Evidently while I was busy noticing that I'd been very slow on the uptake about the last Angus Reid poll, I was being equally slow on the uptake about today's full-scale Holyrood poll in the Herald -
Constituency vote :
Labour 44% (-5)
SNP 29% (-4)
Conservatives 12% (+3)
Liberal Democrats 11% (+4)
Regional list vote :
Labour 39% (-8)
SNP 29% (-4)
Conservatives 11% (+2)
Liberal Democrats 10% (+3)
Greens 6% (+3)
Others 5% (+3)
UPDATE : The ever-delightful Labour wind-up merchant "Braveheart" (ahem) popped along earlier to helpfully point out that I had the SNP's percentage share of the list vote wrong - it should have been 29%, not 33%. I've updated the figures above, and changed the headline to reflect the rather smaller cut of the Labour lead than the one I thought we were dealing with. However, I haven't updated the following text, so it should be read with the changed figure in mind...
It goes without saying that the constituency figures make for sobering reading, but a dramatic reduction of the Labour lead on the list vote (which in theory ought to be the more important of the two) offers some grounds for encouragement at this stage, with the proper campaign period - during which the SNP will have the considerable advantage of the most popular party leader - still to come.
As I've suggested before, the most important figure in this election could well turn out to be the combined support for the SNP and Tories - because even though those two parties are highly unlikely to enter into coalition with each other, they are also both unlikely to enter into a deal with Labour. Anything close to a combined SNP/Tory majority would therefore call into question the viability of a minority government led by Iain "the Snarl" Gray. On the constituency vote in this poll, SNP + Tory support comes to 41%, and on the list vote it comes to 44%.
Overall, these figures at least seem somewhat more plausible than the completely unrealistic Labour ratings that TNS-BMRB reported last time round - you don't need to be an expert in polling methodology to know that Labour were never going to receive 47% of the vote on the list. Indeed, even 39% still seems rather improbable given that Donald Dewar only managed 35%.
Last but not least, if James MacKenzie is telling us the truth when he says that the Greens are merely prudently keeping their options open about a coalition with Labour, he might want to urgently have a word with the Herald about it. They seem to see things in a rather different light -
"Despite likely Green support for a coalition..."
The way things are going, the "vote Green, get Gray" meme could soon be picking up a head of steam.