There are nine million bicycles in Beijing …

  • There are nine million bicycles in Beijing/That’s a fact/It’s a thing we can’t deny
  • Artist: Katie Melua
  • Album: Piece by Piece
  • Released: 2005
  • Genre: Adult contemporary
  • There are 1,673,289 survey responses in Scotland/That’s a fact/ It’s a thing we can’t deny
  • Artist: Peter Murrell
  • Album: Songs for Swinging Separatists
  • Released: 2016
  • Genre: Fiction


So, here’s a question about the response to the SNP’s phoney ‘National Survey,’ i.e. data-gathering exercise for marketing purposes, that I’ve discussed before (most recently here, where you can find a link to earlier posts).

Do you believe it?

Do you believe that 1,673,289 people have completed it? Do you realise that’s 37.5% of the entire adult (aged 16+) population of Scotland? That it’s more than 100% of all those who voted Yes in the once-in-a-generation referendum of 2014 (1,617,989)? Do you think they all live in Scotland? Do you think they’re all real?

Whoa, hang on, am I saying that they’re not all real, that, heaven forfend, the number might not be accurate? That unlike Katie Melua’s ‘Nine million bicycles in Beijing’ this particular song for swinging separatists should be filed under ‘Fiction’?


But you don’t have to rely on me for evidence. The possibilities are legion. I had noted previously that people likely to be both pro- and anti-SNP might respond more than once.

On the ‘pro’ side I noticed one bemused SNP member believing that she should complete the survey five times on behalf of the five members of the public the party was urging all members to contact about its subject matter. She had already done the deed before another member explained to her that isn’t what was intended.

On the ‘anti’ side I exchanged tweets with a Conservative-voting Scot living on the South coast of England who said he’d completed it because he thought it was a genuine government exercise and wouldn’t have touched it if he’d known it was the SNP (my original post on the survey pointed out that it did not bear the SNP’s branding).

Those examples were innocent errors. Beyond that we can be pretty sure that others, again on both sides, didn’t fill in just one form. Here are some examples from a thread on Twitter responding to notice yesterday of the alleged number of returns. I include the tweeters’ names as they are already in the public domain:

  • @Mighty_Mustafa  i filled it in 37 times
  • @incongru I did three. Each time, I used the details of local SNP activists and said I was a soft No
  • @wewillnot22 how many of the surveys were returned unfilled? I know of at least 80
  • @paget_old  Charles Bump Esq., Ravelon Quint, Miss Chenandler Bong, the Midge, Sherry O’Grady, Englebert Stratt: yes, all me
  • ‏@CampsieWitch Filled this in several times, including once as Sturgeon and once as Salmond. It’s a joke
  •  ‏@Thiepvalwood I did 40 of them.

Who knows if all these people are telling the precise truth? But that’s rather the point isn’t it? If this ‘survey’ had been carried out by a professional market research firm all these possible sources of error would have been weeded out. As it is, we know that anyone could go on to the survey website and complete more than one form.

In the Twitter thread I exemplify above, someone asked if the survey returns had been subjected to ‘QA’ (quality assurance). I’m 99.99% sure (that’s my statistically-validated estimate) that they haven’t.

Still, the various names in the list above should give the SNP a clue about who to weed out of their returns. Clue: be suspicious of anyone with the surnames of Bump, Bong, Salmond and Sturgeon. Especially those last two.

That’s it. I’m just away to listen to the mellifluous tones of Katie Melua. At least I know there’s a chance of her numbers being right.

Footnote. If you check the link at the beginning of this post you’ll see the ‘National survey’ was originally in breach of data protection rules. There is no word of whether the SNP have excluded from their total any early responses to the survey that may well have been collected under false pretences.

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4 Responses to There are nine million bicycles in Beijing …

  1. Brian Monteith says:

    Great post – happy to run it on ThinkScotland over the weekend once it has been up on your blog today and tomorrow – let me know…

    Best regards




  2. Eric Sinclair says:

    “1,673,289 people had their voice heard”. Are you going to tell us what they said, Peter?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Eric Sinclair says:

    Tweet Activity
    Eric Sinclair @EricSinclair8
    @theSNP @PeterMurrell Hang on a minute – read this, Peter

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gareth says:

    Time to consider the similarities between the SNP’s, Trump’s and Farage’s anti establishment, anti media, blame the other rhetoric. As well as the toxic post truth social media cesspools.


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