AN opinion poll from YouGov published today suggests that the SNP could face greater losses in the next UK General Election than the party did in the snap General Election of 2017 which saw them lose 21 of their 54 seats – including those of high-profile party figures such as former First Minister Alex Salmond and then SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson.

Unlike the 2017 election, where the Conservative Party were resurgent, increasing their seats from just one to 13, the YouGov poll suggests that it's Labour who will benefit, making substantial gains at the expense of the SNP in the Central Belt.

The poll is the latest in a number of polls from different polling companies, all of which suggest that the SNP have been damaged by the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon and the barrage of negative publicity accompanying the police investigation into the party's finances. Despite how said investigation is yet to result in any criminal charges.

Many party supporters have noticed that the wall-to-wall – some would argue excessive – coverage that the Scottish media has given to the affair stands in stark contrast to that same media's lack of interest in financial scandals involving the Conservative Party, even though this time, these allegations do involve taxpayers' money and do include allegations that cash was corruptly diverted for personal gain.

The sums of money involved in these scandals are many, many times that involved in the case of the SNP, yet it's the SNP which attracts disproportionate negative attention from the Scottish media circus.

It's very difficult to escape the conclusion that double standards are clearly at play here. Nevertheless, the damage has been done, and the anti-independence media has succeeded in its aim of hurting the SNP and not caring about standards of honesty, democracy, and accountability in the Union that it is so determined to keep Scotland a part of.

However, as they say, a week is a long time in politics and given the next UK General Election is not likely to take place for a year and a half, a great deal can happen between now and then.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf: Reversing Tory policies would lift 70,000 Scots out of poverty

And possibly the only good news to come from this is that support for independence is unaffected by the current difficulties of the SNP, with a poll from Ipsos finding it at 53%. This poll also reports a drop in support for the SNP, but suggests that they will remain the largest party in Scotland following the next election.

This poll confirms the other trend in polling – that support for independence is not dented by a drop in support for the SNP. If this pattern continues, it may suggest that the SNP could limit any electoral damage at the next election by focusing on independence, contrasting themselves with a Labour Party which is pro-Brexit, English nationalist – and increasingly right-wing under their current leadership.

Boris Johnson referred to police after fresh Covid breaches emerge

Destiny's Man-Child, former prime minister Boris Johnson, has again been referred to the police by the Cabinet Office over new allegations that he broke lockdown rules during the pandemic. This time, the setting is a friends and family party in Chequers – the prime ministerial grace-and-favour residence in Buckinghamshire.

The Metropolitan and Thames Valley police forces have confirmed they are looking at evidence of potential lockdown breaches committed by the former prime minister between June 2020 and May 2021 at Chequers, as well as fresh allegations about Johnson in Downing Street during the same period.

Johnson has denounced the referral as a "clearly politically motivated attempt to manufacture something out of nothing," and has denied any wrongdoing. However, the referral puts more pressure on the beleaguered former prime minister who is fighting for his political life as he awaits the outcome of a separate Commons investigation into whether he misled Parliament when he repeatedly denied any lockdown rules had been broken.

The police referral was made because the Cabinet Office signed off on the decision to pass Johnson’s diaries on to the Metropolitan and Thames Valley police forces – diaries which reportedly contain further evidence of potential breaches of lockdown rules.

Johnson had previously handed taxpayer-funded lawyers hired by the Cabinet Office a number of documents, including those diaries, as they prepared his defence for the public inquiry into the pandemic. However, when concerns about fresh allegations of law-breaking were flagged to the Cabinet Office, officials felt obliged under the civil service code to refer the material to the police.

READ MORE: Scottish independence support at 53 per cent, new poll finds

Johnson and his allies on the Tory backbenches have reacted with fury to the referral, with Johnson now reportedly threatening to sue the Cabinet Office.

An ally of Johnson's told The Guardian: "Boris has been supporting the government, but this act is [the] final straw. There are a growing number of MPs who want the party leadership to act to stop these witch-hunts and a group of MPs will meet today to consider options. Meanwhile, members across [the] country are being organised."

Sunak struggles with fractious Tory party

And it’s not just the former prime minister who’s struggling. Current incumbent Rishi Sunak is now facing a potential rebellion amongst pro-Johnson MPs on the right of the party. Of course, there will be suspicions that this was a factor in his decision not to order an investigation into the behaviour of Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who asked civil servants to assist her in organising special treatment so she could have a private speeding awareness course after being caught speeding by the police.

Sunak now looks even weaker and appears to be struggling to maintain control over his divided and fractious party. Thanks to the large Conservative majority in the Commons, he is in no immediate danger, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that he presides over a party which is falling apart at the seams