SCOTTISH Labour was last night embroiled in a row over its European election leaflets, after the same quotes praising the prime minister were attributed to different families living at opposite ends of the country.

A couple identified as "Gillian and Barry from Port Seton" were quoted in leaflets used in the Lothians as saying: "It's Gordon Brown's leadership that will get us through these tough times. Labour is the only party on the side of hard-working families, standing up for Scottish people nationally and in Europe."

The couple and their young daughter Hanna also appear on the front of Scottish Labour's manifesto for Thursday's poll.

However, leaflets distributed in the Highlands and Islands attribute precisely the same quote to "The Conniff Family, from Wester Ross".

The quote also appears next to a family on Labour leaflets in Greater Manchester, with the phrase "British people" substituted for "Scottish people".

Another variation turns up in Central Scotland, where "the McDonald family from Sauchie" feel they can "rely on Gordon Brown's leadership to see the country through these tough times".

One of the Conniff family, Christine, was a Labour party list candidate in the Highlands and Islands at the 2007 elections.

Dundee West MSP Joe Fitzpatrick, the SNP's European election campaign coordinator, said Labour had been caught red-handed.

"This is the kind of dishonesty we have come to expect from Labour. Voters will be deeply disappointed with this charade. Labour have failed to produce a manifesto which addresses the concerns of the people of Scotland - cutting and pasting from their UK document instead - so it comes as no surprise their leaflets are of the same construction."

A Scottish Labour spokesman said people had been asked to "sign up to" an agreed quote for the front of its leaflets, then given space for their own thoughts on the back. There are 72 UK seats in Brussels up for grabs in Thursday's poll, down from 78 in 2005. Scotland will return six MEPs, down from seven last time. In the 2004 European election, the Conservatives took 26.7% of the national vote, with Labour on 22.6%, UKIP on 16.1% and the Liberal Democrats on 14.9%.

A Populus poll in yesterday's Times now puts Labour in third place behind UKIP, suggesting the scandal of MPs' expenses has had a devastating effect on Brown's standing. Support for the Conservatives in the European election was 30%, UKIP were on 19%, Labour on 16% and the LibDems on 15%.

The same poll found 62% of voters thought Brown had been most badly damaged by the expenses saga, compared to 5% who felt it was Cameron.

Professor John Curtice, of Strathclyde University, said the main fight north of the Border would be between the SNP and Labour over share of the vote.

In 1999, the SNP and Labour polled 27.2% and 28.7% respectively. But in 2004, the SNP sank to 19.7% while Labour stayed high on 26.4%.

"The battle is about credibility in Scotland. If Labour come first, they will say that the smile has been wiped off Salmond's face," said Curtice. "If the SNP come first, they will be able to say they are going from strength to strength."

He added that if Labour polled below 20% nationally, and lost its four councils in the English local elections, cabinet ministers would be under pressure to oust Brown.