Labour ‘unlikely’ to win back voters from SNP

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy. Picture: John Devlin
Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy. Picture: John Devlin
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SCOTTISH Labour is very unlikely to win back the voters it lost to the SNP during the independence referendum in time for the general election, two new surveys suggest.

People who voted for independence have coalesced around the SNP and their vote is hardening, while Labour’s standing amongst nationalists has plummeted even further, analysis by the British Election Study (BES) has found.

Labour election co-ordinator Douglas Alexander said yesterday that winning a majority will be “difficult but do-able”, following a new YouGov poll which found that Labour has surged into a four-point lead across the UK.

But 1,300 Scottish voters polled by BES between 6 and 13 March put Labour 17 points behind the SNP in Scotland, with the SNP on 44 per cent and Labour on 27 per cent.

Its findings are supported by a Scottish snapshot in the YouGov poll conducted on 27 to 28 March, which puts the SNP on 46 per cent and Labour on 33 per cent among the 159 Scottish voters polled.

The BES report, by Jane Green and Chris Prosser, said: “It is Labour’s hope that the losses it has seen to the SNP are temporary, and that those voters will come back to Labour in six weeks’ time.

“Our data suggests that while not impossible, that prospect is very unlikely. Almost 90 per cent of Scottish Labour voters are No voters and an equivalent 91 per cent of SNP voters are Yes voters.

“This polarisation happened because of the movement of Yes voters away from Labour to the SNP and occurred between June and September 2014.”

BES sees no way back for former Labour voters.

“The proportion of Yes voters intending to vote SNP in September 2014 was 70 per cent. That figure now stands at 79 per cent. This trend is a worrying one for Labour in Scotland. Less than two months from the general election, Yes voters are still moving to the SNP.”

Labour defectors have also become more entrenched in their positions as SNP loyalists, BES found.

“This again is a worrying sign for Labour,” it said. “It suggests that Labour-SNP vote switchers are no more moveable than SNP loyalists. Among all UK parties, the SNP’s vote base going into 2015 is the most certain on average of all. What we can say is that while Labour may convince its previous voters to come back to the fold, we do know that the odds are certainly stacked against them.”

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