Labour sets sights on regional seats

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LABOUR is to focus more on winning regional list seats at Holyrood as it fights to remain as the official party of opposition after May’s election.

Brian Roy, Scottish Labour general secretary, told activists that the election will “not be a traditional key seat campaign”.

Instead Labour will focus on targeting key voters who could be crucial in determining the results of constituency seats and regional lists.

Of the 129 MSPs who will be elected on May 5, 73 will represent constituencies across Scotland, with the remaining 56 selected from party regional lists.

Mr Roy told the Scottish Labour conference in Glasgow: “We have learned the mistake of the past when we did not place enough importance on the regional list votes and did not organise effectively on that basis.

“So we have established strong regional campaign structures to allow organising, messaging and resources to be deployed more efficiently and more effectively. We have appointed eight regional campaign chairs to oversee the campaign in their areas

“If we are to maximise our number of MSPs we need to redress the gradual decline in our regional vote share compared to that of our constituency.”

He added: “Winning one more list seat in particular regions could come down to as little as a handful of votes. With limited resources it means being smarter about how we campaign and who we target.”

Despite Labour’s fall in support, Mr Roy insisted the party is the only one which “can stop the SNP having it all their own way”.

He said: “We’re the only party offering an alternative to Tory austerity, the only party that would invest instead of cutting into Scotland’s future. To deliver that message effectively we need to fundamentally change the way we campaign.”

He hit out at the SNP, who have been in power at Holyrood since 2007, saying that after “nearly a decade in power, they haven’t delivered the kind of change that Scotland needs”.

Mr Roy claimed: “They are, frankly, making the same kind of mistakes Labour used to make, taking voters for Scotland in granted.”

Scottish Labour deputy leader and election campaign chief Alex Rowley said: “We know in terms of the polls we are in a difficult place and there is a lot of work to be done.

“But be absolutely clear we are going to fight for every vote, we’re going to take our message on to every street, to every doorstep across Scotland.”

He continued: “I’ve been in many constituencies across Scotland over the last few months and there is a real determination, there is an upbeat feeling in constituencies, the determination to get out there and talk about Labour in Scotland and what Labour is about.

“We have a new generation of candidates who are taking our message and taking the fight to the voters across Scotland every day between now and May 5.”

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