In an unprecedented system of tactical voting, Douglas Ross’s party is inviting its rivals to cooperate in a “smart vote” strategy in an attempt to shore up unionist votes in rural areas of Scotland while supporting Labor in the central belt, which stretches from Glasgow to Edinburgh.
However, the offer is likely to anger members of the UK’s Conservative Party, who are trailing Labor in the polls and face an uphill battle to keep Rishi Sunak in Downing Street.
Asked today what Sunak might think of the proposed election deal, Scottish Conservative MSP Stephen Kerr told the BBC’s Sunday Show: “The Prime Minister, like all Conservatives, is committed to the idea that we put our country first.
“The people of Scotland will make their own decisions about how to vote.”
He said he did not know if the Prime Minister knew about the call for the tactical voting plan, adding that he himself was not involved in any discussion about it.
The proposed unionist pact comes as a new poll by The Sunday Times shows the SNP is losing support since Humza Yousaf replaced Nicola Sturgeon as prime minister.
A Panelbase poll conducted after Yousaf’s appointment suggests the party would lose 14 seats in Westminster and Holyrood’s pro-independence majority would disappear if the results were replicated in the election.
The Conservatives believe they will retain all six Westminster seats next year and will spot opportunities to gain ground in the north and south of Scotland since Yousaf’s election. The polls confirm this and Labor will be the biggest beneficiaries of the fall of the SNP, increasing their percentage of the vote in Westminster by three points to 31 percent.
The Conservatives would remain at 19 percent, the Liberal Democrats would drop two points to 5 percent and support for the other parties would increase two points to 6 percent.
A Scottish Conservative source told the Sunday Times: “With the election of Humza Yousaf as SNP leader, there is clearly an opportunity to end nationalist dominance in next year’s general election and make them pay the price for ignoring the true priorities of Scotland.
“But that requires Scots to vote smart to maximize tactical voting. That means put normal party policy aside and voting for the candidate most likely to beat the SNP.
“That means, for example, that Conservative voters in Glasgow back Labour, while Labor voters in Aberdeenshire vote Conservative.”
The first electoral test for tactical voting and for Yousaf as SNP leader is the potential by-election in Rutherglen & Hamilton West.
Recent Conservative focus groups held in rural locations suggest little evidence of a Labor renaissance outside its historic strongholds.
Key Conservative targets at the current limits are understood to include Angus, Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock and Gordon.
The Panelbase poll put support for the SNP at 39 per cent in a UK-wide vote, a four-point drop from the company’s research for The Sunday Times last month and the first time the party has fallen below 40 percent with the pollster ever since. the general elections of December 2019.
Sir John Curtice, the polling expert, said it suggested the SNP would win 34 MPs, compared with 48 just over three years ago.
In this scenario, Labor would return 14 MPs, a significant increase from their current sole representative north of the border and a boost to Sir Keir Starmer’s bid to be the next prime minister, while the Tories would keep their current six constituencies. and the Liberal Democrats would add one to win five seats.
“SNP MPs in Holyrood and Westminster overwhelmingly endorsed Mr Yousaf for the party leadership,” Curtice told The Sunday Times.
“But unless their party’s fortunes change soon, they may start to wonder if they made the right decision.”
He added that the results showed that “the loyalty of Yes supporters to the SNP is eroding,” as support for the party fell while the share of people wanting independence remained static at 46 percent.
Support for the Union was 49 percent with 5 percent unsure. When those who don’t know are excluded, 48 percent of people would vote Yes in a referendum and 52 percent would vote No.
After a divisive first week in office in which Yousaf’s leadership rival Kate Forbes resigned rather than be demoted and Keith Brown, the deputy leader of the SNP, was sacked from the cabinet, Yousaf will go on hiatus. April Holyrood planning a series of announcements to be made around Parliament.
He has said that his main focus will be on the cost of living, which is in line with public opinion. Seventy-two percent of people said the economy it should be one of Mr Yousaf’s top three priorities with the same proportion selecting the health service, the prime minister’s former mandate.
Independence ranked fifth on people’s list of priorities with 25 percent of respondents selecting it in their top three, behind education (39 percent) and social assistance (28 percent).
According to the survey, people do not have faith that the First Minister will change things, with only 19 per cent trusting that he will improve the performance of the Scottish government. More than half, 52 percent, were not sure, 21 percent were neutral, and 8 percent were not sure.
The next Holyrood election is not due until 2026, but Panelbase’s findings will make for uncomfortable reading at the Bute House and SNP headquarters.
In constituencies, 37 percent of people said they would vote for the SNP, a 6-point drop. Labor received 33 percent support, up six points; the conservatives 17 percent, one point more; the liberal democrats 8 percent, one point more; the Greens 5 percent, one more point; with 4 percent voting for other parties.
On the regional list, 31 percent said they would vote SNP; Insured labor 27 percent; the Tories 20 percent; the Greens 10 percent and the Liberal Democrats 6 percent. Alba returned 5 percent in a result that would see them return two MSPs, according to Curtice’s analysis.
The SNP group would fall from 16 to 48 MSPs while Labor would rise from 15 to 37, the Conservatives would fall from five to 26 and the Greens and Liber Dems would each add two members to return ten and six MSPs respectively.
This would mean there would be a majority of unionist politicians in Holyrood for the first time since 2011.
Panelbase interviewed 1,089 adults in Scotland between March 28 and 30.