LABOUR can take up to 12 seats in the general election won by the SNP in the 2019 poll, according to Kezia Dugdale.

The former Scottish Labour leader made the forecast today after senior figures in the SNP stepped up their attacks on their rivals during their party conference in Aberdeen.

Labour figures believe the attacks indicate nervousness about a turn around in the fortunes of Labour, which currently has just one MP north of the Border.

A series of UK opinion polls have shown Keir Starmer's party is surging ahead of the Conservatives and while the SNP remain dominant in Scotland, Labour party managers believe many of their traditional supporters are now willing to return to the fold having switched to the SNP in the wake of the 2014 independence referendum.

Labour is the main challenger to the Conservatives in a range of seats across the Central Belt and Fife.

READ MORE: Resurgent Labour to target 'soft' SNP voters in battle to oust Liz Truss

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar is gearing up for a campaign to target “soft” SNP supporters in these former heartlands who may be ready to switch back to ensure Liz Truss’s government is voted out.

Ms Dugdale set out her thoughts as she examined what would happen if First Minister Nicola Sturgeon loses her Plan B bid to use Holyrood powers to stage Indyref2 without the consent of the UK. The Supreme Court case will be heard tomorrow and Wednesday on the plan with a ruling expected by the end of the year.

"As good as the polls are for Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party, it is in my view unlikely that Labour will win back the 40 seats it lost in 2015.

"That said, for the SNP’s Plan B to come unstuck, Labour doesn’t need to. Given there are no Labour/Tory marginal seats in Scotland, Starmer winning any seats will mean the SNP losing some, and Labour gaining momentum," she wrote in an article in The Times today.

"As things stand, despite being 20 per cent ahead in the UK polls, I struggle to see Labour winning a seat north of Dunfermline. I do see Labour winning 10-12 seats in areas with high No votes and a weakening Conservative base: parts of Fife, Lanarkshire and East Lothian perhaps."

Ms Sturgeon, who gives her keynote address to the SNP conference this afternoon, has said if the Scottish Government loses the Supreme Court case she will use the next general election as a "de facto" referendum on independence.

She would regard a win for the Yes side if the SNP win 50 per cent of the votes.
However, if Labour pick up ten to 12 seats the SNP would be unable to net 50 per cent of votes. 

In her article Ms Dugdale, who was Scottish Labour leader from 2015 to 2017, said with no referendum route left for the SNP the party should be campaigning vigorously for more powers for Holyrood.

"So if there is no route to a referendum through the courts or a general election, what then for those who want independence?" she wrote.

"Surely it involves the SNP engaging with, if not driving the case for, more powers for Holyrood. What if they made that argument with the same force as they do for independence? Might that just allow Scotland to free itself from this holding pattern?

"The SNP’s critique of federalism is that it is wheeled out whenever the Union is in trouble — the way a parent might dish out sweeties to an upset child.

"Rightly they point out that there is no clear definition of what federalism or devo max is within the UK and, even if there was, there is little chance of it materialising thanks to too many vested interests in play."

The SNP won 48 out of a total of 59 Scottihs seats at the general election in 2019. 

However, two of its MPs Kenny MacAskill (East Lothian) and Neale Hanvey (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath) later defected to Alba.

Two others elected as SNP MPs Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) and Margaret Ferrier (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) now sit as independent MPs.

Commenting on a bid by Labour to win back some of its supporters who had moved to the SNP, the SNP’s Westminster Independence Campaign Coordinator, Stewart Hosie MP said on Sunday:

“In every Tory seat in Scotland it's the SNP, not Labour, who are in second place. Any assertion that a vote for Labour is a vote to boot out the Tories in those areas is therefore a complete fallacy. 

“Liz Truss’ short tenure as Prime Minister has been appalling, much like the record of her predecessors, but by framing the choice facing Scots as one between Labour and the Tories, two parties with abysmal records in Scotland, only brings to light the failures of the broken Westminster system. 

“Before the next general election Scots will have the opportunity to choose a better, more democratic path, by grasping the full powers of independence and escaping the chaos of Westminster once and for all.”