Scotland 'key battleground' for Labour at next UK general election, Scottish Fabians report finds

Two dozen seats are ‘within Labour’s grasp’ if the party targets SNP and Green voters in next general election, according to a new report.

A report by the Scottish Fabians, affiliated to the Labour Party, claims Sir Keir Starmer’s path to power runs through Scotland in what is known as “the first red wall”.

The study has identified how Labour can make the gains by winning seats from the SNP with a targeted focus on “younger, more aspirational” voters.

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Labour would win 24 Scottish seats if it focused on “squeezing” SNP and Green voters in a general election, according to the Fabians report ‘Winning Back the First Red Wall’.

Scotland is a "key battleground" for Labour in order to win the next UK general elections, a report from the Scottish Fabians finds (Photo: Andrew Milligan/ PA).
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The report found seats such as Hamilton and Clyde, East Lothian and Midlothian are where younger, more aspirational voters make up a large proportion of people living in middle-value properties, perhaps moving to one of the new housing estates there to start or expand their families. It is these voters Labour must target, the report states.

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Data was examined through the 2022 local election voter preferences, vote share and census, which was compared at ward level to demographic characteristics from the 2011 census to identify which characteristics correlated most strongly with Labour's vote share and swing to or from the party.

The analysis shows 20 per cent of SNP voters put Labour as their second party preference, and the authors conclude persuading around half of these is key to success.

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With a significant number of pro-independence supporters not voting along constitutional lines, these voters can be targeted in an election where the straight choice is a Labour or Tory Prime Minister, the report said.

The report warns Labour’s recovery to date has largely been in diverse urban communities and older, lower-income communities, with less progress being made in areas with higher proportions of successful young families, skilled manual workers and students or young professionals who are renting.

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Katherine Sangster, Scottish Fabians national manager, said the party could not form a majority government without winning back seats in Scotland.

Ms Sangster said: “Labour needs to gain 124 seats across the UK to secure a majority of one, and of the 150 potential target seats, 25 are in Scotland.

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“From a starting point of one seat this may seem a tall order, yet the Labour Party cannot form a majority government without winning back seats in Scotland.

“Scotland must be one of the key battlegrounds for Labour going into an election.

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“Under the leadership of Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour has arrested its decline and made significant progress in the local elections in May, taking second place from the Tories and gaining control of several councils."This achievement in the short space of a year should not be underestimated.

“The seats Labour needs to win all occupy Scotland’s political middle ground and were the former Labour heartlands.

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"It is impossible to win the 25 seats needed for a Labour government without winning votes from the SNP.

“Our analysis quantifies the size of the opportunity for Labour and demonstrates that statistically 25 seats are within its grasp.

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"There is no doubt there is still a mountain to climb, but the path to a Labour Government is now clear.”

Scottish Labour has been contacted for comment.