By Dave Taylor
According to the latest Ashcroft poll of marginal seats the Lib Dems are facing a total wipeout of MPs in mainland Scotland, with even Charlie Kennedy’s seat falling to the SNP.
1247 voters in the 11 Lib Dem Scottish Westminster seats were polled last month, both as to their general party support, and who they would vote for in their own constituency.
The result revealed that Lib-Dem support has collapsed and the Tories have fallen further back.
While Labour saw a modest increase, the SNP was the major beneficiary. Current voting intention (with the 2010 figures in those seats in brackets) was SNP 31% (+16%) : Lab 26% (+6%) : LD 20% (-21%) : Con 16% (-5%): Other 7% (+4%).
Although that vote change won’t be universal across every seat, the figures suggest that only Orkney and Shetland would remain in Lib Dem hands. Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk would fall to the Tories, while Labour would pick up East Dunbartonshire and Edinburgh West.
The other seven seats would be won by the SNP – Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine; Argyll & Bute; Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross; North East Fife; Gordon; Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey; and Ross, Skye & Lochaber.
If the results were to be repeated in the 2015 general election then such a scenario would see Sir Menzies Campbell, Danny Alexander and current Scottish Secretary Michael Moore all lose their seats.
The poll comes amid the continuing crisis for the Lib Dems, with the Lord Rennard scandal and claims over the Chris Huhne speeding affair still hanging in the air. The survey will be a blow for Scottish leader Willie Rennie, who in May 2011 inherited a Scottish party in crisis from former leader Tavish Scott.
The party has suffered badly in Scotland since forming a UK coalition with the Tories which was followed by a controversial U-turn on tuition fees that saw many of its Scottish MPs backtrack on a key election pledge. The 2011 Holyrood election saw the Scottish Lib Dems return only five MSPs – a result which was mirrored by last year’s Scottish local elections where they lost 95 of their 166 councillors.
The Ashcroft poll also revealed interesting patterns when it came to tactical voting for the Westminster election.
Tory supporters were most likely to vote tactically, with only 81% of them continuing to vote Tory. 12% of them would vote tactically for the Lib-Dems, with 6% voting tactically SNP.
85% of Labour supporters still plan to vote Labour, while their tactical voters would split 10% Lib Dem and 4% SNP.
SNP supporters were the least likely to vote tactically. 94% would vote SNP in their constituency, with only 4% casting a tactical Lib Dem vote.
The pattern is very different in the SNP/Labour marginal seats of Aberdeen North, North Ayrshire & Arran, Dundee East, Dundee West, Falkirk, Na h-Eileanan an Iar, and Ochil & South Perthshire.
The 772 voters polled across these 7 seats gave Labour a strong lead of 47% to the SNPs 30% before tactical voting was taken into account. While only 14% of voters in these seats were Tory supporters, and 5% Lib Dems; a quarter of Tories would vote tactically for the SNP (16%) or the Lib Dems (8%) and 2% said they would opt for the Labour party.
More than 40% of the small group of Lib Dems intended to vote tactically – 35% Labour compared with only 7% for the SNP.
Although there had been a 5% rise in the SNP vote, and a 4% rise for Labour – at the expense of the Lib Dems and ‘Others’, that equal split of the lost Lib Dem vote suggests none of these SNP/Labour contested marginal seats would change hands.
A recent ‘poll of polls’ showed the SNP with a narrow lead over Labour when it came to Westminster voting intentions with the SNP on 36% (+16%), Labour: 33% (-9%), Tory: 17% (n/c), LibDem: 7% (-12%).