As they say on reality TV shows, I've "been on a journey" over the last few days. At the start of the weekend I was stating quite confidently - and I think with a fair bit of justification - that the Tories were likely to take two of the six Scottish seats in the European elections. Now it appears the limit of their realistic ambitions is to hold the one seat they currently have, and it's far from clear they will even manage that. The reason? Simply that voters who would probably be solidly Tory in Westminster, Holyrood or local elections appear to be deserting the party in droves for the Euro-vote, to send a message about Brexit.
Britain-wide voting intentions for the European elections (YouGov):
Brexit Party 27% (+12)
Labour 22% (-2)
Conservatives 15% (-1)
Greens 10% (+2)
Liberal Democrats 9% (+1)
UKIP 7% (-7)
Change UK 6% (-1)
SNP / Plaid Cymru 4% (-2)
Scottish subsample: SNP 35%, Labour 16%, Greens 13%, Brexit Party 13%, Conservatives 10%, Liberal Democrats 5%, UKIP 4%, Change UK 3%
Now, of course no individual Scottish subsample can be regarded as reliable, but this is the latest of several in a row to put Ruth Davidson's party at an abysmally low level for the European elections, and well below what they routinely score in Westminster subsamples. That's unlikely to be a coincidence, so it seems that Tory support - even in Remain-dominated Scotland - is heavily dependent on a hard Brexit vote that is now ready to punish the party for a perceived betrayal. It's rather satisfying to see Davidson finally get some long-overdue comeuppance for her near-comical flip-flops over the Brexit issue, although in all honesty this would probably still be happening no matter what she had done.
Just for "a bit of fun", here is what the Scottish seats allocation would look like if the YouGov subsample happened to be bang-on accurate.
SNP 3, Labour 1, Greens 1, Brexit Party 1
Yup, that's right. Zero for the Tories. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Whisper it gently, but there's a chance that, just this once, Ruth Davidson won't be winning the Scottish Politician of the Year award. Indeed it's very hard to imagine how her adoring fans in the media would cope with the discovery that it's actually possible for the Tories to go backwards on Ruth's watch. For example, this would be a significantly worse performance than Annabel Goldie managed in 2009, when the Scottish Tories took 17% of the vote and one seat. In terms of the popular vote, it would be the worst Scottish Tory performance in any Euro-election ever - not even John Major and Ian Lang managed to fall this low.
Although the Brexit Party surge has largely come at the expense of the Tories, it's also a cause of concern for the SNP in an indirect way, because it's possible that the SNP will be in a dogfight with an anti-Europe party for the final seat (as happened last time around). It would have been far more helpful if the Brexit vote had remained split down the middle, but it looks like the BBC's lavish coverage for Farage last week has done the trick, and from now on the previous UKIP vote will move across wholesale to the Brexit Party.
There's good news and bad news for the Scottish Greens: this subsample shows them winning a seat, but as it shows the Brexit Party winning a seat as well, it directly contradicts the careful messaging that there's some sort of straight choice between a Green MEP and a far-right MEP (with the implication presumably being that supporters of other parties should 'lend' their vote to the Greens to stop Farage). Ironically, the last YouGov subsample showed neither the Greens nor the anti-Europe parties winning a seat. The reality is that, because of the way the voting system works, it's very difficult to tell for sure which party is best-placed to prevent the Brexit Party taking a Scottish seat - assuming it's even possible to do that at all.
Probably the media line on any Scottish Tory collapse will be that this is a freakish one-off caused by unusual circumstances, and voters will come home to the Tories for the general election. That's true, but perhaps only up to a point - we know from past experience that Farage is capable of carrying over at least a portion of his European Parliament successes into a general election. That may not win him any Westminster seats under a first-past-the-post system, but it's certainly possible that it could cost the Tories a lot of seats, including in Scotland. Things might suddenly be looking up for the SNP in their former heartland of the north-east.