LABOUR yesterday denied its Holyrood campaign was in crisis after a poll indicated the party could face a heavy defeat at the hands of the SNP in a fortnight's time.
An 11-point lead over Labour in the constituency vote and a ten-point lead in the regional list vote could see Alex Salmond re-elected as First Minister with a group of around 60 MSPs.
However, John Park, Labour campaign co-ordinator, insisted: “This is a rogue poll because the results suggested are incredibly unlikely and are wildly different from what our canvass returns and other polls show.”
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, out campaigning in Dunfermline, was equally dismissive, saying: “I’m not interested in the polls. I’m interested in the issues.
“This is about jobs. I’ve just been talking to people who are worried about the prospects for their children.
“People are worried about their work prospects for jobs. The only party making jobs a priority, and it’s in our DNA, is Labour.”
The Ipsos MORI poll for the Times and Sun newspapers put the SNP on 45% in the constituency vote, Labour on 34%, Conservatives on 10% and the Liberal Democrats on 9%. For the regional lists the SNP were on 42%, Labour 32%, Tories 10%, LibDems 9% and the Greens on 6%.
This would indicate 61 seats for the SNP, 45 Labour, 10 Tories, nine LibDems and four Greens, although this is a very broad estimate that does not allow for independents.
SNP Campaign Director Angus Robertson said: “This confirms that more and more people are considering voting SNP – many for the first time – because they want to re-elect the SNP Government and Alex Salmond for First Minister.”
The leadership ratings from the same poll of 1002 voters give Alex Salmond an enormous lead, the “net satisfaction rating” – contrasting those who are pleased or unhappy with his performance – climbing 17 points since February to +33%.
On that rating Annabel Goldie is on +10%, Iain Gray is on +1% and Tavish Scott -4%. More than a quarter of Labour voters consider Salmond more capable than Gray.
There was also evidence in additional questions asked by public relations firm Pagoda that voters are much happier with co-operation and coalition than the parties themselves.
While activists are at daggers drawn, 54% of SNP voters would be happy to be in coalition with Labour, while vice versa it’s 60%. Greens would be acceptable partners for both, while LibDems are keen but unfancied except by the Tories, who remain out of the loop.
The SNP sought to maintain the momentum with two new endorsements. Former Labour councillor and Pakistani community leader Bashir Mann put his weight behind Nicola Sturgeon in Glasgow Southside, while former Ravenscraig steelworks trade union leader Tommy Brennan gave his backing to the SNP and the re-election of Alex Salmond as First Minister.
The former steel union leader said: “I remember only too well the pain caused by the de-industrialisation of Scotland under the Tories in the 1980s and 1990s, and believe that Alex Salmond’s ambition to re-industrialise Scotland by leading the renewables energy revolution is an inspiring goal for young Scots and for jobs and industry in the 21st century.”
Bashir Mann said: “I am delighted to support Nicola Sturgeon for re-election. Having been her constituent for the last four years, I appreciate the hard work Nicola has done in Glasgow Southside to fight for the interests of the local residents and stand up for the issues important to them.
“In spite of being a minority government during the last four years, the SNP under the leadership of Alex Salmond, has done very well for the people of Scotland.”
The betting shifted strongly yesterday, with leading bookmakers shortening the odds of an SNP victory to 4/9, while pushing out the Labour odds to 13/8. Tories and LibDems remain 100/1.