As the late, great Professor Anthony King would have said in his inimitable Canadian accent, "it's another terrrr-ible night for the Conservatives". When a GB-wide YouGov poll a couple of days ago saw the Tory lead fall sharply from 23% to 16%, there was always just a chance it was a meaningless blip caused by random sampling variation, but that possibility has been snuffed out tonight by a new YouGov poll showing a further fall. The lead now stands at just 13% - meaning it has been almost halved over the course of just a week.
Britain-wide voting intentions (YouGov) :
Conservatives 44% (-1)
Labour 31% (+2)
Liberal Democrats 11% (+1)
UKIP 6% (-1)
SNP/Plaid Cymru 4% (-1)
It's possible (perhaps likely) that there will be some kind of reversion to the mean in the next YouGov poll, but there can be no real doubt that at least some of the narrowing of the gap is genuine. Other pollsters confirm it, with both ORB and Opinium agreeing that Labour have now broken back through the 30% barrier.
Britain-wide voting intentions (ORB) :
Conservatives 42% (-2)
Labour 31% (+2)
Liberal Democrats 10% (+2)
UKIP 8% (-2)
SNP 4% (-1)
Britain-wide voting intentions (Opinium) :
Conservatives 47% (+2)
Labour 30% (+4)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-3)
UKIP 7% (-2)
SNP 5% (+1)
Of course the support Labour have been clawing back is merely the low-hanging fruit - in other words, core voters who were perhaps never likely to desert the fold after considered reflection, but who temporarily got caught up in the hoo-ha over the calling of the snap election. It's interesting to speculate what the receding of the Tory surge is going to mean for Scottish voting intentions, because the surge we saw here seemed directly tied to the Britain-wide one. The obvious hope is that the new British trend will also be replicated north of the border, ideally with some Brexit/No supporters moving directly back to the SNP after flirting with Theresa May's "strength and stability" (ahem). Less ideally, we'll see Tory flirters switching to Labour - but thanks to the vagaries of first-past-the-post, that would actually work in the SNP's favour more than Labour's. By far the most important objective for the SNP is to increase the gap between themselves and the second-placed Tories - a healthy raw percentage share of the vote would just be the icing on the cake.
For what it's worth, the Scottish subsamples of both the ORB and Opinium polls give the SNP a very solid 20% advantage over the Tories. The YouGov datasets haven't yet been published at time of writing.
If (and it is still a very big if) we find that the Scottish Tory surge has now passed its peak, we may have dodged a bullet as far as Thursday's local elections are concerned. Most people who cast a postal vote do so as soon as they receive their ballot paper, which means that many will have voted prior to Easter - and of course the Tory surge wasn't triggered until the Tuesday after Easter, when Theresa May dropped her bombshell about a snap general election. So if postal voters largely voted before the surge, and everyone else votes after the surge has receded, we could end up with a pretty decent result.
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When the Sunday Times commission full-scale Scottish polls from Panelbase, they have an odd habit of holding back some of the supplementary results for a full week. Accordingly, we now have some more details from last week's poll, and they're pretty encouraging from a pro-independence point of view. Although (as we already knew) the headline independence question produced figures of Yes 45.2%, No 54.8%, it turns out that Panelbase also asked the question in a different way, with three possible options - independence within the EU, independence outside the EU, or remaining within the UK after it leaves the EU. There is a small combined majority in favour of the two pro-independence options, with 41% favouring independence within the EU, and a further 10% wanting independence outside the EU. The snag is that taking advantage of this natural majority would, on the face of it, require a kind of Schrodinger's Indy - ie. the prospect of somehow being inside and outside the EU simultaneously. But it's not impossible that there may be a way of squaring that circle in the heat of an independence referendum.
The chances of that referendum taking place have been boosted by Panelbase's finding that a majority of respondents (52%) think that the SNP would have the right to hold a vote if they win a majority of Scottish seats at the general election. That outcome is, of course, already pretty much a nailed-on certainty, regardless of whether the Tory surge recedes. It would only require the SNP to win 30 seats - and yet the unionist media want us to believe that 45 seats (a 75% super-majority) would somehow be a disastrous result for Nicola Sturgeon!