Has Labour lost Scotland for good?

The Conservatives could soon be the second largest party in the Scottish Parliament


There are now just 100 days to go until Scotland votes on the makeup of the new parliament at Holyrood, and the gloomy outlook for Scottish Labour is becoming difficult for its leaders to hide.

According to new polling published over the weekend,  the Conservatives are now snapping at the heels of Scottish Labour to become the second largest party in the Scottish Parliament.

The data, compiled by Panelbase for the Sunday Times and Heart FM, puts the SNP on 50 per cent of the vote in the constituency section and 48 per cent for the regional vote.

Scottish Labour have dropped two percentage points to 21 per cent in the constituency vote and are down three points to 19 per cent on the regional list section of the ballot.

The Scottish Conservatives, led by Ruth Davidson, are on 17 per cent for both the constituency and regional list vote, while the Liberal Democrats languish on 6 per cent for the constituency vote and 7 per cent for the regional list section.

The Green Party finds itself on 3 per cent for the constituency and 5 per cent for the regional list section of the ballot paper.

According to the Scotland Votes website, such figures would see the SNP win 74 seats in the new parliament, 4 more than they won in 2011 on a truly historic night.

The Labour Party are, based on these figures, on course to lose 11 of the seats they won in 2011, down to just 26, with the Tories on 20, 5 more than they won in 2011.

The Lib Dems are set to secure 6 seats and the Greens 3.

The Panelbase figures also show that while Nicola Sturgeon remains by far the most popular politician in Scotland, with a net approval rating of +23, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale is performing even worse than her predecessor Jim Murphy, languishing on a net approval rating of -13.

In contrast, Ruth Davidson for the Conservatives has a net approval of -9. Even Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Lib Dems, is ahead of Ms Dugdale with a net approval rating of -12.

Further figures compiled by Rob Ford of Manchester University suggest that Labour are on track to lose all 15 of their consituency seats held at Holyrood.

Based on the most recent polling, Ford calculates that Labour are 11 per cent down on their 2011 levels of support, while the SNP are up 8 per cent. He explained:

“A result in line with these polls would see 13 constituency seats fall to the SNP, while two further seats would be tight races between the SNP and the Conservatives with Labour coming third.

“Labour’s position may be even worse than the aggregate polling suggests, as their safest remaining seats tend to be in areas such as Glasgow and central Scotland, where swings to the SNP in the general election were largest … A constituency wipeout for Scottish Labour in 2016 would complete an extraordinary political collapse for a party which dominated Scotland at all levels just a decade ago.”

Speaking on the Andrew Marr programme yesterday, SNP leader and first minister Nicola Sturgeon could not resist a dig at Labour’s misfortunes, saying she did not think a Labour government was now ‘a credible notion in any sense’.

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

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