I was asked what impact the sensational North Shropshire by-election result might have on Scottish politics. I think that's quite difficult to tell at the moment because there are too many variables. We were told that a gain for the Liberal Democrats might trigger Boris Johnson's downfall, but now that it's actually come to pass, the consequences have been predictably downgraded to "he's in the last chance saloon". The comparison that some people are making is with the Eastbourne by-election of 1990 which set in motion a chain of events that led to Margaret Thatcher's ousting as Prime Minister a few weeks later. But an equally valid comparison is with the Newbury and Christchurch by-elections of 1993, which the Lib Dems won on massive swings, leaving the Tories in little doubt that John Major couldn't lead them to victory in 1997 - but they did nothing much about that for four years.
The conventional wisdom is that it would be Christmas for the Yes movement if Boris Johnson is still Prime Minister when a referendum or plebiscitary election is held - but the one possible caveat would be if Johnson becomes damaged to the point where it's obvious that Labour are likely to win the next general election, which would make it harder for us to portray the choice as being between independence and Tory rule. There might yet be a strategic advantage in Johnson being replaced with another leader like Michael Gove or Priti Patel who would still be deeply unpopular in Scotland, but who might look like having a more plausible chance of winning the 2024 election.
* * *