SNP ahead in Monklands poll

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Indy Politics
LABOUR'S faltering campaign in Monklands East suffered a fresh setback yesterday when the first opinion poll conducted during the by- election showed the Scottish National Party in the lead, writes John Arlidge.

The poll, published in the Scottish Daily Express, revealed the extent of local anger over Labour's failure to clear up allegations of nepotism and political wrongdoing at Labour-controlled Monklands District Council.

It put Helen Liddell, the Labour candidate, on 38 per cent, four points behind the nationalists. The Tories were third on 2.2 per cent.

The poll, of 401 residents, is the first formal indication that Mrs Liddell, whose campaign has become bogged down in the 'Monklandsgate' claims, could lose the seat John Smith won with a 15,000-vote majority at the last election.

The SNP, anxious not to sound triumphant a week before polling day, yesterday cautiously welcomed the survey's findings. Kay Ullrich, its candidate, said the survey confirmed that the battle was 'a tight two-horse race', but she added: 'We are not complacent.'

Labour, which has conceded that it could lose one of its safest seats, dismissed the survey. Jack McConnell, general secretary of the Scottish Labour Party, said: 'The poll is based on a very small sample and we take it with a pinch of salt.'

Smith's error, page 19

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