The Conservatives have pulled ahead of Labour in Scotland according to a poll by YouGov. The survey puts the Conservatives on 20 percent, Labour on 19 percent with the Liberal Democrats on 9 percent and ‘others’ including the Scottish National Party on 41 percent.
If the Conservatives overtake Labour next year, this will be the first time they have beaten the party since the 1950s. A result like that would be considered a disaster for Ed Miliband, because his strategy of talking to the Labour core vote would have been shown to have failed in one of their best areas.
Miliband’s problem is not so much that the Conservatives are doing well, it has much more to do with them losing support to the Scottish National Party. Although Scots voted to remain in the United Kingdom earlier this year, the vote itself brought a huge number of new supporters to the SNP.
Earlier this month the SNP’s membership hit 80,000 overtaking two major UK-wide parties: the Liberal Democrats and UKIP. The party’s Trade Union Group now has 11,000 members, despite Labour being the traditional party of Trade Union members.
YouGov predicts the SNP will win 20 more seats in Scotland, pushing them up to 26. Most of these will be at the expense of Labour, halving their total number of Scottish MPs. The Conservatives currently have just one seat, so any improvement would be very significant for the Scottish Conservatives. They lost all their Scottish seats in 1997 and have not really recovered since.
Although Labour’s problems at next year’s General Election are good news for the Conservatives they will also want to see the SNP lose the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2016. The solution being mooted at Westminster is to run Gordon Brown for the Scottish Parliament and make him leader of the Labour Group.
The current leader Johann Lamont is not considered up to the job of taking on the SNP. The YouGov poll surveyed 2045 people across the UK on 15th and 16th October for The Sun.