Saturday, January 30, 2016

More on that totally coincidental link between J K Rowling's misogynistic Twitter-chum and popular journalist Euan McColm

As you may have seen, I was highly privileged yesterday to briefly attract the attention of the unholy alliance between abusive CyberBrits and the Global Rowling Heavy Mob. As far as I can see, their one and only defence against my suggestion that certain coincidences seem to link J K Rowling's misogynistic Twitter-pal "Brian Spanner" with popular journalist Euan McColm is that all of the apparent evidence was in fact a highly sophisticated form of unionist/boy wizard humour that can't be correctly interpreted by civic nationalists or by fans of inferior children's fantasy fiction such as The Chronicles of Narnia or The Hobbit. In view of that, I wonder if they could help me in deciphering the correct comic connotations of a few other seemingly suspicious (but I'm sure totally innocuous) facts.

1) Out of 320 million possibilities, why was Euan McColm the very first person that "Brian Spanner" followed on Twitter?

2) Why was Think Scotland (a right-wing website to which McColm has contributed many articles) the second Twitter account that Spanner followed?

3) Why were Alex Massie, Iain Martin, John Rentoul and David Torrance (all journalistic chums of McColm) the third, fourth, fifth and sixth accounts that Spanner followed on Twitter?

4) Why does Spanner - an abusive troll who regularly uses the C-word, and who has a relatively modest 4,622 followers on Twitter - boast such a large number of the unionist establishment (especially the journalistic unionist establishment) among his followers? Examples : Blair McDougall, J K Rowling (who STILL follows him!), Alex Massie, John McTernan, Kenny Farquharson, Iain Martin, Chris Deerin, Stephen Daisley, David Torrance, Kevin Schofield, Alan Roden, Iain Harrison, Ruth Davidson MSP, Harry Cole, Nick Cohen, Gemma Doyle, Melanie Ward, Tom Greatrex, Stephen Hammond MP, Paul Martin MSP, Alex Fergusson MSP, Mike Crockart, Charlotte Wace (Scottish Mail on Sunday), Tom Martin (Scottish Daily Express), Lord Lewis Moonie, Maggie Vaughan (Alistair Darling's spouse), Murdo Fraser MSP, Paul Sinclair, Rob Shorthouse, Catherine Stihler MEP, Ben Borland (Scottish Sunday Express), Ian Smart, Ian Murray MP, and yes, Euan McColm. Are they ALL fans of deeply offensive misogynistic trolling and the C-word?

5) On a related point, is it really a total coincidence that Spanner and McColm both love using the C-word? Maybe I'm just careful with who I follow on Twitter, but I can't say I encounter the word very often.

6) Why are McColm and Spanner both so obsessed with the same picture? See HERE, HERE and HERE.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The misogynistic tweeter, his friendship with J K Rowling, and the ENTIRELY COINCIDENTAL link to popular journalist Euan McColm

I do love a lightbulb moment.  About an hour ago, I was trying to dream up a vaguely satirical tweet about the extraordinary way in which J K Rowling is routinely rewarded by her adoring fans in the London media for bullying people on Twitter, and this - in all innocence - is what I came up with...

"In a parallel universe, Euan McColm is the darling of the London media for being beastly to a billionaire SNP-supporting children's author."

But within only a few minutes, I had started wondering if McColm is in fact quite as unconnected as I thought to Rowling's latest antics, and more specifically to the misogynistic tweeter "Brian Spanner" that she once expressed such touching support for. First of all, it became clear from a tweet in December that Stephen "centre-right socialist" Daisley is a mate of Spanner's -

Stephen Daisley : "Oi, "@BrianSpanner1". You about for a coffee tomorrow?"

Secondly, I noticed that I was blocked by McColm on Twitter, even though I couldn't recall any particular trigger for that.

Thirdly, I noticed that I had blocked Spanner in November. I had no recollection of doing so, but when I looked up the relevant exchange (it was a Neil Lovatt spectacular) I couldn't help feeling there was a vague McColm-esque air to the whole thing. Could "Spanner" conceivably have retaliated by blocking me on another account?

Fourthly, Mark Jardine noticed that "Spanner" is the first person listed under the following names : David Torrance, John Rentoul, Iain Martin, Alex Massie, Think Scotland and Euan McColm.

Fifthly, McGlashan noticed that a couple of weeks ago, Spanner randomly said "It is. Thanks." when someone pointed out that it was Euan McColm's birthday. J K Rowling directly responded to Spanner with the words "Happy birthday, Euan".

Of course none of this is remotely conclusive and I'm sure there's a perfectly innocent explanation.

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UPDATE : A few more total coincidences have come to light - see HERE.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Panelbase hints that the gap between Holyrood and Westminster voting intentions no longer exists

It's been brought to my attention that deep within the Panelbase datasets there seems to be the equivalent of a full-scale Scottish poll of Westminster voting intentions.  It's presented as the subsample of a GB-wide poll, but it's derived from a proper-sized sample, so assuming it's been correctly weighted, the numbers can be regarded as credible.  With Don't Knows excluded, they appear to be -

SNP 50%
Labour 21%
Conservatives 19%
Liberal Democrats 5%
Greens 2%

Nothing desperately surprising there, you might think (except for the Tories' unusually good showing), but what's interesting is that the traditional gap between Westminster and Holyrood voting intentions seems to have vanished in a puff of smoke.  If this result turns out to be typical, Labour can't blame their low-20s showing in recent Scottish Parliament polls on "the Holyrood factor" - they seem to have genuinely lost even more support since last May.  By the same token, anyone who has been thinking "the SNP got 50% for Westminster, so they're bound to do even better this year" is probably barking up the wrong tree.

