So much for "Yes momentum"

scotland photoIn the Scottish Independence campaign, much is being made of Friday’s Survation poll which showed Yes on 47%. An article in the Guardian flags this up and says:

The momentum appears to be with the Yes campaign.

(By the way, that phrase is one we have heard repeatedly from Salmond and Sturgeon over the last year, only for it to be proved that the Yes-No gap is not narrowing). There is one slight snag with this. That Survation poll shows the No campaign ahead by six points. That same poll by Survation showed the No lead at only five points in June and July.

So much for Yes momentum.

This snapshot from the BBC poll tracker shows the gap has actually widened, not narrowed for this particular poll:

Salmond/Darling debates didn't make much difference to the Yes/No status

In terms of the second debate, as Mike Smithson of Political Betting explains below, the poll showing Salmond as the winner should be treated with caution in terms of the Yes/No situation. He notes in an update that, soon after the debate, the Yes betting price was back to where it was before it started:

Three weeks ago during the first Salmond-Darling TV encounter the first indications that NO was having the best of it came on the Betfair betting exchange where full data on trading is made available instantly and where you are able to track it.

In the two hours of the STV hosted confrontation a lot of money was traded and YES moved sharply backwards from the 22% chance position it had reached in the aftermath of the Glasgow games. The ICM poll that came afterwards merely confirmed what punters had seen for themselves – Salmond was losing.

So last night I kept a close at the markets which barely moved throughout the 90 minutes of the debate. YES started at a Betfair price of 7.4 (a 13.5% chance) and finished at 7.4.

The movement came after the the debate was concluded and the Guardian published details of its ICM poll of 505 people who had watched it.

As well as the “who did best” the 51-49% leads for NO on referendum voting intention before and after the debate in the poll were widely reported. This led to an assumption on PB and elsewhere that the referendum voting intention findings now had YES and NO very close. People were mistakenly comparing the debate figures released with other ICM referendum polling.

With its debate results the firm issued the following guidance:-

“It should be stated this this sample was pre-recruited on the basis of watching the debate and being willing to answer questions on it immediately after the debate ended. While we have ‘forced’ it via weighting to be representative of all Scots, it SHOULD NOT be seen as a normal vote intention poll as it is premised on a different population type i.e the profile and nature of Scots who watched the debate is different to a fully nationally representative sample of Scots.

If punters moved to YES because the ICM debate sample appeared to be split down the middle they were drawing the wrong conclusion.

UPDATE: YES price back to almost where it was before debate started.

It should be also noted that according to Survation, the No lead was six points before the debates and six points after them. There are 4% less undecided people after the debates – they split evenly between Yes and No as a result of the debates (graphic from


A really hard worker and political genius

Very well done to Gerald Vernon-Jackson in being selected as PPC for Portsmouth South. I think this makes it a little more of a dead cert that we will hold that constituency next year.

Gerald works fantastically hard doing the stuff that politicians should do. Between now and next May, for example, I suspect he will knock on most of the doors in Portsmouth South. He is also a political genius, who knows backwards all the processes and initiatives needed to get elected. Added to that, he has a record of a decade of prominent work on the city council plus a conciliatory and “nice guy” style. Indeed, he is genuinely a nice guy.

Portsmouth South Lib Dems have chosen very well.

Attend 15 Lib Dem conferences and win a free peerage!

Mark Valladares provides very interesting updates on the progress, or otherwise, of the names on the Lib Dem list for peerages (or whatever it is called).

It reminded me of the scheme, in the title of this post, coined by the late great Simon Hoggart.

I have had a simple approach to voting on the peers list. I vote for all the female ethnic minority candidates starting at the end of the alphabet (working backwards) and then for the male ethnic minority candidates starting “Z” also. When I told a young British man of Chinese extraction with a surname beginning with “W” that I had voted for him, he was tickled pink.

By the way, it is worth reading in full Simon Hoggart’s report from the Bournemouth conference of 2000 in which he used that phrase in the title of this post. It is a classic.

Notting Hill carnival and the art of the pissoir

pissoir with extra fuzzWe were wondering around the fringes of Notting Hill Carnival yesterday. It’s great for people watching.

There were some portaloos near Pembridge Square which had the usual long queue. However, there was virtually no queue for this snug four man pissoir (above – with heads “fuzzed out” to protect the anonymity of the protagonists), next door to the portaloos. (Be careful how you pronounce that word in mixed company, by the way. The emphasis very much needs to be on the “oir”.)

I am probably one of a dying breed of people who remember the 1972 BBC2 series called “Clochemerle”, based on a book by Gabriel Chevallier adapted by Galton and Simpson (who wrote Hancock and Steptoe and Son). It was all based around the outrage in a small French town concerning the installation of a gentleman’s pissoir in the central square.

