When senior Scottish Tories like Douglas Ross and Ruth Davidson expressed no confidence in the Prime Minister, they were not only thinking about his behaviour, they were thinking about ‘brand Boris’ and its toxic effect on their party in Scotland.
Sure, both were appalled with partygate with all of its stench of grandiose entitlement, which said the rules don’t apply to us, just you lot. They also realised that he was a personality that simply grated, not only among those Scottish voters who are not Conservative, but among some of their own base.
His approval rating of -83% is a historical low, even for a Conservative Prime Minister among voters north of the border.
The Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross must be wishing that the moves against the PM at Westminster gather pace and that he is consigned to the ranks of leaders past. Ross’s volte face on whether Johnson should resign merely underlines that his political gymnastics are unlikely to impress voters here.
For Scottish Tories who want him gone they can but hope and pray (if so inclined) that MPs take him out. The post-2014 electoral dividend for the party is slowly being burned by a Prime Minister who gets more and more unpopular.
2014 was, of course, the year of the independence referendum, won by the ‘No’ campaign 55-45 after a bruising period of debate. Our poll shows that voters are split right down the middle on this question. In that regard, we have learned nothing that is new. This is in line with most findings that demonstrate voters are split and pretty entrenched on this question.
On voting intention, there is moderate good news for Scottish Labour. They are in second place on 23% but a long way behind the SNP on 44% with the Tories on 19%. Again, just as with views on the constitution, this poll tells us nothing new. It confirms that the SNP still command a lot of support. Labour coming second will hearten them, especially after some solid results in the recent Scottish council elections.
The worry for the Scottish Tories is that as long as Boris Johnson casts a long shadow, they might not get back into second place.
There are no elections on the horizon, so there is no need for celebration or panic in party ranks.
The voting intention findings will be quickly forgotten, but the approval ratings of the Prime Minister are a statistic that will be flung repeatedly at the Scottish Tories as their opponents seek to intensify their discomfiture.