The European Elections: SNP chips away at Labour

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The Independent Online
The Scottish National Party is set to capture the North East Scotland seat from Labour, building on its success in last month's local elections, according to an opinion poll published yesterday, writes John Arlidge.

The ICM survey, for Scottish Television and the Scotsman newspaper, shows support for the SNP up 4 per cent from regional elections at 31 per cent. Labour remains on 46 per cent and the Conservatives have slumped to 10 per cent, their lowest-ever rating.

The SNP is six percentage points ahead in the North East, Scotland's most marginal constituency, the survey shows. The party is set to win the seat and hold the huge Highlands and Islands constituency, where Winnie Ewing, the MEP, is 11 points ahead of the Liberal Democrats. Allan Macartney, the SNP candidate in the North East who lost there by 2,600 votes in 1989, said the poll 'bears out what we have been dis covering on the doorsteps - that we are going to take this one'.

Support for the nationalists has grown steadily since the regional elections when the SNP replaced the Conservatives as the second party in Scotland. Party activists say traditional Labour voters, frustrated by the Opposition's failure to reverse government policy on the Scottish water industry and local administration, have turned to the SNP. Mr Macartney said: 'Voters know that the SNP alone can give Scotland a fresh start. In Europe only the SNP can give Scots a voice in decision-making.'

Labour is expected to hold six of Scotland's eight MEP constituencies: Glasgow; Lothians; Scotland Mid and Fife; Scotland South; Strathclyde East; and Strathclyde West in tomorrow's election. The Conservatives and the LibDems are not expected to win any seats.