No such outrage ensued about the (temporary) installation near Pembridge square and others elsewhere in Notting Hill. Not even the Daily Mail got hold of it.

A personal best and a great song from a great musician

I may have done a personal best at the Newbury Park run on Greenham Common this morning. I should find out the verdict from the official timespeoples later this afternoon. Certainly, the lady from Mapmyrun, who comes over my headphones, was very encouraging. ++BREAKING NEWS++ PB confirmed at 27:56!

As usual, as I ran round, I listened to my “old mate” Brian Matthew and Sounds of the Sixties, about which I have waxed lyrically on several occasions.

This morning the great spinmeister played a cracker of a song from Ray Stevens called “Mr. Businessman”.

I normally associate Ray Stevens with his lighter fare, such as “The Streak”, “Bridget the Midget” and “Turn the radio one”. But “Mr. Businessman” is in a different league. It is a very serious song which “skewers” (as Brian Matthew put it) the genre of money-minded businessmen:

Itemize the things you covet
As you squander through your life
Bigger cars, bigger houses
Term insurance for your wife
Tuesday evenings with your harlot
And on Wednesdays it’s your charlatan analyst
He’s high upon your list

The full lyics of the song are here.

Here’s the song on YouTube and, as a bonus, Ray Stevens singing “Turn the redio on” from 2009 while, I might add, tinkling a Steinway with great aplomb.

Header photo – the beauty of Scotland

IMG_01591.jpgMy current header photo is of Loch Fyne. I walked out to the end of Otter Spit to take it. I crouched down and held the camera so that the water was lapping at my chin! Otter Spit is at Otterferry. We had a great pint in the Oystercatcher just there. The Cowal peninsula is a real gem and we feel privileged to have spent a day exploring it three weeks ago. Blessed Scotland!

Time to heave a sigh and stagger forward, older and wiser

Liberal-Democrat-badge-Some-rights-reserved-by-Paul-Walter-Newbury-UKCaron Lindsay and Stephen Tall have written wisely about tonight’s news. It is telling that both, quite relevantly, quote from their previous posts on the subject. That indicates that we are running out of things to say on this (not in a good way). It is time to move forward, one might say “stagger forward”, older and wiser as a party.

The best thing we can say is that it is extremely regrettable that this all has an unresolved feeling about it. Due process, such as it exists, has been carried out in the last year or so. It was inevitable that Lord Rennard would be reinstated. There was no reason to do other than sustain his membership. On a personal level, I welcome Chris back. I am also acutely aware that there are some very discontented people in the party and, now, outside it. As Stephen says, the missed opportunities to achieve a more satisfactory resolution (for all sides) were years ago. Our party processes have been found wanting, and desperately need the overhaul Tim Farron is hopefully giving them.

Having said all that, I can’t help but think the following. We are a small party. Lord Rennard was, for some years, more revered and respected as being more important than the leader of the party. One might say he was bigger than the party. He was, and is, greatly respected and admired. In that sense, it is not a surprise that the party was discombobulated by all this. But, as the party of liberalism, it is very disconcerting that we were not able to deal properly with this much, much earlier.

Details of the police helicopter which was hovering over Newbury last night

A number of people have been searching for the reason the police helicopter was hovering over Newbury last night.

It was the helicopter from Benson. They have tweeted:

Newbury Today have reported:

POLICE are searching for a man in his late twenties after reports that a 17-year-old girl was sexually assaulted in Newbury last night (Sun).

A spokeswoman for Thames Valley Police, Connie Primmer, said that the victim and her friend were approached by a man on his bike close to the job centre on Oxford Road.

The man then followed them until they reached Bath Road and as they got near the alleyway by Digby Road, the man grabbed the girl inappropriately.

…A police helicopter circled the skies of Newbury for more than an hour last night searching for the man after reports that the man may have headed in the direction of the railway line.

Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of Auschwitz speak out about Gaza

This letter in the Guardian yesterday caught my eye. It is very powerful.

As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide, we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonisation of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanisation of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached fever-pitch. Politicians and pundits in the Times of Israel and the Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and rightwing Israelis are adopting neo-Nazi insignia.

Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages (advertisement, 11 August; Report, 11 August) to promote blatant falsehoods used to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of nearly 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.

We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean “Never again for anyone”.

Hajo Meyer survivor of Auschwitz; The Netherlands, Henri Wajnblum survivor and son of an Auschwitz victim from Lodz, Poland; Belgium, Norbert Hirschhorn refugee of Nazi genocide and grandson of three people who died in the Shoah; London, Suzanne Weiss survived in hiding in France, whose mother died in Auschwitz; Canada, Felicia and Moshe Langer survivors from Germany, Moshe survived five concentration camps, family members were exterminated; Germany, Michael Rice child survivor, son and grandson of survivor; United States and 30 Jewish survivors of the Nazi genocide and 260 children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and other relatives of survivors
See full list at