John Curtice: SNP poll lead over Labour falls

Scottish Labour Leader Jim Murphy enjoys an ice cream during a rally in Princes Street, Edinburgh. Picture: Getty
Scottish Labour Leader Jim Murphy enjoys an ice cream during a rally in Princes Street, Edinburgh. Picture: Getty
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THERE is little sign that Labour are having much success in clawing back the SNP’s enormous poll lead.

Our latest poll of polls, constructed by combining the Scottish sub-samples of the 16 Britain-wide polls published during the last week, puts the SNP on 44%, 19 points ahead of Labour on 25%.

Although this represents a three-point drop in the lead as compared with last week, it is still three points higher than it was at the beginning of the campaign. Meanwhile, a YouGov Scotland-wide poll last week suggested the SNP enjoy as much as a 24-point lead, unchanged from ten days previously.

There is no sign as yet either that any of the other parties are making progress. Liberal Democrat support in our poll of polls is up three points to 9% this week, but it rose to 8% a fortnight ago only then to fall back again.

Equally, after rising to 19% last week, Conservative support is now down to 15%. In both cases these movements probably reflect no more than the chance variation to which all polls are subject.

In any event, the latest numbers still point to the SNP dominating Scottish representation at Westminster after 7 May, winning 47 of Scotland’s 59 seats. With eight MPs, Labour could be left with just enough to fill two taxis, while the Liberal Democrats would have no more than three seats and the Conservatives just the one seat that they currently have.

With the election race still neck and neck across the UK as a whole – on average the Conservatives and Labour are still tied on 33% each – the prospect that the SNP might be in the position of kingmakers in the next Parliament is becoming one of the central issues of the UK-wide campaign.

However, unless Tory attempts to use the issue to move the polls south of the Border bear fruit, Westminster may well find that the arithmetic means it has no choice but to deal with the SNP. In that event, much will depend on just how well the SNP play their hand.

John Curtice is Professor of Politics, Strathclyde University