29 October 2014

V&A Prints on tour

The V&A has an extensive collection of fine art prints and related material. The range of the modern holdings is clear from their 2001 publication, Impressions of the 20th Century, and these have been drawn on to send Modern Masters: Matisse, Picasso, Dali and Warhol on tour this year to Lincoln, Plymouth, currently Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery and soon Inverness. Visitors to the show should be able to find something of interest from all four artists in the form of prints, books and other items.

The works by Picasso spanned most of his career from 1904 to 1957. I liked the portrait of the dealer Ambroise Vollard (1937, below left) and The Sleeping Woman (1947, below right):

There were also four of the sugar-lift aquatint and drypoint etchings from the portfolio of Buffon’s L’Histoire Naturelle, including The Lizard (1942, below left), which were printed during the Occupation, and Skull of a Goat on a Table (1952, below right):

The Matisse exhibits included both the print (image unavailable) and the wood block (1905, below right) for Nude in Profile on a Chaise Longue. The lithograph Interior, Reading (1925, below right) is of a subject he painted on various occasions:

Visitors to the recent Matisse exhibition at Tate Modern may have come away with the impression that his later work consisted only of cut-outs. Not so, as demonstrated colourfully by Marie-Jose in a Yellow Dress (1950, below):

Curiously, Salavador Dali was omitted from Impressions of the 20th Century. I hadn’t seen before any of the six posters which Salvador Dali designed for the French railways (SNCF) in 1969, two of the four on display here:

Andy Warhol’s work like Marilyn (exhibition poster above, three of the ten colour ways of this print are on show) is, as they say, iconic and also ubiquitous to the point of over-exposure (in a week I came across him in shows in Bath and Blenheim and at the NPG) but this colour offset litho poster from 1978, based on two of his Self Portraits from 1966, was striking:

This Louisiana is the Museum of Modern Art in Humlebaek, Denmark which, from its website, seems well worth visiting, although like many British people I’m deterred by the prospect of Danish prices. However, as the website states “DINNER BUFFET IN LOUISIANA CAFÉ EAT AS MUCH AS YOU WANT FOR DKK 149”, which would be just under £16 (US$26), perhaps I ought to think again.

Modern Masters in Print Matisse, Picasso, Dali and Warhol ends in Bath on 23 November 2014.

28 October 2014

Supermac’s 'old trick'

Vicky, Evening Standard, 1958
Peregrine Worsthorne, now 90, writes in this week’s Spectator about his encounters as a journalist with eight US presidents. I liked this brief digression about a certain UK prime minister:
Incidentally, Harold Macmillan, when prime minister, also knew a thing about flattering journalists. Towards the end of an interview I was having with him in Downing Street, a flunky interrupted to say that the American ambassador had arrived. ‘Be so good as to ask his Excellency to wait,’ came the reply, and the conversation continued on its stately way for at least 20 more minutes. Mentioning this to a colleague, my pride was swiftly deflated when he replied: ‘That’s a very old trick of his — he plays it on us all.’

27 October 2014

Richard Tuttle at Tate Modern

This piece has been commissioned by Tate Modern for the Turbine Hall and will be on display until 6 April 2015.

It complements the survey of Richard Tuttle’s work, I Don’t Know, Or The Weave of Textile Language at the Whitechapel Gallery until 14 December.

24 October 2014

Looking forward to 2018?

