Yes regardless of the arguments put forward in the campaign. Better Together therefore concentrated on the undecided 30%, upsetting some of the 40%, who wanted a campaign extolling the virtues of Britishness.

    Kenny argues that Yes Scotland concentrated on its 30% core, aiming at ‘building its mass and energy to the point where it exerted a gravitational pull on the don’t-knows and not-sures.’ He goes on to comment that ‘the more thoughtful Nationalists ‘ now realise that this was a mistake but that most prefer to stick to the theory that ‘elderly No voters will soon die off’, leaving a Yes majority.

    No link to the article as it’s behind a paywall. I think that the YouTube video referred to is the one linked below, but I have not listened to it, relying instead on Kenny’s summary of it.

    This exercise looks like an attempt to find out what would make the uncommitted 30% vote Yes. How that will go down with the committed, the future is on our side, no compromise element of the SNP’s membership remains to be seen.

    If the 40% definite No, 30% uncommitted, 30% definite Yes split is correct, then the 55-45 referendum result means that the uncommitted actually split 50/50 and No won because it has more core supporters. It also means that all the uncommitted must support Yes to achieve the 60-40 support for Yes that Sturgeon is supposed to want before launching another referendum

    Liked by 2 people

    • wujeanty says:

      Interesting stuff, Martin. Rob Shorthouse demonstrates in his presentation exactly why Better Together was so insipid – it was driven entirely by polling and focus groups, resulting in BT parotting what they thought undecideds wanted to hear. But what BT failed to understand is that people don’t want to be told what they already think by politicians – it comes across as insincere and patronising. They want leadership; they want strength, and BT’s relentlessly negative and lame campaign provided neither of these things. There’s a great example of this in Rob’s presentation, with a 2 minute Better Together film at the end. The film, bizarrely, does not mention Britain or the United Kingdom once, and therefore seems weak and confusing. Indeed, without these reference points, and the only flag on display being the Scots saltire, it could quite easily have led bemused floating voters to think it was an advert for Yes; or led some of the 40% that BT thought they had tied up to be so demotivated as to stay at home.

      I thought it was an terrible campaign, and was largely responsible for support for the Union hemorrhaging about 15 points from the start – which, of course, demoralised the Unionist parties, swung the momentum straight to the SNP, and led directly to the awful state we’re now in. So Rob’s evident pride in winning, and the results he has drawn from it, are somewhat misplaced, methinks.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. M/S Sturgeon signed the “Edinburgh Agreement” along with Alec Salmond pledging that there would not be another attempt at a referendum for at least a generation. She LIED, she has BROKEN HER WORD and cannot be trusted on ANY matter. Since when M/S Sturgeon (or Mrs Murrell) did 2014 to 2016 become a GENERATION? Life seems to be getting shorter under the SNP if they consider that a generation! The Agreement was a LEGALLY BINDING DOCUMENT under international law and is recognised worldwide except by the zealots of the SNP it would appear. No wonder no-one in the E.U. would receive or talk to Sturgeon. The F.M. has clearly lost her way and trying to break up Great Britain by using Brexit as an excuse. What will be the next excuse by M/S Sturgeon, “Daddy lost the council seat to Labour and Mummy lost her position of Provost?”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      You will find that wasn’t in the agreement but what was in the agreement was neither side were allowed to offer anything new in the last 28 days before the election and then comes the 3 stoogies with their ‘vow’


      • Neil says:

        You do realise “The Vow” was a made up headline by the Daily Record, and that everything in it had actually been spoken about at some point within the 2yrs prior to IndyRef?

        It brought nothing new to the table, and as such, did not break purdah.

        Just another defective Nationalist myth.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Gordon Murray says:

      If Better Together cannot honour their word given to win the independence referendum I feel no compunction to honour the promise not to ask the People of Scotland to confirm their decision in another.


    • Dave King says:

      Im sorry..but you seem to have forgotten the reason that salmond and sturgeon said these things. That would be all of the broken promises that Union said. Pensions,? European Union? Anyone.? Give me strength to tell you how ripped of we’ve been for what, 300 years.


  4. Mike says:

    Do you think as a no voter it’s worth filling the survey in and responding as though you’re on the fence, in order to burn some of the SNP’s resources trying to recruit you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Roger White says:

      I’ve noticed people on Twitter today say they’re making a range of choices about what to do to show their opposition. Personally, I’m just not replying and wouldn’t recommend anyone else to. But everyone needs to make their own decision. Your suggestion reminds me of the advice to people dealing with a canvasser from a party they disagree with – be polite, debate, ask questions, keep them as long as possible and they’ll never get round their quota of addresses!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Evelyn Malcolm says:

    The criticism really is scraping the bottom of the barrel! Have you ever completed an online survey? This is no different but I will agree that it is annoying nothat to be able to comment but again this is common to online surveys! Just realised that you want my personal information to be able to post this! How hypocritical!


