With all the excitement surrounding the local elections, it appears I overlooked more results from a Scottish-only poll conducted by YouGov towards the end of April. Two results stand out. A total of 36% of respondents say they would at least prefer to vote for a pro-independence party at the general election, and a total of 42% say they would at least prefer to vote for an anti-independence party - which, intriguingly, is a slightly narrower gap than on the headline question about independence.
Even more importantly, the poll suggests that anti-Tory tactical voting could be practically as big a phenomenon in June as anti-SNP tactical voting. 14% of respondents say they will switch tactically to the candidate best-placed to beat the Tories if their own preferred party cannot win in their constituency, while 17% say they will switch to the candidate best-placed to beat the SNP. The difference between those two numbers is within the margin of error.
The snag for the unionist camp is that the Tories are the main challengers in most seats where the SNP are thought to be vulnerable, so it could well be that the two types of tactical voting will more or less cancel each other out in those seats. The much-heralded unionist Brucie Bonus may not materialise at all. Logically, it will be a different story if Labour or the Lib Dems are the main challengers in a constituency, but that's where local election results like the one in East Renfrewshire become a bit problematical...
East Renfrewshire local election result :
Conservatives 38.3% (+8.6) : 15,588 votes
SNP 24.3% (+4.5) : 9,886 votes
Labour 17.4% (-13.7) : 7,073 votes
Liberal Democrats 2.2% (-1.2) : 907 votes
Greens 1.4% (+0.6) : 571 votes
Total valid votes : 40,699
For the next month, Blair McDougall will be traipsing around East Renfrewshire telling anyone who will listen : "Only I can beat the SNP. Unite behind my Labour campaign to defeat the SNP." But if enough people have spotted that Labour are actually on course for third place, a fair few may start replying : "Sorry, Big McD, I normally vote Labour, but this time I'm going to vote for the sitting SNP MP Kirsten Oswald to keep the Tories out."