Labour could win huge swathes of seats in Scotland and be “in overall majority territory” if it shifts to the left, a top pollster has said.
Damian Lyons Lowe, chief executive of Survation - the only polling company to accurately predict the General Election – said if a fresh vote was held tomorrow the SNP would regain six seats in Scotland as Nicola Sturgeon was enjoying a Brexit boost.
But he said Scottish Labour will be “toast” if it fails to shake off its “red Tory” image as he pointed to evidence SNP voters were more enthusiastic about radical policies than Labour voters.
A Survation poll of SNP voters found they were more likely to vote Labour if it pledged more left-wing measures such as decommissioning Trident (30%), a mandatory living wage (37%) and renationalising the railways (27%).
It comes as MSPs Anas Sarwar, a more centrist politician, and pro-Corbyn Richard Leonard battle it out to replace Kezia Dugdale.
Leonard is racing ahead and Sarwar’s campaign has been dogged by criticism a cash-and-carry firm he has shares in does not pay the living wage.
Speaking at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, Lyons Lowe said: “It is very easy for the SNP to paint you as a red Tory. It is very easy for them to take people down on that basis.
“Whatever [the new leader] can do to not be characterised as a Conservative in red clothing should always be on your mind, otherwise you’re toast.”
He said on current polling, a small swing to the SNP would mean Labour would lose Glasgow North East, Rutherglen and Hamilton, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Midlothian to the SNP.
The Conservatives would also lose Stirling and Gordon, as Lyons Lowe suggested Nicola Sturgeon’s pro-remain stance was improving the party’s prospects.
“It shows the SNP doing slightly better of late, possibly to do with Brexit,” he said.
He said 45 Scottish seats were now winnable for Labour and they held the key to Jeremy Corbyn delivering a Labour Government.
But he warned they were all “knife edge” marginals.
He said: “Labour will live and die in Scotland on the basis how it well it does versus the SNP and there aren’t any marginal seats in Scotland that don’t involve a Labour-SNP factor.
“A 0.3% swing to the SNP would see Labour left with just one seat while a sub 5% swing would see Labour win 28 seats in Scotland.
“That would take Labour almost into overall majority territory.”
Support for public ownership of the Serco Caledonian ferry service stood at 72% - 9% higher than among Labour backers.
“There is a strong strand among SNP support for public ownership,” he said.
Rhea Wolfson, who stood as a Labour candidate in Livingston, said Scottish Labour treated the election as an “Edinburgh South by-election” sending resources to Ian Murray’s seat in order to hang on to it.
She hit out at the Scottish Labour’s party political broadcasts as too negative and too focused on the SNP.
“It was not about policy, it was about the independence referendum and the constitution,” she said.
“From what I saw, it went down like a lead balloon. On policy, what was working down south was exactly the same as what was working across the country.”
She said the UK Labour message was resonating in Scotland.
“That message of hope was the same message which was resonating across the country but that was being squashed by all of this negative messaging,” she said.
“It was a hangover from Better Together and it was all this very negative messaging.”
Lyons Lowe added that 24% of Labour voters were independence supporters.
Wolfson added: “I have a lot of support from people who voted Yes in the independence referendum because they wanted an immediate, radical change in society and that is what that vote was about – and that’s where Labour can win.”