Sunday, 1 April 2012


Well, just as the SNP has a dig at Westminster's own Referendum consultation, out pops the news that the Scottish Government's own one is wide open to abuse.

I wasn't even aware that Westminster was running a consultation to be honest, but I certainly completed the Scottish Government's one. Now it seems you can submit multiple anonymous replies.

Bruce Crawford is defending the consultation, promising that every response will be scrutinised properly and independently, taking into account multiple identical responses. Being rather experienced in high volume data collection and analysis, I know that is easier said than done.

Then Stewart Hosie tells us that the format is the same used for the Smoking Ban and Tourism Bill, in 2004 and 2006 respectively.

But that is a poor excuse.

Once again, the SNP are on the defensive on an issue that was avoidable. They were quite rightly attacking Westminster and telling them to keep their nose out of the consultation process, then immediately have the focus changed onto themselves.

To be honest, having completed the Consultation, you'd have to be really bored or a committed cybernat to want to repeat the process again and again. No doubt there will be some there, but the figures will hardly make a difference to the overall results.

Anwar's phrase "open to abuse" was carefully considered. Most people nowadays are very aware of cyber-crime and hacking, especially given some of the more high profile incidents in recent months. The image that Labour will be trying to present is a Government (ie SNP) that is a bit careless or even worse trying to fix the results.

By not having any mechanism to prevent multiple submissions, the Scottish Government have just thrown any crediblity of their consultation out of the window. A bit like the much vaunted and bloody useless National Conversation.


  1. I would have preferred it not to be open to abuse - pity Labour didn't see that previously??????????
    HOWEVER you seem to miss the point that it is not just open to abuse by ONE side? So no bias can be claimed - can it??? Faulty yes but NOT biased!!!!

    1. The problem is that the previous consultations were relatively politically neutral. This one is not.

      True, it can be abused by both sides, but I seriously doubt that either side has done so. But it is how the whole exercise is viewed by the voting public, especially the undecideds.

      And you know exactly how the resuls of the responses will be presented:

      Favourable responses - "Scotland has spoken, and they trust the SNP etc etc"

      Negative responses - "resutls have been hijacked by the unionist camp etc etc".

      I don't know why they bothered......

  2. Being a cynic about these things I think your assessment regarding the NC is equally applicable to this one - "bloody useles".

    I was always a bit dubious about the figures for the number of responses to the consultation that the SNP was bandying about. As you allude it's not that easy for anyone to fool the system by submitting verifiably different submissions, but there are plenty such exercises where people just submit the same thing with a different name (say) or with a few minor changes, and I doubt if the SNP will have been too worried about that - assuming they were even checked in any way - as long as the headline figure looked good. Thus perhaps not unlike the online contribution to the Nat Con (although to be honest I never actually looked!).

    So the SNP got bragging rights over the number of responses, but now it's come back to bite them on the bum.

    So propoganda-wise, thus far the whole thing has just cancelled itself out.

    Bit of a waste of time then really....