Sunday, June 25, 2017

We must fervently hope there is no truth in the Sunday Mail's "U-turn exclusive"

Did I speak too soon last night in saying that any worries about the SNP making the historic error of reversing their referendum policy had receded?  Today's Sunday Mail splashed with an "exclusive" claiming an indyref "U-turn", and suggesting that the plans for a vote "by 2019" are about to be scrapped.  The reaction of independence supporters on social media has been interesting - most take the view that the Sunday Mail are playing games by misreporting a restatement of the original policy as a U-turn, but on the other extreme Ben Wray has taken the story at face value and accused Nicola Sturgeon of giving up Scotland's only leverage over Brexit.

It goes without saying that the Record and Sunday Mail must be regarded as hostile, cynical, and utterly unscrupulous actors in all this.  It's perfectly possible that they've deliberately misrepresented the information they've received in pursuit of their anti-independence agenda.  Apart from more mischief-making from Alex Neil (a former fundamentalist who has now practically reinvented himself as the one-man indy-sceptic wing of the SNP), the only fresh quotes in the article are from an anonymous source using very ambiguous language, which could be seen as vaguely consistent with the Sunday Mail's claims, but could just as easily be seen as merely pointing to a modest change of detail and emphasis as the existing referendum policy is essentially upheld.

If it's the latter, there's no problem.  No-one is going to die in a ditch to keep open the theoretical possibility of a referendum in autumn 2018, as long as a date not too long after that remains firmly on the cards.  By the same token, no-one is going to object if Nicola Sturgeon points out that the loss of the Tory majority has changed the dynamic on Brexit, and that we won't be 100% sure that a referendum is actually necessary until the possibility of maintaining membership of the single market is definitively excluded from the negotiations.  (Incidentally, that change in circumstances would be an indisputable fact regardless of whether the SNP had won zero seats, fifty-nine, or absolutely any number in between.)

But if there is the slightest truth in the notion that Nicola Sturgeon will announce that a referendum has been 'called off for the time being' as a consequence of the general election result in Scotland, that would be a catastrophic error of judgement and an abandonment of the most basic democratic principles.  It would mean repudiating a decision taken not by the SNP, but by the democratically-elected Scottish Parliament only a matter of weeks ago.  It would not be done because the SNP had lost a subsequent election, but because their victory in that election had not been by a margin deemed acceptable by the unionist commentariat.  Because Conservative votes in a minority of constituencies apparently carry more weight than SNP votes in the majority of constituencies.  Capitulating to that grotesque logic would be a betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of people who helped the SNP win the election, and who did so in good faith on the basis that a majority of seats would complete a 'triple-lock' mandate for an independence referendum.

Here's what I don't understand : even looking at it from a hard-headed pragmatic point of view, what would be the point of waving the white flag now?  If you think Indyref 2 cost the SNP votes in Aberdeenshire, that's all very well and good, but where's the time machine that's going to change what happened?  The election is over, the hit has already been taken, and it probably isn't about to be undone.  It's perfectly conceivable there won't be another election of any type until the Holyrood contest in May 2021 - very nearly four years away.  Why wouldn't you get on with celebrating and defending the mandate you've just won in very difficult circumstances, rather than voluntarily surrendering that mandate as part of some 'grand bargain' with voters in the hope of winning a phantom election by an even bigger margin than you've just won the real election?  I do fear that the hysteria of the last couple of weeks has led to a few people in the SNP losing their compass.

Peter A Bell said today that he would support any decision that Nicola Sturgeon takes, because it would be bound to be taken in the best interests of Scotland.  I must say I take a somewhat different view - if I think a terrible mistake has been made, I'll say so.  However, I await the actual announcement with interest, and I remain hopeful that the Sunday Mail are just spinning us a line, and that there will be no "U-turn" or "cancelling" of the referendum.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The option of a consultative referendum on independence

Assuming Nicola Sturgeon isn't about to make the dreadful mistake of substantively changing the SNP's policy on an independence referendum (and, touch wood, that worry has receded somewhat after Ian Blackford's strong restatement of the policy in the Commons the other day), it's fair to say that the general election result has only made a referendum less likely to the extent that it's made a soft Brexit a little more likely.  If, as the likes of Michael Portillo predict, Britain now remains in the single market, there will be no need for a referendum because Ms Sturgeon's red line won't have been crossed.  But if, as seems much more probable, we're still heading towards a 'bespoke red white and blue Brexit' that falls well short of single market membership, the logic and mandate for a referendum will be inescapable.  The Tories clearly want to block any vote from taking place before 2021, but they were saying much the same thing (albeit in a somewhat cagier fashion) even before the election.

