My old sparring partner from PB.com, the Aberdeenshire Conservative activist ChristinaD (aka Fitalass) has been busy over at SNP Tactical Voting in response to the YouGov poll for the Greens which, in utterly devastating news for the SNP puts them...er, three points ahead of Labour on the constituency vote. The poll does however show a tie between the two parties on the list vote, and because that ballot is more important to the SNP than to Labour the projections are that it would lead to a narrow Labour win in terms of seats. Christina has for weeks been flogging the line that the SNP's 'lurch to the left' and 'obsession with independence' would cost them votes, and is now triumphantly saying "I told you so". (All we need now is for SU to briefly come out of retirement and run a 'game over' headline and the entertainment for the day would be complete.) I'm slightly confused by Jeff's own stance on this, though - in his main post he takes issue with the Herald's reporting of the poll as good for Labour, but as soon as Christina pops up, he agrees with almost everything she says and reverts to the worry that we've seen from him before that the SNP have suffered a "spectacular fall" from the giddy heights of previous polls. Jeff of course laudably takes great pains to "give credit where it is due" to political opponents, but I think in his eagerness to do so this time he may have fallen headlong into a trap laid by someone who for a while now has been relentlessly disseminating anti-SNP propaganda on an industrial scale to anyone who will listen (and quite a few who won't). Christina will now undoubtedly add this poll to the list of 'predictions she has got right' that she routinely trots out when anyone dares to question her absolute infallibility on all matters Scottish political. In reality of course, she only gets away with this because nobody bothers to keep track of all the predictions she gets wrong - so perhaps now is the time to start. She has, for instance, repeatedly said she is 'more sure than ever' that Gordon Brown will go before the general election - hmmm, let's see.
In truth this is a decent enough (if unspectacular) poll for the SNP, and is strikingly similar to some of the lower-end results they were getting in the run-up to the 2007 election. What the seat projections do bring home is the huge element of luck that is involved in the outcome of very close elections - if, for instance, the Greens and far-left parties had performed more strongly in 2007, the SNP's narrow lead over Labour would not have been sufficient for victory.
As for Christina professing herself "genuinely surprised" (ahem - see previous post) at the supposed recent ideological repositioning of the SNP...well, it's hardly a shock that a Conservative activist would be instinctively dismayed at a party asserting its centre-left identity, even if she "removes her Tory bonnet" for the occasion. Her final point is - "I know that the independence issue is first and foremost in the minds of SNP activists, but it isn't for the majority." This is true. Neither are the majority particularly exercised about the "integrity and unity of our United Kingdom, the most successful political union this planet has ever seen", which is all the Tories seem to bang on about half the time. But the SNP are a nationalist party, and the Tories are an ultra-Unionist party, and for better or worse both parties must be true to their natures otherwise the voters will see through them in a trice. The important thing is, in addition to the constitutional issue, to address the everyday concerns of the majority - which in Scotland means a party positioning itself firmly in the centre-left. Nobody ever won an election here on a Thatcherite prospectus.