Labour ahead of the SNP

With ten days to go to the Glenrothes by election Labour have edged ahead of the SNP in Scotland as a whole, according to a YouGov poll in the tartan edition of the Sunday Times.

Support for Labour at Westminster is up by six percentage points since the start of last month, on 38%, with the SNP nine points behind on 29% (-5%), the Conservatives on 20% (+3%) and the Liberal Democrats on 11% (-2%)

For the Scottish parliament the SNP is on 39%, down three points since the last YouGov poll in the first week of September, while Labour are on 31%, up five points.

If an Independence referendum was held tomorrow, 31% of voters said they would vote in favour of separatism while 53% said they would vote against. The remaining 16% were undecided or would not vote.

That may not be translated into a win locally in Glenrothes itself where the SNP are still cautiously rated the likely winners. Certainly the Bruns looked as if they were hedging their bets on the result when they slunk into the battleground last week, first wifie then the big yin.
What ever happened to those assurances that after the PR roller coaster of Cherie, Sarah Brown would stay in the background? First, she introduces Gordon’s “speech of a lifetime” at the party conference; now she’s going solo ( though ringed with minders and staying mum) in a by election! Whatever next? Not that she actually shone walking the streets of Glenrothes. Nobody could have guessed that she was a star PR executive before she tied the knot with Gordon. The PM himself “broke precedent” to campaign in a by election he couldn’t ignore in his own backyard, especially now that the result is no longer crucial to his survival.

He had two points to make in a soft “exclusive” interview in Glasgow’s Sunday Mail:

TheSNP have not moved quickly enough to stop house seizures.”… And “What has been exposed is the idea you are better off walking out of the United Kingdom. No one in England said we shouldn’t have put £37billion into rescuing the Scottish banks…. The SNP’s opposition to the HBOS-Lloyds TSB merger is a mistake because they haven’t any alternative.”

In his second article in successive weeks in the Sunday Times (which is hostile to him but seems to dominate the weekend comment scene) Alex Salmond repeated his claim that an independent Scotland would have dealt with the financial crisis least as well as Ireland did, listed his own measures and called for more powers for the Parliament. On that at least, Labour is likely to agree.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London