“Yes, I believe it is real.”
When then asked if he thinks the SNP will see an increase in seats, he responded by saying:
“One would expect to see a surge in the SNP.”
The pollster then said that whether or not it will be to the same scale that others have suggested is “yet to be seen.”
The SNP have seen large surges in support in UK and Scotland wide polls, following the ‘Yes’ campaign’s defeat in the referendum in September last year. The party have also seen a huge increase in membership since the ‘No’ vote.
However, Lord Ashcroft’s constituency polling for Scotland, due to be released within the next few days, will be the first of its kind following the SNP surge. Lord Ashcroft’s comments suggest that the polling, when released, could be bad news for Labour.
It will be interesting to see which constituencies have been polled. Labour heartlands where the SNP have recently gained ground will likely be in the mix. Additionally, the constituency that Alex Salmond is standing in - Gordon - is also likely to be among those looked at.
If the polls due out show an SNP surge and potential wins in Labour seats, then the pressure will be mounted further on Jim Murphy, Scottish Labour’s new leader, to tackle the rise in support for the SNP.
However, it is important to remember that polls are snapshots of public opinion, not predictions of the election. Nonetheless, constituency polls offer a deeper insight into how different areas could vote, rather than just relying on the crude but uniform swing method of national polls.
2015 is going to be a tight election, and Scotland will be a key battleground. The Scottish polls will be an useful insight in the run up to May this year.
Lord Ashcroft's interview with Sky News can be watched here.