Scotland: Tories unlikely to make headway north of border

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Indy Politics

Final polls suggest there will be no Tory breakthrough north of the border in today's election. Instead, Scotland is predicted to stick with the status quo, with almost half the country's voters saying they would favour a Labour-Liberal coalition in Westminster.

This sentiment was reflected in yesterday's final Independent soapbox hustings in the seat of Edinburgh North and Leith, where candidates faced the public as part of this newspaper's campaign to encourage political debate. Asked which they thought was more likely, all but a handful of the 200 or so present predicted a hung parliament.

After David Cameron visited the country for only the second time yesterday in his five-week campaign, polls suggested that his Conservatives were unlikely to gain any more seats than the solitary one they took in 2005, Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale.

The party had targeted a revival and were said to be harbouring hopes of taking 11 seats across central, southern and north-eastern Scotland. But Mr Cameron recently declared himself "frustrated" at his party's failure to make tangible progress as polls showed it sitting fourth behind Labour, the Liberal Democrats – who are thought to have a good chance of adding to their tally of seats – and the Scottish National Party.

Labour is getting jittery about losing at least five key seats across central Scotland. Party sources and senior figures, including Jim Murphy, the Scottish secretary, admit the race is far tighter than expected in seats once regarded as safe.

Elsewhere, the Lib Dems are clear favourites to win Edinburgh North & Leith from Labour's Mark Lazarowicz, a former council leader, and Edinburgh South, which was held by former trade minister Nigel Griffiths until his retirement earlier this year.

However, Labour is confident it will win back two seats lost at by-elections since 2005: Dunfermline and West Fife, taken by the Lib Dems in 2006, and Glasgow East, won by the SNP in 2008.