By James Browne
According to a TNS-BRMB poll for STV, the SNP and Greens are on course for a total of 69 seats in the Scottish Parliament, giving pro-independence parties an absolute majority.
But before independentistas crack open the Smoked Salmond cocktails (one part champagne, one part Ardbeg and a dash of Diet Irn Bru), it’s worth noting that everyone – left, right, Nationalist, Unionist, Green, orange and pink – is pouring buckets of cold water on the survey.
It might be a “rogue poll”. It is out of sync with others. No poll can ever give a truly accurate picture of how the constituency seats will play out. There might be huge variations in who actually bothers to vote. And nobody is sure how the constituency/list balance will work for the SNP. Remember: the Holyrood setup makes it very hard for any one party (especially the SNP) to gain total control.
Well, we shall see.
Only an idiot would make predictions this close to polling day. But I feel that makes me particularly qualified to make predictions: Labour are about to have a huge can of whupass opened all over them and the Lib Dems will be marginally less extinct than Liopleurodon pachydeirus.
In the meantime, let’s indulge in what Peter Snow would have called “just a bit of fun”.
If the pro-independence parties: the SNP, Greens and, please God, Margo, are in the driving seat they should go for the referendum on Day One.
The Lib Dems (or Lib Dem if things go really badly for them) will be busy licking their wounds and wondering why they sold their souls for a referendum they could never win on a voting system they don’t want.
Labour will be busy looking for a Scottish leader. The far from prodigious pool of talent on the Scottish benches should make this an entertaining spectator sport, rich in comedic possibility. The “big hitters” brought in to boost the campaign – Gordon Brown and Ed Balls – show that Labour is the party that charm forgot.
Its strategists might also take some time out from trying to tell the difference between their humerus and illium to ponder the wisdom of the parliamentary “Unionist alliance” to thwart the SNP. Traditionally, Labour voters (as opposed to activists) view the Tories as the enemy, not the Nats.
And the Labour message that David Cameron wants us to vote SNP to hurt Ed Miliband is flawed and facile. The problem is that if enough Scots vote for pro-independence parties then Cameron ceases to be our problem.
It was all summed up for me by this Labour press release: “Alex Salmond’s obsession with independence puts recovery at risk.” it was prefigured by “Balls:”. Indeed…
The Tories will have a cracking Scottish election in their terms, which means not losing too many seats and remaining on the periphery of Scottish life.
In short, the Unionist parties will be in disarray. The Scottish people will have clearly shown that they reject the Westminster way of doing things. Scotland will have shown its distaste for Tory (and Lib Dem) government.
If that STV poll is right, then there will never be a better moment for an independence referendum.
But it’s only a rogue poll, of course.