1. In last week's debate, Nicola had two seemingly irreconcilable tasks to perform. She had to give no ground to Labour at all and make sure the SNP remained the left of centre party of choice in Scotland. Then there was the trickier feat of assuring English voters that her party was not some toxic entity prepared to rinse Westminster and the taxpayer as a price for staying in the union. In both cases, she succeeded. This election is no stranger to weird phenomena, and this is no exception: she did so by deploying basic class-based social democratic arguments against austerity that ultimately cut against the logic of nationalism. In fact, it was the only gambit capable of appealing equally to Scottish and rUK voters. What also made this approach inevitable is her own politics, which have consistently been on the SNP's left. Going in with austerity, ably assisted by Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett, she was able to pitch her idea of a 'progressive alliance' that would lock the Tories out of power this time and perhaps forever. This attempts to nullify the 'vote SNP, get Tory' messages put about by Labour that will sway some new SNP voters who've previously been Labour-loyal while simultaneously implying an endorsement for a Labour vote pretty much everywhere else. It's risky from an anti-Tory point of view because reasons. Nevertheless, it's out there now. By taking on the mantle of anti-austerity the SNP now appears much more benign than the way the Conservatives would have it.
2. Here's what Westminster and its bubble cannot get its head around - here's a case in point - is that Scottish politics have changed. Masses of people have elbowed aside the tottering structure of Scottish Labour and taken up politics in huge numbers. Imagine how politics would be transformed in England if, virtually over night, there was an influx into Labour as proportional as the one experienced by the SNP - we'd be talking 800,000 extra members and a decisive shift in wider society. Politics in Scotland is no longer a spectator sport, and no amount of finger wagging, smears, and carping on about losing a referendum will change that. Labour can make a comeback, but it's a long, hard slog. It has to adapt to the new situation, not the other way round.
3. Shenanigans! I suppose a back office "intervention" against Nicola Sturgeon was inevitable. Is it plausible? Well, there is a certain logic for some in the SNP preferring a Tory government - as Mark Ferguson points out. However, the bulk of the SNP's new voters and recruits are not for independence at any price. But there are plenty of those, sadly including some in my own party, for whom no price is too high for the union's preservation. Ditto for the machinery of state, as H also notes. It's worth remembering the "leak" originated from the Scottish Office, which was until recently run by the LibDems. Far be it for me to suggest this and a well-known track record for dirty tricks might be more than coincidence. Yet as stings go, whether it's true or not and despite Nicola's consistent political record, the logic will ring true for some and provide Labour marginal succour - at the price of firing up the SNP's support even more.
4. The nightmare question for our betters is if Sturgeon's anti-austerity rhetoric is taken up by many millions of others. If you're worthy of leaks and smears, you and your political movement have arrived.
23:18 Update Oh look, the LibDems have 'fessed up. (H/T Eddie Truman)