So the big question remains exactly the same as it was a couple of months ago : if a referendum becomes necessary, and if the Tory government says no, what then?  We've been told repeatedly that Nicola Sturgeon is not attracted to the idea of a consultative referendum held without the granting of a Section 30 order by Westminster.  That seems odd, because Alex Salmond was preparing the ground for exactly that sort of referendum in his early years as First Minister, at a time when Ms Sturgeon was his deputy.  It would be a fully legal referendum, not a 'wildcat vote' as STV once described it, because in order for it to happen the lawyers would have to successfully frame the legislation in such a way that the Presiding Officer would certify it as being within the parliament's powers.  It might also have to survive a legal challenge.  If it proved possible to reach that point, it's not hard to see the attractions -

1)  The referendum would go ahead without the SNP having to cross any further electoral hurdles.  Leader-writers in the Observer would be able to splutter indignantly to their hearts' content about the independence debate being "settled", but it wouldn't make any difference.  The mandate for a referendum was received in the Holyrood election last spring, and the SNP's term of office still has almost four years to run.

2) As soon as a consultative referendum becomes a reality, the unionist parties will be faced with a monumental strategic dilemma.  They'll either have to campaign full-bloodedly for a No vote, or boycott the referendum completely.  If they do campaign, they'll effectively acknowledge the legitimacy of the vote, thus rendering the denial of a Section 30 order completely pointless.

3) If, on the other hand, there is a unionist boycott, a Yes majority will become inevitable, and the only task for the Yes campaign will be to produce a turnout on their own side that at least makes it look plausible that the victory could still have been won without the boycott.  (It shouldn't be forgotten that Strathclyde Regional Council's consultative referendum on the water industry in 1994 stunned everyone with a turnout of more than 70%, in spite of an effective Tory boycott - the theory before the vote was that anything in the 40s would be decent enough.)  OK, the unionists will brand the result illegitimate, but they'll be on a lot weaker ground than before - instead of arguing that the No vote in 2014 has settled everything, they'll be arguing that a much more recent Yes vote hasn't settled anything at all.  We might even end up with the ultimate role reversal of the SNP fighting the 2021 Holyrood election on the basis that Indyref 3 isn't wanted or needed, and that the opposition parties should accept the result of Indyref 2 and move on.

Sounds like a win/win to me.

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The DUP's "defeat", in numbers

It may be a surprise to you to learn that the DUP lost the general election in Northern Ireland, but as we all know the SNP's "defeat" in Scotland has become the accepted benchmark for electoral "failure" across the globe.  I'm afraid the direct comparison makes for pretty bleak reading from Arlene Foster's point of view.

SNP's performance in Scotland :

Percentage of seats : 59.3%
Vote share : 36.9%

DUP's performance in Northern Ireland :

Percentage of seats : 55.6%
Vote share : 36.0%

Ouch.  Bit of a mystery why the London government wants to have anything to do with a party that did even worse than the SNP.  But then again, the Scottish Tories are still welcome in polite circles, so it appears exceptions can be made...

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Did some SNP supporters stay at home because the party downplayed independence?

A number of people on social media today raised an eyebrow or two at YouGov findings that show people who voted SNP in 2015 were significantly more likely to simply stay at home in the 2017 election than voters for any other party (with the exception of UKIP).  This has raised the possibility that much of the swing from the SNP to the Tories and Labour was caused by SNP abstentions, rather than net movement from one side to the other.

Unfortunately, there isn't enough information in the datasets to draw such a strong conclusion.  This is a GB-wide poll, and the SNP's abstention rate is not being compared with that of the Scottish Tories or Scottish Labour, but with the Tories and Labour across Britain as a whole.  That's bound to give a misleading impression, because turnout in Scotland dropped by several points this year, whereas it rose south of the border.

