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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Who will win the Copeland by-election?

Labour face a tricky task in holding onto the seat. 

What’s the Copeland by-election about? That’s the question that will decide who wins it.

The Conservatives want it to be about the nuclear industry, which is the seat’s biggest employer, and Jeremy Corbyn’s long history of opposition to nuclear power.

Labour want it to be about the difficulties of the NHS in Cumbria in general and the future of West Cumberland Hospital in particular.

Who’s winning? Neither party is confident of victory but both sides think it will be close. That Theresa May has visited is a sign of the confidence in Conservative headquarters that, win or lose, Labour will not increase its majority from the six-point lead it held over the Conservatives in May 2015. (It’s always more instructive to talk about vote share rather than raw numbers, in by-elections in particular.)

But her visit may have been counterproductive. Yes, she is the most popular politician in Britain according to all the polls, but in visiting she has added fuel to the fire of Labour’s message that the Conservatives are keeping an anxious eye on the outcome.

Labour strategists feared that “the oxygen” would come out of the campaign if May used her visit to offer a guarantee about West Cumberland Hospital. Instead, she refused to answer, merely hyping up the issue further.

The party is nervous that opposition to Corbyn is going to supress turnout among their voters, but on the Conservative side, there is considerable irritation that May’s visit has made their task harder, too.

Voters know the difference between a by-election and a general election and my hunch is that people will get they can have a free hit on the health question without risking the future of the nuclear factory. That Corbyn has U-Turned on nuclear power only helps.

I said last week that if I knew what the local paper would look like between now and then I would be able to call the outcome. Today the West Cumbria News & Star leads with Downing Street’s refusal to answer questions about West Cumberland Hospital. All the signs favour Labour. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.