THE SNP are set to boost their vote share in the upcoming local elections as the Tories slip into third place behind Labour, a new poll suggests.

Amid partygate and Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross’s U-turn to back the Prime Minister, a new voter survey has suggested national issues could have a major impact on Thursday.

Although governing parties tend to struggle in elections held during their term, the Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times puts the SNP on 42%, excluding undecided voters.

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At the last local election in 2017, the SNP returned 32% of the vote share.

Labour, who have been consistently slipping behind the Tories at national elections, could be in for a boost, polling at 24% of the vote share.

The Tories languish behind at 21%, with the LibDems fourth on 7%, and others on 5%.

John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said: “Today’s poll confirms the impression that the Conservatives will struggle to defend the high-water mark that they achieved in 2017, and face a serious challenge from Labour to their position as Scotland’s second largest party, a position they have held at every ballot since 2016.

The National: The First Minister has been out on the campaign trail this weekThe First Minister has been out on the campaign trail this week

“Such an outcome would only exacerbate the political fragmentation and division on the pro-Union side of Scotland’s constitutional debate.”

SNP Depute Leader Keith Brown MSP said: “With just days to go until polls open, the SNP is taking nothing for granted. The only poll that counts is on Thursday and the SNP will campaign for every single vote until polls close.

“The SNP is the only party taking action on the cost of living while the Tories are distracted by the Partygate scandal.

“On Thursday, people in Scotland can cast a verdict on the partying Tories - locking them out of council chambers across the country.
“On 5th May, vote SNP to elect hard-working local councillors who will work tirelessly to help their communities and to force Boris Johnson into action on the cost of living crisis.” 

The National: Deputy leader Brown said the SNP aren't taking the election for granted despite the pollDeputy leader Brown said the SNP aren't taking the election for granted despite the poll

It comes as party leaders have been linking the debate to national issues like partygate, with SNP leader Sturgeon telling voters to use to poll to “send a message” to Westminster.

The FM said on Saturday: “I’m asking people to vote SNP first and foremost for the positive reason of electing SNP councillors and councils but also to make sure Boris Johnson is left in no doubt about the strength of feeling about his antics and his inaction on the cost of living crisis.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said at the weekend that Scots had been left “economically vulnerable” after years of failure by both the UK and Scottish governments.

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While on the campaign trail in Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, Sarwar said his party’s plans could save households over £1,000.

Instead, both governments are turning it into a constitutional fight of Scotland versus the UK, which Sarwar said “is frankly shameful”.

He said: “They are absolutely making (the cost-of-living crisis) worse.”

And, despite continued criticism over parties in Downing Street and Whitehall during the Covid-19 lockdown, Ross last week insisted that Boris Johnson is “fit for office”.