The most that can be said, therefore, is that this poll is consistent with the theory that the SNP suffered from differential turnout, but it doesn't provide proof.  If that is what happened, presumably there were independence supporters who were fired up in the immediate aftermath of the 2014 referendum, but who this time weren't sufficiently inspired by the rather vague (and bland?) "Stronger for Scotland" message.  I suspect the SNP missed a trick by downplaying independence during the campaign - they were probably worried about losing No voters, but the pre-election polls suggested most of those people had already drifted off anyway.

The poll's oddest finding is that, even after abstainers are excluded, only 33% of people who voted Plaid Cymru in 2015 stuck with the party this year.  The equivalent figure for the SNP is 71%.  It's hard not to be sceptical about that finding, because Plaid's vote share only slipped 1.7% (and they made a net gain of one seat!).

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Ruth is reeling after stunning ScotPulse poll finds majority of Scots are open to the idea of an independence referendum

After last week's dodgy poll from the Daily Record with the leading question, we have a more neutrally-worded poll from ScotPulse on an independence referendum, and unsurprisingly it produces a radically different result.

A total of 30% of respondents want an independence referendum either before or after Brexit.  A further 22% say their view on a referendum will depend on how Brexit works out.  The speed-counters among you will already have spotted that this means a slim majority (52%) are open to the idea of a referendum.  Only 48% are opposed.

For the avoidance of doubt, the actual results of this poll are good news.  After the relentless and almost comical propaganda of the last couple of weeks, you'd expect support for a referendum to be at an unusual low (not least because natural supporters of a referendum will be feeling cowed at the moment).  So for a poll to show a majority are still open to the idea is very heartening.

The bad news, however, is that we know of old that ScotPulse polls are not correctly weighted, so how much credibility today's results have is anyone's guess.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Scot Goes Pop Ham-and-Cheese Toastie Fundraiser

Click here to go straight to the fundraiser page.

As you may remember, I was doing my best in the early months of this year to promote this blog's last fundraiser from 2015, which remained open for new donations.  Progress was fairly slow, but nevertheless I'm hugely grateful for all the extra donations received, because they've been just about enough to keep everything afloat over the last few extraordinary weeks.  During the month up to June 8th, the blog received more visitors than in all but one previous month in its history.  That kind of performance simply wouldn't have been possible without your help - blogging during an election period is incredibly time-consuming, and the fundraiser money gave me the freedom and flexibility to drop everything and write when required.

I abruptly stopped promoting the donation link altogether in March, because I didn't want to distract from the fundraising efforts for ScotRef, or later for the SNP general election campaign.  However, as a result of that, I have now reached the point where in the immortal words of Liam Byrne "there is no money left".  That means I can't even risk returning to the previous fundraiser, because back in the winter Indiegogo missed their 4-weekly payment schedule, and I didn't receive some of the funds for two months.  I've no idea how common that sort of glitch is, but if it happened again I might be waiting until mid-August, which would come pretty close to defeating the whole point of the exercise.  So instead I've started afresh with a new fundraiser on a different platform.  I'm going to give GoFundMe a try and see how it works out.

I never plan things out too much in advance, other than the fact that I intend to continue writing regularly in some form - probably on this blog, perhaps on other websites, or perhaps I'll follow the example of other pro-indy bloggers by taking time out to write a book for self-publication.  Rather than pitching the last fundraiser as a chance to finance "465 blogposts over the next eight months" or whatever, I suggested that it should instead be seen as a chance to "buy me a hot chocolate" if you'd enjoyed my writing or found it useful.  But blogging is hungry as well as thirsty work, and I do like nothing more than a ham-and-cheese toastie (alternative fillings simply don't compare) with my hot chocolate.  So feel free to see the 2017 fundraiser as a way of addressing the equally important toastie side of the equation.

After I suggested the other day that someone on the pro-indy side should urgently commission an opinion poll to counterbalance the dodgy poll in the Record, a number of you urged that I should use fundraiser money to do it myself.  That's probably not a realistic idea, because past fundraisers have generally only barely met their targets, so the chances are pretty slim that enough would be raised to cover the basic amount needed plus an opinion poll on top of that.  However, in the unlikely event that the new fundraiser significantly exceeds its target, I'll certainly consider the possibility.

As always, please don’t feel under any pressure to make a donation. Scot Goes Pop isn’t a newspaper or a magazine – it’s a blog, and there’s absolutely no charge to read it. The option to donate is there if you want to, but it’s only an option. And, of course, if you have a spare minute or two you can always pass on the word to others – every tweet or Facebook share helps enormously!

