So I've been catching up with the news that the Airdrie and Shotts by-election for the newly vacant Westminster seat will apparently take place the week after the Holyrood election because of safety concerns. This is potentially the nightmare scenario. The reason this needless by-election is happening at all is of course student politics on the SNP's NEC, designed to scupper Joanna Cherry's hopes of switching to the Scottish Parliament by creating an artificial rule that would have required her to prematurely abandon her Westminster seat and trigger a by-election. Ms Cherry was successfully deterred, but the rule applied to other MPs too, and here we are, staring down the barrel of losing one of the seats that was so hard-won in the 2019 general election. It might not have been so bad if the vote had taken place on the same day as the Holyrood election, because it wouldn't have been a by-election in any real sense - it would have been subsumed into the national election, probably with very similar trends. But a week later the dynamics will be totally different. Firstly the turnout will be much lower, and in a North Lanarkshire seat there's a fair chance that'll favour Labour. And secondly momentum will play a part. If the SNP perform more poorly than expected in the Holyrood election, their supporters will be demotivated a week later, which could magnify any swing against them.
If the SNP have pointlessly thrown a seat away and allowed Scottish Labour back into the game at Westminster, some individuals may want to take a long hard look at themselves.