Scottish Labour is on track to gain the second most seats in Holyrood at the next election and push the Scottish Conservatives into third place, new polling has indicated.
Research published today, as the Scottish Tories began their two-day conference, found that if a Scottish parliament election were held tomorrow, Labour would secure 24 seats and the Conservatives 23 – down from their current 31.
The poll also suggested that the Greens would increase their representation in Holyrood, gaining a further five MSPs for a total of 13, and that the number of Lib Dem seats increase by three from four to seven. According to the research, the SNP would lose two seats and be left with 62.
The survey followed tensions between the Scottish Conservatives and its UK counterpart. Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross called for Boris Johnson to resign earlier this year over allegations related to the ‘partygate’ scandal.
Ross earlier this month withdrew his demand for the Prime Minister to go, saying the middle of an international crisis was “not the time to be discussing resignations”. He was then accused of having “the backbone of a jellyfish”.
The new polling suggests that Labour would see its share of parliamentary seats return to pre-2016 levels. The party was the largest in Holyrood between 1999 and 2007, with the SNP as the main opposition, but dropped to second place in 2007 when the SNP formed a minority government.
Ahead of Douglas Ross’ conference speech, Anas Sarwar said: “It is shameless hypocrisy for Douglas Ross to condemn the division that he and his party have spent years stoking. The Tories aren’t the alternative to the SNP – they are their biggest asset.
“Their government is failing communities across Scotland and the UK, and putting the very future of the country at stake. The Tories aren’t good enough to lead the UK and they aren’t strong enough to stand up to the SNP.
“This May 5th you have a chance to choose a Scottish Labour candidate that will put your local community first and work to build a better future for Scotland.”
Scottish Labour held its own conference earlier this month. Keir Starmer told attendees in his keynote address that Labour “can win” and “make change” or it can “pursue apparent political purity inside this party” – but it “cannot do both”.
Sarwar used his conference speech to tell voters that “Scottish Labour will always be on your side”, but told the party that “we have to prove to the people of Scotland that we deserve to win”, calling for “new ideas and new thinking”.
“Our first opportunity to demonstrate that is at May’s council elections. On May 5th, in every community in Scotland, we can elect local champions by voting for Scottish Labour candidates,” the Scottish Labour leader said.
“People who will stand up for you, your family, and your local community. Look at the difference Labour is making right now where we are in power in councils across Scotland.”
Council elections will take place in local authorities across some parts of England, including London, and in Wales and Scotland in less than seven weeks on May 5th.
Scottish Labour recently rebranded and unveiled a new logo featuring a thistle instead of a rose. The design was officially released on the first day of Scottish Labour’s conference but leaked to the Daily Record in advance.
The poll of 1,008 adults published today also found that a second independence referendum would result in voters narrowly rejecting a bid to leave. 52% of Scots supported remaining in the UK, while 48% said they would back leaving.