Whatever the motivation, though, the poll turned out to be dreamland stuff for Nicola Sturgeon, and nothing short of catastrophic for Boris Johnson and the Tory government in London. 55% of respondents in Scotland think Johnson has handled the crisis badly, and only 30% think he has handled it well. The numbers for the UK government are broadly similar - 51% badly, 34% well. Those are extraordinary findings at a time when governing parties all over the world are enjoying a polling boost due to the 'rally around the flag' effect. What makes it even worse is that the fieldwork for the poll preceded the Cummings controversy, so in all likelihood the numbers in a poll conducted now would be far more dire for Johnson.
By contrast, the Scottish Government's handling of the crisis enjoys backing that is as close to total as you'll ever see in any poll. 82% of respondents feel that Nicola Sturgeon has handled it well, and only 8% think she has handled it badly. For the Scottish Government as a whole, the figures are 78% well, 11% badly.
The Scottish Tories have been trying to chip away at the Scottish Government by criticising any divergence from London, on the grounds that it causes "confusion" - but the poll leaves no room for doubt that such a line of attack is completely misconceived. An overwhelming 81% think Scotland should come out of lockdown at a different time from the rest of the UK if deemed necessary. And on specific measures where there is already a divergence between London and Edinburgh, public opinion strongly favours the more cautious Scottish approach - there's clear opposition to the reopening of non-essential shops, and to the reopening of schools before summer.
The vast majority (70%) think that lockdown didn't happen soon enough. That can be seen as a criticism of both governments, although from the other numbers it's reasonable to infer that London is taking the lion's share of the blame. (And rightly so, given the Scottish Government's limited legal powers until late March.)
The obvious lesson is that the Scottish Tories would have been far better advised to stick with a national-unity-at-Scottish-level approach. They could have portrayed themselves as part of a cross-party 'Team Scotland' and demonstrated that they are not merely a branch office of a London party. Instead they've let themselves become associated with a deeply unpopular London policy, while being seen to be opposed to a wildly popular Scottish policy. From a strategic point of view, it really doesn't get much worse than that.