Faisal Islam, the Sky News political editor, had a 22-part thread on Twitter last night in which he suggested that the Tories are moving towards something a little mushier than their previous preferred Hard Brexit model. There may be some truth in that, but one part of the thread leapt out as very obviously wrong -
As I've noted before, it's important to separate out two different questions - a) have the SNP concluded that an early general election is undesirable? and b) would they vote in favour of an early general election if the option was put before the Commons? If Faisal Islam is correct, the Tories are making the huge mistake of assuming that if the answer to a) is "yes", the answer to b) must by definition be "no". They may have been encouraged in that view by listening too much to so-called metrosplainers such as Mike Smithson of Stormfront Lite, who has repeatedly pushed the idea that the SNP will inevitably vote for their own self-interest and help block an early election. Tory ministers really need to get out more and start listening to people who understand Scottish politics - although in truth they should have long since learned the lesson themselves by now. Have they really not noticed how toxic the Tory brand has been for decades among the pool of voters which the SNP and Labour compete over? Or have they fallen for their own propaganda, and think that Scotland is suddenly relaxed about Tory rule now that Ruth Davidson is here?
The reality is that it doesn't actually matter whether the SNP have privately reached the view that an early election is more of a threat than an opportunity, or even whether they think it would be a certain disaster. They would have no choice but to vote to bring down the Tory government, because the long-term consequences of doing anything else hardly bear thinking about. There would be no point in avoiding a short-term hit if the price is decades of Labour taunts about the SNP helping to keep the Tories in power. I doubt if there's a single SNP MP who doesn't fully understand that point.
In any event, it's far from clear that the SNP should fear an early election. The danger they face in the central belt has been well-rehearsed, but the flip-side of the coin is that they look well-placed to regain a few rural constituencies from the Tories. It hardly needs to be stated what a psychological boost it would be if Angus Robertson and Alex Salmond were to quickly regain their former seats.
* * *
Memo to Anas Sarwar : There's little point in pitching yourself as the unity candidate who will bring Corbynites and moderates together, if you're then going to unveil a long list of the usual suspects (such as Iain "the Snarl" Gray, Ian Murray, the Daily Mail's very own Alan Roden, Catherine Stihler and Jackie Baillie) as your loyal supporters. You might as well just have the words Chicken Coup : The Sequel tattooed on your forehead. Severin Carrell's initial claim that Sarwar was the man to watch because he would have Corbynites flocking to his cause is looking more and more eccentric with every passing day.
The Labour selectorate are faced with a genuine dilemma, though. Whether wisely or unwisely, Nicola Sturgeon has nailed her colours to the mast today with a breathtakingly radical programme for government that will make it much harder for a Leonard-led Labour to outflank the SNP on the left. For all Ruth Davidson's half-hearted claims that the SNP have nicked one or two Tory policies, I can't see anything in there that could reasonably be described as right-of-centre - but there's quite a bit that's to the left of even Corbyn himself.