Labour must not be trapped by Conservative thinking on Scotland

Worrying poll results should spur Labour on to make contingency plans for the event of a hung parliament


The latest polling by YouGov for The Times has once again revealed a whole series of problems for the Labour Party in Scotland ahead of the General Election, now less than two months away.

The headline results are that, when asked how they would vote, 46 per cent would go for the SNP, down two percentage points from last month; Labour’s position remains unchanged on 27 per cent; the Conservatives are up three points to 18; the Lib Dems are stuck on four per cent and ‘others’ are on five per cent.

If replicated at the election, this would give the SNP 48 seats in the Commons, up from the six they currently have. Labour would slump from 41 to nine, the Lib Dems would lose all but one of their MPs north of the border and the Conservatives would retain the one they currently have.

Of particular concern for Labour is the poll’s finding that 74 per cent of respondents say they either definitely won’t or are unlikely to change their minds about how they will be voting. Of those who say they intend to vote SNP in May, 89 per cent say they either won’t or are unlikely to change their minds.

The figures continue to reveal the difficulties that Ed Miliband faces in connecting with the Scottish public, showing that whilst 29 per cent believe David Cameron is doing well as Prime Minister, just 19 per cent believe the same about Ed Miliband’s success as leader of the Labour Party.

Asked about Nicola Sturgeon’s performance as first minister, 64 per cent say she is doing well compared to 33 per cent who say the same about Jim Murphy’s performance as leader of the Scottish Labour party.

Interestingly, 59 per cent of those polled in Scotland say that the Labour Party is divided, compared to 11 per cent who say it is a united party. This compares to the 67 per cent who say the SNP are united and 10 per centwho say they are divided as a party.

With ongoing rumblings about what stance Labour should take in respect of any post-election deal with the SNP, 54 per cent believe that Ed Miliband should leave open the possibility of a deal with the SNP compared to 28 per cent who say he should rule a deal out altogether.

More worryingly still for Labour, support for the SNP remains high despite 37 per cent of Scottish voters agreeing that a large SNP contingent at Westminster makes it more likely that there will be a Conservative-led government after the election.

The polling indicates also that 64 per cent believe the SNP is best placed to secure increased powers for Holyrood and 62 per cent believe the party would give Scotland most influence in Westminster.

The findings create a world of headaches for Labour. The former home secretary Alan Johnson yesterday became the latest senior Labour figure to call on the party leadership to rule out a deal with the SNP, but the voters in Scotland clearly have other ideas.

The findings show that they want a strong SNP influence in Westminster and so close to the election it is difficult to see things shifting dramatically.

Whilst publicly Labour obviously have to avoid boxing themselves in, behind the scenes contingency planning should, if it is not already happening, be taking place to avoid the party being caught napping on 8 May.

In the event of a hung Parliament Labour needs to take the initiative early on in, the same way David Cameron did in 2010. That requires thought, preparation and some degree of relationship building between Labour and SNP politicians.

There are many Labour and other party supporters who will no doubt vehemently disagree with this assessment. That’s their right.

But think about this. Last September the party leaders from Westminster launched a love bombing offensive, telling Scotland that it was better off in the UK. That has to mean something if we are to avoid Scotland shifting down the road to independence.

The debate so far has been too dominated by a Conservative Party that seems to see Scotland as a separate country that has no place at the top table of UK government. Labour should not be trapped by this thinking.

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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9 Responses to “Labour must not be trapped by Conservative thinking on Scotland”

  1. RolftheGanger

    It is a very short road to Independence now!

  2. DRbilderburg

    Will Miliband stand down if they lose the GE. After Scotland cleanses itself of New Labour can we then look forward to Alexander and Murphy leaving the party
    Simply getting rid of those 2 is a result in my eyes, Rabid Blairites political opportunists., Good riddance to bad rubbish

  3. Guest

    Yea, all you need is to start burning those evil Brits.

    Your level of hype, after all, Gangster.

