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How excited should Labour be about its 8-point poll lead?

It's well in excess of what the party needs to be in minority or even narrow majority territory.

The latest Times/YouGov poll has Labour stretching its lead to eight points over the Conservatives, with 46 per cent to 38 per cent. It means that the month following the election is Labour's best in the polls since before the invasion of Iraq.

Labour just needs a one-point swing to gain 30 seats from the Conservatives, and with that form a comfortable if not commanding minority government – the Conservatives need just a one point swing from Labour to gain 29 seats and a majority in the Commons.  Labour's eight-point lead is well in excess of what the party needs to be in minority or even narrow majority territory.

There are numerous reasons for the state of the polls – Grenfell, both in terms of what it symbolised and in Theresa May's leaden-footed response, the public divisions in the Cabinet, the relative unity of the Labour party – but part of the reason is surely revealed in the latest round of ONS data: household disposable income is falling at its fastest rate since 2011.

The blunt truth is that the fall in the value of sterling since the Brexit vote has made almost everyone in the United Kingdom poorer. As far as the politics goes, there are now ten DUP-shaped holes in the government's case for spending restraint.

All of which increases the chances that, for as long as the government's majority holds, and whoever leads it, the gravitational pull on the Conservative side is for the parliament to run long, in the hope that something – an economic recovery, a softer Brexit, a free trade bonanza following a harder Brexit, a new leader, an interim leader, it depends which Conservative MP you talk to – turns up. (Don't forget that thanks to the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, the government's capacity to shrug off defeats is that much greater than it was in 1974-79, when the government was, in any case, able to cobble together working arrangements to stay in office even after it lost its tiny majority.)

Which for optimistic Conservatives will summon up memories of 1992, when they held on through years of recession and Labour poll leads to win unexpectedly, thanks to a new – ish – leader in the shape of John Major. But Labour's hope is that the parliament they are re-running is not 1987-1992, but 1992-7. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.