According to a remarkable new survey:
The survey, by Ipsos Mori, found Labour is currently polling at just 23 per cent in Scotland which, if replicated in May, would see the party lose all but four of the 41 MPs it currently has north of the border. Such a result would make it next to impossible for Labour to win an overall majority in Westminster and form a Government after the next election.
Massie calls this “the most astonishing survey of Scottish political opinion in living memory”:
There will be two stories in Scotland next May.
On the one hand Labour will, as always, present the election as a contest between two possible outcomes: Prime Minister Cameron or Prime Minister Miliband. This has traditionally squeezed the SNP vote in Westminster elections and Labour are counting on it doing so again. A vote for the SNP is effectively a vote for David Cameron. If, as you say you do, you hate the Tories you have no choice but to vote for a Labour government. Sure, Labour may be uninspiring but, come on people, focus on the bigger picture.
Quite so, say the Nationalists. The bigger picture is bigger than Miliband vs Cameron. The SNP will argue that only the Nationalists can truly stand up for Scotland. Only the SNP will put Scotland first. The only way to advance Scotland’s interests is to send a large delegation of SNP MPs to Westminster. There they will hold Westminster’s feet to the fire. There they will hold the balance of power and wield their influence for Scotland’s advantage. You need not believe in independence to vote for the SNP. To vote, in effect, for Scotland. Labour’s difficulty, you see, is Scotland’s opportunity. (And a Tory government is better for the SNP than a Labour one.)
The thing about it – the thing that makes this election interesting and also dizzyingly unpredictable – is that both of these stories, both of these arguments, are true.
Larison zooms out:
There are some lessons that other parties could learn from Labour’s recent travails. The most important lesson is that a party can neglect its core supporters for only so long before they give up and move on to an alternative. Taking support from any constituency or region for granted will eventually come back to haunt the party, and this can happen at the worst possible times. If a party is effectively representing the interests of its voters, it won’t keep suffering mass defections to its competitors.