[This is the headline over a column in today's edition of The Herald by political commentator (and Rector of my alma mater, the University of Edinburgh) Iain Macwhirter. It reads in part:]
That old cliché about a week being a long time in politics has never been truer than in this Scottish election campaign.
This time last week, the poll of polls still indicated that Iain Gray [Scottish Labour Party leader] was on course for Bute House. Commentators were picking holes in the SNP’s election manifesto, with its fantasy forecasts for green energy.
Now, suddenly, Super Soaraway Salmond is a slam dunk for First Minister. The Sun is already saying it’s them wot won it. Changed days for the tabloid that, on polling day in May 2007, ran a hangman’s noose on its front page as a warning to Scots about the consequences of voting SNP. (...)
If there is a criticism of the SNP’s election campaign, which has gone like clockwork so far, it’s that the manifesto has landed them with a lot of unnecessary hostages to fortune.
But there’s no doubt the SNP have used this extended election campaign to maximum advantage. The latest Ipsos/Mori poll yesterday, showed the Nationalists with a 10 point lead over Labour in both the constituency and list votes.
That may be only one poll, but it follows the YouGov survey at the weekend which showed the SNP pulling ahead on the crucial constituency vote.
More importantly, it chimes with an unmistakable mood in the constituencies. (...)
For most of the last 18 months, Labour had a stable five to 10 point lead over the Nationalists. Polls tend to narrow during an election, but it is rare for such an established electoral trend to be reversed during a campaign, let alone in seven days. (...)
The SNP’s lead policy, independence, is unpopular in Scotland, but no one seems to take it seriously any more. The Megrahi affair was a non starter for Labour, and the SNP brushed off claims that its energy policy was a lot of pious greenwash. (...)
Of course there are still two weeks to go, and anything could happen. Iain Gray might locate his mojo. Perhaps the royal wedding will provoke an outbreak of sentimental unionism, or Mr Salmond will condemn the UN bombing in Libya. But the lights are fading in the Labour camp. They tried to fight a 1980s campaign in 2011, and they are nearly out of time.
[Because of a busy Easter long weekend at Gannaga Lodge, it is unlikely that I shall be in a position to make further posts on this blog before Wednesday 27 April.]