Today’s Ipsos Mori poll envisaging electoral wipeout for Labour next year has reduced pessimistic party figures to gallows humour. If the general election was tomorrow, the poll says, Labour would have just four MPs left north of the border. Senior MPs like Jim Murphy, Douglas Alexander and Margaret Curran would all lose their seats.
It is difficult to understate the consequences of this poll. The potential Labour capitulation in Scotland is not something that is reflected in normal national polls. That is why today’s numbers are being seen as a possible game-changer for 2015.
Worse still, Labour could soon be plunged further into crisis. The Police and Crime Commissioner election in South Yorkshire is currently taking place today. Labour won last time, but the incumbent Shaun Wright resigned in disgrace following his role in the Rotherham child grooming scandal. A senior UKIP source tells me Nigel Farage’s party believe they will win today’s election.
If that happens, Labour will be under direct assault on two fronts from two insurgent parties. Their strongholds in Scotland and the North of England will be under threat from the Scottish Nationalist Party and UKIP respectively. As has happened with Tory MPs in the South East, Labour MPs will start to wonder if they might be about to lose their seats.
Labour famously is reported to have a so-called “35 percent strategy” of securing the party’s core support. The message from Scotland and the North is that it hasn’t worked. 35 percent seems a long way off now.