THERE is “nothing” which suggests Scottish Labour could win 25 seats at the next General Election in a new report making the claim, Professor John Curtice has said.

The polling guru was speaking to The National after having read through a report from the Scottish Fabians, a think-tank linked to Labour, which said that “25 seats are within its grasp”.

The report looked at the results of the local elections in Scotland in 2022, which saw Scottish Labour return 282 councillors across the country, its second-worst ever result. The SNP returned 453 seats, while the Tories slipped into third with 214 seats.

Analysis of the voting patterns found that significant numbers of people who chose SNP and Green candidates as their first preference put Labour as their second.

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The Scottish Fabians' report said: “Our analysis quantifies the size of the opportunity for Labour and demonstrates that, statistically, 25 seats are within its grasp. There is no doubt there is still a mountain to climb but the path to a Labour government is now clear.”

However, the local elections were specifically focused on local issues, while the next General Election is more likely to be focused on the constitution. If the Supreme Court rejects a bid from the Scottish Government to legislate for indyref2, the SNP plan to fight the election on the single issue of independence.

Curtice, the president of the British Polling Council, told The National: “The Labour Party loses out the more that the [constitutional] issue polarises. There’s nothing in this paper that indicates that the Labour Party will necessarily be more successful than it has been in the past.”

He said the chances of the party hinged on changing the agenda.

The professor said: “The thing they seem to be doing is saying, ‘look, a lot of SNP and Green voters put a Labour candidate somewhere in their second preferences, therefore these people appear to be accessible’.

“The big step from that to saying that these are people who are necessarily going to be accessible to Labour is that in the 2021 [Holyrood] election the constitutional divide was absolutely fundamental.

“The question that faces the Labour Party is can they change the agenda for the electorate north of the Border?

“The Unionist vote is fragmented, the Nationalist vote is largely behind the SNP, so [the party won’t make big gains] unless, unless Labour can persuade people that the constitutional issue is not that central – and they’ll be trying to do it at a time when, on the nationalist side, they will trying to say to people ‘this is absolutely the crucial issue’.”

The Scottish Fabians report said it would be “impossible to win the 25 seats needed for a Labour government without winning votes from the SNP”.

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However, Curtice suggested that the constitutional question may be too central for this to happen, but added that Labour could benefit in areas where some of the SNP vote instead went to Green candidates.

He went on: “The headline is that there are only three constituencies, one of which they’ve already got, where they think they might be ahead on the votes.

“One of the things to note of course is that a lot of the constituencies that they say, either they would win or would be competitive on first preferences are in Glasgow.”

The polling expert suggested that Glasgow was a special case and that it would be very difficult to dislodge the SNP. He said voters who supported Greens in the local elections could revert to the SNP.

Asked if there was any truth to the claims that Labour will need to win a raft of seats in Scotland in order to win power in Westminster, Curtice said it would certainly make the challenge easier.

The Strathclyde University professor said that, if Labour only returned a single Scottish MP, they would need a 12-point lead over the Tories to win a majority.

However, he said that that required lead would shrink and shrink the more seats were won from the SNP north of the Border.