It seems that the centenary of Armistice Day (11/11/1918) might be marked with a bang. Rory Stewart MP asked the following about the next SDSR (Strategic Defence and Security Review, due in 2015) at Defence Oral Questions in the UK House of Commons on 20 October:
Rory Stewart (Penrith and The Border) (Con): Will the Secretary of State ensure that the new SDSR acknowledges that Russia has radically changed the situation, first by creating a war in Europe and secondly by ensuring that NATO is undermined, and will it plan for what appear to be Russian planning assumptions for a major war in 2018-19? 
Michael Fallon: My hon. Friend the Chairman of the Select Committee is right. The 2010 review did not predict the scale of Russian aggression in Ukraine, and the recent NATO summit at Newport reinforced the need for NATO members to maintain the level of their spending and to ensure a properly rapid reaction force that can be an effective deterrent to Russian aggression in future.
Noting, as Fallon did, that Rory Stewart is chairman of the Commons Defence Select Committee, one might well ask where his notion about the Russian planning assumptions came from. Among the Defence Committee’s many activities, one recent inquiry seems particularly relevant: Towards the next Defence and Security Review: Part Two: NATO, the Report being published in July. Unfortunately, searching for terms relating to “planning assumptions” or “2018” or “2019” in the Report or the six supporting publications containing the oral evidence to the Committee provides nothing specific, although there is much discussion of Russian intentions in the Ukraine and towards the Baltic states. On 18 June 2014 the Committee took oral evidence from Lord Stirrup, former Chief of the Defence Staff, which included this exchange:
Bob Stewart*: One of the big problems, of course, is the Russians are spending 4.7% on their defence, which is well over twice our spending in the West. This is going to cause us enormous problems, because they are really equipping very fast indeed, aren’t they? 
Q98 Lord Stirrup: They are, and this is a very long, complex subject, which we can perhaps discuss another time, but I do not think the disparity is quite what it would appear to be from the numbers, for a variety of reasons.
which doesn’t give any substance to Rory Stewart’s question on 20 October. For the same inquiry the Committee received 17 pieces of written evidence. Many of these did not mention Russia at all, others only in passing. However, two statements are relevant. Firstly from a retired Major General from one of the Baltic states, Karlis Neretnieks:
… Russia’s capabilities to fight a conventional war are increasing rapidly. It will probably never reach US capabilities, especially not when it comes to military technology. … The massive ongoing armaments program in Russia combined with earlier and ongoing cuts in European defence budgets has led to a situation where Europe rapidly is losing its technological edge. But also, which probably is more serious, Europe is lagging behind Russia when it comes to the ability to mount large scale military operations, having concentrated on “peace operations” for the last ten to fifteen years. Operational art (not to be confused with tactics) is to a large extent forgotten among today’s commanders and their staffs. Russia on the other hand has put very much effort in to relearn how to conduct operations at an operational level (if it ever was forgotten). …(page 4)
Secondly, from Dr Jonathan Eyal, Director, International Security Studies, Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI):
… Europe certainly does not need a return to the vast arsenals of tanks or standing armies. But it does need to discard previous assessments of Russian capabilities. Gone are the days when Russian troops were demoralised, disorganised and badly-supplied: the operation in Crimea was accomplished by elite Russian units which were welltrained, well-fed and very well equipped with the latest communication systems. And Russia’s military modernisation is set to continue: by 2015, the country plans to spend US$100 billion on its armed forces yearly. For decades, Western military planners – as well as European finance ministers – have argued that quality is better than quantity. That is still the case although, as Soviet dictator Josef Stalin once reputedly put it, “quantity has a quality all of its own”, and that is starting to apply to NATO capabilities as well …
Both of which support the sense of Rory Stewart’s view, if not the substance. In September, he was interviewed by Jay Elwes for Prospect magazine “on the urgent need to bolster our defence capabilities”. The report concentrated on ISIL and Afghanistan although there is a reference to “the military adventurism of Vladimir Putin”. So the origins of Stewart’s question are still a mystery, although some of the parliamentary sketch writers seemed to be amused it. John Crace in the Guardian:
… Rory Stewart, the Mick Jagger of the Commons, with the hair of an 18-year old and the face of a corpse, exclusively revealed that Russia was planning a major war in 2018 or 2019. He didn’t say who the Russians would be fighting, though, or even if the Russians knew about it, but if it’s in Ukraine we can all rest easy as Fallon had that situation fully under control.
And Patrick Kidd in The Times (£):
It’s called the Ministry of Defence because its ministers spend so much time sitting on it. Michael Fallon,at his first questions since being made secretary for de-fence, proved to be a safe pair of hands, adept at avoiding saying anything controversial or that may be seen as a commitment, even when Rory Stewart told him that we would be at war with Russia by 2018. Keep calm and carry on.
I wonder if we’ll be hearing any more.

