This was Alex Salmond a couple of weeks ago when a single poll detected a ‘surge’ (sic) for Scottish independence:
The surge incidentally was by three percentage points to 49%, commonly known in the arcane world of statistics as a minority. Psephologist John Curtice analysed what to him was clearly an unexpected result on the excellent What Scotland Thinks web site. His title? ‘On sampling error.’ Amongst other things he says:
A three-point difference between two polls that each contain around a thousand respondents is certainly too small for us to rule out the possibility that it has simply been generated by this chance variation … So, to date at least, there is insufficient evidence to draw the conclusion that the disagreement over Brexit between the UK and the Scottish governments has altered the balance of opinion on independence.
Subtleties like that don’t of course bother ‘Game on’ man. As they didn’t yesterday when it became apparent that one bookie (one) has offered better than evens odds that Scots might back separation in another hypothetical referendum. The Scottish Sun quoted Alex:
And he follows up with:
It’s more significant than any opinion poll.
Er, yes, even the one he was so gung ho about a few days ago. By the way, that’s a trained economist speaking, folks.
Mind you he is a betting man and is said to follow the gee gees. Once upon a time (I haven’t been able to check the dates – any offers?) he was paid – presumably – to offer racing tips in The Scotsman.
I’m not a betting man myself, unless you count a modest holding of premium bonds – always pleased to support the British nation – but I do know that in the long run the punter never wins. You’d think Alex would know this. In the past he’s bet, there’s a good case for saying recklessly, on the following outcomes:
- that there was a ‘Northern arc of prosperity’ that Scotland would join by some miraculous feat of transformation post-independence. His arc included that banking giant Iceland that the 2008 crash brought to its knees
- that there was also a category of nation called the ‘Celtic tigers.’ It was a small and exclusive club led by the Republic of Ireland, another victim of the 2008 crash
- that we had two world-beating banks in Scotland, the Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland, both – again – brought low by the 2008 crash. The Royal Bank of course was crippled by the hubris of its chief executive Fred-the-shred Goodwin in taking over a rotten Dutch bank, ABN-AMRO, a hubris supported by Salmond who wrote an effusive letter to Goodwin supporting his ambition. You and I and the wicked British state still of course share ownership of an RBS that continues to haemorrhage losses nine years later
- that Donald Trump should be supported in his ambition to build the ‘best’ (of course) golf course in the world on a Site of Special Scientific Interest and help transform the North East as a tourist destination
- that, his biggest bet of all, Scotland would vote for separation in 2014, a bet based on a deeply-flawed prospectus for an independent Scotland ($100 dollar oil, anyone?)
In short, would you trust this man with your money, especially on odds of 8/11 (the William Hill offer reported in the Sun article) for something that might only happen by 2024?
I’ll stick with my boring old premium bonds, thanks.