EVENING News readers would choose Ed Miliband to be Prime Minister, but most think it will be David Cameron who walks back into Number Ten after the general election.
In an exclusive poll, 30 per cent said they wanted the Labour leader to win on May 7, while 28 per cent backed Mr Cameron and 27 per cent opted for the Green leader Natalie Bennett.
Just nine per cent said they would like to see Lib Dem Nick Clegg as Prime Minister and six per cent wanted Ukip’s Nigel Farage.
But when asked who they thought would end up in Downing Street, a massive 65 per cent said Mr Cameron, with 31 per cent saying Ed Miliband.
The poll of 1854 Evening News readers also found health was the most important issue that would influence how people vote, with economic policy second and welfare third, followed by Europe and the EU; support for the elderly; and education policy.
The survey is not a scientific poll of the Edinburgh and Lothians electorate and has not been weighted to provide a representative sample. Rather, it is a snapshot of the views of readers who responded to the online questionnaire.
Two-thirds of those who took part in the survey said they were already “pretty sure” how they would vote in the election.
And a huge 96 per cent of people said they would definitely vote.
A quarter said they had an inclination towards a particular party or candidate, but might consider voting for someone else, while nine per cent said they did not know how they would vote.
This election is widely seen as the most unpredictable for decades, with most recent polls projecting a hung parliament where no single party has enough seats for an overall majority in the Commons, making a coalition or minority government the most likely outcome and raising the prospect of another general election before the year is out.
Polling in Scotland suggests the SNP could win a significant number of seats from Labour – which Labour says would make it easier for the Tories to win overall, and which the SNP claims could give Scotland unprecedented leverage at Westminster.
Scottish Labour deputy leader and Lothian MSP Kezia Dugdale said the 65 per cent in the Evening News survey who expected David Cameron to be Prime Minister after May 7 would be proved right if people voted for the SNP.
She said: “There are only two people who can be Prime Minister – Ed Miliband or David Cameron. This figure shows people understand what happens if people vote SNP.
“People have a choice in May – they can send SNP MPs to Westminster to protest against the Tories or they can send Labour MPs to be part of a government that replaces the Tories.”
Ms Dugdale said the survey findings on what issues mattered most to voters mirrored what Labour’s canvassers were finding on the doorstep.
She said: “Without doubt, the NHS is the most important issue in people’s minds because they can see it is under incredible strain.
“Dedicated, fantastic staff are under pressure as never before. When we start getting A&E statistics and more evidence on delayed discharge and waiting times week by week, we will see the true story of what is happening in the NHS.
“People worry about it because it’s part of our identity and they want it to be working well.
“The NHS will be at the heart of the Labour campaign because it’s at the heart of what Labour stands for. We have already said we will use the mansion tax to pay for more nurses.”
Cameron Rose, leader of Edinburgh’s Tories, welcomed the survey findings. He said recent figures on unemployment, the economy, wages and the cost of living had all been good news for the government and its measures since 2010.
He continued: “Having David Cameron just two points behind Ed Miliband in what is usually more Labour-oriented territory is some reflection of the respect he enjoys.”
Councillor Rose said the possible permutations surrounding the election were complex, not least because of the likely fate of the Lib Dems and the potential surge in the SNP vote,
He said: “The Lib Dems are probably going to bomb and yet at the moment they have more seats than the SNP.
“Scotland has a different dynamic from the rest of the UK, but across the country there seems to be an increasing expectation of a Conservative win and a clear-cut victory is certainly a possibility.”
Lothian Green MSP Alison Johnstone welcomed the huge support for the Greens revealed in the survey.
She said: “The fact such a high percentage of Evening News readers would like to see Natalie Bennett as prime minister is very encouraging and testament to our policies and how attractive they are.
“Our thinking clearly chimes with a great many people.
“Only the Greens are challenging austerity. Labour certainly aren’t – they have said they would make very similar cuts in a slightly different way.
“So Green policies are very appealing and I think people know when they vote Green we stand by these policies.”
Despite the strong support for Ms Bennett, only one per cent said they thought she would be Prime Minister.
But Ms Johnstone said: “If all those who would like to see her as PM vote Green, we can do far better.
“I believe people should vote for the party they want to see in government. It’s incredibly negative to say ‘Vote X to keep out Y’ and shows a lack of confidence in your own policies.”
Edinburgh East greens’ top priority
The Scottish Greens have said Edinburgh East will be its top priority as it announced plans to field more candidates than ever before in May’s general election.
The party is to field candidates in 32 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster constituencies, with 40 per cent of those standing women.
Membership of the Greens soared after last year’s independence referendum to more than 8500 and a recent TNS poll on general election voting intentions put the party on six per cent, two points ahead of the Liberal Democrats.
The party said Edinburgh East would be its top priority, with former Edinburgh University rector Peter McColl standing as the Green candidate.
Currently held by Labour’s Sheila Gilmore, the seat is also seen as the SNP’s best hope in the city. It recorded the biggest Yes vote in the Capital at the referendum and the SNP has held the equivalent Holyrood seat since 2007 – before the party’s huge surge.
Mr McColl said: “Greens are clearly in the running as we head into an election in which everything is up for grabs. We know from speaking to our local communities that voters are looking for candidates they can believe in.
“Our policies on raising the minimum wage to £10 a hour by 2020, renationalising the railways and ending austerity have huge appeal, and are vital to rebalancing our economy and our society.”
The SNP has never held a Westminster seat in the Capital, but party sources now claim they could win four out of the five city constituencies in May.
Edinburgh North and Leith recorded a 40 per cent Yes vote in the referendum, but the SNP failed to win the equivalent Holyrood seat even in its 2011 landslide.
Edinburgh South-West, where Alistair Darling is standing down, was 38 per cent Yes. Edinburgh South – 35 per cent Yes – is Labour’s most marginal Westminster seat in the city. Ian Murray won by just 316 votes last time – but that was over the Lib Dems, who are no threat this time. The seat also had the lowest SNP vote in the Capital in 2010.
“I’ll watch the TV debates and see who comes across well”
Ian Stevenson, 78, Comely Bank: “You hear a lot of things and you wonder if they will really be able to come up with them in real life.
“Labour seems to be floundering. I think the Lib Dems are maybe on the way out. The one who seems to come over best - but I don’t know whether you can believe him - is David Cameron.”
Maeve Robertson, 43, Corstorphine: “I’ll probably watch the TV debates and see who comes across well.
“I voted Lib Dem last time - Nick Clegg came across well and I liked their policies, but it didn’t work out. Now I have a completely open mind. I don’t think any of the party leaders are particularly convincing.”
Duncan Edelsten, 63, West End: “It’s a complete minefield.
“I think the Con-Dems are beyond the pale. I’m quite sympathetic to Ed Miliband - I think there’s a lot more to him than appears on the surface; most people rise to the occasion and he would probably make quite a good prime minister.”
Kevin Roarty, 36, Liberton: “I cannot picture Ed Miliband ever being Prime Minister. David Cameron comes across very well, but he is a Tory and they have never been liked in Scotland. I voted Lib-Dem at the last general election but I feel they turned their back on their key policies in order to get the Deputy PM role.”