SCOTTISH Labour’s woes are far from over, with an internal poll predicting near-wipeout for the party in the country’s town halls next May.
The figures, leaked to The Herald, suggest the SNP will take 45 per cent of the vote, up 13 per cent on 2012’s council election, while the Tories would be on 25 per cent, up 13. Labour would be on just 15 per cent, less than half of the 31 per cent of the vote won five years ago.
The data, shared with senior members of the party and with MSPs earlier this month, ahead of their Christmas party, suggests a quarter of Labour’s support has gone to the Tories.
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Labour, the paper suggested, will be prioritising their limited resources on council elections where they think they could be part of a winning “pro-Union coalition” along with the Tories and Liberal Democrats. Ultimately, that means Labour giving up on local authorities where it’s a straight fight between them and the SNP. Incredibly, that reportedly includes Glasgow, a city Labour has run for most of the last 70 years.
When they won 45 seats in 2012, Labour’s Gordon Matheson said the results showed the SNP’s “juggernaut has rolled into a ditch”.
Certainly the result then across the country was poorer than the SNP had expected. Despite Alex Salmond’s party winning more votes across the country, Labour took control, or were in coalition, in 16 councils, while the SNP took control of just two. If Labour’s internal polling is correct, it suggests the parties could be about to switch positions.
However, Labour believe they stand a chance in North Lanarkshire, where the SNP has been beset with infighting, and in South Lanarkshire.
The paper’s source said: “The internal polling also tells us there is no such thing as a core Labour vote any more.” They added: “The polling shows that even in local elections the vast majority [of voters] won’t shift from their constitution views. This is probably even stronger within Unionism so all’s not lost.”
Another insider said: “The fact senior people hand this stuff to the media says it all about the mess we are in.”
The SNP leader on Glasgow City Council, Susan Aitken said: “It’s becoming clear that even Labour have realised they have nothing to offer the people of Glasgow after taking their loyalty for granted for generations. The big political contest across Scotland next year won’t be between the SNP and Labour, it’ll be between us and the Tories.”
A Labour spokesman said: “Next May all that will stand between local communities and further SNP cuts will be Labour councillors.”“The SNP has taken Tory austerity and plans to pass on cuts worth £327 million to out valued public services, such as education and care for the elderly.”
There are 1,223 seats up for grabs in May’s election across Scotland’s 32 local authorities.
Who gets them will be decided by Single Transferable Vote, where voters are given a list of all candidates in their ward and asked to rank the ones they support.