* Conservative MP for Beckenham and member of the Defence Select Committee.

20 October 2014

Crucible2 at Gloucester Cathedral

Crucible2 is the second sculpture exhibition at Gloucester Cathedral curated by Gallery Pangolin of Chalford, Gloucestershire. The first was in 2010 with 76 contemporary sculptures; this time 100 exhibits by 61 sculptors are set in and around the cathedral. Key pieces, in the view of the curators, include works by Kenneth Armitage, David Backhouse, Ralph Brown, Lynn Chadwick (Jubilee IV in the poster,left), Ann Christopher, Antony Gormley and William Tucker. The 20th and 21st century works are often positioned in startling and stimulating contrast to their mostly English Gothic surroundings. For example, Breon O’Casey’s Large Cockerel (circa 2000, below) in the Cloisters with the earliest fan-vaulting in England circa 1350:

The most celebrated monument at Gloucester is the tomb of Edward II circa 1350, seen below left in the background to Steve Hurst’s Gloucester in Berlin. Hurst, born in 1932 and a witness to bombing in World War 2, sees it as concerning “… the bombing of civilians no matter what their country or who launches the bombing aircraft. It is a personal attempt to regain the viewpoint of a child”.

In the background (right) are the laid up colours of the Gloucestershire Regiment. They appear again (below right) behind Paul Wager’s Omnibus which marks the centenary of the Great War 1914-1918. Similar sentiments inform Deborah van der Beek’s Collateral (below right) – eight million horses died in that war - but it was cast around spent munitions from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan which brought the expression “collateral damage” into common use.

The monument near Damien Hirst’s Anatomy of an Angel (Black) (2008, below) is to Sarah Morley, 29, a mother of four who died a few days after “having sustained the pains of Childbirth at Sea” while returning from Bombay in 1784.

Among the pieces I liked were Antony Gormley’s Pose (2012, below) with In Man’s Nature by Jon Buck behind).

Bryony Marshall’s DNA – Helix of Life (below, left) marks the 60th anniversary of the discovery of DNA. Subsequently mitochondrial DNA was identified as having been passed down to us all from a woman in East Africa about 150,000 years ago, known as Mitochondrial Eve, the inspiration for a sculpture of the same name by Sue Freeborough (below right):

The photograph below left of Geoffrey Clarke’s Taunton Deane Crematorium: Test Panel does not do justice to the colours of the glass. To the right is Sarah Lucas’s Realidad (2013), one of her NUDs series shown as bronzes at the Venice Bienniale in 2013.

John Humphreys’ Ipsius Imago a Latere Extensa probably succeeded as the artist wished in puzzling and confusing the viewer:

but perhaps was not as happily placed as the Eduardo Paolozzi plaster Vulcan near a strange moustachioed carving, perhaps a millennium older:

Among the sculptures in the open were Bruce Beasley’s Breakout II (below, left)in the Cloisters and outside Kenneth Armitage’s final work, Reach for the Stars (below, right).

Crucible2 ends on 31 October. There is no admission charge but a helpful map costs £2 and there is a £3 charge for photography. The catalogue at £16 is both good value and helps support the Cathedral.


After posting about Beyond Limits: The Landscape of British Sculpture 1950-2015 held at Chatsworth House from 14 September to 25 October 2015, I thought it would be useful to add an image of Gavin Turk's bronze, Nomad (2002, below - and in other colours):

Another version of Chadwick's Jubilee can be seen there, as well.

16 October 2014

Boris Johnson’s Body Mass Index

Boris Johnson came out with this to the Daily Telegraph recently:
Although some people have been kind enough to say I don’t look as though I could conceivably be over 15 stone, I weigh almost 17 stone*.
and I wouldn’t have expected him to be quite so heavy either. On the other hand, although I’ve never seen him in the flesh, on the television he does seem a little shorter than many top male politicians who are frequently six-footers or more. This is not a healthy combination, at least as measured by Body Mass Index (BMI).

