By Derek Bateman
If you thought SNP supporters were getting blasé, well the latest round of Ashcroft polling will have many gaping in amazement.
Ashcroft’s first look at Scottish seats, which showed massive swings to the Nats, was centred on known Yes areas. This time he has been more selective and looked at a smaller but intriguing range of constituencies.
And just look at the results. Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, home ground to retiring Gordon Brown, suffers the biggest swing from Labour to the SNP of any polled by Ashcroft – a stonking 28.5 per cent. So much for Scotland’s deep respect for a favourite son if that holds true in nine weeks’ time.
Of the eight seats tested, six would fall to the Nationalists – Ayr (Sandra Osborne), Dumfries (Russell Brown), Edinburgh South West (retiring Alistair Darling), Kirkcaldy (as discussed), Aberdeenshire West (Robert Smith) and Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Charles Kennedy). The other two are Dumfriesshire which is a dead heat – giving David Mundell some faint hope of remaining the sole Tory – and East Renfrewshire, home to Scottish patriot and Labour leader Jim Murphy who leads by a single point.
Ashcroft writes that he found swings of more than 20 per cent from Lib Dems to SNP in the two Liberal seats and a uniform swing of that scale would leave only Alistair Carmichael in Orkney and Shetland.
Ashcroft says: “If Labour hold everything they currently have in Scotland they would need to take 23 seats from the Conservatives to become the largest party (at Westminster). For every two seats they lose in Scotland, they have to take another from the Conservatives to compensate.
“If, on the day, the swing to the SNP only reached 10 per cent, only two seats would change hands. If the swing were to reach 15 per cent, Labour would lose 19 seats. But if the swing to the SNP reached 22 per cent across the board, Labour could lose 36 seats to the SNP.”
In other words the SNP would end up with an improbable 52 seats – 36 from Labour, 10 from Lib Dem and their own current six.
Never has any party in Scotland faced such a meltdown and there is little sign that the other parties can do anything about it at this late stage. Only last minute nerves by loyal Labour voters could make a difference at the margins but such is the momentum in the polls that a crushing defeat awaits the Unionists as the price of their antics over the referendum.
There appears to be little difference at all between Labour’s fate in No or Yes voting areas. A huge billowing Saltire is steadily enveloping Scotland.
Jim Murphy might yet be one of a taxi full of Labour members heading south after May and his efforts will be required increasingly in London if numbers are tight, making the Scottish leadership the role of an absentee landlord. This is an election like no other. Strap in and get ready.
See also: http://scotgoespop.blogspot.co.uk