Labour could gain almost two dozen seats from the SNP in Scotland in the next Westminster election, research which could give Humza Yousaf’s party “serious cause for concern” has suggested.
Analysis by pollsters at YouGov projected Mr Yousaf’s party could capture the seat currently held by Douglas Ross, the leader of the Scottish Tories – but also indicated 23 seats currently held by the SNP could fall to Labour, including that of deputy Westminster leader Mhairi Black.
While the SNP won 48 seats in Scotland at the last general election in 2019, YouGov’s research showed that could fall to 27, with the party losing 23 seats to Labour, mainly across central Scotland.
Noting Sir Keir Starmer’s party may well need to make gains in Scotland if he is to become the next prime minister, Patrick English of YouGov said the findings would provide “strong encouragement to Labour”.
But overall, YouGov projected the SNP to have its worst general election results since 2010.
The findings indicated Mr Yousaf’s party could lose six of the seven Glasgow constituencies it currently holds – with Glasgow Central, Glasgow East, Glasgow North, Glasgow North East, Glasgow North West and Glasgow South all projected as gains for Labour.
With Labour forecast to have its best Scottish election results since 2010, the modelling suggested Anas Sarwar’s party could also win the Western Isles, ousting the long-serving SNP MP Angus MacNeill, who has held the seat there since 2005.
Meanwhile, Rutherglen and Hamilton West – where a recall petition could force a by-election ahead of the next general election if current MP Margaret Ferrier is suspended from the Commons for the proposed 30 days – could be another Labour capture.
YouGov based its research on fieldwork carried out between April 10 and May 21 – after Mr Yousaf took over as SNP leader and Scottish First Minister, and after a police investigation into SNP finances resulted in both the party’s HQ in Edinburgh and the home of Nicola Sturgeon being searched.
Meanwhile, it noted that “the figures will make welcome reading for Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, as well as the party’s national leader Keir Starmer”, adding that “Labour may well need a significant number of victories in Scotland to lift them over the majority line at the next Westminster contest, and the data currently suggests they are on track to do just that”.
However YouGov said its projections were “less rosy” for Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, who are both forecast to pick up four seats in Scotland at the next general election.
The First Minister spoke to journalists about the poll after a meeting of Holyrood’s committee conveners on Wednesday.
He said: “I’m never complacent.
“We have had a really, really difficult six to eight weeks. I think everybody objectively realises how challenging that period has been for the party.
“But of course the election is still some time away and I’m focussed on making sure we are speaking to the priorities of the people of Scotland.”
On the possible Rutherglen by-election, he said: “Labour may already be declaring victory in Rutherglen.
“What we’re going to do is make sure we’re chapping the doors, we’re pounding the pavements, we’re talking to people and making sure we have a positive message about what we can deliver for the people of Rutherglen.”
Commenting on the research, Patrick English, associate director of political and social research at YouGov, said: “The results of YouGov’s Scottish MRP shows the SNP have some serious cause for concern, but will provide strong encouragement to Labour as they look ahead to the next general election.
“Making significant gains in Scotland could be crucial to Starmer’s chances of heading into Number 10 with a parliamentary majority next year, and these figures suggest his party is now making strong progress north of the border.
“That, plus the prospect of losing their own Scottish leader’s seat, will no doubt worry the Conservatives.”
Labour shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray MP, who is currently the party’s only MP north of the border, said: “Scotland is ready for change and it falls to Scottish Labour to deliver it.
“The people of Scotland are sick and tired of Tory and SNP sleaze and failure.”
He insisted: “Scotland needs a fresh start with a majority Labour government. Under Anas Sarwar’s leadership Scottish Labour will continue to earn back the public’s trust so we can deliver the change that Scotland needs.”
A Scottish Conservative spokesperson said: “It’s clear that voters are increasingly turned off by the scandal and civil war engulfing the SNP and their obsession with independence over the real priorities of the Scottish people.”
Meanwhile, a Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: “In seats like East Dunbartonshire and Ross, Skye and Lochaber, we’re nipping at the heels of the failed SNP and offering a brighter alternative for communities.”
But SNP MP David Linden said: “Voting SNP is the only way to get rid of unelected Tory governments in Scotland for good.
“The SNP is the only party in Scotland offering a real alternative to the Tories and pro-Brexit Labour Party, handing voters the opportunity to escape the mess of Brexit and rejoin the EU with the full powers of independence.
“A strong team of SNP MPs could hold the balance of power and we would use our influence to make sure Westminster takes real action to tackle the cost of living, protect our NHS, and ensure Scotland’s democracy is respected.”