Unsurprisingly, Johnson’s exact height and weight aren’t immediately available, but his remark above and information from the CelebHeights website can be combined to make an estimate of his BMI. CelebHeights states Johnson’s height as “5ft 9.5in (177 cm)”. Comments there, including some from people who have encountered him, suggest this is about right, 5ft 10in being the maximum likely. Assuming that “almost 17 stone” could, if Johnson were being uncharacteristically modest, be as low as 16.5 stone, “Best and Worst Case” BMIs can easily be calculated:

Unfortunately, even when the lightest/tallest combination is chosen, the resulting BMI is over 33. Although Johnson as Mayor of London has no responsibilities for health, as he pointed out to Andrew Marr on The Marr Show on 12 October:
… Well unfortunately, as you may know, I don’t have direct responsibility for healthcare in this city …
he could, if he wished, like anyone else look at the National Health Service’s online BMI healthy weight calculator and enter the Best Case data above for a male of 50 who regularly travels on a bike. He would be told:

and so on. According to the The Health Survey for England – 2012 Chapter 10, about a third of English men of Johnson’s age are similarly obese or worse and nearly half are just overweight**:

Now it could be that Johnson, like Wikipedia, is more sceptical about BMI than the NHS:
For example, a chart may say the ideal weight for a man 5 ft 10 in (178 cm) is 165 pounds (75 kg). But if that man has a slender build (small frame), he may be overweight at 165 pounds (75 kg) and should reduce by 10%, to roughly 150 pounds (68 kg). In the reverse, the man with a larger frame and more solid build can be quite healthy at 180 pounds (82 kg).
Johnson certainly is of a solid build but he would still seem to have over 20 kg he could do without. The newer measure of waist-to-height ratio might provide a more comfortable fit, if his waist is no more than 42 in (107 cm, ie 0.6 times height for an over 50). Alternatively Johnson believes that for him in matters corporeal, just as in matters political, the normal rules don’t apply. To be fair, he did encourage all of us to lose weight in an article in the Daily Telegraph in June 2014, If we can’t do it on our own, then let’s lose weight together.

1987 and 2014
Like most of us Johnson has changed over the years (right). Unkindly, this brings to mind the lament of Frank Greco, a character in Mark Winegardner’s Godfather sequel, The Godfather's Revenge:
When I was young, they said I looked like a Greek God. Now I just look like a goddamn Greek.
But most of us, of course, never looked like a Greek God in the first place.

* Some readers may be asking, What is a stone? 14 pounds is the short answer, so a 17 stone man weighs 238 pounds, or 107.95 kg.

** An earlier post contained some international comparisons of BMI.  Also, as pointed out there, anyone with a BMI above 30 or below 18.5 should seek medical advice).

13 October 2014

No gain for the needy South West

A post earlier this month about the Scottish independence referendum said that the possible relocation of the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines to SW England would be revisited. 