Click here if you'd like to donate.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Survation poll gives the lie to the notion that people are "scunnered" with referendums

Anyone who buys into the theory that people have just had enough of voting (and of referendums in particular) ought to take heed of the recent GB-wide YouGov poll showing a narrow majority in favour of a second general election as early as this autumn, and also tonight's UK-wide Survation poll showing a similar majority in favour of a referendum on the final Brexit deal.

On holding a referendum to accept or reject Brexit deal (Survation) :

Support 48%
Oppose 43%

The poll's Scottish subsample is tiny - but for what it's worth, it shows a somewhat bigger majority of 43% to 33% in favour of a referendum.  As the entire rationale of Indyref 2 is to give people the choice between Hard Brexit (assuming that's still what we're heading towards) and the only viable alternative, it would seem from these numbers that there are reasonable grounds for optimism that people will be receptive to the arguments in favour of holding a vote, if they are presented in a thoughtful way.

There's mixed news for Remainers in the other questions in the poll - the centre of gravity of public opinion appears to be support for remaining within the customs union from outside the EU.  Single market membership seemingly wasn't asked about, and that's arguably the more important aspect of the Soft/Hard Brexit divide.  (Norway is inside the single market but outside the customs union - and the reverse is true of Turkey, which speaks volumes.)  Extraordinarily, in spite of her catastrophic loss of general support, a narrow majority of respondents would still trust Theresa May's judgement if she decided that no deal was better than the deal on offer - although unsurprisingly respondents in Scotland take the opposite view by an overwhelming margin.

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I noticed a comment on Wings earlier today saying there had been a poll showing that the SNP would gain seats in an early general election.  I did a search and drew a complete blank, so I assumed it was probably just some sort of 'voodoo poll'.  But oddly enough, when I checked Survation's Twitter feed tonight, there was indeed a projection that the SNP would win 41 seats in a new general election (a gain of 6), and it was supposedly based in part on the notorious poll commissioned by the Record the other day.  That's peculiar, because as far as I can see there were no voting intention figures in the Record's reporting, and there are none in the published datasets either.  Could there have been voting intention results which have been withheld by the Record?  If so, did they do it because they didn't want anything to contradict the "disaster for SNP" narrative?  

I must stress this is just wild speculation.  But if by any chance there has been an unpublished Survation poll of Scottish voting intentions showing the SNP making ground rather than losing ground, that would be very significant.  The results would have been weighted back to 2017 recalled voting, which means they ought to be more accurate than the pre-election polling was.  I've been quite concerned that any new poll might actually show the SNP slipping behind Labour - that seems an odd thing to say given that Labour finished third only ten days ago, but shock election results can generate momentum like nothing else can.

Friday, June 16, 2017

An open suggestion : if anyone on the pro-indy side has ever thought about commissioning an opinion poll, this would be the optimum moment to do it

Most of you have probably come across Peter Hitchens' famous quote about the purpose of opinion polls -

"Opinion polls are a device for influencing public opinion, not a device for measuring it. Crack that, and it all makes sense."


That is, of course, a massive over-generalisation. Almost all of the voting intention polls we saw in the run-up to the general election were genuine, if mostly extremely poor, attempts at measuring public opinion. Based on the past history of polls having an in-built pro-Labour skew, ICM and ComRes honestly believed they were improving accuracy with their extreme Tory-friendly methodologies. It's doubtful whether the polling errors worked in the Tories' favour anyway - if people had actually known that Labour were only a couple of points behind the Tories, it's likely that scare stories about a Corbyn premiership would have had far greater potency.

There's a 'but' here, though. Voting intention polls using standard, neutral wording are one thing, but non-standard, non-neutral poll questions about other matters have an entirely different purpose. Even more famous than Hitchens' quote is the Yes, Minister scene in which Sir Humphrey demonstrates how it's easily possible to get exactly the same poll respondents to say that they both support and oppose the reintroduction of National Service. All you need to do is use wording which makes the desired answer seem like the 'natural', 'obvious' one.

