Only a Tory swing will alter the outcome of the election, not SNP votes, analysis suggests
COMMONSPACE analysis of recent polling figures has revealed that even if the SNP won every seat in Scotland, Labour would still have more MPs than the Tories in the 2015 General Election if current polling projections remain the same in England and Wales.
The figures, taken from analysis of polling expert John Curtice’s report released last week show that Labour are on course to win more seats than the Tories despite only being projected to take five MPs in Scotland, due to their current advantage over the Conservatives in England and Wales.
Indeed, even if the SNP was to win every seat in Scotland, on current polling Labour would still have more seats than the Tories in Westminster, but would rely heavily on nationalist support to remain in power. Labour would lack the seats necessary to build a coalition with other smaller parties like the Liberal Democracts and the DUP.
The findings come from an analysis of Curtice’s report for the Electoral Reform Society, ‘Lottery Election’.
Curtice told CommonSpace that he agreed the analysis was accurate, but added that it would only take a small swing to the Tories in England and Wales to alter the picture. He added that his figures were “an extrapolation” from a poll of polls in the rest of UK combined with a poll of polls in Scotland, not a prediction.
Willie Sullivan of the Electoral Reform Society, who commissioned Curtice’s report, said: “As the polls are now, and have been for some time, even if Labour won most of the Scottish seats it may still need support from someone like the SNP to be in government which would be the same outcome should SNP win most of the seats.
“The scenario Labour presents would only be true if there was a significant Tory surge in England which up to now has not happened.”
The argument blows a hole in Scottish Labour’s #VoteSNPgetTories campaign line, which has been highly visible on social media as of late.
Both Labour and the Conservatives have used the same strapline in a bid to encourage voters away from the SNP. While Labour claims SNP votes will give the Tories another term in power, the Conservative party has latched on to Labour’s significantly decreased popularity in Scotland to claim SNP votes will put Labour into power.
Robin McAlpine, director of the Common Weal think-tank and campaign group, said the polls could bring hope of talks for a progressive future government.
“It increasingly looks like there will be negotiations for a progressive government after the next General Election,” he said.
“That is, if Labour can hold its vote up in England.
“Politicians now need to seriously consider negotiating positions for what a government relying on smaller progressive parties to govern would do.”
The Common Weal has launched a ‘Red Lines Campaign’ for the General Election, which puts forward five red lines that could achieve a progressive outcome from a Labour minority government reliant on support from smaller parties like the SNP and the Greens.
An SNP spokesperson was not moved by the analysis, telling Common Space that the party is “taking nothing for granted and working hard for every vote and every seat in May to ensure the strongest possible voice for Scotland at Westminster”.
Meanwhile, despite the analysis, a Scottish Labour spokesperson insisted that voting SNP would give the Tories power: “Scotland can’t afford another five years of David Cameron, but voting for the SNP risks letting the Tories back into power. Every vote for the SNP in May is another boost for David Cameron, and makes it more likely the Tories will be the largest party across the UK after the election. In every election since women got the vote the largest party has gone on to form the government.”
Picture courtesy of Nick Page