Back in 2012 a post appeared here called Would Scotland’s loss be the South West’s gain? At the time there was a prospect of an independent Scotland no longer providing a base for the UK’s nuclear submarines and the Trident nuclear deterrent. The post explored the possibility of relocation of the deterrent and thousands of associated jobs to SW England and concluded:
Recent polling suggests that a majority of voters in Scotland do not want independence and if this continues until the referendum, the possibility of any gain does not arise. Otherwise, if the UK sans Scotland is to continue to be a nuclear weapon state, there doesn’t seem to be an alternative to Trident operating from HMNB* Devonport. A suitable armaments depot would have to be constructed there, or possibly in Cornwall, say by 2025. If this turns out to be not so much ‘implausible’ as impossible, something more radical might adopted, but probably would not be revealed until after the 2015 election. Otherwise Trident’s removal from the Clyde ought to be of considerable long-term net benefit to the economy of SW England in the form of jobs, and expenditure by households and on base support.
A key source for this post was Malcolm Chalmers’ and William Walker’s 2001 book, Uncharted Waters - The UK, Nuclear Weapons and The Scottish Question, although they had come to the conclusion that relocation to Devonport was implausible (page 120). A month later a follow-up post, What would be the cost of the South West’s gain?, appeared here. A cost figure which seemed to have some authority had appeared in The Times:
The cost of moving Britain’s four nuclear submarines from the Faslane base on the Clyde, along with stockpiles of warheads and missiles, could be £2.5 billion, according to former senior military commanders.
This figure’s possible provenance was explored and it was compared with the outturn of a couple of recent major projects audited by the NAO, the post's conclusion being:
Neither of these examples would suggest that £2.5 billion is a wild over- or underestimate.
In August 2014, a month before the referendum, Chalmers, who is now Research Director and Director, UK Defence Policy Studies at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI), published (with Hugh Chalmers) a detailed analysis, Relocation, Relocation, Relocation Could the UK’s Nuclear Force be Moved after Scottish Independence? To which their answer was Yes - to Devonport and Falmouth:

with the conclusion:
A potential alternative to HMNB Clyde would involve relocating the submarine support functions of Faslane to HMNB Devonport and replicating the munitions-support functions of Coulport from scratch on a greenfield site north of Falmouth. Previous work undertaken at HMNB Clyde in preparation for the current Vanguard-class submarine suggests that this relocation plan could cost between £3 billion and £4 billion (gross, at 2012/13 prices), not including any costs associated with land purchase and clearance of existing buildings at the new munitions-support facility. 
Some of these relocation costs could be funded by the cancellation of planned upgrades to HMNB Clyde to prepare it for a successor to Vanguard. The UK currently anticipates investing £2.3–3.4 billion (at 2012/13 prices) in new infrastructure for a successor submarine. Even if only £500 million of this were dedicated to HMNB Clyde, the net costs of relocating HMNB Clyde may therefore amount to between £2.5 billion and £3.5 billion (at 2012/13 prices), together with any costs associated with land purchase and clearance.
Following the referendum result, the problems that might have arisen after independence, of which Trident’s future was just one, have moved off the political agenda. Although the possibility of Scottish independence cannot be ruled out for all time, it seems most unlikely that resourcing submarine relocation would be recommended in the UK’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) due in 2015. That this potential gain is now not forthcoming is regrettable, if only because Devon and Cornwall are in a poor way, as the Western Morning News recently demonstrated drawing on the ManpowerGroup Pay League. Apparently in terms of averages, workers in the Home Counties and London earn up to £17,000 more than in the South West where, at £24,400, annual pay is almost £3,000 lower than in the the UK as a whole at £27,200. A table gave details at local authority level within the SW Region:

The relocation of work from HMNB Clyde would have had greatest impact towards the end of the list (22, 25, 26, 30, 32 and 35).

8 October 2014

Kazimir Malevich at Tate Modern

Malevich at Tate Modern is a major and chronologically-organised retrospective of one of the most influential painters of the last century, Kazimir Malevich (1879–1935). It is a moot point whether being born in Kiev to Polish parents makes him a Russian or a Polish artist or even a Ukrainian one, but his major achievements as a pioneer of Modernism were realised in Moscow and St Petersburg (Petrograd). It was in the capital when in his twenties he was introduced to French modern art and his Self-Portrait, 1908-1910 (left) shows the influence of artists like Gaugin and Matisse.

In 1909 Marinetti had published the Futurist Manifesto and the Russian avant garde response attempted to blend Futurism with traditional Russian rural themes, for example Morning in the Village After a Snowstorm (below left) and The Woodcutter (below right) both 1912:

By 1914 Malevich had adopted Cubo-Futurism showing the additional influence of Cubism in works like An Englishman in Moscow (below):

He then moved on to more abstract forms, with the first version of the famous Black Square being painted in 1915. A 1923 version is on show, the original being too fragile to go on loan. Malevich has partially recreated the Last Exhibition of Futurist Painting 0.10 (Zero-Ten) which was held in Petrograd in 1916 (below top). Some of the works are lost but nine out of the twelve known to survive are on show (below lower).

