UK’s Labour could lose “safest seat” in Scotland to nationalists

LONDON  - Britain's opposition Labour party could lose its safest seat in Scotland, that of retiring former prime minister Gordon Brown, at May's election, according to an opinion poll which showed huge swings in support to the Scottish National Party.

Five constituency surveys commissioned by Michael Ashcroft, the former deputy chairman of Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party, showed swings of between 20 per cent and 28.5 per cent from Labour to the Scottish National Party (SNP).

The polling highlighted the crucial role that the rise of nationalism in Scotland will play in what is expected to a be the most closely-fought national election in decades, with the Conservatives running neck and neck with Labour.

Last year Scots voted in a referendum by 55 to 45 per cent in favour of staying in the United Kingdom. "Labour losses in Scotland could offset their gains from the Tories (Conservatives), leading to something close to a dead heat," Ashcroft said at the presentation of the polling on Wednesday night. "For every two seats they lose in Scotland, they have to take another from the Conservatives to compensate." If realised in May, the swings shown by the polling would hand four of the five seats surveyed to the SNP.

The Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath seat held by Gordon Brown in 2010 with an 23,000 vote majority would fall to the SNP, the poll showed. Brown has already announced he is stepping down from parliament at the election.

Previous polling has shown Labour could lose as many as 35 of the 41 seats it holds in Scotland.