The SNP is on course to win a landslide of Scottish seats on December 12, according to the Ipsos MORI Scotland poll for STV.
With UK-wide polls predicting a majority Conservative government, the first genuine constitutional crisis of the devolved era could be a reality in just over two weeks.
Boris Johnson has said the Conservatives will reject demands for a second independence referendum. The logic of the Prime Minister’s position is that he will accept a UK-wide mandate for his Brexit deal but will not accept the result of a Westminster election in Scotland as constituting a mandate for furthering the central plank of the SNPs manifesto.
Wrapping every argument in the neat fit that constitutional issues are reserved is a perfectly legitimate (i.e.) legal argument even if it boots in the cajones any notion of realpolitik.
If the UK is out of the EU by the end of January and Mr Johnson simply parrots the mantra ‘no to indyref2’, the most acute political crisis in the history of the Scottish Parliament will result.
The First Minister will then have a tricky question to answer: What’s my plan B on the constitution?
Nicola Sturgeon has always squashed in emphatic tones any notion that Holyrood would sanction an advisory plebiscite on independence.
She is well aware that any course of action which is not legally watertight could provide the mother of all distractions to the central issue for her, which is building a winning consensus behind her cherished goal.
The potential for crisis is obvious, but it is for another day, albeit one that might not be too far off.
Back to the poll.
It is dreadful news for Scottish Labour and if accurate would confirm their marginal status north of the border, yet another nail in their electoral coffin with the prediction they would be down to a single seat.
Jeremy Corbyn, if he is to get anywhere near power, needs a strong Scottish performance. This poll suggests he could be facing mission impossible.
The Conservatives could lose six seats, according to these numbers, in what would be viewed as a major setback. It would also make Downing Street intransigence over indyref2 a more difficult sell in the context of lost seats and votes.
All polls come with health warnings and I would add more than the usual caveats with this one. Why?
Well, for a start, 46 of Scotland’s 59 seats are marginal. That’s to say the party in second place needs a swing of 5% or less to unseat the incumbent. The scope therefore for tactical voting is more pronounced at this election than at any other in recent times.
The seat projections, and that is what they are, projections (SNP 48, Con 6, Lib Dem 4 and Scot Lab 1), assume that electors will behave in exactly the same way in every seat, that the swing between the parties will be uniform across all 59 constituencies. In reality, tactical considerations and local circumstances will result in winners who will buck the trend on election night.
This poll confirms what previous ones have indicated. Since the general election of 2017, the SNP have gained ground at the expense of both the Conservatives and Labour.
This is the most up to date snapshot and is therefore the one that will please the SNP and depress to varying degrees the other parties. But remember, it is only a snapshot, not a firm prediction of what will happen in two weeks’ time.
Politicians, for all they can be dismissive of polls, secretly worry about them with their ability to gnaw at the very confidence they exude at election time.
Our poll will put a spring in the step of some and have others gargling with gin before the witching hour.