    • Roger White says:

      We’d obviously have to disagree on whether the SNP’s action here and the way they’re doing it is significant or not. My experience is that when someone’s said I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel I’ve hit home in some way! On name/e-mail it’s the way WordPress works. You can adopt an alias and/or use an e-mail that doesn’t identify you if you want – your choice. I’m not selling anything or using such details as you choose to give for any purpose.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. John Selkirk says:

    Should something as Important as this not be carried out by a cross party committee as opposed to the minority Government who have a one item agenda?

    Liked by 2 people

    • John Barr says:

      The only .minorities’ in government in Scotland are the Tories and Labour. The SNP have a HUGE majority.


      • Roger White says:

        That’s factually incorrect in relation to Holyrood where the SNP lost seats at the last election and now form a minority administration. I am not publishing your other three comments as they are, in my view, abusive, one of them very abusive.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Gordon Murray says:

        Roger White you are mistaken. The SNP went into the Holyrood election with exactly the number of seats it came out with but increased its vote to a new record.
        After 10years in government the SNP commands the largest mandate of any government in Europe.
        Even today a new poll puts support for the SNP at a staggering 52%, Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher in their pomp could only dream of that kind of popularity.
        Meanwhile Labour Tory and Libdem support has shrunk to only 42% for the lot of them, combined!
        Poor old SNP eh?


      • Roger White says:

        ‘Went into … came out with.’ You’re playing with words, or maybe comparing apples and pears.

        SNP Holyrood election seats:

        2011 – 69
        2016 – 63

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Peter Lockhart says:

    Its a con. Most surveys of this importance have a box where you can leave your own opinion. This one doesn’t. All the questions are meant to be related to an independent Scotland but in reality that’s a way of the SNP to use and twist any case to their ends. I feel very uncomfortable about the party in power usingbthis sort if survey. The way the online one is laid out makes it look like an official government survay.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Donald wright says:

    Dang it! I filled it in before I read this!! Oh well, that’s me off any polling lists in the future…………not that anyone has ever asked my opinion in a survey or poll in the past 🙈

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jj Barnes says:

    Interesting to note that I have to give my name and email address to post here.


  10. Alan Mackay says:

    i dont see why a hardcore self loathing proud scot but’s opinion is in any way of any use. they arent Scots, by admission, they are brits. so they are irrelevant. FADABBYDOZIE!!!!!! saor Alba gu brath, wont be long now.


    • Roger White says:

      Oh dear, don’t know if you’d just come back from the pub but that doesn’t make complete sense. I suspect your “proud scot but’s” is a typo for something else but I don’t really want to know. You clearly think being both Scots and British is incompatible but millions (55% in 2014) disagree. As for it ‘wont be long’ you really need to look at the opinion polls and see how sentiment has hardly shifted since 2014. And the FM’s popularity ratings are not good. And ‘saor Albs etc’? That’s the sort of nationalist slogananising that puts huge numbers off. Still, thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 3 people

  11. Derek Noble says:

    Dear Nicola Sturgeon.

    I voted No in 2014 & I’ll vote No again if you ever make me go back to the polls.

    I can’t give you 1 reason why I voted No, but I can give you 15 billion reasons.

    That enormous deficit is enough to make the basic rate of tax in Scotland 38p in the £ and 58p for the next tax band.

    Either that or we start choosing the schools & hospitals that we’re going to close.

    Waken up people. Theses zealots will have us in the poor house if we keep this nonsense up.

    Scotland will be bankrupt or placed in Austerity measures that would make the Greeks wince if we vote Yes & go running cap in hand to The EU due to our deficit being 3 time as high as is allowable under EU rules.

    Think of your and your children’s futures.

    Do we really hate the English that much that we’d cut our noses to spite our faces?

    Stop being fooled by face paints and flags.

    Tell Ms Sturgeon to take a hike.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Paul says:

      if you believe everything you read then yes it might end up like that but fortunately some of us dont


    • Gordon Murray says:

      Too wee too poor too stupid to look after ourselves eh?
      Take a look at Westminster and put your hand on your heart and say that is the model for financial probity and good governance.
      If you cannot trust your children to be safe in their care why would you want to trust your country to them?
      As for that £15bn ‘black hole’ in our finances; HM treasury takes £44bn in downstream revenue on that ‘worthless’ Brent Crude piped straight through Scotland to the big English refineries and ‘value added’ there.
      £9.4bn is Scotland’s 8.4% population share of ‘strategic UK national projects’ like London Thameslink London Crossrail HS1&2 none of which are of any material benefit to Scotland.
      £4.5bn Scotland’s population share of £52bn interest payments on £1,500bn UK national debt (June2015) now £1,743bn and rising at £5,170 a second!
      A debt that devolved Scotland had no part in running up in the first place.


      • Neil says:

        You do know that it was John Swinney who first coined the “too wee” phrase when he addressed an SNP conference some years ago?

        Nice to know what they really think of scots eh?

        Liked by 2 people

      • You’ll be telling us next that Scots don’t get their fair share of ‘whisky export tax’. Scots DO NOT pay for London infrastructure projects. It is a massive SNP lie to say that they do. Try getting some real facts instead of their lying propaganda.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Martin says:

    You dont want people to fill it in as it will show that there is now a majority for independence. You would rather stick to the conservative ran yougov polls.


