Tories will make no gains in Scotland, poll shows

YouGov survey suggests Tories will fail to improve on single Scottish seat.

There's a new Scottish poll from YouGov in the Scotsman this morning which suggests that the Tories will struggle to improve on the solitary seat they gained in 2005.

The poll puts Labour on 37 per cent, down just 2 points since the last election, with the Lib Dems down 1 to 22 per cent, the Scottish National Party up 3 to 21 per cent and the Tories up 1 to just 17 per cent.

If repeated on a uniform swing, the figures would allow Labour to regain Glasgow East from the SNP and Dunfermline West from the Lib Dems. Meanwhile, Nick Clegg's party would gain Edinburgh South and the SNP would take Ochil and South Perthshire from Labour.

Here's a full breakdown:

Labour 39 (+2)
Lib Dems 12 (+1)
SNP 7 (+1)
Conservatives 1 (nc)

Based on the Tories' current poll lead, the minute swing to them in Scotland implies, however, that they're performing disproportionately well in other regions such as the Midlands and the south of England.

All the same, presented with the poll finding by a Scotsman journalist, Cameron replied:

Poll . . . poll shmole. We have got a big one on Thursday. What's the point of worrying about polls now? Everyone has got a chance to vote on Thursday.

That Cameron has been forced to resort to the line "There's only one poll that counts" is sign of diminished confidence in the party. The Tories are neither where they wanted to be, nor where they expected to be.

The weeks that Cameron hoped to spend leading a majority government will now be spent desperately trying to win support from the Democratic Unionist Party and others.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Why the Labour rebels have delayed their leadership challenge

MPs hope that Jeremy Corbyn may yet resign, while Owen Smith is competing with Angela Eagle to be the candidate.

The Eagle has hovered but not yet landed. Yesterday evening Angela Eagle's team briefed that she would launch her leadership challenge at 3pm today. A senior MP told me: "the overwhelming view of the PLP is that she is the one to unite Labour." But by this lunchtime it had become clear that Eagle wouldn't declare today.

The delay is partly due to the hope that Jeremy Corbyn may yet be persuaded to resign. Four members of his shadow cabinet - Clive Lewis, Rachel Maskell, Cat Smith and Andy McDonald - were said by sources to want the Labour leader to stand down. When they denied that this was the case, I was told: "Then they're lying to their colleagues". There is also increasing speculation that Corbyn has come close to departing. "JC was five minutes away from resigning yesterday," an insider said. "But Seumas [Milne] torpedoed the discussions he was having with Tom Watson." 

Some speak of a potential deal under which Corbyn would resign in return for a guarantee that an ally, such as John McDonnell or Lewis, would make the ballot. But others say there is not now, never has there ever been, any prospect of Corbyn departing. "The obligation he feels to his supporters is what sustains him," a senior ally told me. Corbyn's supporters, who are confident they can win a new leadership contest, were cheered by Eagle's delay. "The fact even Angela isn't sure she should be leader is telling, JC hasn't wavered once," a source said. But her supporters say she is merely waiting for him to "do the decent thing". 

Another reason for the postponement is a rival bid by Owen Smith. Like Eagle, the former shadow work and pensions secrtary is said to have collected the 51 MP/MEP nominations required to stand. Smith, who first revealed his leadership ambitions to me in an interview in January, is regarded by some as the stronger candidate. His supporters fear that Eagle's votes in favour of the Iraq war and Syria air strikes (which Smith opposed) would be fatal to her bid. 

On one point Labour MPs are agreed: there must be just one "unity candidate". But after today's delay, a challenger may not be agreed until Monday. In the meantime, the rebels' faint hope that Corbyn may depart endures. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.