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5 November 2014, 06:04
Support for the SNP at Holyrood has reached a record high, pollsters said, as new research showed more than half of people certain to vote would back the nationalists.
A study by Ipsos MORI found 57% of this group would support the SNP in the constituency ballot for the Scottish Parliament, giving the party a 34-point lead over Labour on 23%.
Meanwhile, half (50%) of people who say they would definitely vote would also back the SNP in the regional section of the ballot, compared to 23% for Labour, according to the poll for STV News.
The findings come just days after Ipos MORI found 52% of Scots would vote for the SNP if there was a Westminster election tomorrow and only 23% for Labour, suggesting the SNP could secure 54 seats with Labour reduced from 40 to just four MPs in Scotland.
Looking at Holyrood voting intentions overall, support for the SNP was at 55% in the constituency section, ahead of Labour on 24%, the Conservatives on 9% and the Liberal Democrats on 7%.
For the regional vote, 47% said they would back the nationalists, with Labour securing the support of 24%. The Greens - who, like the SNP, have seen their membership surge since the independence referendum - came third on 10%, followed by the Conservatives with 9% and the Liberal Democrats, who are on 7%.
Mark Diffley, Director at Ipsos MORI Scotland said: "These findings chime with voting intentions for the Westminster parliament and confirm the strong position that the SNP is currently in.
"The figures represent both a high point for the SNP and a low point for Scottish Labour in terms of polls we have undertaken.
"It also underlines the tough challenge faced by Labour's new Scottish leader in the months ahead in winning back some of the lost ground.''
Labour's new Scottish leader and deputy leader will be announced next month, with former Scottish secretary Jim Murphy, Holyrood health spokesman Neil Findlay and MSP Sarah Boyack all seeking to succeed Johann Lamont.
SNP business convener Derek Mackay welcomed the poll, and said: "While there is no room for complacency and there is a lot of hard work to be done in the weeks and months ahead, this encouraging new poll is only the latest to show a surge in SNP support and the Labour vote in freefall.
"That the SNP vote has hit a record high after more than seven years in government is testament to the strong record of delivery of the SNP.
"These disastrous figures for Labour will only add to the sense of crisis in the party - it's clear that voters across the country haven't forgotten or forgiven the Labour Party's decision to work shoulder to shoulder with the Tories in the No campaign, and are also passing judgment on their status as just a 'branch office' of Westminster Labour, to quote Johann Lamont.''
He added: "The contrast between the SNP and Labour couldn't be clearer.
"While the SNP is focused on representing the aspirations of the people of Scotland, Labour have turned in on themselves and are more interested in internal feuds and plots.''
A spokesman for Scottish Labour said: "Under this SNP government we have seen inequality on the increase, cuts to college places and our NHS in crisis. When the people of Scotland go to the polls in 18 months' time they won't forget this government's long list of failures.
"We'll be campaigning in every corner of the country, making sure that together we build a Scotland fair for all.''