As that’s where Scottish Labour is led from, of course. The Ashcroft polls leaked late last night have, it’s fair to say, caused a certain degree of furore among politics types.
Contrary to some expectations, the figures could scarcely have been worse. Of 16 seats polled – 14 held by Labour and two Lib Dem – 15 would go to the SNP on staggering swings of over 20%. Labour’s Glasgow heartlands would be all but wiped out, with only Willie Bain in Glasgow North East barely clinging on.
The SNP will undoubtedly be cock-a-hoop, but will almost certainly also be feverishly warning activists that polls don’t win seats and reminding them of the party’s own spectacular recovery in the 2011 Holyrood election from what looked like disaster just a couple of months out from the vote.
Lord Ashcroft himself points out (as we did ourselves on Twitter last night) that the seats he polled were mainly in areas that voted Yes last year, and so may be unduly flattering the SNP. But it’s worth seeing them in context.
Below is a chart of all 59 of the Scottish constituencies at Westminster, arranged in ascending order of the size of swing the SNP would need in order to capture them in May. We’ve highlighted the ones polled by Lord Ashcroft in black.
As you can see, they cover a decent range of the statistical spectrum, if not the geographic one – 14 of the 16 are broadly in the vicinity of Glasgow and Dundee, Scotland’s two Yes cities. But nevertheless, Labour’s blood will be running cold at the discovery that the SNP surge could even seize a seat like Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill, which must surely have been beyond its wildest imaginings.
When projections were based on uniform swings, it was easy to dismiss the realistic chances of overturning Tom Clarke’s crushing majority of almost 21,000. But when a full-sample poll actually conducted entirely within the constituency puts the Nats in front there, pretty much anything starts to seem possible.
The caveats which must be applied to these polls are many, and we’ve mentioned some of them above. Complacency is the mortal enemy of any political party, and if SNP workers believe the battle is already won, it soon won’t be. Polls in less Yes-friendly areas could easily pour cold water on their hopes.
But there’s no escaping the fact that this data is starting to look a lot like a paradigm shift. Delving deeper into it reveals things that nobody would ever have believed just a few months ago – in Labour’s most historic heartlands, large sections of their own voters would rather see David Cameron remain Prime Minister than Ed Miliband.
The seats polled for the figure above are between #30 and #53 on the list of SNP targets. The lowest swing they need to capture any one of them is almost 16%. Yet 35% of 2010 Labour voters in these core Labour strongholds, where they’ve weighed the vote rather than counted it for longer than we’ve been alive, would now rather have an Etonian Tory as PM than their own party’s leader. Things just don’t get much more earth-shaking in Scottish politics than that.
The show isn’t over until the fat lady sings. But the word “crisis” barely begins to describe Scottish Labour’s current predicament. Scotland just doesn’t want it any more, and it’s running out of time and desperate empty promises to try to win it back.