The most important reason for the traditional gap was of course that some voters didn't think the SNP were relevant in a Westminster election.  That no longer applies, so it's perfectly logical that the gap has gone.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Punchy Panelbase poll puts SNP lead at 29%

Constituency ballot :

SNP 50% (-2)
Labour 21% (-2)
Conservatives 17% (+3)
Liberal Democrats 6% (n/c)
Greens 3% (n/c)
UKIP 2% (n/c)

Regional list ballot :

SNP 48% (n/c)
Labour 19% (-3)
Conservatives 17% (+2)
Liberal Democrats 7% (+1)
Greens 5% (-1)
UKIP 2% (-1)

Panelbase are in line with Ipsos-Mori and Survation in showing a potentially significant increase in the Tory vote.  (The most recent YouGov poll also had the Tories at an unusually high level, but that was months ago.)  The missing piece in the jigsaw, however, is TNS, who reported that the Tories slumped after the spring, and so far haven't detected any recovery at all.  Perhaps the next TNS poll will belatedly show the same pattern as other pollsters, but if it doesn't there will still be some doubt as to whether the Tory mini-renaissance is real.  TNS are, after all, one of only two pollsters who use a 'real world' data collection method for Holyrood polls - ie. they go out and find a completely fresh sample for each poll, rather than relying on a volunteer online panel.

There is also a growing split between TNS and other pollsters on the size of the SNP vote.  The TNS estimate is 58%, which if replicated in the election would certainly see Nicola Sturgeon reach the target figure for an absolute majority on constituency seats alone.  But Panelbase have now joined Ipsos-Mori in suggesting that the SNP have slipped to "just" 50% - exactly the level they were at in the UK general election last year, when of course they failed to win three seats, and won several more by relatively narrow margins.  65 constituency wins out of 73 would be required to secure a majority without needing any list seats at all, and it's becoming harder and harder for the smaller parties to plausibly claim there is no polling evidence to suggest that the SNP may well need their own list vote to hold up.

For Labour, the unremitting gloom continues.  Although 21% on the constituency ballot has become a very familiar number for them, this is (as far as I can see) the first time that Panelbase have ever shown them that low.  It's also the first time that any pollster has clearly suggested that things have got even worse for Labour under the Corbyn/Dugdale "dream team"- with other firms it's been more a case of the new leadership failing to repair the damage that had already been done under Miliband, Harman and Murphy.

As you know, I am unconvinced by the excitement over the Tories supposedly finding themselves on the brink of becoming the second largest party.  Although some polls (including this one) have shown a very small gap between Labour and Tory, not a single one so far has shown the Tories break out of third place, while TNS have continued to report a very substantial Labour advantage.  But for those of you who think the earthquake is possible, it's worth bearing in mind what to look out for - because in the race for second place, only the list vote matters.  Even if Labour and the Tories pick up the odd constituency seat here or there, it's highly unlikely that either will find themselves over-represented on constituency seats in any region, so their numbers in parliament will be entirely decided by the list.  And, unfortunately, past history suggests that polling is significantly less reliable on the list ballot than on the constituency vote.  So it's possible we'll go into polling day with some uncertainty hanging in the air over whether Dugdale or Davidson will be leader of the opposition.  (In my view, it'll be Dugdale - unless she resigns.)

Panelbase are unusual in listing the Greens as an option on the constituency ballot.  It's simultaneously both a meaningless and fascinating exercise, because self-evidently there's no way the Greens can get 3% of the constituency vote if they don't stand in most constituencies, but on the other hand it's a useful insight into what the gap would be between the party's constituency and list vote if the electorate had an equal chance to vote for them on both ballots.  The answer is that the gap probably wouldn't be all that big.  There's certainly no sign that Green voters are minded to give a "mass tactical vote" to the SNP in the constituencies before switching to their preferred party on the list.  At most, 2% of the electorate are that way inclined, and the true figure may well be lower.

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Some of the percentage changes in today's update of the Poll of Polls will seem thoroughly counter-intuitive.  The reason is that YouGov have now dropped out of the sample because they haven't conducted a (published) Holyrood poll for over three months, and Panelbase are returning to the sample after dropping out a few weeks ago.

Constituency ballot :

SNP 52.5% (-0.3)
Labour 20.8% (n/c)
Conservatives 15.8% (-0.5)
Liberal Democrats 6.0% (+0.2)

Regional list ballot : 

SNP 47.5% (+0.7)
Labour 19.5% (-0.3)
Conservatives 15.3% (-0.5)
Greens 7.5% (-0.3)
Liberal Democrats 6.8% (+0.5)

(The Poll of Polls is based on a rolling average of the most recent poll from each of the firms that have reported Scottish Parliament voting intention numbers over the previous three months, and that adhere to British Polling Council rules. At present, there are four - Panelbase, Survation, TNS and Ipsos-Mori. Whenever a new poll is published, it replaces the last poll from the same company in the sample.)