First Minister leads tributes to pioneering election analyst

Political analyst Professor Bill Miller covered election nights on STV over a thirty-year period.

Professor Bill Miller: Doyen of election analysts spent 30 years working with STV.
Professor Bill Miller: Doyen of election analysts spent 30 years working with STV.

Tributes have been paid to Professor Bill Miller who has died at the age of 76.

He held senior academic posts at Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities and was a regular political and election analyst with STV for a thirty-year period.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Bill Miller was my politics tutor in my first year at Glasgow University, and was also an ever-present voice on STV’s coverage of Scottish politics for many years, where his insights and analysis were always worth listening to.

“I’m deeply sorry to hear of his passing and my sincere condolences go to his family, friends and former colleagues.”

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Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal of Glasgow University, said: “His calm, yet authoritative assessment of politics in Scotland over the past thirty years made Bill a household name.

“He interpreted complicated data with great flair and always with a human touch.”

Originally a mathematician, he was hired by Professor Richard Rose for Strathclyde University who paid tribute today to his “very clear and good mind”.

Like Prof Rose, Prof Miller was a pioneer in the business of interpreting election statistics – a field now dominated by another Strathclyde academic, Sir John Curtice.

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James Mitchell, professor of public policy at Edinburgh University, said: “His combined strengths in mathematics and politics were evident in his highly innovative approach to the study of political opinion.”

He broadcast for the BBC and ITN before a long association with STV.

Former Labour minister Brian Wilson said: “Bill Miller was respected across the political spectrum for the quality of his analysis and clarity of communication.

“He was particularly good at puncturing efforts to impose political spin on numbers that did not justify it.”

Prof Miller was popular with students and colleagues. The brilliance of his mind was at the disposal of all who developed an enduring affection for the academic.

He was a mainstay of political, election, by-election and referendum programmes on STV over a thirty-year period.

The station’s politics and current affairs producer Stephen Townsend said: “Bill was a total joy to work with. On election nights, he commanded the screen with his fresh insights, forensic analysis and warm personality.”

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Prof Miller is survived by sons Iain and Andrew, daughter Shona and six grandsons.

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