cigarette pack When Lying's Justified. cigarette pack

Seems this business of our never telling pollsters our real voting intentions is catching on. I've been doing it since 2006 because it's not terribly clever to tell anyone in Scotland that you intend to vote for UKIP. Later I felt it best to either say I was undecided, or that I'd vote for the ones I wanted out, purely so they'd become complacent and, with luck, their supporters might feel they were a shoo-in, so no need to bother wasting time going to the polling booth.

It worked wonderfully well with Labour under Gordon Brown as well as the Scottish Independence referendum. It helped get shot of Clegg and his lot - and it happened with Brexit, thankfully.

It's understandable that pollsters get it wrong if a reasonable percentage of us fib when questioned by complete strangers, or some gushy twit cold-calling by phone. If they've got your phone number they'll have your address and somewhere there's a computer with details of your answer. Long ago I quit taking these things at face value - and yes I note almost everyone asking opinions on the street does so where there are a lot of CCTV cameras.

And we know there's a natural bias by the media to maintain the status quo, so their articles and "typical person in the street" interviews invariably portray people who like life exactly the way it is. Cynics like myself invariably question interviews carried out during a working day. I always suspect them, especially if they want to see taxes raised. Sometimes their age gives it away that they don't pay taxes themselves, either because they're an OAP, too young, or they're unemployed.

So we have a perfect setup prior to any close election that sees polls neck and neck - and that was the case with the American Presidential election. All the speculation beforehand was correct; a minority always intended to vote for Trump but, like myself with UKIP some years ago, would never admit that to strangers.

At least they voted. I feel the election was legitimate because just over 50% of those eligible to vote in the US did so (01). Compare that to the EU election in 2014 when 13 countries showed turnout figures of less than 40% (and yes the UK was one, with only 35% choosing to participate - about the same number as 2009). The folks in Slovakia were so underwhelmed by it that 87% decided to give it a miss (02)! Overall the European elections for 2014 were decided by a derisory 42.6% of the electorate, so I find it perverse that the EU should seek to even comment on the American President Elect, or the choice of the American people.

Mike McFadden wrote an interesting essay about the impact tobacco control is having on election results in the USA (03). That's been echoed by Frank Davis in his piece dated 15 Nov 2016 (04). I've long advocated that UKIP's poll ratings started to climb following Farage's appearance at the Stony Stratford protest, when he got full exposure for his views on smoking in the national media. Things snowballed and they came out of the 2014 EU elections with more MEPs than any other party. They then became such a threat to the Conservatives that Cameron, in desperation, promised our EU referendum - and the rest is history in the making.

Yet I don't feel that it's only smokers who are changing the political landscape. Immigration, taxes, wanton waste, lousy deposit interest rates, our deference to supranational bodies (UN, WHO), overseas aid, narrow minded politicians, couldn't give a damn House of Lords, misallocation of funds - and squalid little scrotum scratchers, like Andrew Black of the Department of Health, being able to give away £15 million to the World Health Organisation simply to advance his personal standing (and career prospects) within the Tobacco Control sphere (05) are all in there.

The list is endless, however the missing bit was political representation. Twenty years ago voters didn't have that much choice. Now they do, with UKIP emerging as a credible alternative in Wales, where they have seven seats in the Welsh Assembly (06) and are very likely to pick up a couple or more in Westminster if Mrs. May decides to hold a snap election in 2017.

In America voters were being asked to chose between two people. Trump has done one thing - he kept Mrs. Clinton out of the Oval Office. To do so he made many promises to the American people and I believe he fully intends to remain as President for the full eight years as allowed under their constitution. To get re-elected he has to deliver, yet he has one heck of an uphill struggle ahead of him. Draining the swamp is easy to say and awful difficult in practice.

I wish President Trump all the best because his win shows that the American people are prepared to take risks. If he doesn't deliver I believe all that will do is allow an even more radical individual to emerge. And he/she will have the benefit of hindsight as well as the active support of the large number of talented people who got Trump into the White House.

The established political order is doing all it can to stem, or eat into the popularity of right wing conservative parties that have emerged over the past couple of decades. I don't think they have the ability to do so without changing themselves, and they won't do that.

Ms. Sturgeon may feel a sense of "anxiety" about the Trump win (07), she may even mouth that voters are becoming sick to the teeth with unresponsive governments, but you can bet your boots they'll continue to push the Named Person Scheme and they'll delight in passing legislation that'll penalise people who smoke in hospital grounds (08).

I delighted watching the Presidential candidate elections in France. The first round was a case study of the polls getting it wrong. François Fillon came out of that with a clear win, though his support team touched on one failing of telephone polls; unregistered pay as you go mobile phone users. I've got two of them, so don't get bothered by cold calls or phone surveys. 32% of the UK market consists of pay as you go or SIM only users (09), meaning pollsters are unable to access many of those who are young (so unable to bind to contracts), or poor, or those - like myself - who loathe being on any data base and despise the establishment (so more likely to vote for the radical options).

As an aside, I noted ASH's attempts to trivialise the Forest survey of smokers. One justification they gave is the source for their claims that 66% of smokers want to quit: they use the Scottish Household Survey, so implying they're polls are better than Forest's (10)! People volunteer to take part in that survey, so they need to be in a stable household situation. Ignored are those in DHSS accommodation or in temporary housing (so more likely to smoke - and not want to quit, or be an ASH ideal). The religious and ethnic mix reveals it's completed by 96% whites, 1.4% Muslim and a ludicrously low 0.5% Hindu (11), so that survey is only good for toilet paper (and that's one reason the Scottish government intends to scrap it). But a nice conformist white middle class suits ASH's purpose as well as the majority of politicians, who it seems never try to double check the "medics" who pester them. Let's face it "The Scottish Household Survey" does sound mighty impressive, even if it only reflects the opinion of just over 10,000 self selecting people. And - in Scotland - all that really matters is the ear of few influential politicians.

So yes it's absolutely fine to fib, lie, misinform and just generally be devious with pollsters. It helps muddy the waters and very frequently it does result in change. I expect our cousins in Europe will continue the trend. I'm vaguely interested in what will happen in France and Germany in 2017, however I'm all ears about the outcome of the Dutch general election on 15 March 2017, because they could be a candidate for Nexit (12). The "polls" say it'll be a close one. We'll find out soon enough!
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Smoking Scot
December 2016