As I've learned over the years, an email notification of a midnight comment from Marcia can mean one thing, and one thing only. Forget about Scotland in Union's fantasy polls with daft questions, here's the real deal from YouGov using the standard question on independence, and the result is nothing short of sensational.
Should Scotland be an independent country?
Yes 49% (+4)
No 51% (-4)
Due to the standard margin of error, this is a statistical tie, ie. it's impossible to know for sure which side is actually in the lead. In recent times, YouGov have reverted to their former status as one of the more No-friendly pollsters, with backing for Yes fluctuating in a narrow band between 43% and 45%. Self-evidently a sudden jump to 49% looks like a major breakthrough, although there's always just a possibility that a single poll showing something new might be misleading due to an extreme case of sampling variation. But we're not exactly short of potential reasons why support for independence might have increased over recent weeks and months, so YouGov could well be picking up something genuine. It'll take another poll or two to be sure (this is the first credible poll on independence from any firm since the end of last year).
There are also figures for European election voting intentions, which if anything are even more astonishing - according to the Times front page, the SNP are on 40%, with the Brexit Party on 13% and the Tories on just 10%. I haven't found the vote shares for other parties yet, but it looks like it could be touch and go as to whether the Scottish Tories would hold their only seat in the European Parliament, while the SNP would be in with a very real chance of doubling their representation from two to four.
We can't say we haven't had fair warning of this - it's very much in line with what the Scottish subsamples from YouGov's GB-wide polls have been showing over the last couple of weeks. But somehow seeing it in a full-scale poll is still quite a shock. 10% would easily be an all-time low for the Scottish Tories in European elections, but my question is whether they've been as low as that in any type of national election, ever? We'd probably have to check the records from centuries ago to be sure of the answer to that one.
I must admit I struggled to keep a straight face when I reached the bit of the Times article that suggested the poll results were bearing out Tory fears that a lengthy Brexit extension could scupper Ruth Davidson's chances of becoming First Minister in 2021. Now, it's quite true that a) the Tories are taking a hammering because of the extension until October, and b) if Brexit still hasn't happened by the time of the general election they could easily end up losing the majority of the seats they gained from the SNP two years ago - even though those seats, with only one or two exceptions, had looked absolutely rock-solid until this month. But as for Davidson's chances of becoming First Minister...well, they weren't looking too hot even before this happened, were they? I always wondered how on earth she thought it was even theoretically possible, unless of course the moon turned into green cheese and the Corbynite leadership of Scottish Labour installed her in office.
UPDATE: I've now located the full European voting intention numbers...
Brexit Party 13%
Liberal Democrats 6%
Change UK 6%
What stands out there is the stupidity of Change UK in putting up candidates in direct competition with the Liberal Democrats. With a joint slate the two parties might just about have been in line for a seat - but as it is they appear to be knocking each other out.
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REGISTER TO VOTE: This may be a timely moment to urge you, and your nearest and dearest, to register to vote in the European elections (if you're not already registered as a result of the annual household enquiry form, I mean). The deadline is just over a week away, and you can register online HERE. Don't miss the chance to send the clearest possible message to Westminster that Scotland is determined to have a choice on its own future.
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I have a new article in The National, about why Scotland in Union are almost certainly deluding themselves if they think the Electoral Commission would ever approve a referendum question that asks about "remaining in the UK" or "leaving the UK". You can read it HERE.