Ashcroft's poll shows that a Labour-SNP coalition is by far the most popular outcome from the election
“Bad news for Scottish Labour but great news for the Tories.”
That’s Scottish Labour Leader Jim Murphy’s frank and honest assessment of Lord Aschcroft’s latest round of constituency polling, which includes eight constituencies in Scotland.
Whatever way we look at it, no gloss can be put on the fact that with two months until polling day Labour have been unable, so far, to fend off the SNP bandwagon that’s been rolling since the independence referendum in September.
Last month, Ashcroft released polling from 16 constituencies in Scotland, showing the SNP ahead in all but one seat, Glasgow North East.
Yesterday, he released details of yet more polling in an additional eight seats north of the border.
It shows, dramatically, the SNP continuing to be on course to take a swathe of Labour seats, including Gordon Brown’s seat of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath; Charles Kennedy’s seat of Ross, Skye and Lochaber; and Edinburgh South, constituency of the leader of the Better Together Campaign, Alistair Darling.
The one chink of light is that Jim Murphy seems on course to retain his seat of East Renfrewshire – although with a lead of just one percentage point, it is well within any margin of error.
Whilst Labour has persistently warned Scotland that a vote for the SNP only serves to help the Conservatives, it could now be time to reassess the scare tactics.
Firstly, Scotland voted in droves for Labour in 2010 and yet David Cameron still found himself in Downing Street.
But more importantly still, across the eight seats polled, by far the most popular outcome from the election is a coalition involving Labour and the SNP.
In a bleak assessment for Labour, Professor John Curtice and Strathclyde University conclude on the ‘Scotland Thinks’ blog:
“Doubtless, with its spring conference due to take place this weekend, Labour will try to redouble its efforts to turn the position around. But today’s polling also reveals two problems that could well undermine its hopes of doing so.
“First, the SNP, with its recently heavily inflated membership, is more visible on the ground. In each of the five Labour held seats covered by today’s polling, more people say they have been contacted by the SNP than by Labour, in some cases as much as by a factor of two to one.
“Second, the message that voters need to vote Labour to get rid of Cameron looks cuts little ice with many SNP voters. Even though only 12 per cent of SNP supporters in the eight seats covered by today’s polling say they are satisfied with Mr Cameron’s performance as Prime Minister, only 38 per cent would prefer to see Mr Miliband in his place.
“As many as 33 per cent of SNP supporters say that while they are dissatisfied with Mr Cameron’s performance they would still prefer him to Mr Miliband. Invoking dislike of Mr Cameron does not look as though it will be enough to enable Labour to turn the position around.”
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.