Will the SNP eviscerate Scottish Labour? A new poll from the Guardian/ICM today suggests once again that the SNP is on course to do very well in the upcoming general election — and is currently on course to take 29 seats from Labour. As with Lord Ashcroft’s polling earlier this month, the numbers suggest that the swing from Labour to the SNP shows no signs of ebbing away. The SNP is currently on 43 per cent, the same as the last ICM poll in December, while Labour are 16 points behind on 27 per cent. The Scottish Tories are up one point to 14 per cent while the Lib Dems are languishing on six per cent.
Interestingly, the Guardian’s analysis of the poll notes that if this swing were uniform across Scotland, the SNP would take 43 of Scotland’s 59 seats. Labour would be left with just 12 seats in Scotland, making any kind of minority or majority Labour government pretty much impossible. The Tories would retain their single MP David Mundell while the Liberal Democrats would lose eight of their seats — including Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey, represented by Danny Alexander. But things could be worse for Labour than those figures suggest: the swing to the SNP is strongest in ‘Labour heartlands’ and weaker in marginal seats – so the SNP are winning support where they need it to win, suggesting that they could take 53 of Scotland’s 59 seats.
Many pundits expected the SNP leads after the referendum to fall away but there is still no sign of any movement back towards Scottish Labour. This poll has given the SNP another opportunity to gloat. The party’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson said in a statement this morning:
‘Labour are continuing to pay the price for working hand in glove with the Tories during the referendum, and lining up with them at Westminster to vote for more cuts.’
Robertson is right: there is now little doubt that the Scottish electorate will give Labour a good kicking on May 7. The question is just how hard it will be. Ed Miliband and Jim Murphy’s efforts to stem the nationalist’s support have had little or no success —leaving Labour devoting much of its airtime to insisting it will not be propped up by the SNP. In reality, it is hard to see how else Miliband could make in into No.10.