LABOUR is pinning its hopes of retaining power in Scotland’s biggest city on a deal with resurgent Tories, insiders claim, as leaked internal documents show it preparing for an electoral meltdown.

A report prepared for party leadership and campaign organisers show Labour support in some areas of Glasgow is predicted to drop by about two thirds of what it was polling in local government elections less than a decade ago.

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In areas such as Govan, Drumchapel, Maryhill and Garscadden, projections show the opposition parties have over 70 per cent of the vote to play for. In more affluent parts of the city’s west end it is predicting support of little more than 20 per cent.

But Councillor Frank McAveety, the council's Labour leader, described the claims as "ridiculous", adding that the Tories would be "nowhere near power".

HeraldScotland: Labour Councillor Frank McAveety at George Square.

With his party fielding just enough candidates to become a majority administration, if all are elected, several party figures have said their best chances of remaining in power rest with a coalition.

Sources believe the best chances of a coalition deal would rest with a handful of Tory councillors expected to get elected in the city next May.

Cllr McAveety said: "This is ridiculous. I know what the Tories did to Glasgow and I know what damage their current policies are doing again.

"They will be nowhere near power next May. The reality is that this election will be a straight fight between Labour and the SNP. A straight fight between a party that will put Glasgow first or a part obsessed with another referendum. We are fighting to win and deliver for our city."

As the party gears up for the local elections, widely viewed as critical for Labour’s future, it has also emerged it is struggling to find enough candidates, including in areas where it is presently in power.

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The same documents show that in the Western Isles, Labour has concerns that party members will stand as independents, while in Falkirk, where it is presently the administration, it cannot find enough candidates to replace sitting councillors.

In Glasgow, where the administration has a 50/50 gender policy, it would take every female on its shortlist to get selected and then elected for any progress to be made from 2012, while in the Highlands the report states: “Local campaign forum proposing one candidate per ward, and given the geography and party membership it will be difficult finding candidates whatever the gender.”

One source said: “Don’t discount us retaining power but that might well be as a minority administration or coalition. You would be expecting the support of a group of Tories to make that happen.”

HeraldScotland: City Chambers in George Square , Glasgow..Picture Martin Shields ..16.9.2003.

Another said: “The various camps within the administration accept their only chance in May is a deal with the Tories or the Greens. Or a coalition of both. Realistically, its the Tories.

“The numbers Labour is fielding point to planning a repeat of the successful 2012 campaign but the projections, the changed dynamics and, if the SNP are brave enough to field three candidates and push Labour down, we’re talking a tally around the early 30s (from a total of 85 seats).”

The projections, based on sampling from the Westminster and Scottish elections, show the most optimistic Labour prediction is in Shettleston, where 39 per cent is predicted but amongst three candidates, including council leader Frank McAveety.

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In Drumchapel and Anniesland, where it has been traditionally very strong, it is just 25 per cent between two candidates.

An SNP spokesman said: “A toxic Labour/Tory coalition would be the worst possible outcome for the people of Glasgow. That Labour are so desperate to cling on to power for it’s own sake that they would even consider putting the Tories in charge of anything in the City Chambers is a sign of just how low they’ve sunk." This is a party that has inflicted misery on the most vulnerable people in the city and taken millions out of Glasgow’s economy through their austerity obsession but Labour would rather do a grubby deal with them than accept the verdict of the voters.