Has the SNP threat to Labour in Scotland abated? Not yet according to Lord Ashcroft, who has released his latest round of constituency level polling. Focusing on the SNP/Labour marginals, Ashcroft has found that in five current Labour strongholds, the SNP are on track to swipe away four of them: Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock, Dumfries & Galloway Edinburgh South West and Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath — the latter of course being represented by Gordon Brown. The only good news for Labour is East Renfrewshire, where Labour has a one-point lead. Thankfully for the party, it's their leader Jim Murphy's seat.
In the single Conservative Scottish seat, Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale, the Tories are neck and neck with the SNP. The two Lib Dem seats the peer polled — Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine and Ross, Skye & Lochaber (Charles Kennedy's perch in the Highlands) — have both switched to the SNP. Aside from Dumfriesshire, there is a minimum of 20 per cent swing to the SNP in these marginals, even reaching the heights of 29 per cent in Kirkcaldy.
At an event in Westminster this evening, where Ashcroft released and discussed the polling, he outlined how a 10 per cent swing in May to the SNP would lead to two seats change hands. A 15 per cent swing would see Labour lose 19 seats to the SNP while a 22 per cent swing would see Labour lose 36 seats. If these snapshots were replicated at the election, it would be a bloodbath for Labour.
Ashcroft has also polled a handful of Tory/Labour marginals, in his efforts to find where the number of Tory safe seats stops and Labour begins eating into their vote. He examined four seats where the majority is between 8.8 per cent and 10.6 per cent. The Tories are ahead by six points in the the Vale of Glamorgan and one point ahead in Colne Valley, but Labour are one point ahead in High Peak and Norwich North.
Ashcroft has now polled 41 marginal constituencies and based on this, he believes Labour and the Conservatives are presently neck and neck in terms of seats, currently on 272 a piece. I asked Ashcroft about Ukip in South Thanet and whether he now believes Nigel Farage is set to romp home. He responded that ‘this next election will have more tactical voting than we’ve ever seen before' and noted there may be plenty of folks across the country who will vote whatever party necessary to keep Ukip out. But with nine weeks to go, there is still plenty of time for voters in these key marginals to change their mind.
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