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Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Consultation Wars

Perhaps it is just a case of political elites talking to each other but the competing Consultations on the proposed Scottish Independence Referendum are certainly causing a bit of a stir, if only in that small world.

Causing the biggest stir so far, Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour's Deputy Leader who seemed particularly keen for stringent checks to be carried out and was particularly worried about identical and anonymous responses stating that this would leave the process open to abuse. Indeed, he went further and actually alleged that the Scottish Government deliberately set up their consultation to allow this abuse to occur. He made no such allegations against the UK Government's process.

The UK Government Consultation has now closed with 2,975 submissions with 118 duplicates counted only once, leaving 2,857 valid submissions. The Scottish Government version has had approximately 12,000 submissions up till now and will run for another four weeks.

Michael Moore claimed the Coalition Government's view had been 'strongly endorsed' with 75% agreeing there should be a single question and 70% agreeing the timing should be brought forward from Autumn 2014 and is now urging the Scottish Government to accept these views. It is unclear by what logic Mr Moore believes the Scottish Government should pay attention to his survey, rather than their own much larger consultation exercise.

But let's look at the UK figures a little more closely.

There were 2,857 total valid responses. We know, however, that 740 of these were identical responses generated from the Scottish Labour website. Identical responses from a system that one blogger has already shown could be manipulated and submitted anonymously. So, bearing in mind Anas Sarwar's concerns, it would be only fair to remove all such submissions from the final results. Allowing such submissions to stand would only leave the UK Government's consultation open to allegations (however unfounded) of abuse.

On the single question issue, Moore says 75% agreed - that's 2,142  of the 2,857 respondents. Minus the 740 'suspect' Labour submissions, that's 1,402 of 2,117 responses. That makes 66% support.

On timing, Moore's claim of 70% equates to 1,999 of the 2,857 responses. Again using the Sarwar rules, these figures reduce to 1,259 of 2,117 responses. Or 59%.

Both still majorities, admittedly but not the ringing endorsement Moore claims perhaps.

Incidentally, it would also mean that there was a majority - even in the UK figures - for extending the vote to 16 and 17 year olds.

1 comment:

  1. Forget the arithmetical niceties. In what possible way could such a tiny, self-selecting sample be considered representative?