A TOP polling expert has insisted Labour having to suspend a candidate in a key target seat after she appeared to amplify "racist" social media posts will not damage their chances in their area come the General Election.

Professor John Curtice has said Wilma Brown being suspended will not make “the slightest bit of difference” to how the poll will go in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath – one of the UK’s most marginal constituencies which was previously held by former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown.

The seat – which Labour have been projected to reclaim – is currently held by Alba’s Neale Hanvey.

Hanvey himself was suspended by the SNP after the close of nominations for the General Election in 2019.

While he still took the seat and was subsequently reinstated into the party, he only secured a 1243 majority and later defected to Alex Salmond’s party.

He had previously been sacked from the SNP's frontbench after supporting a crowdfunder campaign to sue colleague Kirsty Blackman for defamation.

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While Curtice insisted Brown had likely blown her chances of ever becoming an MP, he did not entertain any suggestion it could lead to Labour not winning the seat, which he insisted was a “lost cause” for the SNP.

He told The National: “It won’t make the slightest bit of difference [Brown’s suspension].

“It’s highly marginal [the seat], Neale Hanvey is standing again which will help to split the nationalist vote. I assume they’ll [Labour] just find another candidate, unless the lady can explain herself. It’ll all be forgotten in six months time.

“It’s one of the two most marginal SNP-held seats. Hanvey is not likely to survive given where Alba are at, but even if he weren’t standing again, you would say given the current state of the polls, that seat is a lost cause for the SNP.

“It’s not as though the SNP can go around claiming [they’re] whiter than white. Their candidate in 2019 was A, someone who was suspended in advance of the election but who got elected nevertheless, and B, who has since defected.

“I think it’s one of these cases where those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

Curtice’s comments contrast with those of political marketing expert Jennifer Lees-Marshment from the University of Dundee, who told The National the suspension of Brown – which quickly followed that of Labour councillor Audrey Dempsey in Glasgow – could damage the Labour brand in Scotland.

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Brown deleted her personal Twitter/X account this week after The National exposed a thread compiled by local activist Adam le Grice that highlighted a swathe of offensive tweets she had either liked or shared.

These included posts claiming that Scottish Government aid to Gaza was going to Hamas, and which featured the debunked viral claim that Humza Yousaf had said there are “too many white people in Scotland”.

There was also evidence of Brown liking a racist post telling an Indian man who was expressing his love for England and its flag “you will NEVER be an Englishman” and “it is not your flag”.

Brown had additionally been found to have liked posts claiming trans broadcaster India Willoughby “incited trans activists” to “harass” TV judge Robert Rinder as well as tweets suggesting JK Rowling had “slain” the trans movement.

Scottish Labour confirmed she had been suspended a few hours after the story emerged on Wednesday.

While Curtice did not feel Labour’s chances of victory in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath would be dented by the incident, he did say it was a sign of what he thinks will be “an industry of folk” digging for dirt on opposition candidates in the coming months. 

The pollster added: “It’s an illustration of how in these days of social media there’s an enormous digital imprint that’s left by most of us, and low and behold things get found out. If you were going back 20 years, no one would ever have known.

“Before the last election, there were three or four, including Mr Hanvey, candidates who were suspended after the close of nominations.

“One of the things I said in the wake of Rochdale [where Labour suspended candidate Azhar Ali] is that it’s a problem for all parties. I suspect that once nominations close for the General Election, there is going to be an industry of folk who are going to be going through the candidates trying to find dirt they can throw at the other side.

“All the parties to some degree have set themselves up for this because with the best will in the world, no party is going to find out about anything and everything someone might have said in the previous 30 or 40 years of adulthood.

“This is a problem potentially for our democratic process that parties who end up wanting to try and impose these very tough standards will potentially create difficulties for the electoral process.”