Friday 31 December 2004

Numbersmen Nix Nationalism

It's not really the most shocking news of 2004 to read that the Conservatives are trying to re-connect with business:
The first of what will become a series of regular newsletters on business matters will be sent to the chief executives of the top 500 Scottish companies early in the New Year.
Nor is it much of a surprise to learn that the Tories are more popular (29%) among chartered accountants than are the other parties:
This compared with 9% for Labour, 4% for the Liberal Democrats and 1% for the SNP.
But surely the Nationalists can't be happy with those figures. I know that some effort has been made by the SNP to appeal to the business community, but it ain't working. As the party's own website proclaims:
The SNP is a democratic left-of-centre political party committed to Scottish Independence. It aims to create a just, caring and enterprising society by releasing Scotland's full potential as an independent nation in the mainstream of modern Europe.
The economies of most of those "left-of-centre" European countries are facing huge problems as a result of a failure to tackle high welfare spending and excessive business-strangling red tape. It's no wonder that accountants are wary of independence. Boring though it may sound, the SNP would be better served by labelling itself as middle-of-the-road.


David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Mmmm...this deep reluctance on the part of the comissioners, and publishers, of opinion polls (typically daily newspapers) to publicise even an outline methodology makes the reliability of their findings impossible to assess. 
In Sweden for example it is unusual for polls to be published without accompanying info on sample size, fieldwork dates, interview method, and even sums showing the reliability of individual results. Sample sizes for the big, regular monthly polls are usually 3000, rather than the standard 1000 in the UK, making Swedish polls far more reliable. Some Scottish polls I have seen published have a sample size as low as 50, making them pretty useless. 
Regular monthly polls are also far better than one-offs. It is a great pity that The Herald stopped its regular System3 polls. We have a dearth of info re Scottish opinion, although it does appear that the Tories are gaining slightly at the expense of Labour, with the SNP and LibDems fairly steady. I expect very few Scottish seats to change hands - max 5.

9 January 2005, 14:08:47 GMT
– Like – Reply

Sorry, can't be of any more help I don't think the article gave any more info. I'm afraid I'm just a humble (trainee) accountant and don't know so much about about polling.

9 January 2005, 11:00:42 GMT
– Like – Reply

Thanks Max. 
I will have to change my judgement of the SNP's performance in said survey from "impressive" to "shockingly poor". 
I found this info on the publication: 
-"CA Magazine has the highest circulation of any business Magazine published in Scotland...24,193 copies each month. 
CA Magazine has a diverse readership of AB consumers that can be categorised into four distinct groups: 
-Leading figures in business: Chairmen, Chief Executives, Company Directors, Financial Directors, Solicitors, Bankers, Surveyors, Fund Managers, and Venture Capitalists who are not members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS).  
-ICAS members who hold senior positions in industry and commerce.  
-Members of ICAS who are in accountancy practice." 
A little worryingly I make that only three distinct groups! I just hope that the author is not a chartered accountant! 
I note that they quote findings from George Street Research on another page, a well known and respected market research firm specialising in financial services. Although whether or not they used them for this survey it says not. 
Max, if you can be bothered could you provide some of the findings in more detail, especially any mention of methodology.

8 January 2005, 20:19:36 GMT
– Like – Reply

I'm an accountant and saw the poll in CA (Chartered Accountant) Magazine. The survey wasn't carried out by the Conservative party and only covered Scottish CA's. The poll only covers Accountants as the magazine only covers the Accountancy profession.

8 January 2005, 18:37:32 GMT
– Like – Reply

David Farrer said...

The Scottish National Party is an umbrella movement for all Scots who would like to see their country retaking its rightful place on the world stage. 
As it was judged that the best method of achieving this was by vigorously contesting elections, the broad movement was forced to evolve into a focused political party. (Libertarians could learn a few lessons here, as you are clearly at an earlier evolutionary state of development.) 
Recruiting from all strata and strands of Scottish society we had to summarise the aggregte political philosophies of our membership. Inevitably, and regretably, we also tended to draw away from stances that were percieved as "English", for example the preference for market-based solutions. (As students of the Scottish, and indeed global, Enlightenment will know, this is a false perception.) 
Nevertheless, the SNP's policies are a fair summary of the middle-of-the-road, aggregated Scottish attitude to most issues: social democratic, mildly republican, anti-nuclear weapons and anti-xenophobic. We probably do vary from the median in being a bit more pro-European than your average Scot, but that can be explained both historically and pragmatically. 
I advocate that all Scots (that is, according to the SNP's definition, all residents of our country) should seriously consider voting SNP, in order to re-achieve self-government. 
Once achieved, and embedded, we can go our preferred ways. I for one will likely be offski: a new Scottish Liberal Party will probably beckon. 
In the meantime: Vote SNP!

3 January 2005, 10:09:14 GMT
– Like – Reply

Neil Craig
I fully agree with the Tory's criticisms but I am not sure what new pro-growth policies they have come up with. 
It may be that Stuart is right & that 57% do indeed think they are all useless.

2 January 2005, 00:32:13 GMT
– Like – Reply

Bishop Hill
It could be seen as odd that accountants support the Tories in such numbers. I remember, as an accountancy trainee in the nineties, being told by our senior partner that we should not view the prospect of a Labour government as a threat. This was because Labour governments tax and regulate, and businesses therefore need lots of advice from accountants on avoidance. 
I remember thinking at the time that this was a funny argument though. After all it's no good if all the businesses have been taxed and regulated out of existence.  
Perhaps we bean counters do really know which side our bread is buttered on.

1 January 2005, 19:38:27 GMT
– Like – Reply

David Farrer said...

-"The party said a survey of chartered accountants last month showed that 29% believed the Conservatives were the political party which best understood the needs of business. This compared with 9% for Labour, 4% for the Liberal Democrats and 1% for the SNP." 
If anyone can be bothered they could ask the Tory Party for the survey methodology. It would make hilarious reading. (I doubt they would supply it.) 
Firstly, I strongly suspect that this was a UK-wide survey. In which case 1% for the SNP is pretty impressive. 
Secondly, the accountants questioned were probably a sub-set of a much larger group (it being expensive, and a bit odd, to just try to find accountants to interview). I would be surprised if the total number interviewed totalled more than 50. ie. wildly inadequate. 
Just because I believed a party "understood the needs of business" does not mean I will vote for them. At general elections we vote on a bundle of issues, and on gut instinct. 
If 43% expressed a preference, does that mean that 57% think they are all useless? 
Why choose accountants? What about estate agents? Or if we learned that estate agents all voted Tory would the rest of us select someone else to vote for? 
-"Scottish Conservatives are to launch an initiative to strengthen their ties with the business community." 
That should deeply worry pro-market campaigners. We don't want pro-business, pro-union or pro-consumer politicians. We want politicians to keep their noses out of the market and let competition reign. Businessmen (quite reasonably) want to minimise the competition that they face. 
No, in summary, this is a pathetic press release from the tired Mr Fraser. He ain't fooling anybody. 
I will respond to your SNP doubts after waiting to see if any other valid queries come in.

31 December 2004, 13:49:59 GMT