If you ever doubt that the tides of history can make a total nonsense of seemingly watertight logic and strategic thinking, just consider this. Until very recently, we reckoned Boris Johnson to be the greatest asset for the independence cause, and thought it would be a catastrophe if we ever lost him, because anyone who replaced him as Tory leader was bound to be less loathed in Scotland. And then, when it became clear that we were indeed going to lose Boris, we were sure that at the very least we didn't want Rishi Sunak to be his successor - because whatever Sunak's many flaws, he's a non-idiot who comes across as relatively competent. Well, here we are only a few months later, Sunak is PM, and as expected his personal ratings in Scotland are much superior to Johnson's, but the Tories are somehow even less popular in Scotland than they were under Johnson and seem far more certain to lose all or most of their Scottish seats to the SNP.
Irony no. 1: This seemingly impossible contradiction has happened because of Liz Truss, not Rishi Sunak, and yet in spite of the fact that Truss has completely vacated the stage, Sunak thus far seems powerless to reverse the damage.
Irony no. 2: What would have seemed the dream scenario of the Tories being more hated in Scotland than they were under Johnson is not actually doing the independence cause any good whatsoever, because the harm done by Truss to the Tory brand has been so extensive that Labour have opened up a massive lead down south, and Scottish Labour have been able to ride on the coat-tails of that and make inroads into the SNP's dominance of Scottish polls.
On an earlier thread, Keaton posed the question of whether this unexpected problem might - paradoxically - get even worse if Sunak eventually manages to make inroads into Labour's mammoth GB-wide lead, because then you could end up with a very closely-fought general election, which would allow Labour to scare Scottish voters with the lie that a vote for the SNP could let the Tories back in. I'm not totally sure about that - you could argue the case either way. I suspect that a 1997-style Labour landslide would mean that Scotland inevitably gets swept along with the GB-wide trend, but a finely-balanced election would have less predictable effects. Remember that the SNP first won a majority of Scottish seats at Westminster in 2015, when it was far from clear whether a Labour-led or Tory-led government would be elected, although admittedly the thought of a Labour government seemed less of a novelty back then after only five years of Tory rule, which had in any case been moderated by coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
It's fair to say, though, that we'll only be sure that Labour will enjoy no in-built advantages against the SNP if there is an outright Tory lead in Britain-wide polls going into the election, and at the moment that looks like a 1% chance at best. Nevertheless, it's worth noting that an Opinium poll was published last night showing the lowest Labour lead in any poll from any firm since Sunak took office.
GB-wide voting intentions for the next UK general election (Opinium, 30th November-2nd December 2022):Labour 43% (-2)
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