John Ruddy takes a look at recent Scottish polling against the backdrop of Labour’s continuing surge across the UK, and sees hope and ramifications.

The latest polling for Labour in Scotland is excellent news, and shows that having strong, competent leaders, both at Westminster in the form of Keir Starmer and at Holyrood with Anas Sarwar, is key to the revival of Labour fortunes north of the border. But there is more to come.

The latest slew of Scotland-only polls shows Labour clearly in second place in Scotland, and gaining 6 seats for a total of 7 if an election were held now. Alongside the 2 seats Scottish Labour have long been predicted to take from the SNP (Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath and East Lothian), polls from YouGov and Savanta ComRes show us picking up Glasgow North East, Rutherglen and Hamilton West, and Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill. This mostly seems to have come at the expense of Tory voters shifting to Labour, but while the SNP vote seems steady the polling indicates it is still soft in places, and other SNP seats are vulnerable.

For a long time the SNP have majored their election strategy, both at Westminster and Holyrood, on an “anti-Tory” theme. After all, it was one that worked well for Scottish Labour from the 80s onwards. But while our use of it lasted 20 years, the SNP’s looks set to vanish as Labour is increasingly expected to form the next UK Government.

If you ask people “Do you fear a Tory government?”, many will answer yes. The things that we have seen come out of the Tory party conference this week are giving even die-hard Tory voters cause for concern. But ask people in Scotland “Do you fear a Labour government” and the answer will be much different.

Keir Starmer now has a higher net approval rating in Scotland than Nicola Sturgeon. People like to have leaders who are competent – after all, that’s one of the attributes that has sustained Sturgeon’s popularity (well at least the appearance of competence). Keir is laying out his stall, showing how a Labour government will do things differently, and support people on low and middle incomes while getting the richest to pay a fair share.

And with nothing to fear from a UK Government – in fact with plenty to like – why should people need to vote for someone to protect them from that government? “Stronger for Scotland” becomes an obsolete phrase. If just a fraction of those soft SNP voters decides to switch to Labour (or even to stay at home), then thanks to the relatively slim majorities many SNP seats have over Labour, we could see a swathe of red sweeping the central belt. With a drop in SNP support from 45 to 40, and the equivalent increase in the Labour’s vote share, we’d pick up a total of 21 seats in Scotland – sending Keir well on his way to Downing Street.

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4 thoughts on “Polling cheer for Scottish Labour

  1. Great! Then we can all concentrate on celebrating our glorious new King!

  2. Why celebrate that we might get a Labour government this time in the UK, when as soon as short memories forget, we’ll be landed back with the Tories – which always happens

    Labour have announced no plans to reform Westminster, either PR or abolishing the unelected Lords, no changed to make gerrymandering more difficult, or to make it more difficult for foreign money to buy elections. They haven’t even put forward a pledge to stop people outwith the UK from voting who can be Prime Minister – a Tory member abroad has more say

    1. Replacing the Lords with an elected Senate of the Nations and Regions has been Labour policy since 2015. It’s also current Labour policy to have a UK-wide constitutional convention with a remit to look at all of the things you talk about and more.

  3. Nothing to quibble about here, except:—-

    It’s two years to an election, and I doubt Truss will last to Christmas.
    Put in Ben Wallace, and the picture would be different. I doubt any other Tory would be effective.

    Keir Starmer has struggled for traction, but the Tory shambles has given him a huge platform. Can he keep Labour united till an election? The left are unhappy at getting squeezed out.

    Labour can get away with claiming “we ain’t Tories” but at some point will need to spell out their detailed policies, especially to Scotland. I would expect Starmers opponents would point to his repeated ditching of policies he has previously committed to.
    This would be relevant to constitutional change, like HoL reform, which looks odd when Labour have put forward 15 (?) names for elevation.
    Similarly, where is Gordon Browns “federalism in two years”?

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