In Scotland we've just seen a particularly sinister example of that dark use of opinion polls, with the Daily Record commissioning Survation to ask a ludicrously leading question designed to produce a result that made it seem as if Scotland had turned decisively against a second independence referendum. Whether or not the stunt was done in direct collusion with the Tories, it may as well have been, because within a few short hours Ruth Davidson was brandishing the poll at First Minister's Questions as 'proof' that her narrative about the meaning of the election result was the correct one.

And there you see pretty plainly what the function of the poll was - it's no exaggeration to say that it formed part of a 'soft coup'. You can't steal people's votes with a poll, but what you can do (especially in our present quasi-colonial set-up) is steal the meaning of their votes. You can turn black into white, and establish a narrative that people were somehow voting against the flagship policy of the winning party. So how was it done? Obviously the first indispensable step was a 2014-style 'shock and awe' media propaganda campaign that relentlessly portrayed the SNP's election victory as an unmitigated disaster for the party. Bang in the middle of that hysteria, you run a poll that doesn't ask about an independence referendum as a matter of principle, but specifically ties it to the general election result - thus inviting people to agree that it's only 'natural' that a referendum should not take place in the light of the general election result, as helpfully interpreted by the media. In order to dispute that such a conclusion is 'natural', a respondent would have to consciously resist the near-unanimous media verdict on the election, which is not easy to do, particularly given that the SNP did not challenge it strongly enough themselves.

It doesn't end there, though. The proposition was also framed negatively - respondents had to agree or disagree with the statement that "Following the General Election result, Nicola Sturgeon should remove her demand for a second independence referendum". Given that 'demand' is a pejorative word, and that groundwork had been done to establish in people's minds that Nicola Sturgeon was the loser of the election she won, it would take a good bit of psychological effort to actively disagree with what is intentionally presented as a 'perfectly reasonable' point of view. Indeed, to indicate disagreement, a respondent would have had to check the box next to the following faintly ridiculous formulation of words : "Following the General Election result, Nicola Sturgeon should not remove her demand for a second independence referendum".  The result of the poll was utterly predictable, and that was the Record's plan from the start.

So how do we combat this cynical tactic? The only way would be for someone on the pro-indy side to commission their own poll as a matter of urgency.  In theory it could use a scrupulously neutral question, such as "Do you think there should be an independence referendum within the next five/ten years?". In my view, that would probably produce a majority against a referendum in the current mad climate, but I doubt if the size of the majority would be anything like the one found in the Record's dodgy poll. Probably more useful, though, would be to deliberately approach the issue from a different angle - someone suggested today on Twitter that people should be asked whether the Scottish Parliament or the UK government should decide the timing of a referendum. We've had polls like that in the past which have shown decisive majorities backing the Scottish Parliament's right to choose, and it would be very helpful to have that principle reinforced in a post-election poll.

Here are another couple of possibilities -

Q.  At the recent general election, the SNP won 35 Scottish seats, the Conservatives won 13, Labour won 7 and the Liberal Democrats won 4.  Who do you think won the election in Scotland?

a) SNP
b) Conservatives
c) Labour
d) Liberal Democrats
e) Nobody won

Q.  At the recent general election, the SNP won 60% of the Scottish seats at Westminster.  Do you think this gives them a mandate to call an independence referendum once the terms of Brexit are known?

a) Yes
b) No

One thing is for sure - we're at a crucial turning-point in Scottish history, and dark forces are stopping at nothing in their attempts to neutralise our pro-indy movement for good. A 'counter-poll' would be a very useful tool to deploy, and as soon as possible.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The SNP performed BETTER last week than in most recent elections

Someone suggested on an earlier thread that the SNP's performance last week was "by far the worst in seven years".  That's completely and utterly untrue, and it's perhaps another sign of how the relentless media propaganda campaign is starting to mess with people's heads.  Here is how the SNP's 36.9% of the popular vote at the general election actually compares with the other elections that have been held over the last seven years...

SNP vote shares in each election :

2010 UK general election : 19.9%
2011 Scottish Parliament election : 45.4% (constituency), 44.0% (list)
2012 Local elections : 32.3%
2014 European election : 29.0%
2015 UK general election : 50.0%
2016 Scottish Parliament election : 46.5% (constituency), 41.7% (list)
2017 Local elections : 32.3%
2017 UK general election : 36.9%

As you can see, the SNP's performance last Thursday was actually significantly better than in no fewer than four of the other seven elections that have taken place since 2010.  It was also better than in any set of local elections in history (the 32.3% in both 2012 and 2017 is the high watermark to date), and better than in any European election in history (32.6% in 1994 is the all-time high).  It was better than the 32.9% of the constituency vote and 31.0% of the list vote achieved when the party won its first Holyrood election in 2007.  And it was far better than the vote share achieved in any UK general election prior to 2015 - the previous record had been just 30.4% in October 1974.