  13. Nick Fash says:

    Don’t see the problem with the survey. Oh I see you also want my name and email. Hypocritical!


  14. Gordon Murray says:

    Nobody is being forced to take part in this survey.
    If you do not give your views then how will you expect them to be respected and taken into account?
    This is happening now, like Brexit, whether you choose to participate or not.
    Your choice!
    Btw I had to supply my name and email address to post this comment. How evil and anti democratic can you get!


    • Roger White says:

      I do wish all you people moaning at the need for a name/mail [note – you don’t have to give your own; there are ways and means …] would just read the comments section first especially my reply to Evelyn Malcolm

      Liked by 2 people

    • Imogen says:

      Gordon (Bennett?), I can’t give my views. For, as the post says, there is nowhere in the survey to give them. The questions on issues are unanswerable representing what I actually think – which makes the survey such an inaccurate data gathering exercise it’s pointless.
      And I am a No voter with an issue – credit to the National, as they publiished my long letter on citizenship issues on Jul 11, that was a far more effective way to convey my concern. Also Sunday Herald 30-8-15.
      The survey asks, is immigration important for you? Normally I would never like to say yes to that to any pollster, as they assume you are anti and racist, but openness and pro-immigration are what’s important to me. In this case, that’s what SNP and Yes claim to stand for, so they would interpret my answer that way, but they would tick it as a good Yes issue I support them on – and they would be utterly deluded. For, scrutinising White Paper citizenship policy, something neither campaign emphasised, was what first made me a No and extremely morally angrily so. You were offering a racist purge of Scots against Scots appealing to the anti-outsider parochial bigot nat vote who are even against our own diaspora. For, you were not going to give unrefusable citizenship, of their own country, to the Scots who were born in diaspora to emigrant parents (despite claiming their emigration was a Yes issue!) and who chanced not to already be resident back here on independence day. I petitioned the EU citing its human rights duty under ECHR to disown Scotland as a pariah racist state if you went ahead with that new Clearances hatefully dividing families.
      So where in the survey can I tell them that my answer on immigration is a human rights claim for unrefusability of parental descent citizenship?

      Liked by 2 people

    • The survey is a data-trawling SNP exercise (not a ‘national survey’) to find out how to win over No voters. That’s all it’s about. And it fell foul of Data Protection legislation.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Roger White says:

    David – that’s a ridiculous interpretation of what I wrote.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Sam Duncan says:

    Ah, it’s on .scot, the vanity TLD owned by one of their members. I’m yet to find a website on that domain worth visiting. Of course, if it weren’t, it would have to be .org or .org.uk, because this isn’t an official government excercise. Putting it on .scot makes it look as if it might be, at least to the gullible. It’s all part of the con. Nationalism is, always and everywhere, about blurring the lines between nation, party, and state.

    And I mean that about a con. Isn’t it all about confidence? Seducing people into believing they’re big and important by acting big and important? It’s con-man 101: if you act with supreme confidence regardless of events and circumstances, people will place their confidence in you. We saw it in 2014: any argument produced against them was simply “lies”. You brought another example up the other day with their ludicrous “tick-tock” meme. Confidence, belief, appearance, swagger, bluster. That’s all they’ve got. A bit of faux-humility thrown in at judicious moments when things look a bit shaky, like right now, never hurts.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. John Selkirk says:

    47% of the electorate voted SNP at the last election making it a minority Government.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Dave King says:

    Im sorry..but i knew it was being carried out by the SNP.I have no illusiobs about that. I have however a problem with astroturfers lije yourself. As opposed to real grass roots opibions


  19. The delay to this “Summer initiative” may also be caused by TeamGB success in the Olympics.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. mcubanheel says:

    Engaging the electorate and seeking their views is what democracy should be about, not just getting to vote once every 5 years or so and voting on promises that are quickly broken, and as we see in the UK governing for the few and not the many. Democracy was invented in Greece where the people could gather (in the demos) and debate the issues concerning them.


  21. John Morrison says:

    It is very interesting that, as previous commentators have stated, the survey comes across strongly as a legitimate “National Survey” and you have to hunt for the originating organisation. Having been involved in research for many years this is a blatant attempt by the SNP to gain marketing information rather than “gain the view of the people” Legitimising a survey by the addition of a postcode or e-mail is not unusual but a combination of name, postcode and e-mail betrays the marketing intentions of the SNP. They are attempting to gain “our opinion” based on implied issues with continued concerns over our countries environment and defense, and personal safety and financial security if we continue to be part of the UK. The SNP, under the current leadership, have clearly shown that they have only one agenda – which is to be expected as this is their primary driver- but have no sense of trust. Alec Salmond, love him or loathe him, was a man of integrity and stated that the referendum was once in a generation and win or lose, the SNP had to accept the decision. Following the loss of the referendum he again stated that the people had spoken and the country needed to accept the decision.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Avril Clarke says:

    I was happy to complete the survey.


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