If the Tories imagined their narrow lead in the GB-wide Survation poll a few days ago was some kind of turning-point, they appear to have been mistaken. We've since had an ICM poll (albeit one with radical methodological changes) putting them two points behind Labour, and tonight brings word of a YouGov poll putting Labour eight points clear - the biggest Tory deficit for many a year.
Of most interest to us, of course, is the Scottish subsample, and the news isn't that great : Labour 36%, SNP 31%, Conservatives 25%, Liberal Democrats 5%, Greens 1%. This is the third subsample that's put the SNP in second place since the election, but it's the first one of those that I take remotely seriously, because the previous two were absolutely tiny Survation subsamples which you could tell were clearly skewed by looking at the past vote recall of respondents. As far as I know, YouGov still weight their Scottish results separately, which means they should produce results that are slightly more accurate and stable than other firms' subsamples. However, even when properly weighted, a subsample has a much greater margin of error than a full-scale poll - I make it roughly 8% in this particular case, which means YouGov's figures are entirely consistent with a small SNP lead. I still think that's the most likely state of play, because in total we've had six subsamples since the election, with three putting the SNP in the lead, two putting Labour in the lead and only one putting the Tories ahead. It's also significant that the SNP haven't been in third place in any of the subsamples, whereas both Labour and the Tories have. However, even if the SNP do still have the advantage, it's plain enough that we're faced with a fairly tight three-way battle for the time being.
'For the time being' are the operative words, because it's entirely predictable that a major political shock like the one we saw last month will radically shift the opinion polls in the immediate aftermath. Sometimes the change is superficial and temporary (for example the brief Conservative surge during the fuel crisis of 2000 which was completely reversed at astonishing speed), and sometimes it's meaningful and lasting (for example the Tory slump after Black Wednesday in 1992, which they didn't properly recover from for well over a decade). We'll just have to wait and see which category the current situation falls into. The irony is that if Labour have hopes of exploiting this apparent moment of relative vulnerability for the SNP and winning back a truckload of central belt seats, their own strength in the opinion polls may end up preventing them from doing so. The Tories aren't going to willingly call an election unless they think there is a good chance of winning an overall majority, and as I've noted before, there is no realistic prospect of them being forced into an election by a vote of no confidence in the Commons for at least three years (unless Tory MPs defect to other parties). The more I've thought about the parliamentary arithmetic, the more I've come to the conclusion that it's not totally inconceivable that the new parliament will stagger on for the full five-year term.
The Tories are very lucky that the exit poll was wrong about them only having 314 seats. The difference between 314 and 318 may not sound all that great, but it could well be enough to swing the balance between a very short parliament and a very long one - which apart from saving the Tories' bacon, could also rescue the SNP from having to defend their own 35 seats for a good number of years. Ideally Scotland will be an independent country by 2022 (Nicola Sturgeon's recent statement very much leaves that possibility open), but even if it isn't, Labour could be in a completely different place by then. There are already plenty of signs that the truce between the Corbynites and the "moderates" is starting to break down.
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Stormfront Lite's notorious Deputy Editor is a reliable source of painful prose and unwitting comic genius, and yesterday morning's effort was no exception -
"I know I’m not the only Tory who somehow hopes Ruth Davidson becomes an MP before the next Tory leadership election but I suspect she sees her role for the next few years as ensuring Scottish Nationalism really is killed stone dead and that can only be achieved in Holyrood and not Westminster."
Which suggests that Scottish nationalism hasn't "really" been killed stone dead thus far? Well, quite. It's a tad difficult to boast about killing Scottish nationalism when you've only just been beaten by Scottish nationalists in a sixth successive nationwide election.
The roll of shame for Ruth is : the 2012 local elections, the 2014 European elections, the 2015 general election, the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, the 2017 local elections, and the 2017 general election. Every single one an SNP victory.