By choosing a leader who is so unpopular with the public, the SNP have condemned us to an Alice Through The Looking Glass world where bad polls for the SNP are arguably good, and good polls are arguably bad. The reason? Bad results in polls might just wake senior people in the party up to the uncomfortable reality that they need to replace Humza to have a realistic chance of avoiding defeat in next year's general election, whereas good (or passable) results in polls lull them into a false sense of security and we all continue drifting helplessly towards the iceberg. There was a frankly terrifying piece in The National a few days ago in which anonymous SNP MPs reacted to a projection from YouGov showing that almost half of them are on course to lose their seats with "zen-like calm", by muttering "meh", and (worst of all) by saying they need to "keep the heid". That gives you some sense of just how catastrophic the polling evidence would need to be in order to inject a sense of realism. A possible explanation is that SNP MPs played a key role in the very recent mistake (electing Humza) that has led directly to their plight, so at this stage it's psychologically impossible for them to admit to the depth of the hole they're in, because that would mean admitting to themselves why they're in it.
In spite of the very obvious decoupling in recent weeks between Yes support and SNP support in polls, suggesting that the Yes vote is remaining strong in spite of what the SNP are doing and not because of it, we saw the other day the first signs of how good polls for Yes, just like decent polls for the SNP, can have a negative side-effect by being used to shore up Humza's position. That certainly does not mean, incidentally, that we should start wishing for poor Yes results in polls - quite the reverse, in fact, we desperately need a strong Yes vote for Humza's successor to inherit. But The National's front page about the Ipsos poll putting Yes ahead by 53% to 47% featured a photo of a smiling Humza, which could be interpreted in two ways - either a) that the poll was good news for Humza, as indeed it was for him and for other pro-indy leaders like Alex Salmond and Patrick Harvie, or b) that Yes were doing well because of Humza. Needless to say, the man himself preferred the latter interpretation, and tweeted a screenshot of the front page as an indirect boast. One of his supporters followed his example and added "the whole independence movement needs to get full-square behind this man" - the implication being that Humza had got us to 53% without our wholehearted support, so just imagine what he could do if we were behind him. Predictably, there were also some nods to Humza's "sustained supermajority" nonsense, with exhortations to "get the Yes vote even higher", as if the masterplan was working and the independence vote was building nicely under Humza's watch.
Let's be brutally honest - that narrative is complete tripe. The Ipsos poll was a horror show for Humza, showing the SNP vote has dropped ten points on Westminster voting intentions, and eight points on Holyrood voting intentions. And the independence vote was actually down as well, albeit thankfully by a much more modest three points. You could look at that in one of two ways - you could say that independence support is essentially unchanged, and that the three point drop is just margin of error noise, in which case Humza hasn't been able to do the same damage to the Yes vote that he's done to the SNP's own vote. Or you could say that the three point drop for Yes is real, in which case perhaps Humza has done some damage to Yes, but it hasn't been anything like as severe as what he's done to the SNP. But either way, there is clearly no basis in fact for the belief that Humza's leadership has led to a boost for Yes.
As far as the SNP are concerned, it's true that they were starting from a higher base with Ipsos than they were with other polling firms, and thus the sharp drop in their vote still leaves them with a decent cushion over Labour if Ipsos are to be believed. It's also true that there is no good reason for leaping to the conclusion that other firms are more accurate than Ipsos. But I would just note that, around two weeks before polling day in the 2017 election, Ipsos conducted a poll that overestimated the SNP's eventual lead over Labour by no less than six percentage points, and their lead over the Tories by ten percentage points. That may have happened due to a late swing against the SNP that the poll was too early to pick up, or there may have been a big methodological error, or Ipsos may have been missing a disproportionately high abstention rate among SNP supporters. But none of those explanations offer any comfort to the SNP in the here and now, because they could all apply again this time around. In particular, the danger of SNP supporters staying at home is arguably even more severe than it was in 2017, due to the leadership abandoning all plans to win independence, thus leaving people with no easily discernible reason for voting SNP in a Westminster ballot (unless they feel particularly strongly about the trans issue or glass bottles).
Giugliano is the guy who said after Yousaf's 52% to 48% victory that eradicating all non-Yousaf supporters from ministerial office was democracy in action. His political mission is to exclude and divide. Appropriate that's what got him on the front page.https://t.co/Gh12MXf995— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 25, 2023
The person issuing this 'warning' is also the guy who has made a general election defeat far more likely by backing the most unpopular candidate in the leadership election and then cheerleading for the sacking of all ministers from outside his own faction.https://t.co/EzOaKVvlL6— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 26, 2023
Even more increasingly obvious that independence requires a vote on independence.https://t.co/L1Jrs5bd1P— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 26, 2023
Doubtless this makes it even more important that we redouble our efforts to do absolutely nothing to win independence for at least ten years. Rome wasn't built in a day, etc, etc. Let's keep the heid!https://t.co/YTJQLg7WPk— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 26, 2023
"It's their way or the highway"— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 27, 2023
But you're choosing their way, aren't you? You're going to use the special conference to bury any chance of a vote on independence. You'll complain but ultimately accept what the UK govt have done on DRS.https://t.co/MK3mi2lILP
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