When you bear in mind that UK general elections tend to be the toughest contests that the SNP faces (due to voters becoming transfixed with the Tory v Labour battle for power in London), hopefully you can see how 37% of the vote last week and a comfortable 8.3% lead over the second-placed party was an extremely creditable performance.  It may have been below pre-election expectations, but it wasn't below-par in any other sense.

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Michael Portillo made two confident predictions on tonight's This Week that completely startled me : 1) that Theresa May will not even survive as Prime Minister until the autumn conference season, and 2) that the government will decide to keep Britain in both the single market and the customs union.  I've been strongly convinced that the opposite is true, and it has to be said that plenty of Portillo's predictions have proved wrong in the past, but let's suppose just for a moment that he's right.  The most obvious consequence would be that an early general election would become much more likely.  A new Tory leader might seek a personal mandate, but even if they don't, a bona fide Soft Brexit (as opposed to a fudge that falls short of single market membership) will surely lead to at least a few Eurosceptic Tory MPs resigning the whip on the grounds that the British public has been betrayed.  They might even jump direct to UKIP if Nigel Farage becomes active again and gets his party back in the game.  The arithmetic supporting the Tory-DUP pact would then become severely imperilled.

Survation poll reinforces the need for the SNP to strongly speak up for their mandate to hold a referendum

The Daily Record are full of beans about a poll they've commissioned from Survation showing that, by a roughly 2-1 margin, respondents think "Following the general election result, Nicola Sturgeon should remove her demand for a second independence referendum".  The most important thing to say straight away is that this poll question is about a billion light-years away from being neutrally-worded - it frames the issue as being about Nicola Sturgeon, rather than about Scotland, and implants the idea that she is someone who makes petulant "demands" rather than takes decisions.  It also explicitly ties the issue to the general election result, making it harder for respondents to ignore what they've read in the papers and seen on the TV about how Scotland has apparently just said "no" to a referendum by electing a majority of pro-independence MPs.  It seems overwhelmingly likely that a more neutral question (such as "Do you think there should be an independence referendum within the next five/ten years?") would have produced a more favourable result.

In spite of the poll's extreme shortcomings, though, it's important to note that it flatly contradicts the findings of a poll only a few weeks ago that found the public thought that the SNP would have a clear mandate for a referendum if they won a majority of Scottish seats at the general election.  This apparently irrational 180 degree shift in public opinion would suggest that the SNP have been extremely foolish in not strongly challenging the narrative of their opponents and the mainstream media that their victory at the general election was somehow a rebuff for a referendum.  Yes, it's incredibly difficult to fight against the tide when even the BBC abandon all pretence at objectivity and describe a landslide SNP triumph as a "rejection of independence", but nevertheless it seems likely that the problem could at least have been ameliorated if the SNP had stood up for the mandate they had just received in the hours following the election.  It would have been perfectly possible to acknowledge painful setbacks in certain regions of Scotland while emphasising that the nationwide SNP victory reinforced the mandate for a referendum.

Having made that tactical error, though, the important thing now is that the SNP hold their nerve in the face of polls like this.  We know that polls conducted immediately after an election tend to produce extreme results which are often quickly reversed as politics returns to normal.  (Witness the Panelbase and Survation polls in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum showing a majority for independence - presumably they were one of the reasons that Kezia Dugdale panicked and almost reversed Labour's stance on an indyref.)  If everyone just holds tight, it's not unreasonable to suppose that we'll soon see a return to the status quo ante as far as attitudes towards both independence and a referendum are concerned.  Even in this poll, there is still a 43% Yes vote, which suggests an extraordinary resilience in support for independence.

For the reasons I've given previously, it would be a historic error for the SNP to panic in the face of this media onslaught and abandon their commitment to an independence referendum at the end of the Brexit process.  This is a difficult moment, but it will soon pass.  Let's make sure we've kept the flame alight for when it does.