Scottish Labour’s leader and the party’s general election coordinator are set to lose their seats to the Scottish National party, a poll by the Tory peer Lord Ashcroft suggests.
The eight seats Ashcroft polled in Scotland show seven SNP gains and one in which the Conservatives hold a narrow lead against the Liberal Democrats.
The former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy was also 15 points behind the SNP in the race for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, and Jo Swinson, a Lib Dem business minister, is 11 points down in East Dunbartonshire.
Ashcroft found the Conservatives one point ahead in Berwickshire, Roxborough and Selkirk, which is held by the Lib Dem Michael Moore.
Ashcroft has polled a number of marginals during the runup to the election, showing Labour ahead of the Conservatives in many south of the border.
Critics of his polls object to the fact that those surveyed are not presented with the names of those running, meaning that well-known candidates do not benefit from name recognition.
A Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesman said: “These polls don’t mention the name of the incumbent candidate and all the research shows that, when they do, support will jump through the roof. When you’ve got a local record as good as our Lib Dem candidates, that adds to the votes.”
In a blog analysing his poll, Ashcroft, who recently gave up his seat in the House of Lords, said the SNP surge had clearly not subsided. He suggested that some Conservatives could vote tactically for Murphy to keep the SNP out.
“In the three Labour seats, the SNP are further ahead than when I polled them earlier in the year,” he wrote. “In East Renfrewshire, the one-point Labour lead I found in February has become a nine-point advantage for the SNP.
“However, this seat has a bigger Conservative share than many other Labour strongholds [25%], and I found Conservative voters less likely to say they would rule out voting Labour [64%] than would rule out the SNP [87%]. How many Tories will decide to lend their vote to Jim Murphy to stop the nationalists?”
Asked about Scottish Labour’s consistently poor polling at his manifesto launch earlier on Friday, Murphy said: “These offers can reconnect us with voters all across this great city and all across Scotland. Now we have to go out and argue for it.”
He blamed some of the SNP’s success on the Tories. “David Cameron was in Scotland this week and when he comes they make a muted effort to campaign on their own behalf, but they make a pretty fine effort to campaign on behalf of the SNP,” he said.
“It’s pretty tawdry, it’s pretty cheap for the prime minister of the UK to become a cheerleader for a party that wants to break up the UK.”
The SNP’s election campaign director, Angus Robertson, welcomed the polling, particularly the growth in SNP support in areas which voted no in last September’s referendum on Scottish independence.
“The polls suggest that our policy to deliver jobs, growth and investment in services in place of Westminster cuts has huge appeal,” he said
The SNP has been retweeting warnings to their supporters to take nothing for granted, but senior party officials and candidates remain privately astonished by the strength and consistency of their canvassing returns.
At the party’s spring conference in March, party leader and Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon admitted that some of the recent polls had given her “altitude sickness”.
“We must work harder over these next 40 days than we have ever done before. No let up, no resting on our laurels, no slowing down to savour the polls,” she said. “Let me make this clear, hard graft, humility and a daily determination to earn the trust of the people of Scotland, these will be the hallmarks of our campaign.”
This article was written by Rowena Mason and Libby Brooks, for theguardian.com on Friday 17th April 2015 17.49 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010