Tory gains from the Lib Dems could push them ahead of Labour as they continue to lose seats to the SNP
The growing sense of concern within Labour circles about their faltering election campaign will today grow still further, with new research predicting that the Conservatives will be the largest party after the next election.
According to the analysis commissioned by asset manager Toscafund and carried out by Professor Richard Rose, founder-director of Strathclyde University’s Centre for the Study of Public Policy, increasing support for the SNP north of the border and growing support for UKIP will turn a number of seats into three way marginal, with both the Conservatives and Labour set to both lose and pick up seats in May.
The research, however, notes that Tory gains from the Liberal Democrats will give them the edge over a Labour Party which faces heavy losses to the SNP in Scotland.
Professor Rose writes:
“Asking which party is ahead in the public opinion polls is meaningless in this close-fought election because seats in the House of Commons are awarded at the constituency level not the national level.”
The research notes that a slump in Lib Dem support would benefit the Tories more than Labour, given that they are second in over two thirds of all 57 Lib Dem controlled seats.
According to Rose’s analysis, which is being trailed heavily in the Scottish political magazine Holyrood, whilst third parties will take a third of the vote nationally, this won’t equate to seats. He explains:
“With the support of one in six of the electorate, the British first-past-the-post system will cut UKIP down to size, giving it less than one per cent of the seats in Parliament.”
The danger for Labour remains very firmly in Scotland, with Rose predicating that 45 per cent of those who voted Yes in September’s independence referendum will support the SNP in May, handing them 45 seats in the Commons. Explaining the mindset of Scots voters, he continued:
“At the May election, most Scots will not be voting for which Englishman should be in Downing Street but who can best represent Scotland’s interests in parliament.”
The new findings come as Scottish Labour Leader Jim Murphy prepares to argue today that Labour can beat the SNP in Scotland irrespective of what the polls say.
Marking 50 days since being elected leader in Scotland, Murphy will boldly declare that the Scottish public will ‘switch big’ back to Labour ahead of May’s election. Such is his confidence that he will predict that Labour will actually gain an extra seat from their current tally by taking East Dunbartonshire from the Lib Dem Minister Jo Swinson.
Despite the predications however, shadow foreign Douglas Alexander, leading Labour’s election campaign, repeatedly refused to rule out any post-election deal with the SNP when speaking on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday.
Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward. Follow him on TwitterLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.