THE Labour Party has been inviting people to vote for a “vacuum” and has to stop being so “timid”, one of Britain’s top pollsters has said. 

Professor Sir John Curtice, of the University of Strathclyde, said Labour has “seemingly had virtually nothing to say about anything”.

He made the comments during an online event held by the UK in a Changing Europe think-tank. 

Elsewhere, Mr Curtice said neither unionist nor pro-independence parties have been able to claim a “clear victory” following the Holyrood election on May 6. 

Referring to the UK Labour Party, Mr Curtice said: “It’s just got to stop being so timid. 

“It’s not just that it keeps shtum on Brexit – it just has seemingly had virtually nothing to say about anything.”

He added: “At the end of the day the art of effective opposition is not just simply to point out the weaknesses in what the Government is doing, but it’s then to link that with a message about how you would do things better.”

John Curtice

John Curtice

Mr Curtice said Labour “has just not been willing to say anything about what it’s position would be”, with one or two rare exceptions. 

He added: “To that extent, at least, therefore it’s been inviting people to vote for a vacuum. Inevitably, that’s not very attractive.”

In Scotland, Mr Curtice said the Holyrood election confirmed the country is “pretty evenly divided” on the independence question, as well as being “deeply polarised”.

He said support for the SNP and support for independence are now “virtually synonymous with each other”.

Mr Curtice said the constitution dominated how people voted in the election, and pointed to “very clear evidence” of tactical voting on the unionist side.

This was crucial in ensuring the SNP narrowly missed out on securing an overall majority, he said.

He said 50.4 per cent of the constituency vote in the Scottish Parliament election went to pro-union parties, while 50.1% of the list vote went to pro-independence parties. 

He said: “So in other words, which party people voted for and their view on independence are virtually synonymous with each other.”

He added that this “frankly confirms that we are in a situation where half of Scotland, roughly speaking, wants to be independent and half wishes to stay inside the UK”.

Mr Curtice continued: “So the country’s divided down the middle and it’s also deeply polarised on this subject and it does therefore present politicians of all hues, whatever their constitutional preference, with quite a considerable challenge as to how, in the end, you are going to resolve what ultimately is one of the most difficult issues to resolve in politics, which is an issue of legitimacy.”