This exhibition marked the launch of Suprematism which Malevich saw as art with forms having no link to nature but being an exercise in colour and geometry, like Suprematist Painting(with Black trapezium and Red Square), 1915 below and Supremus No.55, 1916 (detail in the poster above).

He would take this to the extreme of painting in white with very simple shapes and then turned to experimenting with architectural models and lecturing. However, Malevich’s career was disrupted by events leading up to the Russian revolution in 1917 and the following civil war. In the early years of the Soviet regime, Suprematism and its associated architectural movement Constructivism were accepted, but with Stalin came disfavour and a preference for Social Realism.

In the late 1920s Malevich returned to painting in a style more acceptable to the authorities. Could Head of a Peasant, 1928-29 been an influence on Abram Games’ Festival of Britain poster in 1951, (below left and right)?

In the years before his death he produced figurative portraiture as in his Renaissance-style Self-Portrait of
1933 (right). After 1935 his work was kept from public view until the 1950s. As late as 1971, when the British Council put on the exhibition Art in Revolution: Soviet art and design since 1917 at the Hayward Gallery, the Soviet Ministry of Culture, a major source of the exhibits, demanded and achieved the removal of all works by Malevich.  Black Square would not be seen until the 1980s.

Malevich continues until 26 October. The high standard of the catalogue matches that of the exhibition. 

The exhibition was at the Stedilijk Museum, Amsterdam, October 2013 to February 2014 and at the Bundeskunsthalle (Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany), Bonn, March to June 2014.

As others see us

O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us 
To see oursels as ithers see us! 
It wad frae mony a blunder free us, 
An' foolish notion: 
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us, 
An' ev'n devotion! * 

I thought this item from The Times** PHS column (£) (Patrick Kidd’s Times Diary) on 6 October was worth capturing. Is it about the way David Cameron is perceived or something wider about the way the UK is viewed now?

Cameron is the punchline

Gerard Baker, editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, told an after-dinner joke last week that’s doing
the rounds in Washington. God summons the leaders of the US, China and Britain and tells them the world will end tomorrow and they must prepare their people. So Barack Obama goes on TV and says: “My fellow Americans, I have good and bad news. We were right about the existence of God, but the world is about to end.” Xi Jinping then tells the Chinese: “Bad news and worse news. We were wrong about the existence of God and the world is about to end.” Finally, David Cameron goes on the BBC.

“I have great news,” he says. “God thinks I’m one of the three most important people in the world.”

* And would some Power the small gift give us 
To see ourselves as others see us! 
It would from many a blunder free us, 
And foolish notion: 
What airs in dress and gait would leave us, 
And even devotion! 

Robert Burns, To A Louse, On Seeing One on a Lady's Bonnet at Church

** The Times is one of the three titles owned by News UK which is wholly-owned by News Corp. Another asset of News Corp is Dow Jones & Company which owns The Wall Street Journal.

7 October 2014

Modelling Neverendum

You might wonder why a blog apparently linked to the part of England which is furthest from Scotland takes any interest in the independence referendum held there on 18 September. Firstly, and obviously, all the regions of England would have been affected had the Yes vote won. Secondly, a particular regional interest was the subject of a post here in 2012, Would Scotland’s Loss be the South West’s Gain. This looked at the possible relocation after Scottish independence of the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines to SW England, a subject which will be revisited in a future post. In the days after the referendum, two views seemed to emerge. One, delivered outside 10 Downing Street on the morning after by David Cameron, was that
… now the debate has been settled for a generation or as Alex Salmond has said, perhaps for a lifetime. So there can be no disputes, no re-runs – we have heard the settled will of the Scottish people.
But the outgoing SNP leader stated:
… the majority of Scots up to the age of 55 voted for independence, and a majority of Scots over 55 voted against independence … When you have a situation where the majority of a country up to the age of 55 is already voting for independence then I think the writing is on the wall for Westminster.
And his likely successor, currently his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, was quoted by BBC News as saying when launching her bid to replace him:
… the country could only become independent if the electorate backed the move in a referendum. But she did not rule out the possibility of the SNP including a commitment to hold a second referendum in a future election manifesto.
The leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, subsequently warned that:
The SNP lost. Scotland demonstrated her sovereign will. And yet, people at the top want to run this race again as soon as possible. They want Scotland locked in a cycle of neverendum.
So it’s worth looking again at the actual result on 18 September:

