Labour supporters are switching to the SNP in Scotland because they believe the party is increasingly out of touch and too close to the Conservatives on the big issues, according to new research published by the Tory peer Lord Ashcroft.
Partly due to its efforts to preserve the Union during last year’s independence referendum, Labour is now perceived by Scottish voters as being too similar to the Tories – allowing the SNP to become the country’s main left wing party.
“I’ve been Labour like a stick of rock all my life but I’ve hit a wall with them,” one voter said. “There is no discernible difference between [Labour and the Tories], the last 15 years of government have been seamless. The SNP are the only ones pursuing a social agenda.”
The findings, gathered from a series of focus groups held over the weekend in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Paisley, go some way to explaining why Labour are facing a wipeout in Scotland at the hands of the SNP.
The former Labour voters who took part in the research complained that during the referendum campaign in September, the party had made no effort to distinguish itself from the other pro-Union parties. “It seemed like they were pushing a homogenous establishment view rather than a Labour view,” said one.
Nicola Sturgeon was also admired more than her Scottish Labour counterpart Jim Murphy. The voters said the SNP leader “speaks from the heart” and was relatable, whereas Mr Murphy seemed “angry” and “very negative”. One voter said: “He never looks as if he’s really that happy. It’s as if it’s torture for him, as though it’s a real chore.”
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