  4. Guest

    So social cleansing based on party affiliation.

    Which of course means a closed border to stop those several million people returning.

  5. RolftheGanger

    Why would I burn my relatives. Yir havering (“talking irrelevant rubbish”); as you probably don’t know Scottish terms any better than you know Scottish politics)

    . Give up on the mad phantom demons of your overheated imagination. Life and politics here are much more prosaic than that.

  6. JoeDM

    The refernendum was lost. By 10% !!!!! Done and dusted.

    No more devolution. No more appeasement of the nationalist extremists

  7. Guest

    No, I don’t have your mad phantom demons. I’m not the one calling for not appeasing you, as you hate on your own people.

  8. Guest

    Oh, and I know fullwell you’re a ned, thanks.

  9. littleoddsandpieces

    The so-called big parties in England will not get sufficient to form a majority government.

    Not only because of voter apathy, but also because no-one will be home.

    The general election was always bound to be the most severe hung parliament,
    as it is right in the middle of the May Bank Holiday week when most people will be away from home.

    And charter flights are usually Sunday to Sunday.

    This gives small parties their best chance, which is why the media ignoring them means we will get big parties in the worst hung parliament in UK history, that will not last 6 months, and we will get general elections again and again like in Europe, every few months.

    I was on holiday in one country that had a general election at the beginning of the month and another at the end.

    About half the population now are poor, with most people going to foodbanks in low waged jobs or low income self employed, who will be hit by Universal Credit 2016-2017 that no big party will come out and say will abolish. Universal Credit means permanent sanctions from Hardship payments becoming recoverable loans from future benefit or wages, so just keep on nil food money. And Universal Credit denies Pension Credit (payable long before retirement age at the moment) if either partner is below the raised retirement age.

    The poor have more reason to put pencil cross to paper on Thursday 7 May and the ones most likely to still be home and not away on holiday.

    But the parties for us poor are being kept entirely out of the media.

    Councils will not allow party posters on street furniture nor leaflet giving under litter laws.

    And trade unions are flogging a dead horse of Labour, that even had the smallest party for the poor protesting inside and outside the Labour party conference on Saturday 14 March.

    The biggest of the parties for the poor, to ensure guaranteed food money for the kids, your family, your gran and grandad as well as yourself, indeed is running in 1/6th of MP seats and should have the right to fair media coverage and is getting absolutely nothing in the national press or on TV.

    – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)
    ex Labour MPs and councillors either left or sacked from Labour for being anti austerity cuts

    Class War offers Double dole and pension.

    Mebyon Kernow of Cornwall, running in all the voting areas there, is a region of England with the most slim majorities of sitting Tory and Lib Dem MPs.

    Socialist party of Great Britain (Socialist GB)
    Although The Greens are in Brighton, there are 3 voting areas there.
    Brighton Kempton has a Socialsit GB candidate.

    It does not need to be one party of at least 323 MPs to form a government. It can be a group of parties.

    This has been the norm in many European countries long before the EU and continues and has been successful.

    This is the Vote or Starve election for half the population of the UK, but especially in the marginals of England (especially the single figure ones in Cornwall), and us poor will be the majority of those left at home during that week of Thursday 7 May.

    More to see the different logos to put pencil cross by on Thursday 7 May on:

    And the affordable way to get past the lack of funds for big advertising for small parties.
    You might even do DIY versions by members coming up with artistic alternatives.

    Don’t make the mistake of moving bike ads. Stationary ads are far more effective in the right place.

    The bikes chained up get past the council bans on free ads and leaflet giving.

    All a small party needs is brand awareness of their logo
    and the words such as Food Money, End Fuel Poverty, Better Dole. Improved Pension, of
    Gandhi’s observation that People’s Politics Are Their Daily Bread.

    Pity me stuck fast in a Tory safe seat with no such small party to vote for, but fortunately I don’t matter as there are more cows and sheep around me town than people in it.

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