These commentaries by John Macgill represent his opinions only and not those of any Ettrickburn client.

Three Perspectives on Pharmacy and Mental Health

Pharmacy and the New GP Contract

Bordering on Problematic

Recognised by the Queen and her community

VACANCY Reporter/Researcher: Health and Care Policy in Scotland

Prescribing in Mental Illness – A Practice Pharmacist’s Perspective

What Matters to You? Communication in Pharmacy

Prescribing in Mental Illness – A Patient’s Perspective

Focusing the Vision: Dr Rose Marie Parr on the new strategy for Scottish pharmacy

All the things that could go wrong - looking ahead to the SNP conference

Ask Once, Get Help Fast? Pharmacy and Mental Health

Automation and Delegation in Pharmacy: Understanding the Moving Parts

Initiatives Highlight Potential of Community Pharmacy

Pharmacy First in Forth Valley One Year On

Trying to concentrate on the day job

Health and the Local Elections – a strange silence

The Pharmacist Will See You Now – The Growth of GP Pharmacy

Montgomery’s Review – Dr Brian Montgomery answers questions on access to new medicines in Scotland

An afternoon with SMC

Pharmacists at SMC

SMC – are drug firms voting with their feet?

Radical Surgery on the Horizon for Scotland’s NHS

The Future’s Bright – in General Practice

Community Pharmacy in a Changing Environment

Disclosing payments to doctors – has Sir Malcolm done the pharma industry a favour?

Health and Care in the First Minister’s Programme for Government

CMO: Scotland’s pharmacists “absolutely ideally placed” to practice Realistic Medicine

Profile: Maree Todd – MSP and Pharmacist

Scottish Parliament Health Committee Work Programme

Scotland’s new NHS – a Summer of Speculation

Scotland’s New Health Committee

Two million voices in Scotland – is integration the big opportunity to listen?

Medicines – levelling the playing field

Key appointment raises the bar for health & social care partnerships

What did our new MSPs do before?

SMC says no then NICE says yes – three times

SNP promises single formulary and a review of Scotland’s NHS

More Generous than the CDF – but less transparent

Comparison of Funds: New Medicines v Cancer Drugs

Bonfire of the Boards? SNP signals NHS Review

A tribute to five retiring MSPs

New Medicines Review - Health Committee sends findings to Government

Medicines New & Old in the Scottish Cancer Strategy

Great Ambitions, Slow Progress – New Models of Care in Scotland

Scottish Minsters Demand Up-Front Medicine Price Negotiation

Opportunity and Disappointment: MSPs Investigate New Medicines Access

Scottish NHS Strategy calls for 'Realistic Medicine'

The Scottish Model of Value for Medicines: Taking Everything into Consideration

When SMC Says No: An Access to Medicines Lottery

Reviewing the Review: Access to New Medicines in Scotland

A day of psephology and kidology

Insulting the Lifesavers

Worthy of Mention – Health and Science in the Honours List

News Silence from North of the Border

A Christmas PPRS Present from Pharma

Wednesday, January 20, 2016: A day of psephology and kidology

Labour has managed to publish its report on the party's terrible 2015 election on the same day that the polling organisations have tried to explain why they'd got their Westminster predictions so wrong (except for viewers in Scotland). But neither report offers reassurance that this was a one-off.

There's a joke that's not very funny but illustrates a point. There were two statisticians out hunting when they both spotted the same rabbit. Both statisticians fired at the same time. One missed, firing exactly ten centimetres to the right of the bunny's head. The other also missed as well, firing exactly ten centimetres to the left of it head. The hunting statisticians were happy because, on average, they had killed the rabbit.

For me the same logic is in play when you ask between 1000 and 2000 people how they intend to vote and, by extrapolation and some clever number crunching alchemy, predict the voting intentions of over 45 million registered UK votersi.

There were 92 voting intention polls in the six weeks up to election day last Mayii. Practice did not make perfect as the pollsters predicting a dead heat and the voters delivered the Conservatives a winning margin of 6.5 per cent.

The investigation commissioned by the British Polling Council and the Market Research Society concluded that the sampling was less than perfect and was biased by each pollster paying too much attention to the results that had come before.

Some suggest that polling, like sending statisticians out after rabbits, is harmless. Others say that polls sway outcomes. They certainly can give a false sense of optimism to party leaders (haven't they Mr Kinnock, and your visit to Sheffield on 1st April 1992?).

Of course, in Scotland the predictions of an SNP victory were entirely accurate.

But now we are told the predicted strength of the SNP helped spoil things for Labour – and not just in Scotland.

The Beckett report into Labour's general election outcome says it was not the perception of Labour being "too left wing", too "anti-business", or too "anti-aspiration" that put voters off, but more the fear that the party was about to get too friendly with the SNP.

This explanation has been rejected by the most well-known of psephologists and president of the British Polling Council, Professor John Curtice, who told Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland yesterday morning that this cannot be the explanation as there was no late surge of Tory support coinciding with the Tory's campaigning around this scenario.

Maybe I speak to the wrong people but the most common explanation for the outcome for Labour south of the border is summed up by Ms Beckett as the perceived weakness of Ed Miliband. I went to see him speak on two occasions and found he seemed competent but stage-managed. On TV he came across as a bit strange.

Labour has changed it leader, which certainly deals with Mr Miliband's electoral unattractiveness, though Mr Corbyn is far from guaranteed to be any more to the taste of middle English voters either.

We are now just months away from the Scottish parliamentary election. At the moment the polling organisations do not seem to me to be offering a fundamental change of approach that would make it impossible to get their predictions wrong again in a close race.

However, this time around, the pollsters are not going to be tested. Nobody is predicting a close race.


iRegistered voter numbers

iBBC