Today brings the first dark whispers about the possibility of a Tory/Brexit Party electoral pact at the general election. Would that change the equation? Of course it would. Until now nobody had seriously factored that possibility in, because until now it seemed utterly unthinkable. But Dominic Cummings is a revolutionary at the heart of government, and he's attempting two simultaneous revolutions - most obviously he wants a Hard Brexit before the end of this year, but he also wants to remake the Conservative party as a populist, hard-right outfit, completely purged of its pro-European and "One Nation" (I use the term loosely) elements. A party with Philip Hammond and Dominic Grieve in it was never going to climb into bed with Nigel Farage, but a party without them just might. I think a huge amount is going to hinge on whether the calls to restore the Tory whip to the rebels become irresistible. If Johnson rides it out, then the Tory internal revolution may be complete. (The other news today that the Tories are planning to put up a candidate against John Bercow in Buckingham is another sign of the way the wind is blowing - that would also have been unthinkable before Cummings came on the scene.)
Now for the good news. As you know, there was a YouGov poll the other day conducted exclusively in the constituencies currently held by the Scottish Conservatives, which suggested a complete Tory wipeout north of the border. And, reassuringly, in the case of most of those projected SNP gains, a split in the pro-Brexit vote was not the decisive factor. The Brexit Party recorded just 5% of the vote across all of the Tory seats, and if that vote was added to the Tory share, it would help the Tories rescue just two seats - Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale, and Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk. There would also be a third seat, West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine, that would become a virtual dead heat. But the SNP would still be firmly on course to gain the other ten Tory seats, which is scarcely bad going in the circumstances.
We know there's a potential pro-Brexit vote in Scotland of up to 38%, but that's not to say all of those voters are going to buy into an extreme, Faragist version of Brexit. It looks like the Tories will require more than a pact with the Brexit Party to hold the bulk of their Scottish seats - they'll have to reach out to more moderate centre-right voters. And, paradoxically, a pact with the Brexit Party and the whole Cummings Revolution that made a pact possible, is likely to drive those moderate voters away to the Lib Dems or in some cases even the SNP itself.
However, at UK level a united Leave vote up against a hopelessly divided Remain vote is obviously a recipe for a Hard Brexit government after the election. I wonder if this might concentrate minds to such an extent that other previously unthinkable things start to be seriously considered - such as a Labour/Lib Dem pact, of either a formal or informal variety.
* * *
Scot Goes Pop link list: Thank you for all the excellent nominations for the link list. So far I've added Talking Up Scotland Two (by the legendary Professor John Robertson), Councillor Dick Cole (by the leader of Mebyon Kernow, no less) and Don Roberto and Me. It looks like the latter isn't updated very frequently, but it's a highly intelligent blog, and who can resist learning more about the mysterious and fascinating Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham, upon whose shoulders we all stand? I'll probably be adding more blogs in coming days. I tried to add Arc of Prosperity, but the feed couldn't be detected.
UPDATE : With a little help from Elisabeth, I've now located the Arc of Prosperity feed, so that's been added as well. I'm still mulling over what might be the best Welsh blogs to add.