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Poll blow for Labour in Scotland

As the SNP launch their campaign for the Scottish Parliament elections, Labour faces a much closer fight than it hoped according to the latest Ipsos MORI poll for the Times (£). Whereas the same pollsters put Labour 10 points ahead of the SNP in November and another pollster had Labour 16 points ahead last month, they are now neck and neck with the SNP just ahead. Although questions have been raised about Labour’s organisation and Ian Gray’s leadership, it does also beg questions about the extent to which the Lib Dem decline in Scotland has benefitted the SNP more than Labour, and whether Scottish Labour has drawn a line under the New Labour past as clearly as Ed Miliband has tried to in England.

The Ipsos-MORI results are as follows:

2007 Holyrood election 2010 General election 2011      Ipsos     MORI
Con 17% 17% 13%
Lab 32% 42% 36%
LDem 16% 19% 10%
SNP 33% 20% 37%
Con 14% 13%
Lab 29% 33%
LDem 11% 13%
SNP 31% 35%
Green 4% 6%

Compared with the last Holyrood elections, both the SNP and Labour have increased their share. Neither, on the basis of this poll, would win a clear majority, but the arithmetic if not the politics might be slightly easier for the SNP at least to form a coalition than in the current Scottish parliament. John Curtice, Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde, suggests that this implies the SNP winning 51 seats (+4), Labour 48 (+2), Conservatives 14 (-3) Lib Dems 12 (-4) and Greens 4 (+2).

The Lib Dems could stand to lose a number of  constituency seats to the SNP especially in the Highlands and Islands, North-East Scotland and in the South of Scotland, although some of these would be replaced by regional seats (since its regional vote appears higher than in 2007).

Ian Gray has been criticised, especially for his stance on the recent budget and hypocrisy in blaming the SNP over the release of the Lockerbie bomber when it is now clear Labour at Westminster actively supported it. Dan Hodges in the New Statesman also reports tensions because:

Scottish officials have reportedly been informed that only one additional party staff member will be seconded for the Scottish campaign,”

and because:

Labour’s Scottish election campaign has suffered an additional setback after the manifesto was produced without costings, and has had to undergo a comprehensive rewrite.”

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