The upcoming Scottish Parliament elections may not have dominated the headlines in the same way as the London Mayoral race, but the campaign has gained momentum this week with live television debates that saw the party leaders go head-to-head. The three main contenders performed well with Nicola Sturgeon accusing Labour of cosying up to the Tories in Westminster. Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader, criticised the SNP for failing to increase the top-rate of tax while the Scottish Conservative Leader, Ruth Davidson, faced tough questioning on her policy to introduce a graduate levy for those wishing to access higher education.
But while the debates made for interesting viewing they are unlikely to determine the outcome of the election, the final result of which is expected to continue the transformation of Scotland’s political landscape. It is basically a foregone conclusion that the SNP will win at Holyrood making significant gains in previous Labour strongholds, so it is the race for second place that is of real interest to politicos.
Currently it’s a tight call between Labour and the Tories and the two parties are neck and neck in the polls, with one YouGov calculation giving the Conservatives a small one percent led. Perhaps it’s down to the popularity and consistently good performance of Ruth Davidson, or the general failure of Labour in Westminster but either way, the Tories in Scotland are on the up and Labour continue to struggle.
Labour is facing an existential crisis in Scotland and the ‘new’ politics of Jeremy Corbyn is doing little to win back voters; a worrying thought for Labour politicians who previously relied on Scottish support to ensure electoral success in Westminster. What remains to be seen is if the party can do enough to maintain their second place or if this election will seal Labour’s fate, with the Tories taking the lead as the official opposition.