With the 2017 General Election less than a month away, it’s not just Labour MPs who will be nervously looking over their shoulders anticipating a Conservative land grab.
The latest polling in Scotland suggests that Theresa May’s party are likely to make big gains as Scots voice their displeasure at the prospect of a second independence referendum.
The Conservatives, powered by the momentum of a strong performance in the local council elections earlier this month and the charisma of Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, are set to get more than a quarter of the vote north of the border on June 8, if the latest polls are to be believed.
The Conservatives look set to overtake Labour in Scotland
An average of the last eight polls to measure voting intention in Scotland put the Conservatives on 27.1 per cent – nearly double the 14.9 per cent they achieved in the 2015 general election.
The SNP, meanwhile, are on 45 per cent while Labour languishes on 16.3 per cent in third place.
If Scottish Labour supporters heed Ruth Davidson’s call to vote tactically for the Conservatives then the party could gain more than 10 seats in Scotland thanks to the UK’s First Past the Post voting system.
Snap general election guide
At the end of April Nicola Sturgeon called for a second independence referendum in Scotland. This motion was passed in Holyrood but any momentum for the project was lost a few weeks later when Theresa May called for a snap general election.
Despite polls showing that support for independence has increased over time, the data also shows that most Scots don’t think that now is the right time for Scotland to part with the rest of the UK.
On top of this, the latest release from the Scottish Attitudes Survey has shown that Scotland has become increasingly Eurosceptic despite voting to remain in the EU in last June’s referendum.
Scottish independence polling
A well handled Brexit is just as important in Scotland as it is in the rest of the UK and Sturgeon’s apparently opportunistic call for a second independence referendum seems to have provided a boost for the Conservatives.
This was evident in the recent local council elections where the Conservatives moved ahead of Labour in terms of the number of council seats that they won.
While support for the SNP still remains strong, a more unified opposition movement in Scotland behind Ruth Davidson could do damage to Nicola Sturgeon’s party next month.
Scotland council election results 2017
Earlier this month, Martin Baxter of political statistics website Electoral Calculus, used an average of the most recent polls on voting intention in Scotland to forecast the likelihood of the Conservatives winning each seat.
Were his results to replicate themselves on June 8 the swing to the Conservatives would be enough for them to capture nine SNP seats as well as Labour’s one remaining Scottish constituency.
Scottish Tory targets map
This would leave the Tories on 11 seats in total – unprecedented in modern times.
The seat with the greatest chance of switching to the Tories is Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk where the SNP hold a majority of just 0.6 percentage points over the Conservatives. Based on the expected swing away from the SNP Calum Kerr is expected to lose this seat.
Other constituencies which are also very likely to turn blue are Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine, where Stuart Donaldson’s majority of 7,000 could be overturned, and Dumfries and Galloway – where the SNP majority is even smaller at 6,500.
The Conservatives’ Scottish targets in the General Election
This leaves a further seven seats in which the race will be tighter but that could still swing to Theresa May’s party. They include Labour’s only Scottish seat – Edinburgh South – and Moray, which is currently held by the SNP Commons leader Angus Robertson.
While the chance of these seats changing hands is slimmer, the direction of travel in the polls is such that the prospect of the Conservatives causing severe damage to the SNP in this way is increasingly likely.