Fig 1: Referendum results
The turnout, as has been widely pointed out, was remarkably high and unlikely to have been improved upon. So, for Yes to have succeeded, about 192,000 No votes would have had to come across. The main sources of insight as to how this could come about in another referendum at some point in the future are provided by opinion polling.

The polls were not startlingly accurate in their predictions in the run-up to the 2014 vote. In March this year a post here looked at one particular Ipsos-MORI opinion poll in detail. It had shown that at that time those certain to vote were divided 32% Yes, 57% No and 11% undecided. As the September vote approached, opinion polls started to indicate that the Yes/No balance had shifted to be much closer – closer in the polls it turned out, than in the actual result. Afterwards Professor John Cutis in his What Scotland Thinks blog concluded that there had been a systematic problem of underestimating the No vote beforehand. However, two essentially retrospective polls were carried out on referendum day by YouGov and Lord Ashcroft Polls and these had overall results close to the outcome and also provided a breakdown of voting behaviour:

Fig 2: Opinion polls post-voting
The two polls’ age data is easier to compare graphically, and tends to bear out Salmond’s view of older voters:

Fig 3: No voters by age from polls
The Ashcroft poll also asked:
Q.8 If it turns out that a majority has voted NO in the referendum, for how long do you think the question of whether Scotland should be independent or remain in the UK will remain settled?
Fig 4: answers to Q.8 by age
From this it is clear that nearly half of those who voted think the issue will not remain settled for more than 10 years, though, as in the 2014 referendum, enthusiasm for changing the status quo is less apparent among the older age groups. So what might happen in another referendum in five or ten years’ time? An impossible question to answer but it is possible to make an assessment, albeit crude, as to how demographics might have an effect. After all, the 16 year olds of 2019 are today’s 11 year olds and the 16 year olds of 2024 are today’s 6 year olds, today’s 11 year olds being 21 by then. A key source is Mid-2013 Population Estimates Scotland produced by National Records of Scotland in June 2014. First of all, their Infographic 1:
Fig 5: From Mid-2013 Population Estimates Scotland
This explains why the population of Scotland increased by 14,100 between mid-2012 and mid-2013. Using the data from YouGov quoted in Fig 2 above on voting preferences by place of birth (blue data below) it is possible to make a crude assessment of the voting impact of migration:

Fig 6: Possible effect of movements to and from Scotland in Fig 5
There are some obvious flaws. Firstly ‘People’ include children under 16 and secondly immigrant and emigrant preferences may be different from those by place of birth: Scottish No voters may be more outward-looking and therefore be more likely to be found in those leaving for the rest of the UK (RUK) and elsewhere than among their stay-at-home compatriots. There are other uncertainties: how many of those emigrating were originally from outside Scotland, went there and then didn’t like it? However, it isn’t easy to see how the net flow of inward immigrants combined with the pattern of the YouGov data could support hopes of a net increase in the Yes vote over the years ahead.

