SNP 45%, 42% – 63 seats (49 constituency plus 14 regional)
Labour 34%, 32% – 44 seats (20 + 24)
Conservative 10%, 10% – 10 seats (1 + 9)
Liberal Democrat 9%, 8% – 8 seats (3 + 5)
Greens 6% – 4 seats (all regional)
YouGov/Scotland on Sunday:
SNP 45%, 39% – 60 seats (52 constituency plus 8 regional)
Labour 32%, 29% – 42 seats (17 + 25)
Conservative 10%, 12% – 12 seats (1 + 11)
Liberal Democrat 8%, 7% – 7 seats (3 + 4)
Greens 7% – 8 seats (all regional)
Progressive Scottish Opinion/Sunday Mail:
SNP 46%, 38% – 58 seats (48 constituency plus 10 regional)
Labour 36%, 37% – 50 seats (22 + 28)
Conservative 9%, 10% – 10 seats (1 + 9)
Liberal Democrat 6%, 9% – 9 seats (2 + 7)
Greens 5% – 2 seats (both regional)
So, where stands the campaign? Fairly obviously, the SNP feels the wind in its sails, though it’s still all to play for. After all, the double-digit leads that the SNP now appears to enjoy were, only three months ago, Labour’s preserve, and it’s now got to the point where, after being viewed as a rogue earlier in the week, the Ipsos MORI figures are in line with other polls, and it’s the PSO Regional Vote figures that look suspect. And if you take the YouGov figures as gospel, then despite four years of an SNP Government having to take tough decisions, and despite one year of a Coalition that’s engendered little other than hostility in the general public, Labour’s support is exactly where it was in 2007.
Of course, polls can be wrong, and I’d guess that the SNP lead is overstated by a couple of points, that the Labour state of play is about right and that it’s unclear whether it’s support for the Tories or LibDems (or both) that voters are unwilling to fess up to.
All the same, that leaves Labour in a precarious position: the only positive coverage they can count on is in the Daily Record, with endorsement after endorsement heading the SNP’s way, and each Labour gaffe been seized on by a gleeful press – most notably The Sun, which is now pro-SNP.
And it has to be said, the whole edifice is crashing around them. Iain Gray’s two most notable interventions in the campaign – the first Leaders’ Debate and the Subway Incident – only increased his negatives, while the constant anti-Tory approach has backfired in an SNP vs. Labour campaign. With the SNP campaign initially focusing on what has been achieved in the last four years, and now having moved to proposals for the next four, it’s no wonder that the SNP offering is being seen as more relevant than Labour’s “Weren’t the 80s crap?” approach and the polls have gone the way they have.
So I suppose it was no surprise that, from having been targeting key SNP figures, Labour has gone to defending its own marginals, and now bussing in activists to preserve the heartlands in the West. That might stave off the worst that’s predicted in this poll, but it’s telling that Labour are now so much on the back foot that having been within touching distance of a majority a couple of months ago, they’re now fighting to hold on to what they have. Of course, a drop to 44 can be mitigated (just) by the boundary changes, which cost Labour two seats. But the YouGov poll has them falling even further, to 42.
And the seats that would change hands! All three polls, when extrapolated, show a constituency clean sweep for the SNP not only in the North East, but also in Lothian (which makes me wonder if the UNS model is all it’s cracked up to be). Two of the polls have Patrick Harvie’s Co-Convener Eleanor Scott come in for the Greens, and one even has Martin Ford (he who did battle with Donald Trump) elected for the party in the North East. The Tories could see Alex Fergusson lose his seat, along with a key Goldie advisor Gavin Brown. All the polls see LibDem Finance Spokesman Jeremy Purvis and Justice Spokesman Robert Brown unseated (though boundary changes made Purvis’s position far weaker, while Brown was ranked 2nd on their list in Glasgow, where the polls predict that even their first choice candidate won’t get in); two of the polls show that Chief Whip Mike Rumbles is at risk and one even has Ross Finnie vulnerable! But for Labour, the news is catastrophic.
The SNP clean sweep in Lothian would see Labour old hand Malcolm Chisholm lose his seat, at a time when experience will be needed – especially as the retirement of George Foulkes leaves Chisholm has the most experienced figure on Labour’s campaign. There would be a number of junior frontbench casualties: all three polls indicate that Shadow Children’s Minister Karen Whitefield would lose to Alex Neil; Shadow Rural Development Minister Karen Gillon would lose to Aileen Campbell and Shadow Climate Change Minister Cathy Peattie would end up being unseated by Cllr Angus MacDonald. Two of the polls show that Shadow Housing Minister Mary Mulligan would lose to Fiona Hyslop.
Worse still, all three polls are in accord that former Leader of Glasgow City Council, Shadow Transport Minister Charlie Gordon would be unseated by James Dornan, while two of them also project that David Whitton, Andy Kerr’s understudy, would lose Strathkelvin and Bearsden to Fiona McLeod.
It gets even worse: the YouGov poll suggests that Des McNulty is in jeopardy in Clydebank & Milngavie, and all three polls see Shadow Culture Secretary Pauline McNeill finally losing Glasgow Kelvin to Sandra White. Shadow Health Secretary Jackie Baillie is at risk in Dumbarton; and Andy Kerr, tipped as a possible successor to Iain Gray (or tipped for the sack from the frontbench depending on who you listen to) could end up losing his East Kilbride seat to Linda Fabiani.
Now all of that should make apocalyptic reading for Labour, but here’s the icing on the cake: on these swings, Iain Gray himself is vulnerable in East Lothian, and he does not enjoy backup on the List. Now, I’m not convinced of this – I think name recognition will see him buck UNS, just as I have a hunch that despite the polls pointing otherwise, Quasi-Incumbency Bonus will see Adam Ingram pick up Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley for the SNP. Nevertheless, people are actually talking about the possibility. A few months ago the commentariat was musing about Iain Gray as First Minister. Now, they’re wondering if, come May 6, Johann Lamont could end up Leader of the Opposition.
Here’s something else to bear in mind: Party Leaders can and do lose their seats – Tommy Sheridan, Rosemary Byrne, Colin Fox, John Swinburne and Shiona Baird were all leaders, conveners or co-conveners of their respective parties when they lost their seats in 2007; Gordon Wilson was National Convener of the SNP in 1987 when he lost Dundee East (though he was never leader of the Parliamentary Party) – but when was the last Labour Leader to lose his seat? When was the last Leader of the Opposition to lose his seat? The answer to both questions is Arthur Henderson in 1931. Could Iain Gray be the first Leader of a Parliamentary Opposition, the first Leader of a Labour Parliamentary Group to lose his seat in eighty years? It’s scary that we’re actually talking about this as a possibility.
And Labour certainly are scared: so scared that they’re about to junk their campaign of hating on the Tories and instead slagging off the SNP’s record, which as we know is so appalling that Labour are promising a number of the points that the SNP delivered in office, and independence, in a classic move of attacking the SNP for being obsessed with the constitution while talking about little else. So being Mr Angry hasn’t worked for Iain Gray, attacking other parties hasn’t worked for Labour, and the party is about to fall back on the approach that cost them the 2007 Election, but that’s what they’re going to do again.
OF course, anything can happen in the next two weeks – it’s not over yet.
But Labour are doing everything they have to do to lose.