A fascinating new poll for the Herald shows that, despite its defeat nationally, Labour remains solid north of the border, where the majority of the Scottish public’s long-held disdain for the Tories has not been dimmed by the Con-Lib coalition that has caused so much excitement in Westminster.
Brian Currie reports:
The first poll since the general election shows the SNP falling behind Labour and no sign of a Cameron-Clegg bounce for the Conservatives or the Lib Dems in Scotland.
The poll, by TNS-BMRB, shows Labour ahead of the SNP on both the first-past-the-votes and regional list votes for the Scottish Parliament.
The research, carried out between 26 May and 1 June, puts Labour on 45 per cent in a rise of 8 points since a corresponding poll in January, and the SNP on 29 per cent — a drop from 35 per cent, on first-past-the-post votes.
On the regional list Labour is on 41 per cent — a rise of 4 per cent — while the SNP has dropped 2 points to 28 per cent. The shift towards Labour maintains a trend in its favour from a low of 29 per cent in April last year. At that point the SNP was comfortably ahead on 41 per cent but that has gradually eroded and the latest dip suggests the party’s honeymoon with the Scottish electorate is at an end.
There was no spin-off from the popularity in England of UK coalition leaders David Cameron and Nick Clegg for either the Tories or the Lib Dems, with both hovering at around 13 per cent and 12 per cent respectively in both votes.
Chris Eynon, of TNS-BRMB, said that with less than a year to go until the Scottish Parliament elections next May the poll figures would be encouraging for Labour but of “significant concern” to SNP leaders.
Although the SNP is doing relatively badly, it remains a danger, precisely because Labour is out of office: I have long believed that, despite David Cameron’s professed commitment to the Union, the 300-year-old Scottish-English alliance will be most threatened by a Tory government that has nothing strategically to lose and everything to gain from English independence.
This poll seems to show that, a year before the next Scottish elections, Labour is the party that stands in the way of the SNP and its dream of break-up.
It is likely that despair at Westminster governance in Scotland will be enhanced by the new government, despite the Tories’ (wise) determination to make sure the Scottish Secretary post is not occupied by one of their own (Danny Alexander was replaced by Michael Moore after Alexander took David Laws’s job at the Treasury).
For its own sake, but also for the sake of a rich social, economic and political alliance that is far greater than the sum of its parts, Labour must urgently become the party of the Union.