So are the SNP doing the right thing by not facilitating a general election on the earliest possible date? I think some of the criticisms of the decision are a bit silly. First of all, it's as close to being certain as it can possibly be that there's going to be an election anyway before the end of this calendar year, so the decision is really over the when rather than the whether. And OK, just because Boris Johnson thinks a mid-October election is in his interests, and just because the opposition parties think a slightly later election would be in their own interests, it doesn't necessarily follow that both sides have calculated correctly. Like the French Revolution, it's too early to tell, but unlike the French Revolution, we won't have to wait long to find out. But it can't be denied that the opposition's logic seems plausible enough - if Johnson fails to take Britain out of the EU on Halloween as he has promised to, "do or die", then it'll be hard for the Brexit Party to resist putting up a full slate of candidates, and it seems likely that the Tories will be heavily hit as a result. A split pro-Brexit vote would benefit the SNP in Tory-held seats in north-east Scotland as much as it would benefit Labour and the Lib Dems south of the border.
Then there's the argument that it's not the SNP's business to block the democratic will of the people of England and Wales to leave the European Union. I think that has some merit, but it's also a bird that has well and truly flown. The time to choose that approach was in 2016 or 2017, and for better or worse the SNP are now fully committed to the twin-track strategy of trying to stop Brexit for the whole of the UK while simultaneously pushing for an independence referendum. It's pretty much impossible to turn back, and in any case the leadership are entitled to point out that the selected strategy appears to have borne fruit in opinion polls. It should also be remembered that a 'facilitate Brexit but only for England and Wales' stance would only have been much use if there had been a Westminster government open to making concessions in return for SNP cooperation, and that was never the case.
I suppose the pessimistic side of me does worry about passing up a chance to seize the moment when the stars seem so perfectly aligned for an SNP landslide victory right now, but the reality is that a month-long campaign would have been plenty of time for everything to fall apart if that's what is destined to happen. We know from a number of recent elections that public opinion can remain stable until the official campaign begins, but from that point onwards all bets are off.
Perhaps the biggest gamble that the SNP and other opposition parties are taking is in assuming that a later election will take place with Britain still being a member of the European Union. If Johnson, even as a lame duck PM, comes up with some sleight of hand to engineer a No Deal exit against parliament's wishes, or indeed if EU leaders like Macron hand him that outcome on a plate, the result of a post-No Deal general election will be impossible to predict. The only way of avoiding that leap in the dark is to replace the Johnson government with an emergency administration - but the obstacle to that is Jo Swinson and the Lib Dems, not the SNP.
Last but not least, the SNP don't actually have the numbers to bring about a mid-October election without Labour assistance, so from both a practical and presentational point of view, there was very little point in them being seen to try and fail to give Johnson the date he wants.
* * *
I was profoundly shocked to hear BBC News mislead their viewers last night by claiming that new Lib Dem recruit Luciana Berger had previously been sitting with the Independent Group for Change. In fact, although Ms Berger was a member of the Independent Group, which subsequently changed its name to Change UK, she left before it changed its name again to the Independent Group for Change. She was thereafter a member of The Independents, not of the Independent Group for Change.
Change UK: making Judean liberation splinter groups look united since February 2019.