The ‘natural increase’ of 909 conceals much larger underlying population flows. Figure 5 from the Mid-2013 Population Estimates Scotland shows the facts of life and death:

Fig 7: From Mid-2013 Population Estimates Scotland 
(Anyone puzzled by the Male and Female notches at 65/66 should read this post!) Most of the nearly 56,000 deaths each year will be among the older members of the population, who, for this purpose, will be assumed to be over 65. The earlier comparison of No voters by age in the two polls (Figs 2 and 3) suggests that about 65% of the 65+’s are No voters. Table 1 of Mid-2013 Population Estimates Scotland contains details of Scotland’s age breakdown from which the numbers of new voters in 2019 and 2024 can be predicted (ignoring early deaths and migration). If the voting preferences of the new voters continues to be about 50% No, as the polling seems to suggest, there could be a shift to Yes of about 85,000 after 10 years due to ‘natural change’:

Fig 8: How 'natural change' might affect No vote
To describe this sort of modelling as simplistic is to be kind. Some of the underlying assumptions have already been made apparent, and there are others such as a lower turnout in future referenda differentiated by preference – fewer Nos, say. Also, the errors in the polls for subgroups are considerable – look at the two polls’ different estimates for Male and Female preferences (Fig 2 above) – and this can only get worse the smaller the subgroup, eg 16-18 year olds. As a sensitivity test (in italics in Fig 8) the assumptions made above can be altered in favour of Yes. If the No support among the group of emerging voters were to fall to 30% (unlikely), and the deaths were assumed to be among the oldest voters, and they had a No preference of, say, 75% (again unlikely, given female relative longevity and No preference), the shift to Yes would increase to about 190,000 – the number that Yes needed in 2014. This assumes, of course, that the majority of those who voted in 2014, who will still be alive in 2024, keep voting the same way and that the immigration/emigration effect in the meantime is nil.

So even if the emerging voters were Yes enthusiasts, it seems likely that a substantial number of those who voted No in 2014 would have to change their minds for Yes to get a majority in 2024. What might lead them to do so? This really is peering into the Scottish mists, but an unsatisfactory 'Devo max' (further devolution to Scotland as promised post-referendum), a successful Eurozone, a sovereign area solution for the Clyde naval base (keeping jobs and not antagonising NATO) all might help, as might Catalan independence.

On the other hand, the concentrated location of the Yes vote in 2014 is now well understood and the Yes vote might fall in those parts of Scotland not green in this map:

- not everyone in Scotland may warm to the prospect of being governed from the Republic of Glasgow.

1 October 2014

Theresa May on ISIL

At the Conservative party conference in Birmingham there was an interesting contrast between the three big beasts that are regarded as contenders for the Tory leadership after Cameron. Boris Johnson did his usual comic turn but George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Theresa May, Home Secretary, offered serious, if not bordering on the grim, assessments of the economy and terrorism. Perhaps the success in the Scottish referendum of the Stay Together campaign, which was founded on a realistic approach to the risks and problems, will encourage politicians to think that the electorate may appreciate a more mature and serious tone about the difficulties that the 21st century has begun to present.

This is what she said about ISIL:
The terrorists who murdered David Haines like to call themselves the Islamic State. But I will tell you the truth: They are not Islamic. And they are not a state. Their actions have absolutely no basis in anything written in the Quran. What they believe has no resemblance whatsoever to the beliefs of more than a billion Muslims all over the world. And, like all the other Islamist terrorist organisations, they have caused the deaths of many thousands of innocent Muslim civilians. They occupy large parts of Syria and Iraq, and not only are they bringing death and destruction to the people of those countries, they have made absolutely clear their desire to attack Britain, America and the West. 
… If ISIL succeed in firmly consolidating their grip on the land they occupy in Syria and Iraq, we will see the world’s first truly terrorist state established within a few hours flying time of our country. We will see terrorists given the space to plot attacks against us, train their men and women, and devise new methods to kill indiscriminately. We will see the risk, often prophesied but thank God not yet fulfilled, that with the capability of a state behind them, the terrorists will acquire chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons to attack us. This is not somebody else’s battle. They have made clear their ambitions. And they have made us their enemies. And the lesson of history tells us that when our enemies say they want to attack us, they mean it. We must not flinch. We must not shy away from our responsibility. We must not drift towards danger and insecurity. While we still have the chance, we must act to destroy ISIL.
I am not sure that a British Home Secretary has spoken publicly before in such unveiled terms of the risk that terrorists may “acquire chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons”.